Eisa Ulen Remembers Her Good friend, Erica Kennedy
I don’t want to jot down prior to now tense. I have to use the previous tense not solely because I am writing about the previous, but in addition because I’m writing about right now. This present. This presence. My sister. Our pricey, lovely, amazing, great, sensible, sharp sister. Who is now gone from this earth, and but so very current. A presence.
As I stood in JFK and heard Nikki say, “I can not even imagine I am telling you this and you are on the airport,” I felt the last second of my private stability tick tock away. In the next breath she advised me about Erica. Our Erica. Our sister Erica. A sound came out of me, and i cried, and that i did not care that others have been watching me as this sound came out of me and i cried. And I have been unstable ever since.
However this is not about me. It is about our girlfriend. I’m supposed to speak to the world what she meant to us. I do not suppose this is feasible. She is – was – too too far past words. 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 just because they, after all, had been her youngsters, too How can I inform you, The World, what she meant to us all How I’m crying right now as I sort this because it hurts an excessive amount of to jot down about her this fashion
I don’t assume I can talk how she made us feel. So, I’ll try to share what. What we did, and the way we did it, and after we did it, and with whom. I will attempt to specific friendship that spanned over two many years. That was alleged to final a lifetime.
As I pulled pictures to go together with these words, I remembered how vibrant and stunning she all the time was. How it all came collectively. I remembered where all of it began.
This is one reminiscence: We are at Alfred’s Ocean Palace, and Alfred’s Ocean Palace is a wood shack on the beach. Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and i lie collectively on a mattress and speak. I remember feeling lovely, with all of them, collectively like that, on this shack on the beach.
Nikki and Jane have run outside, by the parking lot, to the only visitor shower on the property, a pipe with a spigot and one knob set on cold. Cinder blocks encompass the pipe and reach up toward the open sky. We’ve all run to that shower for two weeks now, making an attempt to bathe at that exact second when it is just too late in the day to swim or sunbathe, but effectively earlier than it’s evening. When the sun is low but the air remains to be warm. That is the one time our bodies can take the chilly that shoots from the spigot as it blasts salt and sand from our skin.
Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and i lie together and watch for them, and we discuss. I don’t remember what we discuss. This was 22 years in the past. I solely remember the feeling. It’s warm and proper. It is gorgeous. We’re lovely, all of us, together. We talk and snigger however we’re quiet, too. For long stretches we simply lie there within the silence at dusk. We’re someplace between day and night time. We are somewhere between woman and girl. It will final without end, I think. That is sisterhood. I know I felt that then. I felt, ‘Yes. These are my sisters.’
A few years later, Rachel may have a baby. She may have a girl. She is going to identify 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 airplane shook and bounced and rattled, and I used to be large awake and in prayer. I was by no means good at flying. Erica reached out from her sleep, reached out from the folds of the blanket that was wrapped round her like a chrysalis. She reached out to carry my hand. She saved me protected like that.
And she kept me safe like this: I remember when I used to be about to jump on a moped with a pal, and I used to be placing on my really cute shoes, and she mentioned, “Eisa, are you occurring Gree’s moped tonight ” And that i stated yeah and saved chatting to Aisha and she mentioned, “Eisa, put in your sneakers.” And I was like no approach, and i kept chatting. And she said, “Eisa, you needn’t experience on a moped with sandals.” And i finally stopped chatting and stated why not And she said really quick and a bit of louder, “Because anything could occur on that bike and you have to be prepared and you cannot do shit in these sandals.” And I was like, no matter Erica. And she acquired actual low and stated, “Eisa, I would like you to wear your sneakers.” And i looked her in the attention and said no. And she stamped her foot and mentioned, “Eisa, take these sandals off and put your rattling sneakers on now.” And that i received actual quiet after that and for, like, a second, nothing occurred.
I have a picture of Gree and me on the moped that evening. I am smiling and secure. I’m also carrying my Tretorns.
I remember her at Oxford, exhibiting Aisha and me her room, her mates, her life there.
Throughout that same journey to Europe, Erica and that i danced at a concert at Hammersmith Odeon. We were at Jazz to Pop to Soul. Or Jazz to Soul to Hip Hop. Or one thing like that. This was 21 years ago. Anyway, we were backstage with the Hip Hop teams who carried out that night time, and I used to be starving. I had not eaten much since landing at Gatwick, racing to the resort to meet Erica, and heading into the London streets. I used to be eating oranges. There was a bowl of oranges in the greenroom, and I used to be consuming orange after orange after orange. So I remember these oranges. And partying with my lady. If you loved this short article and you would certainly like to get even more info relating to Island kindly browse through the page. Both reminiscences are sweet.
I remember walking by way of the flea market on West 4th here in New York to buy these prairie print dresses we really regarded 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 would go to Erica’s and activate NBC. And Erica would eat chocolate chip cookie dough from the log. Uncooked. The whole thing. She did that each week.
However there are more memories that will help you see her, who Erica was. Aisha says, “I remember many trips to Purple Lobster with Erica because she loved their cheesy bread. I remember her asking me if I would learn her first few draft chapters of Bling and feeling very honored that she really trusted me and revered my opinion. We turned even nearer associates after I had my kids because Erica liked youngsters and had a natural way with them.”
But this doesn’t actually categorical how important Aisha was to Erica. Rachel referred to as Aisha Erica’s lifeline. She was right. Aisha was Erica’s lifeline. I think The World ought to know that.
When Erica went away to Oxford, she referred to as Nikki and advised her all about her life, filling her in so Nikki almost felt like she was going to Oxford, too. “She would tell me where she would experience her bike to go get her hair done,” one of crucial details to share with a sister. When Erica was coming again to Sarah Lawrence, she referred to as Nikki and said, “I am coming back. And i wanna stay with you.” Nikki didn’t hesitate. “Done.” They were suitemates, sharing two rooms with a bathroom to hitch them, their senior yr.
Does this specific the time spent talking together about politics, celebrity gossip, guys, world events, fears, hopes, and – yes – hair Does it express the depth of emotion when Nikki says, “Being an solely child, she’s always been my sister.”
A fierce sister. Tatiana said,
“The thing I admired a lot about Erica is that she deferred to no one. Shortly after Miramax optioned her first novel Bling, she known as me at the Hollywood Reporter, and we were speaking concerning the deal’s press coverage. I was capable of get a photo of Erica within the paper — a gorgeous one, natch. But she was outraged that Variety ran a photograph of Harvey Weinstein as an alternative of her. ‘It isn’t like he wrote the book,’ she deadpanned. And that i simply had to chortle. She was proper, after all. Most individuals would have been happy to take second billing to an Oscar winner. But not Erica. And that was the kind of hutzpah that so outlined her for me.”
However this does not inform The World how Tatiana got here into our circle after we would all graduated, and the way we named her an honorary Sarah Lawrence alum even earlier than she married a man who did go to college with us. And this story additionally does not tell how Erica and Tatiana would banter. All the time. How they cracked one another up, and admired each other’s snazzy one-liners.
I may tell The World what Rachel remembers, which tells so much about our Erica:
“You and Aish were taking your junior year away. I was mainly on my own. I signed up for “Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction.” There were just a few white peeps in the category however mostly it was girls of colour. Erica was stone island coat 2013 a freshman and clearly I seen her. Robust and quiet. Lovely. Possibly a little bit intimidating, though she was two years my junior. Remember I used to be one among the only white women in a category with a reasonably charged matter. Sooner or later, we were two of some left within the room. I was pulling my curly hair again right into a pony tail and fussing with the little wisps of hair that caught out above my ears. Urgent them again, wishing they’d develop. Erica was quietly, intently watching me. I seen and finally, bravely provided ‘I’ve these items of hair, I simply can’t get them to stay down. They don’t develop. It’s so annoying.’ Erica mentioned, ‘So, you’re saying you’ve gotten breakage.’
Breakage I never heard of it. What a revelation!
I answered, ‘Yes, I do.’
To which Erica mentioned in that inimitable Erica straight-confronted approach ‘that’s very Black of you, Rachel.’
After that we were pals.”
I want I had area to explain to The World the beat and pulse and vitality of Hip Hop in the 80s, when Erica and Rachel could be in the town dancing. The best way you dance with your woman in baggy jeans and jackets and knapsacks and really feel, know, you are in a moment collectively. A second as large as Hip Hop in New York in the 80s. The best way they rolled appreciated that by means of the town.
Town was about half-hour away from where we all lived collectively in school. And we all did stay together there. Going to Sarah Lawrence with lower than 999 other undergraduates was kinda like growing up on one 1,000 particular person family property. It was like dwelling with family. Erica handled her girls like family.
Just some years ago, when Aisha and Erica started Diego Garcia that they had a sale at Aisha’s house within the Hamptons. Camille happened to be visiting that weekend, and she purchased one skirt but agonized over two dresses. Camille was freelancing back then and could solely afford one. She made her alternative, regretted not having the sources to purchase both, and went for a swim. When she came again, Erica had folded the gown Camille couldn’t afford and positioned it on her mattress.
It was the sweetest gesture but not a complete shock. Does it tell The World how she gave with out gush, with out pomp or expectation
And she gave us all of the Lobster Idea, a treatise on womanhood that she developed throughout her 12 months at Oxford, two many years earlier than the publication of Feminista. Erica typed it and printed it and stapled it collectively and mailed it, Par Avion, with hand-written notes to us all. Once i learn it, I instructed her what I believed. “You are a very good writer, Erica,” I mentioned on the telephone. “Really good.” I can let you know we’ll at all times have The Lobster Idea of Love, but I can not let you know the actual Lobster Concept. (I simply can’t.)
So I will ask you to stick with me as I let you know, The World, this story, this memory. I think it may be all I have left to provide you with:
We sped down the Hudson River Parkway, away from the rolling lawns and stone buildings of our tiny suburban college and into the evening, into the flashing lights, and the blasting air of the city. I drove, flipped from BLS to KISS, and pressed harder on the gasoline pedal, fueled by the Friday night time grasp combine and the new air of righteousness fogging the home windows of Nikki’s Ford Festiva.
We had been on our option to CBGB’s to confront the lead singer of a sure rock band. He had been courting Rachel, had stopped relationship her, and had her belt, a very nice belt. We had been decided to get it again. To get him again. You already know.
It was about the belt but, like, it wasn’t.
Anyway, we roared into the town, strode backstage (not a difficult thing for us in any respect), and i do remember my finger and neck moving again and forth. He was penitent, even pensive. He swore he would ship Rachel the belt.
We showed him.
After the show we women sat in the car eating St. Marks pizza. After which, this happened:
A taxi driver and his fare received right into a battle, the cab U-turned on 3rd Avenue and hit the taxi double parked subsequent 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 also threw him on the hood of the Ford Festiva, and hit him, lots, and we screamed, so much, and for a long time this lasted, after which the fare strode off, and ultimately the police came, and the police officer advised me to just keep in the automotive while he wrote a report (which we came upon later was a false report with no contact data and finally figured the taxi driver should’ve given up that evening’s money to repay the cop), and then in any case that it began to snow, and I was like, ‘There is no approach I’m gonna drive us again to Sarah Lawrence,’ and so I walked to a pay telephone and Sky-Paged the DJ of a sure Hip Hop group with my code, and he known as me again on the pay phone, and I was 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 car with the pink; black; and green flag on the antenna to his black on black on black condominium, and me and my girls ended up picking out afro wigs for an enormous a part of that night time earlier than we settled in sufficient to essentially crash and sleep till the following morning once we drove back to high school in a busted up Ford Festiva that may by no means get correctly repaired since we would by no means be able to file an insurance coverage claim with the faux report the cop wrote out.
And in spite of everything that, Erica just stated, “Informed you you shouldn’t go.”
See, it was Aisha, and Rachel, and Nikki, and i in a Ford Festiva. Erica refused to go along with us. When we pow-wowed in her dorm room about how we just Needed to get the belt again, Erica, in her infinite wisdom, told us this: “Like, I don’t get it.”
And when we tried to convince her that this was our mission, that we just had to simply accept it, she merely mentioned this: “You shouldn’t go. This is silly.” And after we had been all like, “We are going” she was like, “No matter.” And she rather dramatically shook her duvet and acquired in the mattress.
She was right, in fact. The guy never even despatched Rachel her belt.
And so even though Erica wasn’t in the car with us, the story is incomplete with out her. Her “Told you you should not 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 corridor-of-fame, basic, wild, crazy, bananas college experience. And so after all she was within the automobile with us, the whole way there and again, although she was the only one with sense sufficient to know to not be.
Erica was always smarter than us. Than all of us put together.
I like to think of us all rolling collectively like we did that night we went after Rachel’s belt. Rolling into the decades ready for us up ahead. Erica won’t ever be in the automotive with us. Not ever again. However the story, our story, won’t ever be full without her. She is going to all the time be riding with us. Somehow. Her presence guiding us, correctly, into our unsure future. Her voice will echo in the tales we will remember and inform when we reach that future. We’ll conjure her name, our energy keen her presence back to us. Erica shall be with us that method.
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