I didn’t really make friends in traditional way while I was in college. My first 2 years at the college I attended I made only 2 friends, the rest of the friends I made were co-workers from the library I worked at in Downtown Manhattan. I was more as ease with the college students from other random New York City colleges that toiled along with me than those who shared my campus and academic pursuits. I continued this pattern when I moved on to my next job working as a receptionist at a small private college in Queens. Its like I landed in the land of misfit toys, Charlie in Box had found a home. I was relatively the same age as the work-study students that worked in offices and we fit like puzzle pieces. They became my college friends, the people who you forge bonds with that last a lifetime or at least turn into stories you can tell your kids about well not every story there was this one time……….. We gained a connection that transcended the job and the college it shaped our adulthood. We shared our joys, struggles, and literally a million laughs and then we all embraced and cried on their graduation day.
The curly-haired Dominican girl with the Mudd logo baby tee, the Trinidadian jokester who sang the funniest rendition of Purple Rain ever, the southern gentleman who owned an actual Bull he named “Bull”, and the guy with the glasses and thick island accent who loved playing Dominoes moved on from that college and my daily life. Thanks to the magic of Facebook and cellphones we kept in touch but not as much as we could or should have as the years passed. Our lives were overtaken with grown up jobs, loves, problems, and responsibility. People moved on and away and the seasons changed before our eyes. Still every time I see a picture or hear a song my heart dances just like it did then.
I got a call early this morning from the Trinidadian, as always I was elated to hear from him, and I picked up excited. We just saw each other a month ago when he visited New York from his new new stomping grounds in Georgia. My glee shifted to concern when I realized that he NEVER calls this early. The next sound that came from the phone and rested on my ears was a familiar voice asking “Did you hear about Malik?” The sweet guy with the glasses and thick island accent who loved playing Dominoes had passed away. My heart sank, it was all too much, he was too young, it was too soon, and it was just too sad.
At this moment I think back to the college, the student cafeteria, the jokes, and the laughter and I smile. I think that is where I will keep you Malik wrapped up safe in fond memories and tucked away in happy times.