Twenty-seven years ago (ACK!!), I moved into my first apartment at Georgetown with three classmates. It was like playing house–walking to Safeway to buy groceries, making Quick Corn Light Bread from my mother’s recipe, using the carpet sweeper, fighting over whose turn it was to buy toilet paper, throwing dinner parties. We had so much fun. And of course it seems like it all happened yesterday.
But here’s what ACTUALLY happened yesterday: yesterday morning, I received a Facebook message from one of my former housemates. She was coming to Knoxville to speak at the University and wondered if I’d have time to get together.
Sometimes spontaneous fun is the best kind. We didn’t have much time to plan, but we made it happen. John and I went to her event, and then we went out to eat and drink and reminisce.
I had not seen Crystal in almost twenty years, when she met us at a friend’s home in Northern Virginia for a couple of hours. My last visual memory was of her sitting on the sofa with my two kids crawling all over her. And honestly I was a little nervous about seeing her again. Because you can never be sure what it will be like to be with someone you haven’t known in so long. And I was also nervous about attending her speech.
You see, Crystal Wright is kind of famous! She writes a popular blog, she makes regular appearances on television, and she has over 36,000 Twitter followers! She was at UT to talk to the Issues Committee about race and the Republican party, and especially about her own experiences of being a Conservative black woman.
Now y’all have figured out by now that I’m not a Republican, right? I’ve read some of Crystal’s tweets and I’ve disagreed with a lot of what I read. Crystal was always a person of strong opinions. but we just didn’t do a whole lot of talking about politics in Village B 88 back in the day. We were too busy watching Moonlighting, doing aerobics to the Jane Fonda cassette, and licking spilled champagne off the kitchen counter because who would want it to go to waste?
So I’d been a little surprised by Crystal’s vehement views and wondered if our differences would affect our friendship.
I shouldn’t have worried. I actually enjoyed listening to the talk, especially when the kids asked questions afterwards. (Crystal told us at dinner that she was very impressed by the intelligence of the UT students she met!) She talked a lot about the failure of the GOP to engage minorities and what they should do to change that. She explained the genesis of her own political beliefs. She gave me some new ideas to think about.
We started talking while we waited for John to retrieve the car from where we’d illegally parked it and never stopped. There was no awkwardness as we talked not just about old times but about politics and principles and what our lives are like now. Memory is funny–there were things I remembered clearly that she had forgotten and vice-versa. We were housemates during a pivotal year–it was the year I started dating my husband and as Crystal said last night “There was a lot of drama.”
Crystal lives in D.C. and when we go there in May for the Georgetown Reunion we are going to go hang out on her deck and drink wine and talk some more. Maybe I will bring a bottle of peach Riunite so we can relive one of our college adventures.
I wanted to share a picture of us back in the day but y’all know what happened to my pictures. This one is the clearest one I have–Crystal is on top, with me at the bottom and Renee in between. Christine, the fourth housemate, must have been taking the picture! But as I look at the photograph of one happy moment in time, with rainbow swirls and smudges around the edges, imperfections and distortions, I realize the fire turned the picture into a metaphor.