Once upon a time I was on a committee, and it was the highlight of my week. It was a high-functioning productive group without limits. We took on wild ideas, we made things happen. We were structured, disciplined, and flexible. We thought big, but always in regards to the personal. How could this help? What problem could we solve?

What I enjoyed most, though, was checking in on my friends; learning from them, challenging each other, struggling together with hard things. I could think aloud, working through something from a vague feeling to a full-fledged opinion without risk. I could be myself. I got to know others that way and felt that they knew me — the way that shared work and struggle pushes and pulls people together.

As hyper and spastic and we could be at sometimes, our volunteer committee couldn’t fix the problems. One by one, our members left. Left the company, left the office, left the committee. We lost our structure and our purpose. I started avoiding meetings because they were too painful. I missed the steady reassurance and laughter of my friends even when the reality around us was grim; at least we could talk about it together.

Change is coming. I can’t revive this group, but I also can’t forget my debt to the people who made it what it was and the gift it was to me.

Writer, researcher, observer