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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

When Love Blooms One Place, It’s Taking It’s Last Breath Somewhere Else

In the same week, I’ve had a friend get engaged, an estranged friend get divorced, and I’ve RSVPed to the wedding of a much older long-time widower cousin, who is going for a second chance at love.

Love is unpredictable and friggin nuts.

A friend of mine kind of described the transference of love like a baby being born at the same that someone utters their last breath. But I hope that someone hasn’t had to endure a horrible pain just so I could be happy or vice versa. I hope that’s really not how it works.

Love is hard to find. It’s hard to keep and maintain.

Yet we put ourselves through it. We keep wanting it and fighting for it. It’s insane. Sometimes I hate that we are wired this way. Wired to need love. We need it, just like we need water and air and food and shelter and to be touched. We just do.

Sometimes we single ourselves out and make it like our love story is unique and filled with drama and twists and turns and that everyone on the outside never knows “the half.” Well, it’s kind of true. But everyone has their set of struggles, bad apples, frogs and disasters.

There have been people who have had devastating loss. There are people who felt like they’d never be loved. There are the people who, from the outside you thought had the perfect life, who are living a lie for several years. I even know of people who were high school sweethearts, who lived through long-distance relationships in college to be married for a good while and then still split.

My heart! Dang. Why can’t people stay together anymore? It’s so sad and it makes you wonder if the moment you fall for someone you are immediately set up for failure…eventually. No one’s relationship is perfect. No one is happy every single day of their life.

But what happens?

As I get older and recognize that the fairy tale is just that and anyone in a long-lasting relationship works ridiculously hard, sometimes I get pains in my chest.

I am told by my sister, who is a 12-year marriage veteran, that even though marriage is a lot of hard work, when you love that person and they love you, you are already equipped with just enough of what you need to put into your marriage and keep it going. You’ve figured out what you dislike about them and are honest about it, but you realize you can accept it and it’s not so horrible you can’t deal. You want to give, you want to work at it.

Am I willing to work that hard for someone everyday? And will I find someone willing to work that hard for and with me everyday too? According to my sister, it’s about finding the right person who makes me feel that way.

I pray for my friend who is recently engaged. She’s waited a long time for it. Some camps feel like because they’ve been together so long and have been living together, they already know what they are getting into. Then I’ve heard stories about those couples who after saying I do, breakup only months later. I don’t understand the psychology of that.

I pray for my ex-friend who is embarking on a new world and rejoining us in the land of the single. She also has a small child. While I was shocked that she was among the first of our college friends to get married, I still rooted for her. I still wanted her to have a positive and healthy and happy marriage. So even though we don’t talk I am sad for her and I hope she can heal and find joy in her life and manage to co-parent their child successfully, whatever the definition of successfully might be to that family.

I also pray for my older cousin. He’s dated his bride probably for over a decade for sure. I tend to love weddings for people 40 and over because there’s a different kind of celebration and joy happening. There is something very honest about those unions.

I don’t want to say the love is more genuine or real, but it feels much more relaxed. Normally, the bride and groom have either been married before and they’ve had grown children, they’ve lived long enough to fully understand who they are, and that at this point they ain’t changing, and damn it the other person accepts it.

Period.

They aren’t looking to “grow” in the same way a couple in their 20’s or early 30’s often desires to “grow” with one another or “grow” their families. There is no pressure to do that. The older folks have grand and sometimes great-grandchildren. Older people are on their way to retirement or about to retire. They know they are getting older, the reality of mortality is quite prominent and they want to LIVE. They’ve stopped asking others for permission. I guess the saying is true that youth is wasted on the young.

I don’t blame them.

I believe that when older people get married, the expectations of others and how they present their relationship to the outside world isn’t really a factor the way it is for younger couples. They do what they want to do and they’ve earned the right to.

I get particularly misty at women 40 and older getting married for the first time. Yall my patron saint of mature woman first marriages is the fabulous Mellody Hobson Lucas. She is my patron saint of successful women tying the knot for the first time after 40. And she and her husband, you might know him, George Lucas just had a baby girl via surrogate. This chick is doing it. Before she even got with King Star Wars, she was spectacular and ridiculously impressive in her own right. She gives me hope that if you find the right kind of love later and if you are patient, you can have what you want and have it on a greater level.

I actually want to sit down with ol girl and ask her about her old boyfriends and when or if she started to trip in her 30s about not finding the right man and being surrounded by idiots until meeting and growing a relationship with George. I’m obsessed with them. It’s a great story.

But I struggle with the patience thing. I struggle with feeling like even if I found the supreme love of my life in my 40s, I should have had my 30s to start enjoying my life with him. Arrogant right, God? Telling you how to do your job. Sorry. Work with me here send him soon, please. Please.

I’ve read articles about people marrying later have longer lasting marriages because they’ve spent enough time with themselves to know who they are and know how to accept others for who they are.

Accepting others for who they are tends to be a major theme for people on the path to getting married. In “It’s Hard to Fight Naked,” author Niecy Nash says basically if you are dating someone and you have a list of things you want to change about them you aren’t ready to marry them. If you can accept someone for who they are right then and there on the spot, then you are on to something.

I’ve found that even in the course of my dating, I’ve been finding something wrong with EVERYBODY. So does this mean I’m ready for marriage? Probably not, but I do know I want to get there someday. Another piece of getting older is telling people what you want and meaning it regardless of their reaction.

Of all of the people I’ve been talking to in terms of dating, I really, really like the young guy in Atlanta. I told him that I want to get married in a few years. He understands he may not be the one,  however we are still friends and from time to time he will say to me, “I truly hope you find the husband that deserves you.” Which in my opinion, makes him one of the most mature guys I’ve dealt with in a while 23 be damned.

Oh, it kills me when he says that, because in my mind, if he were six years older, dating him seriously would be a no-brainer.

If I was already in my 40s and he in his 30s, I probably wouldn’t care and be happily dating him. Snaps.

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Monday Morning Confessions

It’s not a juicy as you think.

But here we go. There’s loads on my mind.

I’m still reeling from the reunion I had with my ex last weekend, and noticing his increasing reluctance to have the post weekend “talk” about our feelings and where we are with everything.

He’s dragging his feet.

Confession. So am I. I’m not sure how any of this is supposed to work out. No matter what road is taken, I feel like it’s going to be an emotional challenge that I’m not quite prepared for.

I still don’t regret the weekend or how it went or what happened. I feel like it was necessary for us to either move on with or without each other going forward.

The second thing I’m struggling with is I took out my fabulous braids. Well it was time. But I kind of realized that being a natural hair girl, having those long braids and minimal upkeep gave me a lot of time to sleep in longer and it gave me a real confidence boost. I really liked how I looked in them and now, I’m kind of having to readjust to my own hair.

I’m even thinking what used to be the unthinkable… getting a weave.

Taking the braids out and having to face my own thick, tightly coiled hair again, reminded me of the daily work I had to do to affirm myself and my own beauty. Sometimes, I really dig the fluff. It makes me seem artsy and confident in my own skin, but I had no idea that taking the braids out was going to have such a psychological effect on me. As I stood in my bathroom mirror trying to decide if I felt like sitting under my dryer for an hour, or just slapping gel in it to make a bun, I suddenly felt overwhelmed, tired and unpretty.

I can’t go to work like this by Monday…

No, my hair wasn’t straight in the braids, but it was long. And easy.

I was getting more attention from men. And, super big confession, I was actually happy my ex got to see me in all of my Poetic Justice glory and not with my fro. He doesn’t like natural hair and has said so in the past and said it’s difficult to imagine me with it. So I felt like when he saw me, I was at my best. I had enough to worry about and thank God it wasn’t my hair.

So has this reunion made me shrink back into an insecure person wanting validation?

Has the ending of my braid hairstyle made me regress back to the days of wanting my hair to flow in the wind?

Not necessarily. But it all has been making me think about the way I see myself. First of all, some might say, if the braids make you feel good, then just keep redoing them. That was a thought that crossed my mind. I mean what is 7 hours every other month?

Then I thought about going to the Dominican salons and getting blow outs from time to time.

Then I thought about the weave.

Really not sure what to do next about all of these feelings surrounding my hair, or my ex.

Blank

I was thinking about something last night and this morning.

My goal in life is to not be ridiculously wealthy. I would like to comfortably pay my bills and not have to think about it and when I want to travel, or eat out or buy something I really like, I don’t want to have to feel like I’m sacrificing to survive, or living from check to check. Just a simple existence. And I’d like to buy a house someday.

This became clearer when I went to the transitional housing shelter to drop off the food I made. The woman in charge was a fellow former journalist, her husband also in the business. She seemed like she was passionate about what she was doing and generally happy.

I already knew a long time ago (and I’ve mentioned it here) I want to work in mental health advocacy or with a program that helps women and girls.

It’s a new goal.

As I watch the world of journalism morph and die all around me, seeing talented friends and colleagues lose their jobs everyday, and the decline of great journalism for whatever it is that’s out there now (even though there are great blogs and non-traditional forms of media that I love), my initial dream of being a great reporter, who ends up writing a great weekly column well into retirement is over.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived my dream in a number of ways. I wanted to be a newspaper reporter and I did it. I got to cover awesome events and go to places and meet people I would have never imagined.

I wanted to become an editor and that was a major achievement for me. And I’ve been one for nearly 7 years. God is awesome. And as this industry changed, I was changing with it. Even though I was getting further and further away from writing, I was learning about content management systems, social media, video, podcasting and broadening my skills.

Sometimes I felt like the odd woman out working for a very specific kind of media company that most folks when I attend media conferences haven’t heard of. But I’ve been stable and blessed.

So the question is what now?

I’ve got no kids, I’ve got no husband. As my father has told me numerous times, if I want to switch gears at any point, I have the right to do so.

I have amazing friends who have taken insane leaps over the last few years. They’ve gone back to school, they’ve left stressful, unfulfilling jobs, they’ve even left the country and they are all doing just fine. They still have places to live and food to eat.

What real risks have I taken?

I’ve been wondering what’s next? And instead of wanting a Pulitzer, I want to be more impactful on a smaller, micro level.

I don’t want to run from new challenges.

I didn’t realize how sometimes, there is a great challenge in being comfortable because now you have to hold yourself accountable for what you do next and the level of energy you put in towards that.

When you are grinding for your life, it’s easy to make goals and decide you have no choice but to achieve them.

I thought to myself that this is the first time in my life that I didn’t have an immediate do or die goal.

I’ve wanted to buy a modest house or condo, but it freaks me out and I haven’t really saved money.

The tee-shirt company is still in limbo because I’ve made the excuse that I need to get my credit card balance down to something more reasonable so I can use it to buy inventory.

I dream of going to Greece and my goal is to do it next year.

But unlike when I was a kid or a college student, my future hasn’t seemed so clear lately.

In fact, it’s felt blank.

Love life? Blank.

Professional life, blank.

There once was a time where I thought maybe I wanted to be like my bosses’ boss and run a bunch of publications and deal with the politics and madness.

Eh, not so much.

Being like the woman running the transitional shelter seemed waaay more appealing as of late.

I used to always think about doing more, or the awards I didn’t win. Or that maybe my career as a reporter was too short. I missed having front page stories and bylines and rushing off to do a story.

But I’ve always been where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been blessed. I’ve had moments and achievements to be proud of that no one can take from me. I’ve fought for my respect, for my paycheck, for my current position.

I’ve tried to aid other people in their personal and professional success and offer encouragement and support.

So I have no clue what’s next. But I’m starting to notice that as I get older, I’m wanting a simple life of giving back and service. I don’t need to be flashy, or have a corner office but I want to lead a comfortable life full of food, loved ones and travel.

I don’t think that’s a bad goal…

Absinthe and Exes: The Reunion Show

Today’s post is really difficult to write because it’s deeply personal.

I started this blog to talk about turning 30 and what happens after. I began writing more frequently about love and relationships to in fact heal from the most devastating end of a relationship I had ever had in my life.

I’ve been healing.

Things haven’t been easy, but a lot of you readers have been with me the whole way along the salty trail of tears, triumphs and straight up dating and life blunders. I’m grateful.

So here is the difficult thing. The things that took place this weekend, leave me in a strange place. It’s probably smack dab in the middle of that “longest road a man must travel is between his heart and his head.”

And that’s where I am.

I’ve always loved my ex. I’m certain he’s always loved me.

Now that we’ve had a successful visit, that included a lot of laughs, no tears, a lot of random sighing, deep breaths taken, deep eye contact, embarrassing moments, and mature, honest conversation, with long, silent moments of tight hugs, it begs the question: What now? Where do we go from here?

Become best buddies? Do we say we had this moment, then dap it up and walk away and go back to our regularly scheduled lives?

I expected awkward when my ex-fiance hopped on a plane and came to visit, and honestly for the first 20 minutes, I got exactly that. He walked to my car like a death march. He looked like he was bracing himself for me to punch him in the throat.

He got in the car and I fumbled for words. We talked about the weather for an awkward long time, then I asked about his family and asked him about his traveling for work. Did he want to stop for something to eat?

Sensing the tension, I said. “See, you did it.”

“Did what?”

“You’re here. It’s not so bad, right?”

“Right, but the day is still young.”

It was already raining at the airport, which made me nervous. I’d planned an “ice breaker” activity of ziplining and I knew I was going to have to think about other plans. We were not going to just sit up in my house.

Fortunately, once we got to my side of town, things were dry. But even after a quick check on the zip line place’s website, these folks go in the rain, the snow and etc. They only shut down for lightning and natural disasters.

So, we went to my house so he could put down his backpack and we watched a little t.v. and he made fun of me still refusing to get cable.

Ziplining was an excellent choice to get things warmed up. We had to climb a ladder to a platform, where we had to still walk across a rope to get to the platform where we jump off and zipline.

Jumping off that platform was kind of a fitting metaphor for what this weekend would be.

You are up here now, turning back will be more cumbersome than jumping off and taking the ride. After the initial shock of jumping off, I sailed down that line with great speed, praying my glasses wouldn’t fall off my face or that the rope wouldn’t suddenly snap.

It didn’t, I survived and I was proud of myself for doing something new. If I can do this, I can spend about 36 hours with my ex. He reminded me he was still afraid of heights, but if we did the trapeeze together, he could certainly do this.

“Hey, you were a natural, remember? You were the king of our class!”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Why do you always get me to do this type of crazy stuff with you?”

“Because you do it.”

“Touche.”

While waiting for the rest of the people in our party to return from the bathroom, we got on the topic of why I asked him to come.

I told him I didn’t know why. But it felt like the right time and the right thing to do. That I was glad he came and that after the recent conversation we had about him being unhappy, the main objective is to come out, do something different and just concentrate on being happy. I really had no other motives than that. I wanted him to know I cared.

After rope climbing, we had just enough time to start a dvd, and get showered and dressed to go to dinner at a trendy little spot in a trendy section of DC.

The restaurant was sexy. It was more sexy than I wanted it to be for the situation. Dark. Plush,  bright red leather couches. We had a number of small plates to try and my living social deal also included drinks.

I had heard that absinthe was an old school alcohol of choice for old school writers and artists because it could cause hallucinations.

I instantly gravitated to it when I saw it on the menu. I was practically living a hallucination anyway. I hadn’t laid eyes on my ex in two years. And there he was, sitting across from me. This was very real. So much time and distance had been between us, and yet, we were here.

He was shocked I went and ordered the absinthe and decided to order himself the same. The waitress knocked the wind out of my sails when she told me, the hallucinogenic agent wormwood, which basically caused the drink to originally be banned in the US, was not in their version. I was hoping for a hallucinogenic distraction from this melting pot of feelings I had, but it was still cool to watch her dilute the green liquid, and set fire to sugar cube to mix into the concoction.

So here we are, my ex and I, drinking absinthe (of all things to drink) talking about what I said we didn’t have to… what went wrong and why.

“You moving to Chicago for me was asking too much of you.”

“If there was anyone on the planet I was willing to take that kind of risk for, it was you.”

“I was going to be the only reason you moved there. I really liked it out here. You were established here. You would have only been moving because of my job, which only months later turned to crap. If you moved, when your company made changes, you probably would have gotten laid off. We would have had the worst first year ever. Looking back, it was the right thing. I couldn’t let you do that.”

He further explained some risks that he took in order to get his current job, where if his leap of faith didn’t work, he could have ended up unemployed and without a place to live.

“It wasn’t about love. I couldn’t let you give up so much for me.”

“Things just ended so abruptly. It was like we didn’t try. I just lost everything in one fail swoop. I lost my lover, I lost my friend. That was it. We didn’t talk, we just parted ways. Then when we did talk, I realized I couldn’t be there for you with the various things you were going through and then be strong for myself. I cared and I worried, but I was going to end up giving everything to you. Then with the Facebook misunderstanding, I knew I had to cut ties completely. I felt like an idiot. I was so embarrassed.”

“It wasn’t we didn’t try. I didn’t. I really wanted us to have this conversation tomorrow.”

“It’s not like I’m going to make you walk home or kick you out. I’d rather get it over with.”

And that’s all I remember. More absinthe was had, as well as other drinks and the trendy, sexy restaurant started to turn into the douchy dc bar where we people watched and made jokes.

We mulled over walking up and down U St. to check out other bars and standing in the bustling intersection of 14th and U, we pondered our next move. He turns to me.

“You know what? I’m not in the mood to be in the bars and clubs.”

“Do you want to make fun of people at the casino?”

“I guess so.”

So I wouldn’t keep getting lost in the crowd with my much shorter legs and high heels, I saw him reach behind himself, not even looking back, instinctively reaching for me and instinctively, I grabbed his hand.

He didn’t let go for blocks. Neither did I.

We got to my car and once we were in it, I had an idea.

“Hey you’ve never seen the MLK monument right? Of course not, they opened it like two years ago. The Lincoln monument is over there too and it all actually looks pretty cool at night. Wanna see it?”

“Ok. But hey, come to think of it, why have we never seen the monuments before? Seems like I had a bad host.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

It had rained again when we were heading to the restaurant and it had stopped by the time we left.

The weather was perfect. Too perfect. Independence street was quiet and still. There was the occasional couple taking in the sights and strolling along and even a family or two, but the massive, beautiful monuments were ours. We peered across the water at the Jefferson Memorial leaning on a fence. We both agreed it was beautiful and perfect.

We looked up at Martin’s eyes. He looked so serious yet kind of troubled.

“I wonder what Martin would think of all of this,” I sighed.

“People like him, he wouldn’t want a monument to himself. He’d just rather the world be a better place.”

True.

He snapped photos of his favorite quotes. We touched the marble walls. I told him about the incorrect paraphrase on the side of the monument and why it was covered up and there was scaffolding because folks had to fix it.

We looked further out and saw the Washington monument, which was lit up like a Christmas tree. It also had scaffolding all around, because it was also being repaired from the cracks in it from the earthquake a couple of years ago.

Seemed like all of these beautiful things around us, were in need of repair, need of fixing, to be made stronger and better than before.

Seemed like he and I were still beautiful people, in need of repair, in need of fixing, to be made stronger and better than before. Like the King monument, things we’ve said have gotten lost in translation.

Like the Washington monument, we’d been shaken to our core, and left with deep cracks.

But here we were, standing under the same sky.

We stood there a long time. I leaned on his shoulder. He pulled me closer. I heard his heart nearly beating out of his chest. I held my breath in hopes of slowing mine down. Then I released.

We looked up in the sky and searched for stars. And we complained about how difficult it is to see stars in major cities and how sad it was. He told me a story about seeing a shooting star as a kid. We continued to walk, and we went to the FDR memorial which is one of my favorites, because it’s a series of monuments telling the story of all of his terms.

We laughed, we made nerd jokes. He continued to talk crap about me never taking him there before.

I said, “Maybe we are supposed to be here right now. Yeah, at like 2 in the morning. But maybe we were supposed to be here now.”

“Maybe.”

Tweet “Where do we go from here?” This IS THE SONG of my life right now… The lyrics are amazing.

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