Origin Story: How a Friendship Was Formed

Today I discovered the spoken word poetry of Sarah Kay and listened to her TED talk.

Here is a poem, Origin Story,  of how she first met Phil Kay and they formed a friendship.

Sarah Kay:

It started with a sweater.

Phil Kaye:

I was looking incredibly fly. First day of college orientation as a freshman… plus, I’m the type of guy who’s always trying to make a good impression.

Sarah:

He looked like a tool. And it’s the first week of school, so I’ve got people to meet and things to try. I don’t have time to waste on this guy loitering backstage at a talent show.

Phil:

It started with a freshman talent show, a chance to showcase what I know about spoken word and poetry and try and get some people to notice me.

Sarah:

It started with a technical difficulty –

Phil:

some sort of delay –

Sarah:

somebody’s iPod track wouldn’t play.

Phil:

So I’m stuck waiting backstage when I notice this girl –

Sarah:

and he walks over, stupid sweater and all. There was nowhere to run, backstage was too small.

Phil:

And I’m so nervous about going onstage, I decide to strike up a conversation.

Sarah:

Oh, sorry, I completely got ahead of myself. I totally skipped introductions. My name is Sarah Kay.

Phil:

My name is Phil Kaye. I’m from California –

Sarah:

born and raised in NYC.

Phil:

Let’s see, fun fact about me –

Both:

My mom is Japanese and my dad is Jewish.

Sarah:

Not a common combination, but I think it’s kinda cute. People call me Japajew –

Phil:

Jewpanese –

Sarah:

Ashkenazi kamikaze.

Phil:

And come December –

Both:

Hanukkah and Christmas!

Sarah:

Plus, you should taste my mother’s brisket. Jan has matzah ball soup with noodles…brings my father Jeffrey to his knees.

Phil:

It took mom and dad to raise this lanky, cock-eyed, half-breed.

Sarah:

Well, I think that’s it. My mom, my dad, and me – oh, plus my little brother. He’s eighteen.

Phil:

My little sister is a deadpan firecracker. She’s only eighteen, but she keeps me on track. Her name is Sarah.

Sarah:

My little brother’s name is Phillip.

Both:

Anyway.

Sarah:

Where was I?

Phil:

It started with a backstage interaction.

Sarah:

No, it started with a backward first impression.

Phil:

Okay, well, I’ll tell you where it didn’t start. It didn’t start at fifth grade summer camp.

Sarah:

That’s true, it did not start at junior lifeguards. Even though we were both there.

Phil:

Matching red bathing suits, white t-shirts, visors, and our counsellor –

Both:

Mr. Johnson.

Sarah:

Who probably figured that the shy girl in his morning class –

Phil:

and the skinny kid in his afternoon class –

Both:

were… cousins?!

Sarah:

Probably thought we carpooled over together –

Phil:

in between family photoshoots and fourth of July barbecues.

Sarah:

But instead, we merely co-existed –

Phil:

almost met but always missed it –

Sarah:

spinning around like two sides of a coin.

Phil:

Look!

Both:

We’ve done the research!

Sarah:

And we swear, we’re not related.

Phil:

And we’ve never dated.

Both:

And we’re never… EVER… going to.

Phil:

Because what are the chances of finding someone with your last name –

Sarah:

Japanese and Jewish with siblings called the same?

Phil:

What are the odds of finding someone –

Sarah:

who can finish your sentences –

Phil:

who will let you cut in line –

Sarah:

who knows not to just lend a hand, or an ear when you need them to give you their spine –

Phil:

who is woman enough to be best man at your wedding –

Sarah:

who will keep every secret, save every letter, tell you how you really look –

Phil:

who will remember every single one of your birthdays –

Sarah:

without checking Facebook?

Phil:

What are the odds of finding someone who knows your poetry by heart –

Sarah:

who won’t freak out if you’re hanging out and accidentally fart?

Phil:

Yeah. If you have a date and you need to look fresh, I will let you borrow my hair products.

Sarah:

And if you don’t have a date and you need to look fresh, I will let you borrow… my cousin.

Phil:

I will always see you for the alley-oop.

Sarah:

I will always save you a seat.

Phil:

I will always pick you to be my partner even though you are terrible at handball.

Sarah:

When the fire takes all you have, my home will be your home.

Phil:

When you are old and can no longer remember my face, I will meet you for the first time again and again.

Sarah:

When they make fun of your accent, I will take you swimming because we all sound the same underwater.

Phil:

When Ellis Island tries to erase your past, I will call you by your real name.

Sarah:

When they call your number for the draft, I will enlist to fight beside you.

Phil:

And I will march with you from Selma to Montgomery and back as many times as it takes.

Sarah:

We will stand together against the hoses and the dogs –

Both:

because it didn’t start with us.

Phil:

It started with Lennon and McCartney.

Sarah:

It started with Thelma and Louise.

Phil:

It started with Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Sarah:

Bert and Ernie!

Phil:

Abbott and Costello!

Sarah:

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!

Phil:

Mario and Luigi!

Sarah:

Watson and Sherlock!

Phil:

Pikachu and Charizard! And they could tell you what a miracle this is.

Sarah:

They could tell you how rare this is.

Phil:

But they could tell you how rare friendship always is.

Sarah:

The chances are slim.

Phil:

The cards are always stacked against you, the odds are always low.

Both:

But I have seen the best of you, and the worst of you, and I choose both.

Phil:

I want to share every single one of your sunshines and save some for later.

Sarah:

I will tuck them into my pockets so I can give them back to you when the rains fall hard.

Both:

Friend –

Phil:

I want to be the mirror that reminds you to love yourself.

Sarah:

I want to be air in your lungs that reminds you to breathe easy.

Phil:

When the walls come down –

Sarah:

when the thunder rumbles –

Both:

when nobody else is home, hold my hand –

Phil:

and I promise –

Both:

I won’t let go.

 

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