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Can a Man Worry and Will it Ever Stop?

March 9th, 2015 3 comments

Earlier this year, I decided to reactive my Ask.FM account, thus allowing people to send me questions about whatever they feel like. As one would expect, most of these questions have been about relationships and dating, some of them are about life itself. Even the simple dating questions, like whether or not a person should text someone they haven’t heard from in a couple of days, comes with some sort of story before they ask me what they should do. I rarely ever get the kind of questions that are simple to answer such as asking me to list my top five jazz musicians alive, or where is the best place to go for a cup of coffee in Harlem.

But I’m not complaining. The dirty little secret about these questions is they help me too. I answer each question as thoughtfully as I can because on some level, I can relate to most of them. I know what it’s like to stress over an unreturned text. For most of my years dating, there was more confusion than clarity about the women I liked and the women who liked me, or why they didn’t anymore. Hell, I even had to go to therapy because at some point, the questions got too big for me to handle, and too deep for me to confide in my friends about. This means when I tell someone they should seek professional help, I am harnessing my own experience to provide that perspective.

I don’t know if I am giving people the right answers, but I’m confident I know what I’m talking about. (Also, to be real, I ain’t got the time nor the energy to look shit up for other people, so if I get an question that stumps me, I would tell them to look it up and keep it moving.) But no matter how well-versed I come off to others, I don’t think anyone is reaching out to me because, unlike Sway, I have the answers. If I had to guess why people open up to me, I would say it’s because I make people feel comfortable doing so. I’m vulnerable with my readers, so people are vulnerable with me. It’s a fair exchange, and to honor it, I would like to ask all of you a two-part question in hopes of getting some insight at the very least.

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Meeting My Family and Why It Matters Now

February 5th, 2015 4 comments

On Saturday, I am introducing my mother, sister, and niece to the other most important woman of my life.

The significance of this introduction has very little to do with the traditional meaning we attach to meeting family. I am not seeking approval of Gina from my mom. Gina is a grown woman and my mother is fully aware of who she is and how much she means to me. As a matter of fact, none of this is about either of them. It’s about me.

In October, 2013, my mother, sister, and niece came to New York City to visit. This was the first time since I moved here that they would be making the trek “back East” as my mom would say. When my mother surprised me with the news, that they would be coming, I sprung into action to make arrangements for a large gathering of my closest friends and the three most important people in my life. The two parties — friends and family — represented me in important ways. My friends were a reflection of the man I had become in New York City, a network of people who supported me in various ways. I wanted my mother, sister, and niece to meet the people who were there for me in the darkest days and happiest moments of my time in the big city. My family represented who I am as a son, a brother, and an uncle, the man from Seaside, California. I wanted my friends to meet the woman who brought me into this world, my sister who not only I protected but protected me as well growing up, and my niece, the little girl I live for.

Gina and I still had yet to meet.

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Five Things To Do Before She Goes On That Ladies-Only Vacation

December 8th, 2014 3 comments

Tomorrow, Gina is going on a ladies-only vacation with her friends to some island in the Caribbean. She will be gone for four days.

Now, if this was about five years ago, I would be completely and utterly sick over this. When I was younger, the idea of my woman going on any trip without me had my anxiety levels going up like an airplane. Even if we were in a perfectly good place as she packed her bags, even if I trusted her completely, whenever a woman I was dating said they had a girl’s trip on deck, all I could think about was the possibility that she might meet a Dexter.

Gina’s trip is a little different. She actually invited me to go originally, but for reasons that are I will save for another post, I couldn’t make it. As a matter of fact, I believe the original plan was to make it a co-ed trip, for all parties, and it just so happened things dissolved into what is now a women-only excursion. Besides, I’m not the same guy I used to be, and I’m not really worried about anything happening while she’s sunbathing on the beaches of this island she will be staying at.

But, it took me years to attain this level of calm as she embarks on a great adventure, and for the guys out there who still get knots in their stomach when their girl says she’s going on a trip and you’re not invited, I feel your angst. So for you fellas out there, here are five things you can do to, at the very least, quell your worries.

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The First Year of Forever

November 26th, 2014 11 comments

One of my boys who is married ribbed me the other day when I mentioned how in awe I was of the speed with which time has passed since Gina and I went out on our first date last year. He said, “When you’re married, that’s nothing.” I laughed it off, and then called him a relationship elitist, reminding him that he was once exactly where I was with the woman who is now his wife.

Today marks one year Gina and I have been together. We decided on this date after a month of dating because it was the day of our first date and neither of us have been on another first date since. We never had a conversation about being what the kids call, “official.” There was no serious talk about transitioning into a relationship, and I never formally asked Gina to be my girlfriend. To us, there were never any questions about our status because from the minute we sat down for our first date, we both kind of knew we were each other’s answers to the question, “What does love look like?”

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Moving In and Getting Out

November 5th, 2014 No comments

I love my apartment.

In New York City, that is not something very many people can say, so I consider myself fortunate. Here in this city, having a roof over your head that doesn’t leak is a blessing, so having one that you adore, well, that can make even a poor man like myself feel rich. If what they say is true about home being where the heart is, and there being no place like it, then you can find my heart in a one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a pre-war building deep in Central Harlem. My place is my baby.

When Gina and I first discussed living together, there was no talk of moving elsewhere nor was there talk of moving in with her. The latter discussion wasn’t even on the table because she was the one who lived with two other roommates. Besides, with the amount of money we would be saving if she moved in with me, it just made more sense for me to be the one making extra closet space for her belongings.

She’s now fully arrived, the last of her things retrieved over the weekend. Of course, there is still a lot to do including some clearing out of some of my old stuff, and some buying of new stuff where we can properly store old stuff. We need everything from pens for her dry-erase board, to shoe racks. The adjustments we’re making to this new lifestyle are mostly physical, but as everything around the place with which I’m most familiar begins to look different, so has my feelings towards it.

Gina has just moved into my apartment, but I already want us to move out, together. It’s not a space issue. The square footage of our apartment accommodates both of us just fine. My reasons for wanting us to move and live elsewhere together have more to do with truly feeling like we’re in lock-step towards building a life together.

This desire, to want us to establish ourselves on an equal playing field is shocking to me. Like many feelings I have come to experience since she’s come into my life, I had no idea her moving in would make me feel the ambivalence I now have towards my apartment. If someone were to offer a smaller place than the one we have right now, I don’t know if we would take it, but if we did, the biggest reason would largely be due to the fact that we get to start somewhere anew at the same damn time.

That idea, a fresh start together, is what enchants me these days. I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s like, cohabitation, in this brief time, has been great, but it’s merely scratching the surface of what I’m really trying to do with her. I don’t want to just live with my woman, I want us to create our own world together.

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What I Learned From My First Vacation With My Woman

July 30th, 2014 3 comments

After I wrote last week’s post about preparing for my vacation to Austin with Gina, I heard a variety of responses. Some people told me traveling with a significant other was their way of finding out whether or not they were the right person for them, the ultimate test so to speak. Others said it didn’t make a difference at all, that if Gina was truly the one, a vacation with her wouldn’t change that no matter how things would unfold. That latter point was specifically something my friend Ace told me, and while I understood where he was coming from, I still felt like the trip would be an eye-opening experience for me and my relationship with Gina. It turned out I was right.

There were lessons, big and small, that I learned not only about myself, but Gina, and of course, Austin, Texas, a place neither of us had ever been. Those who follow me on Instagram were able to see I had a good time, specifically with stuffing my face full of some of the most delicious food I ever tasted, but here are some more thoughts and stories from my first adventure with Gina.

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The Most Important Trip of My Life

July 24th, 2014 4 comments

One of my married friends once told me the reason he and his wife travel so much is because they’re at their best when they are discovering somewhere new or going on a new journey together. He told this to me years ago, and it always stuck with me for three reasons:

The first reason was how he was able to pinpoint the exact thing that made he and his wife great together, besides sex. I thought that was dope.

The second reason was the thing itself, which was travel, was such an easy concept to grasp. I know he was only talking about him and his wife, and wasn’t doling that out as a piece of advice, but if I were writing a collection of great relationship advice, that would surely be included.

The third reason was “travel” could never really be that thing my partner and I enjoy together mostly because I am not much for traveling unless I absolutely have to for like weddings and funerals. I know that hasn’t been a sexy thing to say ever since the Wright Brothers figured out that whole flying thing. Every adult should have a driver’s license, a Costco card, and a passport, and I’ve read the profiles of enough single people to know that a desire to see the world is one of the most sought-after traits in a partner. But what can I say? I hate flying, therefore I don’t like to travel.

Gina is the complete opposite of me.

I don’t think we made it past our first date before I learned she is a girl who doesn’t need a funeral or a wedding to get on a plane. Whereas my idea of vacation is simply not having to use my subway pass to go into work, her idea of vacation is a boarding pass to some place in a different time zone. Once I realized Gina was the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life (right after we said goodbye on our first date), I knew I would have to get over my fear of flying in order to keep up with her.

Fast forward to last Friday, my 33rd birthday.

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A Guide To Making It Known You’re In a Relationship

June 5th, 2014 7 comments

*“I don’t have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who’d be mad at me for saying that.” – Mitch Hedberg

It was like most Saturday afternoons at Sons of Essex. I made a quick lap around the place, dapping up folk I knew, exchanging pleasantries, taking a welcome shot while my boy Doc went straight to the bar to open up a tab. The entire place was well into party mode, people who were seated at tables were getting up from them and dancing if their jam came on, the pit was a sea of people. She was one of the first people I saw when I walked in the restaurant, sitting down with one of her girlfriends, mimosa in hand. Cute, I thought. Then I kept it moving back to where Doc was seated.

I received a text from Gina that read, “I’m probably going to be there in an hour or so.” This meant she wasn’t getting there for at least another 90 minutes, so I got comfortable.

That girl, the one with the mimosa in hand wasn’t the only attractive woman I saw. Saturdays at SOE are usually crawling with eye candy of all shades and varieties, but, for some reason, she was the one I noticed; the one I knew, if my circumstances were different, I would have approached her and introduced myself.

My behavior when I go out without my girlfriend is only slightly different now than it was when I was going out as a single man. My default setting is social. I will talk to women whether I am attracted to them or not. A large part of this has to do with my job, which as I’ve explained before, requires me to net people who might be willing to participate in my column. Seeing as I have that built in excuse to talk to women, even my girlfriend knows her boyfriend will talk to other women. She also knows she can trust me to draw the line somewhere.

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