By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
You were a dream. The embodiment of my other life. An apparition from my other world.
You took me home to light-skinned(ed) jealousies, ashy skin scandals and nappy hair concerns. Nah-a-latas and bomb pops burning chemical color on my tongue. Trains tagged with graffiti, the lights blinking the cars black. Running home through the obstacle course of dudes in their cars and doorways, on the streets, looking to snatch up little girls.
I wanted to be your friend.
In that prison of pubescent cruelty and misunderstandings as old as the reasons our parents left Ghana, I knew we could be more than allies.
You weren’t from London. You hadn’t traveled outside. You were from around the way. Sort of. I represented Queens. You was raised out in Brooklyn.
‘Member how we used to listen to that kiddie Walkman? You had one broken ear, and I had the other; sounds of home sending waves of longing and laughter they couldn’t understand.
Aaaction! (Cast your bottom out.) Punks jumping up to get beat down. Doro-tee and Dan! You and Nan.
To the people who called us ‘dears’: Shut the f–k up witchore stink ass breff.
Kwasia! Abua! Anyεn! I envied you for not understanding the acid rain of insults.
Nanaykweah, talk to your friend, oh.
And I would.
And we settled into us. You wil’ing. Me preaching. You crying. Me comforting. Our roles, like molds, had been cast and they would become a fungus.
But back to our first meeting. The one you don’t remember.
I had heard about you. Heard you kicked that ass. And that she kicked yo’ ass. The winner varied with the teller. All I knew was them bitches was luck-key I had given my life to Christ. New creature. New Nan. ‘Cause Old Nan woulda taken one of them three-legged chairs in the chapel to their evil.
You were a bridge, I suppose, between Old and New. The Tri-borough. The Verazzano. The Kosciousko. One of ‘em. All of ‘em.
Years later, when our molds had covered us over, you asked me if all we had were memories. Was it true? Maybe.
Yes, our laughter had dried to inside jokes and dated references about girls we no longer were, but we were strong enough to make new memories. I know we were. We just needed a mold removal system. But I guess it was less threatening to remember. So we forgot what we meant to each other.
Sometimes, though, I still remember. And I know you do too.