I was around 10 years old when I first saw Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones. Up to that point I was fascinated by Lena Horne’s beauty, Bette Davis’ diva attitude, and Marilyn Monroe’s sex appeal. I have always been drawn to the glamorous divas of the 1950’s… go figure! But when I first saw Carmen Jones, I was mesmerized by how she encompassed all three of the traits. She had presence. She was unapologetic; she went after what she wanted, and did it all looking like a million bucks! She was my inspiration. And to this day whenever this movie is on I stop everything I am doing, sit down and watch it with the same fascination I had as a 10 year old little girl. Dorothy Dandridge would have been 91 last week. In honor of her birthday I wanted to pay a tribute to her and the character that changed my life. Carmen Jones the original serial dater. Here’s what Carmen Jones taught me:
Be the life of the party!
Go after what you want.
It’s okay to cater to your man and take care of him.
Never be with a man who tries to keep you in a box
There’s nothing wrong with excitement when you are dating
When dating your philosophy should be: May the best man win! Too many times we are trying to win over the man instead of it being the other way around.
Don’t settle for less than what you want.
Having good girlfriends in the process of dating who have your back and love you unconditionally is priceless.
Always, always, always wear you lipstick, do your hair, keep your nails done, and be on your A game. You never know when you will bump into Mr. Right. NOT to mention the better you look the better you feel for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to keep it moving when you aren’t getting what you want out of the relationship
KNOW YOUR WORTH!
Don’t be the silly naive girl in the relationship. Always keep your power.
Passion is a MUST!
Every diva wants a man who gives her a little bit of a challenge. “You go for me and I’m taboo, but if you’re hard to get I go for you, and when I do then you are through boy. My baby that’s the end of you!”
Let the man take care of you!
Be with a man who loves you a little more than you love him.
Be unapologetic for who you are and what you want in life.
Last week was a doozy! There was a big black cloud that was following me everywhere I went. I couldn’t shake it. The more I attempted to run from it the more it kept following me. You know where you have one of those weeks where everything seems to be going completely WRONG! It’s one disaster after the next. Just last week the guy I had been dating for the last 3 months informed me he didn’t want to have any more children. Yes, the first man I had dated and liked consistently since 1932. It a fucking wrap! I noticed he was starting to pull back. We went out to Moon Shadows and watched the sunset. I was finishing a glass of wine when “Barry” dropped the bomb on me.
Barry: I’m not sure about having more kids. My son is 21 years old and almost done with college. I have stayed up many nights thinking about this since you and I started seeing each other. I really like you. I’m just not sure we want the same things. And if this wasn’t an issue we’d be on the fast track to marriage but I know it’s important to you and I am so conflicted.
I sat there looking at him. My first thought was to say to him what I was thinking, “Ummmmm…. I haven’t even slept with you yet and I’m not sure if I would a) want to marry you and/or b) have a child with you. What the fuck? I just wanted to order another glass of wine.” I of course took the grown woman high road.
Me: I can’t continue to date you knowing you feel this way. I just can’t chance falling in love with you and getting married and either you getting a secret vasectomy or even worse, I get pregnant and the whole time I am concerned you’re not excited about it.
Barry: I think you’re such an amazing woman and I wish things could be different.
Me: To be honest Barry, I could feel you starting to pull back and I knew deep inside that’s what was going on. But I really and truly appreciate your honesty. Good luck with everything.
Barry: Why are you saying that like I’ll never see you again?
Me: I’m sure I’ll see you around.
I’m not that woman who is going to keep seeing a guy knowing we want completely different things in life. What was going to do? Keep moving forward and hope and pray he changes his mind? Um… No! When a man tells you who he is, you have to believe him.
We finished our drinks. The silence was deafening. AND we had to drive ALL the way back to the valley. That was the longest 40 minute drive of my life. He walked me to my door. I took my final look at “Barry” gave him a hug and closed the door. I took a deep breath and a sunk to the floor and had myself a good cry. Not because I had fallen in love with him or even in a deep like with him. I had no idea if he and I even had a future. The shallow part of me was never attracted to his big ass over grown stomach. He was a 45 year old man that needed to go to the gym and go on a diet immediately! But I managed to get over that. At times he even came off a little cheap. This issue was slowly actually rapidly beginning to annoy me. There’s nothing worse than a stingy man! I cried because I was so frustrated! How many more disappointments did I have to go through? What if it didn’t happen for me? Was I destined to be one of those women with a great career and social life who ended up alone? Did I need to brace myself and begin to accept that love might not happen for me. And even worse yet, babies might not happen either?! I was enjoying my life. If I was completely honest with myself I wasn’t ready for a kid. Just a few weeks ago I went to my god daughter’s volleyball game after work. After stressing out and breaking several traffic laws to get there on time, cheering her on, and then taking her out to dinner afterwards. By the time I got home, I passed out. Not my usual wine induced pass out but I was genuinely and naturally exhausted. I thought to myself, “Shit, how in the fuck did my mother do this? And she had 3 kids and was doing it on her own.” I found a whole new appreciation for her and other mothers of the world. When did I become that poster child for the 35+ woman whose biological clock was ticking when I hadn’t even purchased the clock yet alone set the alarm?! What the fuck was happening? My cry was from pure and utter frustration. Thank God I didn’t sleep with “Barry.” That could have really clouded my judgment especially if the sex resulted in a great orgasm! I might have been like, “Kids are overrated!” Okay I digressed…
By the time Friday rolled around not only did I have the black cloud still hanging over me but I felt like I was slowly descending into a deep hole! I was in a funk of all funks and I wasn’t quite sure how to shake it. And it was NOT over “Barry” it was life in general. Was this the best it was gonna get? Was this my future? The last time I was feeling like this was around my 25th birthday when I went through a quarter life crisis. So I did what I did then. I resorted to my favorite show of all time Sex and the City. I had the full DVD set. So I could watch every single season. It always seemed to get me out of my funk before. And that’s exactly what I did for the entire weekend. I had just gone to the Bev Mo five cent wine sale. My wine storage and fridge was full of great wines. I was experimenting with various recipes and settled on eggplant parmesan. And I sat on my couch and watched Sex and the City for the entire weekend. I laughed, I cringed, and I reminisced. And by the time I got to Season 6 when Charlotte went through her divorce. I had a MAJOR “Ah….Shit” moment. When I used to watch Sex and the City 10 years ago it was pure entertainment. It was a familiar yet foreign concept. I could relate to these women but at the same time I couldn’t. But as I watched Charlotte deal with her over bearing mother in law and Carrie Bradshaw debate whether to continue dating Alexander Protrovsky knowing he had a vasectomy and she was 38 years old without kids. I paused the DVD and reflected on my life. This show was no longer a foreign concept. I was their target demo… the 35+ single woman living in the city. I was the living and breathing black version of Sex and the City the only difference was I lived in LA. And Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda didn’t have the added text messaging etiquette and social media of dating aspect to over obsess over. But I watched it with a whole new set of eyes. And realized why this show never got old. These four women each had a piece of my heart.
Miranda- She was career driven and independent. When she was feeling insecure she dove in her work. After keeping a wall up for so many years she final allowed herself to give into Steve. She was no nonsense. I learned there’s nothing wrong with having drive for a great career. And not being afraid to just say what the fuck is on my mind without apologies.
Charlotte- The hopeless romantic. Also, if you really watch the show Charlotte was having more sex than everyone even Samantha. But she packaged it up to look like a relationship. She went through the devastation of living in a fantasy world when it came to dating and men and her divorce is what shook her into reality after dealing with an overbearing mother in law and a momma’s boy ex husband (can we say déjà vu?). But ultimately she never settled. Her second husband might have been short, overweight, and bald. But he could keep her in the lifestyle she was accustomed to and he adored her. She found her gift in a package she never expected.
Carrie- Carrie taught me so many things. And watching her now I could relate to her on so many levels. The most important thing I noticed after having my “Ah…Shit” moment was Carrie knew how to express what she was feeling. It didn’t always come out poetic and pretty. And she most certainly had her flaws. But I learned to just be upfront and let a man know how I felt no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.
Samantha- I learned the most from her. She showed me it is okay to be single and fabulous. Getting married and having children does not equate to happiness. Happiness comes from living life on your own terms and not apologizing for it. It was just what I needed at this time.
I know I ultimately would like to get married again and have children. But until it is right I realized I have to make myself okay with where I am in the journey right now. I have spent so many years trying to control my future and worry about the what-ifs. What if I never meet my true soul mate.. What if by the time I meet him I am too old to have children… What if I can’t have kids… What if I messed up a good thing.. what if this is as good as it gets? Instead… my “Ah…Shit” moment made once again realize I need to live in the here and the now. After all, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte ended up just fine. And yes, I am at the Sex and the City age. And it’s okay. I have had a journey of so many discoveries and learning who I really am. And damn it, my life is just as… if not even more fabulous the ladies of Sex and the City! I did a toast to the lessons and thanked them for once again being the sunshine that got rid of the dark cloud.
I’m baaack!!!! I have to apologize to my loyal readers. When I am on heavy business travel it gets a little difficult to post my blogs. You know what they say about excuses and I do not believe in using tools of incompetence. And I most certainly will not put up some random bullshit. I love y’all too much for that. So… I am still kind of seeing someone! Pause for reaction and gasps. Like I said before I haven’t liked someone consistently since 1932. And I am still sticking with keeping my guy a man of mystery. But I must say it has been an adjustment. I have spent so much time talking about shitty dates, crazy men, losers, freaks, disappointments, etc. It has been interesting to really enjoy someone and know the feeling is mutual. I was not expecting it. See, married people. That bullshit phrase that drives me and all single women nuts, ”You’ll find the man when you’re not looking,” has officially been proven to be utter condescending bullshit. What you should say to your single friends is, “Put yourself out there. You will not meet the right guy if you aren’t actively looking. It might be an unexpected surprise.” Do you see the difference? I just have such an issue with women who get in serious relationships and marriages and then get sudden amnesia of what it was like to be single. It drives me absolutely nuts!!! I really want to stress this point. Anyway… I digressed.
Being in this new… relationship (it’s scary to actually put that word in writing) definitely brings up a lot for me. The last time I really liked someone consistently I ended up marrying him and we know how that ended. So I find myself wanting to do things completely different this time. After going through the heartache and devastation of meeting someone and realizing that the person you fell in love with was not who they really were it takes time to learn to trust yourself again. And no, I am not being closed or guarded. I am acknowledging the feeling and allowing myself to feel it so I can address it and move on. Lots of times, we as women don’t allow ourselves to have a feeling because it seems wrong, we then hold it in, and from there disaster! But there are also those feelings of insecurity and craziness all women experience at the beginning of a new relationship. Is he going to call? When is he going to call? Does he really like me? Where the fuck is this going? Should I call him? He hasn’t responded to my text right away does that mean he doesn’t like me… Is he dating anyone else? Is he fucking anyone else? How soon is too soon to finally give him some? Once I do give him some will things change? Does he want a relationship? What is he thinking? Are we on the same page? It can be down right exhausting. You want to pull your hair out at the frustration sometimes! In my 20’s BM (before marriage) I would have these conversations with the dating experts…. My girlfriends (side eye). I love them but my goodness getting advice from your girls can drive you bat shit crazy if you’re not secure in your relationship. It will have you second guessing everything. One thing I have valued PD (post divorce) and now being a woman in my 30’s is my growth. I have been through the storm and have a heightened awareness of who I am, what I am looking for in a relationship, and I am unapologetic for it. Instead of going to my girlfriends to figure out what the hell is going on with my and the new guy I decided to do something completely different. I decided to go straight to the source. The Guy! What a concept! I was nervous as hell too. Because there was the possibility he would say something that would turn me off completely and our last few months of getting to know each other and courting and me letting my guard down would quickly turn into yet another post about yet another dating disaster. After another great date we were hanging out at my house and I had my issue of Essence magazine out on my coffee table. (Yes ladies, he does know about the blog and guess what he didn’t run away. He doesn’t read it yet… thank goodness). When The Bush Bitch was featured in the July issue of Essence magazine like any other proud published author I bought 20 copies of the magazine.
He ended up reading the excerpt. As I took a long swig of my wine it felt like it was taking him hours to read it. I felt… exposed. When people are reading your work you are vulnerable and completely exposed. It was a good sign when he chuckled a few times. Whew what a relief! Two things that was great about this small interaction. He liked my writing and he wasn’t freaked out by the idea that I write about relationships. Remember a few months back when I considered shutting down my site because I was worried that I would stay single forever because men would be afraid to date me? Remember those few folks that gave me advice never to tell a guy I am currently dating about my blog? I would like to take a second to give all of you naysayers a big “FUCK YOU!” Okay, I had to get that moment of childish behavior off my chest. I keep digressing! After he read the article and we got into an interesting conversation about relationships (which I will keep between the two of us) I was set up to have the conversation. Who knew my blog would be the perfect segway for a relationship conversation with a guy I am dating? Go figure! At this point I had nothing to lose. I took a deep breath as well as another sip of my “liquid courage” aka wine.
Me: So… I actually like you. I wasn’t expecting to like you. And I haven’t genuinely liked someone for a long time. But I want to be honest with you. I’m not into casual dating or casual sex and I am at a point in my life where I am—-
Guy: Dating with a Purpose.
Me: Exactly! And if you’re not on the same page that is completely fine and there are no hard feelings but I wouldn’t keep going out with you if we are not on the same page. I’m not saying I have a wedding gown in my purse, but I just want to make sure you know where I am coming from.
Guy: I hear you and yes we are on the same page.
In my mind I did the happy dance of relief. I also did a few cartwheels. But on the exterior I kept it cool, calm and collective.
Guy: I appreciate your honesty and clarity.
Me: And I appreciate you hearing me out.
That’s the only part of the conversation you nosey people are going to get. Again, because I like his guy I won’t be giving you the nitty gritty. After we had the conversation I was relived. Is this what it means to date like a grown woman? I was so used to playing games in my day or worrying myself trying to figure out what the hell these men were thinking half of the damn time. Little did I know all I had to do was go directly to the source and be honest. As women, how many times do we not have these open and honest conversations because we are terrified of what the guy will say? How many times do we drive ourselves crazy wondering if a man likes us? How many times do we play games to make sure the guy can’t figure out if we really like them or not? Or even worse, how many times have we slept with a man and had no clue where we stood with them and then attempted to have the conversation once the oxytocin is released and our feelings are all over the place? It was at that moment I promised myself I would be open and honest with relationships moving forward. We need to have pillow talk before our heads and other body parts hit the damn pillow! I can’t say I won’t have any emotional moments where my insecurities about being in a new relationship make me have major self doubts. I can’t say there won’t be moments when I am wondering what the hell these men are thinking. I can’t say there won’t be times where I call 4 different girlfriends trying to get advice and driving them crazy with my various scenarios. After all if we can’t do that with our girlfriends who can we do that with? I also can’t say I won’t have a few relapses of playing games about my feelings. After all we are all WIPs (works in progress). But what I can say is being open, honest, and daring to ask the questions that I need to know the answers to is certainly the way to go. My goodness, imagine if I had started doing these simple things years ago. Oh well with age and experience come wisdom!
If you have been a loyal reader to my blog you know I have mastered the art of having ME time. Whether I am going to the beach, taking myself out for a nice meal, or spending an extra day on a business trip to explore a city, I have it down to a science. But what I haven’t mastered is the art of down time at my house. I am not referring to when I am having a lazy day in my bed watching Lifetime Movie Network and Bravo and I am not talking about when I am organizing my closets and unpacking from another road trip. I am talking about down time when I am left in the four walls of my own home and left to my own devices aka my own thoughts.
Recently I connected with a special someone. As you know when I am into someone and currently dating them I do not go into detail. I keep my shit private… Well you know what I mean. LOL! But what I will say is the man I am kind of seeing is definitely an unexpected surprise the shit kind of snuck up on me. It has taken me by complete surprise. I haven’t been excited and/or looking forward to hearing and seeing someone consistently since 1932. All jokes aside, I really can’t remember the last time I was consistently excited about someone. Well actually that’s not true. I do remember the last time I was consistently excited about someone and I ended up marrying him and then going through a VERY painful divorce. That’s what is scaring the shit out of me. All this time, it’s been easy to talk about the shitty dates, the disappointments, and enjoying my singledom. But what is more terrifying is the possibility of something that makes sense. I had no idea how petrified I was until I went to my close girlfriends house for a Friday Happy Hour. Every woman should have a girlfriend who all you do is go over to each other’s homes make a nice appetizer spread, drink some great wine, and catch up on reality TV. My girlfriend and I had done this for years. We literally watched reality TV through our dating experiences, my engagement, my wedding, my divorce, and her engagement. It’s funny, we could name each reality show we watched during each period of our lives (don’t judge me, reality TV is my escape). Anyway… I digressed. Her fiancée was now a regular at our girl’s night. He would sit with us and gossip. How we got on the topic of my divorce I do not know. Perhaps it was the bottles of wine we were consuming for the last 3 hours. As my girlfriend opened up the 3 rd bottle of Sincera Red Zinfandel her fiancée got serious for a second.
Girlfriend’s Fiancée: Real talk… How long did it take you to get over your ex.
That was the second time in the last week I had been asked that question. I had met up with a girlfriend of mine who was in the beginning stages of her divorce. And she asked me the same question. And I was honest with her. I was no longer embarrassed to tell people the honest to God truth and I wasn’t willing to give her some sappy answer. So I told him exactly what I my girlfriend earlier in the week.
Me: To be honest, it took me a good 3 years.
Girlfriend’s Fiancée: Really? Wow, you really loved that dude.
Me: Yeah. I really did. I wish I could sit here and tell you different but it really wasn’t until 3 years that I got to a place of indifference where I really and truly didn’t give a fuck. When I got married I did it until death did we part, through good times and bad, in sickness and health. I had no idea he wasn’t along for the same ride. But I am so thankful for what the experience taught me.
Girlfriend’s Fiancée: That’s real talk sis.
There was once a time when I would pretend to the public that I was over the divorce but when I got within the walls of my home it was a different story. There was once a time when the walls of my home were the only place where I felt comfortable enough to break down. It was truly my Oasis. But as I got stronger I think I avoided being within these walls and constantly keeping my mind pre-occupied because it was a constant reminder of when I was at my lowest and weakest point. Once again the old me and the present me had to find a way to co-exist in my home. I no longer needed to be out and about to create a certain amount of happiness. It was right here within these walls. I no longer had the need to pre-occupy myself with various “to-do” items in order to keep my mind off of the times when I would sit on my couch and cry until the tears no longer could flow. I was now a happy, single woman who was currently experiencing the possibility of a situation that might make sense. One thing this home had not experienced just yet was me in love and in a happy relationship with someone. I had no idea what that looked like at this point in my life. What would the walls of this home look like as I created new memories with someone who I truly loved and cared about?
It’s interesting. When you go through a really shitty break-up or divorce it’s hard to imagine yourself in love again. There is this terrifying feeling of being hurt again. I am not talking about carrying baggage and not allowing you to be open to the possibility of a new relationship. I am talking about visualizing yourself in that new relationship as the person you are now. Whether or not this possibility turns into something I realized I needed to sit in my home and let things be. Visualize what it means to fall in love as the woman I am today with all the lessons I have learned post divorce. So that’s what I did. I put on some Pat Methany, poured myself a glass of wine and I sat unoccupied and imagined me the serial dater…. In Love and happy. And guess what, it wasn’t so damn bad. I welcome the experience. Perhaps I will spend more time within these walls that have guided me through hurt, pain and devastation, and allow transformed walls to lead me into love, continued growth, and happiness. These walls were certainly talking to me and I was listening. What a great transformation…. Woosa…
I was holding onto 35 like a baby with a pacifier. I didn’t want to let it go. How could I top 35? This was my year of complete self discovery. This was the year when I finally found me and unapologetically embraced me. Not to mention, there is something very complete about being an age where it can be divided evenly into 5. Living in LA there is a thing as ageism more so than anywhere in the country. Women start getting Botox at the age of 25 (myself NOT included for the record… no judgment though). I was having a debate with a co-worker of mine about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. When men hear of women wanting more money in divorce settlements they suddenly freak out. A side bar, most of the high level executives I know are married to “Stay at home” moms. These are women that they met a Brown, Harvard, Berkley, Stanford who in addition to getting their BA’s they got the MRS. And those prestigious high pedigree degrees are now being used to take kids to soccer practice, change shitty diapers, and pick out the best color to paint the living room walls. I think any thought of a divorce and their housewives getting half of their fortune sends most men into a panic attack. We got into a heated debate.
Coworker: Why does she deserve half of his earnings?
Me: He was a nobody before they met. She put him on the map!
Co-Worker: What was the last successful movie Demi Moore did?
Me: That’s not the point. Before he met her he was just on “That 70’s Show” and had just started “Punked.” Once they met and married his career blew up. Trust me he wouldn’t be where he is now without her.
Co-Worker: Demi needs to chill out. Besides she’s over 35. It all goes downhill from there! Good luck finding a guy to date when a woman hits post 35!
I laughed along with the co-worker to prevent myself from running out of the room and jumping off the ledge. I blew off his comment on the outside but in the inside I was de-fucking-flated! Was this what I had to look forward to at 36? Was I officially yesterday’s news and now relegated to the senior special side of the menu? Should I send a request to AARP for an early bird membership?
I went home that evening and did a long extended facial mask. When I rinsed it off I looked at myself in the mirror. I still had it going on. My teeth were gleaming white; my skin had a youthful glow to it. My Botox free face was didn’t have any wrinkles. My breasts were still perky (maybe not 26 year old perky) but damn it I could still go braless and have confidence and my regular gym routine had me secure with going to Martha’s Vineyard for my annual family trip the following week and rocking my brand new overpriced bikini (how can something with so little material be so damn expensive?)
But as August 6th was fast approaching I had this heavy cloud hanging over me. And the crazy thing about this shit was my friends who are in their 40’s are all so damn fierce and fabulous. I truly looked up to them. So why was I suddenly scared… no actually, the proper feeling would be petrified that I was turning 36 a.k.a 4 years from 40. There was an evil choir that was singing in my head similar to in A Christmas Story how they sang “You’ll shoot your eye out.” That same choir was singing in the same tune, “4 years from 40… 4 years from 40… 4 years from 40…”
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me. I had a full life. I have a great family that loves me unconditionally. Recently, my mother had successfully come through a health scare and got the thumbs up from her doctors that she was okay. My various circles of friends were inspirational and had my back, my career was blossoming, and my love life was full. I was currently experiencing some dating highs and allowing myself to enjoy being single while opening myself to the possibility of love. What was causing me to freak out? Why was 36 such a daunting number? In other words, what the fuck was my problem?!
The timing for the annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t have come at a better time. My family and I have gone to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for the last 12 years. It is a place that is so magical to me. The beauty of Martha’s Vineyard is seeing all the families out and about together. You see generations and families of all ages. I loved lying out at the Inkwell and seeing couples with the cutest kids. You see these masculine men building sand castles with their young toddlers and mothers showing their sons how to fly a kite. It’s really one of the most magical places on the planet for me. It’s also a place where I can go and be me. No makeup, no heels, just the authentic me. I wake up in the morning and watch the sunset and in the evenings we head out to Menemsha and watch the sunset as a family as we eat lobster and clam chowder. Our last evening in the Vineyard we were invited to one of my mother’s friends homes for dinner. I had the privilege of meeting her teenage daughter and her friends. They were beautiful, energetic girls who were about to start their freshman year of high school. They had so many ambitions and dreams. They had a style to them that was fresh and classic. They reminded me of… me 20+ years ago. As I sat and listened to them talk about starting high school and boys and the latest teen craze Lana Del Ray and One Direction (they were keeping my ass relevant). I smiled. I remembered those days. Those days when you felt like you had your whole life ahead of you. Those days when there were endless possibilities and you dreamed big and didn’t worry about failing. As I gave them advice about being a COM (creature of mystery) in high school and not being a fast ass they then started asking me about me. When I told them I lived in LA they all gasped in delight in unison.
Teenagers: LA! You live there. Oh my goodness that’s so cool. Do you see movie stars?
Me: All the time. Miley Cyrus goes to my grocery store.
Teenager Girl: No way! That is so cool!!!! Wow you rock!
Teenage Girl: Yeah! I want to move to LA one day!
Me: I love it there. I was your age when I knew I wanted to live there.
Teenage Girl: Can I give you my number so we can keep in touch?
Teenage Girl: When do you leave the vineyard?
Me: Tomorrow. Back to reality for me.
Teenage Girl: What a great reality! I want your reality.
Teenage Girl: Yeah! You have an awesome life! Way cool!
Me: (long pause) You know what…. You’re actually right. Thank you!
Teenage Girl: For what?
Me: Just for being you…
It’s amazing that it took three 14 year old girls to snap me out my birthday slump. Here I was feeling all down and out because I was about to be four years away from 40. I wasn’t allowing myself to appreciate where I was and how far I had come. When I returned to LA I went into my storage closet and pulled out my old journals (yes I have been journaling since I was a kid and I have kept most of my journals). I turned to my journal entry from when I turned 15. I had listed all the things I wanted in life.
1- Move to LA
2- Become Famous
3- Marry Grant Hill, Larry Johnson, or Scottie Pipen
4- Have Kids
5- Drive a convertible
I had accomplished all that I wanted so far. Granted my marriage didn’t last and Tamia got to Grant Hill before I had a chance. I hadn’t had my kids yet. But all in all I was living the life that I wanted. I always knew I would move to LA. I always knew I was going to have a great life. When I was in my birthday slump I decided I was going to spend August 6th by myself at the spa and go home and meditate and have a birthday cupcake by myself. My girlfriend was not having that shit. She texted me the day before my birthday:
Girlfriend: When are you coming home and what are we doing for your bday?
Me: Probably nothing. I’m not feeling this bday at all!
Girlfriend: SMH. Well forget about it. Something is in the works. Have yourself together tomorrow at 7:45. You can’t refuse so just deal with it and shut up!
Me: LOL! Okay party planner.
Girlfriend: It will be fun. It’s all been worked out. Whatever you’re sad about just know that a lot of people love and care about you and can’t wait to see your ass Tuesday night!
The next day came… August 6th. My 36th birthday. I got out of bed and I felt slightly rejuvenated. It was a brand new day, the sun was shining. I headed over to Fig and Olive and had a great birthday lunch then I spent the next few hours at the spa. By the time my girlfriend picked me up that evening at 8 pm. I was feeling really good. I felt at peace and relaxed. When I walked into the back room of Xen Lounge and saw the smiling faces of my close girlfriends. I smiled. I felt such an overwhelming amount of love. There in front of me were my closest friends from college all the way to my recent sisters that I bounded with and they were all there to celebrate with me. I was beyond happy and felt an overwhelming sense of love. As I blew out my birthday candle I thought about those three teenage girls I met in Martha’s Vineyard. They probably have no idea how much they touched my life. I thought about them and I made my wish. I wished that when they turned 36 they would feel the same amount of love I felt in that room. I prayed that they would evolve into great young women and would learn some of the lessons I learned in the last few years earlier and not the hard way. But most of all I wished that they would never lose their sense of adventure and hopefulness. I also thanked God that he brought those three angles into my life at that time. It is so easy to forget about how far you’ve come when you are so focused on where you want to go and why you haven’t gotten there on your time. As I begin this next year of my life I am finally going to learn how to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the end result. When I opened my eyes I was confident that all of my wishes were going to come true. I am 36, four years away from 40 and absolutely fabulous!
* Since I am on vacation this week, I am bringing you 3 posts in one! I’ll be back next week with more Confessions. But I figured this one will tie you over until then. This is a long one so enjoy it!!!
I think every woman dreams of the day when they can run into a guy that did them dirty and have a “Look at me now moment.” Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
2000 was one of the toughest years of my life. My brother had passed (not ready to go into details on that). I was 23 years old and in a very vulnerable state. Enter “Kyle,” “Kyle” was a 28 year old up and coming photographer I met at a gallery opening. He was experiencing a career high. His latest exhibition had opened to critical acclaimed. He was pegged “The Next Gordon Parks.” “Kyle” was originally from Indiana. He and his college friends had made the move from the mid west to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams. Nearly 3 years after moving to LA he was on the rise. When we met in the crowded Downtown LA Gallery I felt like I was in the scene from West Side Story where Maria and Tony laid eyes on each other and suddenly there was no one else in the room.
“Kyle” and I had the best conversation. His creative mind was so intense. He was brilliant and his photography made a statement about the world. It felt like I was tapping into his inner being as I looked at his photography. I have always connected with artist and photographers. As a matter of fact when I need to clear my head, I will go to an art museum and lose myself in the world of art. “Kyle” and I made plans to hang out the next day. At the time he and his college friends were sharing a car. Let me explain that in greater detail. 4 grown ass men were sharing 1 damn car in Southern California. Not New York City where you can get away without having a car because there is great public transportation system. Los Angeles was and still is a city where you absolutely MUST have a car. So “Kyle” gave me his address and I went to pick his grown ass up. Keep in mind; this is me as a young vulnerable (a.k.a stupid) 23 year old. Back in the day before I Had truly found my stride and wanted to make sure I “made” “Kyle” like me by being accommodating. LMAO! Growth is a beautiful thing. When I got to his home in the middle of the HOOD I was scared to get out of my car. This man lived in the for sure for sure HOOD (The Jungle) and that’s with a capital H. Yes I am from New Jersey and yes I have a smart ass mouth. But I grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, the beautiful suburbs. I used to apologize for being bourgeois. Now I embrace and own up to it. As I got out of my car I bee lined to his door and knocked. As I waited for him to answer the door, I prayed, “Lord Jesus please let this man hurry up and answer the door before gun shots are fired. I am too young to die. My obituary cannot say I died in The Jungle. That’s not the legacy I want to leave behind. I want to live!!!!” As usual the Lord is always on time! “Kyle” answered the door and invited me in. It was a small apartment. It had a lot of African Wooden sculptures of naked women with pointy breasts, lots of black and white photography (unframed hung on the wall by thumbnails), the typical bachelor pad black leather (or perhaps pleather) couches and glass coffee tables. His 3 college roommates were sitting on the couch watching a basketball game eating Cheetos and drinking Heinekens. “Kyle” gave me a hug and invited me in.
Kyle: You remember my roommates.
In my mind I heard the record screech to a halt. Did he say, “roommates, with an S?
Me: Which one is your roommate?
Kyle: Both of them. Did you want a beer?
Me: No. I’ll take a glass of wine. (even back then I loved my wine)
Kyle: We all live here together.
I looked around the apartment and I only saw one bedroom. How in the world did 3 big ass grown men live in a one bedroom apartment? As I pondered this question “Kyle” came back into the room and handed me a glass of… White Zinfandel. WTF? He had to be kidding me. White Zinfandel. I might have been a 23 year fool but even at that age I knew White Zinfindel was comparable to drinking Boone’s Farm. But I really really liked “Kyle” so I decided to be a good sport and chill out.
Me: So what did you want to do?
Kyle: I figured we could hang out here and watch the game.
Me: Ummmmm… okay.
So I sat there for 2 hours on his pleather couch watching a fucking basketball game. Did I mention how much I hated basketball? Did I mention the White Zinfandel was stale? Picture me on the couch in between 3 rowdy guys watching a Laker game. After the game ended “Kyle” walked me to my car.
Kyle: I had a great time with you. I like how you can just kick it and hang out. You’re so different from these bourgeois LA girls.
Kyle: Can we hang out again?
There goes that word. “Hang out.” I still liked him but I had a slight attitude. I didn’t want to cuss him out just yet. This was before the baggage. This is when I still had hope and looked at the silver lining.
Me: We can. But next time I would like for us to go out somewhere.
Kyle: That’s cool, kid.
“Kid.” WTF? Who was he calling kid? Did that mean he was looking at me as a friend? Talk about confused. “Kyle” and I made plans to go out to days later. Lucky for me it also happened to be a day when he had the car. He picked me up and before we reached the restaurant he stopped at the ATM machine. He was there for a few minutes. It was taking him unusually long. He started making his way back to the car. He had his hands in his pockets and his great posture he had when he walked to the ATM was replaced with slouched over shoulders. He got in the car. Took a deep breath and said.
Kyle: We have a problem.
Me: What’s wrong?
Kyle: I can’t access my account.
Me: That is a major problem.
Kyle: I was really looking forward to us going to hear the spoken poetry at my spot. (Back in 2000 spoke poetry was VERY popular)
Me: Don’t worry about it, let’s just go and I’ll get us a round of drinks.
My inner loving Diva that guides me through my love life now wasn’t awakened until I hit my 30’s. Back then I didn’t have her to shake me back into reality. What the hell was I thinking? I barely had two nickels to rub together at that time and here I was taking a grown ass man out for drinks?! So “Kyle” and I headed to the spoken word spot that was in Leimert Park (not one of my favorite spots in LA even to this day… don’t judge me, but I much prefer going to Beverly Hills or Manhattan Beach.. just sayin’). “Kyle” had no problem throwing back a few rounds of drinks that I bought! Back then, being a young fool, I saw so much “potential” in “Kyle.” I looked at him as the photographer that would change the world. We still had great conversation… so I thought. Looking back on it I don’t remember anything about the conversation. At that time, I think I needed a hole to be filled. Then I thought meeting the right man and falling in love would fill that hole. Of course now I am fully aware the only person that can fill the void in your life is you. In addition to paying for our dates I did every single stupid thing that a young girl would do to “make” a guy like me. Ultimately, “Kyle” stopped returning my phone calls (this was prior to the text messaging days). I even called from a friend’s house and he actually answered the phone because he didn’t recognize the number! I felt like a damn fool!
I ended up going out to Reign (THE hot spot back in the day in LA before Keyshawn Johnson sold it in order to have to pay less in alimony when he and his wife got divorced). My girlfriends were trying to cheer me up. I had never been dissed like that before. “Kyle” dissed my ass! Big time! I was hurt, devastated, and mad. After throwing back quite a few cocktails. I noticed my girlfriends face lose color.
Me: What’s wrong?
Girlfriend: Oh….. Nothing. Guuurl, we should get outta here….
She attempted to pick up my stuff and scurry out. That’s when I realized her eyes kept looking over my head. I turned around and there was “Kyle” sitting at a table holding hands and locking eyes with another woman. The waiter had come to the table to give him the bill and he quickly reached for it and put his credit card in the bill envelope. I was LIVID!!! I literally saw red.
Girlfriend: Monique, do not give him the power. Do not cause a scene. Let’s just go.
Me: Go, but I am having such a great time. We are going to stay here and order another drink.
With that I signaled to the bartender and ordered another cocktail. My girlfriend was nervous as shit. I think the sense of calm that came over me scared her because I was normally such a firecracker. I waited for my signal and it finally came two more drinks later. I saw “Kyle” go to the bathroom. I applied a fresh coat of lip gloss and I made my way to the restroom area when I realized his date was waiting for him at the table. Even back then, I had the theory of never approaching the other woman. First of all it makes you look crazy and it’s not the other woman’s fault that the man she is out with is a complete and total asshole. “Kyle” came out of the restroom and when he saw me he looked like a deer in headlights.
Me: Hello Kyle.
Kyle: Ummmm…. Monique… uh.. Hello… how are you, kid?
Me: If you picked up the phone to answer my calls you would know. (I didn’t realize how tipsy I was until I felt like my words weren’t coming out of my mouth as fast as they were rolling around in my brain. Not to mention when he called me “kid” again it certainly hit a nerve)
Kyle: I’ve been busy…
Me: I see. I also see you have gotten a bigger paycheck and can afford to pay for dates now. You cheap, broke ass fuck! (that certainly wasn’t the sophisticated line I had practiced in my head when I Was walking over to confront him)
Kyle: What do you want from me, kid?
Me: I don’t want shit from you! You could have been a man and been honest instead of avoiding my calls.
Kyle: I figured you’d get the hint.
Me: Oh I did.
Kyle: So why are you sweating me?
Me: Nobody is sweating your broke tired ass. I’m glad you had the car so you could actually pick up your date. (there was really no rhyme or reason to my 23 year old ass going off on this man. Looking back on it I looked a total jack ass myself. But in my mind I was going to get this man told!)
Kyle: Have a nice night kid.
Kyle started to walk off. And me needing to get the last and final parting blow and being tipsy and 23 yelled back at him.
Me: By the way your photography sucks!
Oh yeah! I showed him I was the shit. LOL! More like a big dumb shit. I always looked back on “Kyle” with absolute disdain and horror. I would have nightmares for months to follow after that outburst and wake up and re-run what I should have said and how I should have said it. There were times I would pray to run into him and say, “Look at me now.” I would play various scenarios in my mind of what I would say when I ran into him again and what I would do. When the run in did not happen it eventually faded off into my mind as a bad memory that I grew from.
Fast forward to present time. 13 years later. 13 years of growth. 13 years of bad dates, a bad marriage, a shitty divorce, and the rediscovery of ME. 13 years of finding out who I was and discovering an inner strength I had no idea existed. 13 years of the evolution of ME. 13 years of realizing and recognizing my growth. 13 years of loving myself more than anyone else possibly could. 13 years of knowing exactly what I wanted and not apologizing for it or reasoning with myself why I didn’t deserve to have it. 13 years… I had finally reached my stride and become a true, bonafide, unapologetic WOMAN.
A few months ago I was at a networking mixer for work. I had been none of the organizers of the event. It was one of the typical Hollywood executive power mixers. I was wearing my purple DVF power dress and some killer heels. I was working the room making introductions, hugging people I knew, and really having a good time. It was coming towards the end of the evening and the event was finally winding down. This meant I was finally ready to have my first glass of wine. I have a rule of thumb, at work events I do not have more than one glass of wine and I typically wait until the end of event. Anyway I digressed… As I walked over to the bar there was… “Kyle.” The long dreadlocks had been cut off and he was now sporting a neat fade. His bohemian chic attire was now replaced with a sports jacket, matching slacks and no tie. He turned around and spotted me. He did a triple take. You know those moments when someone sees you and is trying to place where they know you from. How funny, here was a bastard who had taught me one of the most profound and hurtful lessons (outside of my ex husband) only 13 years ago and this motherfucker couldn’t even remember me. I wanted to take my 6 inch Jimmy Choo and poke his eye out but I remembered I was at a work event. Not to mention my inner loving diva slowly relaxed me, “You’re no longer the “kid” he used to call you. You’re now a grown ass woman. You finally get the proper closure.” With that I took a deep breath and smiled at him. That’s when it clicked. He realized who I was. I walked up to “Kyle.”
Me: Well what a blast from the past. Hello “Kyle.”
Kyle: Wow. I can’t believe my yes. You’re all grown up.
Me: Yes I am.
Kyle: You look great.
Me: Thank you. (I didn’t feel the need to return the compliment. I hadn’t evolved that damn much.)
Kyle: How have you been?
Me: Wonderful. Yourself?
Kyle: I’ve been good. What are you doing these days?
I told him that I was now an executive at a studio and told him a little about my job. I kept it brief and very professional.
Me: Good seeing you Kyle.
I started to walk off. Kyle practically ran to me and handed me a card.
Kyle: Here’s my card. Please let me take you out to dinner so we can catch up.
Me: That’s not necessary. Like I said, it was great seeing you.
Kyle: Listen, I know I wasn’t right back in the day and I hope we can move past that.
ME: That’s water under the bridge. We were both young and I was wide open then. But I must thank you for the lesson you taught me. You truly changed my perspective on dating and how I approached things moving forward and for that I am so grateful.
Kyle: I was fucked up.
Me: Yeah you were. You were a true bonafide asshole. But again, that was so long ago and I have moved past that.
Kyle: I look forward to hearing from you. Do you have a card on you?
ME: No I ran out. I’ll call you.
With that, I gave “Kyle” a kiss on the cheek and strutted off. As I left the restaurant I looked at his card and threw that shit out. Of course I wasn’t going to call that bastard. Yes I had moved past it and I had evolved but I had no intention of reconnecting with a man who had already shown me who he was. I opened up my purse and looked for the valet ticket. It was in between a stack full of my business cards I had brought with me to pass out at the networking event. There was no way in hell I was about to waste a card on his ass either.
When I got in my car I suddenly started cracking up. Not just little giggles either. I had a case of uncontrollable laughter. I laughed at the woman I was and the silly mistakes I made and the dumb shit I did in the name of love. I laughed at how life is truly a series of full circle moments. And if you don’t truly allow yourself to live in the moment and be perceptive to life’s little and big lessons it will pass you by. Talk about Boomerang! There were so many times I wished I could run into “Kyle” and give him a piece of my mind and say “Ha-ha look at me now.” I even have those moments with my ex husband where I would love to run into his ass and scream on top of a mountain, “YOU DID NOT BREAK ME!!!” I realize in life things happen when they are supposed to happen. They do not happen on your on time, they happen at the right time. Who knows if I will ever have a run in with my ex or if I will have another run in with a dumb ass I have dated in the past. But I can say with full confidence whatever happens I am ready.
I am FINALLY back home in LA. Oh LA how I love thee. I hadn’t been in my own bed for almost 3 weeks. I always say LA has a way of welcoming me back home with open arms. When I walked outside of LAX the beautiful non humid weather greeted me. As I opened the door to my home, I felt such a sense of peace and calm. When I finally got in my bed… my oasis, I drifted off into a deep uninterrupted sleep. But something interesting happened while I was back east. And I will have to be a little vague. Anyone who reads my blog on the regular basis knows my general rule of thumb; I do not go into detail about a guy I really like and am currently dating. But I am going to break my rule… slightly. While back east I reconnected with someone from my past (that’s all you’re getting). It’s been a while since I have gone out with someone that a) I really like and b) am looking forward to the possibility and c) makes some damn sense! I never want this blog to come off as a Bitter Woman rant because that’s not me. I believe in love. I believe in happy ever after and I truly believe there are good men out there. So I want to make sure I address the good dates as well as the bad dates. I also do not consider myself a dating expert. All I can do is tell you my stories and maybe you learn something from it and/or you’re entertained.
Fast forward to present time. Going out with this guy really had me taking a look at myself and how I date. Since it’s been a while since I have been out with someone that I genuinely like and the feeling is mutual and reciprocated this man really had me looking at myself and how I date. So here’s what I discovered:
Allow the man to be the man…
When we initially made plans to hang out it was raining heavily. I really didn’t feel like driving with all the crazy Jersey drivers. If you think LA folks can’t drive, in Jersey it’s coupled with non driving fools with major attitudes. And East coast rain is so different than west coast rain. It’s violent and has an agenda to fuck up your day. Whereas, LA rain is just about giving the flowers and the grass some extra sheen. So I sent the “Mystery Man” a text:
Me: What’s up with this weather? Did you still want to meet tonight given the monsoon that occurring outside?
Mystery Man: I can pick you up that way I can assure a safe return.
Wow! This man lived a good 30-40 minutes away from me. I didn’t want him to go out of his way. At first I was going to tell him not to worry I would meet him in the city. But then my Inner Loving Diva shook some sense into me and said, Um… Bitch! YOU always say how you want a man to court you. This man is offering to pick you up. Let him court you and be the man. Besides you already know him so it’s not like he’s some sort of sociopath! And that’s just what I did. I texted him my address, he picked me up, and we headed off to the city. This man opened doors for me, pulled out the chair, AND he made it a point to walk on the outside of the sidewalk. These are all things a man should do. These are actually things we should EXPECT a man to do. But sometimes either a) they man has no sense and doesn’t realize that’s what he’s supposed to do or b) we don’t allow him to do it. I know I am not the only woman who has made things easy on a guy at times, just so I don’t come off as being “too high maintenance” or I don’t want to “inconvenience” him. Well damn it, I AM high maintenance (with good reason) and when a man is offering to go out of his way for you… damn it let him. If you decide not to, don’t tell me there aren’t good men out there who do not know how to court.
Date your friend…
There’s something to be said about going out with a man who is really your friend. It makes things effortless. Now let me reiterate. I am NOT saying you should date a man who is your friend, who you aren’t attracted to, and settle. However, if there is a mutual attraction. Go for it. I have known this guy for quite a while. I have no idea where this thing is going and I plan on taking me time to figure the shit out so if for some reason it doesn’t work out we can still be friends. But there is something refreshing in sending a man a text and not having to worry about if I am sending it too soon or am I doing too much. There’s something nice about having a history with someone too and being able to relate to each other on so many different levels. We just get it.
Date like you did in college…
This does not mean to take me out to the Olive Garden or another college budget type spot. But remember before dating was complicated and you had all that baggage? Remember the innocence? Remember just going for shit without thinking too much about it? Remember not overanalyzing shit? Remember the times before your heart was broken? Before the broken engagements, the divorces, the custody battles? Remember the time when you just dated from the heart and whatever happened? Let’s go back to the age of innocence. I admit there have been times where I have let my hurt and heartache from the past dictate how I dated in the present time. What if we just lived in the moment? What if we took things as is and didn’t overanalyze shit? Do you think you would have a more successful time dating? Do you think you would give a brotha a chance before you were so quick to cut him off? What if we dated a man and didn’t write him off before the story even began? What would happen?
Ask the questions that you might not want to hear the answers to…
Sometimes you’ll be surprised by the answer you get and the honesty. If you are dating a guy who lives long distance. Ask him how he feels about long distance relationships. If you’re dating a guy who is 40+ and has never been married ask him why? Sometimes we are so afraid of being let down we choose to stay in the dark just so we can enjoy a few moments happiness. I have been guilty of this in the past. At this point in my life there are things I need to know before I move forward. And there are times where the answer will surprise you and give you hope that maybe, just maybe, this might go somewhere. When two people come into a situation with an honest and open heart the sky’s the limit.
Figure it out on your own…
Girlfriends…. We love them. They love us. But damn it, sometimes they can make you second guess a lot of shit, especially in the beginning of a new relationship. I love my friends. But I need to figure this shit out on my own first. When I decide to tell them what the deal is it will be when I am clear on where this is going so I do not let their opinions dictate my actions. This doesn’t mean I don’t tell them about the dates or my excitement. But I want to go along with this on my own. I think dating like a grown ass woman means having clarity on your own. One of the things I have learned is, you can pour your heart and soul out to some people and they will give you tons of advice but when the shoe is on the other foot they do shit completely different and your left thinking, What the fuck?! I’m doing shit my way moving forward. There are a select few girlfriends in my life that I know I can go to them and they will give me the unbiased advice.
Don’t wait for the other shoe to drop…
My goodness…. After all the years of disappointments and heartache, how often do you go into a new experience waiting for the guy to fuck up? What would happen if the man is innocent until proven guilty? Better yet, what would happen if you didn’t even wait for the guilty verdict. Why can’t we allow ourselves to enjoy the beginning of a new possibility? Do you know how many people miss out on the beauty of the beginning of a new relationship because they are so terrified of getting hurt? STOP!
Like I said earlier, I have no idea where this thing is going. Perhaps it is the past few months of really enjoying my singledom I have a new clarity and perspective. I have been forced to look in the mirror. So many times we are quick to blame the guy for relationship failure and your own insecurities. Now is the time to take a look at yourself and figure out what you are doing to fuck things up before it even starts. Not in a mean and judgmental way but becoming acutely aware of it so you can make adjustments when you find yourself falling into that trap. Ask yourself: Mirror… Mirror on the wall… Who lets relationship bullshit make a relationship fall? And allow yourself to learn from it so you can answer the mirror and say: I did but not anymore.
©Monique Kelley and Confessions of A Serial Dater In LA, 2013-2018 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Monique Kelley and Confessions of A Serial Dater In LA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Copying my posts and changing some of the words is still plagiarism.