Tag Archives: relationships

Letter To Timile Pt. 2

Timile,
The other day was the first time I’d spoken to you in a very long time. It was rude of me to not have said a word in God knows how long and the first thing I did was vent. Telling you “I’m just tired of this shit,” in reference to several things going on. That was selfish of me. 

While I’m aware you’re looking down, you can’t see my thoughts; but you’ve been on my mind a lot recently. Well, I shouldn’t say that. You frequently cross my mind; nonetheless, it’s different these days. 

What’s prompting this letter was a conversation I had with Chase the other day. I laughed about him being married and the talk of having a kid. It was really funny hearing him of all people sound so domesticated. He sounded like someone in his thirties; but I still remember the 18 year old I met at orientation that wore his collar popped up all of the time. It’s funny because our peers are at the age where they’re settled down and starting families…they’re just catching up to us 10 years ago and couldn’t relate to our lives in 2007. I’ll never forget the time I went to visit Devin in DC a few years ago and this guy left because he and his wife were having a family meeting…it was just the two of them, so every conversation they had was a family meeting. That was the same guy who didn’t quite “get it” when I moved differently because of you.

Anywho, in the conversation, I was telling Chase how I recently lied to someone to get out of explaining myself and you were a part of it. He asked if I felt bad about having to do so. I told him “Not one bit,” knowing that you would’ve understood. You know how we did; we shut people up by any and all means.

In our talk, I told Chase that my time with you feels like a lifetime ago, we both more or less have moved on. A couple of years back, Cydney first told me you were married; then he was just a boyfriend and eventually it evolved to “He was just a boy who is your friend.” So I kind of want to talk relationships with you.

So who is he? I’m happy for you, so I’m curious and would like to know more. There are just so many options up there I presume and it’d better not be someone from the bible or something. How’d y’all meet? Not like I’d really understand because Heaven is kind of past my realm of understanding right now. How’d he die? Is it a he? You could have a girlfriend and Cydney didn’t quite know how to explain it. I have so many questions because I’m a curious guy.

You know none of this comes from a jealous place. I told you when we first started talking, when a man’s on his job, there’s no need to seek anything else…and did the best I could to live up to that. There were times you went astray and in retrospect, I understood. We were young, still living in a world of ideals, and experience hadn’t equipped us with an arsenal to combat the not-so-great times. No matter what, there was never any question of where my loyalty lied.

You’ve seen where I’ve been these days. I can’t seem to escape the wildly dramatic stuff. I be feeling like Carlito’s Way: Every time I get out, I get pulled back in, pull off the caper, try to flee town, and there’s Benny Blanco from the Bronx popping three off in the stomach in point-blank range…I’m trying. But on the other side of that coin, this shit is kind of fun. Whenever I do settle down again, there will be no regrets or stones left unturned…I needed that.

One of the most relevant aspects of our relationship helped me grow was learning how to argue. I used to get my ass kicked in our disputes. Then I became a writer, I remembered learned lessons of backing up my premise with convincing points and facts that can’t be refuted. In my interpersonal relationships with women, I may lose the fight; but I’m going to win the argument. Actually winning the argument is why I’ll lose the fight. I’m okay with that.

Underneath all of my bullshit, I’m still a teddy bear inside. That side just doesn’t get to be seen by anyone outside of my daughter and well…you know. The person that I am at 32 years old, you wouldn’t stay with. Not because I’m some bad person or we wouldn’t have been able to work it out; I have just evolved. There’s a possibility that maybe it would have worked out because we would have grown together. But that wasn’t God’s plan, so I don’t want to go down that lane and second guess perfection, nahmean?

Shit, if you’re married or whatever up there, I’m still trying to grow up and be like you. I presume dating in Heaven is different than on Earth. For starters, I’m on Earth and you’re in something…that in itself makes a big difference. I’m sure whoever made the cut was someone who knows who I am and because he too is in paradise, is happy for Cydney and I, and doesn’t really have a care in the world or insecurity. That shit is really dope. 

Down here, you’ve been the elephant in the room a few times. And I guess I understand that, especially since a few of these people I have dated were people who knew you. I just chuckled because I just heard you saying “Tell them to stop acting like little bitches,” in your snarky tone. Years ago, I had a very interesting conversation with one of these young ladies who said they were a little wary because they feel like you’d be mad. You and I both know there’s only one person you’d really be mad if I dated/talked to and that actually happened about five years ago. I reassured her that you would be happy if I chose her. You and I know you’d be happy because she doesn’t look like what you were afraid I’d cheat on you with.

Either way, I’m just chillin’ and so is Cydney. She’s really trying to marry me off. She wants younger siblings badly. I think she’s tired of being the bottom of the totem pole and wants someone to boss around. But really, she wants me to be happy first and second, finally fill that familial void she’s missing. But that little girl no matter what just wants me to be happy and find happiness. She calls me on my shit all the time. Holy fuck I’ve never heard a kid talk so much about when I need to find a girl by. Cyd said by September, I need to find a girlfriend so that we can all go to WBLS’ Circle of Sisters. I’m sure it’s killing you that Cydney is really Chad Milner, Jr.

This was a great talk I think. I will make sure I do this more often. This season of my life is a transitional one. I’m rapidly evolving and experiencing some growing pains. As of today, I like to think of our relationship as if we were divorced but still really good friends. There’s still love; but no “what if’s” because we just weren’t compatible as lovers. We’re Winny and Kevin from The Wonder Years…

Until next time,

Solo 

Little Women’s Intuition

To be six years old, Cydney Milner’s ability to read people is nothing short of Godlike. Underneath all of her quirks, clamors for attention, and always something to say is a keenly observant little girl who pays attention to everything.

My daughter is becoming a girl. I don’t mean in the sense she likes pink and princess-y things; she is beginning to think like a girl. To be honest, that freaks me out a little bit. As a twin, I witnessed the stages, thoughts, and behaviors girls go through in real-time. She has begun the cognitive evolution that will result in a disconnect in how she interprets information from me.

I guess the perfect phrase to describe what I am witnessing from the apple of my eye is little women’s intuition. As a guy, I wholly believe that such a thing exists; but I have witnessed so many adult women swear on this phenomena and be dead wrong (I’ll save this for another post because Lord knows I have lots to say). Nonetheless, Cydney seems to be very in-tune to nuances and behavioral patterns. Because she is an extroverted kindergartner, she completely lacks filter and needs to express herself or she’ll burst at the seams. 

Cydney’s “little women’s intuition” most often surfaces around my dating life. It makes perfect sense because the end result of whomever I choose affects her life as well. Cyd knows what she and I want, who I like and who likes me, and who is truly a platonic friend. Since she was two years old, my child has done things such as walk off to a table of women knowing I’d have to follow, told a girl “you’re flirting with my dad,” arranged meet-ups, and a litany of other ways to tell me “cut the shit, Daddy.” At four years old, my daughter told me what her mission was: I’m the bait, and you reel them in. I’m thankful Cydney knows nothing about sex; otherwise she’d call out tension, every time. 

The force is strong with my little one. I let her filter-free forthrightness rock because feelings are abstract and the older we get, the more we keep them to ourselves. She knows when I am searching for an answer and can’t find it, so she blurts it out. To most, her words get written off as a kid saying the darndest thing; but I know she’s dead serious. Statements like “You’re not here for me, you’re here to see my dad” could easily be followed with a wink directed at me.

My daughter calls me out, also. She knows that I get in my own way and who better to assist? Moments like “You’re just happy you got to face time with [redacted]!” are her ways of telling me to not be so nonchalant and girls need to see that. That may be my biggest hurdle, playing things down. Without knowing all of the details of relationships, I get the feeling my kid wants to grab me, shake me, and say “DADDY BE THE WAY TO HER THAT YOU ARE WITH ME, DUH!” If I asked her, she would say “Yep.”

I ran into a friend from high school at a 7eleven a few weeks ago. As we caught up, the friend asked me how I have been. I gave my cliché answer “Just keeping busy and out of trouble.” Out of nowhere, my daughter chimed in “I like you being single, Daddy,” and gave me the biggest hug. The truth is she loves that she has me all to herself; but she doesn’t want it to be that way for much longer.

Assorted Thoughts On January 4th

This morning started like many others: my 6:45am nap on the Long Island Railroad to a soulful soundtrack. As I waited for the A train, I looked at my Facebook account and saw a memory. It was a video of Cydney. It prompted me to shut off DMX’s folk ballad “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” and press play. 

Three years ago, my daughter wished her mother a happy birthday and blew a kiss. A smirk crept out of the corner of my mouth as I remembered it was January 4.

Five years ago, I was getting dressed to go to court. It would be the first of several hearings in two states over the course of two years. I knew my in-laws would not drive from Virginia to New York to attend that day. 

I wanted them to know I meant business. Timile hadn’t been buried three weeks. For her first birthday in heaven since 1986, the Browns had to deal with me…and I didn’t give a fuck. January 4, 2012 was the day I became fearless.
My time with Timile Brown taught me how to love with no limits and that made me a dangerous person. FDR’s famous quote “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” became reality. If I continuously strived to get out of my own way, what was the worst that could happen? They died of cancer and custody hearings for my child before the body gets cold? Shit, everything else in life was light work.

I was more than prepared to go toe-to-toe with Timile’s parents five January’s ago. Two months prior, my father in-law’s intimidating tactics scared the fuck out of me and I rolled over for the sake of peace. It wouldn’t have happened that day in court. Hell, it wouldn’t have happened today, either. That morning, I decided rarely would I ever lie down in passivity again unless I absolutely had to. If I did, it damn sure wasn’t going to be because I was scared.

How do I currently feel about Timile’s parents? I still don’t like them. I still have trust issues because of them. I absolutely hate that they only call Cydney on her birthday, Easter, and Christmas; that shit really irks me. However, they’re the ones who are missing out. Cydney is an amazing little girl who is happy. I would tell them everything I have written here to their face, as well. 

I have no malice in my heart for Cydney’s maternal grandparents. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean that I don’t love them (I accidentally said it to them last Christmas). Forgiving them set me free from a lot and it might be my biggest act in fearlessness. Forgiveness just might be the most courageous action in all of our lives.

Nowadays I rarely refer to Timile by name. It isn’t because she has become a ghost that I am afraid of or anything like that. It has become a habit. Most of the people I associate with didn’t know her, so to many she is “Cydney’s mother,” or “my daughter’s mother.” 

The main reason I have this habit of not saying “Timile” is because of Cydney. As a Kindergartner, her classmates all live in her neighborhood. She sees all of the kids and their moms; there is a heightened awareness that something is different for her. 

Cyd seems to get put off-guard when Timile is mentioned around her. It triggers something and she begins to feel sad. One day, while driving home, Cydney says to me “Daddy, I don’t want people to mention my mom. Why do they?” Time and time again, I tell her “Because she meant something to many of us that knew her.” It’s the only thing I can think of to say.

Last week, I was in the midst of my morning ritual mentioned in the first paragraph. A creature of habit, I pulled out my phone and opened up Facebook as Dark Man X growled and yelled “Is y’all muthafuckas ready or what?!” A picture of a very pregnant Timile and I showed up in my memory cue. I immediately pulled up a picture of Cydney from Christmas day and thought to myself “Man, Cydney is a perfect blend of the two of us.”

When Cydney was first born, all I could see is Timile. As my daughter has matured, Cydney Moriah Milner has become a miniature version of me but with no filter. 

In writing all of this, I have come to a realization. I’m kind of “over” this. I am-and have for years-been more interested in the future. As soon as I post this, I still have work to do. People turn their past experiences into demigods and elephants in the room. Fuck that. I don’t subscribe to that mindset. Just acknowledge, let the assorted thoughts come, and move on.

Five Years Later…

December 8, 2006 was the day Timile Denise Brown and I officially began our relationship and December 9, 2011 was the day she passed away. I have spent as many years without Cydney’s mother as we did together.

How did I feel? A way I hadn’t in years: I wanted a cigarette.

I always knew December 9 was coming. A few days after Timile and I decided to give us a shot, we sat on my couch and watched The Godfather Trilogy. I began to sob out of nowhere. Timile asked why was I crying. “One day I’m going to lose you,” I replied.

Looking back, I grieved her loss before we even started.

I went for a drive Thursday night. I parked on the shoulder of Ocean Parkway, rolled down the passenger seat window, stood outside of my jeep, listened to Jeezy’s “Seen It All,” and looking at New York City’s famous skyline from 40 miles away. Approximately 200 steps from the Atlantic Ocean, the fierce winds hitting my face was the closest I had come to shedding tears in nearly two years.

I began to reflect and relive parts of the past five years. When I first reunited with my daughter after our five-month separation flashed across my mind first. I then snickered at a thought about December 9, 2012; passionately kissing someone else’s girlfriend and my then-toddler as a witness.

I stared off at Manhattan and reminisced about when I fell in love a couple of years ago. I first saw, kissed, and how afraid I was the first time I said “I love you” to her on that small island. Those moments freed me of the past and they became context for my future.

Life had to continue. The peace that overcame me as I consoled family and friends five Decembers ago was because I made a choice to no longer be afraid of anything.

My father called me while I was in a contemplative state December 10th. We conversed about life and love since 2011. I told my dad that for me, December 9th has had very little to do with the passing of Timile; but life after.

“The older people get, the less they give a shit. Everyone has gone through crazy shit, so they aren’t phased by it. We all go through crazy shit,” my father said. I told him my mindset resembled his words. I felt that way often. He continued “People don’t always know what to say; but they mean well. Sometimes the best thing that people can do for you is just show up.”

Trav Murdah was right. I spent all of December 9th with a friend who in spite of giving me constant grief, always shows up. I told my old man and he replied “There you have it.”

“See, the thing is, I loved Timile with everything I had. But I can have that again and improve on it,” I assured my dad. He repeated my statement to confirm its validity.

My father’s next affirmation began with the infamous “Check this out…” Since a child, I have known that when my dad starts a sentence with those three words, he was about to say some shit.

Speaking from a wealth of experience, Pops said “Check this out. Everyone is fucking crazy. Men are crazy. Women are crazy. The one whose “crazy” you think is cute, that’s the one you go with.” That summed up the past five years perfectly.

Hopefully Alicia Keys’ New Album Will Make People Leave Her ‘Blended Family’ Alone

This is an amazing picture….

Social media: the magical place where everyone is a judge or critic while lacking context, experience, or expertise. I love the creativity it has spawned…even if a lot of the content lacks substance.
Alicia Keys’ newest album, Here, is available in all media outlets (streaming, stores, and iTunes) today (November 4). Rooted in soul, gospel, and hip hop, AK’s newest album is a love letter to people with a New York state of mind. 

Hopefully this album will be the beginning of the end with regards to the internet dragging Alicia Cook through the mud. Here’s first single, “Blended Family (What You Do For Love), featuring A$AP Rocky, is an ode to complicated familial dynamics. On the midtempo track, Keys sings directly to her stepson, Kassem Jr., letting him and the world know how she feels in a manner that many can understand and relate to.

For those that do not know, here is the brief back story: Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz began seeing each other in 2008. At the time, Swizzy was still legally married to his wife, singer Mashonda, whom he had a son with. Keys and Beatz married in 2010 and had their first child, Egypt, a few months later. Needless to say, this timeline can make the transition into a happy family a little complicated.

“I know it started with a little drama. Hate you had to read it in the paper,” the singer begins her second verse. Since the news of Alicia Keys and her now husband became one, she has received some sort of backlash on the internet. People have called her a home wrecker, a word that you’d get if one takes that “m” out of “home,” and a myriad of judgments from people who have yet to understand how complicated life can get. Any little faux pas she makes, note she cracks, or risk she takes, people can’t wait to throw stones and hide their hands while sitting on their high horse.

Men and women cheat. Marriages-half of them-end before death parts the bride and groom/bride and bride/groom and groom; and irreconcilable differences being the cause of most. What almost anyone who has ever been through a divorce can tell you is that the marriage has ended long before the separation or official signing of legal documentation. There is a long period of loneliness in which one’s heart, mind, and spirit has left the union before the body does. How could the classically trained pianist have wrecked a home that was already in shambles? 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. People often don’t realize that we have made mistakes until they look back for perspective. Many people get married and go through hell; only to realize long after it has ended that they weren’t supposed to have united with that person in the first place. We all know people who have entered or stayed in relationships they knew they should have left after several proverbial red flags have been waved. Just because Mashonda and Swizz Beatz wed and had a child together doesn’t mean that they were supposed to.

Nonetheless, mistakes in life are relative. Everything works out the way that it was supposed to. While things may have been complicated for the Dean family, they all seem to be very happy and supportive of each other. It may sound absurd; but many of us are the products of mass confusion and fairly messed up circumstances; and we are all trying to find happiness in our own journey. More can relate to the song “Blended Family,” the story that created it, and ever after they are living much more than the snide comments they make for retweets and internet fodder.

Everyone Tries To Marry Me Off…

I didn’t have any other picture to go with this post….
I have become that guy…the one that everyone tries to hook up with someone they know.

While others could-or would-possibly be annoyed by it, I find it funny. I get it. I’m 30; educated, tall, rumor has it I’m good looking, and seemingly a nice guy. Everyone knows someone who is nice and equally single and people don’t really understand why.

I am often asked “Why are you still single?” With a smile, I often reply with something along the lines of “I don’t know,” accompanied with a shrug. That is typically what they like to hear and it sounds a lot better than “I’m emotionally unavailable and incredibly selective with whom I deal with.” 

With bright eyes, people respond “I know a girl! She’s really pretty, she’s nice…,” they begin to run off said woman’s credentials. Education, career track, and then typically comes the hard-sell: “She doesn’t have kids and she has a body!” To prove their point, everyone pulls out their phone and shows a picture.

It happened thrice over the weekend. One of my best friends, Brandon, was in town for a funeral. We went to high school and college together, so his whole family has known me for umpteen years. I walked into the door, made my rounds, and right as I sat down, it started. Brandon’s family made a suggestion about one of his cousins. “You know Arbara, right?” I was asked. “Yeah, I do.” For the rest of the conversation, please refer to paragraphs above. 

Everyone’s suggestions come with the same caveat: they don’t live anywhere near New York. Being one of my closest friends and knowing all parties involved, Brandon shot everyone down and said “She lives in Indianapolis” to his family. The rebuttal: Right. She dances for the Indiana Pacers! I laughed and told them “I’m a [die-hard] Knicks fan who still hates Reggie Miller and all that he represents which is why I laughed heartily that he too retired with no championship.” For the record, the family was right about Arbara; she’s very pretty.

This became the subject of fodder while we sat around the table playing spades. I laughed and said “I’m the one everyone tries to marry off.” I told the table and the others in the run about my good friend from college, Chase, who is a newlywed and I guess wants me to be as happy as he is. I met someone at his wedding six months earlier and he’d heard about it. “We can be…!” He texted me and I followed with the punchline “But she lives in Dallas,” and the room erupted. There was another Chase story I wanted to tell about this anesthesiologist I was dealing with. His wife is one and he said “We can talk about this!” I didn’t tell that story because two of Brandon’s cousins know “Doc.”

Almost on-cue, Brandon’s wife, chimed in. “I know someone in Atlanta! She’s real pretty, she got a body on her, she’s a teacher, and she got a dope condo in a very nice part of town!” As she pulled out her phone to show off her friend, she told me “Just let me know the next time you’re in Atlanta and I’ll let her know!”

Once again, shorty was gorgeous; but there was that caveat. My boy came to bat once again, telling his significant other, “Chad can’t leave New York. He’s got two kids and they’re close.” The artist formerly known as $B has always been my go-to guy and voice of reason.

Once again, I don’t find any of this annoying or bothersome. I am very much entertained. Worst case scenario, I get to look at pictures of my friends’ pretty friends.

I don’t give the excuse of I’m too busy because most people know that’s bullshit. I once tried it and was told “A man makes time for the things he wants to.” The person who shut that down was someone I was beginning to date and she was right.

Upon writing this post, I reached out to Arbara to let her know that she’s partially the subject of today’s post. We both laughed about it. She told me that her family has attempted to auction me off to her as well.

Virgo

 

“Won’t you come and chill with a Virgo…” Nas

The Autumnal Equinox marks the official end of summer. To me, it means that I have survived another Virgo season.

From August 2012 to April 2016, everyone I have dated or had a non-platonic dynamic with-excluding one-and-a-half-have all been Virgos. By any and all means, this is not an exaggeration.

For nearly four years, I would meet someone, we would show mutual signs of interest, contact each other, the birthday question would surface, and said lady would reply “August/September ___.” It has become a running joke between God and me because I have/had love/hate relationships with almost all of them. As soon as something would be on the verge of ending with one, God would send me another, and we would have the saaaaame dynamic.

As much as they have gotten on my nerves, my favorite women that I have been romantically linked with were Virgos. Timile was a Capricorn; she too was an earth sign and possessed some similar traits; but it was different. I am a Sagittarius; so Virgos and I being as different as night and day made for lots of drama that I would be more than entertained by. When we first met, almost every last one of them would say they can’t stand someone with my astrological sign. I would laugh, tell them that the feeling was mutual, and in time, we proved ourselves to be correct.

We would have a lot in common; but we were just different and I liked that. However, we often would butt heads because they were very emotional and I’m the opposite. Many of the times I would simply joke around with them, they would take it personally; and I would have to reassure them “Look, this is just me. I talk a lot of shit.”

The fun in the drama was the constant one-upmanship. Every Virgo woman I dated thought that they were the most calculated and manipulative person. Because I don’t like being put into a box, I would observe their behavioral patterns, and completely switch things up on them. Virgos are over-thinkers; just like me. However, for all of their planning and calculating, they often made an emotional decision in haste, continuing the perpetual cycle of living in their mind. There was always a need for order and they all had professions that matched their almost OCD-like need for order. I always wanted to burst their bubble.

I remember having a conversation at my nephew’s Christening in 2007. This was the first time that Timile had come to New York and met my family. We were in my mother’s kitchen conversing with my aunt, who mentioned that she was a Virgo. Timile mentioned that her mother was one, also. Timile talked about how manipulative and calculating her mother was. I just sat, listened, and held onto all of this information; feeling as if this would become useful information at another point in my life.

Four years later, I would be in the midst of a custody battle with my “in-laws,” spearheaded by a meticulous plan orchestrated by Cydney’s maternal grandmother. With help from Timile’s family, I took too much pleasure in seeing her face at me showing up to a hearing to have legal rights to my daughter. This woman had planned for over six months how she would operate to get me-someone she never liked-out of her life. So watching her blood boil and utter words of frustration in complete gave me a rush that can’t be rivaled by too many other sensations in life. Mrs. Brown couldn’t stand me because she too couldn’t put me into a box that fit her paradigm.

I now know the Virgo like the back of my hand (Looks and observes a new cut that wasn’t there yesterday). For the first time in years, this Virgo season was drama-free. I’m still friends with quite a few of these women. Everyone we meet is a segue for the rest of our lives and I am truly thankful for the lessons that I have learned along the way. Truth be told, they have been some of the most influential people in shaping my worldview since 2011.

The Summer’s Over

 

 

“The summer’s over and and we’re watching the sun finally set.  It seems like forever; but forever’s here.”

While I had heard the song several times prior, I never really listened to PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “East Liberty” until that mid-September afternoon. The song summed up the evening perfectly. I was driving on the Hutchinson Parkway in the Bronx, making the trip home to Long Island from Yonkers. I ignored all text messages from my phone.

This was the first of many fall excursions that were dubbed “Sunday Fundays.” The dating dynamic between a girl whose nickname was Fly Light Skin and I had been over; but we enjoyed each other’s company enough to do brunch at the Royal Coach Diner on the corner of Gun Hill and Boston Road. After I dropped her off, I would head to Westchester County to watch football with my long-time friend, Kalique, while our daughters played.

I flat ironed my daughter’s hair the night before and this was an internal invitation for her to be a girly-girl that day. Fly Light Skin was one as well and I think Cydney liked the idea of having an adult woman to do that kind of stuff with. I took the two of them to get their nails done and we all went to our dining spot after.

FLS gave my child a hand mirror and that little girl was obsessed with it. She looked at her reflection and brushed her hair all afternoon. I captured the moment and posted it on Instagram; not paying attention to the purse in the right corner of the shot.My phone vibrated with social media notifications for the rest of the evening.

While leaving the Bronx, I observed a certain person liked the picture on Facebook. I chuckled to myself for a moment because I knew the person all too-well. She almost never comments on my pictures; but she did on this one. Nothing was ever coincidence with her; so I paid very close attention to this break in her typical behavioral pattern.

The cross-country trip across the lower New York peninsula is about a 25 minute drive. By the time I exited off the expressway onto Yonkers Ave, I received a text message from my Facebook friend I had a checkered history with, to say the least.Even in this brief moment of being direct, she was communicating passively. I smirked and left the message unread.

While watching the Giants game, I told Kalique about the day. Every Sunday began with a synopsis about the never-ceasing drama that is my life outside of parenting. My longtime friend inferred that while there seems to be an ever-present amount of discord around me, I am always calm and in control. The way he said it was a lot more profanity-laden; but that’s what he meant. I think a direct quote was “Chad, you are the muthafuckin’ puppet master.”

I had to laugh at my consigliere because it’s very true. This evening was the moment that I realized it. I believed it before; but this was the day that I was truly convinced. I let all parties I interact with that day feel as if they were making the decisions. If and when they felt like they no longer wanted to deal with me, I created an environment that made them feel as if they were calling the shots. “They’ll be back” I would think to myself.

I operate in this manner because it’s easier. You can tell people what they want to hear or directly make a decision for them. However, they will not listen until they come to the conclusion themselves…I’ll just facilitate the process.

As we continued to shoot the shit, FLS sent me two or three text messages. I wanted to enjoy the game in peace with two of my boys I have known since middle school in peace.  I needed a little peace from everyone. Texts often lead the interpreter to jump to conclusions, especially when there is a non-platonic dynamic between men and women. My Samsung was on silent like I ain’t need the stress (For all of my PARTYNEXTDOOR fans).

It seemed like my Facebook friend always came around when things were ending with someone. Her reemergence always signified the beginning of the end. On an unconscious level, I probably let it happen. I always let her back in. Even if or when people knew of her, she always flew under everyone’s radar.

That was last fall. This summer, the same thing happened. The cast of characters have changed and the situations even more interesting; with the exception of one person. The summer is over…

There was supposed to be some kind of existential tale to take away from this. I guess that went out the window for me to just tell another story.

 

An Expansion on The Twitter Thread That Explains Why Dating Is Frustrating in 2016

I have been sent the link and asked repeatedly if I have seen the post entitled “This Twitter Thread Explains Why Dating Can Be So Frustrating In 2016.”  Having read it, I ask what do they-the person who sent it-think.  The response from just about everyone is that it is very accurate.  I agree.

Five years back into dating, I have more than my fair share of entertainingly dramatic stories to tell.  It is fairly difficult to navigate through those proverbial waters.  In an effort to relate to a friend and their circumstances, I gave the simile dating is like a war zone in which all is fair in which once you are trained in looking down for mines, you get attacked from the air.  It’s become a game in which everyone is playing by rules they made up and wonder why they lose.

Here’s a synopsis of the thread.  Kiran bka @NonProphet_ gives a breakdown of meeting the right guy who seems to have a lot going for him.  The vibe is right and the two have chemistry.  He sells the dream of wanting a relationship and that opens the young lady up.  Feelings begin to develop and then all of a sudden, he’s not as attentive as he once was.  The girl continues to reach out and there’s little to no response and the hurt begins to sink in.  Out of nowhere, he contacts the lady explaining his departure, to virtually dating into obscurity and out of nowhere…the breakup comes.  All of this leaves the feeling of wasted time and a wariness to try again and of course, it does.

It is then explained what happened in the man’s mind.  His intention was never to break the lady-or anyone’s-heart.  The things that were said were genuine and how they actually felt in the moment.  They did want the lady to be the one.  However, the “what if she isn’t the one” thoughts start.  Those thoughts become doubts that become reality.  Before getting too wrapped up, he feels like things need to slow down.  Then the pressure kicks in and everything is ultimately shot to, well you know.  The thread is ended with something so simple, yet to difficult for most to grasp because it takes experience to know this: love is a decision.

“Falling” in love is a myth.  Before we were officially an item, my daughter’s mother was the first person to tell me that love was a decision.  That was one of our first heated discussions because I didn’t believe her.  I was twenty-one years old and my outlook on love was that of inexperience.  She truly wasn’t meant to be on earth long.  At twenty, she understood something that others spend their whole lives just trying to figure out…and she was putting me up on game.  While we were having the first of many philosophical debates, deep down, I wasn’t sold on her.  She was gorgeous; but that’s not everything so I had doubts because on the surface, we were very different.  One day, I just said to myself “eff it,” and while she’s no longer here with us, I don’t regret that decision at all.  I made a choice to love her and even when we had falling outs and breakups, I continued to stick with that decision.

I agreed with everything the young man said.  There was one piece that was and is always missing: accountability.  People aren’t emotionally mature because once again, that takes experience.  I say it all of the time that we attract who we currently are.  If the person isn’t quite ready-for whatever the reason-to make a decision and commit, and this keeps happening; what does that say about you?  Mature love comes with an obscene amount of concession.  The inexperienced are often more concerned about looking to be loved instead of looking to love.

The laws of attraction are real.  What you find to be appeasing to your ego is what will find you time and time again.  Where’s the best place to hide if someone is looking up in the air?  Right under their nose is the answer.  What first attracted us to the ones that we ultimately date are the things that they have in common with us.  Deep down we are all a little narcissistic who like what we like and have similar values.  As time progresses and people are a little more relaxed, they are themselves and we are more willing to accept them for who we are because we already have feelings.

We are the culmination of our life experiences.  Often, the man or woman who has doubts and leaves the other they were dating vulnerable is scared.  They were once heartbroken and that crippling feeling of self-doubt forces a wall to go up almost immediately after they have made themselves vulnerable.  As opposed to going through that dreadful feeling again, they fabricate untrue feelings until they become a reality.  The person who ultimately was lead on typically has a tainted image of self-worth.  Eventually, everyone self-sabotages based on their insecurities and once again, everything is shot to you know where.  Spoiler alert: no one will hurt your feelings, disappoint you, and break your heart like your spouse…just needed to throw that out there because dating is the easy part.

I was once having a conversation with an ex of mine long after things between us ended.  I told her that I had come to a realization that I need to not be so cynical.  My bleak outlook on people causes me to have very low to no expectations and unconsciously, I can be pushing those that I love into acting in a manner that supports my cynicism.  It was also an admission of my role in where things went wrong between us.  In other ways, she had done the same to me.  This is part of what and why the universe brought us together in the first place.

I say all of this to say that when dating goes wrong, we often replay over and over what the person did to us and that plays a major role in why we keep going through the same things repeatedly.  The answers to all questions almost always can be found within us.

You can read the full thread here.

A Conversation With My Father About “The Game [of Love]”

 

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A picture my father took of his son playing in the Little League Coach's Game

Having conversations with my father are like dialog with an older version of myself; but we both have a mutually vested interest in making the younger version better than the older.  As a child, I didn’t get my dad.  Matriculating into and through adulthood, he began to make more and more sense.  At thirty years old and a father, myself, I listen to a lot of things he tells me and think to myself “In many ways, I am just like you.”

Growing up, most of our disagreements were typical father/son disputes.  Like minds often butt heads.  Very rarely-if at all-do we have heated moments.  There are times when he has said some very real shit and it has hurt my feelings; but he almost always calls after to soften the blow and that does mean a lot.  Neither of us like conflict and when there is, we want to resolve it quickly.  Even in these rare instances, I know that the reason for a departure from his laid-back demeanor is because he is passionate about me being better than him; so he isn’t speaking out of anger but with conviction.

I called my dad yesterday afternoon to chat and tell him a fairly hilarious interaction between a woman I met and myself.  Maybe without consciously thinking about it, I was reaching out for advice and I knew that no one else would know what to say better than he.  A few months ago, we talked about someone I was dating and he said to me at thirty years old, I’m way too young to be as cynical and jaded as I am.  That statement resonated with me.  It was something that I had been thinking; but hearing it from the source of all sources that I respect was the first step in me trying to approach life differently.  With age and experience he was saying that at my age, I’m supposed to still be “with the shits” in the name of love because when I’m his age, the pickings get slim, and I don’t want to be that.  So the story was more or less a report to his challenge.

He gave the nonchalant chuckle that I know comes out of the side of his mouth-because I do it too-and because of his experience, was able to quickly articulate something I was thinking to myself; but was still an abstract thought.  Slowly, but surely, the conversation shifted from me to someone that we both know.  He said that they’re batting 0-for-90 in the dating department.  “No matter how much I try to teach [them], coach how to swing, and the mechanics that come along with playing the game, they still do what they’re going to do…but just because they keep striking out, that doesn’t mean they can’t get a hit,” he said like an OG.

My dad went on, “We all need a good team.  A good player can become great by having a good team.  Without the right coaching, players get hurt, and take themselves out of the game before they fully develop.  So they learn improper techniques and keep getting hurt.”

I replied “Yo.  That’s some real shit.  I need to write that down!”  My father said “No.”

I responded with “No…I’m gonna write this down in my notebook, write the post, and then get paid for it.”  In a tone that could only be described as a coach who is always hard on his star player but had to give him props, the man I call Trav-Murdah said “Exactly.”

That metaphor was a word.  Plainly spoken, yet vague enough for one to ponder on and its allegory hitting the nail on the head.  I know a lot of people who take themselves out of the game.  They got hit once or twice by the proverbial pitches life throws.  Or they got on base, made it all the way around, the catcher blocked the plate as they were running home at full speed, got tagged out, and they got injured in the process.  When it was time to bat again, they started crowding the plate, playing afraid, got hit by another pitch and said “Eff playing…I just want to watch from the bench or the stands and make commentary on what everyone else is doing wrong,” not realizing they were always playing the game wrong.

Then there are those who do get hurt from the game and are never the same.  They want to change the game completely when the rules of the sport have existed long before them.  Those are the people that want to just want to play baseball with a major league swing in which they’re using a tennis racquet, the pitcher gotta throw a beach ball, then the basemen have to wear gloves but can only kick the ball to each other to tag someone out.  That’s the “I just want things to happen organically” squad.  Nah fam, that ain’t how the game goes and no one wants to or will play by your dumb rules.  They find themselves in the bleachers; wondering why all your peers are in the major leagues-married or happily committed-and upset they not seeing that MLB money…and they’re way more talented than their friends.

People never get taken out the game; they take themselves out.  People just want love to happen; but don’t put the proper energy into it.  It is something one must work on with the same energy and passion they do their careers.  Maintain the hunger, find a good team with the right coach, and they’ll be on their way.  I tell the kids I coach in little league who get upset when they strike out “Look, the best players in baseball only hit the ball 3-out-of-10 times.  Shake it off, relax, and play your game like you’ve been taught, and you’ll be fine.”  It’s really that simple.  We just make it more complicated than it is.

My father and my friend may be batting 0-for-90.  But they keep batting like the last time never happened.  That in itself is commendable.