Friday, April 28, 2017

They like me. They really, really like me.

I wrote previously about being a tad torn between a best of both worlds of Tory and Hajj. Tory, being the young, energetic one who is still grappling with getting his career and life together, and then Hajj, the independent career man, who wants the wife and family life, yet is a tad emotionally detached. They both brought so much to the table, yet both require a bit of work.
Tory did call me a while back, saying he wanted to step back from me. In my emotional space, I was kinda like "whatevs, man." Three days later, we were back like we always were. I managed to finally meet Hajj earlier in the month. He wanted some affection and whatnot, and although I thought I'd be ready to deliver on that, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. Hajj knew about what I've gone through and he respected my space, even though he was hoping for more.

So here I am, nearly 2 months after Pete passed, and probably the most emotionally detached from any man that I've ever been. I kind of thought that Hajj and I would fall apart, but we do still occasionally check in. The last time we texted, I admitted to him that at one time he was definitely my number one contender. He joked that since then I must have started  seeing someone else. I corrected him and told him that I haven't done anything with anyone in 3 months and that my dating card will remain empty for the foreseeable future.

Talked to Tory last night and for the first time in a while, Pete came up again. More so because I asked Tory if there's been a major change in my demeanor and personality since then. Tory said that I'm not as physically affectionate as I once was. I hadn't thought about it, but I could see that. I asked if he felt weird, seeing me change so much over another guy who I'd clearly been kind of casual with up until that point. He admitted that it was a bit odd, mainly because he felt that I'd clearly considered Pete one kind of way, while considering him another. I explained that Pete and I were more cute from the same cloth, while Tory just wasn't the "casual sex and move on" kind of guy. The fact is, Pete was. I also told him the story of how I waited several weeks to tell my colleague Amelia that we'd kissed. Tory grew quiet and said "I didn't know you and he ever kissed."

Tory asked if anyone else was in the running, so I took the opportunity to tell him about Hajj. I explained that in some weird way, they each make up for what the other one is missing. While Hajj is the career man with the home and financial stability, Tory is the guy that I can sit on the phone with for hours on end, chatting about nothing. Typically if I'm on the phone with Hajj, we only talk awkwardly for about 15 minutes before hanging up. Its still wild to me, that despite me grieving another man for the last 2 months, both of these cats still like me. I'm not expecting anyone to hold on longer than they'd like and if either finds another woman or situation that makes them happy, I'm all for it. But still its nice to be appreciated and respected while I go through whatever it is I'm going through. I must be more worth it than I previously thought.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

From the Bottom

My friend hosted an event the other day and I was glad to show up. It was actually the first event I’ve gone to in the last month and a half. Wasn’t a club gig though, it was a family event, with kids and high school band students. It was nice to get out, although I didn’t intend to be out as long as I was. One of my favorite parts of the day was reconnecting with my friend Kene’e. Our sons met and were similar ages, so they bounced around heavily, irritating our very cores, as they got acquainted.

At some point during the day, I came across Party Guy and gave a swift detour so as to not cross his path. I didn’t update on him early, but he was a waste of space. A liar, lying about even the smallest details, had a girlfriend and lied about the status of their relationship, and was all around a shitty person. I was hurt tremendously, because I’d foolishly held on to the belief of who I wanted him to be, instead of who he actually was. So yeah, I saw him yesterday, careful to ignore him and avoid eye contact. At some point he even hugged the friend standing next to me as I stared straight ahead, acting as if he were invisible. I literally bent around, careful to avoid being in his space as much as possible.

When Kene’e and I walked away from the prying ears of children, I explained to her that since losing Pete, I’ve made a clear decision to not waste my time on anyone. I won’t beg a man to love me, to call me back, to spend time with me, any of that. I’m okay with my own company, (I am funny as shit after all) so why feel it necessary to beg someone for more? Plus I’m way more at peace now. Kene’e also asked about my previous plans to move soon. I told her that I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. My whole slate has been wiped clean. I’m scaling back on superficial relationships, in favor of people and situations that uplift and empower me. I mentioned my garden and my pet chickens. I told her about my realization that so much of what I previously wanted was surface and that I’m starting over. From the bottom.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I met with my therapist the other day. God I love her. I’m so lucky to be able to attend sessions with her while I’m in school. I started last year and I didn’t manage to pick back up until this year, after Pete died. She does an incredible job of helping me peel back layers to uncover what’s going on with me. It started out as pretty routine stuff. I started by talking about my meditation and told her how glad I am that I’m starting to make some headway in my grieving.
It started out pretty good actually. Had no real gripes when I arrived. I told my therapist about my decision not to date, not only letting myself heal, but also the other stuff on my mind. I told her also that part of my issue lies in the mundane selection of men that have approached me lately. Much like my Magic post, I told my therapist about my need for someone to fulfill the magic that Pete brought to my life. I need someone that loves flowers and stars. I need someone that appreciates nature and makes me laugh uncontrollably.  I need a free spirit. As screwed as Pete’s past was, it shaped him. I feel like he gave me an escape from the boredom of my existence.

My therapist (God bless her patience) then took a moment to remind me that I appeared to be holding Pete to some kind of godly standard and she was right. She said that despite it all, there certainly was not enough time spent for me to determine if he’d be the knight in shining armor that I’d built him up to be. She reminded me that his ex-wife found fault, hence their divorce. I also told her that I also don’t know that he wouldn’t have relapsed in the future, if he hadn’t already. Plus he was never meant to be a permanent fixture for me. I’d planned on him being a fun tryst. Not a future husband or best friend. The therapist then challenged me to determine what it was about Pete that held me in this space.

As we conversed more, it slowly started to sink in. It wasn’t just about Pete, the person. It was about my incredible urge to be free. He represented the freedom from oppression that I need. I told her how much being a Black woman can be so heavy. How I’ve taken part in, observed, and walked by conversations about race to the point that I’ve lost count. It’s exhausting, trying to change the world. I’ve been about peace, rainbow, unicorns and shit like that since the early days. Please note that my blog’s url is This shit is real.
I talked even more about my desire to live in a small town, with my pet chickens (an odd, constant theme), country living, by a lake. My therapist stated that normally people that have a desire to make a lifestyle change like this typically have been for a long time about it. Then I confessed to her that I’ve always had a love of small towns and have often dreamed of having a home in a small town, plus something cozy in the city. So there it is. It’s not just Pete, its how much he represents my need to be free.

Truth be told, I’ve always been a bit of wild child. Even though I know how to dress up and adult like normal people, there is still a major part of me that wants to run through grass barefoot (and I actually do go nearly everywhere with shoes that I can easily slide off). I want to create art. I want to lay by a lake and hear the wind blow. I want to run through sprinklers. Say whatever the hell you want, I’m finally making a breakthrough.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Not to toot my own horn, but getting hit on by men gets kind of old. Especially when you know that they’re full of shit. I’ve talked extensively about my desire not to date at the moment. But I have a secret- I’m willing to date, but it has to be the right person. The guys around me just aren’t cutting the mustard and for the first time in my life, I have no time for simple shit. A former coworker who was given fuccboi status a year ago saw me today and gave me his number. I pretended to put it in my phone before walking away. However, I was on campus a while ago and I met a charming young gentleman who I certainly wouldn’t have minded tinkling around with my keyboard. But things didn’t go that way and we ended up being good friends, which I’m certainly fine with.
The problem is that so many of my would-be suitors are so plain to me. You see, Pete was magic. The man knew how to light up a room. His smile and charm won me instantly. He introduced me to his magical world of art and he knew how to lift any down moments. He was a gentleman and a freak. He was fearless and beautiful. Pete will be a hard act to follow. He was magic.
Not toot my own horn, but I also bring a bit of magic to the lives of the men I’m around. I’m quirky and eccentric. I’m random, fun and outgoing. A guy told me some years ago that I’m like the woman in the crowd wearing red when everyone else is wearing grey and tan. And he was right. The problem with being this kind of person is that complete wastes of space will fight, kick, and scream all to be part of your circle. They want to suck up your energy. They want to consume you, they want to be like you, they then resent your freedom and your comfort with yourself. I swear, when I tell you that I can’t even put a number on the people that start off loving how independent and quirky I am, only to resent my personal freedom later on. They either want to use it, control it, or destroy it. You eventually reach a point where you learn to be mindful of who you share your magic with. Not everyone that loves what you bring to the table actually loves you or even knows how to love you.

So this is why I’m stepping so far back from dating. Not only was Pete a hard act to follow, he helped me to realize how vital it is to have people around you that see you as you are and not only respect it, they encourage you to grow it. So no, I’m not going to be a flower that is easily plucked and left to wilt in the shadow of a man. I’m going to shine brightly in my field until I come across the man that knows how to pull me up by my roots and plant me where he can love me and nurture me. Pete would want it that way.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


I woke up this morning and the first thing I thought about was the Jazz Festival that's coming up next month. For any other individual, this wouldn't have been much of a thing. For me, this represents huge progress, because its the second day in a row that I woke up and didn't immediately think about Pete. I'm really glad I'm making progress in this. On top of that, I ended up in a 3-way hug with some classmates and I didn't immediately fall into tears about Pete. I'm finally moving forward. On the other hand, it seems like I'm constantly being tested in the fuckery department. Yesterday, a former classmate I'll call Eric hit me up. I was bored and stuck in traffic, so I took the moment to reconnect for the first time in 2 or 3 years.

Eric jokingly accused me of intentionally quitting talking to him some years ago. I assured him that was not the case, but that life simply happened and that grad school doesn't leave a lot of time for extraneous conversations. I confessed that I'd been so busy in the last 2 years, that my dating life at some point consisted primarily of my young friend in undergrad. Eric grew a tad miffed and reminded me that the whole time we sat together in our Human Behavior class that I never threw the cookies at him. I reminded him that unlike Eric, my young friend didn't wear a wedding ring the whole time we were in class. Eric stuck to his original story of being separated at the time of wearing the ring. I told him that separated or not, I wasn't trying to get caught up in some shit. Eric segued into asking about now. I gave him the whole "going through a grieving period" thing, he did the typical "condolences" thing and we chatted a bit more before he needed to go get some work done. He called me back last night, while I was in the middle of my House of Cards marathon, so I was polite, but I hung up quickly.
This morning, on the way to my first jog in ages, Eric texted me and apologized for calling last night. I assured him that I was fine and that he simply caught me in the midst of relaxing. He then offered that he figured that I was in the middle of entertaining "company" and that he may have thrown a wrench in my mix. I texted back about not really dating at the moment, grieving, just me focusing on the kid, blah, blah, blah. Then he texted back that he'd always dug me and wanted to see if--- but then he read my text about not dating at the moment and he fell back. I swear, as I read the start of that text my first thought was 'are you motherfuckers having weekly meetings to see who can come in the quickest and fuck my life up?!' Real talk, I just wish people knew how I physiologically respond to being hit on right now. Like my heart stops and I freeze like a deer in headlights. Not only do I not really want to be touched in a sexual manner, I'm petrified of some certified dickhead working his way into my circle and destroying my peace. Outside of the grieving, I'm rather okay with where I am and don't really want to entertain bullshit right now.

Ironically, one of my last intimate conversations with Pete, I confessed to him that my girlfriends and I, who are all around the same age, often commiserate about increased sexual urges at this stage in life. And here I am nearly 2 months after that conversation and I want nothing more than to be left the hell alone.

I arrived at the park and enjoyed the solitude. I originally chose against Piedmont Park because it serves as a bit of a distraction while jogging, but I chose to go nevertheless. I jogged and walked as always, but while jogging, I found a quiet dock by a lake and realized that after all I've been through, I'm long overdue for some mediation. I was irritated at the sound of a loud dump truck in the background, but I reminded myself that masterful meditators can move past distractions, and so should I. I rested my eyes and allowed myself to relax, focusing on the trees beyond the lake. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightening. Allow this moment. Allow the air to move, allow the wind to blow. Allow life to happen. Allow these trees to grow. Allow the ripples in this lake to keep moving. What I needed was to stop trying to flow against the tide. Buddhism teaches that attachment is what creates suffering. All of my crying and mourning has been my attachment to Pete. I need to step back and allow life to happen, and unfortunately, in life, death does happen.
My mediation also told me that I needed to allow myself to grow. While well-intentioned friends show concern about my mental state, the fact is that growing and shifting. I'm not the all-night long party girl that I've been known to be. I'm moving into a different space in life, and that is okay. I may again one day become the all-night party girl, but for now I'm opting to be more withdrawn, and I have to allow myself to feel that and be okay with it. When I woke up thinking about the Jazz Fest, my thoughts were that rather than crash a friend's blanket and hang around all day, I'd probably quietly drop in and see my favorite acts, say hello to a few faces, and quietly withdraw again. And I'll allow myself to do that. No guilt in allowing myself to alter how I choose to live my life. And that is the ultimate freedom.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rejection Letter

I met a guy the week after Pete died. He was nice enough, and when he asked for my number I told him that I'm going through a grieving process and told him that if we'd exchanged numbers, I'd reach out more via text than actual phone calls. He said he would be fine with that. After a delay, really from my own shit, I decided it was time to emerge and spend some time out of the house with a new person. Surprisingly, I had a great time with him. The alcohol certainly didn't hurt. Man, I was lit! I laughed and giggled, and found myself thinking 'man, you're all right.'

The next morning, I awoke to a "Happy Easter" text message from him at 8:30. I didn't respond. Around noon he sent a text telling me he hoped my day was going well. I responded that I was having a good day nearly an hour later. He immediately texted me back telling me that he wanted to play in my hair again. SEE?! Um... He's doing too much. Granted, the alcohol had me nice and lubricated the night before, but that didn't mean that I was up and ready to introduce all kinds of new people into my space at this moment in time. Here it is nearly noon the next day and I still haven't said anything back to him.
His response followed by my response just indicated to me yet again that I'm just not ready to date. I've made a conscious decision that any man that approaches me will pretty much immediately be met with the "I'm grieving the last dude I was interested in, so no, I won't date you." Honestly, grieving isn't the only issue I'm having, but I like to think that giving my spiel will encourage men to kindly back away from me.

I explained to my home girl "Tanya" about my decision to basically curb new potential suitors with "well, I'm currently grieving the last man I was interested in, so I'm not in a space to date." Tanya surprised me by suggesting that I not offer that to men. She suggested instead that I simply state "thank you, but I'm not interested." I may be impulsive as all hell, but I've definitely worked out my verbal rejection letter to a science. While grief may be about 50 percent of why I don't want to be bothered, there is also the fact that I'm in the process of completing school, job hunting, and realizing I need to zero in on my son more. I just don't have time for bullshit.

Another thing I've realized is that as a woman, guys simply love the challenge of hearing a woman say "I don't want or need a man to come in and fuck my life up." There is nothing a fuccboi (pronounced FUCK BOY) loves more than the challenge of a woman who has declared that she's putting down the pipe. Fuccbois know they ain't shit. But when a woman has stated that she no longer wants to be sidetracked by the shenanigans involved with new penis, fuccbois take that as a challenge to break down her walls, pun intended. I can only think back on the many men that knew the didn't want shit, yet somehow worked their way into my life just to fuck up my progress, or fell down on their knees apologizing for being fuccbois, only to turn around and do the same shit again.

One of the blessings about death on my end here, is that no one wants to hear about it. Lord knows I've stretched the ears of my loved ones to the max with conversations about my departed friend. But people that don't know me and never knew Peter simply aren't going to want to sit around with me as as I cry and go through this process. So I consider it quite a blessing when I say "Sorry, I'm grieving" and men back away. Guys are trying to get in and smash. They aren't trying to bring down their days with my shit. Good. That's the way I'd prefer it. Honestly, I've considered keeping up the story, long after I'm done with this process, simply because I love how it deters would-be fuccbois. I'm sure Pete would be okay with me blaming his death on why I don't want to be bothered with another loser.

Back to Tanya, I told her that I don't owe anyone a pretty explanation for my grief. I don't have to wrap up my feelings in a pretty little bow, just so that the fragile male ego could handle me telling him that I'm not interested. She then said that I could, in fact, be hurting the feelings of men by stating that my grieving means that I'm off the table. I told her that I don't really give a shit how my grieving makes someone else feel, and that stating my loss is, in no way, a statement meant to harm others, but instead explain my mental space. She then told me that if I'm not the offended party, I don't get to say what is or is not offensive. I swear, I'm pissed off again just writing about this shit. Am I seriously supposed to hold back my truth, just to make a man feel good about himself? And in the meantime, have a guy hear me say "no thank you, I'm not dating" so that he can then zoom in on me with the intention of destroying my life?!

I've known Tanya for a few years now, so I know she can be kinda contrary at times. I'm going to chalk this bullshit up to one of those moments. But still. I shouldn't be made to be quiet about who or where I am. And I won't be.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Exestential Crisis II: All That Glitters

So after my near mental break early in the year, I managed to tuck all of my feelings back under my hat after a conversation with Daisy. I appears that these emotions are starting to seep back out. Undeniably Pete's death had a bit to do with where I am now mentally and emotionally, but truth be told, whatever I'm going through seems to be bigger than him.
The day started normally yesterday. I went to a job fair, with no real expectations. As I got there, I walked around, seeing what may work for me. I was happy to find a couple of school districts located way out, which would allow me to live in solitude, as I've been seeking. After the job fair, my colleagues and I went to lunch. As the conversation rolled on to different topics, I told my friends how much I'd like to just flee to a small country town and be free of the simple shit that we experience here. Eventually an impromptu intervention began. My guy friend in the crew, Cliff, went on about my horrible selection in men and how given Pete's substance abuse past, I should have known to steer clear. I reminded him that the fact is that Pete was actually never bad to me. He treated me well and we had a great time together. Yes, he had a past with heroin, but I have never regretted his friendship.

Another friend chimed in that ever since "ya know" happened (I'm not quite sure why his death became unmentionable), I've been in a funk. A third friend commented that it is quite strange that after only 5 months of friendship, I've grieved as hard as I have. As the questions and comments rang out, the tears started falling again. I simply said "I don't know why or how things happened! All I know is that I miss my friend!" Seeing my response, my friends backed off. Thankfully the topic eventually changed, but as we got ready to part, my friends assured me that moving far out is just something temporary in my head.

Little did they know that I've been over this shit since way before Pete's passing. I'm kind of perplexed at things right now. Ironically enough, I feel like Pete would be the one person that I should be talking to because he'd understand exactly where my mind is. I feel like white people are allowed to feel like I do. They're allowed to be over it all and flee and travel and be over simple shit like Instagram models and whatever rapper they're fucking. I feel like black people are supposed to want to move to Atlanta and do brunches and drink mimosas, and hang in fancy black circles. On the other hand, just last night I sat at a presentation given by the Lowery Institute, sat in a room with plenty of well-established people, and sat in on a photo op as the pantry I started was given $5,000. Stuff other people strive for, I live. And I want to give it all back, just to have a simple life. This damned sure isn't what I bargained for.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Finished Painting

Its getting harder and harder to breathe. I feel weird in my own skin. I wanted so bad to have this life. The beautiful, professional woman with the master's degree and my whole life in front of me. But I'm miserable. I had to help with a project for my internship yesterday, and I actually did enjoy it. While I was there, I met a classmate, who quickly began to flirt with me. He suggested that we exchange numbers and I agreed. While getting my number, he starts to go "Your husband or boyfriend won't complain about me calling you, will he?" I gave a huge wince, to indicate my apprehension. He responded by asking what was wrong. I responded by saying that the last guy I'd had an interest in died about a month ago and since then, I've taken a step back from dating. He apologized and offered his condolences.

Once the gathering was over, I climbed into my car and began to drive to a coffeehouse so that I could get some work done. But I didn't get off at my exit. I started to drive. And drive. Before I knew it, I was about 10 miles further than my exit. I couldn't figure out why I kept going, then I realized what the problem was. I didn't want to do it. I no longer wanted to go to my favorite spot and write. I wanted freedom. Real freedom.

Eventually, I composed myself and decided to head to my coffeehouse. I decided to make a slight detour and I went home to grab my best friend Sky to take him to the coffeehouse with me. We got there, and I started again on Pete. I told Sky how I've tried my very hardest to move forward, but I can't shake it. I told Sky that my time with Pete feels like an incomplete painting. Have you ever walked into a home and seen an unfinished painting? Its kind of unsettling. The thoughts of what is supposed to happen next? What colors are supposed to go there? That's how I feel about my relationship with Pete. What would have happened? What would we have become? It's so hard to go on, knowing that I'll never know.

Sky looked at me and said
"Malika, the painting is finished."

I froze. I welled up. And I cried. He was right. Sky went on to explain that just like the crudely drawn paintings that Pete loved, our relationship was crude and oddly drawn, but complete. So rather than wonder why we didn't come out like some boring hotel painting of flowers, I had to appreciate that our friendship went the way it was supposed to go. I got a beautiful friendship with the unlikeliest of people. But Sky was right. The friendship we had was the friendship we were supposed to have. So I have to appreciate what we had. Because it is beautiful and complete.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Reset of 66

I'm going to be honest here and say that sometimes I even bore myself to death with my Pete talk. I mean, I enjoy my thoughts of him, but when I talk about him I'm starting to wonder if I'm even making sense anymore. He died a month ago, and I'm settling into my new normal, but something is really tearing at me. I need to reset. A life reset. I've been feeling it for a while now, even before I'd first laid eyes on Pete. I'm 36 and have lived in Atlanta my whole life. I'm graduating with my master's degree soon and I just feel like I want to do something different. I occasionally placate that need with a vacation to the beach or visit family in Washington.

It came on pretty heavy yesterday. Hajj was able to score me some tickets to the African American History Museum at the Smithsonian, a morning appointment. Google Maps in Washington DC is the pits so it took me all around the world before landing me there. Long story short, I didn't leave DC until about 3pm. I'd looked for the proper route to get on I-95 to hit Atlanta, but I simply wasn't able to find it. My GPS kept telling me to hit I-66, a route I'd never seen before. I figured that it was just more GPS malfunctions. I even hopped on I-495, hoping it would eventually put me on I-95, but no go, it put me right back on I-66. I tried to call Daisy, but she didn't pick up. It was already getting late, so I decided to wing it, figuring that perhaps I'd land on I-95 in a couple of miles.

It didn't take me long to see that I-66 was... well, it was stunning! I drove through mountains, green, lush mountains, punctuated with pink flowers, and farmland. It was like driving through a Bob Ross painting. It was quite possibly the most at peace I'd ever been in life. I drove up and down those hills taking it all in.My mouth hung open at the beauty all around me. It honestly felt like a gift. A gift, meant just for me, wrapped in a necessary road trip home. I don't know how I know, but he was there. Pete was behind this. I can't explain it, but I felt him. He's the only person I know on this planet that would know that this is the ultimate blessing for me. I'll never forget that trip. I expected to pass a few mountain ranges in Virginia, but it went on into North Carolina. I was so sad when the sun set. The wild thing is that what no one really knows about me is that driving through mountains has always been one of my favorite things, since my teenage getaways to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Its kind of my unspoken joy. But Pete would know, because he would have appreciated the exact same thing. I love mountains because they're so humbling. Like no matter how big and fancy you think you are, stand next to a mountain. You're a fucking atom on this planet.

I'm probably quite removed from religion or spirituality, but if there is a way to feel close to God, that was it. I-66 was so beautiful that I genuinely wondered for a moment if I was dead. I seriously wondered if I'd like died suddenly in DC, and was seamlessly brought to this beautiful place. I cried tears of joy, as I felt Pete telling me that this is where he is now, resting with nature and to be happy for him. And I was. So genuinely happy. I thought of writing about this experience on Facebook, but no one would have understood. But I know it was real.

As I drove through those mountains, I began to wonder what it was like. How was it to live in those tiny mountain towns? Surrounded by cows and dirt? Don't judge me, but it sounds wonderful to me. T The moment was completed with the Dixie Chicks playing in the background. I imagined myself, barefoot, gardening, talking to my chickens, married to some country boy, unbothered by the insanity of the big city. No hour-long commutes, no flash-in-the-pan reality show fame. Not living in a place where everyone is a goddamned rapper or Instagram model. I loved where I was and I wanted more of it. Needless to say, as wonderful as it sounds to me, I've got a son to look after. The kid would never tolerate me moving to some small town, away from his friends and family. But the fact is that the kid graduates high school in another 9 years. I can do that. I can wait that out. Read up on Roanoke, Virginia. Sounds like my kind of place...

So for now, I bide my time, waiting for the moment to reconnect to nature and live a simple life without exponentially rising rent, smog, and being surrounded by wanna-be important people. I think the problem is that in my Facebook fame and outgoing personality, I just give way too much of myself to too many people. I want to reclaim me and reassess what I want and need out of life. I still think Pete set me up for my reset. In case you needed more proof, the night before my trip into the mountains, I'd had a dream about Rte 66.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Death Energy

Pretty safe to say that 2016 was a beast. I was pretty good at the end of 2016. On Christmas I marveled at the fact that while I everyone mourned loved ones and celebrities, no particular loss hit me hard. Then I got the news that George Michael died. Talk about the wind taken out of my sails. That one did me in. I’ve been a George Michael fan since his Faith album, but unlike a lot of other people, I didn’t just dig Faith, I dug his other albums as well. I felt like a friend died. It wasn’t quite up there with Michael Jackson for me, but it stung way more than Prince.

2017 started out pretty fair. I think most of us were just glad to be free of the heavy energy of losing our favorite artists in 2016. But as time went on, it slowly crept in. You know the regular, great-aunt here, grandpa there. Sometime in February, I recall a former co-worker talking about much she was hurting because her brother had just died. A few short weeks later, Pete was gone. Two weeks after Pete, a friend lost his cousin. In the midst of all of that, another Facebook friend had to bury 2 friends within a week of one another. It started to get heavy. I recall that in one of my many posts grieving Pete, my friend Kim commented that she’d have a big hug whenever she saw me again.

I’m currently visiting friends and family in Washington D.C., but right before I was set to leave, I watched the news and heard something about an Asian woman being shot and killed on Peachtree. Shortly thereafter, Kim (an Asian) posted that her dear sister, Trinh, had passed. I saw the correlation, but tried hard not to imagine that it was Kim’s sister that was killed so horribly. But sure enough, it was true. As time went on, the news grew bigger. By the time I arrived in D.C., my best friend told me that she’d heard about the killing on the local news here. There was interest in what made the killer pick that particular woman.

Since then, Kim and her family have tried to remain positive, celebrating Trinh’s life and sharing positive memories of her. There was even some conspiracy theory saying that Trinh was in the process of trying to bring federal charges regarding the bridge collapse. It stated that she had just left the federal courthouse after filing papers. I’d heard and read the theory before and I remained silent. I try not comment on things I'm unsure of. But then I thought about it. I’d been to Trinh’s condo twice with Kim before. Trinh was killed at 7:40 a.m., while courthouses typically open at 8 or 9, so there was no way she’d just left a courthouse. Not only that, Trinh lived in and was killed in Midtown. The federal courthouse is downtown, so there was absolutely no way she’d been there filing anything. Not only that, Trinh worked for UPS, and even if she was about to file papers regarding the bridge collapse, UPS damned sure has enough lawyers on deck that taking Trinh out would only be a small dent in what UPS has on staff. So no, it’s highly unlikely that she was killed because of the bridge collapse.

I’ve known quite a few people that have gone viral and been in the news over the years. But knowing Kim and watching her and her family pour their hearts out on social media has made me particularly protective of them. I haven’t spoken to Kim since her sister died. I’m sure I’ll see her soon, but I feel like with the press and police investigators, they’ve got enough on their plates. It’s funny that I was complaining about there being no news coverage of Pete and his death, yet I’m watching a family see their departed loved one being reduced to conspiracy theory fodder. Considering the two, and the vultures that want to make Trinh’s death what it was not, it’s probably better that Pete be left to rest with those that knew him and loved him personally.

There seems to be some kind of cloud of death surrounding my loved ones. I guess its true what they say though, life is death. I’m not happy about it at all. My heart goes out to Kim and her family, as well as the many friends Trinh leaves behind.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Twin Flames

My friend Tova first introduced me to the concept of twin flames. She explained it as a type of soul mate, two people that no matter what pulls them apart, they manage to always find themselves back to one another. Once Pete passed, I always thought about how instantaneous our friendship was. We met one day, had a great and oddly personal convo, followed by another great and oddly personal friendship. I'd always wondered how he just managed to find me and stop in and have awesome moments together. My question was always 'did he choose me or did we choose one another?'

Here it is, nearly a month after his death, and I'm not shamed to say that I still Google Pete. The fact is that I Googled him extensively the moment I learned his last name. I Googled him the whole time we were friends. I'd even Googled him a few days before he died and the page still shows the last time I visited it. I refuse to click on that page now though. I like the reminder that I was digging him even before his death. When someone close to you dies, its only common to go online and find all you can about them. I Googled, Yahooed, Binged, and anything else I could find. Being 47, its not surprising that there was not much about him online. That and his moments of disappearing into his addiction make sense that he'd not be online much. I checked so many sites because in my mind, Pete was a complete rock star. I combed the AJC, hoping to find something about my friend. Anything about his body being found? Nothing. I guess he just mattered to the hearts and minds of those who loved him.

I like to think that I'm the reason that he was active on Facebook a few months before he died. I knew he hadn't been on Facebook in some years, but I asked him if he had a page, so I could add him. I knew he did. He told me that he did, and that it was nothing but pics of his daughter. I knew that too. But suddenly in November (right around the time I asked him about Facebook) he got active on it again and accepted my friend request. I look at a video of him and his daughter frequently. I always feel a smile plastered across my face as I look at it.

Anyway, off that tangent, not only do I Google Pete and look at his Facebook pics and videos, last night I found myself looking  at things about people that had near death experiences. What was it like and are our loved ones there waiting for us? I came across something that I found quite fascinating. Numbers 4 and 5 stuck out to me.
4. There are such things as soul mates. However, they are generally misunderstood. There are many people that are your “soul mates.” They were, for the lack of a better phrase, cut from the same spiritual cloth as you were. These are family members, friends, lovers, all of whom we connect with unexplainably and “just know” that they fit us.
5. But when it comes to “soul mates” in the way that people often think of them, a romantic significant other who is perfect for you, well, it’s a bit different. I have heard it phrased as a “twin flame” and so I’m going to call it that for the lack of having anything better to refer to it as. These are the literal, actual, other halves of us. And it’s not easy to meet them. In fact, because being with them brings together your unified being, all that’s still broken and unhealed inside of you comes right to the surface. It’s a traumatic thing, actually. But it’s love like you truly couldn’t imagine experiencing it until you have.

That was it! Twin flames!! Our bond was so random, but so solid. I say so often that I knew that he and I weren't supposed to be husband and wife. We were going to spend hours laughing and talking, getting to know one another. We were going to roll around in bed, getting to know one another in ways that only we could. And eventually, we'd part ways, but stay good friends. I remember once having a day dream that he and I would meet for coffee 15 years into the future and it would be like we'd never parted. We were/are twin flames.
Sometimes I feel so odd being so wrapped up in a guy I'd only spent 5 months getting to know. I wonder how he'd feel if I'd been the one to die and not him. I've honestly thought I don't know if he'd have been anywhere near as upset. I don't talk often about how much Pete visits me and the physical evidence he leaves of his presence, but I can honestly count about 5 or 6 times he made himself known. I told a girlfriend of mine some of the stories. I was surprised when I heard her say "wow" in regards to the evidence he continues to leave. My friend, one of the more cynical people I know, said to me "he must really care about you to be doing all of that."
I guess she was right. He and I are twin flames. That's why this hurts so much after a short stint together on this plane. He and I had a bond that transcended space and time. He's with me constantly. He whispers to me and sings with me. He holds my hand. He laughs and tells jokes from the other side. He's my twin flame. God knows I'd rather have him here, but as far as twin flames go, I've got the best of the best.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Great Race Conversation that Never Was

As I’ve moped about before, the quality time that I’d hoped to have with him, the sex we never had, the second kiss we never had, plus what was for me the elephant in the room, race. When I first met Pete, I didn’t want to believe he was white. I was convinced thoroughly that he was quadroon, octaroon or something. My friends that glanced briefly at him swore he was white, from head to toe. Early on, one day while we were in the car, I asked his ethic make up. He answered German, Black Irish and I want to say Spanish. In other words, he was lily white.

We did manage to have a few conversations about race, but it wasn’t much. I’d asked him if he’d ever been with a black woman. He said he’d been with all races except for an Indian woman. I got the strong feeling that he had a thing for ethic women, but like so many other topics I wanted to delve into, I never got the chance. Once I’d made the decision to not let his race become a thing anymore, it was easier to address our racial differences.

Once during a car ride home, as he talked about his move into his new home, Pete told me the location, which he said was near Bankhead, an area notorious for drug use. I joked about him moving to an area where he’d be known as “that white guy” in his neighborhood. He assured me that wouldn’t be the first time in his life that he’d be accused of that. I certainly believed him.

In some ways, Pete was so white. In other ways, he was a good mix of different cultures. I told him of my “minor” Tevin Campbell obsession and he gave me a perplexed look and said “Tevin Campbell?” I asked if he knew who Tevin was. He actually did know who Tevin was, he just didn’t understand why I’d have a thing for him, of all musicians. And of course that time he got in the car and I had the Dixie Chicks blasting. He mentioned my connection to the hood in Camden, NJ, but never actually made the statement of me being Black, but I knew it was what he’d meant. I never got to ask him about his favorite musical artists, although I learned at his service that he had a thing for the Grateful Dead.

For whatever reason, Pete and I never outwardly addressed it (another missed conversation topic), but I feel like race made us keep things quiet at work. While we were alone we laughed and told exceptionally inappropriate jokes. But if one of us was with a colleague when we ran into one another, we were polite, but barely acknowledged one another. If he was black or if I was white, I highly doubt we’d have had to act so casual toward in the presence of company. It’s just that on the surface, we were so different that if anyone sensed we were a tad too close, alarms would have went off.  I remember one day he and I went to lunch together, and I swear that when we got into the car, no one was there. But by the time I drive out, I feel like half of my coworkers were outside. Then the time I drove him home, I just had him meet me across the street at a gas station so no one would see him. I have a very flirtatious relationship with another colleague (a Black man) and I swear me and that dude could damned near tongue one another down in a common area and no one would say anything. But with the white guy, I felt it necessary to play it cool.

I have an incarcerated black male friend who I’d told about Pete a while back. I told my friend that things were going well with Pete and that there was a strong chance that we’d get some bedroom acting going soon. My friend begged me not to do it. I looked at him point blank and told him that I’d do with my body what I chose.

After Pete’s passing, I messaged my friend and told him that he got his wish and that Pete was gone. My friend asked how. I said “he died of a heart attack.” My friend asked how old he was. I said 47. Then my friend said “So did you let him hit?” I was fucking livid. For the fact that I’ve cried every day since he left me and I’ve struggled like hell in my new normal, this motherfucker is worried about if we fucked?! I literally go 12 and 13 hours, forgetting to eat and the question is about who I’m fucking. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! I responded with “I’m not going to answer that.” I guess my friend assumed “the worst” and said “Wow. Ok.”

I seethed for a moment. The fucking gall! How dare he?! Three minutes after he learns about Pete’s death, the only thing he’s concerned about is if my vagina has been “tainted”? Un-fucking-believable. I shot him back a text message telling him how fucking classy it was to ask such a jacked up question. Granted, my friend is incarcerated and had no way of knowing my mental state. Still man, show some respect please.

At Pete’s service, I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me. His loved ones were beautiful people who were undeniably from a different culture than myself. Yeah, dude was ethnically white all right. I like to think that his Gemini allowed him to flow between worlds seamlessly and give something to love to everyone. Maybe his years of drug use in the streets was a part of his acclimation too. Either way, he made it work. Because he wasn’t just white. He was Pete.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Heart that Quit and Changed Mine

There has continued to be a mystery surrounding Pete’s death. The whole thing is “did he or didn’t he?” In my mourning, I’ve taken to chatting it up with Pete’s old co-worker, John. In my open sitting area at my internship, John often stops in and lifts my spirits as I get to know him and occasionally sneak in conversation about my other friend. Sometimes he sits in the same seats that Pete used to sit in and I kind of think that’s Pete’s way of sending us to one another to comfort one another in his loss. Since then, I’ve learned that John is married with two children and he battles alcoholism. He was kind enough to invite me to his graduation from his AA program, the same program that Pete attended. It was to start at 5:30. I arrived at 5.

Now I don’t want to sound like some kind of time Nazi, I’m quite the opposite. Traffic is just such a beast in my neighborhood, that if I have something to attend in the afternoon, I often forego going home and just sit around and twiddle my fingers until it starts. The graduation was at the same church where I’d dropped Pete off, and the same place that I went to the chapel alone that Friday night. I looked around, hoping to find a crowd that could direct me, as there was 3 buildings and multiple entrances to pick from. Eventually I approached the only person I saw, and asked if he knew where the graduation was. He informed me that I was an hour early and that it starts at 6:30, not 5:30. I asked where the closest coffeehouse was because I had some homework to do. Long story short, the man and I started talking. His name was Todd and he was formerly a member of the program, Covenant Community. He got sober in 2009 (hope I remembered the year right) and he happened to be the house manager where Pete died.

I tried not to pump him for info, but I find that Pete was so incredible, people can’t wait to share their fond memories of him. Todd shared his last memories of Pete. He saw Pete that Saturday afternoon, where he’d attended a meeting and seemed in good spirits. He said that from there, Pete did yard work. I asked him the million dollar question. “Do you think Pete relapsed?” He said that he’d heard the whispers, and he simply didn’t believe it. He shared that Pete needed help and that he knew it and he asked for it. He said Pete stuck to it and was committed to getting it right this time. He said that in his gut, Pete was clean and sober when he took his last breath. I needed those words so much. He excused himself to talk to someone else a few moments later.

Something interesting happened as I watched Todd. I loved his interaction with the guys in the program. So many smiles and jokes. These people were genuinely happy for one another. So much love and genuine pride in what they were doing and what they’d done. I wanted to share in their joy and be a part of their process. I wanted to do that! Honestly, that was the first time in years that I’d had that feeling. As I wrap up school, and look for a job, plenty of case management jobs are available, but I detest case management. This is going to sound super elitist, but working with people that are poor and or have mental illness is draining to me, because while a lot of people want to improve their situations, many people do not. Its mind numbing to sit in front of people and churn out notes about folks that just come see you because they want money, not because they want to improve their situations. But I could completely get behind working with women with substance abuse issues.

In my alone time there, I looked up on my phone how I could go about getting certification to become a substance abuse counselor. I felt rejuvenated. I couldn’t help but to feel that Pete led me here to this exact moment. I looked up one program that required 4,000 hours of supervision. That’s 2 more years of full-time supervision. I’m just coming out of a 3 year master’s program. NEXT! I looked at a few more sites and programs that didn’t look legit. I called my dad and asked how to get this process started. Of course with him being a former drug user and a current drug abuse counselor, I knew that he’d love yet again to see his daughter follow in his footsteps. He gave me the number of friend of his that could point me in the right direction. Later I called a classmate to ask her opinion and she suggested I chat with the teacher of her Drug & Alcohol Abuse class. She said that he’s passionate about us getting certified by the time we graduate. *fingers crossed*

The program started at 6:30, but it quickly occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole thing. If I’d have thought about it, I would have driven home to grab my son, but I didn’t, leaving him home alone. My plan was to be there from 5:30 until 6:30, home by 7. Things starting at 6:30 put me home by 8, which was too late for my 9-year-old. With my heavy load these days, I’m still juggling to cook dinner, my homework, his homework, etc. I congratulated another coworker that was graduating, then I located John and chatted it up with his wife for a while, but eventually, I had to leave.
As I drove home on the highway, I saw signs that said that I-85 was closed because of a fire. What? Typically if there’s a vehicle fire, signs will tell you to just use caution. Being a complete city girl, I simply got off at a mid-town exit, and casually strolled on home. I checked online and saw a huge part of that part of the highway emblazoned. My first thought was “rush hour traffic is going to be a bitch for the next few weeks as the fix this.” Little did I know at the time?

Yesterday, I looked on Facebook and for some odd reason, I chose to look up videos and eventually had the idea to look for videos of Pete. It was just like the dozens of pics he had of his daughter, but then I was lucky enough to find a video of him and his daughter. A video!!! I clicked on it and tears welled up. I wanted so badly to see his face again. The video was beautiful, of him holding his infant daughter and laughing. That was the most beautiful thing I’d seen in forever. I love the word beautiful. Pete used it often. And here I was, staring at the beauty of my friend, sharing the beauty of his love for his daughter. It was like he was alive again. Sometimes there are moments where I forget he’s dead. I’ll Google him, as if I’m doing a general checkup. And the first site that pops up is his obituary. He really is dead.

While I was on Facebook, I saw an update from Pete’s sister. She thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and support. She thanked the organizations that worked with Pete, including the one I intern with. She spoke again of how loving and funny he was. Then she wrote those words again. He really did die of a heart attack. His heart stopped. It was his heart! He was sober. Thank God. He didn’t let go or give up. Pete has continued to tell me that how he died didn’t matter. I’ll never get to know for sure. But for now, I’ll stick with believing and trusting that my friend went out clean. He valued his life and his decisions and his daughter. Pete won.