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What It Feels Like to Lose a Distant Friend in 2014

September 30th, 2014 5 comments

On Sunday morning, I logged onto Facebook and received terrible news. My friend from Howard University, Shomari Marlon Small died on Friday, September 26 in his native, Jamaica. The cause of his death as of this time is still unclear, and I am waiting to hear more details, which I am sure will come to me similar to the way news of his death came to me: On social media.

Shomari and I met each other as freshmen at Howard University. Coming from California, I wasn’t exposed to too many people like Shomari, which is to say I could probably count on one hand how many true Jamaicans I met prior to arriving at HU. Shomari’s island accent was thick to the point where I chuckled the first time he spoke. I had a lot of growing up to do back then, but Shomari did too because when he heard me speak, he laughed and said, “Yo, where are you from? Why do you talk like that?” I had never been to Jamaica, he had never set foot in California, and both of us were living in D.C., away from our families and all that was familiar for the first time.

Seeing as we were equally alien to not only our surroundings but to each other, we hit it off immediately. Some days, we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. He hipped me to beef patties, I put him up on sushi and raw seaweed my mom would send me in care packages. In those very early days at Howard we became more brothers than friends.

By the beginning of the second semester, Shomari and I still acknowledged one another as close friends, but the dynamic between us wasn’t like the first semester. We grew apart, not in spirit, but socially. By now we adjusted to life at Howard, made more friends who we would be seen with more often, developed other interests that kept us busy. He was a business major, I was a communications major, this meant often times a whole week could by before we ran into each other, since most of our classes were taking place on different parts of campus. Our relationship with one another continued on that path right up until he transferred out of Howard in 2003. We never had a chance to say goodbye to one another.

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The Intimacy of Being a Clumsy Boyfriend

September 26th, 2014 3 comments

When we talk about intimacy, we often conveniently leave out the part about vulnerability. Getting close with our partners requires more than getting naked in front of them, it’s showing imperfections we don’t want anyone to see.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around me knows I’m not nearly as smooth as I appear to be. I know I may come off as someone who is like water because on this blog or on social media, I’m well-spoken, articulate, and quick-witted, but I’m only not clumsy with my words. Physically, in person, I am fidgety, at times unkempt, and have the robotics of a clown. I may sound and at times dress like Stefan, but I move like Urkel.

My clumsiness, my tendency to run into stuff, to break and spill things, to slip and fall without anyone’s help used to not be a big deal. It used to be something I could laugh about and others would too. As a kid, my lack of spatial awareness could be dismissed by older people as cute. Look at Jozen falling over himself, isn’t that adorable?. In high school, I worked as a busboy, and I dropped so many plates as I took them to the dishwasher you would have thought there was a plate-breaking contest happening. Once again, it was laughed off by me and my co-workers.

Like other awkward parts about me, I figured at some point, this would be something I could grow out of. So instead of trying to be a more graceful person, I just worked on other parts of my game. It was social skills over motor skills.

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Other Questions You Can Ask A Victim of Domestic Violence

September 10th, 2014 4 comments

Let’s start with the facts: That we never know the full story. Whether it’s a domestic violence situation close to home or it’s one being played out on the news documented by security cameras, we will only know what we saw and what we’re told. Naturally, we all have questions, and most of them come from a good place, and valid, but some of them, while well-intended, are poorly executed.

Case in point, this question I have heard a lot since Monday when TMZ Sports released video footage of Ray Rice knocking out his wife Janay Rice in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel.

What did she do to provoke him?

Before I get into why this question is the last question anyone should ask, here is a list of five other questions I think are better suited for not only Janay Rice, but other victims of domestic violence as well. For the sake of this post, let’s just imagine the woman we’re talking to has come to us directly to tell us she and her partner got into an argument and he physically hurt her to the point where there was visible damage. Also, because unfortunately MOST domestic violence victims do not have the benefit of video footage and therefore reports must be taken at their word, let’s say this woman is someone we believe would have no reason to lie. She is reaching out to you because she would rather go to someone she loves/trusts/respects rather than the police.

Here are the questions I would ask if a woman I cared about said her partner assaulted her:

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Living With A Woman Again For The First Time

September 9th, 2014 2 comments

For the second time in my life, I am going to give cohabitation a shot. There’s a new couch in my living room, a new stand for the television, and a new dresser in the bedroom. Gina has a key to my place, and spends more time there than she does at her place. She is scheduled to be all moved in by the beginning of October, at the earliest, beginning of November the latest.

I have done this before, with someone else, back in 2007-2008. Longtime readers of the blog may remember when I first started writing this blog in 2009, many posts referenced my experiences living with my ex-girlfriend. For a refresher, here is a quick post I wrote almost four years ago. “The One Who Got Away”

One would think having gone through so much after my first experience with living with someone, I would know better than to do it again. That is, after all, how many people feel after they try and fail to do something the first time. They change the rules, convincing themselves such a decision will prevent them from the same outcome as before.

But, I have always maintained, living together wasn’t a mistake. Of course, many mistakes were made, most of them by me, but those mistakes would have been made even if she didn’t live with me. If I’m being honest, the closeness of our living together, the fact that I couldn’t hide (and tried in vain to do so) with the person I shared a bed with every night, is what eventually became my downfall.

In spite of those mistakes, and going through the pain of not only a breakup but it being compounded with her moving out process, I had a blast living with my ex. It was such a good experience, I came away convinced I would do it again, I just needed to be sure I changed things about myself for it to be successful.

The time that has passed since my last experience and this one I’m going into with Gina does not feel like it flew by. I wasn’t an uncle, my biological father was still alive, I never stepped foot inside a therapists’ office, and I had no idea what it was like to live life unemployed. That’s just a brief highlight reel of my experiences post-living with someone, but you get it. Things changed a lot once I was living on my own again. Even though Gina will be moving into the same apartment I once shared with someone else, she is not moving in with the same man who once lived there, and I don’t have the same life I had when I lived with someone the first time.

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