Get Down or Lay Down

“I won’t melt.”

I giggle every time I say it, or some other variation of that statement, usually after somebody asks me about having an umbrella. I hardly ever carry an umbrella, unless I absolutely can’t avoid it without getting drenched–and even then, I’ll still bargain with myself if I’m close enough to deal with it until I get where I’m going. I can’t remember the last time I even bought one. As of today, I have one that was given to me by the second brother in the last month or so that has offered me one. The latter gentleman kind of “Debo’d” me this time, though.

I’m pretty well-versed in my own self-awareness. I’m aware of my quirks, emotional triggers, and the fact that my ego at times, is a fire-breathing monster that I’ve kept alive too long–amongst a host of other issues I’m learning to unlearn. With that said, I’ve yet to pull the plug on the monster, but I’m getting there. Brick by elevated (uncomfortable but necessary) brick. Meanwhile, I’m still working towards reprogramming how I translate, respond to, the need for–and acceptance of– help/assistance/support. In my mind, I’ve somehow made the connection that needing help/assistance/support equals damsel in distress. And I don’t do damsel. I’d rather die first. Full disclosure: I don’t even understand my own logic sometimes. That’s a whole other case study waiting to happen–one that’s going to require unpacking with someone more credentialed and far more qualified than myself. I can’t get to a therapist fast enough.

Again, I know me, myself & I. We’ve been in this thing a long time, but I believe we’re growing tired to the point of exhaustion now.

Anyway, “winter is here”, and I’m en route to a ‘GoT’ themed watch party. The rain that night was steady enough to warrant having an umbrella on hand. My driver, quite the gentleman, hops out the car as I approach, umbrella in hand, pops it open and positions it over my head as he opened the car door for me. Insert *swoon* here. One time for chivalry.

He hops back in the car and we ride a few blocks exchanging pleasantries. He offers me some premium water in lieu of the generic brand that was in the storage part of my door, and I’m thinking: Brother is getting rated with all the stars and a tip for his impeccable service.

We chat it up a little more about current events, social issues, metaphysics and such. Needless to say, it got a little deep. He asked if I was originally from Baltimore and shared some of his own personal details. This wasn’t a short ride, obviously.

The conversation dies down a bit and we’re getting close to my drop-off location. He then offers me an umbrella and says to feel free to take it with me.

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m ok. Thank you.”

“You sure? You’re welcomed to take it with you.”

“I won’t melt.” He laughed and let it go, but he wanted me to have it, but I was standing firm on my square.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. I’m walking to the library as it starts to drizzle a bit. Thinking out loud, I remind myself that I should commit to checking the weather more consistently, while Spirit sarcastically whispers how owning an umbrella wouldn’t hurt.

“Eh. I won’t melt.”

Spirit was not amused, but I was.

Later that evening, I decide on dinner, which requires me heading to a few stores in my neighborhood. It’s threatening to rain again, but I’m not deterred, because again: “Brown sugar don’t melt in the rain!” I know my Spirit tribe tires of me and my antics. I wear my own self out sometimes, but whatever. Off to the stores we go.

On the way back, it starts coming down hard and I hear: “About that umbrella…”

I’m laughing at this point because….touché, but as it stands…ain’t no umbrella. So, I’m gonna just have to be wet for a few blocks. Oh well…

As I’m approaching the convenience store on my block, there’s a few older brothers congregating under an awning, talking amongst themselves like they usually do. I cross the street and before I know it, one of them pops open his umbrella, rushes to put it over my head, hands it to me, and walks back to his spot. I thank him, as the others are co-signing the gesture with, “look at that!”, “right on time!”, and “that’s right!” At this point, I’m not only in awe of his precision, but also laughing and shaking my head at how aggressive my tribe has been lately, rightfully and justifiably so when it comes to me, my hang ups and idiosyncrasies.

As I’m leaving out the store, I yell to the man whose umbrella I’m now in possession of, who also happens to be the security guard at the convenience store I frequent. I’m trippin’ a little off the fact that whenever I come into the store, I always speak and how he barely even utters a response each time. Add that to another one of the reasons why I was taken aback by his gesture, but I digress.

As I’m attempting to tell him I can return his umbrella when I come back to the store, he waves me off with a “get outta here” and yells out:

Wait for it…..

“I ain’t want you to melt!”

Shouts out to the Universe, my ancestors and my entire Spirit tribe for pulling a me on me.


Take the L

Take the L

“Every loss ain’t a loss.” I don’t remember who said that to me or where I’ve heard it before, but it’s taken me quite a while to digest and ultimately accept for a few reasons.

A few years ago, I got a message from a friend, asking me to give her a call when I had a chance. I obliged, although, the message had me on a bit of an alert. I mean, why wouldn’t she just call me? Plus, the wording of the message was a little—I don’t know—I just had a strange, uneasy feeling.

This was someone I had known from high school. A few months after graduation, she came to visit me after I had my son. He was a few months old at the time. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember asking my parents if she could stay with us for a while until things died down at her house. My father had the final say, and ultimately gave the nod. I can’t recall how long she stayed or even when she left, but I do remember (now) how distant she eventually became before she moved out.

We didn’t keep close contact over the years, but that never struck me as odd because that was just how it was with us. I held her in high regard, nonetheless. She was one of my dearest, long-time friends. One time for sisterhood, right? Not so fast.

My reality-check was on the other end of the phone.

Backtrack to the phone call. I called and immediately, she goes in saying how she doesn’t consider me a friend—how she doesn’t really know me—along with some other things that had me baffled at the time. I didn’t know where any of this was coming from. I hadn’t spoken to her in quite a while, which wasn’t unusual for us. The last time we spoke was also the last time we hung out and we had a blast. At least, I thought we had a good time. I was wrong, apparently. Color me lost, confused and dumbfounded.

She ran down a list of the things that she felt made me a bad friend and insisted that she didn’t really know me. That call was strange. She was a bit riled up, as if she had this conversation/argument with me in her head prior to making the call—which I get, but shit still was fucking weird.

She mentioned not knowing how I was to my “other friends”. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about all the times I’d reached out to her and how one-sided our contact was. I was taken off-guard to say the least, but I listened. She told me that she’d been harboring all of this for more than a decade. Hello?  You could’ve bought me for a dollar. How many times had we been in each other’s company in over a decade? All of this was news to me. How could I have missed that I had been neglecting my friend all this time? Was I really that self-involved? I didn’t rule any of that out. I mean, I know I don’t walk on water. I’m big on consideration, but certainly, there are times when I miss the mark.

By this time, I’m choked up, full of tears. This is my friend. I want to make this right and straighten out any confusion. And then, I started thinking. So, now, I have a few questions of my own. I’m still trying to understand where all this is coming from. My wheels are churning, and quite frankly, a lot of this doesn’t sound like some me type shit. I’m still upset, though.

I asked her to tell me how often she bothered to call or invite me anywhere. I wanted to know if she realized that whenever we’d hung out, it was because I’d been the one to extend the invite. She responded with excuses for just about everything I asked, which was nearly all the things she was accusing me of. By the end of the call, I thought we had it resolved. I apologized for offending or hurting her as that was never my intention. She thanked me for the talk. She sounded a lot better by the end of the call than when it started—and so it went. When we got off the line, I thought it was a done deal, but I couldn’t let it go. I was still weepy, and my nerves were worked. Why the fuck am I so emotional over this? It just wasn’t adding up—and things must make sense to me. Must.

Some of my life’s experiences have given me the kind of self-awareness that causes me to conduct self-inventory quite regularly. I check-in with me a LOT. When I’m unable to settle on a resolution on my own, I go to my support system, particularly, the people that call me on my bullshit when need be. Some of which are constantly telling me that I need to cut myself some slack sometimes. I’m still working towards mastering that skill.

I racked my brain while driving to pick up my daughter from school. Once my daughter was in the car, she told me about her day, which was our daily routine. When she asked how my day went, I broke it down—and by that, I mean, I cried a river. My daughter got me together with the good pep talk. She runs down how I let this person project their negativity on me and a few other things that in retrospect were true, but I hadn’t arrived at accepting just yet. I sucked it up for a short while, but I was still processing. Later that evening, I went over the conversation again in my head—and was in tears all over again. Mad at myself because I couldn’t just shake it. But, why?

It took a few days for me to come up out my feelings and put on my logic. I ended up reviewing a lot of the interactions that we’d had over the years and concluded that our friendship was indeed lopsided, but the deficit wasn’t all on me.

I started thinking about some of the major events in my life that had taken place that this person had no knowledge of. At the time, I was coming out of a toxic relationship with an ex. That relationship developed right when my father had to have emergency surgery. There was a 50/50 chance of him surviving the procedure, which he did, but was in a coma for three weeks post-op. I thought about all the things I managed over the years, while my friend was harboring these feelings about me. While it hurt to admit that we obviously weren’t the friends I thought we were, I realized—I placed more value on our friendship than I should have. This wasn’t friendship. This was just someone that I knew for a long period of time, but I didn’t really know her at all. How can one really know someone that isn’t transparent? There’s no way to build a relationship with anyone sans transparency. All these memories were flooding back now. There wasn’t a lot of sharing coming from her end. How did I miss that? It never once struck me as odd that she didn’t talk much. I am a talker. I talk to the people I trust. I started to realize that whenever I would check-in with her, she didn’t have much to add most times. There were other times that she would just be quiet. I thought that was just her way. Wrong again.

Prior to all this new (to me) information, I attended a memorial service for one of her siblings. In my mind, I was showing my support for her as well as her family. Friendship shit, right?

My hurt feelings turned to anger. The nerve! The audacity of someone who has been elusive for more than a decade, to tell me how much of a friend I haven’t been.  I had my answer at that point. I don’t need this shit. What was I losing? I was letting go of the idea of friendship and connection. I felt stupid for apologizing and not realizing any of this sooner. One of the most hurtful things was admitting to myself that I had been had. I got over that eventually. It was mostly ego and I had to dead that.

After accepting what was, I started also giving thanks for what was. For every severed tie, I gave thanks for genuine connection. I gave thanks for even the losses turned lessons. That’s a win. I was shedding and making space. Things and people and situations that no longer served my highest purpose were leaving. Some of it felt too soon and I didn’t always feel ready, but it was time and I had no choice but to accept it. Admittedly, I mourned a few losses before I surrendered to gratitude. This wasn’t a loss. I had more to gain. New energies, frequencies, fresh creativity, genuine connections, love personified, and just some next level interactions were waiting on the other side of my most challenging lessons.

That’s a win.


I Almost Dated a Rapist

rape (2)

He was sobbing, pleading for me to let him explain. No explanation was going to change the inevitable outcome.  I was, however, a tad bit curious. Chalk that up to being a stickler for details or just plain curiosity. Either or. 


We were introduced by my good friend, Mary, who is more like a sister to me. It had been quite a few months since the break-up with an ex; and while I wasn’t quite ready for anything serious, I was open to at least meeting new people with the possibility of dating.

Mary was seeing this guy that she talked about constantly. Let’s call him Joe. I hadn’t met Joe in person, but we had spoken over the phone a number of times. It was normal—almost routine—for she and I to be holding conversation while my friend was driving to his place, waiting for him to arrive at hers, or waiting on him to pick her up for an outing of some sort. There were times when they were together, she’d put me on speakerphone and we’d all just talk. I remember a time when she went over to his place to check out the progress he’d made on the home improvement project he was working on. Mary was very much into that kind of thing, so this guy and his project were right up her alley. While there, she was giving me a virtual tour of the place by phone—telling me about all the things he had done since her last visit. She was so excited and he was just as excited to get her feedback. He seemed nice—not overly nice, but nice enough (whatever that is), well-spoken and cared about her from what I could tell. He suggested the three of us make time to hang out together some time soon. It just made sense that I’d eventually meet the guy my friend was spending so much time with.

Joe often talked about his cousin, not anything of any special significance, just mentioned him a few times during our conversations. I remember Mary mentioning him once or twice, just asking Joe what his cousin thought about the renovations, and what opinion he gave about a debate she and Joe had about some random thing that I can’t remember at the moment. Mary eventually asked me if it would be okay if Joe gave the cousin my number. I didn’t think much of it, so I agreed to it.

We started off communicating by phone. He lived over an hour away in another city further south of where I was. We went through the usual survey. What kind of work do you do? Where did you grow up? Do you have kids? Siblings? How’s your relationship with your parents? All the “getting to know you” topics were covered.

With the kind of work he did, his days started pretty early. He called a few times, a few mornings in a row while I was getting ready for work. I rarely answer my phone for anybody that time of morning. He tried to sound casual when he mentioned it, saying something along the lines of how “it would be nice” to hear my voice and how it would help him start his day off on a high note—or some other fluff I wasn’t interested in. All I bothered to respond with was the absolute driest “Oh yeah?” known to man. When I didn’t take the bait, he revisited it by beating around the bush with “mornings must be busy for you”. I became quite irritated. I don’t know if it was because I interpreted his approach as passive aggressive, or if it was because he was trying to not question me. I hate indirect questioning at any stage of interaction, but he was trying to gauge me. I abhor both passive aggression and gauging. Maybe it was because it made him seem a little desperate. I questioned my agitation. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason for it.  I’ve been told that I can be too analytical, that I have commitment and/or trust issues, and that I can be “too hard” on men. I don’t care. My feelings are mine and I own them, but I decided to let him slide on that one for the moment. I did, however, count that as a red flag. I cooled my engines before letting him in on how I am not a morning person—AT ALL. There are only two people I have an obligation to talk to in the morning and I talk with God as prep. Everybody else can kick rocks until after my morning meditation with the gods of java. I told him to just text me.  

The other red flag came when we were on talking on the phone one day. I was half listening to him, somewhat distracted by whatever I was doing in that moment. My best guess was that he stubbed his toe or something because he yelled out in pain. He didn’t think I heard him, so he starts cursing and making a commotion so I’d notice. Attention whoredom (not a word, I know) is also on the list with passive aggression and gauging. I waited a few seconds more before saying anything, which made him ask if I was still on the line. I needed to allow my engines to cool before saying anything. Even after balancing out, I rushed off the phone. He was on my last and I’d had more than enough.

Fast forward, we made it past a few of the red flags. While I made mental notes of them, we were still communicating pretty regularly. He made a few requests for us to go on dates, but I wasn’t quite ready for any one on one time with this guy. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that was nagging at me. I just had no idea what that was exactly, but I held on to the expectation that it would reveal in due time.

My questions were direct. Right in the middle of a free-flowing conversation, this urge to skip past the pleasantries took over and I went full-throttle with it. I asked him everything from whether or not he’s hit a woman, if he was ever attracted to men, whether or not he’s had any sexual exchanges with men—orally, anally, digitally, if he’d ever had any inappropriate interactions with children, if he had experienced abuse in any way by anyone as a child or even as an adult, etc.  I don’t remember what we were talking about originally, but I skipped to this line of questioning in an instant. There was no preparation, but he answered everything. He said that he had never hit a woman before, never had any homosexual thoughts or interactions with anyone, had never had any inappropriate relationships with children, had never been abused in any way. Not that I really expected him to freely admit that he was an abuser, murderer, rapist, or pedophile—but I still asked. He told me he had “nothing to hide.”

I told him warned that I would be doing my own research, utilizing every resource that was available to me. I said, “Ok. Just so you know, I do background checks with every resource available to me. So, if it’s a matter of public record, I’ll find it. Nobody’s exempt.”  He swore he had nothing to hide. “We’ll see”, is what I said, never really expecting to find out all that I did. At the same time, I understood the possibility of me discovering some sketchy shit. There’s always a possibility.  I mean, I don’t know this guy.

Moving on.

My internet at home was down, and my phone’s data plan was crap at the time. So, I had to wait until I got to work to research him. I already knew his full name and date of birth, or so I thought. I usually only engage with men that I’ve known for a while, friends of friends, associates, or people that run in the same circles as I– for the most part. On the rare occasion that I date outside of that playing field, I’m on higher than usual alert.

Sure enough, when I got to work, I went to the internet and started researching. I found nothing. I knew his name, date of birth, and the city where he claimed he lived. There was nothing there, not even a traffic ticket. That was odd considering that he’d lived in Maryland his entire life and didn’t even have so much as a traffic ticket? Plus, he was on probation (or was it parole?), so definitely he’s been to court before and for certain there had been a court date. There’s no way there was nothing on file for this guy.  I checked again, date of birth and all, and still came up empty. I remembered him sending me an email once, so I logged in to my email account to see if maybe there was some information I could use.  The last name that was attached to the email wasn’t the same as the one he had given me.

I went back to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site and pulled up his information, this time with the correct last name. Everything else matched up: his date of birth, first and middle name. There was a long list of charges, one of them being 3rd degree sexual assault of a minor. Some of the other charges associated with the initial charge described him as a violent sex offender, which, to me is rather redundant, but that’s another conversation. I checked the Maryland Sex Offender Registry too, and sure enough, his picture was there big as day.

I called him. As soon as he answered, I told him to lose my number. I just blurted it all out: that he was a sex offender, that he was listed as ABSCONDER’, which meant his address wasn’t listed because he failed to provide that information to the agency. “What?!”, he tried to act surprised. I was not for the bullshit. “You’ve got to be fuck–ing kidding me! You know damn well that’s you. It’s you, AND your lying ass had to register yourself.” Then, he starts sobbing or maybe fake sobbing. I really couldn’t tell, nor did I care about his tears. My anger grew. I was shaking. “Oh, now, you wanna cry?!” I wanted to reach through the phone and crush his esophagus. Then, he tries to reason with me. “Ok, let me tell you what happened.” I really didn’t care about the details. Although, I knew people that had been charged with sex offenses before—that really didn’t deserve to be charged as such. Another story for another time, maybe, but I’ve never considered dating any of them. This guy was telling me a story that sounded like a bad, knockoff version Lifetime movie. I let him tell his story, imagining him on the other line crying crocodile tears. I mean, I am a writer, so, I figured if nothing else, I’d eventually write about it. And here we are.

He said that he was a former drug dealer and was involved with a woman, who at the time—wanted a more serious relationship than he was willing to offer. He said that when the relationship began to sour, he started distancing himself from her and that she wasn’t happy about it. He went on to say that she knew a lot about what he had been doing, since they had once been very close and that she started asking—then demanding money from him when she realized he wasn’t interested in making her his girlfriend. He said she tried physically assaulting him during a heated argument they once had and also threatened with reporting him to the police for selling drugs. He claimed that he was still giving her money every once in a while whenever she was in trouble financially, thinking that it would serve as insurance for her silence after they split. He said that he met and started dating this young woman, who he believed to be 19 at the time. This man was nearly 40 years old when I was introduced to him. The charges for sexual assault were maybe 5 years prior. He claimed that the new girl turned out to be the daughter of the ex—who lied about her age. So, according to this guy, the girl was actually 17, not 19 (likely another lie) and that she and her mother devised this plan for the daughter to cry rape when–according to him, he never had any sexual interaction with her—at least not yet. His charges included rape in the first through fourth degree (if my memory serves me correctly). I know it was a lot of charges—and from the legal jargon that I sifted through, it boiled down to him being convicted of rape. I couldn’t say his version of events wasn’t true. I just didn’t believe it. I also reminded him about him lying about his last name. There was a story for that as well, but I was tapped out—and I told him never to contact me again.

I told the friend that introduced us about everything that I learned and the outcome. She spoke to the guy that she was dating because she was furious that he would introduce me to a known rapist. She relayed that he had no idea about any rape charges. He stated that he was fully aware about his other charges and convictions, but never even considered checking his information on the judiciary site, but also he never had a reason to. She told me her guy apologized profusely, wanted to apologize to me directly, and that he would have never suggested introducing us if he had known. I wasn’t interested in talking to him or anybody else. This man owed me nothing—I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me—and I was ok with living the rest of my life without his apologies or explanations. I was just glad I knew and listened to my gut instinct.

Moral of the story: Trust yourself. Pay attention to the red flags. Take your time and do your research.