Eight years ago, the life paths of three women — one black, one white, one multi-racial — crossed, and a unique friendship was born. The topic of race was central from the inception, and we shared a fundamental sense that we needed one another as we explored the terrain of race. Despite the fact that many of our conversations over the years have been difficult and sensitive, they’ve also been beautiful.
I do not remember what I said to my mother over the phone, or what Ms. Reed said when I came back to class. What I remember is staring at my desk, the florescent light blurring into a seamless expanse over me, a pencil shaking in my hand. What I remember is the way my mother walked into the office, wordless, a pink sweatshirt bunched between her hands. My mother’s lips were bare and pale, and the sweatshirt hung past my knees.
In so many ways, my ideal home is like the earth itself. Perhaps that is the real reason I eschew plastic and acrylic. Perhaps that is why I love wood and wool. Why I like to see our rooms change with the seasons. I want to remember that I am made from the stuff of earth. I never want to forget that the earth is my God-made home. The sky a tent overhead.
I sit for a moment in the reality of my own fortune, my own comfort, my own deep-seated needs and self centered nature. I remember the ashes, the feel of them on my forehead, gritty under Father Boyle’s thumb as he pressed them into the sign of the cross and I breathe then, one deep breath, one heavy sigh that releases shame of that milk carton moment, that column of ash moment, that slow march toward Good Friday. Carus, we are Easter people.
In my writing about my friend, I embellished certain details. I filled in the holes. And as a result, if I’m honest, I’m not sure which parts of the story are true, as in truly happened, and which parts I’ve added, piece by piece, over the years. Was it my need to remember that built this parallel between his eyes and the radio? Did we really smoke pot on a park bench, en plein air, as I’ve so often recalled, or was it cigarettes? Did he hold my hand during the movie we watched together, or did I dream that, too?