She was the most loving, caring, nurturing, imaginary being I’d ever conceived. My therapist may have a different term for her, but I called her my sister. And I needed her in the same way that my flesh and blood sister needed me.
She had the sass of Dionne Davenport and the soul of Alicia Keys (the 2001 version). She fixed my ailments when she could and cried with me when she could not. And whenever Glenn Lewis’ “Don’t You Forget It” came on, she would turn up the sound in my soul and urge me never to forget my way home.
In the fourth grade, when I stopped sleeping at night, I dreamt her up and we would listen to the radio together. During my first year in public school, when Evie demanded that I cease all attempts at being her friend, and Jasmine insisted that I leave my high-waters at home, my imaginary sister whisked me away in her red convertible to stuff our faces with mountain after mountain of ice cream. She eased my embarrassment of wearing a bra under my play clothes and understood my affinity for boy jeans. When I needed someone to say they loved me, she would. When I needed someone to gently correct me, she would. I never told her when he touched me, but she knew about that, too. And every night, before I leveled out to dreamland, she would hover above me and ask if I were okay.
I was about 20 when she disappeared, when I simultaneously grew out of and into her. She reemerged in my clothes, wearing my face, holding my heart. I sound like her, playing chubby bunny over FaceTime with P-Mac after a fellow 6th grader hacked her Instagram account. I dance like her, twirling through the mall, trying to find a prom dress for Dominique that she and I could both afford. I sing like her, half-entertaining, half embarrassing Victoria as I chauffeur her and her boyfriend to homecoming. I support like her, screaming my head off at second grade chorus concerts and fifth grade graduations. I even diet like her, skipping dinner and piling my frozen yogurt high with toppings as I discuss the intricacies of Shopkins toys with Raquel.
Life has an oxymoronic way of compelling me give what never had. Somewhere along the way my fake sister’s real absence made me promise to be present, to be everything I missed out on for anyone who needs it. That is why I spend Sundays with my goddaughter. That is why I cramp my legs into tiny bleachers for my cousins’ soccer and football games. That is why I’ll stay up until 12 on a school night prepping Gerb’s project for the big 6th grade science fair. That is why I’ll offer my last expendable dime to go half with you on your prom dress. That is why I’ll take the wine bribe from your mom and sneak you on to school property to go sledding down the best slope in Woodbridge in the middle of the night. That is why I founded Moredinary.
I’ve said this six times in the past week, and it’s only Wednesday: I am purposed to live an authentic and creative life of service. I will give all that I’ve got to help, to shift, to serve, to move, to touch your life. For you, and for every person whom my presence, my words, and my work will serve, I will never forget my way home.