I miss you and I love you and it hurts me that we’re not in touch. I’m going to change that. But I hate that it took something like the case of Alexis Crawford to make me realize how special you have always been to me.
When we met, we were teenagers, first year students at Rutgers University, matched together as roommates on the second floor of House 18 of The Quads.
We knew each other a bit from home, me from East Orange, you from Montclair. But we weren’t friends. We had no idea we were about to embark on a thirty year journey of sisterhood.
We were the epitome of Black Girl Magic long before there was a word for it.
Two weeks after we moved in to the dorms, I got sick. It was a weird strain of pink eye and impetigo and I had an awful rash on my face and back. I got some medication from the campus doctor, a cream that I had to apply three times a day.
I couldn’t reach my back. So while my face was clearing up, my back kept getting worse.
One day, you saw me struggling to get the cream on my back and you offered to apply it. I said no. I barely wanted to touch it myself. You said, “Look. Just give it to me. I want this to go away as much as you do. It’s gross!”
We laughed. You washed your hands, dotted the cream on my back, and then washed your hands again. Thirty seconds. Done. You helped me for weeks. Until it was all cleared up. I knew then. You had my back. Literally and figuratively.
At some point that first semester, we started calling each other “Roomie.” Thirty years later, I’ve hardly ever called you by your actual first name. It’s always Roomie. Our position in each others lives--roommates--has always been the epicenter of our relationship.
We actually only lived together for two years but it was such a formative time that it meant much more.
Your parents became supporters of me--and my parents of you. They ferried us both back and forth to school and made sure we had food.
We each had younger siblings we swore we would turn into a couple. It didn’t work. (But we did get them to go to their 8th grade dance together.)
Alexis Crawford was close to her roommate's family too. I can’t imagine what her parents must feel, knowing that someone they welcomed to their home may have something to do with harming Alexis in such a brutal way.
There’s the part about a boyfriend being involved that also turns my stomach.
From Day One, you and I never let a dude come between us. You have literally been there for every single relationship of my life from college loves to my now ex-husband.
You liked some. You loved a few. You rolled your eyes at a couple. But I always knew you had my back when it came to love.
You would give me a solid opinion--no matter what. I learned about love by watching you move with intention and never settling.
I was depressed for much of the time we lived together as roommates. I didn’t realize it until many years later when I was formally diagnosed.
And I don’t know if you realize that you kept me alive. You knew when to push me to get to class or to the dining hall. You knew when to let me sleep and bring back a sandwich after class.
When my little sister came to visit and I didn’t have the energy to show her a good time, you gathered our friends and made sure she had the time of her life. (She’s 41 and still talks about the fun college parties with Roomie.)
Graduating from college and becoming adults actually made us closer. I whispered my dreams to you. You yelled them to the universe through a megaphone. You looked me in the eye and told me I could be anything I wanted to be--and more. Turns out you were right.
I watched you study for the bar after law school in sheer awe. You had always been a hard worker. But this was some next level. The sound of your voice when you called and told me you passed the exam--ON THE FIRST TRY--is still one of the most joyous moments in our lives together.
Alexis will never have those moments. Her life was snuffed out. Likely by someone who should have had her back for life. Like you’ve had mine.
You have always brought good, strong, smart people into your orbit. And that has also benefited me.
I can barely remember all of the awesome people you introduced me to at school. You created an entire ecosystem of dope folks who helped me as well.
Where would I be without Anton and Jamer and Sam and Linda and Heavy and David and Azziz and our entire crew of folks I got to debate with, learn from and grow.
Alexis won’t have that either.
We’re grown folks now. My two girls know you as Titi Vicky. And they know wherever they are in the world, you’ll support them. And I know when you become a mom, it will be the same.
Skye just graduated from college. She definitely had amazing roommates throughout the four years. But I’m not sure she had what we had. Not many people do.
I think Alexis once thought she had the kind of roomie I had in you. I hate to imagine when she realized how wrong she was.
If nothing else, her death woke me up. I will never take for granted the beauty of my college roommate. Thank you for loving me, encouraging me and riding for me.
You’re the type of college roommate every little Black girl dreams of having and the one Alexis deserved.
Thank you for being what a college roommate should be--for life.