My phone had been ringing non-stop. Many of those calls were from my sorority sisters. several of my line sisters who were in the area had expressed interest in coming to see me. they knew that I was out somewhere in the country and they knew that I had a group of friends from new york with me. They offered to bring us food.
That’s a beautiful thing, when people decide to simply show up.
When someone that you care about has experienced something horrible, you just show up. You don’t wait for an invitation. You won’t get one. Just go. Unless they ask you not to come. Also, food is always a good idea. Nobody really feels like cooking or going out to eat. It’s nice to have options. Nice to have a variety of food at your fingertips. I wasn’t eating, but I appreciated all of the food we had. My friends did too. And so did my mom, she was coming. She was really close by this time.
So my sorors were there; they found the country house in Hopewell. Katrina, Christi, Deb, Kim, Nakia, they all showed up. Inside I was really thankful to see them, but unfortunately my thankfulness did not translate very well through my facial expression. My face was still in that strange new position. That sad blank position. And I was sitting, lifelessly, on that same lounge chair outside. They all sat around me in a circle. It was hard for them to see me like that, because they know me as “Sunshine;” my sorority sisters call me Sunshine because I am always smiling.
But I wasn’t smiling…. there was nothing to smile about.
Kesner was still dead.
I asked them how their husbands were doing, three of them are married to Kappas; Kesner’s fraternity brothers. “So-so” they said. Nobody was doing well. Kesner’s death was a big shock to the entire community.
They told me that there had been a lot of activity in Trenton, particularly at Kesner’s house; lots of people helping. Lots of people around, including his ex-girlfriend; apparently she was doing a lot.
Folks were beginning to wonder where I was. They were wondering why I wasn’t there also.
I would be no help to them at his house, I’d resolved. As it was, I could hardly move. I was barely talking. Not eating. What would I do there? Also, I figured that she (the ex) needed to be there. For peace and closure. The house certainly wasn’t big enough for the two of us. and people grieve differently - sometimes ‘doing’ is easier than ‘dealing’.
Also - I had given Kesner his flowers while he was still living. My granddaddy always used to say: “give me my flowers while I’m living.” by that, he meant that most people will show up with flowers after someone dies, but at that point it’s too late. The person is already dead. I had given Kesner his flowers. I loved him until death. Till death did us part.
And also I had found his dead body. So there was nothing more that I needed to do.
I couldn’t do another thing.
As we (my sorority sisters and I) sat in a circle on the patio and talked, Klay, Monet and Jessie joined us…
But where in the world was Andrea?
and then suddenly there she was:
Andrea…. a vision… gorgeous…. beautiful and fly…
She was wearing a crisp blue button down shirt. She had a European scarf tied around her neck (in a way that only andrea can tie it) and black capris pants. Her make-up was flawless and her hair was impeccable. She sat down in a chair, crossed her legs, smiled, and winked at me.
I immediately burst out laughing! Andrea had done a Houdini!!!
All day long Andrea had on black capris sweatpants and a faded grey army/navy tee-shirt with a hole in the arm pit. She wasn’t wearing any make-up and her hair was loosely tended.
When Andrea got the news about Kesner, she hadn’t had time to go home and pack an overnight bag – she came straight to New Jersey. All that she had with her were her work clothes (the clothes on her back) and the clothes that she was planning to wear to the gym (the army shirt and capris sweats).
WELL… she took her top and scarf from work and combined it with her sweats (you could only tell they were sweats if you looked closely). And she created an outfit.
and it was fly!
“we have company” she said. “And you must be presentable at all times.”
Andrea and I met during the summer of 2001. We were both summer interns at Merrill Lynch. When we first met, she approached me and introduced herself:
“Hi, i’m Andrea, I’m an intern.” My response was: “hi, I’m Kim, I’m and intern too…”
to which her response to that was: “oh.” She thought that I was one of the full time employees at Merrill Lynch because of the way that I was dressed. She was sharp too. Competition immediately set in; typical of black women.
We went through our entire internship training giving each other ‘the hateful-side-eye.‘ We were not going to be friends. We were two crabs in a barrel; each out to win while we simultaneously pushed the other down.
But this sentiment would soon change….
On the first day of our intern rotation, we were both sent to the New York Stock Exchange floor (NYSE) for the day. We were both wearing high heel shoes. There are no seats on the NYSE; you have to stand all day long and by the time the closing bell rang at 4:00PM our feet were BURNING.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
We had both been standing all day long doing nothing; just standing behind traders and trying to think of interesting questions to ask. It was horrible. When we met back up at the end of the day, hating on each other was no longer an option. We were in solidarity because our feet hurt so badly. The two of us literally found the closest street corner and sat down on the curb in our business suits.
and suddenly there we were:
Two yong black women, in business attire, sitting on a curb in lower Manhattan.
We laughed about how foolish we had been acting. That moment sealed our friendship. Our guards were finally down.
And after that fateful day on the street curb, our summer together was a blast. We were inseparable. We did everything together. New York City was our playground. Neither of us had ever lived there before. We would get on trains and just go. Each time it was a new adventure; it was like visiting different countries: Little Italy. China Town. Spanish Harlem. Jamaica Queens …
The New York City Subway opened up our world
We got all of the new york touristy stuff out of our system that summer. It was so much fun.
Soon we were both working at Merrill Lynch full time after college. I was on the New York Stock Exchange floor (NYSE) and she was working on the equity capital markets desk. She kept long hours. She worked really hard. My hours were set around the stock market (9:30-4:00); but she often worked until the wee hours of the night. Sometimes overnight. And she was expected to be there very early in the morning.
Despite these demands, Andrea was doing extremely well; and soon she had the opportunity to move to London.
“Should I go? I don’t know Kim. I don’t think I want to go to London.”
“WHAT? not go to London?!?” – I wasn’t trying to hear that at all!
“you better go to London,” I insisted.
“You are going to London Andrea!”
The truth is, it wasn’t just about her… it was about us. Andrea was going to London for us. By this time my short little wall street career was ending. It didn’t work out for me; the shoe didn’t fit, and I was preparing to transition to Seminary.
But Andrea had been asked to go to London. This was the next step. I needed her to go.
I needed her to go… for us.
and she went.
Soon after that, I began to live vicariously through my friend and her fabulous escapades. She was becoming a world traveler. She would be in a different country every weekend. On different continents. And I was always talking about her. I was so proud of her. And when she would come to visit, it was always fabulous. She would get a room at the Soho Grand an I always stayed with her.
When she was around I felt like I was as fabulous as she was.
And traveling with her is fun also. Andrea is the type of person that you can travel with and you don’t have to think. Either she has been there, or she has already thought it all through; planned everything out. And she always chooses prime accommodations. She’s fabulous.
Andrea and Me in Amsterdam...
I began to speak so highly of her to others that she became an urban myth among my friends in New Jersey and New York. Whenever we thought we were doing something fabulous. Something really great. We would say:
… in other words: whatever we were doing, we felt it was ‘Andrea worthy.’
I mean this sister used to fly in town from London just to get her hair done in Brooklyn. And after London, her job moved her to Hong Kong.
This chick is bad!
After several years of living a fabulous life as a world traveler and global business leader, Andrea came to a crossroads: She didn’t feel passionate about her work; something had to change
Was this truly her calling or was she meant to do something else?
On Andrea’s last visit from London, we were spending time together at the soho grand. She was sick. She had a horrible cough. Her spirits were low. She was at the point of realizing that the wall street life was no longer for her. It was the beginning of the financial crisis and things were moving downhill swiftly. She said she felt like Indiana Jones running from a giant concrete ball. She needed to get out quickly.
But what would she do? So many of us tie our identities to our careers.
I wanted to help her, but I didn’t know what to say or do; so I took her to see ‘the Doctor:’
I took her to see Monet. Monet gives people permission to be….
Monet used her Louise Hay book to diagnose Andrea’s condition: she was fearful of the next step. Her throat was sore because she had something to say, and it was now time for her to speak.
You see Andrea is a gifted writer and poet but Wall Street was stifling her creativity. She had come to a crossroads and she had to make a difficult decision: to continue on a traditional path or to take a road less traveled.
She chose the road less traveled, and she decided to pursue her passion.
today she is a writer for Uptown.com. She has a witty and well researched urban commentary and she is called upon frequently to speak in diverse forums. she blogs at www.lovecupidncleopatra.com ; there you can benefit from her wisdom and insight. You can also find links to her most recent Uptown articles here, including her controversial argument “Why White Women are Winning?” http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/04/love-why-white-women-are-winning/; http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/04/burn-your-checklist-keep-your-standards/; http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/01/white-friends-how-many-of-us-have-them/
You can also click here to see a radio interview that I did with Andrea last spring:
Andrea is living her dream and her universe is on fire.
I am so proud of my friend.
And in that moment, back at the country house, my friend made me laugh….
But I didn’t laugh long.
Kesner was still dead.
And I was still miserable.
To my friends I seemed like I was in a far away place. I was just sitting in that chair, lifeless and expressionless.
After some time passed, Jessie (Soul Friend) pulled me aside; it was time for her to go. She was on her way to upstate New York. Jess pulled me away from my sorority sisters and friends and she ushered me into the house. The two of us sat down on the steps of the kitchen. She sat next to me and put one arm around me and held my hand with the other. I laid my head on her shoulder and wept.
Just then, Monet, Klay and Andrea came into the house. It was like they sensed there was a moment in the making…
They all stood around us. I asked Monet to sing again.
“please, sing pass me not, Monet,” I whispered.
And she did.
And this time when she sang it, all of my friends sang the chorus. Monet sang the verses, and all of my friends came in on the chorus:
“savior, o savior.. hear my humble cry
while on others though art calling… do not pass me by“
it was beautiful.
I desperately breathed the words to the song while they sang.
And after that moment, I returned to my lounge chair outside. I’d said goodbye to Jessie, and my sorority sisters were beginning to get ready to go also.
“you’re in good hands” they said.
Deb hugged me. She said: “we know you loved him.”
“I did,” i cried. “ I did love him.”
In true dramatic, Margot James Copeland fashion, we saw it: a black town car pulling up the long winding drive (she had a driver, of course). My mother had arrived.
The Black Town Car
My friends all stood at the top of the driveway to greet her. When she got out of the car she could tell right away – by their facial expressions – that it was bad, really bad.
I was bad; I was in bad shape.
She greeted them and then immediately asked:
“Where’s my child?”
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011
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