Eisa Ulen Remembers Her Good friend, Erica Kennedy
I don’t need to write previously tense. I have to use the previous tense not only as a result of I am writing in regards to the past, but also as a result of I’m writing about right now. This current. This presence. My sister. Our pricey, lovely, wonderful, wonderful, smart, sharp sister. Who’s now gone from this earth, and but so very present. A presence.
As I stood in JFK and heard Nikki say, “I can’t even believe I’m telling you this and you’re on the airport,” I felt the final second of my private stability tick tock away. In the subsequent breath she told me about Erica. Our Erica. Our sister Erica. A sound got here out of me, and that i cried, and i did not care that others had been watching me as this sound got here out of me and i cried. And I have been unstable ever since.
However this isn’t about me. It’s about our girlfriend. I am supposed to speak to the world what she meant to us. I do not think this is possible. She is – was – too too far past phrases. How am I to speak her love, expressed with a easy brush of cheek towards cheek The delight in her smile, the best way she gazed at our kids, those Aisha, Rachel, and i introduced into this world and our circle, and whom she loved so deeply simply because they, of course, had been her kids, too How can I inform you, The World, what she meant to us all How I’m crying right now as I type this because it hurts a lot to put in writing about her this way
I do not suppose I can communicate how she made us feel. So, I will attempt to share what. What we did, and the way we did it, and after we did it, and with whom. I’ll try to express friendship that spanned over two a long time. That was presupposed to final a lifetime.
As I pulled pictures to go with these words, I remembered how shiny and stunning she all the time was. How all of it came collectively. I remembered where it all began.
This is one reminiscence: We’re at Alfred’s Ocean Palace, and Alfred’s Ocean Palace is a wooden shack on the seaside. Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and that i lie together on a bed and talk. I remember feeling lovely, with all of them, collectively like that, in this shack on the seashore.
Nikki and Jane have run outside, through the parking lot, to the one visitor shower on the property, a pipe with a spigot and one knob set on chilly. Cinder blocks encompass the pipe and reach up towards the open sky. Now we have all run to that shower for 2 weeks now, trying to bathe at that precise second when it is too late in the day to swim or sunbathe, but nicely before it is evening. When the sun is low however the air is still warm. This is the one time our our bodies can take the cold that shoots from the spigot as it blasts salt and sand from our pores and skin.
Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and that i lie together and look ahead to them, and we speak. I do not remember what we speak about. This was 22 years ago. I solely remember the feeling. It is heat and right. It is gorgeous. We are stunning, all of us, together. We discuss and snigger but we are quiet, too. For long stretches we simply lie there in the silence at dusk. We are somewhere between day and night time. We’re somewhere between girl and girl. It will final ceaselessly, I feel. That is sisterhood. I know I felt that then. I felt, ‘Yes. These are my sisters.’
Many years later, Rachel can have a baby. She can have a woman. She’s going to name her Jamaica. She by no means has to clarify to any of us why she chooses this name for her daughter.
On the return flight from the island, the plane shook and bounced and rattled, and I was broad awake and in prayer. I was never good at flying. Erica reached out from her sleep, reached out from the folds of the blanket that was wrapped around her like a chrysalis. She reached out to hold my hand. She stored me secure like that.
And she saved me protected like this: I remember when I was about to jump on a moped with a good friend, and I used to be putting on my actually cute shoes, and she mentioned, “Eisa, are you occurring Gree’s moped tonight ” And i mentioned yeah and saved chatting to Aisha and she stated, “Eisa, put on your sneakers.” And I was like no method, and that i kept chatting. And she said, “Eisa, you needn’t experience on a moped with sandals.” And that i finally stopped chatting and said why not And she mentioned actually quick and a bit louder, “Because something could occur on that bike and you should be prepared and you can’t do shit in those sandals.” And I was like, no matter Erica. And she obtained real low and mentioned, “Eisa, I would like you to put on your sneakers.” And i regarded her in the attention and said no. And she stamped her foot and stated, “Eisa, take these sandals off and put your rattling sneakers on now.” And i obtained actual quiet after that and for, like, a second, nothing happened.
I’ve a picture of Gree and me on the moped that night. I am smiling and safe. I am additionally sporting my Tretorns.
I remember her at Oxford, exhibiting Aisha and me her room, her pals, her life there.
During that very same journey to Europe, Erica and i danced at a concert at Hammersmith Odeon. We had been at Jazz to Pop to Soul. Or Jazz to Soul to Hip Hop. Or something like that. This was 21 years in the past. Anyway, we have been backstage with the Hip Hop groups who carried out that night time, and I was starving. I had not eaten much since touchdown at Gatwick, racing to the resort to meet Erica, and heading into the London streets. I was consuming oranges. There was a bowl of oranges in the greenroom, and I used to be eating orange after orange after orange. So I remember these oranges. And partying with my woman. If you adored this short article and you would like to get additional details concerning Island kindly go to the web-page. Each recollections are sweet.
I remember walking by the flea market on West 4th right here in New York to purchase those prairie print dresses we really seemed pretty good in.
I remember sitting in her dorm room at Sarah Lawrence every Thursday at eight:00 sharp. Nikki would drive us to get KFC, and we might go to Erica’s and turn on NBC. And Erica would eat chocolate chip cookie dough from the log. Raw. The entire thing. She did that each week.
But there are more memories to help you see her, who Erica was. Aisha says, “I remember many trips to Purple Lobster with Erica as a result of she liked their cheesy bread. I remember her asking me if I might learn her first few draft chapters of Bling and feeling very honored that she actually trusted me and respected my opinion. We turned even closer friends after I had my kids as a result of Erica beloved children and had a pure manner with them.”
But this does not actually categorical how vital Aisha was to Erica. Rachel known as Aisha Erica’s lifeline. She was right. Aisha was Erica’s lifeline. I believe The World ought to know that.
When Erica went away to Oxford, she known as Nikki and advised her all about her life, filling her in so Nikki nearly felt like she was going to Oxford, too. “She would inform me the place she would experience her bike to go get her hair carried out,” one of crucial particulars to share with a sister. When Erica was coming back to Sarah Lawrence, she known as Nikki and mentioned, “I am coming again. And that i wanna dwell with you.” Nikki didn’t hesitate. “Finished.” They were suitemates, sharing two rooms with a bathroom to hitch them, their senior yr.
Does this categorical the time spent speaking together about politics, celebrity gossip, guys, world occasions, fears, hopes, and – yes – hair Does it specific the depth of emotion when Nikki says, “Being an solely child, she’s all the time been my sister.”
A fierce sister. Tatiana stated,
“The factor I admired so much about Erica is that she deferred to nobody. Shortly after Miramax optioned her first novel Bling, she known as me on the Hollywood Reporter, and we had been speaking concerning the deal’s press protection. I was able to get a photograph of Erica within the paper — an exquisite one, natch. But she was outraged that Selection ran a photograph of Harvey Weinstein as an alternative of her. ‘It is not like he wrote the e-book,’ she deadpanned. And i just needed to snort. She was right, in fact. Most people would have been happy to take second billing to an Oscar winner. But not Erica. And that was the type of hutzpah that so outlined her for me.”
But this does not tell The World how Tatiana came into our circle after we’d all graduated, and the way we named her an honorary Sarah Lawrence alum even before she married a guy who did go to varsity with us. And this story also doesn’t inform how Erica and Tatiana would banter. On a regular basis. How they cracked one another up, and admired one another’s snazzy one-liners.
I could tell The World what Rachel remembers, which tells a lot about our Erica:
“You and Aish have been taking your junior 12 months away. I used to be mainly on my own. I signed up for “Slavery, Civil Conflict, and Reconstruction.” There have been a couple of white peeps in the category but principally it was women of coloration. Erica was a freshman and clearly I seen her. Sturdy and quiet. Lovely. Perhaps a little intimidating, although she was two years my junior. Remember I used to be one in every of the one white girls in a class with a fairly charged matter. Sooner or later, we had been two of a few left within the room. I was pulling my curly hair back right into a pony tail and fussing with the little wisps of hair that stuck out above my ears. Pressing them again, wishing they’d develop. Erica was quietly, intently watching me. I noticed and at last, bravely supplied ‘I have these items of hair, I simply can’t get them to remain down. They don’t grow. It’s so annoying.’ Erica stated, ‘So, you are saying you may have breakage.’
Breakage I never heard of it. What a revelation!
I answered, ‘Sure, I do.’
To which Erica mentioned in that inimitable Erica straight-faced means ‘that’s very Black of you, Rachel.’
After that we had been pals.”
I want I had area to describe to The World the beat and pulse and power of Hip Hop in the 80s, when stone island red raso jacket Erica and Rachel can be in town dancing. The way in which you dance along with your lady in baggy denims and jackets and knapsacks and feel, know, you might be in a second collectively. A moment as massive as Hip Hop in New York within the 80s. The best way they rolled liked that by means of town.
The town was about 30 minutes away from the place we all lived collectively in faculty. And we all did reside collectively there. Going to Sarah Lawrence with lower than 999 other undergraduates was kinda like growing up on one 1,000 particular person household property. It was like residing with family. Erica treated her ladies like family.
Only a few years in the past, when Aisha and Erica began Diego Garcia they had a sale at Aisha’s house within the Hamptons. Camille occurred to be visiting that weekend, and she bought one skirt however agonized over two dresses. Camille was freelancing back then and will only afford one. She made her choice, regretted not having the resources to buy both, and went for a swim. When she got here again, Erica had folded the gown Camille couldn’t afford and placed it on her mattress.
It was the sweetest gesture but not a total shock. Does it inform The World how she gave without gush, without pomp or expectation
And she gave us all the Lobster Idea, a treatise on womanhood that she developed throughout her 12 months at Oxford, two many years before the publication of Feminista. Erica typed it and printed it and stapled it together and mailed it, Par Avion, with hand-written notes to us all. After i learn it, I told her what I thought. “You’re a extremely good writer, Erica,” I stated on the cellphone. “Really good.” I can let you know we’ll always have The Lobster Idea of Love, however I can’t let you know the precise Lobster Theory. (I just can’t.)
So I’ll ask you to stick with me as I let you know, The World, this story, this memory. I feel it may be all I’ve left to offer you:
We sped down the Hudson River Parkway, away from the rolling lawns and stone buildings of our tiny suburban school and into the night time, into the flashing lights, and the blasting air of the town. I drove, flipped from BLS to KISS, and pressed more durable on the fuel pedal, fueled by the Friday night master mix and the new air of righteousness fogging the windows of Nikki’s Ford Festiva.
We had been on our method to CBGB’s to confront the lead singer of a certain rock band. He had been relationship Rachel, had stopped dating her, and had her belt, a very nice belt. We were decided to get it back. To get him back. You recognize.
It was concerning the belt however, like, it wasn’t.
Anyway, we roared into the city, strode backstage (not a difficult factor for us at all), and i do remember my finger and neck shifting again and forth. He was penitent, even pensive. He swore he would send Rachel the belt.
We confirmed him.
After the show we girls sat in the automotive consuming St. Marks pizza. And then, this happened:
A taxi driver and his fare acquired into a combat, the cab U-turned on third Avenue and hit the taxi double parked next to the Ford Festiva, which hit us, and the fare pulled the taxi driver out the window of the taxi and threw him on the hood of the taxi that had banged into us, and in addition threw him on the hood of the Ford Festiva, and hit him, so much, and we screamed, rather a lot, and for a long time this lasted, and then the fare strode off, and eventually the police came, and the police officer advised me to just keep in the automobile while he wrote a report (which we found out later was a false report with no contact information and finally figured the taxi driver must’ve given up that night time’s cash to repay the cop), and then after all that it started to snow, and I used to be like, ‘There isn’t a manner I’m gonna drive us again to Sarah Lawrence,’ and so I walked to a pay phone and Sky-Paged the DJ of a certain Hip Hop group with my code, and he known as me back on the pay telephone, and I used to be like, ‘Yo, you gotta come get us now!’ and within minutes he and Randy drove over from Chung King, and that i followed his black automotive with the purple; black; and inexperienced flag on the antenna to his black on black on black condo, and me and my women ended up choosing out afro wigs for an enormous part of that night time before we settled in enough to actually crash and sleep until the following morning once we drove back to school in a busted up Ford Festiva that may by no means get correctly repaired since we might never have the ability to file an insurance declare with the faux report the cop wrote out.
And in spite of everything that, Erica just stated, “Told you you shouldn’t go.”
See, it was Aisha, and Rachel, and Nikki, and that i in a Ford Festiva. Erica refused to go with us. After we pow-wowed in her dorm room about how we simply Had to get the belt again, Erica, in her infinite knowledge, told us this: “Like, I don’t get it.”
And after we tried to convince her that this was our mission, that we just had to just accept it, she simply stated this: “You shouldn’t go. This is silly.” And once we have been all like, “We are going” she was like, “Whatever.” And she relatively dramatically shook her duvet and bought within the mattress.
She was right, in fact. The guy never even sent Rachel her belt.
And so despite the fact that Erica wasn’t within the automotive with us, the story is incomplete without her. Her “Instructed you you shouldn’t go” the following morning has echoed these 22 years since and can sound on a decrease frequency in my mind for the rest of my life.
It was a hall-of-fame, classic, wild, crazy, bananas faculty expertise. And so in fact she was within the automobile with us, the entire means there and back, even though she was the just one with sense enough to know not to be.
Erica was at all times smarter than us. Than all of us put together.
I like to consider us all rolling collectively like we did that night time we went after Rachel’s belt. Rolling into the many years waiting for us up ahead. Erica will not ever be within the automotive with us. Not ever again. But the story, our story, won’t ever be full without her. She is going to all the time be riding with us. Someway. Her presence guiding us, properly, into our unsure future. Her voice will echo in the tales we’ll remember and inform once we attain that future. We’ll conjure her title, our vitality willing her presence back to us. Erica shall be with us that approach.
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