“I don’t take any days off.” Timile didn’t have any response to that statement. I had finally shut her up.
It was the summer of 2009 and I was selling cars. I worked seventy-five hours a week trying to convince affluent Atlanta suburbanites to buy Volkswagens for commissions. I hated the job; but I loved the challenge of coaxing people into buying the product. I would meet people who were just coming in simply kicking tires, have a conversation with them, talk in circles until I found what their needs were, and then make them think that it was their decision to buy the car. I would get off of work at 8pm, travel forty-five minutes home, still give Timile an appropriate amount of time, be in bed by 1 just to do it all again at 6am with just Sundays off.
One day I was exceptionally tired. It was a slow day and I felt like going home. I left work early and called Timile. I told her this was my plan and she was starting to get annoyed with me. She was fixing to tell me about how as many times she didn’t feel like going to work and I would tell her to go. For once I got stern and basically said to her “Look, you can say what you want about me but if there’s one thing I don’t do, I don’t take days off.”
She knew exactly what I meant. I wasn’t just referring about work; I was talking about us.
“All night grindin’, I don’t take no breaks. All day grindin’, I don’t take no breaks.”- Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom
Timile could say just about anything about me. Even though I can be lazy at times the one thing that I never did was take a day off when it came to her and me. Timile moved in with my roommates Devin, Walter and I shortly after we started dating. She had severe depression and anxiety disorder. She was seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Being in our spacious townhouse was much better for her than being cooped up in half of a dorm room with dull walls made of concrete. Some days she would just lay in bed and I would write her papers for her and she would edit them after. I was doing this all while taking eighteen credits and working at a record label. In fact, part of the reason that I left my job was because she needed me at home.
Whenever times got tough I never faltered. My love and work ethic was truly unconditional. When Timile had decided to move to Virginia and I didn’t have a job I did what I had to do to make things happen. I sold insulation at home expos, bussed down motorcycles, helped my cousin with multiple sclerosis take care of her ninety-five year old husband for anywhere between twenty to one hundred dollars a day, and just about whatever I could get my hands on to help her get her own place. I even talked to a friend of ours which is how she got her job when she moved back. There were plenty of days that she didn’t deserve that level of commitment. However, it wasn’t my place to say whether or not she did; my sole purpose was to love her through her mess and make shit happen by any means.
Many people quote 1 Corinthians 13-the love chapter-but they don’t really live it.
“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” New International Version
I have probably written this somewhere else before; but I’ll say it again: the proper translation isn’t “Love is patient.” It is “Love suffers long.” Patience gives a connotation of resilience and long-suffering is about persevering. Resilience means to be buoyant while adjusting one’s self then going back to one’s original state. It is an adjective. Like love, persevere is a verb. It means to actively endure, work through, and wade in deep waters. Patience is a return to form after periods of stress. It is a guitar string that is plucked, vibrates, and eventually rests. Long-suffering would be the energizer bunny that keeps going and going no matter how many walls it bumps into. Patience is empowering and can take one’s capacity to long-suffer to another level.
The difference between Timile and I was that no matter what happened between us I kept going. To this day I remember things that Timile has said and done that hurt me and even left scars. However, it never stopped me from loving her. My day-to-day output never changed or faltered.
I recall sitting in our living room one time. Timile was on Facebook and she was looking at pictures of someone she had begun to date a little before we started. She looked at pictures of him and his new wife at President Obama’s first Inaugural Ball and I wasn’t appreciating the look on her face. She looked jealous and said something about them attending while we were in out apartment in Georgia and I was unemployed at the time. She showed me the picture and I couldn’t bear to hear it when I was trying the best that I could. I left the room and went into my little home studio and began to listen to some music. Shortly after, she followed me into the room because she had kinda worked herself into frustration. She said to me that this was who she chose me over. That was the life that she could have had.
Now mind you, we were living in the apartment that I had bent over backwards to get. The lights were on because of the job that I helped her get. I paid half of the rent and bought groceries. I had my own apartment; but my lights were off because we had moved into her place and I had let mine fall to the wayside. That really hurt. Timile had been on dates and dated other people while we were living together. I never did. None of this changed how hard I worked for us. That’s why she had nothing back to say when I told her “I don’t take any days off.”
“A lot of n****s ain’t cut from that same cloth. They might give em space. Gotta play it safe.”- Ermias Asghedom
Nipsey Hussle’s “The Hussle Way” had become an anthem of mine ever since the first time I heard it. While I wasn’t from Los Angeles, never was in a gang, or sold drugs I just felt where he was coming from. I played it heavily during the spring of 2010. By the fall, I had to give it a rest. After not listening to it for months I found myself driving around New York running an errand for a pregnant Timile. As soon as the beat dropped I rapped every word as if I had those same experiences. Timile didn’t like when I fell asleep before her. So I would stay awake until 4am, wake up around 7am to do what I could to find a new job or hustle up some money, by the time she woke up it was all about making her pregnancy as easy as possible. My family and her weren’t getting along and I was feeling torn because everyone was putting me in a very compromising position. Each time I recited the chorus had become a crescendo. I got louder and louder as I rapped “All night grindin’. I don’t take no breaks. All day grindin’ I don’t take no breaks.”
I still live my life the Hussle Way.