Last week my sister got married. My Dad didn’t make it, and neither did any of my aunts or uncles, but that probably would have been awkward because we don’t share the same parents, aunts or uncles. Now before you go calling my Mom telling her about my Dad’s secret child or trying to figure out the biological feasibility of the aforementioned situation, I’ll say that this type of sisterhood is the one I wrote about exactly one year ago. The type of sisterhood that comes with life, not biology, and with a kinship equally as precious.
You’ve virtually met my real sister, Kelley, and my sorority sisters from FSU, but I have a whole ‘nother extra rowdy set of sisters and brothers I met about 8 years ago when I first moved to Brooklyn. They all showed up at my door one night when I said I’d have food and liquor for a game night. (You know how we do. Once the word gets out that Cousin Pookie ‘nem are having a cookout all kinds of family comes out of the woodworks). I had just moved into a renovated industrial building in Crown Heights, and not long after moving in I invited all the new brown faces I had met in the building over for a little Taboo and dranks (with an “a” cause that’s how my family rolls). 2 guys from FAMU had just moved in below my roommate and I, so I invited them, along with a girl I used to wait tables with at Glady’s Night’s Chicken & Waffles in Atlanta, 2 guys who had moved in from North Carolina, and a few other new faces in the building. My friend from Atlanta brought her girlfriends from Clark Atlanta, the guys from FAM invited a few homeboys and a few cocktails later we were all in my living room laughing, arguing and screaming at the top of our lungs over an innocent Taboo game like we had all known each other since childhood.
Over the course of the next 5 years, our building (affectionately known as “the dorm”) became our headquarters where the ups and downs of life molded us from young friends to close family. We had a joint housewarming with the guys downstairs that probably disrupted 2 floors worth of residents, and the next year threw a party on the roof of our building that disrupted the entire block (best birthday ever!) When I was sitting in the apartment downstairs and found out my sorority sister had died suddenly we prayed and cried together in a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life, and 2 months later when the first Black president was inaugurated, we were jumping and screaming in that same apartment, crying tears of joy, and yelling “O-BA-MA!” out of the window in a chant with the rest of the neighborhood.
Our lives mirrored the show “Friends”, except we’re all Black, have much smaller apartments and can’t leave our doors unlocked (#justsaying, we live in Brooklyn) And our show wouldn’t be complete without a Monica and Chandler story. Chandler was one of the guys in the apartment below me, and Monica was my friend from Atlanta. While I was pretty oblivious to the time period when Chandler started to creep up on Monica, several of my other dorm buddies saw their romance develop over the course of the last few years. Monica tried to front for a while like the two of them were just friends like the rest of us, but Chandler had other plans and eventually their mutual attraction could no longer be denied.
While the “Friends” of the Crown Heights dorm have all parted ways geographically, we have moved from friends to family, so when the maid of honor at Monica and Chandler’s wedding last weekend said that the bride was her sister, it was a sweet reminder that that the 8 friends who flew from Brooklyn to Detroit for the wedding weren’t just friends anymore. Friends are people you go to brunch with on weekends and are always around to celebrate joyous occasions. Family is there when there is no joy to be celebrated. Friends might help you move into a new apartment, but family will let you sleep in theirs until you get back on your feet.
Friends show up at your wedding, but your family is the machine behind it, taking care of all of the inevitable mini-tragedies that come with the territory. Last weekend people’s flights were diverted, members of the bridal party went to the emergency room, the bridesmaids didn’t sleep all night preparing for the reception, the bride almost passed out from the 178 degree heat in the church, and there was a Jerry springer moment at the reception. And if we could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing because when life is less than perfect you realize who your real friends and family are. Not one of us skipped a beat through all of the mishaps or fell on our knees in a tragic wail tombout “What is we gon’ do??” as a result of these inevitable Murphy’s Law Mishaps of a wedding weekend because our mission was to make sure that the bride and groom enjoyed one of the most important days of their lives together. Looks like they did 🙂
Last weekend I sat with my family and watched my sister and brother get married. I’ve never seen my brother cry but as my sister walked down the aisle, he broke down in tears, overwhelmed at the culmination of their Pursuit of Happyness. At their reception, in one of the best toasts I’ve ever heard from a groom, he talked about their legacy together which has me all excited about the Little Holnesses that will be at the Crown Heights Dorm Family Reunion 5 years from now. Yeah, I kinda just made that up, but it needs to happen – hopefully somewhere that requires a passport and sunscreen. And I’ll probably be the one planning it but I’m happy to do so because it’s what I do and what I love. And when you bring great people together, great things happen.
Congratulations, KenNath and Courtney! See you at the family reunion!