First, we were neighbors. She lived about six doors down in our garden apartments. She’d sit outside on her steps and smoke but always put it out when I would walk by with my son, Noah. I appreciated that so much. We exchanged hellos about five times before I asked her name one evening. It was Erica. “Oh wow! My name is Erica too!” I said, sounding like an idiot, I’m sure. At least that’s what I thought. She seemed way cooler than me. She had a son named Damian and a pug named Muffin. Yeah, she was cooler than me.
We were very friendly but never really got to know each other. Her little boy loved my toddler son and vice versa. Kids just become fast friends. A friendship based on piles of dirt, toy trains and trucks, rides in little red wagons, and snorting pugs. It’s awesome, isn’t it?
Erica and I lost touch when we moved from those apartments two months after I lost my son in a swimming pool accident. It shook the entire courtyard, and I know how hard it was on the other parents. They needed to explain it in their own way. They needed to comfort their own children, who weren't going to see my little Noah running around. He wasn’t going to be a big kid like Damian. I do remember giving Noah’s cast iron Thomas the Train toy to Damian. We wanted him to have it. I’m sure Erica did everything she could to hold it together at that moment.
I didn’t see her again until a few years later. My husband and I ran into her in the supermarket. We now had a daughter. Our baby, Miriam, was only a few months old. It’s always a little weird when we see someone from our old life (before Noah died) in our new reality, but I try to set the tone. I try to take away any discomfort and the fear of what to say and what not to say. I also totally get it if someone can’t handle it.
So, Erica (her) and Erica (me) became friends on Facebook, exchanged likes and comments, and slowly got to know each other again. Then we started sending each texts and messages throughout the day. Then one day, I sent her a message complaining about something, and I took a leap of faith. Was she cool enough for me to use the forbidden word? The “multi-meaning, you either love it or hate it, use it freely or cringe at the sound of it” word? You know the word, it's cunt.
There’s a moment when you use that word with a girlfriend you’re not 100 percent sure about it. I was 95 percent sure with Erica. But what if it’s just too much? What if she’d had some sort of traumatic experience involving that word? I’m telling you right now, there could be book club-format monthly meetings to discuss this word.
She replied with an all caps text, “I LOVE THAT WORD!”
Whew! We were now speaking a different language. We connected on something juvenile and crass and totally unacceptable, and that connection was fucking awesome! We started sending each silly memes and gifs all involving the word. We would try to outdo each other daily. Sometimes at midnight. Sometimes at 7am. I loved that Erica was always awake like me. Like playing “Words with Friends” using only one word, and that word was, gloriously and unapologetically, cunt.
Our connection went from neighborly "hellos" to the most traumatic loss and crippling emotions to now girlfriends who bond over a silly word. This is just a snapshot of our friendship, our connection, and our evolution. Our love of a word empowers us on some level. It makes us laugh, even though it’s just a word.
You never know what will connect you to others. Put your real self out there. It’ll come back to you in cunts, or something more appropriate to your vocabulary.