Chapter Two: The Message

Joi had a million and one thoughts going on in her head, and the last place she wanted to be was at this restaurant.  The Chinese restaurant that Darryl picked out for them to host their bridal dinner.  The same restaurant that he proposed to her in six months ago.  Back before everything became so hectic.   She always thought in the back of her mind that the conversation they had at the table, after the joy and the excitement had worn off, should’ve been the escape she needed not to go through with this.

“So, I want us to get married as soon as possible.”  Darryl placed his hands over Joi’s; a wave of relief washed over his face.

Joi smiled. “I do too!  I can find a nice white dress at the thrift store; we can go down to City Hall….”

“Joi, I don’t want that kind of wedding.”  Darryl sat up in his chair.  His eyes began to widen and Joi knew that he had a vision in mind.  “I want our wedding to be the wedding of the year.  I want a reception.  I want all of our family to be there.  I want the ceremony.  Joi…I want to do this the right way.”

“Getting eloped isn’t the right way?  Dee, you know I don’t like big spectacles….”

“It’s your wedding day.  All eyes will be on you.  You should want that.  All women want that.”  Darryl was always about the theatrics and the glitz.  Joi stared at the paper lantern in the restaurant.  But I don’t want that.

Joi snapped out of her thinking when her mother came over.  She could sense she was anxious.

“Joi, where is he?”

“I don’t know, Mama.”

“Well…did you call him?”

“I haven’t been able to…..”

“Well, do you THINK that’s something you should do?!”  her mother was being condescending.  “He’s your soon-to-be husband and it doesn’t look good that he’s not here.”

Joi looked past her mother’s shoulder to see Jay, Darryl’s best friend, on the phone.  Probably with Dee.  “That’s fine.  I’m perfectly fine with it looking however it looks, because that’s what it is.

This was Darryl’s idea to have the party.  It was his idea to have the dinner here.  He’ll be here. I’m not worried.”  Joi looked at the door and saw Rashad, her client, coming through the front door.  She always enjoyed when he was around.   He quickly spotted her and flashed a smile.  That smile.  He has such a beautiful smile.

“Who is that?”  Joi’s mother looked back, inquisitive.

“Just a friend.  Excuse me.”  Joi walked over to Rashad and went in for a hug.  Joi’s nose was filled with the smell of sandalwood.  A scent that she couldn’t get out of her mind lately.

“I didn’t think you’d come.”  Joi said, breathless.

“I told you before that I’d be here to support you, so that’s what I’m doing: supporting.”  Rashad’s spoke in a low, deep voice.  “So, where is he?”

“Your guess is as good as mines.”

Just then, Jay walked up to Joi and Rashad.  He looked to be in a panic.

“Joi, I think you should speak to Darryl… private.” He extended the phone to her.  She looked at Rashad as if a child was getting permission from her father to stay up later to watch the Tonight Show.  He nodded and she took the cellphone and went outside.

“Darryl….where are you?!  You should’ve been here an hour ago.  Do you know…”

“Joi.” Darryl sounded weak.  “I can’t make it.”


“Something…….something happened….and….” his voice began to crack.  Is he crying? “Something happened last night and…..Joi, I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry about?  Baby…what is it?  Tell me.”

“I can’t.  I can’t make it tonight.”

“Look, tell me what it is.  I won’t get mad but… have to tell me, Dee.  How can I help if you don’t tell me what’s going on?  I’m going to be your wife.  You should be able to trust me.”  Joi was pleading on the phone.  She wanted to be upset, but she didn’t know what to be upset about.  Was he having second thoughts?  Didn’t want to go through with the marriage anymore?

“I can’t tell you right now.  I have to go.  Just know that I love you.”


The tears began to stream down Joi’s face like a waterfall, each one burning hotter than the next.   She attempted to pull herself together, but everytime she attempted, the tears came out heavier.  Her breathing became uneven.  She felt her body begin to collapse underneath the weight of it all.

“Joi, are you alright?”  Rashad had come outside to check on her and held her by her arms.  My safe space.

“No.  I’m not alright. “Joi wiped away tears with the back of her hand.  “He’s not coming.  He says he can’t make it and that he’s sorry.”

Rashad held Joi’s face and wiped the tears off of her cheek.  Joi grabbed his hand and kissed the inside of his palm.

“Joi…..”  Rashad looked into her eyes.

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“So…are you really about to do this?”  Rashad’s tone was serious.

Joi weaved her fingers with his.

“Yes.  It’s time that I tell the truth to not only everyone in there, but to myself.”

Rashad kissed the back of her hand and led his soon-to-be wife back into the restaurant.


Chapter One: Pulse

The thumping of Darryl’s head was more for him to bear.  Nor was the pounding on the front door of his loft.  Groggy, he reached for his watch on the nightstand and attempted to look at the time with the help of a slither of light coming through the drapes.  “How long have I been sleep?  7:48?  Is that a.m., or p.m.?”  Darryl tried to make sense of what happened to him, but was distracted.  The pounding became louder and louder.

“Darryl, bruh.  Come on and open the door!”  He heard the sound of his frat brother and his best man, Jay, on the other end of the door.  “D open up!”

Darryl heard the buzzing of his cellphone coming from the bathroom floor.  How did that get in there?  He went in and picked up the phone. “Yeah?”

“Bruh, I’m outside your door.  Where are you!?”

“I’m just waking up.  What…..what happened last night?”  Darryl flicked on the lights and tried to adjust his eyes.

“What do you mean ‘What happened last night?’ You need to be worried about what’s happening tonight! Did you forget your bridal dinner party is tonight?  Dawg, I can’t keep lying to Joi….”

Darryl swallowed hard.  His entire mouth had a wax-like taste to it.  “…and you won’t have to.  Look, obviously we had one hell of a night last night, and I just need to get myself together.  Just go down there and cover for me.  Tell her….I don’t know…that I had a late meeting or something.”

Jay huffed on the phone.  “Alright.  If you think that’ll work again.”  and then hung up the phone.  Darryl turned on the shower and quickly undressed.  As the water hit his chest, he felt a burning all over his body.  He quickly turned the temperature down and allowed the water to cascade from the top of his head down his muscular frame.  It had been a long time since Darryl blacked out and he felt a rush of excitement.  This was what he felt was missing from his life for the past six months; the feeling of letting go.  What attracted Darryl to Joi in the first place was her free spirit and spontaneity; she would be down for anything and anywhere.  Literally anywhere, as he learned when they first met at an art gallery opening.  He remembered the faint smell of honeysuckle and a pair of the largest, softest breast he’d ever felt on his back.

“I like your energy.” she whispered into his ear, grabbed his hand, and led him into the coat room…..

But something happened to Joi once the engagement ring got onto her finger: she became all business.  Now their random sex acts were replaced by bridal conventions and looking at Pinterest boards.  Darryl picked up the peppermint soap and began to lather his body.  He immediately regretted doing so as the burning came back.   As he let the water rinse off the suds, he heard his phone vibrate again.  “It’s probably Joi.” he thought “Ready to chew my ass out over not being there.”  He got out of the shower and noticed that the missed call wasn’t from his fiancee at all.  It was from Jay.  He immediately called him back.

“So…what did she say?”

“Nothing.”  Jay said.  “Her phone is off.  I’ll see if I can beat her to this restaurant but you got to come down here NOW!”

Darryl turned on the main light in his bedroom and saw a woman in a wedding dress.  The same dress Joi had on her Pinterest wall.  He only knew this information because she made him see the dress 50,000 times.  So that’s why my chest and back burns.  I got scratched.  Me and Joi had kinky sex again last night!  And in her wedding dress, too?!  “No need to worry about Joi.” Darryl said, calmly.  “She’s here with me.  Sleeping.”

“What are you talking about?”  Jay sounded confused.

“I’m looking at her right now, in bed.  Obviously, we did some kind of role playing last night and…..”

“D.  I’m looking at Joi right now.  She’s talking to her mom.  Who the hell are you looking at?”

“What?”  Darryl walked over to the mystery woman.  In his bed.  Wearing Joi’s wedding dress.  He placed his hands on the woman’s shoulder and the body rolled over.

It was Candace.  Darryl’s ex-girlfriend.

She was dead.


Go Date Yourself

I find myself in an experience that I have never had before (or cared to be aware of until now).  I’m dating myself.   No, not in that “I take myself out on dates because no one can love me like I can” way, but in the “I’ve finally met the male equivalent of me” way.  And I don’t like it.


I’ve never been a person who believed that opposite attract.  Unless you’re a magnet, you’re pretty much seeking out a person who has certain similarities as you.  So when I met HomieLoverFriend almost a year ago through a mutual friend, I initially knew why she felt that we would be a perfect match: we had the same sense of humor.  That kind of witty, sarcastic, often times dry, I understood his jokes and he understood mines.  Our first date was at a pool hall; very relaxed environment and something fun.  One date became several and text messages evolved into sitting up for hours just talking about any and everything.   I was taking things one day at a time and staying in the moment and I thought he was too. I felt that this would be the relationship that I would be able to move around in and really get to be myself.  But, unlike my HomieLoverFriend, I actually paid attention to our conversations and body language.  There was a hesitation there.  He wasn’t taking his time with me; he was afraid.  He wasn’t trying to “get to know me” (like I said, he rarely paid attention to our conversations, instead listening to the negative voices in his head); he was waiting for me to fail.  Plus, he was in a rough place in his life: he was starting over….and I knew what that was like.


So I’ve been giving advice that I’ve learned over the years and maybe that’s been my problem, because he has met me with opposition.  I tell him to pursue his passion, he tells me he’s too old to be successful in it.  I tell him to start a website for his business, he tells me that it’s too much work.  I tell him to appreciate where he is now, he tells me how he’s more talented than the person who’s more successful than him.  I began to feel drained around him; it seemed that I was constantly pouring into a person who had nothing to give to me in return.  I was encouraging a man who just wanted to read from the “victim” script.  I wanted to expand the mind of a man who chooses to be closed-minded on a lot of subjects.  Sure, he says he’s “trying”, but even those words are beginning to feel like an excuse he tells himself in case everything goes to shit.  I know the late Maya Angelou said, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” but what is it saying about me?


I could sit here and go on and on about how his negative, limited views on life is weighing me down, however, there was something in him that attracted him to me.  HomieLoverFriend really represents the worst in me.  The fears he has, even though they’re not to the letter, are also mines.  There’s a reason he only wants to “date” me and “get to know” me….and I’ve been okay with that.  I’m not that much better than he is; I’m just more aware of it.  And every time we have a discussion or he does something that upsets me, it’s a way for me to check myself.  Just recently, he’s cancelled on two dates in one week.  One of the reasons was because he was low on gas and out of money, but I knew, as well as him, that he was already low on those things prior to agreeing to the date.  The excuse he gave was to ease his conscious into flaking out.  But, I do that with my friends.  I say I’ll be somewhere and then bail out at the last minute.  When things get hard for him, he gives up.  So do I, instead of finding another solution.  Relationships are a great way to getting to know yourself and ultimately, if you’re willing to do the work, grow as a person.


I don’t mind dating myself.  But I’d rather date a better version of myself.

Top (sorta) Secret Mission

The voices just keep on rolling in.


So after I decided to listen to the whispers of my life and finally act on them, I was wondering what was next for me.  Oddly enough, it came from me complaining about television shows. One thing I’m a huge fan of is comedy television, and thanks to Netflix and now Amazon Prime, I’ve been able to watch shows like New Girl, Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23, and now…..


I had already went on a rant about how I felt that while I enjoy Mara Brock Akil (who I’ve secretly wanted to be my mentor and work on a project with) and Shonda Rhimes, they mostly deal in African-American drama.  And yes, there’s ABC’s “Black-ish” which I enjoy as well, however there should be more on television.  There should be people who look like me, talk like me, who enjoy witty humor writing shows and having them on network television.  Dare I even say, cable television?  So in the midst of my complaining, I started thinking: Hey.  Why don’t you write a television pilot?  Why not work on a television script?  Isn’t that how most entrepreneurs succeed: supply a demand that isn’t there?  Duh!  The answer was wrapped in the question.  I want to work in television.  I want to create a script.  Develop a character.  Be a voice for several characters.  Go on to create my own sitcom.  Possibly even star in it shamelessly.  To say all of this aloud felt exhilarating.  I feel for the first time, I’m on to something big.  There are just three hurdles I have to get over first.


Hurdle #1: What will my family/friends think of my decision?

I’m addressing this first because to be honest, it’s the least of my concerns.  I’ve mentioned ad nauseam that I’ve lived my life for the approval of others; my mother moreso than others.   Plus, having a daughter will inevitably bring on the “You have responsibilities that you can’t run away from” speech (much like the one I got for going to college out of state……which was her suggestion).  Then I think about my daughter, who I don’t want to feel abandoned or that I don’t care about what happens to her, but she has been my biggest supporter…even when she doesn’t “get it”.  Then there are my friends, who will have their reservations because they deal with security, and I’m entering uncertainty.  But, if they’re good friends, they’ll understand as they are probably on the same path of following their passions that I am.  On the other hand, they could project their fears onto me and point out everything that could go wrong or why it wouldn’t work or even mimic the speech I’d get from my parents.


Hurdle #2: Aren’t you a little too old to be doing this?

I’m 32 and starting over from scratch in my life.  This has been a 5 year journey and counting.  Where “society” tells you to have it together by 30….I’m just now making sense of this world.  Still, I’m entering into a profession that is very youth-driven.  Even writers and producers that I’ve read up on and admired their work started in their late teens-early 20s.  They’ve put in the hours, they’ve had the fresh ideas.  They had youth on their side.  I have student loan debt and a teenager.  But maybe, just maybe, that can all work out for me.  Maybe it won’t be easy and yes, I’ll have to start off somewhere small, but it’ll be worth it.  Even if I fail….I know what “starting over” looks like, so why not go after what I feel is right for me and my own life?  I’ve been writing short stories and plays since I was 10.  Surely that counts for the “10,000 hours”, right?


Hurdle #3: Wait, WHAT did you go to school to do again?

This one makes me feel unworthy of chasing after my dream at times.  I’m not formally educated in this.  I didn’t go to college to work in TV/Radio/Film.  The most I did in college was star in an indie film and wrote a one-act play in Creative Writing course.   I feel that I have no business sitting at the table with people who actually went to school for this.  That somehow, being inspired to create something great doesn’t compare to a formal education on the technical side of  being a television scriptwriter.  And because of that, who will let me in the door?   Where would I start?  Who could I even reach out to?  My resume reads as a woman looking for an office job….not a woman who would love to write for an office sitcom.  So at times, the inner negative chatter comes into play and I think about just starting over and going to school for it officially…even if it’s just a class here and there.  But then I think about Sallie Mae and if she’d even allow me to have such a lofty dream.  Then starting over seems too crippling.  The feeling of lack starts to drown out the excitement of finally being on the right path.


But I’m still going for it.  This is my plan.


Saturday Sitdown Vol. 6

When an ex re-appears into your life, it doesn’t necessarily equate to “fate bringing you two together.”  Sometimes, as I just learned, an ex can re-appear in your life to show you just how far you’ve come and how at peace you are with your past.


Last week, I made the pilgrimage to Atlanta, Georgia to see one of my favorite rap groups of all time: Outkast.  This was their first time in over a decade that they would be performing not only together, but in their hometown.  East Point guys all the way, and I wanted to be in the vicinity to witness it.  Plus, I had been talking for months how I needed to jump off the hamster wheel and take time for myself, so I was excited about this trip.  About two days before the vacation day, I received a friend request from a guy I dated in high school.  Now, here’s a few things you should know first:

  1. I haven’t seen him in 12 years
  2. I haven’t spoken to him in 7 years
  3. He’s been married for 7 years
  4. His profile picture is his wedding picture

So when I saw the request, I didn’t jump to any conclusions because my intentions were pure.  However, as soon as I clicked “Accept Friend Request”, the red flags began to wave.

Red Flag #1: “Hey stranger!” 

Anytime you see the “hey stranger, how are you?” message or text…..RUN!  This was the first of many messages he sent to me and I immediately rolled my eyes.  I knew nothing good was going to come from this exchange, but I opened back up a door that had been closed years ago (which I’ll get to later).

Red Flag #2: “I’ve missed you.  You were the love of my life.” 

The key word here is “were”, which is a past tense.  Because in the present, he’s still married.  Very, very married. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that at one point in your life that you were in love with this person, but then what?  What’s the end game to admitting something like that?  Especially when you eventually married someone else?  I wasn’t the one who got away: I was the one you let go.  Still, I didn’t give it too much attention.

Red Flag #3: “I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.”

Alright…so this is the portion of the message when I realized he may be having problems in his marriage.  Which immediately followed the feeling that I was the distraction, which I wasn’t a fan of.  I don’t claim to know a lot about marriage, but I do know about accountability.  Considering I used to be a woman who loved nothing more than a good distraction from my issues, I now bravely do the shadow work (or getting to the source of an issue) so that I can be a better person.  Then my mind filled up with questions: Did his wife know that he’s been thinking about me?  Does she know that he’s reaching out to me?  Possibly trying to rekindle something that he left behind over a decade ago? Does she know that her husband is in love with another woman?  What excuse will he come up with to try and see me?  Does she even know that their marriage is in trouble? 


Even with all of the flags waving, you know what I did?  I hung on to the one word he used throughout our entire exchange: closure.  My ego immediately saw a conflict that needed to be fixed.  So I was willing to be that soundboard; a vessel that he could finally get everything he’d been feeling about me out of the way so that we could both go on to our respective lives.  Instead, I should’ve stayed in the Present and see that all my ex wanted to do was have sex with me while I was in town, unbeknownst to his wife, and then go home.   When his subtle approach didn’t work, he went with the more blatant route:


Red Flag #4: “When I come to meet you, should I bring protection?  Just want to make sure we’re on the same page….” 


We weren’t  anymore.  I was done 7 years ago, and I was done on that day.  I went to the concert, hung out with my friends, and went home.  Just like I planned it before I hit “accept”.  And on the plane ride home, I realized that the door was closed for a reason.  I was never suppose to settle for or down with him.  Fate did bring him to me….but not for a reconciliation.   Nope.  Fate brought us together for the last time to show that the past, is better left in the past.  Oddly enough, I didn’t just detach myself from that ex…..I felt that he represented all of my exes and in that moment, I felt detached from all of them!  Now that’s growth.

Now Leaving: Purgatory

Life comes at you in whispers.  Ignore them, and they become loud noises too hard to ignore.  For me, my loud noise came in the form of a hustle.  Karlie Hustle.


I guess my whispers started in 2012.  I was just getting my footing in my new job and I was absorbing everything.  See, prior to that, I didn’t work for two years straight.  I was deeply depressed and broke.  So being able to have an income again and feel that I was getting “back on my feet” made me feel comfortable again.  I was learning.  I was interacting with other people.  I was finally able to do all the things I’ve wanted to do; like take myself to the movies or buy that T-shirt on sale.  Then one day, out of nowhere, I got this urge to read up on marketing and advertising.  I couldn’t explain it because it barely made sense to me.  I went to college for Psychology, not Business Management.  But I heard the whisper.  I felt it in my gut to go and buy as many books as I could on it.  So, with the help of Amazon, I bought as many books as I could and began to read one after the other.  Began learning about “Brand Loyalty” and “Target Marketplace”.  Even though I tried to make it work for me professionally, it just seemed as if I was reading these books for fun.



Then I started noticing on social media at lot of conversations geared towards a lot of where I saw my life going; being fearless and really stepping into my purpose.  So I began to follow a lot of these ladies (yes, ladies) and the majority of them are entrepreneurs.  Whether they ran their own PR firm, mystics, YouTube page, or whatever….I became inspired.  The majority of these ladies also read the same type of materials.  So I began stalking (okay, more like looking back on books/magazines they posted) their Instagram pages to see what were they reading.  There was obviously something that set them apart from the rest, so why not learn what that is, right?  So I started subscribing to business magazines.  Still for entertainment and hoping it would eventually make sense in my own life.  Then I started blogging and realized I enjoyed it.  So I looked to other writers and bloggers and read their stories.  Watched how they shared their experiences.  Began to refine how I wrote my own story.  Figured I was on to something.  But that excitement began to fade away as I slipped into Familiarity and Complacency.



Then at the end of last year, the whisper became a little louder in the form of a writing fellowship and in another job offer.  I figured, “This is it!  This is what I’ve been waiting for!” and was frozen solid.  I couldn’t move.  I was afraid. I couldn’t move through the unknown and I let a lot of inner negative chatter to keep me exactly where I was.  The negative chatter turned into a soft, weak pep speech of “you get it wrong, sometimes” and “if it’s meant for you, then it’ll come to you” so I threw myself into my work and decided to become more serious with my blog.  But then my engine began to lose its steam.  I felt like I lost my focus, even though it seemed to me that I actually was “focused.”  So I dated more.  That didn’t work.  I read more books.  That also didn’t work.  I even meditated on gaining clarity.  Silence.



Which brings me to the present day, at my desk, when I hear the whisper again.  It’s time for you to go.  This time, I’m listening.  I don’t know the “why” or the “when” or even the “what’s next?” but I know that deep down, my time at my job….and my place… reaching the end.  The reason I felt stagnant was because I’ve grown as much as I could in this environment.  In order for me to evolve and grow, I have to leave.


And plan.  Definitely got to plan.