In April, I hosted a brunch for 50-plus of my “friends” in Brooklyn. From across borough lines, neighborhoods, and even states they came. Some were new-ish, as within the last year, most go back to my early years in the city, or even before. The origins of my tribe scatter the globe, from Jamaica to Nigeria, Aruba to Haiti, Ghana to Trinidad. Oh, a couple (maybe 4?) Black Americans like me. I didn’t have any intention of seeking friends in only cultural variations of Black, we just attended the same schools or events, hung around with the same people, and voila, years later, we’re operating with a bond of friendship, seemingly unbreakable until we cross our hearts and hope to die.
Of course, I know non-Black people. Just no one really that I’d call to talk about nothing and everything at any random hour, or that I would expect to do the same. I went to a predominately white high school, and two PWI colleges, but my “friends” there, like my would-be co-workers, were situational. When graduation came, our conversations mutually dissolved. We never kept in touch, despite scribbling such in yearbooks or exchanging business cards at the ceremonies wishing us well as we headed off into the real world.
My primary mentor is a 50-something Jewish man who only advises me on conundrums, the last of which was whether or not to resign from my last job six months ago. I always call him; he always answers in a timely fashion. My former work-husband was white (and gay) and though we bonded while gushing over cute boys, we never exchanged numbers or spoke after hours. When I randomly visit my old office to check-in with my former co-workers, it’s the infamous fashion editor, who I ki-ki with the longest, but despite our friends (and party circuit) in common, we’ve never hung out. There are plenty of editors and other professionals with whom I share mutually beneficial working relationships. They pepper, or um, salt, my life, but they are not what I would call friends. More like associates, or perhaps acquaintances.
I didn’t think there was anything odd about that, until reading all the fuss and disbelief about “Girls” and its all-white world of friendships. I have multiple gripes with the show, mostly how they make 20-somethings look terribly lost and pathetic and their reality as young women mirrors no one I knew as a 20-something or any 25-year-olds I know now. (As someone who wrote a book about being in her 20s that some called “un-relatable”, I do accept writer Lena Dunham’s “truth”). But I can’t take genuine issue or validly complain about the color consistency of her world, or anybody else’s, especially when mine, and most people I know, is so similarly composed, just, well, darker.