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Year-End Review: On Friendship With Women

December 26th, 2013 1 comment

Time for me to do some verbal genuflecting on things I’ve learned about myself and/or life in the 2013. For long time readers who may be scratching their heads and thinking they missed past year-end reviews like this, don’t worry, you didn’t.

This is something I thought to do through a combination of it being the time of year when everyone is recapping something from the past 12 months and a lot on my mind lately. You know how it is in the last week of December: Even if we shut of all media to avoid reading any year-end lists, our own internal clocks have a way of waking us up and next thing we know, we’re up thinking, “Well damn, another year has come and gone.” I do this all the time and now I’m deciding to share some of what’s in my head with you all.

In my circle, it’s fair to say, I have more women who I would call friends, than men. That is not to say, I’m closer with them. The men I acknowledge as friends are men I have known for years. Whereas I can think of only one woman who I’m as close to today as I was freshman year, the men in my inner circle are guys who I can say I first met walking through Drew Hall, Howard University’s freshman male-only dormitory. Most of the women I would call friends are more recent fixtures, mostly people I acquired throughout my time in New York City.

The nature of my friendships between the two groups (men and women) have their differences and rightfully so. If there’s one thing I have learned about being friends with women, it’s that they’re not men. That kind of realization is probably why so many men are opposed to being in platonic relationships with women: If we’re going to be arguing with a woman, at least let it be with a woman who can offer up some make-up sex. I certainly get it, Lord knows the apologies I’ve had to make to women I am not having sex with sometimes even had me frustrated.

This year, one of my friend’s didn’t talk to me for two weeks because I flaked on plans we made for her to help me decorate my apartment. Another one of my friend’s gives me crap over most things that aren’t necessarily wrong, but with which she doesn’t necessarily agree. Then there are women who have been upset with me because I didn’t check on them when they were down, the way I said (or didn’t say) bye to them before I finished the conversation, and a couple of other things that no man in my life has ever given me crap about, but the women I call friends have called me out on.

And yet, the women I can say are my close friends have made me a better man.

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Funerals and Weddings and Life’s Wild Path

April 25th, 2013 9 comments

The last time I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, it was to be a pallbearer for Enoch “Trey” Tims III. He is the man you see pictured far left. He was buried on February 6, 2010.

Today, I board a plane to Little Rock, Arkansas where I will be a groomsman for Harold “Jhirmack” Eichelberger. He is the man you see pictured in the middle. He is getting married on Saturday.

photo (4)

In August, 2000, I met both these men for the first time at Howard University. We stayed in Drew Hall, the mandated freshman boys-only dorm on campus. Harold moved into the dorm room directly across the hall from me, Trey was in the dorm room right next door. As evidenced by the photo, the three of us would go onto graduate together, and along the way become like brothers not only with each other, but a handful of other men who were pallbearers at Trey’s funeral, who will be groomsmen at Harold’s wedding.

Me, Jhirmack, Trey, Harold, Cliff, Weaf, Antijuan, Hank, Hakim, Zach, and Coop, have done our best to stay close post-college. These days many of us live far apart from one another, some across states, others across oceans. Some of us are in touch with specific people more than others, but we have never forgotten how close we all once were. We still remember the unspoken promises we made that when life gets to be the most real for one of us, as many of us as possible will form together.

I don’t know if it was a funeral or at a wedding where I first heard the saying that it is those two occasions that bring the most amount of people together. But I have learned it’s true in ways that are both sad and joyous.

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How Do I Deliver the Reading at my Friend’s Wedding?

April 18th, 2013 6 comments

In nine days, one of my best friends, Harold, will be getting married to Christina. Long time readers know their story, and for those who don’t, you can read about it here.

In addition to being one of the groomsmen, I was also asked by the couple if I could do the honor of delivering the reading. Here is what they asked me to read:

The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithlessand therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Now I’m not nervous about reading out loud or in front of a bunch of people. I was one of those kids who was always volunteering to read in class because, frankly, I’m damn good at reading. I’m also not afraid of public speaking, especially at emotional ceremonies like this. When our friend Trey was killed in a car accident in 2010, I spoke at his funeral, and many of the same people who were there, will be here at Harold’s wedding, so there will be many familiar faces.

There is nothing for me to worry about, I know I’ll be fine, but I want to make this reading great for my friends. Even though I’m not shy, I don’t know if I’m the most gifted public speaker, so I have some questions I’d like you all to answer.

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The Undeniable Joy (and Tinge of Admiration) an Unmarried Man Feels for Men Who Get Married

February 19th, 2013 7 comments

In a little less than two months, I will be a groomsman at the wedding of a friend I call a brother. Very recently, another one of my close friends (from the same group of men who will be at the aforementioned) got down on his knee to pop the question.

My joy for both of them – instant and genuine – ranks up there with the best feelings I ever had. Granted, when my sister told me she was having a baby, I cried; when my mother told me my step-dad proposed to her, I couldn’t stop smiling for days; and when the woman who has been like a sister to me for 13 years, said she was getting married, I was hi-fiving the air all around me. But the happiness I feel for these men is slightly different. Not necessarily greater, but a seismic shift within my spirit for sure.

Some men develop such a close bond with our boys, that we become oddly dependent on them. I say oddly because sure I may not be as close as I was to some of them when we were all living on campus with one another, but no matter how far they are from me, I expect them to be around always. Not to take this post in a sad direction, but it’s worth noting: When my friend in April gets married, the ring bearer will be the nephew of our friend Trey, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2011.

That’s how tight we are with each other.

With my friends, we are just as competitive with each other as we are supportive. But one race none of us ever wanted to win was the race down the aisle. The first of our crew was married back in 2007 (or maybe 2006), we all wished him a hearty congrats, and I thought, “Better him than me!” But I was still in my 20s, a decade that I still believe is best spent having sex with all the wrong people

Now I’m in my 30s and two of my friends have put rings on it. Not only am I wise enough to not think they’re crazy, I’m man enough to admit, they’re winning a race I’m interested in finishing myself.

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Seven Ways For Women To Be Better In The Friend Zone

January 7th, 2013 10 comments

So you’ve decided you’re just going to put me in the friend zone.

Fine.

I didn’t ask to be put here and I definitely didn’t want to be put here, but you’re cool enough (and honestly fine enough) for me to allow this.

But before we becomes besties, I’m going to give you some tips because even though we’re about to be friends without benefits, doesn’t mean there can’t be benefits to being your friend. If you follow these tips, I promise, I will never bother you with talks about me and you getting together or crossing the line. Your future boyfriends will never have to worry about me wanting more from you, and I will always stay in my platonic lane.

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Every Man Needs A Good Wing Woman, I Need Several

August 28th, 2012 1 comment

When it comes to the conversation about whether or not men and women can be friends, there are approximately one thousand reasons why it’s not possible and one thousand reasons why it is.

But let us be real here: Aren’t we tired of entertaining the question as adults? I mean, damn. You’re a grown human being. Why can’t you make friends? Is it the lack of a sand box and recess? Probably not. I’m pretty sure it’s you and your social ineptitude and inability to see beyond the person’s anatomy. A woman thinks if their friend has a p*nis, he’s bound to ask her to touch it. A man thinks since their friend gets a visit from Mother Nature every month, she’s emotionally unstable and at some point, that will reveal itself toward him.

We just need to end all of that. We need to stop asking whether or not we can and start asking a better question: How can men and women be friends with one another?

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Lessons For The Single, Unwed, or Childless Friend

December 21st, 2011 17 comments

The only way I could hang out with my best friend of 15 years tonight was if I went with him to his little girl’s school recital. There was a time in my life when I would have told him to just call me after the recital was done, but tonight I agreed. I’m home until December 30. There are plenty of nights him and I can get drinks, flirt with women, and talk about the world using an unnecessary amount of expletives, so yeah, scheduling, there’s that; but that’s not why I accepted the invitation.

My boy didn’t have to invite me to his daughter’s concert, but he did. The gesture was a testament to how we’re more like brothers than friends. You should have heard the way he asked, like he was inviting me to come watch a game with him or some other customary fellowship in which men partake. I didn’t find it unusual, but I knew it was. The last time we were hanging out at school concerts, we were performing in them.

In addition to my best friend, my married best friends just had child number two, a beautiful girl. While I’m home, I’m going to see them and my new Goddaughter. All around me, my friends are living new lives, which means to some extent, I am too.

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My Friend, The Reverend, Has A Mixtape of Sermons

December 19th, 2011 1 comment

Today’s post is not about me, it’s about my friend. I’ve written about him before on this blog (new readers can click here to check out those posts). For those wondering, yes, he’s the same one for whom I was trying to find a wife, the same guy who is now in what seems to be a great relationship.

Back when I introduced him to people, I mentioned he was a preacher. Judgmental people with dogmatic ways of thinking about the church and religion questioned how a legitimate preacher could also be seeking his future wife through my blog, but as we both explained, he’s not your typical preacher.

A couple of weeks ago, he reminded me just how outside-the-box he is with his thinking when he called me with a crazy idea. “What if I did a mixtape of all my sermons,” he said. The idea floored me, not because it was controversial, but because it was brilliant.

I’m proud to say he executed his idea. Being the friend I am, I’m supporting his work with a link to the mixtape along with a look at the cover art, which I just think is fly as all get out.

I encourage anyone who is curious to go to his bandcamp page and download or stream some of his sermons yourself (both options are free). I discourage anyone from going into my comments section and saying something without listening to anything. I am not posting this up for you people to write some typo-riddled negativity. Save all that for another day when I post something you don’t like, which will probably be tomorrow.

Without further ado, here it is, Pastor Harold’s Ministerial Mixtape. Link below the front and back cover art.

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