Tisha and Raquel were my closest friends. We met in middle school and all lived in Seattle’s South End. Tisha and I were inseparable from the time we were eleven years old. Three years later Tisha and Raquel were assigned to the same high school as me, and we became a trio. We were content with our quirky circle, never seeking to join any of the larger cliques that dominated our high school. Though I would eventually be the only one who continued to live in the South End-Tisha moving to the C.D. and Raquel moving to West Seattle-we still remained tight. It would be Tisha who insisted on plucking my eyebrows when we were 14 and put me onto M.A.C. makeup. And when my boyfriend stood me up on my 16th birthday it was Tisha who consoled me. “Girl FUCK HIM”, she said as we sat on my sofa together the following evening. “If he can’t see who the FUCK you are and how AMAZING you are that’s his FUCKING problem! Ole BITCH ASS should have at least had the decency to call and say he wasn’t coming. Fuck him girl, fuck him!” Listening to Tisha go off turned my tears to laughter. I’d known her for six years by then, but it still tickled me that a girl as pretty and dainty as her had the mouth of a sailor. I forgot about my sadness from the previous day and we moved on to other topics. Tisha always knew how to make me laugh and distract me from pain, and I loved her for it.
Raquel was my girl too. The child of Central American immigrants, she built a friendship with me that transcended race, language and culture. Raquel knew how stubborn I could be, but out of love often challenged me to step put of my comfort zones and try new things. I still remember the time she insisted that I go out to eat with her family for dinner one Saturday evening.
“Chicka you home and dressed?”
“Yes I am, what’s up Raquel?”
“We are going out to eat That tonight, I want you to come with! My parents can pick you up on the way”.
“I don’t like Thai food, I don’t want to go!” Raquel sighed.
“D, have you even HAD Thai food before?”
“NO, but I know I won’t like it!”
“Ay dios mio, you are something else! Well you are going to try it tonight! See you soon!” I ended up going and had to eat my words. I LOVED it and ended up thanking Raquel for introducing me to Thai cuisine.
“It’s all good, chicka. I know how you are”, she said as she winked at me and took another bite of her Chicken Phad Thai. Raquel was right; she knew me as few others did, and I was grateful for it.
I look at picture of us taken a few days before we graduated high school in 1998. Raquel is decked out in a red jersey-like dress, sunglasses perched on top glistening brunette hair so perfect that it looks like she just left a Dominican salon. I’m in the middle, clad in Old Navy and Nike down to the socks, rocking a shiny Black weave that makes me cringe now. Tisha is to my right, casual and feminine with her trademark pixie cut, an oatmeal colored tank top and hip-hugging jeans. We were all so happy that day, so young and optimistic about our future. I never imagined that within three years Tisha and I would be in abusive relationships and Raquel would enter one.