My Tribute to Binland Lee

One of the Best Friends
Environmental Self-Portrait

Binland Lee (3/3/91 – 4/28/13)

One of my best friends since 5th grade. I was new to PS 206 that year. My mother got pregnant, and I had to transfer to a new school to be closer to home. I was so angry at my parents! But then, I made a friend. One of the greatest friends any person on this earth and any other living creature in any other world can possibly have. Back when teachers used to assign seats to students in the elementary school days, Binland and I were assigned to sit next to each other. And I am so grateful for this: it marks the very beginning of our friendship. We instantly connected — through conversation, through fashion sense, through countless rounds of abdominal-burning, cheek-freezing, tear-gushing laughter. After a while, Mrs. Figatner had to separate us because we absolutely could not keep our traps shut when we were around each other! Hahaha I remember that day. I cried. Literally cried. In my new seat, from across the room, completely separated from my new bestie.

We were always laughing! We could laugh about anything and everything for hours and hours.  And we did! We would laugh at the silliest things, spend hours laughing about it, and then not even remember what it was we were laughing about. We’d then laugh at the fact that we’d both forgotten what our silly selves were getting all giddy over in the first place. Her laugh was so cute and so terribly contagious. It was not possible to be in a bad mood around Binland. No matter the day, the time of day, or circumstances during that day, her simple presence always made me feel happier.

Binland loved summer. We would patiently wait throughout the long winters until we can be total beach bums together again and sunbathe all summer long. We were always festive, passionate, and ready to set the mood for any activities the sweet summer days would bestow upon us. If we wanted to make tropical drinks before heading to the beach, we’d do just that. We’d patiently waited outside the liquor store in the mornings until it opened at 12pm.  Who else would wait absurdly with me outside a liquor store to open before noon?

FRIED OREOS?! Where?! Fried oreos always be calling our names. That was our thing. We used to scarf them down at Coney Island while laying at the beach, and at home where we could make them ourselves. We did that a lot: baked goodies, cooked dinner, designed our own cocktails. We even made our own party decorations–brightly-colored, hand-made paper flowers and signs with colorful streamers. Yes, at 21 years old we were still handy dandy crafty pants. All while jamming out to the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys. You can’t judge us. 

Sushi dates–a highly essential ingredient for the success of our friendship.  We fancied sushi and sushi fancied us with good, close-to-home, affordable ass Japanese cuisine. Sushi dates were frequent. We loved that shit. Every time she came back home from school, we’d go down Avenue U and pick a place that looked cozy enough for us to sit for hours talking about our lives. I remember one of the first times we hung out when I moved back to Brooklyn a few years ago, she took me to a sushi bar in the city that had a circulating sushi belt throughout the entire restaurant. I thought that was pretty cool: a place where I didn’t have to control my sushi crave; I must go back there again soon. She always had a knack for finding interesting places to explore.

I went to Binland’s house before my last vacation to Florida. This was the last time I saw her. We caught up on everything in our lives since the last time we saw each other–the usual. I am so thankful to have had this day with her. I read her some of my poetry (which is a newly discovered talent of mine this year), and she loved them. She took pleasure in lending me her ears, and always without judgment. She was a great listener, and always gave her honest input after. I always appreciated her thoughtful insight and positive energy. Those are just some of the million things I miss most about this one-in-a-million girl.

That day was also the day I dramatically changed my hair. Cut, bleached, and straightened–I traded in my big, frizzy curls for the short, sleek, and edgy Miley Cyrus bob. She was the first to see it. I didn’t tell her; I wanted to surprise the crap out of her. And I did! I LOVED watching her jaw drop when she got to the door. She nearly died faster than I did when I first saw my locks scattered all over the salon floor. I will always remember that face. “It’s SO FREAKIN’ AWESOME”, she chanted. She was so freakin’ awesome! I love her so much.

One of our big conversations before her passing was about this blog. If there was someone who understood the exact fright behind exposing your writing for others to read, it was Binland. I had lots of doubts, lots of confusion, tons of indecisiveness. I went back and forth between making this blog private to public to private numerous times. After finally deciding to keep it public, I was still unsure of my intentions. But she assured me that what I am doing is a good thing, for myself and for readers. She read each and every post and appreciated every single one of them. Binland was so naturally good at curing my uncertainties.

I miss this girl immensely. There are just too many good times that we have together and I am so thankful for my big bank of priceless memories with this gem. Her unbounded genuineness will allow her soul to rest peacefully for all eternity, and the thought of this is comforting. I know her passing was not for nothing. And I know she’s always out there looking over her loved ones. I believe she is my guardian angel, and I know she will be with me for the rest of my life.

Because of her, I now I have a duty in my life. And like Elbert Kim said in a most beautifully cathartic eulogy for her, “we are all not living for ourselves but now for 2, for ourselves and for Binland Lee.”

This is only the beginning of my lifetime of dedication for my great friend.

You know, when we lose someone close to us, they are never really gone. They are just living in another dimension of the universe that we can’t see or understand. But they are always around, looking after us, watching over us, and guiding us…

Binland Lee, Boston University Graduate 2013

© Alaina Blay 2013

Photo Info:
Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, NY, 2013

I do not own the rights to this media file.


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