Friday, May 25, 2012

Friendship Fragments.

(artwork via brianna mccarthy)

The tramcar zipped across the New Jersey Shore boardwalk as the saltwater taffy stuck to our teeth. My father interrupted our sticky silence first, “These are my favorite things from those silly tourist gift shops.” Lisa and I giggled, too afraid to tell him that his choice of candy was nothing like the sour belts and straws we loved.

That summer we'd also visited the Poconos and drove out to the end of Long Island. The shore was our final hoorah before we went back to school. On the last leg of our journey, we spotted a stationary shop. The storefront window boasted plain notebooks, in various colors, to every ordinary onlooker. To Lisa and I, ferocious pre-teen writers, they were blank canvasses. We fidgeted with the Milky Way pens in our pockets and grasped one another’s eyes in amazement. The yearn to scrawl words, that would form umpteenth literary elements, crawled from our throats.


The rest of that summer and well into the school year, we slung our new books—hers black and mine red—into any bag, purse, or backseat that would allow. We often shared our words. On the days she’d be secretive about her entries, I would know she’d written about our argument from the previous night. On the weekends, when her family was busy at work, I’d read her poems from my own to dissuade her sadness.

If it were not for the drug dealers and gangbangers, sprouting in weeded gardens a few blocks away, we probably would’ve still had our weekly exchange. Perhaps, we might’ve still had our closeness. (A/N: If you want to read more about us {Lisa & I}, click here or here.) I think about her daily. Her decline was something no one could control. Have you ever seen a goddess wilt?


I have.

We met up a few years ago at a Chinese restaurant. I’d been washing my clothes at a Laundromat nearby, when my phone sung her name. It’d been two years since we last spoke, our relationship an on and off switch—her always promising to get clean.

She smiled up at me from her Lo Mein, “I miss you kid.”

I swallowed back the tears that tried to congregate, “I miss you too.”

She started her reiterated banter about rehab, promising to go back to school and how we’d be close again. Usually, something would flicker inside of me. My hope would spiral into my heart and push out promises of helping and holding her, but something was different this time.

“No.” I said.

It was my turn to talk. After years of listening to her tell me that things were going to be different, I had to say my piece. It resounded something like this and still echoes the same today:

I’m unsure if I’m trying to find you, in the other women I befriend, but no one is ever good enough. I’ve been lying to myself and telling folks that I’m an old soul, but there is nothing too aged about me. Sometimes folks mistake tiredness for aging.

I’m tired of looking for you.

I sacrificed Neè for love, because she was only a dancer. She never understood my affection for the literary, so I was all too willing to give her away when I needed an excuse to run to someone who never knew my worth.

I let Mo and I grow apart, angry and betrayed by her fierceness. From a distance I watched her bloom beautifully, petal by petal.

I nudged Dani to the edge, her smile and drive, still sifting in my memory.

Say showed me the boroughs.
Danielle forced me into hugs.
Blue taught me how to tell stories.


Maya shook courage into me.
Tiffany urged me to dance on the line of tomboy and femininity.
Bri pushed me to live.
Reeni whispered skill and ingenuity.
Ro laughed in the face of danger.

Still, with all these lessons, I searched for you.  I convinced myself that I’d never be whole without my “best friend.” But, I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I started to write this post, a post that was supposed to be a wish list for everything I wanted in a comrade, that I realized I had it all. I am components of my current friends and those that used-to-be: I am not afraid to dance, hence my two left feet, because of two blue Marshall’s outfits and an international night talent show beside one of the most incredible dancers I’ve ever known. Nèe. I am no longer afraid to write the sexual tension into my novels, because of Say’s womanly prowess.  I now embrace first, without being asked, a product of Danielle’s warmth. I can still grab a skateboard while wearing lip-gloss, a result of Tiffany’s equilibrium.

They have all made me, in some way.

I am whole.

I was convinced that I needed someone who lusted for journals and Starbucks. I longed for a familiar face in the crowd of an open mike, an applauder of my skill. 

I cringed, writing those last two sentences in my entry for today. Memories of taffy, sand and pens began to immerse me.

It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I’d sabotaged and sacrificed for you; in ways you’d never understand. Traumatized by the demise of our union, I refused to let anyone get too close, afraid they might take, all that belonged to you, from me. 

I no longer fear this.

I am satisfied with these fragmented notions. I’ve decided to meet my friends where they are.

& if you’re ever looking to meet me, on a middle ground, we’ll stroll across a boardwalk, let the musk of the sea fill our lungs and exchange tales of friends....

....who’ve completed us, beyond their knowledge.



Sabra said...

Wow! That was really good! Im glad that you have only become a better writer! Good Job Dude!!!

riva. said...

I'm glad you enjoyed love. :)


Unknown said...

every time i read something you've written i see myself in it. i think it's amazing that you've come to this realization and i applaud you for it. i'm also coming into this realization too and it's sort of liberating and wonderful i think. for me it happened when i was a young girl too. different set of circumstances but it left me feeling a lot like you did with a lot of the people that came into your life. you're amazing at what you do. i don't know how old you are but i look up to you. i imagine if i had a big sister/mentor she'd be a lot like you.

riva. said...

@stephanie this post was liberating to write! thank you, so much. i'm incredibly touched. i'm glad you're still here and reading. :)

a. chigozie said...

this is such a beautiful piece. this is really an incredible realization about friendship, something I never considered, something to really think about, especially as an adult when friendships begin to take on new forms