I met Tab in the fourth grade.
Our birthdays are three days apart and we grew up three blocks from each other in the part of Manhattan set aside for poor and colored people. But one fun fact: Our stretch of blocks was rated one of the top ten worst neighborhoods by our precinct cops, on the scale of drive-bys and drugs we got a big “A”!
We were a combo Judy Blume and Walter Dean Myers novel: Increasing our busts in the ghetto. I even wrote a children’s book about me and Tab for one of my graduate classes, inspired by one of the few children’s books that features a friendship between a black and asian child: Bebop-a-Do Walk by Sheila Hamanaka.
As an only child with parents who were struggling in deep water, my friendship with Tab was an act of grace. Our friendship didn’t stop me from being a spaz in social settings and super awkward about most things, but in a lasting way it helped me become better suited for the world ahead.
It’s who we breathe, in, out, in the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled––but only the saints
––excerpted from ‘In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being’
by Denise Levertov