TLC TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
My mom never really let me listen to “secular” music when I was kid. She was and still is the epitome of the church-going saint that jams to Commissioned on the regular, belting off-key notes and parading finger snaps on any and every car ride. Needless to say, if it wasn’t Fred Hammond or Yolanda Adams it wasn’t playing in our house. My counter to that was of course my cousins, who would baby sit me whenever my mom was working late, or my dad had choir rehearsals at the church and needed to work the sound boards. I loved hanging out with them. They were older than me, although in my head we were the same age, and we kicked it, listened to Naughty by Nature, and walked to the gas stations to buy Mystics and ranch flavored sunflower seeds. If the nights were long enough, we would even make up dances to Janet Jackson music videos and binge watch MTV. Nights with my cousins were everything.
Every now and again I’d find myself attempting to tune out the Winans’ family ballads in my house by singing my own off-key notes. Some of my favorites were Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It”, a favorite my Aunt and I would have mini dance parties to, “Right Here” by SWV, which also happen to be in one of my favorite movies at the time, Free Willy, and Aaliyah’s “Back & Forth”, which I randomly decided with a group of friends in the 3rd grade would be a great song to dance to for Show & Tell. There was something about R&B back then that I just loved. It was the perfect balance of hardcore hip-hop and my mama’s beloved gospel tracks with every pound of bass and tick of hi-hat sending energy through my body that felt like a combination of warm Hershey’s hot chocolate and ocean surfing adrenaline. At least what I imagine ocean surfing adrenaline to be like since I can’t swim. It was the birth of my long-term undying relationship with 90s music that I indulge in daily to remind me of the good life.
One day my cousin Jamie and I were at my Aunt’s apartment getting ready to go to Solano Mall in Fairfield, CA. It was one my favorite cousin outings although I’m sure most of the time we shared consisted of me just getting on her nerves. On this particular trip, Jamie was getting ready to go back to school and wanted to buy some new threads before her first day. As we got dressed we listened to the radio and all my jams played one after the other, one of which was the TLC classic, “What About Your Friends.” Now I had no idea what I was singing about, but as soon as the chorus came on I was in my purest form, dancing recklessly and singing all the wrong words. I. Loved. That. Song. Of course, Jamie saw my antics as goofy and borderline annoying, but she laughed it off as any good cousin would.
The next day was the first day of school for she and I, and since my parents were on a cruise, my aunt had the pleasure of dropping me off. Jamie was the first one to head out and had decided to wear a chocolate brown t-shirt and white jeans. I know. Don’t ask. Let’s just chalk it up to the 90’s being shall we say “special”. Jamie’s friend, I’ll call her Whitney since I don’t remember her name, was picking Jamie up and the two of them were going to ride to school together. When Whitney got there and rang the doorbell Jamie opened the door to find another chocolate brown t-shirt and white jeans staring back at her. How Sway was this even possible? Who knows, but apparently it was. The two of them stood there with identical outfits just laughing. They knew there wasn’t any time for Jamie to change, nor did either of them feel like she should have to so together they went off into the 7am morning looking like the Bobbsey twins on their first day of school. When they left, I’d like to think that I finished getting dressed singing “What About Your Friends” recognizing that in a situation where jealousy and selfishness could have prevailed, my cousin just showed me in the smallest of ways how a good friend should support you.
Fast forward to this past Monday when I finally decided that it would be a good idea to start making a real effort towards planning my wedding. First up on my list of to-dos was to call my bridesmaids and “propose”. Now like most people I have had my fair share of friendships. They have come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of greatness and fucked-up-ness. When deciding on who I wanted standing next to me on the day that I moved into my brand new phase of life I reverted back to my memories of that weekend before the first day of school with Jamie. I asked myself who is going to be there for me unconditionally? Who would be my Bobbsey twin on the first day of school? When I truly thought about the answers to those questions it was clear who would be with me on my wedding day. What wasn’t as clear is why I hadn’t always been there for them the way they had for me.
There’s always been some sort of excuse. Life got in the way. We’re on different waves right now. I’m too “busy”. One bullshit excuse after the other. None of which seemed the tiniest bit reasonable as I made my bridesmaid proposal calls and got downloaded on the lives of my riders and was embarrassed at how out of the loop I was. So many major things had happened in their lives and I had missed all of it. How is it that I can figure out a way to go to brunch with $8.43 in my bank account, but can’t figure out how to simply be there for my girls and support them the way they deserve to be supported? Am I that selfish?
True I’m probably being a bit harsh and more judgmental of my behavior than necessary, but I hold high standards for myself. A phone call every six months is unacceptable. These girls have seen it all with me and I should be around to see at least half of it with them.
Selfishness can be debilitating if you aren’t careful. It starts with not calling your friends, but it can spiral a lot faster than you’d expect. I’ve seen it trickle into other areas of my life and relationships already and I just simply have to do better. Nothing in life is more important than giving of yourself to another person and who better to start that trend with than the ones that will wear a matching chocolate brown t-shirt and white jeans with you? With that said here’s a real hot chicken nugget for you. Love those that love you so that you can build a reserve to give love to those that don’t. Life can be a whole lot sweeter if you try a little harder to be less selfish. #notetoself