My very first friend was Princess Marie. She was my first childhood friend outside of my family and extended family. Princess lived down the street from me about 4 houses away. We became friends around the time I was in the first grade and she was in kindergarten. In the beginning, we normally spent our Saturdays playing together either at my house or at her house.
I really liked Princess but I always wondered why her name was Princess. She didn’t look like the princesses we saw in books. She had brown skin and her black, kinky hair was always braided. I asked my mother about it and she told me that it was okay for her name to be Princess. However, I think my mother felt I was having an identity issue because later she took me to the store to buy me one of the early models of the African-American baby doll. To my shame, I remember how I cried and shouted to her that I didn’t want that “dirty” doll.
Princess’s house was on the corner and it had a huge backyard loaded with pecan trees. When it was the right season, we would walk all over the backyard in our bare feet to feel for the pecans as we picked them. Princess’s mother would always give me a big bag of pecans to take home to my mother. Princess’s mother would make pecan pies and my mother would make homemade ice cream adding the pecans to it. We loved that time of the year.
Our friendship did have a few bumpy spots. One day, while playing with our paper dolls, Princess became angry because I wouldn’t let her use one of my paper doll dresses for her doll. While I was in the restroom, she tore the heads off of all of my paper dolls! When I discovered it, I told her mother who scooped up all of Princess’s paper dolls/clothes and gave them to me. What a punishment!
The important lesson I learned from that friendship was the consequences of lying. One day, I was angry with Princess for some reason so I told her that my mother did not want her to come over to our house anymore. I saw Princess’s mother sitting near the window but I did not think she heard me…….but she did. Afterwards, she would never let Princess come to visit me anymore. When my mother would ask me why Princess didn’t come over anymore, I had to lie again and say I didn’t know. It was a stressful dilemma and one I never forgot.
Our friendship ended when my family moved away. I was now going to the fifth grade and society had improved in Houston. Neighborhoods were integrating and my parents, who were a lot younger than Princess’s parents, wanted to be a part of it.