Always a bridesmaid

My best friend is getting married, and I am the maid of honor. For some women, this statement may conjure feelings of nervous anticipation and hormonal dread. The best friend who will soon be a bride, is yet another piercing reminder, that you are not one nor are you on a path to becoming one. You may assume, that at my age this feeling might be an everyday occurence. I assure you, it is not. Other than the fact that I am genuinely happy for her and thrilled about the man she is about to marry, there is no internal bell that is tolling for my potential spinsterhood. I am ok that I have no ring.

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Now this isn’t to say that I don’t want one down the road, but let me explain. As someone who has been married and gone through the pains of divorce, the topic of my second marriage brings up feelings of well deserved apprehension. It does not however, make me think less of the sanctity and honor that is the civil union. Sure, like all little girls, the fairytale wedding was one that I dreamt of ever since I married my Barbie to GI Joe. But the older I got, surrounded by divorced couples and people on marriage two or three, it made me wonder what the rush was for?

In my case, when I really looked at it, what I was truly excited for was the reception. I wanted the party. The one that you see in movies with people dancing, kids sneaking booze, grandma grinding with a groomsman and me and my girls red in the face laughing. It was that atmosphere that I looked forward to and it wasn’t until I was married that I realized, there’s a whole other part to that fairytale that we don’t pay attention to- the actual marriage. The ups and the downs, and the parts that are often left out in the big screen version. The everydayness, the paying of the bills, the compromise, the financial issues, the moves and travel and the things that you sometimes have to sacrifice for and in a marriage. In other words, real life. During this time, when the glitz of the big day wears off and you come to the very real realization of your vows and that whole “better or worse” part, is when the work begins. Because that’s what a marriage is, work.

It can be hard work or easy work. Sometimes you might want to dial in your efforts, and sometimes you excel at it. You may want to call in sick, but you can’t. And you may have a boss you can’t stand, but for the sake of the job, you suck it up and keep truckin. Marriage is work, whether it’s a good marriage or a bad one. And just like any job, it depends 100 % on your efforts first. The amount of energy, drive, determination and love you put into any job, will ultimately drive the outcome of its success.

I guess that’s why I’m not in a rush for a ring. It took me all this time to realize what I have to do, to put in the work to make a marriage…work. I can honestly say, I still don’t think I’m ready. There’s still so much I want to see and do, places I’ve never been and dreams I want to chase. But at the end of the day, hopefully tackling the big world that is our universe will prepare me to apply for the position of “Wife”, and hopefully by then I may have a life’s resume worthy of being hired to play the role.

The Color Blindside

I can recall my very first celebrity crush. It was Peter Cetera. And I know what you’re thinking. Who is he? And more importantly, why him? The Karate Kid came out when I was young and the theme song was sung by the love of my life. The man that I actually wished on a star to marry. I know, we all have that one person that we are ashamed to admit that we had a crush on. But that man did it for me!

“I am the man/who will fight/for your honor!”

How beautiful is that? Peter Cetera was the lead singer of the band Chicago. He is also a white man. Here I was, this little chocolate princess from Georgia, hopelessly smitten with an older white male singer. And I remember at that age, that it seemed normal. I knew it was a crush, and I knew I was a child. I also knew that I would probably never meet him. But it didn’t matter. To me, he was handsome and talented. The fact that he was white, was not strange or odd. And to be honest it was his music that I love.

Even at a young age, color was not something that I saw. “Race Relations” was a term I wouldn’t understand until years later. To me, it is no surprise that having Mr. Cetera as my first crush, and the countless interracial marriages in my family, that I would find myself dating white men for most of my life. I have actually only been in one relationship with a black man. A fact that has shocked, confused and sometimes angered my family and friends.

 

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Being judged for my romantic choices has ranged from the occasional side eye, the slight pregnant pause in conversation to the blatant “So is this the first time you’ve dated outside your race?” awkward questions. To say that you shouldn’t let it bother you, is far easier said then done.

Now, the glances, the questions and the odd mannerism are sadly common place. They are so common that it is only when something new and shocking is said and done that I even take notice. But why should you become immune to that? Why sit back and be numb to the fact that in 2017 people will still look at your mixed race relationship as odd? And why not feel bothered by it?

Simple: because it’s who I decided to love. Same as how I did’t care that my first crush was an old crooner from the 80’s, is the same reason why today I choose to be with the person who makes me smile. Because I am the same little girl who wished on a star and didn’t wish for my perfect mate to look like me. I didn’t even wish for anything based on his appearance. I simply wished for love.

So my wish for all of you, who like me are in relationship with someone who doesn’t look like you, or believes in the same religion or even roots for a different team: whatever the world may say about the two of you, there is a more divine reason why you are with the person you are with. And no amount of hushed conversations or ignorant stares should ever make you feel like who you love is wrong.

 

Football is Life

I wish I could say that I am not sure where my love of football came from. As I am writing this post I am sitting with a glass of whiskey,  sore after a workout, watching the NFC playoffs. But I can tell you two very real reasons why I love the game.

My mother actually enjoys telling this story. How at a very young age, a baby even, my mother found that whenever a game was on tv, I was captivated by it. She thought it had to do with the uniform colors and the constant running. I mean, what 18 month old knows a thing about Zone Defense. But once my mother noticed that I would become silent and actually happy when football was on tv, she began recording games and having them around, just in case I had a fussy moment. Some babies find pacifiers soothing, I found Joe Montana soothing.

The second reason I would attribute loving the gridiron would be my late grandfather. I grew up with my grandparents and my grandfathers’ form of “church” was Sunday football and whiskey. After a family breakfast, we would spend the next several hours watching football. There were no chores, no going outside, no visiting friends, just football. I don’t really recall how it happen, but I began to join him. He and I, and sometimes my grandmother, would spend silent hours, watching the Redskins and his beloved Bears. When he noticed that I started to enjoy the game, he would teach me about football and why in his opinion, there was no greater player or man, than Walter Payton. I loved those times, and still have a soft spot for the Bears to this day.

Fast forward a few years later, a proud Georgia girl, where football and tailgating is life, my love has only grown. Some may call it obsessive, some may call it just a game. In the past, I have always enjoyed dating guys who love football just as much, if not more than I do. Has this been an issue with guys who may not like football as much as me? Yes. But is it enough to go crazy over? No.

In the end, I can appreciate if a guy doesn’t relate to the game like I do. It’s those differences that make a couple click. One may love podcasts, the other reality shows. One, Coke…the other Pepsi. Ok, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far. Either way, appreciate my dedication to all things pigskin, and you will find a woman as loyal to the game as she is to you.

 

The Tequila Factor

First off my lovelies, I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to get back to writing. Simply put, I’ve been busy and lazy. Well maybe more lazy than busy. But if I haven’t said it before, I tend to write only when motivated. Or whenever I have a great story. So, not to bore you with the dull everydayness of my life, I always like to offer my dear fans something of meaning, something of substance…or nonsense as a result of tequila.

As some of you may know, some of the best decisions I have ever made in my life are a direct result of tequila. I dare say, if I ever had a sister, it would be her. Tequila has never done me wrong, and whenever I see someone grimace at the mere mention of her name, I tend to question their sanity and their purpose in my life.

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This post is brought to you by Tequila. It happened like any other after work Happy Hour. A group of funny and talented young ladies gather to discuss the days events over a few drinks. This is perhaps my favorite type of gatherings. You know the ones. They start sweet and innocent at the start, then end up a full on challenge by an 18 year old waiter and the mention of making him call me “Mommy”.

No seriously…that may or may not have happened.

Everyone has that ONE drink. Either it’s one that you can’t drink because it causes you to become violent, or one that causes you to sing horrible karaoke, or the drink that causes you to make random road trips to south Georgia. Either way, I am fan of these drinks. I am an even bigger fan of knowing said drink, and forcing you to consume it. Because let’s face it, my friends are amazing, they are even more amazing drunk…and bonus points if I can do this with the help of Tequila.

Now before I go back to the events that occurred at Happy Hour, perhaps I should introduce you to the first time I met her. That firey latin temptress that has guided me through everything from a nervous performance, to making it through Thanksgiving dinner. Tequila and I met at my best friends wedding. Before walking down the aisle, my best friend was a bit nervous, so to take off the edge we had a shot of Jose Cuervo.

*Disclaimer*

“If I knew then, what I know now, Cuervo would have never touched my lips!”

What I do recall about that wedding was the fun that we had afterwards. My best friend is like a sister to me and the joy I had that day for her, was only matched by the immense fun we all had laughing and singing around a bonfire. I knew right then and there that Tequila and I would be great friends.

Fast forward to Happy Hour. I respond well to two things, pressure and making people feel terribly embarrassed. I respond even better to a good challenge. And not a “I dare you to get his number challenge” I’m talking a “I dare you to fake a British accent, tell him that you’re a Nigerian princess, get his number, all the while on your 4th shot of tequila, oh and manage to have his buddy pay for it” kind of challenges. But that is another post for another day.

This Happy Hour was met with all the things that make me love Tequila. Great topics, good food, mildly entertaining wait staff and a parking lot full of randomness. The common topic of course being men and dating. And that’s when it hit me, the start of several of these great stories is that ONE drink. “OMG, the night I had two shots of Jager….” or “…so after about 4 Jack and Cokes…”

And no, this isn’t to say that I’m an alcoholic or that my friends are, it is to simply say that Tequila for me is like that one love of your life. Just like Gin, Vodka or Rum may be for others. What ever your one drink is, it reminds you of a significant time in your life. It may be a happy time, a sad time, a time that makes you pee your pants with laughter or cry with regret. Either way you look at it, don’t think of that drink as the cause. Rather, think of that ONE drink as that ONE guy or girl that you reflect in loving memory with. Because let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for them and what you went through with him or her, you wouldn’t be the kick ass boss that you are today.

So let’s raise a glass to Tequila, to Scotch, to Absenith or Brandy…for the loves that we lost and the ones that we have yet to gain. The next time you are at Happy Hour and someone challenges you to your ONE drink, don’t run and hide, but simply take your drink and cheers with this toast:

“There will never be another you, there will never be another me. But two more of these here will make the better of us…me!”

Creating Mr Right

My favorite question from any of my girlfriends in regards to my dating life is “Well, what are you going to do?” What am I going to do? That’s what hanging out with my girls and a bottle of Jameson is for. What am I going to do? At the end of the day, I find myself saying the same thing, “I’m just going to create the perfect guy from a collection of guys from my past.” That’s a thing, right? Creating Mr Right? I mean, isn’t that what a B.S vision board is? A collection of all the things that you want in the “perfect” guy?

Alright, I’ll stop you right there. Because what I am proposing simply can’t be done. In many ways, not only do I want to “create” my Mr Right, I want the parts to match my fake masterpiece. To me, it’s not just about the inside, but the whole overall look. You know, rugged Gerard Butler jawline, Top Gun Tom Cruise smile, David Beckham butt, etc.

So if I really had to create my perfect Dating Frankenstein  based on past experiences, here’s what I would manufacture:

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Trait 1: The Bedroom

Let me just get this one out of the way, because to be honest, it’s pretty darn important. My “Mr Right” and I were, how should I say this….”Angelina and Billy Bob”intense. Now, I am sure there are kids reading this, so I will spare you the details. But what I will say is, he is number one for a reason. We all should aspire to hit such heights, so pay attention potential suitors.

Trait 2: The Personality

This one makes me very happy because the guy who currently matches this trait is someone I, to this day, still consider a very good friend. And that’s why he has a special place in my heart. From our love of football, to travel, to social views, if I had to make a “Mr Right” he would embody all of these things that I love and have in common with said individual. Even down to bonfires and country music.

Trait 3: The Family Life

Y’all know I don’t like kids. And they HATE me. However, I do have a great respect for those who have kids and date. I can’t imagine being a single mom and dating. And thank the Lord, I have yet to create a Spawn. (Fingers crossed that I never will) But there is a deep love of family from a particular individual from my past that I have always found his greatest quality. The way he gushes over his kids accomplishments and how he will drop work, his social life and almost anything else just to attend a Father/Daughter dance, is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a man. My “Mr Right” must adore his family and their bond is one that is crucial to him. Points for being a Mama’s Boy!

 
Trait 4: The Diva Factor

There is no question that I have a tendency to be a diva. (stop laughing) I would say it has a lot to do with my job, but to be honest, I work best when I’m the center of attention. Things get done that way. This fourth trait is a tie held by two men from my past. The first allowed me to thrive in my Divadom. When I was onstage or walked into a room, his entire world shifted to me. What girl doesn’t love that? However, that can get boring and you need someone to put you in check. That’s where the second guy came in. Not to be blunt, but he was the one that would call me on my shit. Don’t get me wrong, he let me have my moment in the sun. I enjoyed being able to shine around him. But when the Sun got to Icarus level, he quickly reminded me of what was important. And the best thing about that, was that it caused me to realize there are more important things in life than if I go to a club with or without bottle service.

 

Trait 5: The YOLO Equation

And finally there’s the YOLO Equation AKA “You Only Live Once”. Every day you are on this Earth should be met with the chance to do something great. Whether it’s travel, or make music, to helping someone, or appreciating the world around you. This last trait is held by a man who lives by that law: You really only live once. So what are you going to do with that time? Sometimes I get so caught up in the next plan, the next year, the next 5 to 10 years, that I forget, that I have a gift. A gift that I love to use, and don’t really get to appreciate until I stop using it. I love music. Music and song is one way God communicates with us. And if all I have is that, and a way to express it with someone else who loves it as much as me, then I look forward to making beautiful music with my “Mr Right”.

 

Who knows. Maybe there is a guy who holds true to all of these things. (Oh and Honorable Mention: must cook, clean, can sing “You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling”, play Poker, has a passport and a 720 or higher credit score.)  Buttttttt, in the off chance that everything above is all in my land of dating make believe, I only hope that I possess some of the same things that make me his “Miss Right.”

 

Cougar-in-Training AKA The Little Engine That Could

I, am not prepared to write this article. Even as I see the words pouring out, I am in strong denial. Because for one, I am NOT a cougar. I am NOT that old? Am I? I mean, black don’t crack and I come from some amazing genes, and as I look 40 almost in the eye, I still think this old girl is holding up just fine.

It has always been my personal preference to date older men. My first real crush was a lifeguard who I fell madly in love with at the tender age of 9. (He was 18.) I use to say that there were three types of men I would never date: Republicans, Alabama fans and any man more than 3 years younger than me. I mean, what would we talk about? What would we have in common? If I make a reference about Blazing Saddles, would he get it?

Fast forward to today.  I don’t know how to say this, but when he was born, I was….I was…13. THIRTEEN!!!! I could have been on an episode of “Teen Mom”. Dear Lord, there is a whole amazing decade of music that he doesn’t even know. I mean, he’s always had a cell phone. I remember not leaving the house without a quarter in case I needed to make a call.

But seriously, what am I doing? Who the heck do I think I am? A freakin gangsta that’s who!!! Here’s what I have learned so far in the land of the wild young stallions: every day has the true possibility of being a great, fun day. Their life is carefree and full of wonder. They aren’t jaded. They still have hope. HOPE! I’m pretty sure this is the type of change Obama wished for.

So we have few things in common. And sure I have consumed more alcohol this year than he has in his entire life. And, ok, we have very different views when it comes to politics and movies and sports and food. I forgot my point…..

Yes, my point is, why does it matter? The great philosopher, Aaliyah once said “Age ain’t nothin but a number, and a noun aint nothin but a thang.” Truer words have never been spoken. Do I know the course of my detour down Sesame Street? No. But what I do know is, that at my age who would have thought I would enjoy a rainy day in my pjs drinking craft beers and playing Mario Kart.

A Letter to my Heart

Dear Heart-

This is the day you were not prepared for. This is the first day where you simply must get up and move on. This process my dear heart, will be slow. It will be painful. Memories will flood your brain and remind you of the joy you once held so deeply. You will cry. A lot. You will hear songs, see movies, smell scents and fall in a lullaby of love, loss and regret.

But heart, this is not the end. Those memories, are not sad because they happened. They were once real. Hold fast heart, on the fact that your love was once so real, that it burned a level of passion, you were not prepared for. It is only by its absence that you feel a loss.

Dear heart, you will become stronger from this. There will be a day, when you will faintly recall pain or sadness. Instead, you will look back and take inventory of your life. And when the scenes of your past return to your memory, you will hold with them a grateful heart. A heart that was blessed to have had such a love. You will also step into a world of possibility, for my dear heart, the course of your life still continues.

What has happened in your past, was to prepare you for your future. Perhaps love will return. In its return you will learn from your mistakes, you both will grow, you both will be different people, for love changes us all. But perhaps, dear heart, that love may not return. It pains me to say this. You will however, learn that this is not the end of your journey. Because something greater is yet to be discovered for you.

Dear Heart- your song is not over. The melody of your life has just begun. There will be days of longing, hours of questioning and seconds of confusion. But heart, believe me when I say, there will be a time where your love will be of greater measure than you ever thought possible. Hope for that heart and take comfort in its arrival.