The top three tattoos you’ll see on a hood dweller go as follows:
(These are in no particular order)
2. Praying hands with rosary beads
3. “my brother’s keeper” or something of the like
The first time I heard someone use number 3’s phrase, I wasn’t quite sure how to take it’s meaning. I was a kid and so I decided to look up what it meant. I found out that it originates from the tale of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis. Cain and Able were sons of Adam and Eve. Cain ended up being the world’s first murder after he murked Abel. As far as the saying goes, when God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain replied, “I know not: [Am] I my brother’s keeper?” In plain English he basically told The Lord, “Nigga, I don’t know. I’m minding my business, damn!”
Now, we know that he was lying because, well, he killed his brother. And in the tradition of Bible stories, there’s a lesson or two to be learned here. Besides the obvious “murder is wrong” motif that is sprinkled throughout all one trillion pages of The Good Book, the story uses the “am I my brother’s keeper?” line to preach that we are responsible for one another. (So, yes Cain, you are in fact your brother’s keeper. As well as his murder. Why can’t your family get it right?)
I never really thought that I applied this rule to my own life. I always thought that minding my business was the safest and easiest way to avoid drama. But after having a Steel Magnolias moment on a street corner in Manhattan with one of my best friends one night, I realized that I do live by this rule when it comes to those that I love.
In a shorter version of that night’s events, Sam and I got a bit emotional after a misunderstanding. Maybe it was the margaritas. Maybe it was the weed. Maybe it was a side effect of our cycles syncing up. Whatever the trigger was, we found ourselves in tears and embracing one another. Neither of us did something to the other to cause the small stand off. It was all a matter of one showing the other she cares.
“So I’m not allowed to care about my friends?!” Sam shouted at me.
She is allowed though. She was only showing concern for me, her friend of 10 years. And after further reflection, I noticed that I do it all the time for her and my other friends. My delivery isn’t always graceful or delicate. I sometimes come off as harsh or mean (to be honest, I’m a shady bitch). But it’s all in the name of love. I care for my friends. They’re the sisters I’ve been afforded to choose for myself. And so I get protective.
Have you ever gotten so upset with a friend because you’re watching her make choices that only hurt her? Have you done something foolish and now you want to prevent your friend from doing the same? You aren’t trying to rule over her. And you aren’t bitter or jealous. You’re only trying to look out for her. You want to keep her safe from heartache because you know she doesn’t deserve that.
Sometimes it’s hard to say what you’re feeling about someone else’s situation. People are funny and don’t always want to hear the negatives that you may see or feel about someone or something that they love. I’ve seen friendships end because one friend thought she was doing the right thing by telling a friend how she feels.
But sometimes you have to speak up even if your friend will get upset.
And sometimes you’re the friend that has to hear the negative things. And you’ll want to tell her to mind her fucking concerns. But you have to try and remember that your friend cares and is only trying to look out for you. If she’s a good friend, her intensions are of the same nature. It’s being done out of love.
It’s more than likely that you won’t ever see me with a star tattoo with my name in the middle (stars are poppin’ in the hood as well). And although I’m not opposed to clichés (insert hint to keep scrolling to read my post on clichés entitled “Cliché” here. [I’m a allowed to plug on my own blog]) I won’t tattoo any on myself. But I will admit that I have added another to my life. I am my sisters’ keeper.