Keilani is Free

Today I saw my friend Keilani. I see her fairly often when I run around Lake Merritt. She went to both Junior High School and High School with me.  She is the same complexion as I am, well actually maybe a shade lighter which would place her right around the color of caramel. In 7th grade she was shy, by the time Sophomore year came around she was socially withdrawn. During Senior year she never spoke; not when I saw her in the hallway, not when I saw her on the bus, not in class, not at all. A few years later I heard from a few girls that used to rock with her that she wasn’t doing well mentally. They were saddened as they told me. I was saddened as I listened.

About a year later I saw Keilani at the lake. She looked happier than I ever remember seeing her. She told me that she had ghostwritten the last two scripts for Tyler Perry and she thought about me often because she remembered that I was a writer. She also told me that she had gone down to Hollywood but they were jealous of her so she came back to the bay area. I nodded my head as I heard her out. I had a very visceral response to her delusional tales. I was almost overwhelmed with pity to the point where it made me depressed. Keilani, the girl I had known since the age of 12, had lost her mind and I felt the sorriest for her. My reasoning was that she would never reach her full potential as a human being and that she would always suffer. But today when I saw her I felt differently. I was doing my abdominal workout when I saw her walking down Lakeshore looking like a queen with her freshly braided hair being her crown. I could see her smile through her mask when she saw me. She was in extremely good spirits as she explained to me why she won’t be in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards this year. She had a bag in her hand and she stood with such confidence and high spirits that I became intrigued by her. I wondered what she had seen that I had not. What did she know? How was her approach toward life lifting her up, and how was mine weighing me down.

In a bizarre way I envied her because she didn’t appear to be worried about a raise in pay or being married or losing 10 pounds before summer begins. She appreciated every step that she took while she was taking it. Her cheeks raised her mask because she was laughing while she spoke to me. I’ll never know why she was laughing, perhaps she could never tell me but the fact that she was speaking to me brought me joy. Keilana is in a world above the one that I am currently living in. She more than likely will never spend $200 at Banana Republic on clothes for an interview that will never happen like I did in February. She will never lose sleep over having to buy a new car. She will never be tempted to pay $1,000 a month for a personal trainer. She cares not what people think about her. And when I see her she never mentions friends that she doesn’t hang out with anymore. All she does is smile and look forward. And I don’t know if she has a mental health condition or if we are all crazy and she’s one of the few sane ones on this planet. I just know that she looks more at peace now than I ever remember her looking while I can’t say the same for myself.      

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