This post is long and late. It almost didn’t happen, actually. I was supposed to be in New York City and, thus, this post was supposed to be about the glamorous grit of my favorite city in America and it was supposed to be written while I cozied up in my over-priced, midtown east hotel room. But, nooooo…. this, Queen bee0tch Irene checked ya girl. For real, for real. So, on Friday night I asked myself, “Self, does not being in your planned destination mean that you shouldn’t blog this weekend?” Myself replied just a few minutes ago, and said “Don’t let nobody block yo’ shine.” So, there! Irene – 0, Me – 1, and you all may, in fact, be the biggest losers of all. You all are stuck reading my free-writing on relationships. I apologize, in advance, because it’s sure to make no sense and have no point… Sorry.
Fact: I have no idea what a successful, amorous relationship looks like. But, I’m preaching matters of the ruptured heart, because that I know all too well. I spent the night of Irene’s DC debut downing Bota Box wine with my neighbor, watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, talking about failed relationships, dating in DC, online match making sites, and unrealistic expectations. I spoke to another friend on Friday about why she deserved better than the inconsistent and partial reciprocity she’s been getting from the love of her life. Before that, I spent days talking to a friend about his ex-girlfriend dependency gone awry, and why his ex kinda, sorta asked for the shiner she got from the new guy she’s seeing/sharing (read: silly hood rats get away with treating good guys like doormats and, when they deal with scum bags, the likelihood that keeping it real will go wrong increases exponentially- NO SYMPATHY!). And before that, I was at Georgetown Harbor chatting it up with friends about why men should pay for every meal & why I’m used to paying for meals; why men should always plan dates & why I pretty much have planned every date I’ve ever been on. The list continues, but it is far too embarrassing to share further. After we exhaled, my Bota Box partner sent me home with a prayer and her arsenal: Iyanla Vanzant’s In the Meantime and Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I’m a little scared to read the former. I spent all day reading the latter. And now I’m depressed.
First, I don’t know anything about men. Who are they? I get the idea that what they make and what they do, is defining, but I don’t get why that’s just a male characteristic. Trust me, I’ve worked harder, better, faster, stronger to get where I am academically and professionally than many of my peers – male or female. So, after 6 years, 2 ivy league degrees, 4 continents, 2 passports, countless fully armored vehicles, 300+ overtime hours of Blackberry harassment, and an impending 16% pay cut, I’ve earned my stripes. I appreciate a man’s hustle when it’s real and on point. But, in a ball busting contest on careers, I’m not backing down. I’ve been through them before, because most men hint that they won’t have a serious relationship with me unless I leave my job.
So, let me spell this out. Nice and C-L-E-A-R: for children, anything is possible. But, for a full grown, adult, partner, with all his faculties: I’m not compromising. I’m not stroking ‘neh body’s ego, if the ego is all he’s got. Either you’re doing your thing or you’re not. Don’t worry about me, cause I stay winning. I can bet you dollars to donuts that I’m not that worried about what you’re doing, if you’re doing something worth something. And if I’m not worried, I will make you a happy man. Support is one thing. But, if you’re not about yours, then frankly you’re not doing me any favors. So, explain, why do I have to fake it til’ you make it? I am not…wait for it…the one.
Second, I was born in the mid 80s. Hence, I caught the tail end of Jody Watley – not Joan Cleaver. I swear, until about December of last year, it never occurred to me to think about my partner as a provider for me. Our future, fictitious children? Yes. Me? Hell to the naw. What do I look like? I’ve worked since I was thirteen. When I started my own mag, I found a way to pay off 20Gs in start up costs in 5 years – while in college, full time. Point? I am Joan Clayton with Toni Childs’ never go back to Fresno (ahem: Newark) fund. I’m not never going to be without. The messages, subliminal and overt, I learned from childhood all screamed “don’t depend on any one for any thing, ever. For ever, ever? For ever, EVER!”
I went to a women’s college. I had boyfriends who weren’t complete douche bags. I mean… really… I thought I was doing ok, not being dependent on guys. Not asking for gifts, paying for meals, being as undemanding as possible – aside from asking for the freedom to be who I am. And, let’s be honest, who I am is not easy to put up with.
A mani, pedi, brow wax, brioche french toast, tall iced soy mocha, American Apparel leotard, 7 peanut butter cookies and 24 hours later, Steve Harvey’s Stacy Adams suit wearing self comes to tell me, I’m effed up in the game? DAMN DAMN DAYUM! So, how do I walk it back? How can I be so good at telling my friends about their really crappy relationships and I can’t see the more subtle, but definitely present, dead ends right in front of my face?
I haven’t been beaten or cheated on (to my knowledge), so I guess I’m ahead in some ways. But, do I really have to give a man the big piece of chicken to keep him around? I don’t eat meat. Do I really have to stop doing the adventurous things I love to do, because he can’t protect me while I’m doing them? I think bullet proof vests are heavy, but still kinda cool. More importantly, if I’m really in charge of setting the tone for the relationship, at what point am I supposed to hand over responsibility to him and let him ‘lead’ our family? Guide to transitions please!
When I read this book all I heard was (1) a guy likes a woman who has it all together before he meets her, and (2) he certainly expects that she’ll unravel all of that togetherness if she wants to keep him for life (togetherness exceptions include taking care of kids from a previous relationship and going to church, because everybody knows that everyone who reads Black relationship books must be god-fearing Christians – SMH!). So, what about the hard headed, worth every dime, loyal, adventurous, nurturing, creative, adaptable, value added woman who actually likes who she is, what she has, and wants a guy to up the ante, but really, honestly, truly, has always worn the pants and doesn’t know anything else? How do we, I mean – I, I mean – she, get to the place where I’m supposed to be part Beyonce, part Carol Brady, and part Whitney Houston (pre-crack), when in real life, I’m part Jazmine Sullivan, part Hillary Clinton, part Jada Pinkett-Smith and all me?
I get that these guides to relationships make sense when you’re so fatigued by love’s evil twin, douchebaggery, that you’re so desperate to find a valuable partner that you’re willing to disregard everything you believe about life and your valued place in it. I also get that my generation is in this weird in between place where women are supposed to be 21st century independent everywhere else but in their own homes where they go all early 20th with their partner. The recession means that my generation is full of highly indebted, late bloomers, so providing can be an issue and it has nothing to do with ambition. But, in DC, the majority of the single population is college educated and earning that contractor paper. The pool is large, but I’m a big girl and I swim in oceans.
Sometimes it’s dangerous, but it’s a big part of who I am: the woman who actually does the stuff she says she’s doing, goes to the places she says she’s going, and isn’t afraid to be her beautifully flawed human self. Nuff long talkin’… time for action! Where does my integrity come in? After I’m done stroking your ego and being someone I’m not, then will you love me for life? Steve? WTF? I’m confused…
The real point is that I, like everybody else, want to find a meaningful relationship. You know, the fairy tale that’s grounded in today’s realities. But, I don’t want to stop being who I am to get it. AND, if I’ve never really seen a successful marriage, is scouring the negative space around all of my friends’, family members’, and ancestors’ failed and infuriating relationships the only tactic I’ve got? You know, aside from Steve Harvey’s bible on successful boo-loving?
How is this supposed to work? When is it too late to start over? What if all this works, but I still think it’s a crock of crap? Am I too principled for my own good? Am I letting guys get away with too much? Do most guys cheat on their wives and then discover how to be good men? Are men really like children? If so, can I make mine go out back and get a switch when he acts up? My spirit is broken, my head hurts and I blame this all on Irene.