Eisa Ulen Remembers Her Good friend, Erica Kennedy
I don’t need to write down prior to now tense. I must use the previous tense not solely as a result of I am writing concerning the previous, but in addition because I am writing about right now. This present. This presence. My sister. Our dear, lovely, amazing, fantastic, sensible, sharp sister. Who is now gone from this earth, and yet so very current. A presence.
As I stood in JFK and heard Nikki say, “I can’t even imagine I am telling you this and you are at the airport,” I felt the last moment of my private stability tick tock away. In the following breath she told me about Erica. Our Erica. Our sister Erica. A sound came out of me, and i cried, and i did not care that others had been watching me as this sound came out of me and that i cried. And I’ve been unstable ever since.
But this is not about me. It is about our girlfriend. I am supposed to speak to the world what she meant to us. I do not suppose this is feasible. She is – was – too too far beyond words. How am I to communicate her love, expressed with a easy brush of cheek against cheek The delight in her smile, the best way she gazed at our children, the ones Aisha, Rachel, and i brought into this world and our circle, and whom she cherished so deeply just because they, after all, were her kids, too How can I inform you, The World, what she meant to us all How I’m crying right now as I kind this as a result of it hurts a lot to write about her this fashion
I do not assume I can talk how she made us really feel. So, I will try to share what. What we did, and how we did it, and when we did it, and with whom. I will attempt to express friendship that spanned over two a long time. That was imagined to final a lifetime.
As I pulled pictures to go with these phrases, I remembered how shiny and beautiful she all the time was. How all of it came collectively. I remembered the place all of it started.
This is one memory: We are at Alfred’s Ocean Palace, and Alfred’s Ocean Palace is a picket shack on the beach. Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and that i lie collectively on a bed and talk. I remember feeling beautiful, with all of them, together like that, on this shack on the seashore.
Nikki and Jane have run outdoors, by means of the parking lot, to the only guest shower on the property, a pipe with a spigot and one knob set on cold. Cinder blocks surround the pipe and attain up towards the open sky. We have now all run to that shower for 2 weeks now, attempting to bathe at that precise second when it is just too late in the day to swim or sunbathe, but well before it’s evening. When the solar is low but the air continues to be warm. This is the only time our bodies can take the chilly that shoots from the spigot because it blasts salt and sand from our skin.
Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and that i lie collectively and wait for them, and we talk. I don’t remember what we discuss. This was 22 years in the past. I only remember the feeling. It is warm and proper. It is beautiful. We’re beautiful, all of us, collectively. We discuss and chortle however we’re quiet, too. For lengthy stretches we just lie there within the silence at dusk. We’re someplace between day and evening. We’re somewhere between woman and girl. This can final without end, I feel. That is sisterhood. I do know I felt that then. I felt, ‘Sure. These are my sisters.’
A few years later, Rachel may have a child. She could have a lady. She’s going to title her Jamaica. She by no means has to clarify to any of us why she chooses this title for her daughter.
On the return flight from the island, the airplane shook and bounced and rattled, and I was 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 kept me safe like that.
And she saved me secure like this: I remember when I used to be about to leap on a moped with a buddy, and I was placing on my really cute sneakers, and she stated, “Eisa, are you occurring Gree’s moped tonight ” And that i mentioned yeah and saved chatting to Aisha and she said, “Eisa, put in your sneakers.” And I used to be like no way, and i stored chatting. And she stated, “Eisa, you don’t need to experience on a moped with sandals.” And that i lastly stopped chatting and stated why not And she stated really fast and a bit of louder, “As a result of something could occur on that bike and you must be prepared and you cannot do shit in these sandals.” And I used to be like, no matter Erica. And she got actual low and stated, “Eisa, I would like you to wear your sneakers.” And i seemed her in the attention and said no. And she stamped her foot and stated, “Eisa, take these sandals off and put your damn sneakers on now.” And i received actual quiet after that and for, like, a second, nothing happened.
I’ve an image of Gree and me on the moped that night. I’m smiling and secure. I’m additionally sporting my Tretorns.
I remember her at Oxford, exhibiting Aisha and me her room, her associates, her life there.
Throughout that very same journey to Europe, Erica and i danced at a live performance 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 had been backstage with the Hip Hop groups who carried out that evening, and I was starving. I had not eaten much since touchdown at Gatwick, racing to the resort to fulfill Erica, and heading into the London streets. I used to be consuming oranges. There was a bowl of oranges within the greenroom, and I used to be consuming orange after orange after orange. So I remember these oranges. And partying with my woman. If you liked this short article and you would certainly such as to get even more facts pertaining to Island kindly go to the webpage. Each recollections are sweet.
I remember strolling by the flea market on West 4th right here in New York to buy those prairie print dresses we truly regarded pretty good in.
I remember sitting in her dorm room at Sarah Lawrence each Thursday at eight:00 sharp. Nikki would drive us to get KFC, and we would 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 extra memories that can assist you see her, who Erica was. Aisha says, “I remember many journeys to Purple Lobster with Erica as a result of she liked their cheesy bread. I remember her asking me if I’d read her first few draft chapters of Bling and feeling very honored that she actually trusted me and revered my opinion. We turned even nearer mates after I had my children because Erica liked youngsters and had a natural method with them.”
However this does not really express how essential Aisha was to Erica. Rachel referred to as Aisha Erica’s lifeline. She was right. Aisha was Erica’s lifeline. I believe The World should know that.
When Erica went away to Oxford, she referred to as Nikki and instructed her all about her life, filling her in so Nikki virtually felt like she was going to Oxford, too. “She would tell me the place she would trip her bike to go get her hair completed,” one in all crucial particulars to share with a sister. When Erica was coming again to Sarah Lawrence, she referred to as Nikki and stated, “I’m coming again. And that i wanna stay with you.” Nikki did not hesitate. “Completed.” They were suitemates, sharing two rooms with a bathroom to hitch them, their senior yr.
Does this specific the time spent speaking together about politics, celeb gossip, guys, world occasions, fears, hopes, and – sure – hair Does it categorical the depth of emotion when Nikki says, “Being an only little one, she’s always been my sister.”
A fierce sister. Tatiana said,
“The thing I admired a lot about Erica is that she deferred to nobody. Shortly after Miramax optioned her first novel Bling, she known as me at the Hollywood Reporter, and we have been talking in regards to the deal’s press protection. I used to be capable of get a photo of Erica within the paper — an attractive one, natch. However she was outraged that Selection ran a photo of Harvey Weinstein instead of her. ‘It isn’t like he wrote the ebook,’ she deadpanned. And that i just needed to chortle. She was proper, in fact. 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.”
But this would not tell The World how Tatiana came into our circle after we’d all graduated, and how we named her an honorary Sarah Lawrence alum even earlier than she married a man who did go to school with us. And this story additionally does not inform how Erica and Tatiana would banter. On a regular basis. How they cracked one another up, and admired each other’s snazzy one-liners.
I could inform The World what Rachel remembers, which tells so much about our Erica:
“You and Aish have been taking your junior 12 months away. I was basically on my own. I signed up for “Slavery, Civil Struggle, and Reconstruction.” There were a number of white peeps in the class however mostly it was girls of coloration. Erica was a freshman and clearly I seen her. Robust and quiet. Lovely. Maybe a little intimidating, though she was two years my junior. Remember I used to be one in all the one white women in a category with a fairly charged topic. One day, we have been two of a few left within the room. I used to be pulling my curly hair again into a pony tail and fussing with the little wisps of hair that caught out above my ears. Urgent them back, wishing they’d develop. Erica was quietly, intently watching me. I noticed and at last, bravely supplied ‘I’ve these items of hair, I simply cannot get them to remain down. They do not develop. It’s so annoying.’ Erica said, ‘So, you’re saying you’ve got breakage.’
Breakage I by no means heard of it. What a revelation!
I answered, ‘Yes, I do.’
To which Erica stated in that inimitable Erica straight-faced way ‘that’s very Black of you, Rachel.’
After that we had been friends.”
I want I had house to describe to The World the beat and pulse and vitality of Hip Hop within the 80s, when Erica and Rachel can be in the city dancing. The way you dance along with your girl in baggy jeans and jackets and knapsacks and really feel, know, you might be in a moment collectively. A second as large as Hip Hop in New York in the 80s. The way in which they rolled favored that by town.
Town was about 30 minutes away from where we all lived together in faculty. And we all did dwell together there. Going to Sarah Lawrence with lower than 999 different undergraduates was kinda like rising up on one 1,000 particular person family property. It was like living with family. Erica handled her ladies like family.
Just a few years in the past, when Aisha and Erica started Diego Garcia they had a sale at Aisha’s house within the Hamptons. Camille occurred to be visiting that weekend, and she purchased one skirt however agonized over two dresses. Camille was freelancing back then and could only afford one. She made her alternative, regretted not having the assets to purchase each, and went for a swim. When she came again, Erica had folded the gown Camille couldn’t afford and placed it on her mattress.
It was the sweetest gesture however not a complete surprise. Does it tell The World how she gave without gush, without pomp or expectation
And she gave us all the Lobster Principle, a treatise on womanhood that she developed during her year at Oxford, two a long time before 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. After i learn it, I advised her what I assumed. “You’re a really good author, Erica,” I mentioned on the phone. “Really good.” I can inform you we are going to always have The Lobster Principle of Love, however I am unable to inform you the precise Lobster Principle. (I simply can’t.)
So I will ask you to stick with me as I inform you, The World, this story, this memory. I feel it may be all I have left to give you:
We sped down the Hudson River Parkway, away from the rolling lawns and stone buildings of our tiny suburban school and into the evening, into the flashing lights, and the blasting air of town. I drove, flipped from BLS to KISS, and pressed more durable on the fuel pedal, fueled by the Friday evening master mix and the hot air of righteousness fogging the home windows of Nikki’s Ford Festiva.
We had been on our approach to CBGB’s to confront the lead singer of a certain rock band. He had been relationship Rachel, had stopped courting her, and had her belt, a really nice belt. We had been determined to get it back. To get him back. You know.
It was concerning the belt but, like, it wasn’t.
Anyway, we roared into the town, strode backstage (not a tough factor for us in any respect), and that 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 showed him.
After the present we ladies sat within the automobile eating St. Marks pizza. After which, this happened:
A taxi driver and his fare got right 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, a lot, and for a very long time this lasted, after which the fare strode off, and finally the police came, and the police officer told me to only keep within the car while he wrote a report (which we came upon later was a false report with no contact data and ultimately figured the taxi driver should’ve given up that night’s money to repay the cop), after which in any case that it started to snow, and I used to be like, ‘There isn’t any manner I am gonna drive us again to Sarah Lawrence,’ and so I walked to a pay cellphone and Sky-Paged the DJ of a sure 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 adopted his black car with the purple; black; and inexperienced flag on the antenna to his black on black on black apartment, and me and my women ended up choosing out afro wigs for a big part of that night time before we settled in enough to essentially crash and sleep till the following morning when we drove back to highschool 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 claim with the fake report the cop wrote out.
And in any case that, Erica simply said, “Advised you you shouldn’t go.”
See, it was Aisha, and Rachel, and Nikki, and that i in a Ford Festiva. Erica refused to go along with us. When we pow-wowed in her dorm room about how we just Had to get the belt back, Erica, in her infinite knowledge, informed 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 just accept it, she merely stated this: “You should not go. That is stupid.” And once we have been all like, “We are going” she was like, “Whatever.” And she reasonably dramatically shook her duvet and got within the bed.
She was right, after all. The man by no means even despatched Rachel her belt.
And so even though Erica wasn’t within the car with us, the story is incomplete with out her. Her “Advised you you shouldn’t go” the next morning has echoed these 22 years since and will sound on a lower frequency in my mind for the remainder of my life.
It was a hall-of-fame, classic, wild, loopy, bananas faculty expertise. And so of course she was in the automotive with us, the whole approach there and back, though she was the only one with sense enough to know to not be.
Erica was at all times smarter than us. Than all of us put together.
I like to consider us all rolling together like we did that night we went after Rachel’s belt. Rolling stone island jas winter into the decades ready for us up forward. Erica will not ever be within the car with us. Not ever again. However the story, our story, won’t ever be complete without her. She will all the time be riding with us. Somehow. Her presence guiding us, wisely, into our uncertain future. Her voice will echo within the tales we will remember and tell once we reach that future. We’ll conjure her name, our energy willing her presence again to us. Erica shall be with us that means.
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