Something I’ve never told anyone: other than Whitley Gilbert, my first crush was Anita Baker. No rhyme or reason, I just remember watching her videos intently when they came on Hot Tracks in the late eighties. I feel much better getting that off of my chest after twenty-five years.
The last three or five times that I’ve been to my local grocery store, I’ve heard ‘Giving You the Best That I Got’ play. I always go a little slower through the store looking what I’m there to purchase and listen to the words of the song. It has always been my favorite song from my original boo. But more than anything, the song reminds me of Timile. We’d decided that when we got married, this was going to be the song we first danced to. It was my suggestion. One summer afternoon Timile and I heard the song playing while we were in the car driving somewhere. I told said to her that I think this had summed up our dynamic at that point. I was tired, and didn’t know how Timile’s cancer was going to play out; but I was going to keep pressing on no matter how physically, mentally, and spiritually tired I was. Timile saw that all the time. I know that she would feel bad that she couldn’t really do anything to help me. She knew I was burdened. It was written all over my face. I’d gained a lot of weight stress eating. Many nights I’d have a drink as soon as I got home from work. The look on my face was that of a man who is weary and had no choice but to continue giving unselfishly to and infant and a partner who was terminally sick; all the while figuring out life at twenty-five.
When I hear the song now, I have small flashbacks of that summer in Buffalo. While it was tiring, it was one of the happiest times in my life. As bogged down as I was, I was taking care of my family. Whatever they wanted or needed I was able to provide. Sometimes I picture in my head what that first dance between Timile and I would have looked like. Wearing all white, I see the look on her face as the song played and she’d give me a sorta annoyed look because I’d make a silly face in the midst of a romantic moment because that’s who I am.
I learned a valuable lesson about giving unselfishly during that time. They often say that those that give a lot know what its like to not receive. I love my daughter with everything I have, but just about all she can do at this point in my life is take. I sleep about three hours a night doing something or the other trying to provide for her or trying to just relax from working. I don’t have much time to hang out and I don’t have a help mate to restore me on the days that I’m feeling the most down. Doing for others is what keeps me going. The more out of my way I go, the better I feel. I think I feel that way because money is cool, but the time that it takes to go out of my way is the most important thing. Like I said last week, it’s the most important asset and the only thing you can’t get back. I don’t even expect anything in return from others. The cynic in me says people don’t give that much of a shit because they’re selfish. So I’m pleasantly surprised when someone goes out of their way for me. I almost kept it too real with a friend of mine over this.
People often misquote 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” The proper translation of “Love is patient” is “Love is long-suffering.” Patience suggests endurance and putting up with someone. I’ll be patient through bullshit. We’re patient through commercials while out favorite TV shows, waiting for the subway, or sitting in traffic when we have somewhere to go. You just sit and wait through it. Patience is an adjective. No matter how you conjugate the verb it is a description of a feeling. Long-suffering is an action; a verb. It is also a better description because in spite of what songs say that’s what love is-action. Long-suffering is resilience. It means waiting patiently without expecting any return (see what I did there?). People who understand tend to see the world differently.
I think people fear showing love because doing so leaves them exposed. It means being vulnerable to someone else and there is the potential of being hurt. To that I say remember that phobias are irrational and fear is God-given for self preservation. If you fear love, that’s all the more reason to give it. It can hurt temporarily, but eventually you will be blessed for the suffering you’ve endured.
One more little anecdote. Three years ago I was watching the Soul Train: Lady of Soul Awards. They were doing a tribute to Anita Baker. I forgot who else sang, but Tamia sang ‘Giving You the Best That I Got.’ I used to be in love with her too at one time in life. When she sang “I bet everything on my wedding ring,” looked in the camera, flashed her ring, and winked I got very angry. I hated Grant Hill like I was one of the Fab Five for marrying her.