This is the face I stared down in playground four-square and the face who represented our sixth-grade graduation class. Jocardo Ralston, our master of ceremony, who tripped down the stairs while heading offstage, hee hee.
I bonded with Jocardo in seventh grade while sitting next to him in Ohio studies class. I got a total of two things out of that class:
2. The realization that some teachers need to retire. Ms. Murdoch.
After an unintended separation in high school when Jocardo's family moved across the river to Kentucky and he switched schools, Jocardo and I re-found each other in a Cincinnati club at age 21. And all I have to say about that night is that someone around here looks awesome in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform and it's not me.
We made a date to meet again for milkshakes and spent the entire next night sitting on a street corner people-watching, cracking jokes, and telling stories which set a strong precedent for what we do best together.
Over a year ago, Jocardo did a big thing. He left everything comfortable he knew in Ohio and Kentucky, left his family and friends, his acting and his job, and moved to New York to be a teaching fellow in the public school system.
He was understandably nervous and not sure he was doing the right thing. I remember having a conversation with Jocardo and saying something about how how much he was going to learn, not just about teaching and education and New York, but about himself. That putting ourselves in strange and unfamiliar situations is the most surefire way to look deep inside ourselves and find out what's really there.
I'm sure Jocardo was like, "Yeah that's great but how am I going to afford New York rent?" Which is actually a really, really good question.
At the last minute, right before he left Kentucky, I jumped in his dad's car and joined the caravan to New York. Behind us, in another car, was his aunt's family, all making the 12-hour drive through a freaky rainstorm.
Jocardo and I sat in the backseat, exchanging glances when he looked like he was going to vomit and fielding phone calls from an apartment broker who informed him he'd just lost the place he thought he was moving into. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, he set up an appointment to see another apartment.
1. Drive over George Washington bridge
2. Meet broker, see apartment, agree that it's expensive but better than being homeless
3. Check into hotel and start to let all of this sink in.
We left Jocardo on a street in Greenpoint with my friends Kelly and Alex, with whom he crashed until his apartment was ready.
A week ago, I laid in the Griffith Park grass and talked to Jocardo on the phone and smiled because Jocardo sounds good: strong and confident and grown up. At one point when talking our lives and where we are with community and faith, I tried to impress him and was all, "Yeah, for me, too, it's like blah blah blah," but I caught myself and without pause I said, "Actually, never mind, I'm full of shit, scratch that."
And Jocardo and I laughed about how I totally called bullshit on myself. And how maybe people should do that more often but whatever, if we don't do it for ourselves, we'll at least do it for each other.