Clint is moving to Chicago in a few weeks, and when he called to tell me about the job offer, he asked if I thought he should go. My opinion matters a lot to that guy, and I don’t like it lightly. I asked him if he wanted to go, and he answered the way I thought he would. He said, ‘yes.’
As hard as it is to think of living in downtown New Orleans without him, it’s easy to be happy for him as he moves into his next phase of life. He graduated from Tulane recently, and he got a promotion that allows him to move into a bigger market (which will be a solid career move for him.)
I tend to get mushy when I talk about “The Suit” because I could never say thank you enough for the friendship that he’s given me. So many of the incredibly positive changes that have occurred in my life since 2012, happened as a result of his willingness to say “Hey…who you are is okay. You’re great the way you are, and if people disagree, they’re not worth your time.”
One of the defining moments of my life happened in an empty hallway at Tulane on day before our first final exam together in 2012. I had just been on ABC News Nightline, and I was taking heat from online bullies who hate fat people. One particular message that I received, in which the person threatened to find me, rape me and kill me hit me hard….really hard.
I was in tears, not realizing that anyone else was around, and Clint showed up right in front of me. He read the repugnant words on the screen of my cell phone, and he gently put his hands on my cheeks. He said, “Kenlie, look at me. You’re safe. This a-hole isn’t here; these words aren’t reality. This is your reality, and he grinned.”
It was in that moment that I realized that my reality was safe and happy. In reality, I was walking into class, surrounded by people who respected me, and I was finally creating the life that I wanted to have for myself. I’m not sure what I had been so afraid of before, but that day, the fear began to subside.
Clint was instrumental in what would become a series of radical life changes for me that included accepting myself, finding a church home, remembering who I am in Christ and discovering that my circumstances could and would change.
I never knew what it was like to have a friend like him, and now I never want to know what it’s like without him. It looks like it’s time to add Chicago to my favorite destinations…There could be worse places to visit.