In honor of turning 32, I’ve decided to share 32 things I’ve learned. If you want to do something for my birthday, read it, please. Thank you!
After I finished cutting my hair yesterday, I spent a longer time than usual staring at myself in my bathroom mirror.
This wasn’t vanity at work here. I still had specks of my old hair splattered against my forehead, which was shiny because I just finished running warm clippers over my head on a day where the temperature was around 200 degrees fahrenheit.
I was focused on trying to detach myself from the person I saw in the mirror because I wanted to see what other people may see when they see me walking down a street or on a platform waiting on the subway. I wanted to see the face my mom said others would see if I wore my hat cocked a certain way or played a certain type of music at a certain volume.
I wanted to see the face of fear.
And I couldn’t.
A straight face isn’t my default face. I like to smile and I do it more than I don’t. When I look at pictures of Trayvon Martin, I see a boy who smiled when the camera was on him. If I had to write a story about Trayvon using those pictures alone, I would describe him as a happy child who didn’t need to be feared by anyone.
Then I would hand that story to people like George Zimmerman.
A lot of what I have read about George Zimmerman and the tragic not guilty verdict those six jurors came to on Saturday has been about hate. Zimmerman was driven by hate, those six women must hate black people, and certainly the criminal justice system hates black people too. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hate…
I’m not writing this to disagree with any of it. Our interpretations about this American tragedy are ours to have, but mine is slightly different.
George Zimmerman was afraid of Trayvon Martin because Trayvon Martin was black. George Zimmerman feared Trayvon Martin because black people adorned in something as simple as a hoodie and khakis and sneakers with a bag of candy in their hand look dangerous to people who are either not black themselves or isolate themselves from black people to the point where the only exposure they have to them is via the media and entertainment.
George Zimmerman feared Trayvon Martin because he never saw one of the numerous pictures of the young black boy smiling.
Nothing happened, but I was still wrong.
I am at that age when I know better fluently. I have perfect command over doing the right thing, so when I do the wrong thing, the choice is made to find a deeper truth. I guess you can say it’s like the use of foul language. There’s always a more appropriate word than “fuck” but sometimes that word says it all.
I fucked up and I knew it from the moment I said yes to her request. She was going to be in New York City for an overnight business trip and wanted to stay with me. This was absolutely unnecessary.
For one, I know for a fact if it was business for which she was in town, the company was more than willing to pay for a hotel. She is an attorney at one of those big law firms where money is spent like water. A hotel room for business-related trips is standard.
But the other reason she should have never asked to stay with me, and I should have never said yes to her request, is because she was engaged to be married. and had the rock on her finger to prove it.
BEFORE READING: Click here to read the more truthful version of this post.
Your mother tells you, when you and your sister were children, she supported the two of you with less than the money you will be making at your first job out of college. She just wants you to know that, and even though what you’re making is typical entry-level salary, to her, that’s still no excuse. There should be no reason you can’t make ends meet on your own in the world.
When you enter the world, you go about things carefully at first, blessed to have a job you love, working for the kind of company that looks cool on a business card. You’re in your early 20s and you don’t think about anything beyond whether or not your name is on a list and of course, the women you’re dating.
They, the women, are a necessary expense. You have to take them out to eat, buy them drinks, pay their cab fare, buy condoms. You also have to be out in the city where these women are at, keep up appearances to make yourself look desirable.
This goes on for a few years. You’ve hit some bumps in the road at times, but you’ve maintained gainful employment. You’ve even graduated in some areas to a more mature form of adulthood, going from a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate, to a one-bedroom apartment by yourself. You’re no longer entry level, you’ve moved up the ladder some, the checks have more digits.
The irony is, this moment has come at a time in your life where you were beginning to reassess your value system. Of course it has to do with a girl you meet. That’s how all these things work. This girl is your future, so you move her in with you, and you make an attempt to provide everything for her, but you couldn’t afford to do that and she, bless her heart, refuses to let you try. As a matter of fact, not only does she not let you deal with all the finances yourself, she pointed to the fact that she could tell, you didn’t know how to deal with them in the first place. One night, she said to print out your bank statements from the last three months. It was the first time you saw fear in her eyes.
Tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on Wednesday, July 18), I turn 31-years-old.
This not only makes me old it makes you old as well, but that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is I survived a very pivotal age, an age that when I was going into it, I had a host of expectations and ideas about what it meant. Little did I know, it was nothing like I thought it would be.
The thing I tell about being 30 is, you don’t turn 30, 30 turns you. Because you are now this particular age, people expect things of you and you expect things of yourself. I have spent a whole year telling people who ask, I’m 30-years-old, and every single time I’ve said it, it feels like I’m lying. I don’t feel 30, for a variety of reasons, but my ID tells no lies and so therefore, people expect me to be 30, even when they have no idea what it means.
Hell, I didn’t have any idea what it meant and as I sit here less than 24 hours away from turning 31, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this past year was akin to the Introduction to Statistics class I was required to take in college. I did not flourish, but I had highs and lows that balanced out to the point where I made it to 31 and the older you get, the more you just want to be able to say that. You made it to the next year.
At first, you wonder how the hell a person who has so many problems with you ended up choosing you. You wonder if they did their research during the courting phase. Didn’t they see you were this way and not another?
The answer is they did but they didn’t care. They were focused on you, saw everything that was wrong, from the little things like the way you eat, to the bigger things like how horrible you are with money. The little things, at first, were adorable. The bigger things, well, they could help you with that. They told you not to worry, that there was still plenty about you they loved. Your flaws didn’t scare them.
But you knew better because you heard it all before. At some point, the other foot was going to drop. Not only does Newton’s law say so, but it’s also something experience has taught you. The other foot always drops. Your problems are not a problem now but a problem they will be. You remember the last time it happened, years ago, with your college love.
In 2008, I went through the most dramatic breakup I ever experienced. Long time readers are very familiar with my ex who lived with me for about a year. I’ve told stories on this blog of our tumultuous time together. As with most relationships, there were good times and bad times, but in the end, I grew frustrated with the bad times, acted out, and she moved out and broke up with me accordingly. The breakup wasn’t anything compared to the aftermath, the struggle of getting over what happened and moving on. If I had to guess how long it took, I would say 2.5 years is about right.
In 2009, I was an editor at VIBE. I loved everything about my job from my coworkers to my responsibilities, but all of it came to an end at a moment’s notice on a random day in June. That’s when I, along with the staff, were told VIBE would be closing. As most know, VIBE is back up and running, but I never went back to the company in a full time capacity. Instead, I attempted to establish myself as a freelancer while also finding some temporary stints of employment for various media companies, the most recent of which was last year at The Huffington Post.
Not all women are bad at giving gifts. Only 99 percent of them are. For the 1 percent who want to protest this fact, email me. I will email you back my mailing address so you can ship your best gift to me.
For the rest of you ladies who are humble enough to admit that every year you’re stuck figuring out what to get your man, whether it’s a new relationship or an old relationship, allow me to give you a helpful guide provided by the lovely ladies from my past.
Below are gifts received from ex-girlfriends. Some were expensive, some were under $20, but all of them were thoughtful. No matter the price on them, what made each one special is they were a reflection of my passions, my interests, and each woman’s ability to listen and pay attention. I did not ask for any of these gifts, they just took a shot based on what they knew and now, they’re in the gift hall of fame.
Enjoy the list, and to the ladies still struggling to find a gift for your man, I hope the list helps you figure out what to get him. Just remember: Make it thoughtful.
It will begin the night before your last day together. If things have gone really well, the night before is when the high starts to come down, right before it’s time to go to bed and make love for what will be anywhere between the second to the last time or the last time before they get back on that plane or bus or car to travel back to wherever they live.
How to spend the last few hours together are determined by when they are scheduled to leave.
Nothing is really official until 7:32 p.m. EST, but still, the day is here. Today I’m 30.
I don’t have too much to say about it. Like most years, it will be defined by more days than just this one, and what this day means has yet to sink in. I’m very happy to say I’m 30-years-old, because as I keep telling people, the only other option to turning 30 is not turning 30, so I have nothing to complain about it.
But here’s my thing: Everyone I know who is 30+ says it’s so much better than the 20s, to which I say, You all better not be lying to me. With the exception of some unexpected deaths, stints of unemployment, and the occasional relationship drama, my 20s were damn good. As a matter of fact, better than damn good, they were great, wonderful, and full of life. If the next 10 years are even close to what the last 10 years have been I’ll be a happy man, so when people say they’re actually better, I want to explain to them exactly how good my 20s are and then ask them, “So what you’re saying is, it’s better than that?”
In my lifetime, I have had more good days than bad, laughed more than cried, gained more than lost, and loved more than hated. My 30s don’t have to be better than my 20s, I’d be happy with them being just as good.
But still, the word on the street is, 30s > 20s and it’s not even a contest. Fingers crossed and prayers up that is the case.
Oh and to my family and friends: Thank you. The past 30 years have only been this good because of what you brought to my life.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to thank God for a wonderful life lived, ponder the possibilities of a bright future, and practice ways of saying “I’m 30” without sounding old.
Here’s to the next decade in my life. May it be what everybody says it’s supposed to be.