Category Archives: Humanity

Forty.

Moved to NYC, swung an off-Broadway hit show, toured and recorded with a Grammy-award-winning band, got cheated on, got divorced, sold my house, discovered I had a sister wife, wrote a blog, got a book deal, realized the truth of grace, fell in love, got held up at gunpoint, exercised my potty mouth (and kept my purse!), moved back to NYC, recorded at Capitol Records, toured with yet another amazing band, played the Hollywood Bowl (and a few other iconic places!), fell in love REALLY hard, got dumped over email (AGAIN), wrote songs, raised money, solidified great friendships, made a record…

…and have therapy at 3:00 pm.

Goodbye, 30s. You were defining. But tomorrow starts a whole new chapter.

And I absolutely cannot wait.

A Single Star

In the wee small hours of this Christmas Eve morning, we were stalled in a snowstorm over Donner Pass. The delay was distressing to our drivers because we needed chains. Morale was low.

Yet, around 1:30 am — after a snowball fight with the crew — we carried on.
We are all exhausted, but for some reason I was the last man standing on my bus. I sat and watched all the snow-covered evergreens go by.

Then I realized something.

In ten years I really haven’t had Christmas. And, as a native Southern Californian, I certainly haven’t ever experienced a white Christmas.

This morning, I got to enjoy thousands of Christmas trees in my home state, as I breathed in the crisp, fresh air of the glorious Sierra Nevada mountains. The trees were beautifully decorated in glorious, white, frosty powder.

I wept alone as I gazed out the window. Each tree was uniquely ornamented, designed by the force of nature. I wanted to share it with everyone, but dared not wake my dear friends who were cozy; fast asleep in their bunks.

It’s been a lovely and difficult holiday season. I’ve probably felt sorry for myself more than I should, yet sometimes in suffering, I wonder where God is. I know I’m not alone in this.
But early this morning, when the storm cleared, there appeared a single star.

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” ~Matthew 2:10

I am overjoyed, because I choose joy! I choose to rejoice in the things I have, instead what I don’t. God is real. He is kind and good. Maybe shitty things happen, but they are never far from His reach. He is love.

And, too, may you all choose joy this season. No matter what you are facing. You are so loved!

Merry Christmas, my friends.

The Invisible Thread

Tomorrow, I will have been officially divorced for five years.

That’s half the time I was married.

If you want to get really technical, the official date of separation was March 1, 2009, which means I have been single for seven years. The majority of my 30s – supposedly my prime – have been spent without a partner.

Weird.

Inadvertently, I scheduled a bikini wax on my divorce-versary.

*****

Recently, I received an email from a reader who builds pianos in Norway. She shared pieces of her story and how my blog had challenged her thinking. She encouraged me to keep writing (thank you!) and asked me a question.

What do you think…even if you’re doing great, even if life is really good and even if you know it (you are way ahead of me in the process there) …even if you’ve healed and you truly know that…will the pain hang around maybe for the rest of your life? Not constant, but apparently still there and ready to pop up? Do you experience that? How do you deal with that? Could you blog about that?

Besides input about divorce as a whole, it seems everyone has an opinion about the divorce process: how long it will take to heal; how long you should wait to start dating again; to what degree you’re fucked up (and over!); what you should and shouldn’t be doing to get over it.

Perhaps the obvious answer is, it’s different for everyone. Divorce is not as clean, quick and relatively painless as a professional waxing strip. Why do we assume recovery will be? I believe every divorced person experiences the five stages of grief, not necessarily in linear fashion.

It simply takes time. But time doesn’t heal all wounds.

Divorce is like a death — perhaps worse because the other person is still alive! And to think that person who loved, accepted and married, then wounded, rejected, abandoned, abused, angered and/or betrayed you moves on and is happy…?!?!?

Some days I’m outraged by the injustice of it all. Other days I am so relieved to feel nothing but apathy for my ex-husband. Many days I completely forget any of it ever happened.

I think it’s safe to say if I weren’t writing and editing a book on divorce, it might just slip into the back of my mind as a mildly interesting fact about me. I don’t burst into tears over having to choose which marital status box to check anymore. I no longer use the “D” word as part of an introduction. I don’t feel judged or like an outcast; I don’t feel undateable. I’m still fairly annoyed by blissfully naïve and happily married couples (especially the ones who give each other back rubs in church), but I’m not threatened by them. For whatever reason, I have remained single. I think I’m okay with that. For now.

Most of all, I don’t feel like my marriage – or I – failed. I simply did the best I could, then moved forward.

A couple of years back, my therapist mentioned that certain wounds could only be healed in a relationship. I have had a few post-divorce relationships over the last five years. And, to some degree, I have felt like a complete disaster in all of them. Something inevitably happens to trigger my insecurities and fears and I get jumpy. I want to run away as fast as I can before I get hurt, realize he’s just not that into me, or – scariest thought of all – discover there’s another woman in the picture.

But when paired with the right kind of partner – one who is steadfast, kind, patient and unfazed by my version of crazy, I regularly experience – and affirm – the truth.

I am healing in relationship.

*****

What about the lingering pain, threatening to well up at any moment?

Twenty years ago, my college roommate lost her younger brother in a freak accident in his woodshop class. On the anniversary of his death, their mother, Bonnie, posted a beautiful tribute. I was moved by her honesty and wisdom.

I admit, sometimes I need to be on the road; to feel the pain of grief; to mourn the loss of my precious Scott. I know that when I am there, on the road, when I allow myself to truly mourn, that is when the God of all Comfort brings peace to my soul. You see, time does not heal all wounds. It is what one does with the time that heals all wounds. Grief boxed up, stuffed down, ignored or denied, only festers and seeks a way out. It is what we do with our grief over time that heals.

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t experience grief over your loss from time to time. Like the chicken pox virus, it will probably remain dormant within you. But it doesn’t necessarily have to take over, nor will it be so visible. Acknowledge it with kindness. Don’t judge or ignore it. Experience it, even if it hurts like hell. Reach out to those who love and support you and ask for help. Stop pretending you’re okay when you’re not.

And in those moments of vulnerability and surrender, authentic growth and healing can take place.

I would never compare equally the death of a child to divorce, but they are both losses, nonetheless. What do we do with the loss of our spouse, identity, home, family, friends, pets, dreams, children, hope for children, etc.?

We fight, cry, pray, scream, grieve, despair, experience, run from, numb, run towards, stand still, spin, question, answer, learn, discover, laugh, try, try, and try again.

And the thing that keeps us going is the invisible thread of hope.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. ~ Romans 8:24-25

 

Today

I went to the gynecologist for an ultrasound today.

I’ve never had an ultrasound before, so I was actually excited. I got undressed from the waist down, left on my purple, cheetah print socks and laid on the table.

The technician entered the room, gave me a big smile and got down to business.

“It’s going to be cold,” she kindly warned, as she squirted blue gel all over my belly. She pressed the handle firmly onto my lower abdomen and peered at the screen.

“Let’s see here…oooh, okay!” she exclaimed. “I want to take a closer look.”

Me, too! Me, too! I screamed inside.

She lubed up a condom (yep!), placed it over a very large, long wand with a camera at its end, and inserted it into my body.

I took in a short breath.

“Well, having a camera shoved up my vagina is certainly an interesting way to start the day,” I joked.

My technician smirked.

“I’m going to switch over into 3D mode,” she said, as she maneuvered the camera like a joystick. She pressed buttons on the keyboard, took some pictures and printed out a few. I lifted my head to catch a glimpse at the screen, to no avail.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of a heartbeat.

“Wow! That’s amazing!” I gasped, as tears formed in my eyes.

“I’m going to move over to the left side now,” the technician informed me. “Sorry if it’s uncomfortable. It’s going to be a bit noisy again. I want to check blood flow.”

“No problem,” I replied, and continued to crane my neck towards the screen. The sound of the heartbeat was getting louder; faster.

I heard the printer again. More pictures.

And then it was over.

She left me in the room to get dressed. Still pantless, I grabbed the phone from my purse to take a snapshot of the images left on the screen.

There, I saw it: my 38-year-old uterus. And what I suspected was growing inside of me for quite some time.

Fibroids.

*****

I’m not the first – nor last – childless woman who will deal with fibroids. They’re pretty common, mostly harmless, and don’t actually cause infertility. I have dealt with lady parts problems for years, first dating back to age 16 when I had an ovarian cyst rupture in the middle of my AP History class.

Embarrassing and excruciating.

But no one really knows I deal with this stuff because I’m strong and brave and can endure all kinds of shit. Right?

Not today. As soon as I left the doctor’s office, I burst into tears.

“It isn’t fair!” I cried out loud, as I stomped back home amidst a sea of yellow cabs and groaning fire trucks.

“The first time I have an ultrasound is supposed to be because a baby is growing inside of me, not some possible cancerous shit!” I sobbed. “I should hear two heartbeats, not just my own. My body was made to do this. And it isn’t happening. So why do I still have this desire to have a child and be a mom, God? Why won’t You take it away?! It’s just cruel!”

Funny thing: God’s silence is more deafening than any New York City street corner.

I quickly burrowed down the rabbit hole of self-pity and anger. My thoughts immediately turned to my ex-husband.

“Why the fuck does that guy get to have kids and not me? What did I ever do to deserve this? Mr. Peter Pan Syndrome cheats on me, finds an older woman with money, marries her while he’s still married to me and has a baby a year later, while I’m still mopping up my bleeding heart from our stupid, dragged-out divorce? Where is the justice in that? How is that fair, at all? Why does he, of all people, get to be a parent and not me? I would be a great mother!”

On and on goes the narrative.

I wish I could paint a better picture of myself in the moment, but I got angry. Upset. Frustrated. I’m sad. And I mourn the loss of the children I probably will never have.

I know I’m not alone. So many people – not just women! – have walked this path.

But it’s not about X. He’s just a cheap and easy target. In fact, I’ll bet he’s a great dad. I always saw that potential in him. Hopefully having that sweet little baby in his life will help him mature and ultimately become a better man. I certainly hope he is a better husband to Sister Wife than he was to me.

You know that super annoying verse in the Bible where Jesus addresses the “life is unfair” business?

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? ~Matthew 5:44-46

That’s the one that gets me, every time. It’s almost like Jesus is saying, “Listen, people. Quit whining. Life isn’t fair. You know why? Because we don’t always get everything we want this side of heaven. Also, I love everyone, not just the good, obedient, loyal soldiers. I love the people who have hurt you. You should probably get to work on that, too.”

There Jesus goes, being all Jesus-y, perfect and shit, speaking truth that cuts straight to the heart.

So, no, I cannot be angry with X. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s a good thing he and I never had children together. I have a clean slate. I get to live a re-written ending. A better ending to the story of my life, in that I have already experienced deeper, truer love with a partner. Additionally, I hope to have learned how to forgive and accept life for what it is, not what I want (or wanted) it to be.

As Sara Bareilles sings,

It’s not what I asked for
sometimes life just slips in through a back door
and carves out a person
and makes you believe it’s all true.

I really don’t want to be that jaded, sad, bitter, jealous woman in her late thirties who gives up because she got a raw deal due to life and circumstance. I refuse to marinate in the delusion that I deserve everything I ever wanted. But there are some days I cannot stomach the unending social media newsfeeds of happy, smiling, couples in love. Partnership. Marriage. Babies. Marriage and babies. Marriage, babies and more babies. Marriage, babies, more babies and puppies.

Guess what? Marriages and babies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Marriage is hard. It’s disappointing. It can easily crumble, without anyone even realizing it, until it’s too late. Child-rearing is not without its own set of harrowing difficulties. All babies grow up. Some leave the nest too soon, and others don’t leave soon enough. A lot of cute babies turn out to be real assholes.

Just give me a puppy.

The bottom line is, we’ve got to put our hopes, desires, faith and identity in something other than today’s wish list.

This is where I’m glad God is God, and I’m not. I’m ridiculous; just a speck on an atom of a molecule of humanity. With uterine fibroids and — as I discovered later today at the eye doc — astigmatism in both eyes.

What I do know is that my life is really good. I love it. Focusing on what I don’t have is an obnoxious waste of time. Why not focus on what I do have? Why not try putting my hopes, dreams and desires in the God of the universe? This life is too short to hold a candle for one small detail, as opposed to what is possible in eternity.

Today I’ve been given talent and a chance to do what I love. Today I have an absolutely mind-blowingly amazing man who understands, loves and accepts me for who I am. Today I have a joyful, healthy life and a gorgeous, cozy apartment in New York City. Today I am reminded I have beautiful friends and family who are real and true. I always have love, and therefore life, coursing through every fiber of my being.

Because of grace, I have another chance.

And that is more than enough for today.

Four Years

I have officially been divorced four years.

The day – March 3rd, to be exact – came and went without incident. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me until this morning that another year had gone by. It feels so damn good to have that time behind me.

March 3, 2011

I’m guessing Marjorie must have gotten tired of signing her name.

 

The past four years – six, really, if you count from my discovery of X’s infidelity – have been the most difficult, refining, tragic, incredible, horrible, deep, dark, elating, wonderful opportunities of growth. What is more, they have been saturated in grace.

I never mean to treat or speak of divorce flippantly, nor do I advocate running out and getting one to find new meaning in your life. But I do think any arduous road or suffering, if faced with honesty, vulnerability and grace, will inevitably bring surrender, acceptance, peace and maturity.

But it’s fucking hard. And there are consequences; results. I still have questions.

Did I marry the wrong person?

Given the fact my husband cheated on me and got remarried four months before we were divorced, my knee-jerk reaction is, “Absolutely! That guy was and still is the worst kind of idiot douche!”

(Side note: as initially painful as it was, the fact I had a Sister Wife will always be ridiculously funny. And true!)

I can argue that I was young and immature when I got married. Sometimes one will make choices that aren’t conducive to marriage. People change. I can also say all the work I have done in therapy over the years has helped me identify my own issues, how to deal with them and exactly what type of person/relationship to avoid.

Yet I have seen young people get married and stay married. People change for the better. I have seen couples stay together after an affair (or two or three). Staying married is a daily choice. Love, itself, is a choice. It takes two people to make it work, long after the romance has faded; when the cellulite is harder to battle; when it takes more than one match to cover up the foulness in the bathroom; when arguments and disappointment are a daily occurrence; when the snoring gets louder and a good night’s sleep is infinitely better than sex.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes,

“Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.’ And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry.”

As much as I want to re-write history and celebrate the fact I have been given a second chance at love (and perhaps marriage), I do not believe I made a mistake in choosing the person I first married. I walked down the aisle in 1999, excited about my future. The young man I married that day had great potential. I loved him. He was my friend. We saw life as an adventure, together. That was enough.

But people make choices. X chose his path and I chose mine. And because God is good, there is a copious amount of grace for us both.

What about the children?

I did not have babies with X. For that I am truly grateful because I would forever be tied to him. I would have never been able to pick up and move to New York on a whim. I wouldn’t have the freedom to travel and do what I love for a living. What is more, I would have to co-parent with someone I do not respect. Most of all, the children would suffer the effects of divorce, perhaps more so than I.

I will never feign to understand what it truly feels like, but I mourn with those of you who have kids and are enduring divorce. I hope each party can be kind to one another. I pray personal issues or suffering will never, ever be used to manipulate children into turning against the other parent. It is child abuse.

I still mourn the loss of my sisters and brothers-in-law, and my nieces and nephews. I was in the operating room when two of them were born, via C-section. Unless the photo albums have all been thrown out and memories erased, there are fourteen years of documentation I was their aunt. I was X’s wife. I was a daughter-in-law. I was a sister-in-law. They were my family.

But they are now strangers. That is deeply sad.

Will I ever marry again? Have a family?

Hell if I know the answer to that question. I have days where I am beyond grateful to be single and childless, living some watered-down version of a Sex and the City episode. There are other days when I wake up to the noise on 5th Avenue and desperately wish I were being smothered by the weight of a good man. If I had a baby, I can assure you I would be the biggest offender of saturating social media news feeds with his or her every waking moment. Ad nauseam.

But marriage is not the answer to life or its problems. It is not the completion of self or fulfillment of happiness. Nor is birthing or even adopting baby humans. I worry for people who are waiting with bated breath to start enjoying their life when marriage and/or family happens. These things are no more guaranteed than the next minute of time.

I sincerely wish we – especially the church – would stop placing marriage and family on a pedestal. Isn’t it enough to be alive, demonstrate love to those around us and acknowledge we, too, are loved?

Easier said than done. But it should be.

When will I fully heal from my divorce?

I believe healing happens in process, and is different for everyone. I was an absolute insane person the first six months after I recognized my marriage had fallen apart. Looking back, I wouldn’t necessarily blame X for wanting out since I reacted to every little thing he did. I felt mortally wounded. A nonstop rollercoaster of fear and emotions drove my words and deeds.

I was a different kind of hot mess after I filed for divorce. I needed to feel free and allow myself to act irresponsibly. I needed to explore what it meant to be single in my thirties, after having been married for the majority of my adult life. I needed space and time to ugly cry, get drunk or laugh heartily. I needed to feel safe. I needed my community. I needed support. I needed therapy. I needed to experience healthy relationship. I even needed to withstand more breakups.

And then I needed to pack my bags, move across the country and start my life all over again.

I’m not sure anyone is ever fully healed from divorce. It is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual trauma. Initially it is a huge, gaping, seeping wound that needs constant monitoring and care. Sometimes it requires life support.

But eventually the wound scabs over. It becomes a scar. And whereas that scar may never go away, it – along with the memory of the trauma – fades.

****

So, wow. Divorced four years. Separated for six. Soon enough, I will have been divorced longer than I was ever married. The scar remains, but is slowly fading.

X and I have both moved on. We have completely different lives now, and I (think I?) genuinely wish him well. It still strikes me as odd that I was married to someone for ten years, yet I cannot remember the sound of his voice or the touch of his hand. Sometimes he has a cameo in my dreams. Other times I will regale a funny story about my old life with one husband, two cats, three dogs and four chickens in an old house on a rocky hill in sunny Los Angeles.

“That’s so not you!” my new friends gasp, as the Chrysler Building twinkles behind us in the warming spring sunlight.

And they’re right. It’s not me — anymore.

X was my first love. He hurt me deeply, but in no way did he destroy me. Neither did my divorce. If anything, I am free to love more fully and deeply now, and without fear.

Divorce has not defined me. It has refined me.

Gerard, the Angel

I went to a New York museum opening alone last night, not even properly dressed. I wandered the exhibit sipping a glass of overly-sweet white wine and nibbling on a breadstick wrapped in an oversized napkin. I was surely the only non-Jew in attendance.

Afterward, I sauntered to Central Park, sat on a rock facing the Harlem Meer and cried.

I also prayed.

I prayed for friends who are suffering through a miscarriage. I prayed for friends struggling with divorce. For friends my age with cancer; friends recovering from divorce *and* cancer.

As I finally got up to walk home, I passed a man shuffling along the path with a walker. I instantly felt compelled to talk to him.

“Hello, what’s your name?” I asked.

“Gerard,” he answered, with a smile. “I’m an angel.”

I sat down with Gerard on a park bench. We shared stories.

Gerard was born and raised in Brooklyn but now lives — assisted — in Harlem because he had a stroke. He’s been married twice. Both of his wives died. The most recent passed away five years ago. Gerard has a son my age from his first marriage, but they do not communicate.

Coincidentally, Gerard said he’s had a hard time talking to women because he’s still mourning the loss of his second wife. Yet he was happy to chat with me. Likewise, it was good to talk to the man. I have been lonely.

Loneliness can really get the better of you sometimes.

As we chatted, the thing that made me saddest (I think?) was Gerard telling me I would be a good mother. He said it a few times.

As much as I appreciate it, I’m tired of hearing that line. I cannot be something over which I have no control. There are a lot of things at which I am/would/could be good. I hope for those things, but cannot allow my life to revolve around them.

I may never be overly successful in my career. It’s always an uphill climb, mixed with euphoric highs, devastating lows and frustrating politics, but as long as I can continue supporting myself, I’m okay with that.

I may never marry again. I think I’m okay with that.

I may never be a mother. I have to be okay with that.

*****
Gerard told me a great story about his involvement with the Brooklyn-turned-Los Angeles Dodgers and we agreed to be friends. We will meet in the park on Tuesdays, to chat. I’m going to teach him piano at his assisted living home, to help strengthen his right hand.

After an hour of conversation, the wind turned slightly colder. It whipped orange and yellow leaves in our direction. In the distance, flashes of lightning were accompanied by rolling thunder.

I asked Gerard if he really was an angel.

“Nah,” he grinned. “I was happy you wanted to talk to me. But I do live on the top floor of my building.”

Having It All

Recently, I asked a friend of mine how many breakups he endured before he got married.

He thought for a moment.

“About eleven,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “I remained friends with just one of them.”

My heart sank. A couple of months ago I ended my second post-divorce relationship. It was a good, brief courtship that simply could not withstand distance. It didn’t end as dramatically as my marriage, or as passionately as things did with my first boyfriend. There was no fight, nothing. It just went away with a phone call.

Afterward, I dutifully prepared myself for a roller coaster of emotions and the five stages of grief. When it finally hit, I felt (in no particular order) relieved, frustrated, listless, sad, depressed, numb and raging angry. I burst into tears on sidewalks and airplanes. I had put everything into this new relationship and it didn’t work out. I cut myself off from social media. Then I cut him off. I deleted any and all evidence we existed as a couple. That was the saddest part.

I now feel resolved.

And, for the love of God, I cannot imagine having to go through this nine more times.

*****

I just so happen to be in Los Angeles for the album release show and party with Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses, so I figured I’d pay a visit to my shrink.

I’ve been seeing my therapist five years now – from the initial discovery of my husband’s affair(s) to the very day my earthly belongings left on a moving truck across the country. She’s seen it all. Lately, our visits have been jovial and celebratory.

“I’m really proud of you,” she told me in March. “You’re a miracle.”

This morning, I sat in the center of the familiar floral couch and shared the latest news: gorgeous apartment a block from Central Park, breakup, Japan tour with Brian Setzer and new album and tour with Louis Prima, Jr. I verbally processed how, since moving to New York over a year ago, my lifestyle has become less stable (for lack of a better term), but I now have a solid home base in the city I have always wanted to live.

I have been greatly hashtag blessed with my home, career and community. One thing is still missing, however. I want to share my life with a partner.

“I just don’t know how I will ever meet anyone,” I mused. “I am on the road a lot. I refuse to date online. I did it for years and hated it. I tried a long-distance relationship and it crashed and burned.”

My therapist nodded her head.

“My hope for you,” she said, “is that you’ll meet someone who has his own thing going on, and, at the same time, is flexible and supportive.”

I hummed in agreement, but left thinking, No such man exists.

*****

There’s a huge part of me that is annoyed and angry that I am such a dynamic and talented person. It feels weird to write that without sounding narcissistic, but it’s my truth. For example, if I weren’t so passionate about — and good at! — singing, I wouldn’t be on the road so much. If I were less independent, opinionated, divorced or foul-mouthed and a bit more submissive, googy-eyed and/or mousey, I might land a date with a guy from Christian Mingle who isn’t threatened by my accomplishments, or very presence.

Perhaps if I had a “real” job I’d have time to join a community group at my church in NYC and finally meet someone in the city, get married and have babies. But I won’t do it. I won’t quit what I love just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Other women my age are corralling their two toddlers while the newborn sleeps soundly in a sling tightly wound against their breast. Their husbands still gaze after them adoringly and actually write Facebook posts about how much they love their wives of two, six, 15 or 20 years.

Interestingly enough, neither my ex-husband nor two ex-boyfriends ever acknowledged a relationship with me on social media. No photos. No kissy-face pictures. No adoring posts. Nothing.

The bright side is this: it took less than a minute to erase the relationship and “unfriend” these men I loved. Realistically, I do not believe in the staying power of acknowledging relationships over social media. People come and go, which is why we should all choose our “friends” carefully. As C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” I’m talking to you, serial Facebook-relationshippers.

A true relationship doesn’t need social media to acknowledge, strengthen or sustain it.

*****

Today, I do not believe I can have it all. Based upon experience, I do not actually believe I can have a successful career as a singer and have a family at the same time. It only realistically works for Gwen Stefani and Beyonce, and they were already rich and famous before they met their also-rich and famous husbands.

I am not sure if I believe, at present, there is a man in this world capable of being my partner. Dating is like playing a game of darts with a bunch of squirrely teenagers. They keep trying to hit the bullseye, but their aim and technique is staggeringly immature; unfocused. The result? Consistently off-mark. And I lack patience for the players to become skilled at the game.

Perhaps I still have a lot of work and self-reflection to do. Well, go ahead and throw all the clichés and Christianese talk in the world at me. Tell me how much you think my life is cool. How hashtag blessed I am. How the grass is always greener. I will not argue with you. Yet, at the end of the day, I go to bed alone. My eggs are dying. I am starting to feel jaded. I certainly feel duped. At the same time, life does not owe me a damn thing.

So, right now, if I had to pick one, I choose my career. It’s all I’ve got. Christian Mingle can go fuck itself.

*****

Where is God in all your complaining, Leslie?

Listen, I don’t mean to complain. I prefer to think of it as verbal processing. I try to encourage myself with phrases such as, “This, too, shall pass.”

Jesus never said that, by the way. It’s just another cocktail of Christianese to numb the pain.

I’ll take a double, please. Neat.

Here’s what I do believe today:

  • God is in control. He has never abandoned nor disappointed me. I am not going to live anything less than a full life, even if — or when —  I want more. God is like the ultimate chiropractor. If I’m willing, He’ll adjust me so I’m walking straight again.
  • The two relationships I had post-divorce were real, beautiful and worth every moment, even the breakup grief. I am finally learning you can love someone and let them go. You don’t have to marry every person you love. It’s an amazing concept. I wish I had grasped it years ago.
  • I’m most likely 100% wrong about not having it all. You can have it all when you surrender your hopes, dreams and desires into the capable, loving hands of God, Himself. He may not give you what you want, when you want it, but He knows what you need. He can change your heart. He can mold your desires. You just have to be pliable.

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop desiring a successful career, a partner in this life to love, honor and cherish me (and I him!) and a family. It’s okay to want those things. Hope (and humor!) is what keeps me going. Even if that day comes and I meet a good man who will choose to lead me on the dance floor of life, I guarantee I’m going to continue to want more (I’ll start with a Grammy, please!).

After all, it’s what makes me endearingly human.

(Coolest) Humans of Harlem

I just returned from running, then picnicking in the park on this gorgeous spring day.

I sat alone in the middle of a park bench and quietly ate my bodega-made sandwich while a turtle and two geese sunned themselves a few feet in front of me. Dogs, children, mothers, nannies, businessmen, teenagers, families and runners passed by without incident.

“Hello there,” a man’s voice boomed.

I looked up.

He was impeccably dressed in a black suit, bright red shirt and red vest. I immediately noticed his shiny red, patent leather, snakeskin shoes. A cream trench coat hung loosely against his thin frame, and his dyed-blonde hair was covered with a crisp, black fedora. Delicate, arthritic fingers clasped a marble-topped, wooden cane.

He grinned.

“May I have some of your sandwich, young lady?”

“Would you like half?” I smiled, and prepared to hand the wrapped, uneaten portion to him.

He laughed.

“Well, you are such a nice lady! But what would your man say if he knew you were sittin’ there with your shoes off, eatin’ a sandwich and talkin’ to a stranger?”

“Oh! Well, I like to talk to people. And I don’t have a man,” I answered, truthfully.

He leaned in and gripped his cane. “Now, you lyin’! What’s a girl like you doin’ without a man?! Who you gonna go home to?!”

I chuckled.

“Well, sir, I’m not really looking for a man right now. I’m taking some time for myself.”

“What’s your address?” He joked.

I laughed, and we exchanged a few more pleasantries. He turned to walk away.

“You promise me you’ll get yourself a man soon,” he said over his shoulder. “It’s a waste for a good woman like you to be all by herself! You promise?”

“I promise.”

“Aight now.”

Halfway down the long, green park bench sat another man, wearing a T-shirt, sweats and sunglasses. High atop his head perched a green beanie that read, “HARLEM.” As the older gentleman passed him by, he shouted, “That man is supa fly! He da pimp!”

I burst out laughing. He shifted his body in my direction.

“I heard every word he said to you! He an ol’ pimp! Mister G! His shoes musta cost more than my whole getup. Ha!” He threw his head back and cackled, loudly. I could feel the vibrations of his laughter through the wooden slats of our shared bench.

“You know,” he yelled, “I’m just sittin’ here, mindin’ my business and enjoying this beautiful day.”

“Me too!” I replied.

“It’s been the worst winter!” He shouted. “This is probably the nicest day we have had in a long time!”

“I agree! It’s a blessing,” I shouted back at him.

“YES!! I like the way you think, girl! It is a blessing!”

Feeling a little inspired, I yelled, “GOD IS GOOD!”

The man cackled again and threw his hands towards the heavens. “YES!!! HE IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!”

Our laughter echoed across the sparkling Harlem Meer.

“You know, girl,” my new friend called to me, “I am just enjoying the sunshine, drinking my drink and praying to God I don’t get arrested for being black!”

I raised my Diet Dr. Pepper to him. “Me, too!”

“HA!” He continued.  “I ask the cops, ‘Why you gotta stop-and-frisk? Why don’t you just stop and sip?'”

We howled.

Eventually, he got up to leave. He approached me gingerly, but extended his hand.

“Lady, I hope you have a nice day. You’re the coolest white woman I ever met. Most women like you would never talk to a black man like me.”

I smiled and shook his hand. “Well, I’m black, too, you know.”

He clapped his hands, threw his head back and delivered a final, boisterous laugh.

“You stay away from that pimp now, ya hear?”

I laughed with him. “Will do.”

As I watched him walk away, I chuckled to myself and shook my head. Another man spoke. He was sitting to my right.

“I heard that.” His tone sounded slightly scolding. He put his book down, rose from the bench and approached me.

I looked into his eyes, and noticed they were kind, despite the deep creases around them. His temples shone with flecks of grey hair.

“Excuse me, Miss. I just have to say that someday, I hope the honor will be ‘coolest human.’ Because you are definitely that.”