The two of you coordinated matching looks; every Tuesday and Thursday you wore purple and white. At lunch, you pulled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of your matching Strawberry Shortcake lunchboxes. You traded the extra-pulp orange juice your mother packed you every day, even though you hated it for her wild berry Capri Sun. You gave your green apple for her banana. After school on the yellow bus, you sang SWV’s “Weak.’ She took the first verse, and you the last. You met in the middle for the bridge and belted, “Cause my hearts starts beating triple time…” The two of you were tight from jump.

But as time moved on, and training bras changed to 34Bs, hips widened naturally, and forehead acne was concealed with bowler bangs, the two of you strangely grew apart. Today in your quarter-life retrospect, the reasons are no longer so mysterious.

She had a baby at 17, and you went away to college. While you were pledging DST, she got married at City Hall. You convinced her to sign up to AOL to chat with you from time to time. You didn’t realize that she logged on from her local library because between the baby formula and Huggies, she couldn’t afford a home computer, much less your swanky first-gen iBook. The intricacies of rent, and baby daddy were non-existent in your on-campus life. You were worlds apart, and didn’t even know it. All you knew was that she slowly but surely stop being the friend you called when you had something crazy to tell. The friend you were once connected to at the hip became lower to non-existent on your recent call list.

Nearly five years after undergrad you look around at your impressive social network. You rub shoulders daily with folks with no less than 3 initials behind the names—professors to pharmaceuticals reps—and suddenly you miss the time when you became unmasked, and simply were yourself. You search for her on Facebook, and there she is. Her profile picture is an image of three boys, her sons, DeShawn Jr, DeMar, and Devon. Almost instinctively you feel a sting of guilt. In your so-called busy New York life, you haven’t managed to buy them so much as a bib.

You want to message her but you can’t find the words. That guilt sting sustains, and the juxtaposition of your own profile picture, a semi-“Glamour Shot” with Veronica Webb front row at some fashion week show, makes it all the worst. You think, “I’ll just say, ‘It’s been too long, how are you?’ “No,” you reasoned. “That’s so typical and slightly fake.” You conclude, “Well, let me just request her, and then we can connect from there.” Just moments after returning to your office from your lunch run to Spice Thai, you see a message from her.

“I’m so proud of you. How you been girl?”

The tears just won’t stop.

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