for Noah and Christopher

It was already too late when I met Virginia and Carly during the fall of 1997, for by then I was both suffering from a broken heart and thoroughly sick of white people.

Virginia and I were in an English-literature class together during my senior year at the State University of New York at Albany. She wore black-rimmed “cafe girl” glasses and had one of those bright, pale faces that slips back and forth from plain to attractive. Altogether her style was a mixture of grunge and hippie, and I found Virginia sexy as hell. During the week that we covered James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, she and I united against the close-minded faction in class who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, comprehend how one man could love another. We chastised them on breaks and shouted them down during discussions. At the end of class one evening, Virginia discovered that I, too, liked getting high, and she smiled — her face alive with mischief — and counted off three words on her fingers: Suburban. Bitch. Cruise.