Sister Act

There’s nothing like the bond among friends, and every woman should experience that. We can love our men, but we need a network of supporters who own a space in our world that doesn’t include the boot of our lovers. Friends get us, they have the same struggles: wavering self-esteem with age, PMS, weight concerns, hair, body issues, love, pettiness, doubt, etc...

When my mom decided to move my brothers and me to Atlanta in 1990, I was open to change but a little doubtful. I loved my school! I was happy in Virginia. But even though GA wasn’t for me, and we only lasted a year, it was long enough to establish a great bond with these ladies.   

  Kamilah Watson, Alona Joseph, Dawn Wright, and Tomisha McIntyre   

Kamilah Watson, Alona Joseph, Dawn Wright, and Tomisha McIntyre  

 

When I moved, I had to snap as many photos as possible. It was a bittersweet moment that left a lump in my throat for days. Sure, I had my first real best friend, Dawn Lourenzo from VA, but this was my first gang of friends. The New Yorker, The Georgian, The Virginian, The Chi-Towner. We just fell into place. No drama, no real fights, just a bond of tweens who missed their hometowns minus the one who was already in hers, Alona. 

Back in the day before social media and cell phones, staying in touch would require the hardcore effort and dedication like Dawn and I had. We wrote since my departure from VA up until the start of high school. And when I tried that  tradition with my ladies of GA, it didn’t quite work out, and having to write three ladies on top of my constant one sounded like an unrealistic task. 

As months turned into years and time progressed, it was clear that what we had was as happening as Vanilla Ice’s career. I mean, maybe we each carried one another in our hearts, but we wouldn’t know that. Once the era of high school rolled in, so did new friendships. 

 

 

  Dawn Wright, Angela Pinder   —Fourth of July 20l3

Dawn Wright, Angela Pinder —Fourth of July 20l3

I met Angela in high school, and we’ve been in touch ever since. I say that because she moved to Miami to be with her family, who’d also left Virginia many years after our high school graduation. But out of everyone in our inner circle at school, she’s the one I held dearest to my heart.

In high school, we had our moody days. I would come crabby over the dumbest thing, but she was even more moodier. What mattered to Angela was that I didn’t take it personal. I’ll never forget the day we started our morning together on the wrong foot. I went to art class and she went to her class, whatever it was. By the time I came out, she’d slipped me a note, apologizing for her mood. I wasn’t gonna hold a grudge against my ride or die, so it was all forgotten. Besides, our moods rarely lasted past first period.  

We were bonded by all-things life. No topic was off-limits. I mean, as teenagers, we laughed about certain boys behind closed doors, revealed our crushes, acted petty, discussed which girls annoyed us. We had our own type of sense of humor. We were two Geminis who existed without affectionate references and hugs. We were just homegirls. Besties. But homegirls. We showed each other our art work, because she was artistic as well, but it wasn’t until adulthood did I discover just how talented she was. Again, I had a low-drama relationship with Angela.

To this day, I can go for months without calling her. She can go months without calling me. Texts may exist between us, but when we call one another, we just pick up where we left off from. Lately, we chat more frequently with me cracking up at her venting about her intolerance for Miami, but pouting at her longing to move back to DC. 

But before she moved to Miami, she was still a Washingtonian when I met my sister in college.  

 

  Rita Stevens, Dawn Wright—November 2017, sleepovers  

Rita Stevens, Dawn Wright—November 2017, sleepovers  

I met this Gemini in 1998. Rita was the one who just knew so much and wasn’t the typcial college student. She spat nothing but knowledge and had that old spirit about her. Yeah, we could talk about everything under the sun, but the level of depth was unbelievable. Our talks about men, politics, socialism, racism, government affairs, love, friendship, health, mental health, the economy—core issues that people need to stay on top of to stay ahead of life. But even though we have that realnesss between us, we also have a fun side.

We have a tradition that every time we get together, a plate of Mexican food has to sit in front of us. Why? Because in college, we enrolled in Spanish and bonded over the music, the culture with and without our Latina friends in our highly-diverse woman’s college of DC. In car rides to the club, my boyfriend would share his collection of salsa, bachata, and merengue music, and with that, Rita and I picked certain songs that would hang with us today to offer that sense of nastalgia. Just last month, she hoped into my car and when she heard one of our merengue songs blaring, she instantly shrieked with laughter and in that moment, we both knew that the girls were back in the house. 🎶Donde estan las mamis? Where the mamis at?🎶 Thank you, Oro Solido!!!

I mean, I hadn’t seen my girl since 2014 and we live less than 30 miles apart! But we’re two Geminis who just fall into our own bubble of existence and not everyone can handle that kind of friendship. Our phone calls are sometimes the things that should be the girl time. When you know your girl will always be there waiting for you, you don’t trip, but you can’t let the phone be the girls’ night out either. But this is my sis. We don’t argue, we keep it real, we support one another, we laugh, we know when the other is drowing without throwing up flagging hands of help. My mother is her mother. My brother and boyfriend are her brothers. She is, my sister. 

Thanks to social media, I found my original crew. Alona used to be on FB, but after a few years of wishing each other happy birthday from one Gemini to another, our how-ya-doing-social media chat became the best part and last of our digital reunion. Tomisha was on FB, and even though we exchanged the how-ya-doing-so-happy-to-see-you talk, months later, she disappeared from FB—and from social media. Kamilah was on MySpace, because it was cool at one point. We exchanged numbers and shared a joyous, long conversation one time and after that, we, too, failed to keep in touch. 

Last year, I found Kamilah on LinkedIn. We were so happy to find one another! I took her number and never used it. I wanted to, but I think I felt so relieved by the fact that I’d found her, that the time I planned to her call just slipped away day after day. But when I logged onto Instagram one day a few weeks ago, I told myself that there was no excuse why we couldn’t find one another in 2017! So, I found her account and I took her number again and promised to call when I had no chance of interruptions.  

Over the phone tonight, we were like three women with an invisible table in front of us drinking martinis with salads. With beaming excitement, there were many times we each wanted to talk at the same time, so there was plenty of, “Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.” We also talked about the people we used to know. “Hey, do you remember the girl or boy who . . .?” 

The moment was filled with relief among women who shared history, memories, laughter, and respect. Alana may be missing, and maybe that will change, but there’s no break in our chain. We managed to anchor down a promise to keep in touch once a week moving forward.

I realize how blessed I am to have best friends near and far, who feel more like the sisters I craved to have growing up. One thing is for sure: If the ability to survive distance and time is indicative of a strong friendship, then the title ‘sister,’ was fitting after all.

 

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My last day at Salem before moving back to Virginia. 

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