Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Work Secret

Only a small handful of people at work have been let in on the nature of my relationship with Pete. I’ve wondered if some thought we had other things going on, but I try my best to just stick to the story of us being good friends. It’s still amazing to me that he chose me to show his other side to. Dude had been here for 3 years on and off and only a handful of people were fortunate enough to know him outside of his title, Mr. Pete. I talked to a woman recently who spoke like everyone, of seeing him that Friday before he died, and him not being at work the next week. She said how sad it was that he died of a heart attack so young. I smiled weakly and said “yeah, its rough.”


I have a work email address (check ME out!) and I’d gotten locked out a while back, which is why my colleague had to be the one to show me his email about Pete’s passing. I finally made it over to IT to get my password reset. Truthfully, I just wanted a copy of the email that changed my life forever. I saw that so many coworkers shared their surprise that such a good guy had gone. Quite a few times since his passing, I’ve talked to people here and they’ll admit not knowing him well. I know they haven’t done anything wrong, but that makes me so freaking angry. Peter was so much more than a goddamned co-worker. I love his influence on the kids, and I respect their grief over him. Just today I had to encourage one of the youth leaders to try to get the kids to give the new staff a shot. Pete would want that. He wouldn’t want the kids shooing of anyone else. Pete and I often discussed the kids and he was passionate about what he did. I feel like the least I can do is to keep everyone lifted and remind them that it’s okay to move on. No doubt that’s what he’d want.

But on the days when I show for my internship, I immediately start mapping out landmarks. That’s where Pete and I first met. That’s the office where we had the long conversation about drugs. That’s where he stood when my coworker pointed him out to me and I silently watched him chat with my supervisor. That’s the spot where he read my Facebook post about jokingly looking for a sugar daddy. That’s the facility’s room where I’d often see him coming out of when I was I walking on the path that connected buildings. That’s the spot in my supervisor’s office on the couch where he told me he was attracted to me too. Being here is a walking reminder. Work being slow on the intern front doesn’t help either. I sit here and I blog. I think about him. I chat with his old coworker. I cry.

For those that I trust, I share who he was to me. But for others, I share the story of him being that cool ass guy. He and I promised one another that we’d keep some of our more intimate conversations between us. And for the sake of keeping things together on my professional end, I stick to that. But some days are so hard. I almost resent how much these other people don’t know how much more incredible he was. Shit, you thought he was cool as hell at work? Man, get that fool off the clock and listen to his wild stories. This internship used to be magical. Don’t get me wrong, it still is. I told HR yesterday how much I love how functionally dysfunctional the team is here. The staff is so quirky, but they work incredibly together to make things happen. I swear, I fit in so well. I love the kids I see in passing on a regular. I love getting to inspire them. But other days, I’m here with spirit Pete and I just want to curl up in a ball and jump in a hole. Days like today.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pretty Pictures

This morning I had a conversation where I caught up with my homegirl, Courtney. Courtney is an undeniable Day 1 friend. I hadn't spoken with Courtney since days after Pete died, when I was an emotional wreck. It was nice to finally check in and update her on things. I'd started by telling her about the actual reason Pete died, Pete's service, and that I was/am finally ready to move on past Fred. Yep, the decade-long tryst is finally over.

Last week, when I met with my former crush James, he made an interesting comment to me. He was kind enough to talk about his flaws in past relationships and man enough to admit to having some fuccboi tendencies (my word, not his) previously. He made a statement that really hit home for how I'd come to view Fred. James said "I used to be that dude who would be with a woman while she was going through stuff. But eventually, they'd look up and realize that all I had to offer was emotional support and dick, and once they no longer needed the emotional support, they realized I wasn't able to bring much else to the table."


I swear as bad as it sounds here, I'm not inferring that Fred was a bad guy. Quite the contrary. Its just that a large part of my attachment to him stemmed from my healing first from David, then from El Cluster Fucko (aka, my son's father). As time went on and as I started to do the necessary work on myself, Fred didn't spark me nearly as much. Sure he's beautiful. We've shared countless memories. The sex was nice. But as I put on my big girl panties, I need more than pretty dick and moments of finesse. I'm wrapping up this master's degree and really ready to shine in life. I want to start businesses and travel. Fred, on the other hand is still figuring out what he wants out of life and exactly how to go about getting it.

I think another part of my being over Fred is that he seems to have set his eyes pretty heavily on one particular lady, and she happens to not be me. The wild thing is that when I met her (odd night that was), she and I shared the same sort of personality. Like seriously, she's weird and outgoing and loves colors just like me. For a good long time I had a hard time believing that Fred had a thing for someone like me, until I met her. That's when I was like "oh shit, he's got a type!"


What brought it to a head for me was my realization that I was propping Fred up so that he could chase her and present a prettier picture of himself to her. Now don't get me wrong, certainly not throwing salt in his game. Shit, that's what dating is- putting forth your best effort to win the affections of the person you desire. I've certainly tried hard to be less... well, less like Malika, but anyone that knows me will tell you that shit only lasts for like 30 minutes. What can I say? I'm hardwired like that. But as I thought back on my previous relationships, I remembered how often I'd held another dude up so that he could present a nicer version of himself to another woman. God knows the hoes my son's father chased didn't know how much his shit stinks (hell, I know for a fact he's fucking around on his current chick), and as much in denial as David was, I certainly held his ass down too. Grown ass Malika just isn't in a space to to play that role for another man. Chase her all you want, but I'll be damned if that's all I'm used for in your life.

With David and my ex, I remember how fucked it felt knowing that I saw their ugly sides, all while they showed the pretty side to other women. Like damn, I get the tears, while these broads get flowers? Nah homie, I'm good. And again, I'm not shitting on Fred, he's just got some steps to take in life. But I'm not going to be the one to look at his ugly side, all while another woman reaps the benefits of my sacrifice.



Needless to say, it brought it all back to Pete for me. The funeral, followed by other things that I'd learned showed me how much Pete cared. He cared enough to hide his inner ugly. A friend of mine happens to be a bit of a seer. I stopped by the internship one day while she was with me. I'd already gushed to her about Pete and I looked forward to seeing what she had to say about him as he approached us. He and I exchanged basic pleasantries and I introduced them, before we went on our way. The moment we walked away from him, I asked her what she saw. Her response didn't make much sense at the time, but her words were "he doesn't want to hurt you." If only I'd known then how much he was really hiding.

I never saw him raise his voice. He'd do simple things like take the trash out of my hands if I was walking it to the trashcan. Even on the days where his mood was below the jovial person I've come to love, he was still pleasant. Shit, I'd already figured he was staying in a halfway house, before he admitted it to me. He'd only left it for 2 weeks when he died. He told me his problems early on, without showing me his flaws. Up until the very end. He never pretended to be perfect. But he definitely cared enough to paint me a pretty picture.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Not Today


Tory dropped me a “we need to talk” text message last night, so I already knew that something was amiss. For all of our differences, and for all the shit I’ve been through lately, I like Tory, I really do. But I’m really just not in a good mental space to full on commit to anyone. Honestly, I need a reset. Nevertheless, when he called me and the first thing he said was, “well, I noticed that in the last few weeks, you’ve been kind of distant.” I immediately reminded him that Pete died 3 weeks ago, so its only natural that I’d be in my own head..

It all started when I asked him if he was dating anyone else the other day. He said that he is not. I told him that if he did, I honestly wouldn't be mad. Being the quirky and self-depreciating woman that I am, I sent him a link to a movie clip from the Addams Family that I feel addresses the kind of woman I can be in a relationship.


Apparently he thought the clip was more so an indicator of him being weak and sniveling and that I consider him some kind of lame for pursuing me. I assured him that the clip was more actually a testament to how difficult I can be to date. I acknowledge being a handful at my extremes, which is a big part of why I haven’t gone full throttle with Tory.

One of the things that I’d liked about Pete was that we could be fast and passionate and leave one another with no drama and no love lost. That’s how free spirits tend to be about dating. Tory was much more old school and steady, which I respected but I knew well enough to not move in a way that could eventually hurt him in the end. Pete also had more experience in long-term dating. He was a divorcee with a child who he was trying to regain visitation with. As much as Tory was well-intentioned, the fact remains that some things you just have to live through in order to fully understand it.

Tory went on and on about feeling that I looked down on him and his situation. I couldn’t believe it. I’d seriously gone out of my way not to pull him in to the abyss of my insanity, and here I was having to defend my actions and assure him that there was no “better” or “worse” between us, we simply were different in how we handled things and where we were in life. Buddhism has led me to not put labels of “good” or “bad” on people or situations. It either is or isn’t. That’s the bottom line. So with Tory and I, in my mind I was never “better” than him, nor was he ever “worse” than me. We genuinely just exist at different moments in life. In all honesty, I’m proud of him for his recent decent into pursuing his career and I looked forward to cheering him on. And who knows, maybe things could have progressed once he got more steady footing in life. The fact is that he wasn’t really counted out, I simply took a moment to mourn and simultaneously took a step back to allow him to work on his goals.

After our conversation, I told him I hope we can stay cool. He said he doesn’t know. He’s feeling rejected. Okay, so here’s real ass Malika coming through. I don’t have time to chase his ass down. I fucking broke into tears in class this morning as a colleague mentioned white people dying of heroin overdoses in the same area that Pete died. Like legit had to leave the classroom to pull myself together. I like Tory a lot, but I feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I won’t be pressured into a relationship with anyone. Especially at a point where my priorities are all over the place. 



One of the benefits of Hajj is that he’s in DC so we aren’t expected to be under one another. He can do him while I work on me. I recall asking Hajj what he did on the night of Valentine’s Day. It probably sounded like a loaded question, but it wasn’t. In my absent mindedness, I honestly just inquired with no intentions of busting him going out with another woman. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize the implications of the question until he hesitated before answering. He then responded that he was going to a concert with “some friends.” Needless to say, my bullshit meter went into overdrive, but I get it. He wasn’t going to tell one chick he digs that he was going out with another woman on VDay. But it was cool. No love lost. Do you, homie.

While at work yesterday, the song “Cheaper to Keep Her” by Johnnie Taylor played on the overhead. I talked to a customer about the song and said that one of my favorite song lyrics ever is

“You didn’t pay but two dollars, to bring that little girl home.
Now you 'bout to pay two thousand, just to leave her alone.”



The customer laughed and said he completely understood. I took the moment to ask him about my Tory situation, recalling the whole “perfect boyfriend vs. fear of a failed marriage” with him. The customer then mentioned something I’d never really thought about- how much autonomy is involved in dating, versus the complete combining of lives in marriage. He said that my fears were valid and that I was making the wise decision to stand still before we became toxic.

So here we are. I’m going to be honest here. I’m going to allow him to bow out. I don’t have the desire or the energy to chase down a relationship that I never really fought for to begin with. I graduate in 55 days, I need a job, and I have other things to worry about. I like Tory and I wish him the best. But I’ve never been one to be pressured to go against my gut. I wish Tory peace and light. But yeah homie, good luck with that.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Forgiving


I’d spoken before about learning the truth behind Pete’s death. Talk about a blow to my spirit. I was outraged. Today I went through a swinging range of emotions from rage to livid. I remembered again how much he had to lose and he lost it anyway. As much as I continue to nearly move forward, I keep talking to people that for whatever reason are able to shine light on his passing. I won’t give much info, but I’ll say that I happened to speak to a cop that works enforcement in that area. So once again, all signs point to a horrible decision on my friend’s behalf. In my anger, I thought all kinds of words that I’m ashamed to admit I thought. “Junkie” and “addict” rolled around as I seethed about the loss of his life over an addiction that he fought and lost after 30 long years.

But as time went on, I started to connect the dots. I thought about Pete as a person and our commonalities, which ran deeper than I’d first remembered. Since his death I’d learned that like me, he was a middle child. A Gemini. Child of a highly successful mother. He was also kind of a wild spirit. He traveled extensively in his life. Right before I got pregnant, I was preparing to start traveling myself. So once I started to think on it, he and I shared a lot. I remembered that he and I just took immediately to one another, and I never quite knew why, but I liked it, so I went with it.

What drew us wasn’t just physical attraction. It was an unspoken bond, based on pain and trying to escape it. Escaping our mutual underlying pain with sidesplitting laughs. Peter’s pain could have easily been mine. I just never dug the feeling of being high. Sure, I enjoy a nice glass of wine on occasion, but not really big on weed and never wanted to do heavier drugs. Honestly I think a childhood of going to dozens of AA and CA meetings as a child did me in. So I didn’t really even start drinking until I’d reached my late 20’s. And even then, it was casual. Only recently, at 36 can I say that I have a remote tolerance to alcohol.


At the end of the day, our similarities ran deep. Even our pain. If I dropped dead tomorrow, of the many, many people who I love and love me, only a real handful of people could truly say they knew me. People love the Malika with the smiles, the laughs, the jokes. But most people don’t know the Malika that was once in a lot of emotional turmoil, and that some days I have to work so damned hard to keep those emotions and memories at bay. Truth of the matter is, with the shit I went through, I easily could have ended up on drugs. Shit was rough. I’ve had people get one view of my life and think that I’d be crazy to shun some parts of my past. Other people have had a front row seat of the source of my pain, and they get it. I finally understood Pete. He hurt a lot and he handled things the best way he knew how. So my anger faded, replaced by sorrow and complete understanding for my friend. I always hate it when people say that a dead person is “in a better place.” But for the first time, I felt it. He was finally free. No more physical addiction. No more pain from feeling like a failure to loved ones. No more disappointment from himself and others after yet another relapse. He was free. Really free. And I'm going miss him terribly. But I’m finally happy for him.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Flood Zone

I woke up the other day from a dream. It was honestly one of the most vivid dreams I’ve had in years. I was in a flood. Not just any old flood, I mean like the whole city became rapids, destroying everything. Once it was done, we were pretty much reduced to living in shanty towns. I woke up and immediately looked online to see what it meant. Apparently a rushing flood means some kind of emotional turmoil and upheaval is happening.



Lord knows that is an understatement. I can honestly say, in some small way, (or perhaps a larger way I have yet to identify) Pete’s passing has changed me. I went from having compassion for his lifelong struggle with drugs to being really fucking angry. Like I’m having to hold myself together at weddings and shit, all because of his problem. I have to say, once I thought of it that way, I can honestly only imagine what it must have been like for his family the whole damned time to be forced to hold themselves together on the daily, while their son/brother/husband/friend/boyfriend was doing drugs. How do you get up and proceed and function and be normal and happy, all while hoping that your loved one isn't found dead in the streets one day?

I think one of the changes for me has been my dating life. What I need and whatnot. Who I want and what I prioritize has shifted. Sex is pretty far from my mind right now. I’m still pretty outgoing, but even how I handle parties has changed. I’ve never been a huge drinker, typically 3 is my limit, but on the times I have had spirits, the first time I felt guilty and the second time I had far less than my regular. When I think of drinking, I wonder what his motivation was to get high. Parental stress? Girls? Honestly, from what I recall in conversation, I think he just liked the feel of that shit. I dunno, maybe he really was masking something. In the coffeehouse hang out session I’d planned for us to have, that was one of the questions I intended to ask him. And now like everything else I’d hoped for out budding friendship, it will never come to pass.

***

I went to a colleague’s wedding yesterday, and I didn’t quite expect the emotions I’d had. I’d originally invited Pete to the wedding, as the bride interns with me, but he didn’t know who she was and I think he didn’t really want to sit around a bunch of strangers, so he declined. The following week when he saw me, he asked how the wedding was. I told him it hadn’t happened yet. The colleague getting married is white, as is her husband. So essentially myself, another intern and like 2 or 3 other people were the only black people there. It reminded me of Pete’s service. The whole time I kept thinking of how in that moment in time, I wish he'd been able to join me in person. I saw a biracial couple at the wedding, black female, white male. It made me think more of Pete. At some point I had to dismiss myself because I felt a crying spell coming on, but I managed to hold it together.  I cried as my colleague walked down the aisle. Everyone else cried because they were happy. I was thankful for that moment because it allowed me a safe spot to cry publicly, although my tears were from my thoughts about my departed friend.

I’ll keep things in the alleged arena, but the more the facts roll in, the more it looks like my friend ODed. So there I was, in public, essentially mourning all over again. It was one thing to say farewell to him when I thought his heart up and stopped. But instead… so I’m really fucking sad and angry now. Like damn homie, REALLY?! Another coworker told me a couple of months back that he’d overheard Pete on the phone some months back and dude seemed to really be going through it. He said that it practically sounded like Pete was on the verge of using again. That was the first time I’d realized just how bad the monkey on his back was. Afterwards, I shot Pete a text saying that I realized that he must be going through a daily struggle that I could not begin to fully grasp, but that nevertheless, I’m here if he needed to shout or cry. I just wanted to make sure he was good. He responded with a text that said “thanks for the support.”

So I’m back to crying now, but for completely different reasons. Because I’m hurt and angry. I thought back on my brief conversation with his mother, and how her overall mood seemed flat. I mean if I had to bury my son, I’d be a literal mess. I knew that he struggle was something I couldn’t completely understand, but now that the facts are out, I get it more. Because living through this has me fucking livid. Like I can’t enjoy myself at a fucking wedding because you did this to yourself. All of the people depending on you and you did this shit to yourself. The kids we work with, the COO that hired him back, ME, his daughter. He may have burned bridges in his past, but there were still a lot of people that believed in him to pull through this once and for all.

Some days I feel Pete more than others, and I felt him strongly last night. As a medium, I guess I’ll tell you that on the other side, people don’t really feel guilt. Like if a mother is exceptionally abusive to her child and the child wants an apologetic mama on the other side, it ain’t happening. Like mama may explain why she acted the way she did, but she’s not sitting up in the clouds, regretting how she treated people. Once people make it to the other side, they becoming loving, but not regretful. Like many other things, it can be a trip to deal with.

As I drove back yesterday, I was pretty pissed. I came home to a quiet place. Still even. It was about 2 in the morning. I started to clean and prepare a snack. I kept thinking that I needed a tv or some white noise because the silence was killing me, since it was just me and spirit Pete in that spot. I went to the bedroom to put something away, I came back out and the tv was on. Did you hear me? Read me? Go back and read that shit again. I thought about turning the tv on, but I did not. I went to the other room. I came back and the fucking tv was on. I felt like I’d been drenched with water. I remember my feet getting really hot as I looked at the damned tv THAT I DID NOT TURN ON. It was ON. So I did what any other logical woman would do. I drove to the night club where my best friend worked and told his ass that he was coming back to the apartment with me.


Yes, I feel Pete. I hear him. I pick up on his signs. He’s with me. He's not exactly apologetic, but he's loving. He still makes jokes on the other side. He hugs me. He holds my hand. And he turns on tvs. Some shit really does just happen to me. I think he did it because I was pissed at him. He’s such a fucking Gemini.

Good Boy, Bad Girl, and the Really Bad Boy

I mentioned before that I’d told Pete about Tory. Actually, I’ve talked to Tory extensively about Pete since his passing and Tory has been beyond patient in hearing me go on and on about another man, deceased or not. Hajj knows that I felt a deep loss in Pete, but I never really shared too many details of who or what Pete is with him. After Hajj was kind of absent as I went through it about the loss of my former student, when we started kicking again, I asked him if I could depend on him emotionally and he said yes. So when I went on and on via my Facebook page, Hajj made it a point to check in on me and offer his virtual hugs as I mourned. Hell, at least he stepped up. When I see him in a couple of weeks I plan to ask about how emotionally absent he was early on, but for now, I’ll take it.

Anyway, I shared with Tory through various conversations who Peter was and what he meant to me. I told him quite honestly that I probably would have had sex with him at some point had he not passed. Some people may think it strange that I discuss my menfolk with one another, but I’m a believer in honesty. If I’m rocking with you, I’m doing just that. If we’re casual, I’m being that as well. I’m not going to go out of my way to make a man think he’s the center of my world if that’s just not the case. Probably why my ass is single now, but whatevs.

In one of my last conversations with Pete I told him about Tory and mentioned Tory’s snail pace of movement. I expressed interest in Tory, but said that the slow movement on things sexually created a bit of a mental block. I said to Pete “I like him, he’s a great guy and he adores me, it’s just that he’s…” As I struggled to find the word, Pete volunteered “boring?” “No, not boring” I responded. Then I found the correct description. “It’s just that I’m a bad girl. He’s a good guy. Pete, you understand, because you’re a bad boy. We can be a lot.”

Pete gave me a look that indicated fully that he understood what I meant. I also explained that I never wanted to hurt Tory with my being so much, so it caused me to be a bit cautious with him, because I know I can be so much to handle.

You see, the issue is that as a bad girl, I can be a handful. I’m clearly not as much of a bad girl as some women. I’m not a drug shooting thief, I’m not a drop out, my bills are in my name, and as of this writing, my rent is current and my lights are on. But I enjoy the night life. I like to see how far down the rabbit hole I can go with my shenanigans. A man who is a bit more cautious in how he handles life may not be able to keep up with the random whims that often guide me. I might up and decide to take a weekend trip to the coast. I once met a guy who was stranded at the airport and took him home with me, and brought him back the next day. Still thankful he didn’t chop my body into pieces, but moving on. The awesome thing about bad boys is that they get it because the operate much in the same manner. So we can be bad at the same damned time.



Sometimes looking back, I think that Pete was kind of distant with me much for the same reason. He was a real bad boy. Not this fluffy shit I’m on. Dude had real demons. Literally the only gripe I had about him was that we didn’t get to hang often. Like if he saw me at work, he always took a moment to stop and shoot the breeze. If I was solo, no matter where I was on the property, he stopped in to chat. I recall that my last day seeing him, I was a little peeved, although not outwardly, about the fact that he hadn’t answered my text message about dinner that evening, that I’d sent him the night before. I saw him while I was solo and he muttered something about how busy he’s been. I gave a weak smile a continued to my destination. I saw him later that day with program members, I guess giving some sort of tour. He looked at me and the two women I was with and gave a weak smile and again said something about being busy. About 3 hours later, as I sat in class, he responded to my text message with “Thanks for the offer. It’s been a long week. Staying home tonight.” I was pissed because his text came 27 damned hours after I’d sent the invite. That’s the last text I have from him. Seeing him solo and him not responding that day resonated with me. Like seriously, Pete always responded when I was alone. But that day he didn’t. I’d kind of wondered if he’d already fallen off the wagon by that point. A cohort of mine thinks he had “female friend” and that was where his time was spent. I’m not delusional enough to assume that he didn’t have some female companionship. But still in his own way, I think he was protecting me from his other side.




I think what drew me to Pete was that he was a rabbit hole follower. Didn’t matter how deep that bitch was, he went with it. I guess that could be a bad thing though. Because look where the rabbit hole led him.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Processing Struggles

I'm trying to make it a habit to not mention Pete constantly, so lots of times, I just sit in silence and think of him. Or I come here to write it all out. Some days I'm airy and I can see the beauty in our short friendship. Then there's days like today. Days where I'm sad. I'm pissed. I'm alone at my internship, in my normal sitting spot and since Pete normally worked on Fridays, he would have at least dropped in to say hey for 5 minutes. But he can't and he won't. And I'm sad. I'm angry. A gazebo that Pete helped build was erected and a plaque with his name was put up. I can't visit it. I genuinely cannot bring myself to go see it. I don't want more reminders. Reminders of my hurt. My anger. My confusion and depression. I miss my friend. Why didn't you stay?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dilemma


I've talked extensively about my feelings on Pete, so its only fair for me to discuss other areas of my dating life at this point. As I've wallowed in self pity over the loss of Pete, the fact is that he was never exactly front runner in my dating pool. Sure, I was setting up for a wonderful run with him as we laughed, talked and grew, but the truth is that I knew our time was limited. I just didn't know how limited it really was. On the outside of time with him, there stood two men that I was heavily drawn to. I'll start with the first one, Hajj.

I came across Hajj while I was in DC last summer. I was pretty bored and wanted to go out on a date. I have to say, DC kind of burst my bubble in terms of how I view myself physically. Like literally, in Atlanta, I can't leave the damned house without having men fall over me. I've grown to quite enjoy it actually. So imagine how my black ass felt when I was in DC and I swear I couldn't pay a guy to give me a second look. It was honestly a tad baffling and disappointing me. All I wanted was some nice young man to take me on a date and show me their view of DC and it was dry as a well up there.



I got bored and got on Tinder. Was on it for a whopping 5 minutes, didn't see anything promising and got off. A month or so later, I was again bored and got on Tinder while back home in Atlanta. The first thing that popped up was that I'd been "super liked" by a guy. He seemed cute enough, so I swiped right and we started talking. He came across as pretty awesome. We talked at length, and I eventually realized that he was still in DC. I guess he'd liked my profile was I was still up north. Nevertheless, we stayed in touch. I liked different things about him. I did a psychological profile a while ago of my ideal candidate. I'm so outgoing, that people tend to think that I like or need a man that's as outgoing and sociable as I am. Quite the opposite for me. I've found that many of the super sociable and funny men I've come across tend to be insecure. Like if I got more attention, more laughs at my jokes, or other men were into me, the outgoing dudes tended to be the most wound up. Like they dug my outgoing personality in the beginning, but they always grew to resent it. So whenever it came time for me to look for an actual potential life mate, not just some dude to fuck around with, I wanted the dude who was cool and confident enough to trust me and let me shine.

Mama didn't raise no fool, naturally I Googled him. He's got a job that's pretty high up, which means that although I didn't look for it, I was able to find his salary and other info pretty easily. I also said that he needed to be financially secure. Like he didn't have to have half a mil in the bank for emergencies, but if one of our kids called and needed $200 for an emergency, we could cut the child a check immediately, rather than waiting for payday. Hajj seemed promising as a long term partner overall for me in that arena. But my knowledge of his funds also created a bit of an issue for me. Like since I knew what he made, I knew that he could easily afford to bring his ass down here to see me. At one point he was leaning toward Labor day. Then a weekend or so after that. Then the Dungeon Family reunion in September. The issue with long distance dating is that is that we have to rely heavily on the phone and texting for communication. I'd ask questions and he'd tell me that he hated the 20 Questions portion of dating. Like dude, I get it, but how the hell am I supposed to get to know you otherwise? Shit, you're not here, I'm not there. So answer my fucking question. Phone calls became sparse. In the fall, a boy I'd worked with last year was murdered. Needless to say, I was jarred. I called him and he was less than supportive. My tolerance waned. Another issue was that I'd sent his ass a Facebook request (and I'm quite sure he'd seen it) and he never accepted it. Some time in October, we'd fizzled out. Plus I rescinded my request. I was over it and honestly didn't look back. He'd periodically check in afterward and I was kind, but I was done.

Some time in December, he texted me, asking how I was. I was short, but polite. I guess at the moment I just wasn't there for the simple shit, so I basically said "damn homie, we could have been something big." He responded with something along the lines of "yeah, I guess distance and schedules got in the way." I was thinking "bullshit" but I allowed it. From there, he really stepped up his game. He even sent me a Facebook friend request (really motherfucker?!), and I accepted it. Truth be told, we been rocking pretty steadily since then. My theory is that he had a female sniffing around him at the moment so he kind of sidelined me until he knew where things would fall with her. Of course he'd never just own up to that, but being pretty does not equate to me being stupid so I'll just ride this on out.

So while that was the story with him, there are things a like about him. He knows I'm loud and outgoing and I think he digs that. The communication is fairly steady now. He's stable. Good job. Well traveled, educated, pulled himself up by the bootstraps kind of guy. I don't think he'd ever say it, but I think he is one of those guys who feels like he's got it all and just needs a strong woman by his side to complete the picture. Enter Malika. We're supposed to officially meet in person in two weeks when I visit DC. Not gonna lie though, for the needs that I have for myself and a role as a potential stepdaddy for the Kid, plus potential father for any other kids I may knock out, on paper, Hajj seems like a winner. I guess we'll see how this goes.

And then there's Tory. I've been Facebook friends with Tory for a while now. At least a few years that I can think of. We became friends because of a mutual connection, but as time went on, we became regular commenters on one another's posts. I'd thought he was a cutie early on, even going so far as to stalk his Facebook page a while back. While in grad school, I've pulled an occasional Facebook hiatus, which would allow me to focus on school. One day Tory inboxed me to let me know he'd missed me in my absence. Ever since then, things flowed pretty well. As a matter of fact, he and I met face to face the following day. Tory is funny, outgoing, loving, loyal. He'd give me the shirt off his back and my son adores him as much as he adores my son.

The problem with Tory is that while I think he'd make an absolutely outstanding boyfriend (no doubt in my mind of that) I wonder how he'd stand up long-term as a husband. Tory came to America as a young child and still is not a legal citizen. Now with this fuckwad we have as a president, getting citizenship isn't exactly easy. Its unfortunate, but he wasn't able to go to college or do many things in his younger years, that allowed most adults to grow and thrive. He's a complete gem, but I can't help but to think that a vital part of his late teens and early 20's was stolen from him because of something he had no control over. I could totally see him in college, socializing, meeting women, hanging with the guys, etc. but he never did that and it shows. While I often sit around and goof off with many of my educated friends, I honestly don't see Tory fitting in, again due to no fault of his own. Don't get me wrong, Tory is smart as a whip. Damned near genius even. But socially, there's just this something that he's lacking. I guess its just me...

The wild thing about Tory is that I dug him immediately, but he was kind of slow to make a move on me and I got kinda bored. Like we'd been kicking it for nearly a month when we finally kissed on Valentine's Day and I was the one that had to take the charge on that. By that time we'd hung nearly 6 or 7 times, and nothing physical like at all. I'm kind of turned on by a man that will grab me by my hand (or even my hair depending on how freaky we're talking) and take charge. Tory is kind of a slow mover, and he really wanted to make sure that we were good, so he took his time. The problem is that I think he may have waited a tad too long. Ironically when I told Pete about my struggles with Tory taking his time, Pete suggested that I take Tory's hand and place it in the neither regions that I needed him to visit.



There's other things as well. Tory is still in the process of getting his footing in his career, although it looks like he's making some strides in it. Tory plans to just chill, the rest of his life, while my ass plans to FLY! Not sure if I'll stay in this state or even this country. Tory moved around so much in his youth that his goal is to get some steady footing and float off into the sunset. SHHHHHEEEEIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!!!! Not Malika! If things in my life were different, I'd be in Belize or Panama, chilling like a motherfucker RIGHT NOW!

So yeah, he'd make a perfect boyfriend, but long-term, I'm just not sure I see us together 5 years from now. Yeah, some people say worry about 5 years from now 5 years from now, but I've wasted many years with the wrong men for me, so why spend anymore on a real crap shoot? My fear is that one day I'll want to up and do some Malika kinda shit and I'm not sure Tory will be down to ride because he's so comfy in where he is. The fact is that unhinged Malika is pretty next level. Not sure if Tory can keep up.

Then there is one more issue with Tory. He's very attached to his mother. Nothing wrong with that, but anyone that knows me knows that I don't have a good track record with mamas. I think I'm awesome, but as a woman that pretty much raised myself, I kind of fly solo and don't really seek out approval from anybody's mama. Despite my son being only 9-years-old, I'm very supportive of him, but I give him plenty of room to do him. Tory is in his early 30's and still lives with his mother. I'm certainly not knocking it, but what happens if we get married and I want to move to Chicago or New York or LA? He'd never fully own it (maybe he doesn't see it) but his mother really depends on him. So if we got married and had a kid, I don't see her being okay with us up and leaving the city, state or country. Is it wrong that I was downright turned on when I learned that Hajj isn't close to his mother? I was like HELLS YEAH!!! No mama drama! Tory's mother needs him. I can't come between that.



Tory thinks we can do this and just move forward and he doesn't understand my apprehension. My issue is that while he's an amazing person, he's got some character traits that I'm not quite sure would work for me long term. He feels that we can work through things, but I've had men tell me "Well Malika, I need you to do this... I need you to be that... I need you to be this... I wish you were like that... I like you, but why aren't you more like this? I dig you, but I don't know if I can deal with that..." And I hated that feeling. Those words of essentially, you're perfect, but I need you to be someone that you're not. What kind of pressure is that? Be more professional. Be more girly. Be more rigid. Be more organized. Be neater. It was like a punch in the stomach every time I heard it. So as fucked up as it sounds, I don't want to tell Tory to be someone that he isn't. I care about him enough to want him to find and love a woman that can take him the way he is, rather than a woman like myself who would come with a list of needs that he honestly can't quite reach up to at this moment in time.

The good thing about all the shit I've gone through in relationships is that it taught me foresight. I think that Tory and I could have a good few solid years, but I think that ultimately lifestyle differences would come between us. I need a man that could ground me, because like I said, Malika can be on some next level shit. When I talk about Hajj, I like to say that "on paper" he's perfect for me. I think that at my moments when I fall, he'd be perfect at picking me up. But I don't know. It takes a while to know if someone can really handle you at your worst. Text messages and the occasional 15 minute phone call couldn't possibly tell me if Hajj is perfect for me. Hell even my trip to DC won't be nearly long enough for us to get to know each other. But honestly I don't know if Tory could handle picking me up at those moments when I'm prone to falling.

So do I go with Hajj or Tory? Or possibly an unknown outlier? Like everything else, I guess time will tell in the end.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Layers


Today at my internship, things started out as well as expected. I wrote earlier today about my struggle to make it through. My supervisor came in and said to me how much Pete made him want to be a better person and leave the legacy that he did. I tried not to, but the tears started flowing when I compared my experience with Pete was comparable to winning the lottery, having an endless supply of money but then ending up back at McDonald's, making $8/hr. I feel like Pete showed me so much happiness and warmth, and left me with a boring life now.

In the whispers since Pete's death, I'd heard a coworker say that another employee, John, had been a part of the same AA/NA program as Pete and had gotten to know him well. I promised myself that when I saw John again, I'd make him sit down with me and tell me his Pete stories. I expected the light, fluffy stories that could only come with my fallen comrade. John started out light, saying how Pete and the guys would often sit around at night, discussing their days.

John went on to say that he did not believe that Pete had a good relationship with his mother, and he spoke briefly about the fact that Pete's exwife is remarried. As I dug deeper, John told me about how Pete was found in his room and how he (John) had to come in to the job and tell people that Pete had died. John also delivered to me that there was a strong chance that Pete died of an OD. To be clear, there is no definite answer here, but the fact is that the toxicology reports take a while to get back and the fact is also that his family may choose to hide the results. But it looks suspect. To be fair, no drug paraphernalia was found on him, nor were any needle marks found. But the facts are what they are. It doesn't look good. The final nail in the coffin (no pun intended here) was that an associate of Pete's made a really suspect remark (for the sake of legalities, I'll leave this vague) which leaves us to believe that she may have had something to do with things (if he did, in fact, OD).

I was floored. I've known Pete as my angel from the beginning. That funny guy with the big smile who always took a minute to stop and goof off with me, was the Pete I knew. The more I heard from John, the more I learned that the Pete I knew was only a part of his picture. Apparently a very small part. I felt torn. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. At the same time, the more I learned, the more in disbelief I became. Who the hell is Pete? Did drugs really cause him to become THIS much of a different person? Like I'm legitimately perplexed as to who this other Pete was?



I wanted to talk to someone that had more experience with addiction than I did, so I called an expert. My father, a man with 30 years of working in addiction, plus his own history of drug usage. My dad, while trying to be apologetic, said point blank that an otherwise seemingly healthy male with a history of drug usage and relapses simply does not drop dead of a "heart attack" at the age of 47. My dad also explained that its quite possible that Pete's relationship with his mother could have just been damaged behind 30 years of drug abuse. But either way, he more than likely ODed. It sucks, but its true. So I don't know. I think that with this, I'll move on. Whatever I hear, I'll process and keep it rocking. Pete told me early on after his death that he didn't want me focusing on how he died, even though at the time I was sure it was just a heart attack. My thought is that he still doesn't want me focusing on it.

I've had to process this whole thing in so many different ways. The good thing is that we didn't fall to shit like other casual relationships I've had, but it also didn't get to grow to be as good as others. With enough time, who knows how things could have gone. So in a way, things are open to interpretation. I like to think that in the end, I got him at his best. Clearly he left a path of destruction with a lot of people in his past. I never saw his dark side. In my mind, I like to think that's because he wanted me to see him at his best. And I'm lucky that is what he left with me. Thank you, Pete.

Life After


I think what surprises me most about this process is how much it fluctuates. Some days I'm clear and ready to kick the world's ass. Other days I just want to see Pete's face. I reached out to a psychic and while at the time I wasn't sure how accurate his predictions were, as time went on, I was blown away. I didn't realize it at the time, but the psychic even predicted Pete's ex reaching out to me.

Today is my first full day back at the internship. My fear was that every time I heard the doors click and about to open, I'd look up and be disappointed. On the contrary, now when I hear the doors click, I don't look up at all. There's no point. If the person coming through the door wants to speak with me, they will. And if not, that's fine too. I spoke before about a guy who has been exceptionally supportive through this odd process for me. It must be weird or tiring to constantly hear me go on and on about a guy I had a thing for. Perhaps its okay for him because its not like Pete was an exboyfriend that I can get back with at any moment. The fact is that he's gone and no matter how much I miss him, he's not coming back. I guess my guy friend finds solace in that. I dunno. But last night I thanked him and asked if he felt weird listening to me go on and on about another guy. He said that he'd thought back on it, and based on the things that I'd told him about Pete, he realized that my pain is based on the fact that I'm suffering not just the mourning, but heartbreak as well. I hadn't though about it, but I guess he was right. I am heartbroken.

The good thing about being a medium is that I know that there is power on the other side. They're with us, whether we believe it or not. I got a strong presence from Pete last night. Honestly, I damned near expected him to appear, but he didn't. Typically my rules for spirits is that when they throw stuff (yes, I've seen it numerous times), it can't be heavy or dangerous (no knives or irons) and no appearing. Like those are my rules and whenever a spirit makes itself known, I announce those as my rules. "Don't throw any dangerous items and don't appear." Thank God they've stuck to the rule. They respect my space and I respect theirs. I've made an exception for Pete and I told him that I'd like to see him again. He hasn't appeared yet, but I hear his voice and feel his presence constantly. I'm waiting to hug him in a dream. That would be nice.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Clarity and Closure



I thought back on my time at Pete's funeral and my time with his mother. His sisters were clearly emotional, crying hysterically. His mother, not so much. I can't speculate on her mental state. I said to her how lucky I was to get to know him during his sober days, at his best, and not get to know him as he dealt with drugs. She simply said back to me "yes, you were lucky." I don't think she was apathetic I think she was cried out. I can only imagine what its like to chase down a son with a severe drug addiction for 30 years. It made me think that much more how lucky I was for my brief time with him.

Went to class today and honestly had to drag myself. I've taken to listening to the Janet Jackson song "Together Again" as it reminds me of Pete, my shining star. Coincidentally enough, I used to not be able to hear the song without breaking into tears because it reminded me of my cousin Tracey, now it brings a smile to my face, remembering that I'll have a friend in the clouds waiting on me. So on my first day back in class since his passing, I needed the motivation to get through my day. I sat in my 9am class, waiting for it to be over. Dragging. The topic was pretty interested, but I still moped through it.



As class ended, I went to grab a friend from home to drive her to campus. As I dropped her off, I looked through my old Facebook messages to see I'd gotten an inbox from an ex-girlfriend of Pete's. She was in Colombia, trying to find out what happened. She'd originally sent it when he died two weeks ago. I apologized for my delay and told her what I knew. I could see what he saw in her. She is pretty and told me stories that said how adventurous she was. She asked if his ex wife was there, and she was not. We briefly talked about Pete's struggles to see his daughter, after his ex denied him visitation. I said to her that I could see why Pete liked us. We were clearly his type. Fun-loving and outgoing. And based on what he'd told us both about his ex-wife and based on what we knew about him, they just didn't seem like a good match from the go. As a matter of fact, he admitted that he'd gotten with his wife way too early in their relationship (only 3 or 4 months), and that he was 42(ish) and she was in her early 30's. Basically they were at different points in their lives. He harbored no ill will against her, but he was the one with the deep chemical dependency, how could he? Still, he took responsibility. As much as he could.

When I drove my friend home, I stopped in to see the guy from the coffeehouse and had her join me. We talked about love, black america, men, normal educated black people conversations. Naturally, the convo rolled around to Pete. My homegirl pointed out that he and I had only known one another for 5 months and that I could not possibly know him exceptionally well in that time. Not enough to mourn the way I have. I admitted, that no, I didn't necessarily know everything about him. I know I don't. I never claimed to. But it made me reflect on what it is that made me adore him so much. It wasn't what he did, what we did, or what I did. It was about how he made me feel. I felt light and loved. Pete was a Gemini. The fact is that no one will ever love you like a Gemini. At our best, we're absolutely magic. We're funny, charming, light. What Pete brought to my life was smiles, giggles, good times. The kiss on the lips was cool, but it was the kiss on the neck that sent me into orbit. That was it. It wasn't just Pete, it was the magic he brought to my life. I'll miss him. But I can move forward now, having identified what it was about him that made him so special. He was magic. But I knew that.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Service- Farewell to Pete



After being outwardly emotional at the balloon release, I made myself promise not to get too emotional when it came time for his official service. Not surprisingly, my dear friend was cremated. While a huge part of me would love a grave to visit (and lay down on, honestly), Pete as Pete would prefer cremation. He was a star. Why hold him here?

None of my friends were able to come. The service was at my intern site as well. A guy who has been amazingly supportive offered to come (more on him for a completely different post), but I felt that if it wasn't a person that knew of me and Pete well, (such as my fellow interns) it would just be odd. So I trucked it solo. Had the perfect dress picked out, but this damned Atlanta weather called for stockings as well. Too damned chilly to just wear a dress, plus the service was outside. I also wore a strapless bra, which has been squeezing the shit out of my boobs since I put it on this morning. Black dress, black stockings, black shoes, black sweater, black nails. I was ready.

I saw his sister and recognized her immediately from her Facebook pictures. I walked up to her and introduced myself. She thanked me for the words I offered during the balloon release. Essentially, my initial words were "Pete was weird. And I'm weird. So we immediately got together and weirded together. There was no incubation period for our weirdness, we just went full throttle early on." I'll be honest, thinking back, I wondered if I gave too much or if his family would appreciate my words, but his sister in that moment said that my words from the balloon release were her favorite and she appreciated them.

Thankfully as the service started, the seats filled up, as they should, Pete was amazing. The COO got up and gave loving words about my dear friend. Another friend got up and spoke briefly. An exgirlfriend of his spoke as well. Its so beautiful and strange to see these different aspects and periods of his life come together to say goodbye to him in this moment. Then Pete's sisters got up. They gave beautiful words to describe their relationship and spoke about how substance abuse stole a big part of his life. They also mentioned how the two years that he cared for his daughter were among the brightest moments of his story. They followed up their words with pictures. Baby pictures, adolescent pictures, then adult pics. The adult pics made me lose it again. I didn't know young or teenage Pete, but I knew Pete in his 40's and I was hurt. At least I wept silently this time.

After the service, my disposition gave away that I was grieving, although I tried my best to hold it together. One of the girls that I've taken a special interest in was there and I reminded her that she and I were together the last time we saw Pete. I also told her that Pete and I had talked about her previously and we both agreed that she is a gem. A friend in attendance told me that my young protege had previously had a slight crush on Pete. Totally can't blame her though. She also admitted to me that she had the crush and I assured her that I could see why. I remember that one of my last convos with him, I told him how good he looked for his age. Never would have imagined that he was 47. He complimented me for looking young as well.

While none of my close friends were present, strangely enough, a resident of my internship was the one that brought a smile to my face. He made me eat because I'm "one of those" (a person that doesn't eat when I'm upset). He made me laugh. He didn't even know Pete. He just saw that Pete was a bright light and sometimes its hard to let bright lights go. I made sure to thank the COO and the CEO for the use of the building for his service. I see the COO frequently, but this was my first time meeting the CEO. I thanked her for the beautiful service, and introduced myself at Malika, the intern. She said that she'd already known who I was and that she heard that I was close to Pete. She told me to make sure that I take care of myself. I started to tear up again with her kind words.

I tried to go straight to my fave coffeehouse to work on this blog and more paperwork. I needed a bit of a drive though before I landed here. I just needed a moment of clarity. So I finally landed here. Here I am. I think that my moment last night helped to bring me the peace I need. Ready to move forward. And finally ready to say goodbye. For now.

These Hands- Preparing to Say "Next Lifetime"


My transition to healing has been a slow, but gradual one. And now comes the final step. Tomorrow I prepare to say "next lifetime" to my dear Pete. I've been kinda irritable this week because I'm working a lot while I'm supposed to be on spring break, plus I'm grieving. Its been a tough week. One of the few bright lights at my job is a coworker, Stephanie. I tend to charm Stephanie with my stories of school, men, flash, and life. I like to encourage Stef. She's a bit more conservative than myself, but I can see that she has the capability of being a total rock star, so I love to remind her that she can save the world too.

I told her about Pete a few days ago, as I also told her that pre-Pete, I'd never really been one to be attracted to white men. Stef said, "I can't wait to get me a white guy." I half chuckled then reminded her that mine was officially gone so, yeah... Today she told me that a guy she'd been kind of into showed up at the job. She said that he'd always been really nice to her and she was so shocked when she saw him. He played stupid, but he remembered her. She said that he was really nice to her some years ago, but she'd love to reconnect. She also said that she didn't get to ask him for his number. Then she surprised me by saying that her old friend was white, which made her nervous. Then she said his name was Pete. I froze. "His name was what?!" She said it again. "Pete." I'll be damned. Then she stated again that she wasn't sure if she could get into a white guy like that. I immediately held up my phone, to show my wallpaper picture, that showed my friend Pete. I started to wipe my eyes before any tears could fall. She knew what I was trying to say.

***

Pete was always super helpful. My intern supervisor kept getting on me to take my beta fish home from his office. That afternoon as I walked the fish to my car, Pete saw me struggling and came over to grab the bowl. I took one look at his hands and panicked slightly. They were large and swollen as they gripped the round bowl. I worried. Had he been fighting or punching walls? Was he okay? He assured me that he was fine and explained his swollen hands as "that's what 30 years of shooting dope will do to you."

Since his passing, I've thought back on Pete's hands a lot. Right before he died, I'd gotten a cute manicure, finished with a nice sea foam green nail polish, accented with glitter ring fingers. I never got to show my nails to Pete, although I'd hoped to do so. The last time I saw him was in passing and I had class to head to, so no go. The following week, he was gone. I'd loved the sight of my nails before, but once Pete died, I hated looking at them. I love a freshly painted set, but the last thing I wanted was bright colors. Its been a week now and I still struggle with the idea of bright colors. I already knew that my next manicure would be black polish. It just felt right. But the day before I got them re-done, I decided on making my ring fingers white, with a glitter french manicured nail, to symbolize Pete as my angel. Occasionally when I think about Pete, I look down at my hands and I go to thinking about that moment and his hands.



I almost let Sky take my car to work today, but something told me to drive him instead because I needed to go visit my friend. Since his death, I've found a strange comfort in visiting the place where Pete and I kissed. It was right in front of the church halfway house he was staying in. I dropped Sky off and went to that space. I remember when he'd shown me the area, he talked about how beautiful the grounds were. I never thought I'd get to see it. But today, as I looked over at the church, I saw that the fence was open.

I climbed out of the car and walked in. Thinking back, I almost felt pulled in. It actually was kind of nice and peaceful. I found a bench and sat down quietly, thinking about my friend. Thinking about his services tomorrow. I looked down at my manicure and my mind wandered back to his swollen hands. "Please come back" I said through my tears. I lay my hand on that bench, and I felt his swollen hand take mine. I felt him next to me.

About 10 minutes in, a groundskeeper asked if I were okay. I hesitated. I explained that I just wanted to be where my friend once lived. He said that he remembered Pete in passing and that he was a good guy. The groundskeeper also explained that normally the gates would have been locked by that time, but today he'd had something to do so he'd been late. He asked if I wanted to see the chapel. I pride myself on being a woman that is open to anything, so just like getting pulled out of the car, I felt pulled to the chapel. Pete wasn't a religious person, nor am I, but an experience is an experience.

Reece, the groundskeeper, originally turned the lights all the way up, but then turned them down. It almost looked candle-lit. It was kinda peaceful. Very peaceful. I did think momentarily that I might come across a spirit or two while in there by myself, but then I figured that I was in a chapel, so I had a slim chance of any real negativity. I almost wanted to take a picture in the building, but I felt that a picture would just ruin the moment. I wanted to focus on my time in the chapel, plus no pics could ever do it justice. It was quiet. Occasionally the building settled. Again, I felt Pete next to me, holding my hand. No tears this time. I enjoyed the dark. It felt like a gift from him, this moment of quiet and reflection.

Friday, March 17, 2017

On Getting the Guy- Life After


Yesterday marked a week since news of Pete's passing. Days are getting a smidge easier. I found comfort in a strange place yesterday as well. I was on Facebook, making a vague comment (that was of course about Pete) and a guy that I'd previous crush on asked me to elaborate. I immediately went to his inbox and talked about my feelings, work, etc. He was kind enough to listen to me rant and assured me that things would be fine, just to keep it rocking.

Before I move forward, I'll give you history on him. My former guy friend, Ted, worked at Morehouse. This guy, James, was a former coworker of Ted's. Many of my happiest moments in life came from chats with students and professionals in Ted's office. James came in on a few occasions and the three of us (or more) would talk about politics, black academia, religion, you name it. I had a small thing for James early on, but obviously I wasn't going to try to get next to him. It just so happened a few months back that I learned that James is also a mutual friend of a girlfriend of mine and as the planets aligned, he and I became Facebook friends.

Anyway, yesterday, as he gave me words of comfort, I'd suggested we get together for coffee and he agreed that sounded like a win. Today was the day we met up. I finally stirred at noon (God bless spring break from school) and it occurred to me that as a child, I was never chosen in return. Like real talk, boys/guys/males, what have you, never liked me back. They took one look at me and turned in the other direction. Suddenly, I'm a woman that gets liked back by the men I lust for. I went through the same bit of surprise when I'd told Pete that I was attracted to him. I was surprised as hell when he admitted to being attracted to me as well. Like seriously, I stalked his Facebook page thoroughly and his ex wife is stunning. Yet when the confessions came out, he was feeling me too.

Meeting with James was nice. Plenty of laughter. I admitted that I'd thought he was a cutie when we met. He told me that he was digging me was well, and even noticed that I hadn't been in Ted's office anymore. He actually said "I had a bit of a crush on you." My heart fluttered. Damn dude, you spend your summers in South Africa mentoring children and you're writing a dissertation on politics in Zimbabwe, yet you're looking at ME?! He walked me to my car and hugged me warmly. As I got in and drove away, my Bluetooth started paying the song "World On a String" by Barry Manilow (no judgement here), I felt warm and fuzzy. For the first time in the last week, I wanted warm air and laughter. For the first time since Pete's passing, I felt okay. I saw the future filled with love and good times.

My appointment after hanging James happened to be with my counselor at school. As I walked in, I was doing okay. Then I sat down on her couch and told her how I met Pete. She asked what happened later. Then I told her he died. And then the tears started again.

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Pete


Man, if you'd have told me a year ago that I'd be this devastated about the loss of a 47-year-old white dude from Philly, I would have laughed in your face. The crying spells have stopped, but I'm in a perpetual state of depression, which I can't quite afford right now. I pretty much have to drag myself out of bed, but I'm surprisingly thankful for the obligations that require me to get up and be productive. I need to be job hunting and putting on a good impression. Not grieving and wearing all black. My supervisor suggested that I speak to someone about my grief at my job. I tried to break through this on my own, but I'm failing at that, so I just decided that I'll go speak with my counselor at school after all. Lord knows I'd love an appointment today, but I settled for 2 days from now instead.

Its not so much the sudden loss anymore, its more of the "what ifs," and "if onlys." I mentioned earlier that Reisha was the one that told me to quit being stupid and not let Pete's race be a thing. Now whenever I see a dark haired white male, my immediate thought is that he should be Pete. I went out to eat yesterday and I saw a black female taking pictures with a tall white guy and they were a couple. And my thought was immediately, that should be me and Pete. Some of our last text convos were me saying that I couldn't wait for us to just chill in a coffeehouse to talk about life and get inside one another's heads. His response was "sounds like a plan." Now here I am, in the coffeehouse that I couldn't wait to show him, with all of the art I knew he'd enjoy. And I'm alone.

At the balloon release, I was pretty devastated. Don't get me wrong, plenty of tears from others, but yeah, clearly I was distraught. Yesterday a friend called me and announced that he'd been fired from his job for sexual harassment, which he'd never done. But suddenly innocent jokes he'd made became a source of judging him and firing him as it became a his word against hers type of situation. It all took me back to Pete again.

One day I vented to Pete about not agreeing with some management things that happened at the gig. A few minutes after my vent, I made him promise not to repeat anything. He responded by saying that my words were safe with him, and asked that I not repeat anything he said as well, which I obliged. Which would be why my coworkers may have been surprised at my grieving him. We seriously kept our friendship a secret. On the day he kissed me after I drove him home, rather than leave from work, I had him meet me across the street at a gas station, so that none of the prying eyes would see us. So yeah, they got Work Pete, I got Pete.

But nevertheless, here stood my lesson. I stood around crying my eyes out. I told another woman I'm close with about myself and Pete, but my sudden fear is that my extreme show of sadness would indicate more in our relationship. I showed my hand. He and I never had sex. But we were close friends. So close. And now, here in my grieving, I've said far too much. At the end of the day, I need a job. My rent is kicking my ass at $1k a month, and as much as I want to just jump in a hole, my son depends on me to be a functional adult to keep our shit together. So watching my friend complain about his misconstrued words, I guess I took another lesson from Pete. Work is work and home is home. Inappropriate jokes are for your friends, not your colleagues. Pete knew. And he just showed me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pete 2

So I'm on the third evening since I learned about Pete. I thought that by now I'd be up laughing and back to my old tricks. The fact is that I can barely get out of bed. I'm still crying a lot although a bit less. I had to admit to Daisy today that even though Fred is here on business, I'm in my own head too much to pay him any attention. The fact is that I'm not the most pleasant woman to be around right now. I'm still grieving tremendously. I didn't really realize how much he'd meant to me until I lost him.

I've been thinking a lot about our dirty jokes. Those moments of alone time. I took it out of my original blog that I'd posted, but we kissed once. It was a lot tongue. He kind of caught me off guard. But what I remember was the way he kissed my neck immediately after. It was just a peck, but man, that neck kiss had me in orbit.


Yesterday, we had a balloon release at work where people were able to talk about Pete and how much he meant to them. It was nice that everyone had their memories of Pete, the coworker, but Pete the person off the clock was amazing. I also learned that he died of a heart attack, and not a relapse, something that worried me. I've been going back through his Facebook page, looking at his pictures. The fact is that the second I learned his last name, I'd been stalking him online, so I knew of his proclivities before he knew I did. I remember how Sky looked at Pete's Facebook page at the art he posted, and immediately knew that based on his artistic taste alone, he and I were a perfect match.



I told Pete of my commitment issues and Pete laughed, because he understood completely. I've taken to reading my cousin Jessica's blog about her time missing my cousin, Jarronn. I hoped it would lend me some comfort, but Jessica talked about losing her husband. I didn't lose a husband, I lost a "work husband"/friend. Completely different. Although, I have to admit that as i read more into it, grieving is grieving and healing is healing. I don't know how I'll manage to finish out this internship though. The fact is that Pete was such a large part of my days. I happened to throw together a cute outfit the other day, and I decided that I'd wear it the following Friday for Pete. Not knowing that Friday would be the day of the balloon release because Pete was gone. The outfit called for a cute, brightly colored scarf. But when the day came, there was no way I could wear a bright scarf. I stuck largely to all black. I'd been in the process of painting my bedroom to make it bright and colorful. I needed another pint of finish a portion of it. I haven't bought the paint and lord only knows when I will. In the meantime, I'm simply going to leave it unfinished.

What has been hard for me is the idea of saying goodbye to such a dynamic spirit. The idea of "goodbye" tore me to pieces. Goodbye meant forever. I can't get up and smile like everything is okay if I don't have my beacon of life to shine on me. Every time I thought of the words "good bye" I was in tears again. In being a medium, Pete has been kind enough to communicate with me. Yesterday, it occurred to me that I would like to hear music other than my Stevie, although Steve has done a great job capturing my emotions with "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer." I climbed into my car, and looked down and staring at me was the cd for the soundtrack for the movie Panther. That cd happened to contain one of my favorite songs, "We'll Meet Again" by Blackstreet. For the first time in a while, happy tears appeared.

Pete was kind enough to continue to whisper in my ear. He told me how he feels about Fred (gonna leave that one alone) and when the kid walked up to me and passed gas, Pete quickly responded "NICE!" When I think about my time with Pete, sometimes I wonder if he picked me or if he and I picked each other. Sky pointed out that based on some things, Pete was an introvert. I can't believe I missed it, but he was right. Pete was one on one, not one for large groups. I invited him to a cohort's wedding and he was kind, but quick to decline. But when he and I were together, our time was amazing. I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm so thankful for that fateful day when we stopped as he was pushing that wheel barrow. Lord only knows how boring my life would have been if we'd never stopped to chat that one day.

What makes this a tad easier for me is remembering how blessed I was to have Pete. That he chose me and that I was wise enough to choose him. We may not have been a full fledged couple, but there was a lot of love and laughter between us in a short time. That's all a woman can really hope for and I got tons of it. He was kind enough to show me his interior, not just his external shell. His internal was insightful, warm, humorous and honest. Again, how blessed was I?

I'm so glad that Pete agreed to wait on the other side for me. Some people go and if you see them again, you know, its cool. But I genuinely NEEDED to know that Pete would wait for me. I had to have confirmation that when my time comes, he'll be there, with a dirty joke and a hug. And maybe even a kiss on the neck.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pete



I said a few posts ago that 2017 seemed to be shaping up to be something else, and damned if that ain't the truth. I met Pete some time last semester. I'm thinking around September. I'd seen him around, the random cute white guy that was working maintenance at my intern site. I saw him in passing one day, and took a moment to introduce myself. A few minutes into our conversation, he explained that he had a background as a substance abuse counselor. I looked at the wheel barrow in his hands and gave him a confused look. Then he explained that he'd worked for the company previously, but left when he relapsed and feared he'd start mucking up, so he stepped down. The CEO of the company was kind enough to take him back until he could be trusted again. Once he proved himself, he'd be promoted again.

He was always kinda goofy. We shared a love of dirty jokes and cursing. As I sat at my intern site, he'd stop in and check on me. I joked that if I had a better body, I'd be a stripper. He said "ain't no shame in my game, I'd have no problem being a stripper if I was in shape." Knowing how he was, I completely believe him. He told me about his ex-wife and how because of his drug abuse, his marriage fell apart and he subsequently lost his visitation with his daughter. His goal was to reestablish visitation.

He was supercute, but being white, honestly it took some getting used to for me. I realized recently that I'm not really physically attracted to white men, but Pete was different. Honestly, when we met, I thought he was mixed. Nope, dude was white. It didn't matter though. Our friendship was unlikely, but solid. He and I went to lunch at Whole Foods one day and we sat near the exit. A black guy walked out the door and I swear I heard him grunt as if he was expressing unhappiness with my "relationship" with a white guy. Truthfully, my great friend Reisha was the one that convinced me to get past my hang up over his race. She pretty much said "if you don't make it a thing, it won't be a thing." And she was right. Once I made the decision to not sweat his race, it made it easier to get to know him and adore him.

January 2, 2017, he was promoted to working in YouthBuild, a division of my job. I was so excited for him, I immediately texted him and told him how proud I was. A month ago, he let me know that he was closing in on the day for him to move out of the halfway house he'd been staying in. Him moving to another spot meant we'd finally be able to hang out. During that same conversation, I admitted to being attracted to him. I was actually surprised when he admitted feeling the same way about me. He promised me that we'd finally get to spend some time together once he got to his new spot. I drove him home a week later. Once we stopped, we chatted. It was so awesome to see his home and share his excitement of being able to move soon.

Three weeks later, he'd moved into his new spot. I asked how he dug the new spot. He said it was nice. He was busy and we didn't get to see each other much, but I still stopped to buy him a housewarming gift. I eventually decided to give him an hourglass, as a symbol of the "one day at a time" mantra that goes with his time in recovery. I left the gift in my car, and waited for an alone moment to give it to him. We tended to communicate away from prying eyes, for obvious reasons. I looked forward to the day that I could see his face as he opened it. I shot him a dinner invite Thursday afternoon, asking about Friday night. On Friday he shot me a text saying that he'd had a long week and would just chill at home. I was irritated, but I've made it a point since early on not to pressure him. I knew that his sobriety was still a struggle for him so I'd let things happen when and how they did.

Today I had a meeting with my intern supervisor. We sat around with another coworker, chatting casually. The coworker turned his laptop to me, showing the email that announced that Pete was gone. I went numb. So numb. My coworker explained to the supervisor what happened. The coworker walked me outside for air. I cried. I stared into space and I cried. Pete Hust died. My homie was gone. My friend. My confidant. My white guy. I once called him "hood" to which he responded by calling me the same word. I denied it. He insisted that I was too. While in the car, I told him I was in a Dixie Chicks kind of mood. He said I was the only woman from Camden, New Jersey who listened to the Dixie Chicks.

Pete is gone. Only a handful of coworkers knew how much Pete meant to me. Those that did hugged me and checked in on me. Oddly enough, I'm surprised how much no one knew we kicked it, although we did keep things casual and private. My other supervisor, who I've been extremely close to since last year didn't know either. I almost told him one day. But I wanted to respect Pete's privacy. It came out today though as I lost it in my supervisor's office. I miss Pete so much. Oddly enough, I never got a picture with him because the chance never came where we were both available and looking our best. But it was definitely on my mind. Thank you, Pete. You will always be remembered.