Love is, Love Ain't

In the spirit of Independence Day and just the recent reminder that we all need to be free no mater what our relationship status, I thought I would celebrate my independence as a single woman.  I don’t celebrate it just for me, but for every woman or man – single, booed-up, or married – who may be bound by the idea that being single means being insignificant.  Two things recently collided to make me want live an even more empowered, celebrated life of singleness.  One – I joined Twitter and was introduced to the fantastic tweets of The Single Woman.  Two – My really good friend called me discussing the same ol’ deadbeat boyfriend of hers whom she shared wants to “take a break.”  For her, every time he wants to take a break it’s devastating.  For me, I’m happy, because I hope she will stop changing herself – physically (I mean physically if you follow) and mentally – for a guy who’s been working on the same Bachelor’s degree for the past 12 years, has no car or house, and is very selfish.  I called her randomly as I always do last week, and she answers the phone to share that she had just been sitting on the floor in her closet crying and how grateful she was that I called.  I’ve learned to tread lightly with her because she’s not like me – I’m a give-it-to-me-straight type of girl.  I listen as she goes on about how he wants to “take a break” for the millionth time.  Then she goes on about how they are meant to be and he will need to figure all of this out – with a lot of crowding from her and interfering from her mother.

All I could think is she can’t be free with all of that.  I need her to know that she is “significant without a significant other,” as The Single Woman tweeted one day.  I can’t say it to her though.  Every time I try, she interjects with several excuses as to why he hasn’t graduated, why he doesn’t have a car, and why the “breaks” might be good – continually strengthening the chains that hold her in the position that she is in.  And as she does that, she ridicules my “solo glow,” and sometimes politely reminds me of my patriarchal duty as a woman to be married to a man that I can cook for everyday.  So I’ve decided that maybe if I walk my talk and practice what I preach, she will see the freedom that I have as a beautiful, smart, silly, loving single woman.  And I won’t be single always, but I will make sure that I am always empowered, strong, happy, and significant – with or without the significant other.  And yes, I will fall from time to time and call and whine about how my ex just won’t give up and be judged because I keep answering the phone for him, but I won’t let him or any other person control my happiness, joy, or freedom.

I hope that all of my men and women who are significant whether with a significant other or not will join me in celebrating the love that we have for our Creator, ourselves, our families, our friends, our husbands/wives, girlfriends/boyfriends, and enemies.  And within these loves let’s pledge to be honest that singlehood does not automatically mean insignificance and relationship-hood/marriage does not automatically secure our significance.  Happy Independence Day!

And my number is 28. And I just found out that I have the potential to be a big pimpin’ cougar. Don’t laugh out loud because this is a burden and a blessing. Let’s start from the top. I work/study at a university with about 25,000 students. I meet a lot of them through the classes that I teach and the jobs that I work at, but when I find myself in places where a large body of undergraduate students gather, I become Waldo. I’m serious – try to find me – the 28-year-old grown woman with 2 degrees, 2 years of serious career related experience – and you won’t be able to find me. And this is my blessing. I look nothing like what I have been through.

But recently I realized I have to start asking for identification from the young men who ask me out. I laughed when the young guy at the grocery store ran to catch up with me and ask to take me out. He was a cutie pie – tall, caramel skin, short hair cut with the line to match – but when our eyes met, I knew he could not be any more than 17. “How old are you?” I asked. He flashed me those beautiful, straight teeth and said, “16.” As I walked away, I smiled ‘cause I will look like I’m 30 when I’m 70, but I realized I have got to be like the liquor store cashiers and start asking to see some ID.

I began to wonder if I was going to ask for ID so that I can keep things legal at all times or if I was just interested in dating only guys in a certain age range. Well, the other day as I sat at my office desk, a handsome young man came to the door and said, “How you doing?” I reacted like the police and said, “Can I see some ID?” He laughed and explained that he just wanted to get to know me. I asked if he played football, and when he said yes, I named my little boo boos on the team. He said he knew them. I told him to ask them why we don’t really need to get to know each other. He insisted that I tell him instead. “I’m 28.” His jaw (and his friend’s) dropped to the floor, and he screamed, “You look like a baby!” I thanked him, and he gave me his billion-dollar smile (I mean he had a gorgeous smile!). He paused for a moment and said, “We can’t be Facebook friends?” I laughed.

My colleague that witnessed the whole thing thought it was hilarious. But she said, “What’s wrong with maybe grabbing lunch or hanging out with him one day?” I said, “If he knows my boos, then he’s no more than 19.” “So,” she replied. That “so” has stayed with me. And no, Sistaoutsider (who I can hear saying “I’mma need you to stop”), I’m not interested in 19 year-olds no matter how handsome they are, but I do discriminate on the younger men a whole lot. Instead of revealing my standards, I reveal my age first. I’m 27 and you’re 23, we’ll never work. I’m 28 and you’re 19, we’ll never work. I need to practice more on making my standards show the maturity because age sure doesn’t. I’m interested in my career, and you haven’t chosen a major yet, we might not work. I could get married right now if the person designed for me asks me, you can’t even decide which young lady you want to kick it with tonight, we’re not gonna happen.

Don’t be like me and laugh in every baby face. They might be 28, 30, 33 – you just need to see some ID.

 

Today one of my friends called me to talk about her boyfriend, other guys who are tripping over themselves to take her boyfriend’s spot, and her favorite topic – my singleness and lack of desire to marry just anybody. So she calls to talk about next weekend’s wedding (her cousin’s – and also my really good friend’s – wedding). She then names like five other people who are recently engaged, and I get excited with each announcement because I love me some love and really love when people find their calling of marriage. I then try to have a really serious conversation with her about marriage – I share that I’m sure I’m not ready for it, and it’s a possibility that it is not my calling (I’m really serious about my belief that marriage is a spiritual gift and calling). So as always she interjects and says, “You’re just going to be all alone with your 15 cats.” Yes, roll your eyes here if you would like – I won’t judge you. I took a deep breath and reminded her that I’m not responsible enough for animals and that I needed to go.

I thought that we had at least punched the patriarchy hard enough that people had stopped saying and insinuating such archaic ideas. But it didn’t bother me as much because I’ve realized that my journey to the union God has designed for me is a really private one. I can’t expect all of my friends to understand that for me marriage won’t work if I am not complete by myself. I don’t need someone to complete me – I need someone to help me get tax breaks. Just kidding – kinda. ☺

So I did state earlier that I want the journey to my union to be really private, but I’m willing to share so that other single ladies who may be placed in really awkward conversations and experiences (especially during this wedding season) will know that they are not alone. I want to share the really corny thing I do to stay realistic about my marriage ideas: I write letters to my future permanent boo in my journal. It was originally designed to be a gift to him when I realized that he is my permanent boo, but two very wise ladies encouraged me to just keep it to myself and use it as a reflection and guide to what I want. I haven’t had time to write in it lately, but I decided to read it and found one that I will share with you.

Dear honey pot,

I’m waiting for you – and it’s much easier now than when I first started writing you. No, I don’t know who you are, but I still love you. I thought that the first dance at our wedding reception would be “International Players Anthem” by UGK & Outkast, but it will be “The Makings of You” by Curtis Mayfield. You’re affecting me already, and we aren’t even engaged! I love you!!!

Laugh at it, analyze it, or be inspired by my silly, corny letters, but ladies, this wedding season when you are assaulted with sexist comments and questions or are played like you’re desperate to get married, just do something corny like me – imagine your future permanent boo – if marriage is your thing – and pretend you are sharing your encounter with the wedding and baby police to remind yourself that you don’t have to be married with kids by 30. And if marriage is not your thing, remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you and continue to stick it to the patriarchy! ☺

Back in January I grieved the engagement of the one guy I consistently wanted to share my life with. And whenever I grieve anyone or anything, I have to find a theme song. As I thought about how egregious it was that he chose someone without at least trying it with me first, my emotions welled up deep inside of me and as I waited for the tears to roll uncontrollably down my face (and they didn’t), I turned to Jay-Z and decided to let his “Song Cry.” Because all I could hear was Jay saying, “I was gone get right back…”

So after I zoned out with Jay and his story about a relationship that diverged in his transformation into a star, I realized that I had been bamboozled by the “Get Right Back” play. That though I should have never emotionally tangled myself up with someone who always had something else – he had a girlfriend when I first met him, he was too hurt by her betrayal when we were both single and living in the same city, he wanted to build his career and travel the world – he was gone get right back.

Well he did get right back. He sent me an e-mail back in October, and I was ecstatic!! Yes, he got back – maybe this would be the beginning of our perfecting timing. I e-mailed him back – he e-mailed me – and we had a tennis match over e-mail. Finally, I decided I would act like a grown woman and say how about you give me a call sometime. He never e-mailed again or called, so I figured – he was gone get right back. Fast forward to January and he announces he is engaged. Well, no getting back on that. One of my best friends still thinks we’re meant to be and has concocted a plan for us to crash his wedding with an unsolicited objection. It would be fun in a motion-picture sort of way, but I’m single (by choice), not desperate.

I had previously written this post and didn’t post it because I didn’t have an optimistic type of life lesson to add to it, but I thought it would fun to add as I will try to pay homage to wedding season 2011. A single girl has got to have fun while people continue to ask her why she’s not married yet or what’s wrong with her  – doesn’t she? ☺

So in just a few minutes, I was scheduled to get on a plane for a nice little trip to a corner of the Midwest. However, I’m going to miss that flight, because the trip on which I was to embark has been postponed, indefinitely.  Ok, it was cancelled.  A few months ago I mentioned that I was interested in a lovely young woman, and we seemed to be getting along quite nicely.  Rather abruptly, though, she decided that she “wasn’t the one” and didn’t think that “she could be the girlfriend I deserved” and just as quickly as it started, it was over.

While I’m not angry at her, I am a bit disappointed in her delivery of this message. It was by text. There is no doubt that we didn’t see eye-to-eye on a couple of issues, but I was still a little perturbed by what I see as the ultimate act of cowardice in this type of situation.  The failure to communicate in person or at least by phone, your need to end a budding relationship, is just as powerful as a slap in the face. It sends the message that you are unworthy of direct communication.  While I do not believe that about myself at all, I have to admit that it took a great deal of self-control not to call her up and demand an explanation. Why didn’t I call her, you ask? Because she’s right. She’s not the one for me. And although we had a wonderful time together and got along really well, our relationship expectations were completely different. Needless to say, we couldn’t work it out.

So in the spirit of catharsis and a keen desire to prevent my dear readers from making a similar snafu, here are a few ways that you can surmise whether or not your current honey is “The One” for you: (Not all of these are issues that we dealt with, but  some are things I’ve thought about since we’ve parted ways.)

  • You don’t communicate often or well.  If you like to talk a lot and your honey would rather not, you may want to reconsider how you plan to move forward in your relationship when you really don’t have much to talk about.  There is no doubt that sometimes life gets in the way: added responsibilities at work, family crises, or just plain exhaustion. But if you are really interested in maintaining a relationship, you’ve got to communicate often, and well.
  • Related to the previous point is the method by which you communicate.  Each time the Bunny and I had a disagreement, (if I recall correctly) it seemed to start with a text message.  There should be guidelines on the types of communication that can be had by text.  Tone, emotion, and intent are sometimes lost in those 140 character bytes, and once you hit the send button, you can’t take it back. So my advice to you is if it’s important, just wait for her to call you.
  • If you are in a long distance situation, consistent communication is paramount to the success of the relationship.  At the end of the day, it’s all you really have to stay connected to each other until you meet again.  Now, folks have varying opinions on how that should happen, but I have friends who Skype every night, or spend an hour on the phone catching up. Some even plan phone dates. The important thing is that you stay connected to each other and that you do it often.
  • Is your potential date really interested in a serious relationship, or is she looking for a girlfriend of the “add and stir” variety? By add and stir I mean is she ready to make you a part of her life, or does she just want to find a place for you on her oh so busy schedule? I’m being a little flip, but I think this is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and the Bunny.  And as a matter of fact, about a month before we called it quits, I asked her if she really had time for girlfriend. She got pretty upset and we almost ended it then. In retrospect, I believe I hit a nerve. I NEVER expect to be placed before faith or family, but years ago, there was a point at which I realized that I do not want to be fifth or sixth down somebody’s priority list.
  • Related tangentially to that is the notion that at some point, you have to decide how to integrate the disparate parts of your life together in order to make time and space for all of the things that are important to you.  If baby girl gets pissed if you text or call her when she’s with her friends, then she may not be ready to tie the knot.  Or she’s got something to hide. Either way, she may not be ready to give up living the single life for the sake of the relationship. And if you are, then she is not the one for you.
  • Finally, if she is in the closet and you are not, it will probably become a problem at some point.  Now don’t get your panties in a bunch, I realize that coming out is a process and not everyone is able to do it. HOWEVER, if you are out and proud, or just out, this may become an issue down the road. One thing about this that bothers me (and I’m sure I’ll get some heat for saying it), is the notion that by living a double life (if that is what one is doing), then one has learned the art of deception.  And by that I mean that you’ve had to create smoke and mirrors for your family or whomever you aren’t out to in order to keep your secret safe. And to be honest, if you are able to do this, then how can I really know how you feel about me?  No doubt this does NOT hold true for everyone, but I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way.  For some, it’s easier to live the lie than to confront the truth.
  • And in the words of my girl M-Boogie, you don’t have to lie to kick it.  If all you want to do is have a good time, or just want a girl as an accessory, then just say so. There are lots of women out there that are cool with that. However, if you are really interested in having a serious, meaningful relationship, then you will actually have to put some work in. That may mean more than a date once a month or a phone call every few days.  You may actually have to make a few adjustments in your life. If you aren’t ready to or can’t do that, then not only are you not the one for me, you may not be the one for anyone.

If you are trapped between your feelings and what other people think is right, always go for whatever makes you happy.

Unless you want everyone to be happy except you.

*I read this on another blog but thought it worth repeating here.