I had been having a not so great day. In addition to the madness of my personal life and the state of the nation, I lost one side of my favorite pair of earrings. Before I came to grad school, I went to Brooklyn, where I grew up, and bought a huge pair of earrings. I wore those earrings almost every day for 7 years. And now one side was gone.
I got home, parked outside my building and wrangled a bunch of things out of the backseat of my car, namely my bookbag, huge purse, and high heels. During the course of the day, I went from looking Marilyn Monroe chic at 7 am…
to looking like Bridget Jones the night after a bender.
My eye makeup on one eye had rubbed off, making me look like Popeye.
From this unflattering position, I looked up, and saw someone I knew. It was C! My most recent ex. He was on his nightly walk. Just seeing him immediately cheered me up. Ever the gentleman, he complimented me even though I looked a mess. We sat out on the front stoop and talked for 2.5 hours, about everything: Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman, what it means to be black, where we are in our lives and in our walks with Christ.
In the middle of a conversation, he busted out with, “Girl, you know if I hit the lotto tomorrow, I’d marry you,” he said. It was a compliment, but he was serious. “I want you on my team, and I want to spoil you.”
C. listed everything he liked about my character. He handed me the truth about myself at a moment when I was tired, scared, vulnerable, worried about the future.
“You’re an alpha female. You know who you are and what you want and you aren’t afraid to walk away if you don’t get it.”
I needed to hear that from someone who cared about me who wasn’t my Mom, Dad, siblings, or close friends. I needed to be encouraged, to be reminded of my character from someone who watched me up close, and then at a distance. I had been upset–not only about Trayvon Martin, but other things going on in my own life that are out of my control. During the course of this summer, I have had to revisit all of my relationships to consider who I can trust. I had to think about what type of woman I want to be, what type of future I’d like to build for myself. These are all difficult questions. I felt drained. Exhausted. I didn’t want to eat, or exercise, or even read! (And I always, always, ALWAYS read).
But God knew I needed to see a friendly face. God knew I needed to hear the truth about myself, and get a few great compliments about my looks before I headed back into the battlefield of my life.
Seeing C. reminded me how important it is to take charge of my own happiness. I’ve adopted Diahann Carroll’s question, “what do I have to do today to make myself happy?”
C. is great, and so is my friend Mr. Man, but I can’t rely upon these men, my family, and friends in order to make me happy. In a world that valorizes hatred, I have to build a life for myself where I am happy, healthy and whole. C. reminded me that, as a woman of God, I’m already equipped to build that life.
At the end of the night, I felt like Sixo in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Of his woman, he states, “[s]he is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
C. and Mr. Man have both been friends of my mind. Thank God.