I no longer get to ask the question, “Why is she sooo stupid?”. I forfeit the right to turn my nose up to any other woman. My womanhood card has been revoked twice! I NOW get to say, “I see how she could risk it all.”
I have never fully understood relationships. I come from an era where we go with what’s “normal”. It’s normal to graduate college, get married, have children, and raise them. Sacrifice your wants and desire to ensure your family gets nurtured and have a happy life. We were never taught to love us. Put us before everyone.
When we cook dinner, the men and children eat before the women. The women are raised iron clad like men. The women are raised to be a man/woman and NEVER worry if they don’t get a man. You remain faithful and you stick it out no matter how many side chicks exist. We endure and accept bad treatment for the sake of saying, “I got a man.”
That thought is prehistoric and as I enter my forties, I realize it’s not HEALTHY!! That’s something that a missed in rearing. There is no such thing as self-care or what I want. It’s what do they need, let me get what I need, let my desires go on the back burner so I can save everyone. If you are not being beat, cheated on, or financially robbed by your spouse, you are good.
We are told to be on our best behaviors. Be a good wifey and make no mistakes. Be sure to perform your womanly duties every night even if you don’t get off. What you won’t do for your spouse someone else will. Be sure to please their every whim so they don’t leave you.
No one talks about does he feed your soul? Is he moving his family to higher financial brackets? Is he bettering himself because that will improve his family’s future? I woke up one day and I wasn’t satisfied.
“Nick, this isn’t working for me anymore. I can’t explain it, but my soul can’t rest. There are just some things that need to change.” I say this with tears in my eye and Nick stares as if I am speaking Spanish.
“What’s wrong with us? I think we are fine, I don’t understand”.
“I feel like I’ve hit 40 and my 2nd half of life is now or never.”
“Ara, I don’t get it, I am sorry, but we work, our daughter is in private school, we got a house, I mean what are you saying?”
“I am saying this isn’t enough.” I wipe my face and head to the shower for work because I am realizing this conversation is falling on deaf ears. This is the 2nd break down and I am bursting. I can’t live like this. I’m ALWAYS the good girl. I never say anything wrong; I do whatever my family, job, and friends ask of me. I never truly do what I want. I can’t live like this.
This day, I knew things would be different going forward. I lost my mother and father within a year of each other. My grandparents on both sides passed away a while ago. I have one child and no siblings myself. My teenager doesn’t even act like I exist. My husband goes through the motions of the day content. He wants no more, no less. He is just…there. And he thinks that’s ok.
When I come back in the room, Nick says, “How about we go to a movie tonight and have dinner”.
“Yeah Nick, I will pass on that. Twenty years younger, I would have jumped on that but going out to eat isn’t a solution. Especially with your dietary issues. You have high blood-pressure and your diabetic. You might as well just eat at home. I’m going to work.”
As I walked to the car, I immediately begin to cry. He won’t ask how my therapy is going. How am I coping with the death of my parents? What can he do to help? All he says is, “Well, you know I am here for you.” What does that mean? From where I sit, that simply means being a body in a space.
When I was younger, I thought living with a man was the ultimate prize to adulthood. Twenty years later, I don’t think so. What I have learned, I don’t like sharing my space. Ever since I moved in with Nick, I been living in a college dorm room. Prior to him, I had a beautiful bedroom with matching dressers and armoires. I had matching curtains and bedroom comforter sets I switched out. I haven’t seen that beauty in two decades.
And he wonders why there is no action. There is no magic in this bedroom. It needs paint, a new scenery, new carpet, and a new bed. I have been telling him this for 6 years and he don’t care. He just settles for everything. He never wants more.
I get a call from Danny, my best friend. Danny and I grew up on the rough side of town. I was a tom-boy. I was never good with making relationships with other women. Danny was my next-door neighbor from kindergarten until college. I went to Grambling, and he attended Dillard. We became fast friends. He used me for girl advice. He would bring his girlfriends around me and ask what I think. I could tell him who seems crazy and who poses challenges. It was funny to us, but it worked both ways.
When I introduced him to Nick, he was honest with me. He said Nick was a great guy but would never be enough for me. I never understood what he meant. We never discussed it again out of respect for my marriage. But now, I want to know what he meant. I am starting to feel the same way. I feel so guilty feeling this way.
“Hey best-friend, what’s going on today? You want to grab lunch?”, Danny screams into the phone.
I smile big because Danny could just say hi and make me smile. It’s always just been his way. He still looks like Danny from high school at 50 years of age and here I am, sixty pounds heavier praying my spanks will hold.
“Yeah, let’s grab lunch, this was a rough day.’
“Say less, let’s go to our favorite little place. See you at 1, ok?”
“Of course, see you then.”
As I pull into the parking lot, I get out with my conversation with Nick spinning in my head. Is he that oblivious to think we are, ok? How can he say he’s happy? We barely are intimate, and we go nowhere unless I plan it or suggest it. He literally follows me like a puppy and 20 years later I can’t take it or fake this anymore.
Lunch comes and I meet Danny at a little café near my job. As I walk in, I see on the table a cup of tea. “Thanks Danny, I needed that”.
“Of course, you did, I heard it in your voice. What’s going on?”
I begin to tell him about the conversation with Nick. He is aware this is the second break down in 3 years. As I am speaking, his body language is neutral. He shakes his head to acknowledge his is listening. He doesn’t try to rationalize male behavior or trashes Nick character. He just listens. Then he starts talking to me about one of the many girls he is dating.
“You know me Ara, I don’t have much to say, I stay out of folks marriages. I got to draw the line. I feel I can’t offer advice on something I have not experienced. I am just a listening ear.”
I am mad at the statement but at the same time, I am respecting him more and more as my friend. I do ask him the question. “Danny, remember all those years ago, you said Nick is not enough for me? What did you mean?”
I hit an uncomfortable nerve. He puts is cappuccino down, sits back in his chair, and sinks deep. He stares at me for a few seconds. “Ara, why are you asking me this now? You should have inquired more back then when it matters. What I felt then has NOTHING to do with your marriage now. You weren’t married then, and I just made a simple observation on limited information.”
“Is that your long-winded way of avoiding my question?”
“No, that’s just my answer. I am not getting into this now, especially while you are going through some issues. It’s like adding fuel to the fire and I don’t want no part of that, I’m sorry.”
“Right now, I need my best friend. I am not going to be able to ignore this. I need to know.”
He looks at me with disappointment in his eyes like I literally twisted his arm. “I’ll explain what I meant 20 years ago, ok? Based on my observation, I saw him as a non-dreamer. He is content just being with a beautiful, successful girl. He didn’t seem to want much because you provided everything. You would be running the relationship as opposed to a partnership. I knew how important that was to you and I just didn’t feel you were getting it.”
My mouth was wide open. In two seconds, he summed up exactly what I felt about Nick. He has the greatest personality but as far as life ambitions, they don’t exist. I make 6 figures and he is content as a maintenance worker and the local food processing center. Not that this is an issue, but he’s been there 15 years and have not progressed one level.
Nick is content with being “under the radar” as far as work is concerned. He always talks about how he’s not kissing anyone’s butt to move up. He likes being a worker bee because he doesn’t want to deal with the responsibility of managing others. But what about the income increase that can help pay for our daughter’s education. That’s when I realized, he relied on me to catch the falling pieces. He had removed his self from the equation.
“Are you ok? I hope I wasn’t harsh?”
I swallowed so hard and closed my eyes. “Well, yeah, you kind of hit the nail on the head with that statement. I would have appreciated twenty years ago. But thanks, now I know.” I begin to cleanup my lunch spot so I can head back to work.
Danny grabs my hand and says, “Hey, you asked me, and I was honest. I never lied to you, why would I start now.” He was right. I am mad at him, and he did nothing wrong.
“I tell you what, I got tickets to see Arie Lennox. Why don’t you join me?”
“You know that damn ticket wasn’t for me!”
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter. She didn’t know I bought her one so you can have it. You are making me feel bad right now for my statement. Let me make it up.”
“OK, let’s do it.”
I get home and it’s the same old thing. Nick is in the kitchen with our daughter making sandwiches. As soon as I walk in, “Baby, you want a sandwich?” Like we didn’t just witness my second breakdown this morning. “No, I’m good. I am going to bed. By the way, Danny invited me out Saturday to see Arie Lennox, so dinner is on y ‘all.” I walk to the bathroom because I need a shower.
Nick follows me to the bathroom, “That’s good, I know how you like her. That’s cool your best friend bought you a ticket. You need it, go and enjoy baby.”
He doesn’t even realize how terrible his statement is. See, any other man would have had some reservations about my plans but not Nick. You know why, cause Ara will ALWAYS do the right thing. No worries about her. Plus, he knows Danny, so he is secure.
Danny picks me up Saturday for the concert and his other friend, Zona, is in the car. She is so loud. “Heeeeeyyyy Ara!! I am coming too. I bought a ticket boo! I’m rolling with y’all!”
Danny starts laughing. “You know she is crazy but entertaining. Come on and let’s make the best of this.
“I’m game. My only alternative to this is watching Nick watch television so let’s go.”
We get to the venue, and it’s crowded. Standing room only. So, we come up with the plan. Danny drops us off at the front door so he can park. Once inside, I find a space close to the stage to stand while Zona goes and gets drinks/food. It works.
“Man, Ara, you got a great space, let’s make sure we tighten this space because I can’t stand having other people between us.”
Zona brings the food over after 30 minutes in that line. Then she screams, “OMG, I forgot my beer, I will be back.” She gets back in that damn line while we hold her food. What the hell!
“Zona is a lot of work but fun and you need fun right now.”
Danny was right. “Thanks Danny, I needed this. Now how is she going to climb through these people and make it back? It’s crowded.”
Now, Zona calls my phone because she can’t find me in this crowd. She is 5 feet, and I am 5’2 so we really can’t help each other. I try getting on my tippy toes to look for her when I feel the warmest hands around my waist from the back helping to hoist me up for better view coverage. When I look back, it’s Danny.
“Hey, I’m just trying to help you find Zona.”
That’s not what I felt. I never tingled like that before. His touch on my waist just sparked something in me. I shake it off and move on. We are too old for this.
Zona finds her way and we go on to enjoy the concert. As we are leaving, Danny grabs both of our hands to cross the street. He has always been a gentleman. It’s just refreshing to have someone treat you with love like your significant other. There are no strings attached. He is just being genuine.
Once the car comes, I jump in the front. “Nope, NOPE!! Ara, you rode in the back so get back there!” Zona screams this and tries to pull me out the front seat. We both are tipsy and start laughing and falling. I had a great time with them. I miss having basic fun.
As we get to my house, Zona jumps out because her boyfriend met her there. I get out and nod goodbye to Danny, but his demeanor is kind of melancholy. “Hey Dan, you, ok?”
“Yeah, I’m good, I’m tired. I’m about to go and get something to drink before heading home. See you later.”
He waves then rides off. I stood there looking at the back of the car because I don’t think he was ok. I am not sure what happened, but I call him later.
As I enter the house, Nick walks up, “Hey, how was it?”
“It was good. I’m going to bed. Good night.”
I wake up the next day and I text Danny. We need to talk because I don’t want to lose my friend. He is the only thing keeping me sane right now. I asked him can we meet up to talk. He agrees so I meet him at his condo downtown.
When I get there, I realized I have walked in on one of his wine, dine, & drop the panties set-up. “Dan, I am not going to stick around. I see you and Sybil probably have plan tonight. I just want to know if something happened at the concert. You mentally occupied afterwards.”
“You didn’t feel huh?”
“What are you referring to? Feel what? Stop talking in code.”
“Ara, when I touched your waist, you didn’t feel that?”
I froze. I careful search for the right words because I knew whatever I said next would dictate how we proceed from here. My good girl says, lie, tell him you felt nothing and reiterate the friendship you two have. But my deep down, inner passion, and my mind says fuck that, you felt that. Step up and so something. Y’all already old and you let years pass by. You about to let 30 more years pass?
I walk over to Danny and kiss him. Just a peck. He looks at me. We stare for a few moments as if to visually ask each other, “Are we really about to do this?” He takes my hand and leads me to his bedroom. He begins to take off my clothes. I don’t know what I am doing but this just feels needed and right. I have never touched Danny in this way. I never saw or felt his manhood until this moment.
As he stands there in his boxers, we embrace. I immediately begin to caress him and instantaneously I dropped to my knees to pleasure him. It happened!! And this is going and can’t stop. We immediately get on the bed, and he enters me. OH…MY… Goodness!!! I don’t know if this is the moment or if I am imagining this, but I am in total bliss at this moment. He takes over and we unapologetically make love twice that night.
It was crazy, he fit me like a glove. It was like he was meant to be there. I melted into his arms afterwards. We just laid there holding each other, no words needed. After a while, reality sets in for me. I jump up and hit the shower. My only concern is getting home right now to process what happened. I need to be alone.
“Are you ok Ara?”
“I’m ok, I just don’t understand why it took all these years for this to happen. Why now?”
“Why not now? You are looking for life to have rhyme and reason and this life doesn’t.”
“Still Danny, that should not have happened.”
“Did you want it to happen, honestly?”
“I did, I needed it, and you are the perfect one for someone, not me.”
“What does that mean?”, Danny says with disappointment in his eyes.
“I have a situation and I can’t have this and that. I have to go, I am sorry.”
“The truth is I wanted it. I have always wanted it. You know why I am not married and why I have girlfriend after girlfriend? Because they are not you.”
I turned around and just started crying. I never knew that. He never told me that. I thought we really were destined for friendship only. My mind never entertained him as a love interest. This is not what I had in mind for an evening with my friend. Unfortunately, this has happened, and we can’t take it back.
I turn and leave. On my way home, the entire years of my life are rifled through. I wondered how I could have missed this opportunity. Why didn’t I recognize that he was right here the whole time?
Once I make it home, I see I missed 5 text messages from Danny. He wants to know if I am ok. I am not sure. As soon as I enter the room, Nick walks in and starts hugging me. The next thing I know, we are now making love. What the HELL am I doing? I lost my parents and now I am just out there!! I didn’t even know how to behave. I couldn’t sleep. I laid there all-night staring at the ceiling. Asking for answers. I didn’t have any.
I cannot deny the immediate sexual connection. He made me feel like a teenager. His body was so perfect on top of me. His touch warmed my soul. He gave me good chills all over my body. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I went from never having a thought about him in this way to thinking about him a lot.
While at work, he called, just to talk. “How are you, Ara?”, he asks.
“I’m good. Still mulling things over. I am not sure where to go from here. How about you?”
“The selfish part of me wants to move forward despite your “situation” but the moral side of me says to abandon this. I know if I abandon this, we will never be the same. I know if we go forward, our relationship will be drastically change. I don’t know what to tell you Ara, but I am here and ready to jump out that window if you want.”
I look at the imaginary audience in my office as if this is a practical joke and somebody about to say, “We got you chick!!” but a few moments later, this is real. He is expecting an answer and he deserves one. I choose my next words carefully.
“I am willing to explore. The truth is I have had this whole in my heart for a long time. I never knew how to fill it. I accepted Nick and never really dissected if he was the one. My family and friends said he was. He was better than the last one. But lately, I can’t help but feel we have run our course in this marriage and no longer want this. In fact, I am not even sure I EVER wanted this. I did what I was told to do or at least what I was raised to be.”
“Hmm. You need to read this book called the 4 agreements. It’s an oldie but goody. You will start to free yourself from the trained and engraved veil of family traditions and ethics. Like truly come to understand you and move forward with putting your wants and desires first.”
So, Danny being him. Even in this conversation about us, he suggesting I extend my knowledge by reading a book. Maybe he’s right. Even if Danny isn’t the “one”, I can with certainty ascertain that Nick is not the one. There may not even be a “one”. I’m an introvert by nature so being alone in my space makes me happy. This just means I need to separate. At 50, it’s not like I have a whole lot of time to move forward anymore.
Nick was a victim of unfortunate circumstances. He did nothing wrong in the relationship and I did nothing wrong. I expected certain things that I knew in the beginning Nick would not be able to do but I had hope that LOVE would make him change and fit my mold. That’s stupid. That will never work or happen.
As I hold the phone, I realize, I only have a second to make this decision. And I choose Danny. In the months following that conversation between him and I, I begin to see he was the missing piece. Once I plugged him in, my world changed. We both are introverts, so he loves living alone and so do I. But we also love when we get together.
My daughter went off to Dillard for college. Nick and I had an amicable and mature divorce. I left him the house. He went on to date this girl who all these years he said was a friend, but I knew they loved each other. I wanted him to be happy too.
All this time, I was measuring men who would be worthy of being my first love. When in fact, Danny was never put in my life to be the first. He was meant to be my last.