Tenesia was my best friend in kindergarten. She was also my most memorable opponent. You can picture me with my blonde hair and pale blue eyes, looking like a Nazi poster child in need of a bath, and Tenesia with her gravity-defying hair, her broad cheeks and full lips, looking like an escaped member of the Jackson Five. Most days, Tenesia and I were thick as thieves. I loved her. In my dirt yard in New Mexico we chased cockroaches, squeezed the ends of succulents, swam in the pool. We liked roller skating up and down the block together. We loved to move, hated boys, climbed trees, ate enchiladas, talked and talked.
But my most memorable moment with Tenesia was the time we got into a fight. She pushed me, I pushed back, and it soon escalated to slapping, and, finally, hair pulling. When I pulled Tenesia’s hair, a big clump of it came off in my hand. I had ratty blonde hair, that I hated to brush because any kind of pulling on it hurt. Seeing Tenesia’s hair in my hand, my stomach dropped. What had I done to my best friend, Tenesia? But Tenesia herself didn’t even notice. She kept hitting and scratching like no line had been crossed. This difference, this difference in hair, is what I remember. If someone pulled my hair like that, I would have to tap out.