HANDCUFFED TO A RAINBOW

This is the autobiographical essay that Ericka (Rikkity) wrote at Yale on August 3, 1995 (17 days before she died).

I feel so long and tall and beautiful. Sometimes my legs feel so smooth and I sit in the sun with them stretched out in front of me. I look at the color of my skin and how the light makes the dark brown into a golden red. I can sit in the sun feeling like I'll melt when it's so gooey outside and it feels like to swim if I move for even a minute. So I just sit here wondering when this magnificence will pass me by and will I be able to hold onto just a piece of it please?

When I feel like this, so strongly about something completely intangible, I feel whole. This passing--I am chained to this fleeting moment. When the summer decides to pass, I am never told. Nobody tells me that it will happen even as I sit here in bliss, in love with myself, making love to my skin all warm and brown. Nobody can say anything for fear of voicing what is never voiced (that the summer will end). I think that when I sit here, I forget how to speak English. Wanting the most to have the most intense emotions--don't care what I feel as long as I feel a lot of it.

Make love to me or shun me, it doesn't matter. I just need to feel something, pain or bliss, no matter. I'm still here feeling like I'm handcuffed to a rainbow. Tied again to the intangible season, as though I could be. Arcobaleno arcobaleno arcobaleno is a beautiful word. It sounds like a whale arched high over the campus. It means rainbow. All it means is rainbow, something so unable to be grasped and I mean like the smell of my skin in the cool sun. Sitting in the sun waiting for the summer to be over. Waiting for someone to crawl all over me and smell and feel my absolute perfection. The sun is seeping into my skin and I am infused with a scent that makes you want to inhale me. You want to devour me and my smoothness and work your way up to my legs.

You want to savor my essence and leave your body and enter mine. I guess the real question here is who are you? Sometimes you are my best friend Charlie, and we laugh and laugh day by day getting through our lives oh so important. But sometimes you look at me and where I tingle knows that you are thinking of where I tingle.

I can't believe that I was right about you. I was sitting in the summer, making love to myself and then BAM--you wanted to make love to me too. I love you beyond the end of this loveliness. Where the water trickles over the edge, and your hand trickles over my thigh and your breath pounds hard in my ear. I love feeling that torturous tingle.

This summer would be easy if we were just two, but we're three. My mom says that we're all fucking retarded or maybe just a little confused. There is me, I want to be touched and put up on a pedestal. I want to be worshipped and I want perfection. There is you, Charlie, you are beautiful and you want to touch me. You also want perfection and I am not yet perfect in your eyes. Then there is him, Rich, our best friend, our soul mate. He who says I love you all the time and he who runs away to be alone. He who feels separated from us by our undependable sexual link.

My hair is flying with the bees in the grass. I am playing with my hair and dreaming of the boy (young and pure and young) that will be mine next. Then I wonder if I own this feeling of purity while sitting on the grass tickling my legs painfully itchy the sun beating down on my back clothes smelling of Tide (but I want to say pride). Is this feeling of purity the result of the exquisiteness of this tree embracing me and the sky? My hair hangs down all boing curls in front of my face as everyone looks at it and wants to touch it.

When cats climb up trees and can't come down because they're scared--that's like you, Charlie. And you, Rich. You both want so much to reach the sky but you don't know where it starts. You don't know even if you can reach it. Climbing stealthily up these voluptuous branches, filled with hope then disappointment. You want nothing more than to go further, to go beyond the masses, you can't stop yourselves. Then the branches turn to twigs and you are forced to stop, forced to think, while I stand on the ground, arms raised. Wanting to catch you and knowing that I can't ever really catch you because you'd never try to fall on me.

Charlie, you are like the cat trying to climb me and realizing the anticlimax at the top and then being scared of you, of me. You mew like a kitten to get me to stay and play. Then you yowl like a cat in pain when I do stay. You are like cigarettes and lovely days. All of your appeal for me is now buried in an indecision that once wasn't there. I used to be a child with you. I didn't need to think about whether or not I should smoke or waste time sitting in the sun, loving me. Like a tree now, I make no choice. Climb me I say just by being here. So sometimes you do.

Rich, you may ask me how I can feel like a tree if I have no roots, but I do. I have to stand still now. If I move I think I might go crazy. I'm moving moving always moving state to state living with yet another person always unknown. If I lived with someone I loved, someone known, I think I'd never move again. I'd grow roots and stand still and never more make a motion not one solitary motion.

As I sit very still watching the trees being like me, I think to myself about both of you. Both boys in my life--do you know how much of my life is in you and how I want to cry when the leaves fall off of the trees? Will you, both twisted and gnarled, both smooth to the touch and smelling all of freshness and innocence, will you fall off of my tree? Will you wither with time and lose your way as I stand helplessly rooted deeply in hope of eternal summer?

I have a feeling, even now as we all three are joined, arms linked, that we will scatter aimlessly. This feeling strikes deep in my core a twinge of dull pain. In my world, friends have been seasons and I have lived as treely as a tree can. Shedding shedding always shedding friendly aimless leaves. I want, more than everything, to be granted wings and move with the sun and to be able to hold you both close to me. So sing around me and dance and cry. Yell about frustration and throw things at me. Think about sex and touch me and know me. And maybe if I stand really still, and wish really hard for the summer to stay, it won't. But maybe you will.

Ericka Brindl Bishop
August 3, 1995


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