“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”—Ernest Hemingway (via dreamhampton1)
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”—
Oscar Night in itself isn’t really all that remarkable, unless of course you’re nominated for an award or something.
Nevertheless, I threw a party. I’d been extra diligent about seeing all the films so I was super excited (2010 was a damn good year for movies I must say).
I even hustled a last minute office pool and got it up to fifty bucks. I was certain I was going to win, but some upstart who’d seen absolutely none of the films guessed his way through the ballot and beat me by two points. I was a tad upset about this.
I cooked as usual, made truffled popcorn, crab dip, and some other stuff. The usual suspects came through; Tami, Gary, JJ, Yuli. Lukasz couldn’t come that night.
I got mostly all my guesses right. We ate, drank, cracked on people’s outfits, discussed film and had a merry time.
I was supposed to work that day but for some reason I’d switched shifts with someone. Grandma’s (my father’s mother) birthday was the day after my mother’s so there was always a conflict of interest when it came to celebrating.
This weekend however, my mom was out celebrating with one of her booskis so I was free. I arranged to meet my cousin up in Harlem where she’d pick me up and we’d drive to the nursing home. On the way we picked up another cousin. My auntie was already there and my sister was on her way up after having hitched a ride with Gary, a family friend.
I hadn’t seen Grandma in awhile but despite just having tuned 91 years old in a nursing home, she looked wonderful and was as boisterous and funny as ever.
We had an awesome time, sitting around her bed, eating cake while grandma cracked joke after joke (we were the butt of most of them but we didn’t care, we were all just happy that we still had her). She had us in stitches the whole time. I have a video of her on my phone dancing to one of her favorite reggae songs.
We all knew that the likelihood of Grandma seeing another birthday was slim and yet it was a celebration of life and life well lived. I had a new found appreciation for my grandmother, for her life and all she went through and just felt so grateful to know her, this remarkable woman.
I resolved that day that if I was to see 91, then I was going to be as happy, vivacious and fulfilled as Grandma was.
So Lukasz gets the idea in his head that we, the DABs, should go skiing.
And go skiing, we did.
Well technically, I snowboarded.
Actually, if you really want to get technical, I busted my ass most of the time and only snowboarded a little bit.
That shot was hard, man.
We rented a car and drove up to the Poconos on a Friday night. It took us forever to get up there because Lukasz can’t really drive. I mean he can drive…but he can’t.
We got to our hotel at like midnight.
That first night we did what we do best, drink Jameson. The next day we had breakfast at some waffle house and then went to the slopes. I have video of everyone wiping out. Except for Luke Dog because, unlike me Yules and JJ, he can actually ski.
That night we hit up a local liquor store to restock our..um, supplies, then back to the hotel to hit the hot tub. That night we got dressed ad had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.
We bought liquor again on the way home (becasue It was cheaper where we were and after having throw 3 or 4 parties back to back, I needed to restock my bar).
I took the ill nap when I got home and was more sore than I’d ever been the next day, but it was nice to get out of the city for awhile.
I remember getting a call from my father, with whom I was barely speaking in those days, and ignoring the call as per usual. He left a message. I listened to it. He sounded shaken up, said it was important that I called him back.
I heard the news from my cousin first, actually. I didn’t know how to feel. I hadn’t spent much time with grandpa at all. But after hearing so many people share so many memories of him, I began to feel like I’d missed out on knowing this awesome man.
I was kind of going through it anyway for other reasons and didn’t know if I could deal with more complicated feelings on top of that. But what was really worrying me was the prospect of seeing my dad for the first time in 6 years. I had no idea what to expect. The last time we saw each other, I was fighting myself not to curse him out because he’d made me so angry. When I got home, I cried. Hot, bitter tears of hurt and frustration.
Yeah, our relationship was strained to put it mildly.
Still, I’d missed him. Whatever our problems, I still loved my daddy to death and thought he was generally a good guy.
When he got into town he called. He told me he was feeling guilty for not spending enough time with his father when he was alive and especially when he was sick. I just listened and remained supportive.
I had knots in my stomach when the day of the wake approached. I made my way up to the Bronx to the church where the service was being held. Lo and behold, the very first face I saw when I push through the door was that of my father’s. I smiled instantly, wide and toothy like a kid. We embraced and I was no longer nervous. In my heart, I was happy to see him. My baby sister was there too and we hugged for a long time. Then the three of us went in and sat together. It was an emotional night but an eye opening one. When all was said and done, Daddy and I promised we’d make a better effort to see each other and talk more. He’d be in town for a few more days and we’d link up he said.
But then that was it. I didn’t hear anything more from him until he’d already left town.
I was back to being pissed. And I was determined not to sit on it this time. I’d bitten my tongue for too long.
I told him originally that I wanted to talk on the phone but then almost immediately decided against it. A phone call wouldn’t accomplish anything but making me more angry. So I did what I do and I wrote instead. I wrote a long email in which I oultined they way I’d been feeling for years.
There’s a saying that goes “you can’t fix what you won’t face”. I think there is truth to this. And I’m a firm believer in sometimes opening wounds and letting them bleed in order for them to heal properly. My email was the equivalent of ripping the half assed scab that had formed over the still unheald wounds between me and my father. I let it all out, for once not caring if what I said would hurt him or make him angry. It was time to get real, and, after losing grandpa, I knew it couldn’t be put off any longer.
I thought long and hard for a minute after I was done. Then I said “fuck it” and hit send.
I felt so. much. better. And I knew that even if the outcome was bad, at least things weren’t sitting heavy on my heart anymore.
But I didn’t think the outcome would be bad in the end. I had faith that deep down, underneath all the shit, our love would carry us through.
He responded a couple days later and we went back and forth through email for awhile. The conversations we had were difficult and uncomfortable. But at least we were talking.
Baby steps, you know?
We’d go on to reconcile pretty much fully over the next six months or so. We agreed to leave the past in the past and move forward. When I saw him some six months later, I could really feel that a lot of the tension between us had dissipated and that we could go on about the business of being father and daughter. That made me feel really good.
Sending that email was hands down one of the best things I did this year.
It’s gotten much better as I’ve gotten older but when I was younger…oh boy. I could never take three cookies. Three would make me feel oddly uncomfortable. It had to be two or four.
I love the number four. It’s such a nice round and balanced number.
For my entire life, whenever I’d crew up, I’d always had crews of three. Everytime I’d try to round it out and add a fourth person, disaster struck.
Feburary 5th was the day that started it all.
It started out with a routine Saturday brunch at Calle Ocho (our preferred spot for brunch even though it’s farther uptown than I usually go…it has since become immensely popular, likely due to the unlimited sangria bar, and now it’s almost impossible to get a reservation there).
Yuli, Jenice and I (three) had been hanging tough for a minute now, but there were some additions at brunch, there at Yuli’s invitation.
One such newbie was Lukasz Karwowski, a tall, blond, Polish guy who was around 25 but liked to tell everyone he was 29.
Why he’d want to do a thing like that is beyond me.
We had a great brunch as usual, but it didn’t stop there. When it comes to hanging out, the three of us had discovered that we were kind of like that person in the bar who was pepetually on his “last drink”. We never really could stay in one place and it turns out Lukasz was no different. From brunch we went shopping (our preferred post brunch activity), from there we went to my place to chill for a bit (and drink some scotch), and then later that evening we went out to one of our other favorite spots, Clover Club. We hung out for the entire day and into the night. That had never really happened to me before, at least not with three other people.
The four of us have been joined at the hip flask ever since.
They came to my house the next day to watch the Superbowl along with some other friends of mine.
That night Lukasz and Yuli slept at my house, the three of us crammed into my bed (relax pervs, I know what you’re thinking. We DO NOT get down like that)
The next day we were at Off The Wagon. That weekend we were somewhere else, likely several other places.
We went on like this for the next couple of months, going out damn near every night. Copious amounts of whiskey were consumed. Many laughs were had.
After awhile, we came to a mutual decision that we were all too old and too broke to keep up this level of partying and so we scaled back our activities.
But we had already started something wonderful.
I was Carrie and had found my Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha.
“If a black woman happens to be single, it is not necessarily a commentary on black men as eligible partners or an indication that her ultimate goal is marriage in the traditional sense. Some black women are single by choice. Some are unmarried but are in relationships where they choose to cohabit or live separately. Some don’t exclusively date black men. Some are lesbian, bisexual or transgender and may not be interested in relationships with men at all. Black women are not a monolith. We are diverse, dynamic and have options.”—Maybe There’s a Shortage of Marriageable Black Men, Maybe There Isn’t - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com