Some thoughts on Lawrence & the Awkward relatability of Insecure

One of my favorite shows is, Insecure on HBO. If you’ve never watched it, I strongly advise you check it out. The episodes are only 30 minutes, so it’s 2 seasons are the perfect binge for the next time you take a “sick day” from work. The story revolves around the main character, Issa, and her many relationships. I’m not going to go too in-depth into her character and motivations at the moment, as there’s another character whom I relate to more personally, Lawrence.

To set it up for you, Lawrence is Issa’s significant other. At the beginning of the show, he is unemployed and basically being supported by Issa. She begins to question her feelings for Lawrence, which sets the show into a whirlwind of events that are uncomfortably relatable. The show is real and at times raw, but that is what sets it apart. It has made me take a step back, several times, to look at myself and the relationships I have with people. How could I have handled things differently? Maybe if I hadn’t sent that last text message, things would’ve gone in a different direction.

To me, the thing that makes Lawrence so relatable, are his flaws. Often times, when people are romanticizing themselves as characters in a book or a TV show, they tend to highlight the strengths and disregard their gray areas, the ones we all exist in. Lawrence’s arch is full of gray areas. Some of his courses of action are undoubtedly ones I’ve followed myself, right or wrong, so I find it interesting to be able to look from the outside – in.

Even before the story begins, it’s easy for me to imagine the issues Lawrence carries around. Being an unemployed, black man in America is a hell of a title to carry. You’re marginalized. He was either underqualified or overqualified for most jobs, or so it seemed. None of this really motivated him to do anything, he let himself go. His appearance was rough and he never wanted to go do anything (probably because he was broke and his girl was already paying for everything) until problems in his love life emerged.

I’ve seen lots of women argue that Lawrence wasn’t doing what he needed to do as a man, which I suppose is accurate (albeit ironic since gender roles have supposedly evolved in 2017 but I digress) and this, in a way, justified Issa’s actions. I’ve gone through a similar situation as Lawrence, not being completely on my own feet. I can relate to how he was ignored by the woman he loved, left home alone without knowing where she was and eventually cheated on. It just doesn’t make sense to me, that in a world where true love is very difficult to find, how easily it’s thrown away.

Trust is a key component of a healthy relationship. Once it’s gone, things will never be the same. Ever. The past is already written and the ink is dry. Lawrence did not violate the trust. He got a job, one that he was completely overqualified for and initially curved a chick that I’m not so sure I would’ve had the sexual maturity to deny. He eventually moved on to a better situation, and for now, has corrected the career issues that plagued him in the beginning of Season 1.

Lawrence did everything he was supposed to do, and still lost for it, another thing that has sucked me in week after week for two years. In this show, much like life, there have been no happy endings. Maybe the next season will provide one for Lawrence and the other characters. Or maybe it will continue to blur the lines between scripted television and reality TV….

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Love & Loyalty

Two of the ancient pillars of civilization are love & loyalty. Over the years, in my life, I’ve seen both crumble and left in ruins. However, in some small pockets, they continue to exist.

It was about a year ago when I got a phone call from a high school friend. He told me he was getting married & asked if I would be his best man. As each year has passed, I’ve seen the number of weddings I attend increase, but he was the first of my true homies to make the leap. And I jumped at the opportunity to be there to support him.

It means a lot to be invited to anyone’s wedding, simply as a guest, but to be apart of the ceremony is an entirely different honor. I couldn’t help but question, why me? We hadn’t seen one another in years, hell, we don’t even live in the same city anymore. We’d both gone off to college, made new friends, he’d even joined a Greek organization. So why me? Honestly, I still have no idea, but it meant the world to me.

I didn’t meet his bride until the day before the wedding, at rehearsal and I instantly could tell she was an amazing person. She was cool as a fan and her presence emitted positivity and jubilation. I instantly felt a calm come over myself, seeing how the bride and groom to be interacted with one another. The rest of the rehearsal & night only continued to strengthen my happiness for the broski.

The day of the wedding came and everything went off without a hitch. There was a sense of relief in the room we’d all settled into after the ceremony. Bottles of liquor were being opened, Snapchat videos were being recorded, it was becoming a party. After taking more snaps, we headed over to the reception hall to really turn up. Some of the groomsman were late, due to a pit stop at the liquor store. It was all love.

During the bride & groom’s first dance that everything sort of came together for me. This was a REAL LOVE they share, as genuine of one as I’ve seen in my generation’s era. And this was a LOYAL friend, to allow me to be apart of this special day, a day neither of us will soon forget. Watching them inspired me and gave me hope for my own future. It was a reminder of what can be and I do not take the example they set lightly.

So bro, to you & your bride, thank you again for allowing me to be apart of your wedding day. Thank you for asking me to be your best man. And thank you for the reminder, that I need to get MY shit together!

Just a Friend pt.2

I just can’t seem to seize this moment. I’ve been so close and I admit I believe that there may be hope yet. The right day, the right atmosphere and I can have you. If only for one night. Just focus. Listen friend, we should really do some exploring. Can you just take a moment to hear me out?… 

I get, happy feelings from your name in my notification window. Never a dull moment, steady sips of innuendo. I want to be myself, sometimes, but I must remember. While I want to be your lover, you just want to be a friend though. 

We text like half the day, about work and the justice system. I spend the time between response thinking of what I’m missing. You’ve got the perfect shape, and I’m so in love with your figure. I could be your perfect lover but I’m just another nigga.

When you hit me up on Snapchat, I always hope it’s a picture. But it never is and it snaps me outta my feelings. We been friends since high school and I’ve watched as you’ve gotten thicker. But since you know my exes, you won’t let me see your nipples.

If I had a flashy thing, like Men in Black after contact. I’d erase the memories that have caused you to overreact. Decisions of my past, reincarnated just to haunt me. I seriously want you, I just wish that you would want me.

Passion and Fruit

Passion is defined as being a “barely controllable” emotion. When properly nurtured, passion can sprout from a genuine connection and be safely devoured whole. The cultivation and preparation of true passion, though, is as rare as it is dangerous. A drug of sorts, that I must admit to being an abuser of. As with certain other drugs, there are good highs and bad highs. For the sake of happy endings everywhere, I’ll share one of those good highs with you.

A few years back, I was at a concert. The artist is a stoney, mellowed out rapper, so the crowd this night was especially chill. About the time the concert was ending, I made eye contact with a shorty across the room. It was packed so there was no way I could make it to her. I chalked it up as me just being on some fly shit, per usual, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. She had made her way, through the crowd and over to me to compliment my attire. “I like your sweatshirt” she said. Completely off guard, I froze and ending up staring at her. She was and still is gorgeous. Anyway, I got her number and was pretty much done with the concert for the night. I was plotting my next move, of course.

I decided to play it cool, but not too cool because this girl was a visualized fantasy of mine. Curly hair, gorgeous smile and a set of lips Kylie Jenner would be jealous of. I texted her the next day, hoping she wasn’t a walking blackout when she gave me her number the night before. She replied within the 30 minute window of interest. Not even 3 texts into the conversation, she told me she wasn’t tryna be cuffed and guys were always trying to cuff her, unsuccessfully. Turns out she was an electrical engineering student at Vandy, about to graduate. I found this interesting because I love smart women, but it also let me know to live in the now with her, not the future. And that, is precisely what we did.

For about a month, we went out to dinner when we could, even smoked a few js together. She was always pretty busy with school and I was working full time, so any moments together were precious to me. We had shared a few kisses together and now Valentine’s Day was coming up. I asked her for a date on the occasion and she agreed. I’d gotten her an edible arrangement and a teddy for her little surprise gifts. She lit up, in a way that said “this guy really likes me.” The wait for our table at J Alexander’s was pretty long, so in anticipation she brought some Jack Daniels for us to drink while we waited. By the time our timer buzzed,we both smelled of whiskey and cantaloupe juice from the fruit arrangement.

Once inside the restaurant the night continued on the light and airy path we’d started down. Chemistry and whiskey are one hell of a mix, along with Shorty’s intellect and appearance, it was causing a chemical reaction within me. Of course, the only way to enjoy the full experience would be to add a bottle of wine on top. We shared the bottle over dinner and it was on to the next phase. There’s a little part of town called “Love Circle” and there, you can see the entire cityscape from the top. When we arrived, there was already a fair share of cars parked, undoubtedly on the same thing we were on. We sparked a j, laughed together and even peed outside the car together. As completely out of it as we both were by now, luckily, her dorm was pretty much across the street, so we jettisoned there without making police contact.

When we arrived on campus, we bumped into a plethora of couples and friendly faces, all clearly calling out how way up we were. True, we were pretty inebriated but no doubt it was due to the fluttery passion we had been harvesting all night. As she held my hand, dragging me through campus on the way to her dorm, the nebulas were rising. After being heckled a bit more, we made it back to her dorm and I remember sitting on a couch. Above the couch, was a poster of the Notorious B.I.G puffing on a dutch. As I stared at the poster, reminiscing on what an amazing artist he was, I felt hands push me in the chest. Falling back, I looked up and there was everything that the night was supposed to be climbing on top of me.

Admittedly, I don’t remember much else from that point, except that all the passion that had built up between us was being unleashed. Two other people were in that room that night, very different from the ones who walked in. Truthfully, they’d been with us everywhere we’d gone until then, it just took the right mix of chemistry and chemicals to manifest. Somewhere, within myself and maybe her, those two still rest, waiting patiently to be called upon once more.

Keep Scrollin to the Left… Or Don’t.

Those who look for the bad in people, will surely find it.

-Abraham Lincoln

The older I get, the harder it becomes to trust people. Anyone. In all honesty, I find it difficult to trust or believe my own mother’s motives and reasoning so everyone else is pretty much doomed. I think this may be part of the reason I have issues with women and relationships, but this isn’t a counseling session post so I won’t harp too greatly on that now. I’m understanding of women with trust issues because I go through it myself, although, there are things I’ve learned on my journey that help me cope with my own issues, as not to project them onto others. See, every relationship, for the past 5 years of my life, has been akin to the sexual experience I shared with my partner at the time. There was anticipation, build up, climax and then the inevitable, come down (or in some cases, let down). I knew the let down would come, I anticipated and was always prepared for it. But this time? Things are different. I was neither anticipating, nor prepared for the let down that was to come…

It was a Thursday night, my favorite night of the week because it’s usually when I have the most freedom to get inebriated without consequence. My weekends are my father/son time, so for me, Thursday nights have morphed into Friday and Saturday nights. It’s also difficult because I’m torn between kicking it with the homies or caking the night away. This particular Thursday night was going to be the best in a few weeks. Football was back, the Italian Job was on her way and we were in make up mode. We had a small spat earlier in the week, which was quickly reconciled but we hadn’t seen each other since it occurred. Before I had even left my office, she sent a “Do you have any adult beverages?” text. I had already launched a preemptive strike on my local wine & spirits shop the day before, so I was ready for the ensuing invasion. Shorty is so intellectual I knew when she asked, she had something more in mind for the night. I dipped out of the office, nothing but optimistic for what the night would hold.

I get off a few hours before her, so I knew I’d have time to go home and setup everything I needed to switch my place from the lion’s den to feng shui. By the time I was done, there were perfect vacuum lines on the carpet, candles & aromatics from floor to ceiling and Ms. Badu resonating through the bluetooth speakers. I’m telling y’all, it was so perfect I can feel the mood still as I type about it. I couldn’t wait for her to pull up, the NFL season was kicking off, so I went ahead and started – a bit before she arrived. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that decision, to start drinking early would play a major part in the events that ensued.

A few minutes into the first quarter, she arrived just as I finished twisting up. Perfect timing. I’m not much for peer pressure, but smoking with a woman is one of my favorite past times. She’s not half the stoner I am and we actually had never shared before, but like I said earlier I was optimistic about this night. She came in, we spoke briefly about our minor blip and moved forward to other things. We both started taking shots, in between sharing feelings and hopes for each other and where things could go. The eye gazing and smiles graduated to caressing and kisses as the game, along with Ms. Badu played as the back drop. I lit the J, she took a puff and we went to another dimension. Somewhere I thought no one from the outside would be able to reach us. I was wrong.

After a few more shots, I was faded and feeling X-rated. She and I had never actually had sex together, just a bit of fooling around and exploring one another’s anatomy. There’s this thing she does…. Nevermind. Back to the story…

We decided to move things into the bedroom, for more comfort and to close the proximity between ourselves. I turned off the speakers and brought my phone into the bedroom, to continue the atmosphere that was created by Pandora’s Badu station. For a few hours we dillied, dallied and giggled together. She’d never stayed the night with me before, so I was trying to finesse that when at some point I passed out. Here’s where the story turns into the clusterfuck you probably expected after the 1st paragraph.

At some point, Ms. Lasagna & Breadsticks decided to go through my phone. Now… We have shared several intimate moments together, dated for a year but never officially declared ourselves to one another. I had tickets to my home team’s NFL opener on that coming Sunday, which I procured during our spat, so earlier that week I was proactively searching for someone to go with. Admittedly, I reached out to a few female friends who are pretty easy on the eyes. I figured if I was gonna give someone a free ticket that I paid for, better it be a female than some dude. Ms. Cannoli saw these messages and honestly only God and her knows what else. Needless to say she was not happy about it. She woke me up, fully dressed and lights on, which was totally different from how things were before I passed out, and told me she was leaving. At this point, I was still clueless that all this had happened, until she said it was the last time I’d see her. As painful as that honestly was, I was in no condition to plead my case or appeal. Though I was confused, as great as things had been that night, why even take the chance of potentially ruining such a great high?

The things that she saw, to me, all completely non relevant people and conversations in my life. I never dated, slept with, licked, or touched any one that she saw me converse with. Though, I can understand why she’d feel the way she does, but it brings me to the point of this entire post. If you go looking for something negative, you will most assuredly find it. Why do we, distrustful of others, constantly feel the need to sabotage anything good that happens? Things can be taken completely out of context (one of the friends I reached out to shares the same name as me, she thought I was referring to her as my wife). The situation has however, helped me realize the importance of focusing on the positive and communicating. Then, it brings me 360 degrees the other way we I think how I would have reacted had I gone through her phone. But, I’m brought back to reality and stable ground when I realize I’d never go through her phone, because I fully understand the consequences.

The Italian Job

This post is a bit longer than usual, but I wanted to share the story of one of the best and most memorable nights I’ve experienced.

It’s 7:15PM on a Friday and I’m sitting at a red light when I notice the sunset receding into the horizon. Shit was beautiful. It instantly felt like a mental snapshot of what the summer and this night could be. The kind you wish you could have every evening. I remember the encapsulation of the moment being interrupted though by my text notification. A reminder of why I was in the car, in position to notice this amazing sunset, in the first place.

“Before we do anything else, may I request we have dinner first, sir?” Perfect. Since I, predictably, had made no real arrangements eating dinner first provided flexibility.”Of course, as you wish Khaleesi.” I had gone out with her before, but this night needed to be different. And her request of dinner first allowed our interactions to dictate the rest of the evening.

As I pulled into my lady’s driveway, she emerged from inside sporting a beautiful, flower sheathed dress. As she locked the door behind her, before she could turn around to walk towards my car, I was already outside the passenger door opening it. Finessed. Easy bonus points to help pass Level 1. I knew I might need the extra +XP later, so I picked them up as I could.

“So, where are we going to eat?” I knew better than to ask where SHE wanted to go but I still wanted her to feel apart of the decision. “Do you like Italian?” Not do you want Italian. The answer of course was yes. I told her about this great place I knew of and how they served authentic Italian cuisine, since this one isn’t exactly the Olive Garden type. The excitement on her face after reading the Yelp reviews about the lasagna only amplified when she exclaimed about how we should share a bottle of wine, too.

As we arrived and were seated at the restaurant, I noticed her eyes wandering, taking in the scenery. “It’s nice in here, the ambiance is perfect. Good job.” The waiter arrived at our table with menus for food and one for wine. Here’s where I let her make the decision. I’m low-born, my lady’s taste in wine had proven her to be a virtuoso of sorts once before. “2013 Kendall-Jackson Merlot from Sonoma please” I was swooning. She looked at me and pursed her lips, in that instant I felt there was something else going on. Was I really as in control as I thought I was?

We made our way through the pasta and bread, touching on various conversation topics. There was something about the Italian food, the sauce and wine, mixing in with the undertones of sprouting love on this night. It felt like a scene from a Julia Roberts movie, where the main characters share a romantic dinner, except this was actually happening. The euphoria peaked as we touched hands, reaching for a wine bottle long empty now. “Aw man” she said while looking at me, the wine narcosis in full effect now. As I was about to speak, she interrupted “We have to get a bottle on our way home, for the rest of the night. Please?!” No doubt.

I couldn’t get the check and pay fast enough. On our way out of the restaurant, the waiter shot me a glance of mutual respect. He was cheering for me to score. Still, I couldn’t help but feel as though my lady was the ball carrier. At every turn of the night, it felt as if she had been allowing me to control what she wanted me to control. Each time, I had gone to make a power play, she countered with a subtle jab of her own. Even after I opened the car door for her, before I could get in she grabbed the aux cord. A calculating effort to control the mood of the ride home. After a quick pit stop at the wine store closest to her lair we turned onto her street, Aaliyah playing in the background.

Pulling into her driveway for the second time, I felt more confident than on the pick up. Whether that was due to the wine or trail of bread crumbs she’d been leaving for me all night, remains to be seen. I told her how much I enjoyed dinner and being able to spend time with her. The clever game of cat & mouse would soon be over. She told me “Dinner was great, I just wished I had gotten some dessert. I guess this wine will have to do.” A dessert reference. Hmm.. I couldn’t help but feel that this was some sort of coy attempt to reference her true meaning. “Would you like to come in and share some with me?” accompanied by a sheepish grin solidified it for me. All I could do was smile and say “Absolutely.”

I’d met my match on this memorable night. For all the effort I exerted on coaxing this woman into choosing me, she knew what she wanted all along and in hindsight was unstoppable in her quest to achieve it. This was how I always dreamed it would happen, I just thought I’d be more in control of things.

The Only Terror I Know

For decades, in America, local law enforcement has successfully alienated minority groups. They have done so both passively and aggressively in the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect and serve. It is clear now, on today, to me that there must be reform within the policing community. The police we have in this country are terrified of young, black males and there is nothing more dangerous than a coward with a gun (and badge). The nature of the job itself puts these officers lives in danger every minute, of every incident, of every day. The excuse that “I feared for my life” is invalid. When police execute America citizens, these are acts of domestic terror and should be prosecuted as such.

Terrorism is defined by the FBI as an act that meets the following:

Appears intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping.

When I read that definition, the first thing I thought of was not ISIS, but law enforcement in America. Shooting a black man who is resisting arrest, is CLEARLY an act intended to coerce not only the suspect into submission, but other black men who would think of resisting an unlawful arrest. How do you stop suspects in the future from resisting? Murder the ones that do. That is terrorism.

The expectation of police is to use reasonable force early, to avoid using excessive force. But what exactly is reasonable force? Is it a taser? Pepper spray? Or 4 shots into the chest? The major problem I see is that too many police tactics are open to interpretation of the officer in question. If the military has rules of engagement, then the police in civilian communities should as well.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military is not cleared to engage even if an individual has been identified as a member of the Taliban. Yet on U.S. soil, an officer of the law can commit homicide, claim that he feared for his life and procure the support of mainstream white America.

Police should never draw their weapons without clear indication that the suspect is armed and posing an immediate threat to their lives. Obviously, there are certain scenarios in which a split second decision must be made by law enforcement. All too often though, the police use lethal force when confronted with resistance or sometimes simply through misjudging the victim. If everyday citizens began shooting police officers because they feared for their lives in split second decisions, would they be acquitted in the court of law? Highly unlikely. Yet, we see this occur year after year with law enforcement. The police nationwide must be held accountable for the actions of their fellow officers, as our entire community is held for the criminals in ours.

Above all though, I just want to see this stop.

“Brother, Brother, Brother… There’s far too many of you dying”