Going Off the Deep End

image

Over the past few months I’ve reconnected with a friend from college, Christina. Morgan-our mutual friend that I have written about on here a lot-informed me that Christina had moved back home to New York after separating from her husband. We hadn’t spoken in at least six or seven years, but we have become very good friends ever since. My new job was because she was leaving it.

Christina and I talked about everything. She’s seeing someone who is a single father, so I give her insight into what she had signed up for. She has listened through the frustratingly entertaining and ongoing drama that is my love life. We’ve had similar experiences in dreams of forever with someone and being wary of ultimately trying again.

Christina expresses her thoughts in the form of poetry via Instagram. I have reposted a few of them on my page because I thought they were pretty damn good. Last night she wrote the one at the top. Because I’m “that guy,” I teased her a little bit because I knew what she was really talking about.

I read the poem a few times. I thought about my own fears in relationships. For a very long time I stayed on the shallow end. I messed around with and dated people who were in relationships. I was committed to not being committed. We could have our fun and go on our merry ways. It was never about sex. I was playing a little more advanced game: Why have p***y for a short amount of time when you could have a piece of someone’s mind and heart forever? Yeah, there’s levels to this shit… But that was me protecting myself from giving someone the oppurtunity to hurt me. Also, even if I had feelings I couldn’t take them seriously because they already had someone for that. Not only was I wading in the shallow end, I mastered it.

Sometimes you’re swimming around in the shallow end and you realize you’ve actually hit the deep end. You position yourself upright and realize the floor isn’t under you anymore. You look around and see that not only are you in the deep end, you’re much closer to that end of the pool. It’s much more freeing being on this side and the liberation is exciting. This is what happened with the five years I spent with Timile.

You can’t wade in the deep end. Swimming for long periods of time requires endurance. That is the second fear: getting weak. That first time water gets in one’s nose the fear of drowning returns. So what? Risk means failure and extenuating circumstances you didn’t account for are bound to come up. But you’ve worked your way up to doing this; so you can handle-or swim through-it.

I can’t swim. I remember being five years old and while visiting Antigua my family was at the beach. The water got in my nose and ever since I’ve been deathly afraid of water. I’ve been to the beach maybe four times in the last twenty years and I almost never get in the water. There’s a part of me that always remembers that moment of being consumed by the waves and it has crippled me. I say this to say that too often one’s fear can be their setback. I don’t want to be that way anymore.

Since Timile passed away I’ve fallen in love again once. There was a part of Mr that was afraid to try again. My previous experience may have made me into the man I am today, but I still have fears. I’m a cynic who told Timile when we first started dating that i knew I was going to lose her one day. However, in the present I’m not afraid to try again. My past wasn’t a hindrance and I am not afraid to fail. Hell, I fail with said person like every other day. Nonetheless, I’ll try again like it didn’t happen.

I still would and do things that would be me protecting myself. We all do this. It’s human nature. I don’t know what this go-round has in store for me. The difference is that I didn’t wade testing the waters slowly. Well, that’s hard to say. Maybe I did at first. What happened was that I remembered how great it was being on the other end. So I dove in to prove the water in spite of its unpredictability is just fine.

Advertisements

God Has Been Blessing the Grinders

image

I started a new job yesterday. Shortly after I posted a picture of my employer’s logo on Instagram one of my best friends from college sent me a message on Facebook. My boy O and I both changed our majors to psychology at the same time, lived in the same apartment complex, his ex and Timile were really good friends. We were around each other a lot the last two years at Morehouse. He’s the father of two boys and he too has been working hard to make things happen while they live in Virginia and Georgia while he resides in Connecticut. We talk maybe once a year and I haven’t seen him in a good five. No matter what, he’s fam because we’ve been around through some hard times to say the least.

Anyways, O sent me a message on Facebook. He congratulated me on the new position and told me he got an offer as a counselor (he took the psychology thing seriously). Then he said something very real: God has been blessing the grinders. Always having a knack for saying something profound in jest I felt that. I have a few friends who have worked hard, were waiting for their break, and it has been their season to reap what they’ve sewn. That’s how I got where I am today.

I’d been hustling forever out seems. I never made over $30,000 a year with a college degree. While it sucked, I made things happen. I started writing. I turned it into income. I would produce music for a couple dollars.

The last two weeks have been the culmination of years of being relentless and sticking to a mission no one understood. But I knew ultimately my road would lead to success and happiness. My friend Christina told me she was leaving her job. I said “lemme hold that.” I sent her my resume on a Monday and by Wednesday I had an interview. Wednesday morning I took the train into Manhattan and by the time I got there they were canceling it saying the position changed and I wouldn’t qualify. I felt a little discouraged. Christina told me to just call and try anyway for any other possibilities. I did so knowing that I was going in there and getting this job.

The interview went from talking about my qualifications to explaining the job I initially was interviewing for. HR wanted me to meet the VP. It was around 12pm and they said the VP would be available by 3. I said I’d wait. They told me I come back another day. My logic was that if the job opened up Monday and it’s Wednesday they didn’t have the time to recruit anyone else. So the guy who pushed for a shot and waited all day was the one for the job.

I met with the VP at 3. By 3:30 they said he wanted to land me the job. The following Monday I had a third interview and by Wednesday I was given an offer.

It’s no coincidence that this worked out. What I thought about was the quote from The Alchemist: And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. That’s about right. I had another possible job lined up in White Plains, which would have been a 2.5 hour commute from home to work. I would’ve taken it had this oppurtunity not come up. The location of this job I pushed for fit my professional and personal life goals perfectly. I knew I needed to make this happen.

So here I am, on the train en route to day two. This seems like the beginning of making the rest of my dreams come true.

Cydney’s Lament

image
Cydney pretending that she's on her cell phone talking to a friend of mine.

A little over a week ago I wrote about how Cydney is grieving the loss of her mother. Somehow I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen, but it was inevitable. I hate to use the term “acting out,” so I’ll say that she is expressing a brand new feeling that she doesn’t know how to articulate: heartbreak.

This isn’t Cydney’s first venture into being heartbroken. I had a friend that she got really close to. Life happened and people grow apart. We did. My friend and I met up one last time and it was pretty awkward. No eye contact and it was as if we both knew this interaction was the “exit interview.” As they were getting ready to leave, Cydney thought she was going with them. She cried and cried in a way I hadn’t heard before. It was crushing for all parties. They even sent me a text message saying “that was heartbreaking.” It was.
Cydney still remembers this person. From time to time she asks about them and says they were her friend she doesn’t see anymore. That was a year ago.

Recently it seems as if Cyd is putting the pieces of the puzzle together. She talks about Timile a lot more. Last Saturday night she looked at an old balloon that was in the living room and said “We sent a balloon to the sky so Timile could catch it in heaven.” Here it is, mid-July and she’s remembering February 14th, synthesizing information, and drawing her own conclusion with literally no discussion about it in five months.

Cydney wants a mom. Children especially toddlers-are intuitive geniuses with nothing to hold them back. I believe everything my three year old says in moments where thoughts come out of the blue. Out of nowhere she said “Timile wants you to be _____’s boyfriend.” I just looked at her and said “Oh really?” She nodded and gave a “mmhmm” in lament.

The next day, I was talking with my mother about taking Cydney to the beach. While playing to the stereotype that black people can’t swim, I mentioned “I guess I have to find someone to teach you to swim.” She responded “I can swim. Timile taught me how to swim.” I said to her “No, Timile didn’t teach you how to swim.” She paused and said “_____ is gonna teach me how to swim.”

After a pause Cydney then blurted “_____ is my mom.” My mother responded “No, she’s not your mom.”

“She’s going to be my mom” Cydney vocalized with all of the confidence in the world; yet the timbre of her of her voice suggested casualty. Cydney is truly a chip off the old block. The juxtaposed expression of her innermost thoughts and feelings with a relaxed demeanor is so off putting one can’t help but pay attention.

After a short pause, “I don’t have a mom” was Cydney’s next statement. It was as if she was rectifying who Timile is, who she wants a certain person to be, and realizing where she currently stands. She didn’t pout at all or show any indications of sadness; but i felt for my little girl.

With much more experience in handling children, my mother quickly changed the subject. That quick, she was over it.

Later that afternoon, Cydney came running into the den where I was watching TV with her toy smartphone and letting me more that _____ was on it and they needed to speak to me. I was told that I am buying the three of us cokes. Right after, Cydney wanted the phone back so that they could finish their discussion.

I told said person that Cydney needs her right about now. They’ve made sure to call and speak to her. Cydney gets too excited when she sees the phone ringing and knows who it is. Aware of how cell phones work, Cydney puts the cell phone on speaker so that she can look at their picture as she speaks. This is her way of having face to face contact. She’ll do things on the phone and ask “Did you see that?” The other day she had Disney Princess bingo cards that she was clapping together. After she did this, she placed the cards next to the phone as if they were in her right and left hand and asked if she was doing it too. They played along and Cydney couldn’t have been happier.

Maybe Cydney sees something that I don’t. I’m an adult who is more than jaded by life and the ways of the world. However, she isn’t. I won’t read too much into it, but I am paying attention. For right now, my little girl is a little happier than she was before. That’s all that matters.

One last thing…last night while playing with some toys Cydney uttered “Timile, my mom died because she was sick and I want a mom.” I told her “Well, I’ll find you a stepmom.” She didn’t hear a word I said and went right back to her toys.

The Album I Made For Christmas

image

I posted this picture on Instagram a few minutes ago…

Recently I’ve had a lot on my mind trying to rectify my past, what role it plays in my present, and how all of this will shape my future.

I’m in the process of turning Cydney and my room into just hers and converting my studio into my bedroom. While cleaning up I came across this. I remember that I’d kept it in hiding because I didn’t want to look at it. I wanted to keep this buried but not quite let it go.

Why? It has nothing to do with Timile passing away. It’s about the time period in which it was made. I had quit my job at Walgreens because I was hired as a mortgage loan consultant. It was supposed to be my first real job after graduating from college close to a year earlier. It was October 2008. The mortgage crisis had happened and the company went bankrupt the day before I began.

I was feeling particularly crushed because after being with Timile for almost two years this meant my plans of proposing to her were put on hold. I was unemployed and she was trying out school to work in advertising. Our circumstances got Timile frustrated and she took it all out on me. In an  argument she said that the person she was talking to that she chose me over was happily married and that could have been her. Crushed. All I wanted to do was make her happy but life had just got in the way.

She went home to Virginia for Thanksgiving. I picked her up from the airport in my car. The window was broken and the fall was just about over in Georgia, so there were leaves in the backseat. She looked at them and was fed up. She went off in the car and said she was moving back to Virginia in a few weeks. I didn’t understand.

Christmas was coming and I was broke. My credit cards were maxed out trying to pay bills and keep our apartment afloat. Timile wasn’t working so everything was on me. On December 8-our two year anniversary-I made her an instrumental song entitled “Timile’s Song. I played it for her in the car on Cobb Parkway and halfway through the song she looked at me and said “Remember when we first started dating and you said that a girl is going to move on if she is unhappy? I’m unhappy. I have to be honest with you.” I looked at her intently while waiting at a red light. She then said “When I went back home I ran into “Felix” (that’s what I’ll call him). Felix was someone I liked in high school and it just didn’t work out.” Once again. This was our two year anniversary and life was already kicking me in the nuts.

I had no words. She was leaving for Virginia in ten days. There was nothing I could do or say that would sway her. I didn’t even try. Her mind was made up so my attitude was “Fuck it.”

I began to say everything I wanted to sat through music. No pen or paper was needed. I freestyled the whole thing. She was staying in one bedroom and I was in another. So while she’d go to sleep, I would work. I’d be up until 5 am working diligently on this passion project. If she was gone and attempting to find happiness somewhere else at least I said everything I felt. I made the whole album in five days. It was a double disc in which the first one was all of the old songs she’d heard already and then the new ones. I made a book of the lyrics, the samples, and gave a brief anecdote about each song. Heartbreak tends to bring out the best of creative people and by all means I definitely was at the time.

Timile lamented that she wanted us to still be friends. We were friends while she was in the bedroom right next to me and I could hear her laughing and joking on the phone with this guy. That shit was brutal.

Right before I took Timile to the airport we exchanged Christmas gifts. She bought me this tie. I wear it a lot but I hate looking at it. She said to me jokingly “Nice tie.” I replied “Thanks. My ex-girlfriend gave it to me.” It was said playfully but she wasn’t feeling it. Not one lick. In my head I thought “Oh well. It’s true. Don’t be mad at me when you made these circumstances.”

We said our goodbyes and that was that. I had quit smoking cigarettes some time before that; but I couldn’t help but pick up a pack at that time. I got back to what was our place, sat on the trunk of my car, lit one up, and looked at the December night sky. I saw planes fly by and thought about Timile flying away. She was coming back in a few weeks to get her car and Felix was coming down to drive her back to Virginia. I wondered what she would think when she listened to it. Then I stopped caring. She was gone.

For the next month we fought everyday. Something kept telling me to keep trying although all of the details around me said “Let it go and leave this one alone. Take your loss. She’s just not that into you anymore. There’s another nigga in the picture.”

Yet somehow that added to us fighting. We were fighting about every little thing, but we were really fighting about us. Tensions were high and it got ugly. Her leaving had played into every insecurity of mine. That I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t her type, I didn’t make enough money, etc. It came out in our conversations.

After she’d come back to Atlanta in January we fought even more. She said that she was moving back but planning on doing her own thing. She was still going to carry on her  relationship with Felix. I was done. Something in my heart said to continue preparing a home and then just let her go. If it’s right she’ll come back.

March 1 I flew to Virginia to drive back down with Timile. I vented in the car the whole way to my friend Kofi and was not looking forward to seeing her. I had my game face on by the time I left arrivals in Newport News ready to have left this all behind once Timile got to her apartment. She greeted me with a smile and that changed everything.

So those are my thoughts on this. Since I’ve made it I have never listened to it in its entirety. It was too painful thinking about that time in my life. I still haven’t and can’t. That’s why I’ve kept it buried until today. Maybe I’ll let it sit on my desk as a reminder of where I’ve been. And if I’m ever there again to remember how far I would go to win back the one I loved…even if it meant letting it go.

Soccer Dad Chronicles: Week 7

image

I meant to post this over a month ago. I just didn’t get around to it. However, I thought this was an interesting way to tell the tale of Cydney’s soccer experience May 31st.

11:39 Scissor kicks. Practicing footwork and ball control.

11:40 Cydney needs a little assistance.

11:41 Scissors and kicking it with the inside of the foot

11:42 Run in to the coach. To speed up the process and not be the last one Cydney picks up the bank and runs with it.

11:43 Practicing shooting. Running up and shooting. They’re teaching with the right foot but Cydney’s strong foot is her left.

One mom obviously used to play soccer so she’s helping out. Maybe she’s one of the pink teams coaches.

11:50 Water break.

11:51 Outside cuts, dribbling, and shooting instructions.

11:54 Cydney scores first goal during drills. She measures up perfectly because she wants it to go in.

11:59 One little girl is getting winded. She dribbles to the goal with her hand on her hip.

12:01 While it’s her turn to go Cydney stops mid dribble to pull up her socks.

12:03 Water break

12:06 Scrimmage time.

12:07 Cydney almost makes a stop.

12:08 Cydney throws up her hands and gives up. Subs herself out.

12:10 This pink team is beating the crap out of team Frozen. She’s making stops, faking girls out, and everything.

12:11 Cydney puts her name sticker on her head.

12:13 Water break.

12:14 A wave to me from Cydney.

12:17 Cydney sees me putting on chapstick. She stops so she can get some.

12:20 Number 6 on the pink team scores her millionth goal.

12:21 Water break.

12:22 Cydney’s one chance at a fast break goal her teammate gets in the way, takes it from her, runs and scores the goal.

12:24 Instead of scoring goal one million and two, no 6 on the pink team stops and gives the assist to her teammate

12:25 Cydney wants a break

12:27 I throw it right to Cydney and one of the girls the ball from her.

12:28 lining up. All done.

Cydney Grieving Her Loss

I know…I haven’t been posting anywhere near as frequently as I’d like to or used to. I’ll work on that. I have plenty of stories to tell.

Cydney has been going through some changes over the last month or so. She had been making so much progress since she started daycare. She was finally getting the whole potty training thing, she was listening a lot more, and life almost sweet. Recently, she has regressed. While she would have almost no accidents at school, she started having a few. Cydney has been listening less and less. Normally when I’d count down from five, she’d fall right in line at “five.” It hardly works at all. Some days it’s as if she doesn’t care.

Cydney has reverted to acting like she’s eighteen months old. She’ll cry over every little thing for long periods of time, whine, grunt, and point at things she wants. She’s looking for attention.

Cydney has started calling my sister ‘Mommy.” In theory, that is great because that is how she is feeling about someone. But I could tell that there was something more than that. Not that my sister isn’t great with Cydney. She’s been reaching out more and more to women. When it’s bedtime, she’d rather sleep with my mother or my sister when she’s in town. Cydney would cry for my sister saying “I want to sleep with my mommy,” or cry “I want my mommy! I miss her!” That shit is hard to hear.

I was talking with my mother a few weeks ago. She said that she thinks that Cydney has been acting out because she’s finally realizing that she doesn’t have a mother. She was saying that now that Cydney is in school, she’s seeing the other kids get dropped off and picked up from their moms and they probably talk about them, too. I think the Mother’s Day thing made it much more real, too. Everyone made Mother’s Day cards for theirs, and she had to give hers to me. That broke my heart a little bit, too.

Ever since Mother’s Day she’s been reaching out. She’d been saying for a month or two prior that Neighbour was her honorary mom. She didn’t really reach out and express it until that time. Sometime later, Cydney and I had a conversation and she’d expressed that she was mad at her. I won’t say why, but she did. Why she still was crazy about Neighbour, she had been a little more hesitant towards her. Little things were different. I started putting a lot of the pieces of the puzzle together. Neighbour had been really busy with work so she wasn’t around.

There isn’t much that I can do about this. It’s a passing phase and Cydney is expressing herself non-verbally and reconciling something she can’t help. On Saturday, Cydney and my nephew got into a little dispute like kids do. I told my nephew, “Look, you gotta understand Cydney is going through something right now.” I explained to him the best way I could to an eight year old. Out of nowhere, Cydney exclaimed in a pretty hostile way “Because of my friends!”

Breakthrough! What my mother said was right.

I’ll let her refer to my sister as mommy sometimes. This morning she asked about my sister and referred to her as mommy. I said to her “Remember, Timile is your mom.” She responded “I don’t want Timile to be my mom!” She’s said that a few times. It’s hard to hear every time. What Cydney is trying to say is that her mother isn’t here and she wants her own mommy who is physically here.