Necessary Conversations: How Being Friends With My Parents Helped Me Through Love & Life
I wasn’t allowed to date. In fact, the fear of being caught grasped my heart as I pushed my first love into the park tree trunk and pressed my lips against his. He laughed as I tried to suffocate his brown with my caramel and mused quietly at my failure, “It’s cool, I’m gonna teach you how to kiss for real.” We trickled through the suburban blocks that night and drifted into the no-school-tomorrow darkness of Friday. My mother was running late and I was absolutely sure she wouldn’t catch us—I was fifteen and brave.
Did I mention stupid?
My mother called the house, receiving no answer she made a mad dash home and found the place bereft of her only child.
My cellphone rung.
There was a blitz of patois and broken slang. “Where are you Eh-ri-cah?” I was afraid; my dread contagious to my love and his friend who he’d brought for my own, they all started to make hand gestures for possible excuses I could give her. I ignored them, “I’m at the park with Marcus, Lexi and Dante.”
There was more broken English and anger, but all I seemed to make out was, “I’m coming to get you and your friends right now.”
She drove my acquaintances home in silence, farewells said respectfully as they sped into their well-lit homes. However, I was in for conversation.
My mother was my friend. She wasn’t necessarily a BFF and she didn’t want all the details of every endeavor, but she wanted to be the first to know.
“So, Dante and you are getting real serious huh?”
I smiled at my mother’s question. This was the beginning of dejavu. We’d been here before: Commentary on an “accidentally” opened diary, the definition of a condom, and the lewd comments from the men that stood on the bodega. We talked about everything.
“Yeah we are.” I replied.
We talked about how Dante made me feel, about the tingling of my spine and looseness of limbs when he came near, about how many times he’d hung out at the house without permission.
She reminisced about her first love, paralleling anecdotes of her day to my own while some early millennium R&B singer crooned a faded melody from the car speakers. We were almost home and it always seemed to be three stoplights from our block that she’d get to the core of the discussion:
1) Sex was real. My temple is all I have and it should be saved for someone I shared more than bedroom passion with, not small flame and flicker.
2) Diseases were plenty and there were more than enough babies raising babies to go around.
3) I wasn’t ready nor was she and if I ever was or went against her word, we would need to talk. No attacks, just listening.