Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Revolution and Evolution

I failed to mention it, but I made a small road trip to Birmingham, Alabama a couple of weekends ago. I was amazed at the beauty that the state held. I didn't expect to see mountains. I went with a homeboy of mine and the conversation was amazing. My friend was a bit less adventurous than myself, but he was a good sport, humoring me with the random sidebars I continued to bring. At one point, on the way back, I pointed at the large, looming Bass Pro Shop and suggested we stop in. Like the champ he is, he came along.
While in there, we laughed and gawked at the taxidermied animals. I can't believe it, but it all made me miss Steve. I shared with my friend my experience with Steve and how I was seriously considering a walk down the aisle with dude, but I got sick of having to fight for him to give me the basic things I needed. Then further back down in our trip home, we passed Talledega where thousands of people were in the parking lot, camped out. We saw so many trailers and grills, all laid out. Again, it made me miss Steve. I kind of enjoyed his outdoorsy ways. I wanted so badly to stop on in and visit all of the tailgaters, but I knew I'd be out of my element. I missed Steve.

Truth be told, I still think of him on occasion. But a year was more than enough time for me to reconcile that how we operate doesn't mesh well. I came to see that he'd never do the things that I needed him to do. He thought it was cute and funny to continue to deny me simple things like dates. He thought it was hilarious to irritate the shit out of me by ignoring my wishes and calling me at ungodly hours to do things when he knew that I was unavailable. Laugh-fucking-riot. And then he ignored my wishes for the last time and dropped this huge armoire. Yeah, no. Steve and I ain't happening again.
During my moments of reflection, I began to think about Luke again. I know I was kind of harsh in my "cut him off!" post from earlier, but I just couldn't let it go. Not yet at least. The more I thought about it, the more I reflected that Luke has been the most healthy "relationship" that I've had. We were reciprocal and supportive. We laughed. I truly feel like we could be something more, with some real effort on both ends. I needed to know where his head was. So I called him and finally just asked in so many words what he wanted from me and what his expectations were. He admitted that he's still reeling from things with his wife, but he's making progress. He also admitted he cared deeply for me and that he's broken a few hearts along the way as he heals from his pain, and that he didn't want me to be among the hurt and cast aside. He listed off the traits about me he likes and admitted that he looks forward to being with me physically.  I melted.

Luke and I came to the agreement that we'd just go on a hiatus. No cutting it off completely, but scaling back until we were both in a space to figure out how things would go. I'm okay with that. Very okay.

And in an odd twist of fate, Steve sent me a Facebook friend request. Truthfully, I thought he was still blocked. Damn, I just realized that I unblocked him the other day. Oh well. I keep seeing that invite. I'm not doing it though. Yeah, I love Steve, but I'm over the revolving door that was our relationship. I want something thorough. Something peaceful. Something happy. A relationship that makes me feel loved, not ignored and irritated. I've evolved. About time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Disappointment into Triumph

Being the social butterfly that I am, I wasn't surprised that I was asked to return to my old school to talk about my experiences since graduation, in addition to talking about my starting a pantry. I was glad to do it. Excited even. My former professor had invited me to come sit in her office to chat one day. But as I got ready to go, I shared with my former proff that I don't feel that the school adequately prepared me for the field of social work. I stated that Clark should have focused far more on the DSM V (essentially the bible of mental health) in addition to better prep for our licensure exams. I didn't mean to unload, as I didn't think that this particular proff wasn't over the courses offered, or their set up. I emailed my former professor a few days later to set up a day to come to the class. She didn't respond. I figured it was the end of the semester and she was swamped. I emailed early in the next semester so that we could decide on a day early on. No response. No biggie on my end, since I have tons to do anyway.

But then early last week, I ran into a former secretary from Clark. She told me that they were looking for summertime interns, and I told her that I'd be honored to work with some of them. She encouraged me to contact the same former professor whom I'd spoken with earlier. I figured she'd been a bit salty with me, so I jumped at the opportunity to email her. I reached out, offering myself and my supervisor to help some interns, followed by a "I hope you get to relax this summer, you deserve it" type of statement. She responded with a dry email about sending the information that I'd given her to the proper channels. She ended the email with a snarky comment about "thank you for your continued dedication to improving Clark." Oh. Oh word?

You're salty because I told you honestly that I'd learned that students at an online school that I'd previously looked down on learned more about mental health than I did? Why not be mad at these antiquated ass ideas you have about making shit hard for Black students to make them better? They encouraged us to advocate for our clients in the field, but I guess advocacy ends when you expect this expensive ass college to properly educate you.

Here is a woman who I'd looked to as a supportive figure, a woman whom I genuinely felt wanted what was best for the students. But the moment I share my actual experience (and not throwing friends under the bus, but others who have worked with Clark's social work students, who agree that they know next to nothing about the field) and my desire to enhance this program (let's not even mention that the graduate enrollment is tanking in the school and program), I was pushed aside.

To add insult to injury, a day or so later, I looked online and saw that about 10 of the people that graduated with me had been invited back to speak to her class. Guess who didn't make the cut? I was pissy. I was angry. I was hurt.

I happened to spend last week watching Valerie Jarrett (Obama's former senior advisor) and Stacey Abrams have a talk. I left inspired. I was once again reminded of my dedication to changing lives, and doing bigger and better things. I thought about my pantry connections and thought to myself that I'd reach out to them and see if they'd allow me to come in and do a motivational speaking engagement to practice my skills. So yeah, I didn't speak to the 25 students in your class, but I'll speak to the 100 students over at the pantry. Then a light bulb went off... go BIG.

So I emailed my cousin who works at an urban media outlet and asked if I could be a regular contributor and do articles about Blacks and mental health. To my surprise, he said that the outlet had been looking for something similar and told me that he'd love to have me on. What?! WORD?!

So there it is. I went from angry, hurt, disappointed, to feeling my GODDAMNED SELF!! I'm disappointed to know that my alma mater could be so petty and that the one person I thought was above that mess actually isn't, but I'm so proud of myself for taking my loss and making it even better. Ain't that what gangstas do, though?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Honesty and *sigh*

So I purposely haven't talked much about Luke on here. I get sick of my blog being an online fodder for the mess that is my dating life and I decided to scale back mentioning every dude that catches my eye, until he's put in some real time. But all the while, I was getting to know Luke. He lives out of town and we met online. Luke told me early on about the fact that he was going through a divorce after 23 years of marriage. They'd been separated for 8 months at the time, now 10 months.
Luke seemed pretty well adjusted. He did sometimes discuss the difficulty he'd faced in his new normal, but overall, he seemed to be handling it all like a champ.

Enter Friday. He texted me that morning (as he does pretty much every morning and evening), updating me that he'd had a stomach bug that messed him up the day before. I laughed and suggested some remedies to settle his stomach. Then no response. I texted him later in the evening to inquire how he was holding up. Again, crickets. I called the next morning to ask how he was. No response. *sigh* Here we go.

For a man who'd spent the last 2 months checking in several times throughout the day, something was wrong. He was probably either dead or reeling from the divorce. Death probably would have been easier for me to deal with. In his absence, I talked it all over with Davis, my temporary roommate. Davis couldn't believe that he'd been married for so much of his life, over half. He made a good point of stating that Luke didn't even really grow up by himself, so he has no idea what being alone really is. Davis pretty much said that dating a man like that right now would be essentially navigating a mine field. Davis advised me to cut my losses.

After hearing nothing all weekend, Luke texted me Monday. I was pretty salty about his absence, but I decided to play it cool and be patient. I texted later on to ask if he still intended to meet up with me this coming weekend. He responded with "oh, my bad, sorry, I can't make it." I finally just responded "is everything okay?' That's when he'd opened the floodgates that the previous holiday weekend (Easter) just got to him. The reality of the loss of his family and his marriage. It was all hitting him at once. I assured him that things were okay and that his emotions are valid. Being a social worker certainly seeps on into my personal life at times. I stated that if he still wants to meet up, we can just get coffee and talk instead, no pressure. He told me that he didn't want me to see him cry. I reminded him of my job and told him that he definitely wouldn't be the first man I'd seen cry. We kind of left the idea of a meet up in the air at that point.

At first I said to myself, "I can do this. I'll just play it cool and help him through this, and then perhaps once he's in a better space, we can pick back up the romance stuff." But then Sista Girl Malika kicked in. I reminded myself of the many men that I'd done the emotional labor for and with, helping them, encouraging them, staying up late on the phone with them as they poured out their hearts and souls to me. And then once they felt better, since I'd been friend-zoned by that point, they'd flaunt their happy new relationship in my face, and expect me to continue to cheer on their new happiness. I think, the fuck, not!!
I started to weigh if Luke was someone that I just needed to walk away from. If perhaps, 10 months out still isn't enough time for us to try to start casually dating. I decided to chat with Davis about Luke. I told Davis that I might just move forward, sharing my fears of doing the emotional legwork for Luke to go skipping into the sunset with a new woman. Davis, who doesn't always think on a lateral level, stated that I should continue to keep Luke in my space. I'd told him how Luke early on suggested that even if we didn't keep dating, that because I'm so dope (well, duh) he wanted to remain friends. I mean, I get it and all, but I'm not really here for that. I'm not getting brownie points for playing the patient savior here. That if I cut the ties, I mean it. I'd keep him as a Facebook friend, but I'd unfollow him and stop with the phone calls and text messages. I've made the mistake of making myself to available to men that had no intentions of pouring back into me too many times in the past. Davis tried to claim that I should keep him around me to build strength and have no expectations and other bullshit. I think, the fuck, not!! I'm not going to create extra work for myself, just to prove something. I don't have a damned thing to prove to myself or anyone else.
Luke texted me this morning, thanking me for my kind words and support yesterday. I stared at the text message for two hours before I responded with a simple "good morning and you're welcome." I happened to be listening to my new favorite song by Pink Sweat$ this morning, "Honesty", when one of the lyrics it home for me.

She said "what if I tell you all the things I've done?
Would you run away from me?
I told her "Baby, well all got bags full of shit that we don't want.
But I can't unpack it for you baby."

And that hit home. Because we do. And because I can't. Not sure how much further this will go on. Or if I even want it to.

Monday, April 22, 2019

I Had A Dream

After Pete died, I waited anxiously for my dream. You know, the one where people talk about their parents or Big Mama coming to them and telling them that everything will be okay. I felt like I should have my dream soon. Some dream where we had a conversation, offering some sense of closure. A sign from the other side, telling me that he'd made it and that things would be okay. It bothered me. I mean sure, I did have a few dreams with him in them, but nothing delivering a profound message. I actually got a bit jealous of other people, how they'd tell me that a loved one came to them in a dream, wrapped their arms around them and said that they would meet again. But I never got that. Until now.
Last night, I went to sleep as always, it was a typical evening. I went to sleep and was soon transformed to a hallway in my job. I was in a hallway with him, standing next to other clients. And his arm was around me. I dug my my head into his shoulders, comforted by his presence. I said something to him about the fact that he'd been gone for 2 years. He mentioned to me that it didn't feel that long to him at all. I continued to lean into him, and then with the blink of an eye, he was gone. Just like that. I looked up and I was being held up by the wall and Pete was gone again. I happened to be woken in that moment by my alarm. I lay in my bed, looking around, it was all a dream.

I just sat in my bed and felt the tears streaming down my face. It was so real. He was there with me. I felt him. I felt his strong arms latching on to me, making me feel secure and comforted. Loved, warm, and adored.

Spring has proven to be a challenge to me since Pete died. He died in early March, during a particularly warm late winter. It was a warm day when the news hit. I was driven home by colleagues, and after a crying fit to the gods, I woke that evening, and sat outside. I knew to look up at the stars, because there was no doubt in my mind that he was a star now. He was a star before, but undeniably now.
I spent a lot of time outside that spring. It made me feel so much closer to him. When spring hit this year, I realized just how much those small signs of spring all take me back to Him. I sat outside one day and observed the actual smell of spring. The slight smell of pollen, the smell of the greenery of the new flowers, the new grass growing. The sounds of the birds, the sound of bugs mating, it all creates one giant remembrance from right after he died. The original season of my grieving.

So anyway, I finally got my dream. My moment to feel close to him one more time. Perhaps the spring inspired it. Either way, I was ready. And I'm already for another one. Hopefully it won't take 2 more years. But if it does, I'm still ready.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Growing Up- Kinda

I've struggled with the idea of changing jobs for a while now. My clients love me, but the fact is that I've been yearning to do something more. Something way more. My plan was to go on a trip this summer, and then when I return, start looking for a new job and then subsequently move to a new apartment and possibly a new side of town. But there is a old saying that goes "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." A large part of my plans rested on receiving my tax return early enough to start planning for my vacation, but due to (some bullshit) circumstance beyond my control, I am grounded until my money lands. So no moving. Yet, at least. And no vaycay. Again, yet.
A good friend mine works with a fancy government job, and she convinced me a while back to apply. Honestly, master's degree and all, I felt a little over my head applying for such positions. I felt like a small fish in a large pond. I felt like I was playing pretend. Me? Lil old me? Me?! I've talked about it and looked at the website, but for some reason, I just didn't feel ready. I knew that it was in the cards, I just never quite knew when. Plus having a child makes things a bit more challenging. Whenever I make a step in one direction or another, I need to make sure that the Boy is in a good place.

But I've been feeling a squeeze. No doubt in my mind, that the time will soon come for me to move on from here. I just don't know when and how. So recently, out of nowhere, Ted sent me a job listing for a school in the Atlanta University Center. I didn't even look at the link. A week later, he and I were talking shop (he works in the same field, but works at a school in the AUC as well) when he mentioned the job he'd sent. He said "its perfect for you. You started the pantry, you went to an AUC school, you need to go on and apply." Talk about pressure. I looked at the link, and Ted was right. I have the experience, the heart, the know-how, the social networking connections, the education, etc. But can I do it? Am I good enough to work at this illustrious institution? Will they look at my resume and laugh? Certainly, they won't waste their time to call me in for an interview. *sigh* I applied 2 nights ago.

Coincidentally, I talked to a girlfriend about my desire to move to California and asked what she'd learned from her short stint there. She plans to move back one day, but encouraged me to start looking and possibly make that leap. I'm thinking I'd prefer to do it once pumpkin leaves high school, but I'm not sure. She'd randomly sent me a link to a job she'd seen posted in Seattle. I have zero desire to move to Seattle, but her sending me that random link sparked something. I'm not trying to heavily job search until I get back from my two week vacation (I'm not playing with y'all! I want my trip!), but I looked again at the government site at jobs the other night, and I searched for jobs in my field. Nothing yet, but I sense this may have to do with the glut of soon to be new graduates applying for jobs. But now I feel ready. Its almost time for me to make that move. I got this. Finally.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Participation Trophy

I'm enjoying my time with Davis, but I recently had a come to Jesus regarding him. Although we aren't on a physical level anymore, I occurred to me that I was still holding a bit of a flame for him. Ever since he's been staying with me, I prepare dinner nightly and light up like a kid in a candy store the second he walks in the house. But then it hit me- BAM!! This ain't your dude, stop doing that shit.
I told him that I planned to scale back from him, and I don't think he realized how serious I was and am. My good friend Christine has witnessed firsthand the shit storm that was Davis' and my relationship early on. She said she wanted to meet him this time around, which he agreed to in advance. She and I met up for coffee in the area where he normally sells art and chatted long and hard. I told her about my recent revelation regarding Black men and their lack of sexual autonomy in this society, in addition to how things are going so far with Luke. I'd hit Davis when I was on the way to the coffee shop, and texted him when I got there, encouraging him to stop in. No response. Christine and I chatted for a good hour, and as things wound down, we decided to walk over to Davis, so they could exchange a quick hello before we went home.

As we walked down the street, I was surprised to see Davis walking toward me, right next to his ex-girlfriend. Ouch. Ouch and wow. He did a head nod, bare acknowledgement. I'm not tripping, I know what it is, he'd told me that he still had a thing with her, but they've been on this weird see-saw of potentially getting back together. Davis, do your thing, homie. But I'm not doing this anymore. He came in late that night (which was fine with me), and he texted me the next day, giving him some half-hearted attempt to explain that he was "busy that afternoon" which is why he couldn't stop and chat with Christine and I. Sure bruh, I bet you were.

The blessing for me was that I'd already relinquished him. I'd had my mind made up that I was no longer going to chase after him like a lost puppy dog, before our encounter that day.
Last night I decided to run on out to the grocery store and asked Davis if he cared to join me. He said yes. He asked if I was feeling okay, as my demeanor toward him had changed. I admitted to him that I still had love for him, but I'd had a talk with myself that it was time for me to scale back. He nodded in acceptance.

While contemplating last night, it occurred to me just how much Davis has continued to tug on my heartstrings over the years. I remember meditating and praying for him to leave my life so I could get back some sense of peace, because he always seemed to return, only to leave back out. How he'd previously occasionally text me out of the blue, I'd get excited, try to hang out, and then he'd disappear again. He wouldn't even show up or ask to hang, or even for sex, he'd just text me "hey, how are you?" and I'd get excited and respond "Fantastic, how's life?" and he'd go silent. He didn't want anything, certainly didn't want me, he just wanted to know that he still had me. That I was still there for him. That he could still pop up and I'd have space for him. And over the years, I stayed open and ready. If he needed a bed, an ear, a ride, or a warm body, I was there. I rewarded him with the affection and attention that he sought, when the fact is that he did the bare minimum, just by showing up. He was getting a fucking participation trophy for just being being there.
I was bugging. I gotta own that. He asked if I wanted him to leave. Fact is, no he doesn't have to go.
1) I still need the money.
2) I don't hate him.
3) I'm not even mad at him.
4) Perhaps we can rebuild our friendship, but it will no longer revolve around me being easily available whenever he needs a sentimental boost.

I'm genuinely not angry with him. I see who and where he is now and I know he's no longer the deeply disturbed guy who managed to hook me during a particularly low point of my life. But even with that said, I can no longer allow him access to intensely enter and leave my life at his whim.
I realized the role I was playing in my own emotional demise. I'm no longer going to make myself readily available to him, or any other man, just because he flashes a smile. It takes more than popping up to win my affection now. I'm glad I have gotten to this point. Moving forward, only the men with the real effort get access to the gold medal level of my heart.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Honesty and Connections

Despite my intention for this blog to not focus primarily on my love life, it tends to be that way. Perhaps its that I don't have much else to write about. The fact is that writing also allows me to work through and process many of my own thoughts. I'm starting to feel more and more like Carrie Bradshaw, plugging away on her laptop, sorting her life out as she dates and fucks her way through NYC. I must admit, if I didn't have a child to care for, my love life would be a hell of a lot more chaotic.

I'm going to go full disclosure here and admit that Mercury Retrograde is kicking my ass right now. I read something on Facebook early on that with MR heading this way, electronics would mess up and whatnot. Shortly thereafter, that text issue with Ted happened (and I'm still 50/50 on the legitimacy of his claim), my own cell phone has been on the fritz, and my work computer has been on something else. On top of that, the clients at work have been a bit froggier than normal. I don't normally get into all of this kind of jazz regarding MR, but I can't help but to wonder if there's some kind of legitimacy to it, at least this time around.

I've been feeling pretty amorous lately. And while there are always a few gentlemen I can call to get my back scratched on a regular basis, this time, a regular visit just isn't enough. I recall that a few years ago, I'd had a similar issue, and it was actually a similar time of year, and that's when Fred managed to drop on in (here). Welp, perhaps its the spring flowers in the air, but I'm getting that same itch. Once again, I need more. More hugs, more love, more affection, more clinging to emotions, not just getting my rocks off.

I happened to be on Facebook again (yeah, I do that a lot these days), when I clicked on a link to a pretty video, when this song came on. This song felt like a hug. It felt intimate and familiar, although it was new to me. I immediately clicked on the comments to see if anyone knew the song and the comments section did not disappoint. I'd learned that the song is a guy called Pink Sweat$ and the song is called "Honesty" and it is my new favorite song. Never in a million years thought I'd be rocking to a dude named Pink Sweat$ so hard, but there it is and here I am. And I am here for it!!
The problem with this song is that it just makes me want to cuddle and be adored that much more. The fact that its on repeat in my car certainly doesn't help.

Feeling that itch, I reached out to Ted yesterday. And to his credit, he was good. Really good. Damned good. But I felt empty. I didn't leave feeling refreshed and energized. I left feeling as empty as when I got there. I truly wrestle with if I should just leave him alone entirely.

So I like Luke. Yes, I know, *eye roll* But things are really early. Sure, we text and talk all day long, but the fact is that he's only 8 months out from leaving a 23-year long marriage. I dig him, but I'm not a dummy. I hope for the best, but I'm not going to get too emotionally wrapped up. I just can't. Not yet. Leaving me to fall back on my old emotional standby, Fred. Although despite it all, I'm not sure how long this will be a thing. Only time will tell.

I just want to be held and kissed. Funny enough, Davis is staying with me, but we just aren't on that level. So there's that. I'm here, in an odd space. Perhaps its the changing of the seasons, Mercury  Retrograde, or something else.. But much like everything else, I'm just going to roll with it and trust the Universe to make things happen in their own time. What are the other options?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Looking Back While Looking Forward

I found myself bored Friday night. I was sans kid and felt like having company. I reached out to Davis. He immediately responded that he needed a place to crash for the night. I told him to come on over. He and I chatted a lot that night. I could really feel that he grew a lot since the tumultuous relationship we shared roughly 6 years ago. So did I.
He explained how staying in the hotel was draining his pockets, and I explained the financial bind that I'm in, and we agreed that night that if my son was okay with it, he'd rent out the room for the month that is supposed to be The Kid's, although he rarely sleeps in it. So he'd save some coins and I could pay some bills. The kid agreed with it.
Its been kind of nice having him around. We're not up under one another, as I work days and he's normally not home until I'm about to head to sleep. I wish I'd known this side of him some years ago. Last night, he came home pretty late, and I happened to be awake. He told me that he'd just, that night, officially ended it with a young lady he'd been back and forth with for a while. He lamented about having 2 major breakups in 6 months. I knew to listen carefully, without judgement. I was proud of him for making so much headway, as he talked about the importance of monogamy to him. But truthfully, it kind of stung as well. I mean, sure, we've grown, and we're no longer together. But the fact is that I met him while he was living with another woman, who went on to make my life hell for a while. So to hear him talking about bonding and growing with one woman, while a woman who is heir to a hair care line would call me 40 times in a row, is a bit much.
I tried to bite my tongue, but at some point I did mention to him how its crazy to hear him talking about being with only one woman and his lack of desire to have casual sex, while he lived with another woman when we met. He immediately apologized, and admitted to going through a bad spell when at the time. I honestly felt that he should have, at some point, considered me a serious contender. But he didn't. And that hurt. But then he went on to say "yeah, my woman going out and having drinks and hanging out with another man isn't acceptable. I don't want her bringing another man's energy home to me." And I felt that and I respected it, but at the same time, I knew then that I didn't want to be a contender. Because I'm Malika, and I don't belong to anyone, and I won't. I have no problem with monogamy in the end, but I'm not going to cease having close, platonic, non-sexual relationships with some men, just to keep him happy. I guess I know why I'm not a contender now.
Yesterday, I got on the phone with Fred. He shared with me that he's having a difficult time, pining over a woman that captured his fancy. I was quite surprised, as Fred has been in L.A. for roughly 6 years now, and this is the first lady outside of the one here I've known him to show interest in. Truthfully, inside I was dying, hearing him talk about this woman and how he saw things going somewhere. These aren't words I hear from him often. Truth be told, he and I have know one another for 12 years and despite the fact that we've seen one another in 4 different major U.S. cities and bared our souls in countless ways and made love countless times, I don't think he's ever connected to me like that. Honestly, it hurt a little too (folks just ripping off band-aids left and right yesterday). But I know that Fred and I aren't meant to be like that. Still though... but then he started to share that he met her at church and his ideal was to have a woman he shared a church connection with. I was a bit less pissed then. Cuz I'm not going to your church, just to be deemed worthy.
Later in the day, an old friend called me, whom I haven't talked to, and I mean really talked to in a while. This particular friend is one who tends to get caught up when dating a new person, so I scaled back. My friend, Lacy, confessed to me that she'd finally broken things off with her 2-year boo, Chris. Lacy talked about how Chris was just emotionally unavailable and she was sick of trying. It took me back to Freeman, whom I saw something with, but after the passing of Pete and other stuff I was wrestling with at the time, I just didn't have it in me to fight anymore. With Freeman, I learned to cut your losses. Or as my best friend, Daisy, would say "stop taking home broken birds."
Lacy discussed how she saw a lot in Chris, and perhaps things would be better in the future, but for now, it was a wrap. I began to think a lot about my own experiences. I began to realize the reality of people that I date. For so long, I'd focused more on myself than the men I was into. I didn't recognize their limitations. But now, I'm semi-seeing someone (yes, I know a common theme for me).
I'll call him Luke. Things are really early, so I'm not quite going to call it a thing, but I like him. But the fact is that Luke is separated and going through a divorce. And not like "separated, but still fucking and living together for the kids," but really ending it. After 23 years of marriage, he's been separated for 8 months. I think that my profession as a counselor helps him, as I've learned to be patient, listen, and ask the right questions, as he sorts through his feelings. But I also know not to make myself his therapist. I also love that he doesn't try to always dump his baggage on me. I've told him a few times that my fear is that we'll spend a few months together, only for him to one day say to me "this has gone too fast, I need to scale back."
Old Malika wouldn't have known to maintain a safe distance. Old Malika would have tried to go full throttle, based on our mutual likes of travel, food, and overall connection. But new Malika knows better. I'm going to allow him all the time he needs to process. No, that doesn't mean I'm not going anywhere. I may date or sleep with other people while he figures out what he wants and if he chooses to do the same thing, I'm okay with that. But it does mean that I recognize that its unfair to put my baggage on him, without allowing him to heal on his own and walk his own path. I'm finally in a space to take all I've learned an apply it to live my life to the fullest. Thank God this shit is starting to make sense and work out.

Friday, March 8, 2019


So I'm at 2 years since he passed. The grief and memories is coming in waves. Not as bad as it was last year. I was kind of triggered recently though. Because Dylan McKay died. Well, I'm sure the character is alive in our minds and hearts, but the actor Luke Perry died. It hurt, because like many women my age in this country, he was a big part of my development. I remember watching 90210 as a middle schooler and high schooler. I remember the Brenda-Dylan-Kelly love triangle. I remember it all. Now he's gone.
As I looked up and saw the news plastered all over the internet, my mind briefly traveled to "Pete was the ultimate bad boy. He was the real-life Dylan McKay." It made me sad, and a bit triggered, but I held it together. Then, Puffy made headlines when he acknowledged in a comment that he should have married the love of his life, Kim Porter.
A Facebook friend of mine showed no mercy in going in, saying how she showed him no sympathy. I chimed in about how not just difficult it is, but absolutely earth shattering to lose a person you love, and that it also grows you in immense ways. I even pointed out how much growth Puffy obviously made in his admission of having wished he'd married her. Growth, right? My comment was ignored and buried under the posts of women that appeared to enjoy watching him suffer.
I almost took off the anniversary of Pete's death this week, but I decided against it. Because 1, I decided to take a much-needed day off last week and 2, I think I'd like to stay busy. I don't want to wallow, I want to live. Obviously, he'd want that for me anyway.
A friend of mine a while back discussed how a popular Atlanta artist died over a decade ago, and how since then, his widow, every year, faithfully pulled together large-scale celebrations of life to her departed husband. But the widow decided that she was tired. Rightfully so. She loved her husband, clearly, but organizing, scraping money, advertising, selling tickets, putting together bands, the whole bit, had become too much after over a decade. She finally decided to call it quits. Not that she'll ever stop honoring the love and life of her husband, but because she doesn't need bells and whistles any further.
I feel that in my spirit. I don't need to take a day off. No need to make plans, no need for words of encouragement, affirmation, love, etc. I wrote a quick impromptu poem on Facebook and that was it. Because he knew how I felt about him. And I know how he felt about me. Three days ago was the the 2 year anniversary of the last time I saw him in the flesh. But the good news is that it won't be my last time seeing him in spirit. And now I'm okay with that.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Text Tied and Undone

I wrote yesterday about the accidental text message I'd gotten from Ted. Wow. Like seriously, wow. I contacted my friend Eric to ask his opinion. I sought out Eric due to how much he reminds me of Ted. Like Ted, Eric's marriage ended due to his own infidelity and he is now on a quest to find himself while openly enjoying the company of others. Eric and I have never been intimate, but I greatly enjoy his friendship and hearing about his exploits.
I explained to him the text that was sent and how despite not being in a serious relationship with Ted, my heart was a bit broken. I also shared that due to having an extensive history of men shutting me down or ignoring my concerns in the past, I don't always express my frustration. Eric assured me that despite it all, he feels that if he were in Ted's situation, he would certainly feel bad and want a chance to express his apology.
So I did it. I reached out to him. My text said "that cut me deep." He apologized and swore to me that nothing happened. I told him that I didn't care if it did, I just didn't want to read about it. He apologized again and swore that nothing happened. He said that some kind of predictive text, or whatever the hell happened, happened. And I believe him. So yeah, things may be winding down on that end, but I'm glad he's in my life.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tubes Tied and Text Tied

Not gonna front, February of 2019 has been a bit challenging to me. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't had shit on anything that happened throughout the whole year of 2017, but still, heavy. To start with, I finally had my day in court with my son's father to get the child support order corrected. When Caleb was in kindergarten, my ex went to court and lied about getting Caleb 50% of the time, significantly lowering what he was ordered to pay. Talk about a punch in the gut. I mean, I physically hurt in that moment. I honestly wanted to drive into a lake. My step mother and incredible friend Christine held me together, in that moment. I considered moving far south, just to get away from him, but logistically, with my job, gas, attending Clark and other things, moving to Newnan just wasn't feasible. On top of that he didn't give me child support for 2 months. May not seem like a lot, but at the time, I was brining home roughly $800 from my part-time job while attending school. My only saving grace was that at the time I'd squirreled away the last of my tax money. But with that 2 months, the last of my tax money quickly evaporated. I had zero food in my refrigerator, and despite my pleas to him, to at least bring some Kroger gift cards or food for his child to eat, my ex was unmoved. Unmoved by the idea of his own child starving smh. In that moment, I contacted his step-mother who was kind enough to give me $60 to feed the kid. Cuz her ain't shit stepson wouldn't.
Moving forward, I tried numerous times to get the child support adjusted. And every damned time, despite it all, my ex was the victor when we went to court.
But this time, I was prepared. I had reached out to a lawyer I went to high school with and she was kind enough to take on my case. She came to court with me, on our date February 14th. That's right, Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day in court with people going through divorces any my child support modification. To make this long story short (I didn't initially intend to include this little tidbit in this blog, but I guess my caramel latte has kicked in, here), my child support order was granted and he ended up order to pay over DOUBLE what he was paying before, in addition to my lawyer's fees.
Talk about a weight being lifted! My goal is now to pay down some of the credit cards I'd used to hold us afloat over the years and then begin putting money into savings for my son. He's an amazing kid and he certainly deserves it. Methinks I'll even treat my little prince to a nice little vacation, either for spring break or this summer.
On other aspects in my life, I'm thinking that within the next two years or so, it may be time for a change on the job front. I love my clients dearly, but I sometimes get frustrated by mental blockages that keep them from reaching their full potential. My goal, while I'm sitting in this quaint little coffeehouse, is to finally start looking up registering to take my social work licensure exam. I'd make a lot more money once I do this. And I know that, but the fact is that I'm still tired as hell from grad school. More studying and chasing people down for reference letters isn't something I want to do. Thankfully I make a glowing impression where ever I go so getting a letter won't be hard at all, but shit, more work! *meh*
So while I'm considering a job change within a year or so, I decided to hurry the hell up and start taking advantage of my insurance, particularly getting a tubal ligation, a.k.a., getting my tubes tied. I tried unsuccessfully to get this done 3 years ago, but I wasn't prepared for the $1k price tag I'd have to pay. And that was actually adjusted for my low pay at the time. What now?! One would think that the government would be lining up to sterilize women making $8.50 an hour working at PetSmart, but I didn't find that to be the case.
Oddly enough, when I first met Pete, I was 36 and largely knew I didn't want any more children. I was kind of shocked when he told me he'd had a vasectomy. I really had to think about that. I was genuinely still on the fence. But once he died and I went through my grief process, once I awoke nearly a year later, I was quite sure that I didn't want anymore kids. I was done. I've been dragging my feet on it, but the time is now. I'm 38 and ready to start traveling and living my life. Wiping noses and asses is not on my agenda, unless we're talking about my parents. I contacted my insurance company the other day to learn that tubal ligation is free. Hot damn!! I was geeked. I read up a bit on it and readied myself. I even called my doctor and set a March date for the referral. Once the referral hits, I can do the procedure almost immediately after.

That night, I had the strangest of dreams. I dreamt that I'd been fooling around with Fred (lawd, I almost typed his real name there for a sec lol) and that I'd gotten pregnant. In my dream, I was too far along to abort the child, so I contacted him to let him know we were having a kid. He was okay with that. But then later in my dream, I learned that I was in fact early enough to abort the child and I contacted him to inform him that I planned not to have it. In that dream he begged me not to term his child. I woke up so conflicted. I went from "shit yeah, burn these damned tubes pronto!!" to still wanting them tied, but not nearly as excited. There is no doubt that I don't want any more kids. Well- scratch that. I'd love to adopt or even date a man who has kids and love on his like my own, but the idea of another 9 months of pregnancy, labor, and mothering an infant ain't in my cards, even a little.
I contacted Fred about my recent desire to get this permanently done, followed by my dream about us having a kid. Fred, Mr. No-Frills, quickly said "we aren't having any kids." Well no shit, Sherlock. But still, my nerves are shot. I contacted two of my riders for the last 25 years, Shaunnika and Courtney. They both agreed (along with the rest of the world) that "Malika don't need no more kids." I told them about my nervousness and they assured me that it was nothing to fear. They even said that they'd come with me to get the procedure done. God, I love them.
My next text was to Ted. I told him that I'd been all on board to get it done until my dream. Needless to say, I didn't mention the particulars of exactly who I was pregnant by in it. Being typical Ted, he told me not to worry. But then he quickly followed with a text that said "good because I like pleasing you" followed by "you felt good yesterday." The only problem is that I haven't seen his ass in two fucking weeks!

He immediately recognized his mistake and apologized profusely. But the damage was done. He sent about 5 or 6 text messages apologizing, but I haven't responded. I mean, exactly how does one respond to that? Yes, I'm well aware that we're open. He is not my man or boyfriend, or husband, any of that. But when I called him the night before and he didn't answer, now I know why. I just can't shake that. Sometimes I want him to contact me, crazy enough. I want him to apologize again. I genuinely have no words for him right now. None. I want to cry. My eyes have watered a little. But I won't let it happen.

I'm not sure when or if I'll see him again. As always, there are a few potentials hanging around, and one in particular I'm growing more fond of. I mean, yeah, the sex was great. But I just don't know how to come back from that.
So yeah, this is how my February 2019 is wrapping up. Tons of growth to begin looking at. I guess I'll start working on my LMSW application now. *sigh*

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Chasing Unicorns

A couple of years ago, while Fred was visiting me, we went to see the Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. I enjoyed the movie, but one character in it stood out to me- Junior. He immediately reminded me of my friend, Davis. Junior, who's name I looked up to learn is actually LaKeith Stansfield, possessed the same drifty eyes. Their eyes seemed to hold some kind of secret. Their eyes screamed of an inability to be held captive or captured. A wild innocence, if you will.

I began to follow LaKeith's career, later watching him in Dope, and of course, the show Atlanta. He offered amazing comedy relief in Atlanta as the character Darius. I'd come to admire LaKeith as an actor on his own, but every now and again, I'll look at him and get a glimpse of my old friend Davis all over again.
I've always known that I'd meet LaKeith in passing one day. I tend to be good about knowing those kinds of things. That I'll see people out in passing. Of course I never know when or where, but I always know its coming. So with that said, its only fitting that when Atlanta began filming again, LaKeith began showing up at at all of the Atlanta hotspots. Coincidentally enough, my best friend, Sky, had managed to see LaKeith at quite a few hot spots, including his own fucking house. :/
I've always been a big believer in serendipity. How some stuff comes together just right. That said, I drove Sky to a friend's birthday party on Friday night. While driving, we managed to encounter a gnarly traffic jam, that we were lucky enough to avoid by getting off at an earlier exit. The jam slowed us slightly, but not by much. While in the car, I'd asked Sky if he'd seen LaKeith lately. He said he hadn't. I went on to confess that part of my interest in LaKeith stemmed from how he reminded me of Davis. I confessed that their eyes had that similar inflections that held their loose connection to here. Sky stated that he felt that LaKeith's eyes were a bit less "holding it together" but stated that he agreed in my assessment.
We finally made it to the bar for Sky's final stop. As I drove on back, getting onto the main road, I looked up and I saw him- Davis. My heart leapt. We were just talking about him! I rolled down my window and screamed out his name across 5 lanes in the dark, drizzly night, to no avail. I finally gave up, and drove toward my destination, but I managed to see him again. I called his name again, and he finally stopped. I saw him straining his eyes to see who was calling out to him. I shouted my  name a few times, but I could tell he remained lost. He stood where he was, waiting to see the face of the person who'd been calling out to him.
I pulled up and he smiled. "Hey you," he said. We chatted briefly. It felt good. Calm, familiar, comforting. He asked if I wanted to park my car and come into the hotel where he'd been staying. I said yes. This particular hotel is a known shit hole, but he'd called this shit hole home for years, on and off, so despite the peeling paint, obvious crime scenes, and overall shitty feeling about it, I felt warm being there with him. He offered a chair for me to sit on, but I preferred the bed. I instantly melted.
I'll be honest and admit that Davis and I were both going through a lot when we first met. His mother had died roughly a month before he and I first crossed paths, and shortly after he and I met, my ex and I had our explosive final blow. Neither saw it at the time, but we were both pretty wounded. I talked about losing Pete and how if he'd lived, we would have fucked around a couple of times, and moved on with our lives. Instead, he died when and how he did, leaving me devastated, while simultaneously leading me to a path of calm and insight that I never saw coming. I said to Davis that my grieving period was like "the ultimate therapy lesson, where I was forced to lay all of my shit on the table." I talked a little about Steve. Davis talked about the two primary girlfriends he'd had, and how he'd come back to the shit hole motel after he and his ex broke up a few months back.
Davis, who is a painter, talked about watching his art grow and how he just wanted the money to start following his popularity- a stark contrast from the man I'd previously known, who never seemed to focus enough to make his art as big as it could have and should have been. He'd talked about being on a national t.v. show lately because of his art as well, and even getting paid for it. He took pride in showing me pictures of the paintings and murals he'd completed around the city. I was happy for him. I'd noticed the growth in his art from afar, and I was proud to see it up close. It was also awesome to see and feel that he'd grown on a personal level. I'd reminded him of the painting he'd previously promised me. He asked me what it was supposed to be of, and I said something that reminded him of me. He admitted that would take a lot, but said that he hoped to complete it one day.

Davis asked about Pumpkin and I talked about how my baby is now a whopping 11-years-old. He was floored. I asked about his kids as well. Davis then asked if he could crash at my apartment for a while. One thing that I'd left out up to this point, is that Davis has a vice or two, which contributed to some of our previous issues. And I couldn't have those vices around my son. Not now. I'm shaping him to the man I know he's capable of being and seeing mommy's friend drinking his breakfast is not the image I'm trying to bring forth. Davis agreed that if he stayed with me, no drinking at the house. But then I thought about it again. I couldn't do it. Yes, a small part of me still cares wildly about Davis, but I just can't welcome bullshit into my home and life. Davis understood though. "Yeah, he's too big for all of that." I nodded. Pumpkin is a young man now. Any man I bring into my home needs to be a serious suitor, a husband in waiting. Not just one of mom's "guy friends." I had to pass. But truth be told, if Pumpkin weren't a factor, I would have quickly told him yes. I guess that's just another example of my child saving me from myself.
I'd talked a bit more about my dating life, sharing that'd I'd bought a sex toy last summer, but that I hadn't even used the thing, because to me, sex is more cerebral than anything. I confessed that my favorite part of sex is what he and I were doing, just relaxing and sharing our lives, not just the penetration. Davis surprised me by saying "yeah, I feel like we're having sex, just doing this." I nodded in agreement. There we were, fully clothed, laying on the bed, admitting to how intimately connected we felt.
It was getting late, and I was exhausted. I asked Davis if I could crash there for a few. He said of course. I kicked off my shoes, and lay down next to him. He said that I could take off my jeans too, but I said that I didn't trust human nature in that moment. He understood. We spooned, his arms wrapped around me. I quickly nodded off. I'd set my alarm for a few hours, knowing I needed to get home soon. But I couldn't, not yet. I turned and wrapped my arms around Davis. He pulled me closer. I never wanted to leave that spot. After 30 more minutes, I began to gather myself. I readied to sneak out, to not disturb him. He looked up at me putting myself together and silently began to get dressed as well, to walk me to my car.
Naturally, on my way home, I replayed what just happened. Things we'd shared, how I felt. How I managed to unpack some unresolved feelings I'd had for him. Oddly enough, I probably have more of these kinds of encounters than the average person. Perhaps I'm just more open to it, to these unspoken spiritual connections, brought upon by a kind of recognition. I found myself again, glad to be single. Because if I'd had a guy at home, what I just experienced was non-sexual, but it was so much deeper than physically cheating. I hadn't shared my body, I'd shared my mind and my spirit. Davis is a bit of a unicorn. I guess I am too.
Image result for unicorns in love

Monday, January 28, 2019

Savagely Single

I've been having some strange health problems that I'd attributed to currently taking 3 prescription medications, when I realized the other day that my problems are more likely tied to dehydration than anything else. I awoke Saturday and began chugging as much water as I could. I needed to get up and move around more and I feared that drinking water would take way too long to begin hitting my vital organs. As much as I hated to do it, I called the one person I hated to ask a favor of. Him. Mr. Armoire. Steve.
I hated the idea of making it sound like a favor, so I texted to ask if I could pay him to give me an i.v. of fluids. He responded that he did not have a set up of it, but asked how I was doing anyway. I responded that I was going well, and long story short, he told me that he'd had some issues he'd been dealing with, but his girlfriend helped him thru it.
Oh really, now?
So I responded by saying that I'm pretty much enjoying the single life and that I'm seeing multiple men. Now put THAT in your pipe and smoke it.
Yeah, he didn't respond after that lol. One of the things that I'd grown to dislike about Steven even when we were together was that tit-for-tat shit. Who wants to be in a relationship where they're constantly at war? I've certainly had enough of that from multiple men and I'll be damned if I'll entertain it again.
Not tooting my own horn here, but I believe that Steve felt a bit self-conscious next to a woman like me and he felt the need to one up me. And not to be tooting my own horn here either, but I'm the shit next to him, so good luck trying. But I wasn't with him because of competition, I was with him because we vibed well. His constant need of one-upping me when he fucked up (which happened multiple times) was draining.
So yeah, I'm one of those happily single people that you read about. I certainly have married people around me, but I can't say that I think they're all doing well. One of my friends I feel would be doing so much better if she weren't dragging her husband along who has only had spotty employment since I've known them since high school and one of my guy friends once confided that he strongly feels he'd be a millionaire right now if he hadn't married fresh out of high school. Now to be fair, I do feel that some of these couples I know are doing well, so not all marriage is a soul-sucking failure.
But after seeing the vast difference in my life between my life now and my life with my exes, I am more aware than ever that partnering with the wrong person can utterly destroy you and your potential.
The fact is that I'm currently seeing Ted on a regular, been really missing Fred lately so I've been calling him a lot, and there is a new guy sniffing around who is kind of an in between personality between Fred and Ted, who I'll call Eric. And I'm not overly tied to anyone! If they start to fuck up, I can just opt not to deal with them. No need to text back and forth and argue. No shouting matches. My money stays in my owned damned account and no one is out here fucking it up for me. Pretty kick ass, I think. I mean, perhaps I'm broken and unable to commit. Maybe its true. But you know what? I'm loving this shit!!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Biology of A.D.D.

The cool thing about learning that I have A.D.D. is learning how much it impacts my overall functioning. I've learned to look more at how I organize things, my time management, how I function at work, essentially nearly my whole life. The crazy thing is how absolutely I was uninformed about ADD. I've known people who's children took meds for it and I never thought much one way or the other, but to now be in a place where I'm one of the ones who genuinely benefits from it is interesting.
I think what bugs me the most is when I announce to people that there is a reason behind my scatter-brained nature. They'll normally respond with "yeah, I think I have a little of that too." Its kind of infuriating. I mean, sure, I make it look like no big thing, particularly since I've managed to graduate high school, undergrad, and grad school, but the fact is that the non-functional part of my brain has held me captive since I can remember. I recall being young and how much my teachers were furious with my constant spacing out in school and how enraged my mother was that my grades continued to suffer, despite my clearly intelligent mind.

I recently sought out meds for this ailment and I surprised even myself when I began to cry when I explained to my nurse practioner how frustrating it is to have made peace with knowing that one day I will need to pay a cleaning person to clean my home as remaining focused on cleaning long-term and organization are things I simply cannot do. So when someone who has nowhere near the problems I have say "Yeah, I have a little ADD too" with no real history of it to back it up, other than occasional boredom, it ain't cool. People don't go "yeah, I have a little bit of cancer too" but with ADD, people feel okay just downplaying it.
I was made aware of just how much of a thing this is for me when yesterday, as I visited my doctor for a follow up (diabetes AND weight is down- yes!!) and I informed him of the Adderall that I am currently taking, in conjunction with my diabetes meds. My doctor tried to tell me that my diagnosis is not ADD and that I don't need medication. His theory is based on the fact that "children with ADD fight a lot and don't listen to people." Say what now? I explained that he really described ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) but he disagreed. So yeah, I guess that my years in the field don't mean shit of knowing the difference between the two.

Next was my father, a licenced clinical psychologist, who informed me that rather than taking meds, I "just need to focus more." Really dad?! Word?! He's well aware of my years of struggling in school, yet he tells me I just need to focus more. Shit, if I could focus, I wouldn't need the damned pills to begin with! Looking online shows multiple sites that show that ADD is not real. I agree, perhaps everyone that has problems is not ADD. But that doesn't make it not a real thing.

A few days ago, I'd had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine where I casually shared with her that I'd been prescribed some hydrocodone some years back for some pain or another, but it had absolutely zero affect on me. I'd actually kept the bottle with one pill left (cuz, ya know, why not?) when it disappeared around the same time some family visited me... But I digress, that same pill sat in that bottle forever. My friend said to me, "man, its crazy how ADD really does impact the brain like that and make different people respond to different things." I'd never even thought about it, but she was right. Just like how because of ADD too much caffeine puts me to sleep. Just for confirmation, I read up on the link between hydrocodone and ADHD, and indeed, it actually helps some people with their symptoms.

So I guess this, like many other things are just my cross to bear. But I'm okay with it because now I can seek answers to and start being a better version of myself. Isn't that all any of us can ask?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Welcome to the Club, I'm Sorry You're Here

Friday when I left work was like most others. Relaxing and decompressing in my car, when I finally got around to calling back my friend, Clarence. Clarence and I go back a few years, he's a good guy. Since he's an avid comic book guy, we chatted it up about the newest Spiderman movie, Spiderverse. And yes, it is one of the greatest movies ever, no debate here. I rambled about work for a few, then I went on to ask him about the ladies in his life. Ya know, any prospects kind of convo.

But Clarence caught me off guard, sharing with me that he'd began living with a young lady that he'd known some years back. She told him that she'd had brain cancer. I shared my apprehension, but he said it was all good. Things had been going along well and he was hopeful. He whispered to her that she was going to make it and that they'd soon have beautiful brown babies together.
She died right before Christmas.
Clarence stated "yeah, it was tough, but I'm cool." Except, I know he's not. He's a part of that same fucking club. I don't know if its age or what, but it keeps holding us hostage. Its like a timeshare in the worst way. I told him a bit of my story of losing Pete and how I still cry frequently. How things like a beautiful sunset or a song will still do me in. How I felt like a piece of my arm was missing and how I struggle to feel normal.

I told Clarence that the fact is, you never feel "normal" again, you just learn to live with the pain. I even confessed to Clarence, that when he and I went to see DeadPool 2 together, during the scenes where DeadPool is communicating on the other side with his dead girlfriend, I wept so hard during the movie. Because I know that deep feeling of "please just let me be near you one more time."
Clarence then admitted that he'd never cried so hard after she passed away. He said "I cried until my eyes hurt. I cried until I couldn't cry anymore." Its kind of interesting how when you don't want to bore people with your story, or sound like a nut, or make a situation all doom and gloom with death talk, you kind of clean it up for your audience. But only with other "club members" can you let out how hollowing the feeling is of losing someone you love.

Clarence and I talked a bit more about the whole thing, as I tried to offer some words of encouragement. As the conversation wound down, Clarence ended it by saying that he had to go. But I know in my heart that as soon as we got of the phone, Clarence began crying again. And as soon as we got off the phone, I began crying again too.