In this special crossover episode of YR's Adult ISH podcast, the team is joining forces with KQED’s "Rightnowish" podcast. Together, we’re figuring out our collective ISH.
Pendarvis Harshaw is the host of "Rightnowish," an arts and culture columnist at KQED in Northern California, and a YR alum. He’s also the author of “OG Told Me,” a memoir about his experiences growing up in Oakland and learning from community elders.
Before this episode, host Nyge Turner and Pendarvis had only met once. They never got a chance to truly connect. But it turns out the two have a lot in common. Something that’s been on both of their minds lately is friendships, specifically their evolution over time. This week, tune in to their unscripted conversation on this subject for double the host power, and double the advice.
Adult ISH is produced by YR Media and brought to you by PRX’s Radiotopia. Be sure to follow all our socials @yrAdultISH!
Nyge: Welcome to a special crossover episode of YR Media’s Adult ISH...
Pendarvis: And KQED’s "Rightnowish" podcast.
Nyge: I’m your host Nyge Turner.
Pendarvis: And I’m your host Pendarvis Harshaw.
We’re two podcast hosts from the Bay Area in California.
Nyge: And both of us young Black men figuring out our collective ISH.
Pendarvis: Before this episode, we had only met one time. But we never really got a chance to get to know each other and connect. Until now.
Nyge: So first we went to some of my favorite spots in Richmond to start the conversation.
(recording from Richmond drive)
Nyge: That was a trip for me for sure.
Pendarvis: To be around that many Black people at once?
Nyge: To be around that many Black people at once.
Pendarvis: Especially coming from out here.
Nyge: Coming from out here…Up until, like, shoot, up until high school, I went to school with all mainly white people because I was in private school all the way up until high school. And then in high school I went to school with…(recording fades out)
Nyge: Then we sat down to go deeper.
Pendarvis: All right. So we had this novel idea of mixing "Rightnowish" with Adult ISH and having a conversation about some ISH and realizing that one thing we have in common is that we are maturing. Well, we have more than one thing in common. But we are maturing human beings, going through transitions in life and wanted to have a discussion about that, specifically in regards to friendships and how that impacts us and how our maturation impacts our friendships. Right?
Nyge: Definitely. Do you feel like you have always had the same group of friends, or do you feel like that's something that's grown over time?
Pendarvis: I think like friends and basketball shorts are two things that I hold on to dearly. You know? Like I got basketball shorts going back to high school.
Nyge: Yeah (laughs)
Pendarvis: Some of my friends, not just male friends, uh, women friends as well that I've known since like seventh grade — platonic friendships, just my homegirls and my homeboys that I've always known. And when I lose one, it does hurt. And when we fall apart for, you know, a couple of months because life happens or whatever, and we get back in stride and come back together and we don't miss a beat, that's always amazing. So yeah, I really value my old friends and my old hoop shorts. How about yourself? Do you have old, real old friendships?
Nyge: Or old hoop shorts? Yeah, I definitely do. I feel like you really make me think about the fact that I never buy any new shorts. Literally all my basketball shorts are from high school and all of my friends are from yeah, high school or even before that. Like, I think I’ve had — I've had the same group of friends since I was around like 13 or 14 and I think that's something that like, I will always want to hold on to. Yeah, I think there's definitely been points, even in that, where certain friends have, you know, drifted further apart and then we've gotten closer together and further apart. And all that, like that push and pull. And then also there have been friends, you know, within that group for me, of people who like I call brothers that, you know, we don't really talk at all anymore. And for me personally, like, that's still my brother. Like, if they need anything, if they, like, hit me. We haven't talked in three or four years or whatever. It is what it is and I'll do anything for them. But it's like, “Hmm, I don't know.” I'm, I'm wondering why that is. Like, do I feel like a sense of debt to that person? Do I feel like I owe them something? Do I feel like I have to be there or else that means that I'm different? And then, why is being different such a negative thing?
Pendarvis: That's a really interesting — a debt to the Brotherhood. But those old friendships, they have a certain value. And I'm wondering how much of it is the value of that time and space and whatever transpired when you were 13, 14. Or is it the fact that this person is actually growing with me? You know? (Nyge: Yeah.) Are you just holding on to this friendship for nostalgic reasons or are you appreciating in value because each one is growing?
Nyge: What do you, what do you feel about that? Do you feel like friendships are something that you should hold on to for — for forever? Or do you think that's something that, you know, in certain cases you have to let it go?
Pendarvis: Yes! Both. Oh. I mean, you know, it's a little bit of both.
Nyge: I think for me, I don't know. Like, I think it's still something that I want. It’s still something that I need. Because the first couple of months that I got married, my friends weren’t like hitting me at all. Like, really — not really about anything. It was a big separation that happened between us. And, uh, I had to voice that to them and like pretty much just ask everybody like, “Yo, did I do something or whatever?” Like things just, just switched like that. And everybody was like, “Yo, I thought that was like what you're supposed to do. Like when somebody gets married, I thought you get like six months to yourself, so…” And literally everybody who I talked to was like, “Yeah, but I was trying to give you like, you know, six to eight months. Like I'm trying to give you your time to like just focus on your marriage and then, you know, you pop back out or whatever.” And it's like, “Oh, I mean, I can focus on my marriage, but also still, like, we can kick it, you know? Here and there."
Pendarvis: That’s, uh, that's that's funny. It's also probably kind of cool to have friends that at least try to assert healthy boundaries, you know? Like, “I want to see you win. So I'm going to fall back a little bit, you know, take a little bit of our friendship relationship off of your plate so you can handle your, marriage relationship.”
Nyge: I never thought of it like that.
Pen: I mean, yeah, it's pretty tight, you know? (Nyge: Mm hmm.) And it brings up a question about what purpose do friendships serve?
Nyge: Honestly, like, when I talk about like my friends, my close friends, and I'm talking about who I would consider like my best friends, I consider all of those people like my siblings. And so it feels more like family. I am really close to my family, but we don't talk like super often. I talk to my dad like once or twice a week. My mom isn't in a position to where like we would be able to have conversations and then my brother and I talk like once a month, something like that. Just like catching up. And I mean, when we talk, it's not like it, there's no love. It's a, it's a thousand “I love you”’s. A thousand “I'm thinking of you”s. A thousand “I miss you. We need to do this. We need to do that.” Or whatever. But it's like, we just don't talk super often, because we're just, we just have wildly different interests. There's not a lot of overlap. Whereas my friends, we have a lot of the same things in common. So we're able to talk about basketball every day. We're able to talk about video games every day. We're able to talk about music every day. We're able to talk about art every day because there's a lot to talk about. What about for you?
Pendarvis: Yeah, what purpose do my friends circle serve? (Nyge: Mm hmm.) You mentioned, like, pop culture and current events and social stuff. Talking to them, the group chat is lit. Something happens, like that's where I'm going — the group chat, you know? And it's a sense of, um, I would almost say letting my guard down, but, you know, you can't fully let your guard down around your boys. Um, but there's a sense of, “Maybe I can let some guards down,” you know? I can talk about flatulence or something, you know? But yeah, having that, that safe space to talk about current events and pop culture and things that matter to me that aren't necessarily priorities like paying rent or my child's education, like those are top tier priorities. And those things I take, you know, first thing in the morning and make sure to discuss them with the proper people. But then when I have time in the evening and the basketball game is on, it's time to just crack jokes about the Warriors, you know, or whatever. (Nyge: Yeah.)
Nyge: How do you communicate that you miss someone? And that you like miss their friendship, miss your, miss your friendship with them?
Pendarvis: I don't. I am the worst. The worst! I communicate with people all day. You got to imagine. I'm calling people, send emails all day. So 7:00, even if I've got a friend who like just came across my mind — it’s usually like a mentor of mine or somebody from like college — it's like, “I wonder what they're doing, how they're doing. Meh, whatever!” So I've been trying to get in the practice of at least sending a message, being like, “Oh, what's up, bro? I saw a commercial about Google. I know you were working there last we checked in. How you been?” You know? And just be mindful of that because it's really, at that point, it's spiritual. The universe is telling you something. “Like, yo, just reach out. Say something, give a word." And who knows? Maybe that person is in a dark space and that word could just lift them up. Or maybe you're in a dark space and you don't know it. And their words can lift you up.
Nyge: I think that's something that plays into why men's friendships are dwindling. Why their social circles are dwindling. It's probably because, like, we probably aren't the best at communicating when we, when we miss each other. Because of maybe, maybe that fear, maybe that insecurity, that it’s one sided. Maybe nobody wants to be like, left hanging like, “Hey, bro, like miss kicking it or something like that or whatever.” And just be like, “Ehhh, you know.” You don't want to be like that person on the other end where it's like, “I'm not really missing kickin it with you.
Pendarvis: Right? Right. You're right. I mean, it goes back to that vulnerability and having your guard up, right? (Nyge: Yeah.) And communication. Communication. I mean, just in general, like the notion that some men will even lie to themselves and, you know, telling the truth outwardly starts with telling the truth inwardly. And so being honest about being lonely or needing companionship or a friend or just someone to talk to, to get out of your head, is big. And, you know, that's a step toward vulnerability.
Nyge: Do you feel lonely, like from time to time when it comes to friendships?
Pendarvis: Hell, yeah. I live in Sacramento now. My social circles are based in Oakland. I've always been, again, a socialite. And so not being able to just, like, stumble out the house and have my friends around me, it's a bit of an issue. But yeah, I definitely have my, my times where I feel like lonely in the world. Learn how to navigate it. When you are lonely and you want a friend, a homey. Like how do you navigate it and how do you express it?
Nyge: I feel like in the, in the friends department, I hadn’t really felt like super lonely until, um, like one of my like best friends who I talk to every day, he moved for a time period and then I started feeling, like, pretty lonely. And I remember that was like an interesting time because I was trying to, like, figure out, like, what other kind of friends are, like, almost friends I had that I could try to, like, develop into like a more, uh, a closer relationship. But, like, for me it was difficult, um, I guess getting really close because — just like, you know, insecurities like arise where I don't know if I'm like, really, you know, pushing too hard or if I'm really trying to kick it like, super tough, then it'll just be, like, weird and, like, pushy or, like, you know, I'm sure, like, they already got their homies or whatever, and I'm not trying to, like, insert myself or anything. So it's, it's a really interesting way where you have to try to get it to happen like organically. And, and if it's not, if, like, I'm not about to overextend myself and like, look wild out here. So, I don't know. I think it was just like a lot of like insecurities kind of arose for me when trying to do that. And that's something I still want to like, I guess, explore. What about. What about for you?
Pendarvis: Making new friends, right? (Nyge: Yeah.) The layers of it. Um, it’s hard. I mean, again, you know, I'm in Sacramento. I've been up here for about two years now. And so I'm trying to find more folks throughout Northern California beyond just my social circles in Oakland. And at one point, like we took a break, I looked down at my phone and I had a message from a homeboy from Sacramento being like, “Yo, what's up? Grab coffee” Middle of the day and I'm like, “I'm busy.” You know? I keep being busy. And he's a recent Ph.D. grad, so he knows all about being busy. (Nyge: Yeah.) And I definitely want to build a friendship with homie, you know, like. But when we find time. He's also a new dad. And so when we find time, that will occur. And at the same time, I happened to open Instagram and see a comment from my oldest friend from when I was 3. And I see him maybe once a year, you know, on his grandpa's birthday. And, but at least seeing a comment from him, knows that, you know, he's still engaged in our, like, we've known each other since we were 3, in our 30 year friendship, you know? And so it's heartwarming. It's odd because in one instance I'm getting a text message and I'm like, “Argh, I can't build on this friendship to be in person and make this extra attempt” versus this friend who I've had for 30 years being like, “Hey, you left an Instagram comment! That's my guy. Always around, you know?” And so, it's funny how it differs, but yeah, building new friendships is tough and the layers to — we're dancing around, there's something in the middle of all this conversation around Black men and like vulnerability and homophobia and like, how do we show that we're just, just friends? You know what I'm saying? Like, just homeboys. And I know that there's layers on top of layers to unpack when it comes to, when it comes to that. And it, it becomes difficult to navigate when you're trying to find — even trust issues and just like fear of the other, “Like, what does this dude want? You want something from me?” You know, like, um, you know, and, and so, trying to unpack that and just have a cool friendship. It's been hard. I think one of the things that have helped me develop new friendships, both in Sacramento and kind of more professional friendships in Oakland, is my daughter. And befriending people with children. And that eases into it. I mean, you're literally at the playground watching your kids make friends with whoever. They make friends with whoever. My daughter and I went to Little Caesar's the other day, you know, “Get it hot and ready.” She made a new best friend before it was hot and ready, you know? I wish I had that ability. So but they are setting the example of what friendship can look like from human to human. And so it's difficult, but maybe we make it more difficult than it need be.
Nyge: Yeah, when you talked about like, we’re dancing around like the homophobia around like making male friendships or relationships or anything like that. It's like, oh, why is that? Why is that something that we have to, like, dance around or like, why is that something that we feel is even a thing? Like you can know I'm not trying to pursue a romantic relationship with you. But if any part of, like, my friendship attempt comes off in any of that, like, If any of those lines ever cross, then it's like, “Oh, no, no. Like, oh, I don't know about that, bro. I don't know about - yeah." And it's like, “Come on, bro. Like you, you know, I'm not trying to, like, get at you.” Like, um, I think for me, where I struggle is, well, okay, so I'll just talk about friendships as a whole. One, it's, it's difficult making like female friendships because it's hard to make friendships with women now because I am married. So it's like, there is a like respect factor. There is a like — there is a valid, you know, point to that where it's like, you have to kind of like toe the line where you aren't being, you know, disrespectful, even to the point where you cannot be trying to like pursue a romantic relationship with someone. But you don't want to even give them like the ammo to be able to, like, talk to my wife in any type of way, like, that's what I was trying to do. So when I, when I am like navigating those situations, it is something that like is heavily on my mind and definitely makes me apprehensive to make certain friendships because then if like, you know, if that wasn't even my intention, but that's their intention, then I put myself in that situation. I put us — I put us in that situation. Besides that point, there's a whole another thing with just the, the friendship feeling organic. Um, I think being in school friendships came so much more organically because we were at school every day. Like, there was no healthy separation between school and home or whatever. Like, we had homework, so. everywhere is school, everywhere is whatever.
Pendarvis: That's funny. I see you all day in the classroom. As soon as I get home, I'm on three way with you. And we're talking about the exact same things we were talking about in the classroom.
Nyge: Exactly. Like, there's no reason that this friendship has to stop when I get home. So, but then being out of school, I feel like that's where people's friendships go. They go from like elementary school to middle school friendships, to high school friendships, to college friendships. And then people usually try to like stick with their college friendships for as long as possible. But — or some people get like really into work friendships. (Pendarvis: Yeah) And I mean, that's not an issue, but it's just like, you shouldn't be probably just limiting yourself to: people who you see regularly are my friends. There's more to life, there's more to growth, there's more to thinking than that. Or else if you are doing that, then you're only going to have one type of friend, which means you're only getting one type of perspective, which means you're going to be completely oblivious to things that are happening with other people because you only live and communicate and grow and talk and learn in one circle. So you aren't even getting the full picture where people are like, “Doesn't everybody feel this way?” No, you just created a bubble, so everybody around you feels that way. it's always something that I'm that I'm being cautious of. Those are all the things that are running through my mind any time I meet a new person. And so and it definitely, like, hinders me making friends because it's like, “How do I — how am I still respectful? How am I respectful to you? How am I respectful of my wife? I'm respectful to our new friendship that we're creating that it like, feels organic. And I'm not, like, forcing anything. It's not like I'm putting you in a position where you don't have the capacity for this friendship, and now I'm, like, annoying.” So, it's a lot going on at one time. So I feel like, I think that's why I don't get super close with a lot of new people because there's so much to talk about. There's so much that needs to be communicated. There's so much that needs to be worked out in creating a new close friend that just isn't really socially acceptable to talk about. People feel really nervous about having those certain conversations. People feel really awkward about having those conversations and they need to be brought up. And we need to feel a lot more comfortable having these conversations, comfortable being in these situations, comfortable asking these questions. So that we can get more friends and be able to make friends easier.
Pendarvis: And from that you build community which builds a healthier society, and then we all just get along, right?
Nyge: Theoretically. Hopefully.
Pendarvis: We just solved all the world’s problems right now.
Nyge: Right. That's it. (laughs)
Nyge: I just want to thank Pen and the whole team at "Rightnowish" and KQED for teaming up with us on this episode. If you want to follow Pen, he’s on Instagram and Twitter @ogpenn. That’s Pen with two n’s. And check out "Rightnowish" wherever you get your podcasts.
Nyge: Adult ISH is produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation. Our show is produced by Georgia Wright, Dominique French, and by me, ya boy Nyge Turner.
Our executive producer is Rebecca Martin.
And YR’s director of podcasting is Ray Archie.
The host of Rightnowish from KQED is Pendarvis Harshaw. And I’ll let him tell you about their team.
Pendarvis: Marisol Medina-Cadena is the producer of the show. Jessica Placzek is the editor.
Justin Ebrahemi and Ria Garewal are the engagement specialists. Our engagement intern is Ashley Ng
Nyge: Original music for this episode created by these young musicians at YR: Christian Romo, Anders Knutstad, and Jacob Armenta. Music direction by Oliver “Kuya” Rodriguez and Maya Drexler.
Art for this episode created by Jordan Ferguson, a young artist at YR. Art direction by Brigido Bautista and Marjerrie Masicat. Creative direction by Pedro Vega, Jr.
And special thanks to Eli Arbreton (Are-burr-ton)
We are also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX, an independent listener-supported collective of some of the most amazing shows in all of podcasting. Find them at Radiotopia.fm. And if you haven’t reviewed our show on Apple podcasts, please be sure you do so. Five stars is much appreciated.
You can follow us on all the socials @yradultish and on that note, we will see you later.