Eisa Ulen Remembers Her Good friend, Erica Kennedy
I do not want to jot down up to now tense. I have to use the previous tense not solely as a result of I am writing in regards to the past, but in addition as a result of I am writing about proper now. This present. This presence. My sister. Our pricey, lovely, amazing, fantastic, 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’m telling you this and you’re on the airport,” I felt the last second of my private stability tick tock away. In the following breath she told me about Erica. Our Erica. Our sister Erica. A sound got here out of me, and i cried, and i did not care that others have 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 is about our girlfriend. I’m supposed to speak to the world what she meant to us. I do not think this is possible. 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 way in which she gazed at our kids, the ones Aisha, Rachel, and i introduced into this world and our circle, and whom she liked so deeply simply because they, of course, had been her kids, too How can I tell you, The World, what she meant to us all How I’m crying proper now as I kind this because it hurts a lot to jot down about her this manner
I don’t assume I can communicate how she made us really feel. So, I’ll attempt to share what. What we did, and how we did it, and once we did it, and with whom. I’ll strive to express friendship that spanned over two a long time. That was speculated to last a lifetime.
As I pulled footage to go together with these phrases, I remembered how vibrant and beautiful she always was. How it all got here collectively. I remembered where it all started.
That is one reminiscence: We are at Alfred’s Ocean Palace, and Alfred’s Ocean Palace is a picket shack on the seashore. Aisha, Rachel, Erica, and i lie collectively on a bed and discuss. I remember feeling beautiful, with all of them, collectively like that, in this shack on the seashore.
Nikki and Jane have run exterior, by way of 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 attain up towards the open sky. We have all run to that shower for two weeks now, trying to bathe at that exact second when it is simply too late within the day to swim or sunbathe, but effectively earlier than it’s night. When the solar is low but the air is still heat. 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 i lie collectively and watch for them, and we discuss. I do not remember what we discuss. This was 22 years ago. I solely remember the feeling. It’s warm and right. It is gorgeous. We’re beautiful, all of us, together. We talk and snigger but we are quiet, too. For lengthy stretches we simply lie there within the silence at dusk. We are someplace between day kith stone island and evening. We are somewhere between girl and lady. This can final without end, I believe. That is sisterhood. I do know I felt that then. I felt, ‘Sure. These are my sisters.’
A few years later, Rachel will have a child. She may have a woman. She is going to identify her Jamaica. She never has to explain to any of us why she chooses this identify for her daughter.
On the return flight from the island, the plane shook and bounced and rattled, and I used to be broad 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 around her like a chrysalis. She reached out to hold my hand. She saved me secure like that.
And she kept me protected like this: I remember when I was about to leap on a moped with a good friend, and I used to be putting on my really cute sneakers, and she said, “Eisa, are you occurring Gree’s moped tonight ” And that i mentioned yeah and kept chatting to Aisha and she stated, “Eisa, put on your sneakers.” And I was like no manner, and i kept chatting. And she stated, “Eisa, you don’t need to journey on a moped with sandals.” And that i finally stopped chatting and said why not And she stated actually quick and a bit louder, “Because something may occur on that bike and you should be prepared and you cannot do shit in those sandals.” And I used to be like, whatever Erica. And she acquired real low and said, “Eisa, I want you to wear your sneakers.” And i regarded her in the eye and mentioned no. And she stamped her foot and stated, “Eisa, take these sandals off and put your damn sneakers on now.” And i bought real quiet after that and for, like, a second, nothing happened.
I have a picture of Gree and me on the moped that night. I am smiling and secure. I am additionally sporting my Tretorns.
I remember her at Oxford, exhibiting Aisha and me her room, her buddies, her life there.
During that very same trip to Europe, Erica and i danced at a live performance at Hammersmith Odeon. We have 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 evening, and I was starving. I had not eaten a lot since landing at Gatwick, racing to the lodge to fulfill 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 eating orange after orange after orange. So I remember these oranges. And partying with my woman. Both recollections are candy.
I remember walking by means of the flea market on West 4th right here in New York to purchase those prairie print dresses we really regarded fairly good in.
I remember sitting in her dorm room at Sarah Lawrence each Thursday at 8:00 sharp. Nikki would drive us to get KFC, and we’d go to Erica’s and turn on NBC. And Erica would eat chocolate chip cookie dough from the log. Raw. The whole thing. She did that every week.
But there are more recollections to help you see her, who Erica was. Aisha says, “I remember many trips to Red Lobster with Erica as a result of she beloved their cheesy bread. I remember her asking me if I might read her first few draft chapters of Bling and feeling very honored that she actually trusted me and respected my opinion. We turned even nearer buddies after I had my children as a result of Erica loved kids and had a pure approach with them.”
But this would not really express how vital Aisha was to Erica. Rachel called Aisha Erica’s lifeline. She was proper. Aisha was Erica’s lifeline. I believe The World should know that.
When Erica went away to Oxford, she called Nikki and instructed her all about her life, filling her in so Nikki almost felt like she was going to Oxford, too. “She would inform me where she would experience her bike to go get her hair completed,” one of an important particulars to share with a sister. When Erica was coming again to Sarah Lawrence, she referred to as Nikki and mentioned, “I’m coming back. And i wanna stay with you.” Nikki did not hesitate. “Completed.” They had been suitemates, sharing two rooms with a bathroom to affix them, their senior year.
Does this categorical the time spent talking collectively about politics, superstar gossip, guys, world events, fears, hopes, and – yes – hair Does it specific the depth of emotion when Nikki says, “Being an only child, she’s all the time been my sister.”
A fierce sister. Tatiana mentioned,
“The factor I admired so much about Erica is that she deferred to no one. Shortly after Miramax optioned her first novel Bling, she referred to as me on the Hollywood Reporter, and we were talking in regards to the deal’s press coverage. I was capable of get a photograph of Erica within the paper — a beautiful one, natch. However she was outraged that Selection ran a photograph of Harvey Weinstein instead of her. ‘It’s not like he wrote the book,’ she deadpanned. And i just needed to giggle. She was right, after all. Most individuals would have been satisfied to take second billing to an Oscar winner. But not Erica. And that was the form of hutzpah that so defined her for me.”
However this does not inform The World how Tatiana came into our circle after we’d all graduated, and how we named her an honorary Sarah Lawrence alum even before she married a man who did go to college 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 each other’s snazzy one-liners.
I might inform The World what Rachel remembers, which tells a lot about our Erica:
“You and Aish have been taking your junior year away. I was principally on my own. I signed up for “Slavery, Civil Struggle, and Reconstruction.” There were just a few white peeps in the category but largely it was girls of coloration. Erica was a freshman and obviously I observed her. Sturdy and quiet. Stunning. Maybe just a little intimidating, though she was two years my junior. Remember I was one in all the only white women in a category with a reasonably charged matter. At some point, we were two of a few left in the room. I was 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 observed and at last, bravely provided ‘I’ve these items of hair, I simply cannot get them to stay down. They don’t develop. It is so annoying.’ Erica stated, ‘So, you are saying you will 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 is very Black of you, Rachel.’
After that we were associates.”
I want I had house to describe to The World the beat and pulse and vitality of Hip Hop in the 80s, when Erica and Rachel could be in town dancing. The way in which you dance along with your girl in baggy denims and jackets and knapsacks and feel, know, you are in a second collectively. A moment as large as Hip Hop in New York within the 80s. The best way they rolled appreciated that via the city.
Town was about 30 minutes away from the place all of us lived together in faculty. And all of us did live collectively there. Going to Sarah Lawrence with lower than 999 other undergraduates was kinda like growing up on one 1,000 particular person household estate. It was like residing with household. Erica handled her ladies like household.
Just a few years ago, when Aisha and Erica started Diego Garcia that they had a sale at Aisha’s home in the Hamptons. Camille happened to be visiting that weekend, and she purchased one skirt but agonized over two dresses. Camille was freelancing again then and will only afford one. She made her selection, regretted not having the resources to purchase both, and went for a swim. When she got here again, Erica had folded the dress Camille could not afford and positioned it on her mattress.
It was the sweetest gesture but not a total shock. Does it inform The World how she gave without gush, with out pomp or expectation
And she gave us all the Lobster Concept, a treatise on womanhood that she developed throughout her 12 months at Oxford, two decades 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. Once i learn it, I told her what I thought. “You are a very good author, Erica,” I said on the cellphone. “Actually good.” I can let you know we are going to all the time have The Lobster Idea of Love, but I can’t let you know the actual Lobster Principle. (I simply cannot.)
So I’ll ask you to stay with me as I inform you, The World, this story, this reminiscence. I feel it may be all I’ve left to give you:
We sped down the Hudson River Parkway, away from the rolling lawns and stone buildings of our tiny suburban college and into the night, into the flashing lights, and the blasting air of town. I drove, flipped from BLS to KISS, and pressed kith stone island more durable on the gasoline pedal, fueled by the Friday night time grasp combine and the hot air of righteousness fogging the windows of Nikki’s Ford Festiva.
We were on our strategy to CBGB’s to confront the lead singer of a sure rock band. He had been courting Rachel, had stopped dating her, and had her belt, a really nice belt. We had been decided to get it back. To get him again. You recognize.
It was in regards to the belt however, like, it wasn’t.
Anyway, we roared into the town, strode backstage (not a tough thing for us at all), and i do remember my finger and neck moving again and forth. He was penitent, even pensive. He swore he would send Rachel the belt.
We confirmed him.
After the present we women sat in the automobile eating St. Marks pizza. And then, this occurred:
A taxi driver and his fare acquired into a fight, the cab U-turned on 3rd 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 likewise threw him on the hood of the Ford Festiva, and hit him, so much, and we screamed, a lot, and for a long time this lasted, and then the fare strode off, and eventually the police got here, and the police officer informed me to simply keep within the automotive whereas he wrote a report (which we discovered later was a false report with no contact info and finally figured the taxi driver should’ve given up that night time’s money to pay off the cop), and then in spite of everything that it started 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 cellphone, 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 automotive with the crimson; black; and green flag on the antenna to his black on black on black apartment, and me and my ladies ended up selecting out afro wigs for a big part of that evening before we settled in sufficient to essentially crash and sleep until the subsequent morning once we drove back to highschool in a busted up Ford Festiva that might never get properly repaired since we would by no means be capable to file an insurance declare with the pretend report the cop wrote out.
And in any case that, Erica simply stated, “Instructed 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 just Had to get the belt back, Erica, in her infinite wisdom, advised us this: “Like, I do not get it.”
And after we tried to convince her that this was our mission, that we simply had to simply accept it, she simply said this: “You should not go. This is stupid.” And after we were all like, “We’re going” she was like, “No matter.” And she quite dramatically shook her duvet and acquired in the bed.
She was proper, of course. The man by no means even sent Rachel her belt.
And so even though Erica wasn’t within the automobile with us, the story is incomplete with out her. Her “Advised you you should not go” the following morning has echoed these 22 years since and will sound on a lower frequency in my brain for the remainder of my life.
It was a corridor-of-fame, classic, wild, loopy, bananas college expertise. And so of course she was within the automotive with us, the whole method there and back, although she was the only one with sense sufficient to know not to be.
Erica was at all times smarter than us. Than all of us put together.
I like to think about us all rolling collectively like we did that night we went after Rachel’s belt. Rolling into the a long time waiting for us up ahead. Erica will not ever be in the automotive with us. Not ever once more. However the story, our story, won’t ever be complete without her. She will always be riding with us. By some means. Her presence guiding us, correctly, into our uncertain future. Her voice will echo within the tales we’ll remember and tell after we attain that Stone Island News future. We’ll conjure her name, our power keen her presence back to us. Erica can be with us that approach.
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