WEDDING BELLS?: PRAY IT’S THE CORRECT PERSON

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These past few weeks I have had the pleasure of attending my sister’s childhood friends’ wedding. It was in many ways a dream come true for her and somewhat of a fairy-tale wedding since she ended up marrying her childhood sweetheart. The couple had dated for a spell in High school and my mother still has a copy of a picture of the two of them taken when they were a couple as teenagers. After ten long years of life apart they met and she said, she saw him in a different light. They talked and two years later sealed their love in marriage, in a beautiful traditional ceremony in their hometown.

Weddings and Funerals have a way of forcing one to re-evaluate ones choices and decisions. Where one is and where one wants or hopes to go. What’s important and what is not. The truth for me was undeniable.

I’ve always wanted to get married. I have always desired married life.  If I had my own way I would have been married years ago, that is, if I had met someone I thought I could commit to. Someone who was also willing to commit to me. I started to think about how it all went wrong. Why it was that I was 35 and still very much a single lady still secretly hoping that someone will like “it” enough to put a ring on it.

Getting married is not a measure of success or is it?

I mean there are enough divorces and dysfunctional relationships and marriages in the world to make even the most optimistic of romantics to shy away at the prospect of ever after. But let’s face it, when marriage works or a union between two committed people, when it works, it really is beautiful, it is something to behold. Despite being considered the most vociferous of feminists in my family, I am also a hopeless (meaning can’t resist love) romantic at heart. I love seeing couples in love, I love romance. I enjoy loving and being loved. And being single has deprived me of one of my greatest joys.  I guess I have just become jaded over time because despite my numerous efforts at finding romantic love with another I have failed to secure a real and genuine proposal I can’t refuse.

In My Sister’s Shadow

My sister’s friends’ wedding took me back in time to five years ago, when my youngest sister got married. She asked my older sister and I to be flower ladies at her wedding – replacing the ubiquitous little flower girls who walk in front of the bride throwing rose petals as a symbol of good luck, fertility and prosperity for the couple. At first I didn’t think too much about it. But there was a part of me that wondered if my older sister and I weren’t “babies” in the game of love, children who had  a long way to go still. Her request conjured up images of a scene in the movie Father of the Bride when the father while listening to his 22 year old daughter announcing her engagement only saw her as a three year old baby girl. Except my sister and I were three year old flower girls in this scenario.  In the end though I was honoured to be there for her. Ye despite having enjoyed some success professionally: doing work that I love and travelling around the world, to my parents I had not yet matured. “Your man will find you once you’ve grown up” my mom would say to me  when the subject of marriage comes up.

As a result of her marriage and subsequent birth of her two children and through no effort of her own my sister now enjoys the role of ‘big’ sister in our household, someone my parents defer to for advice in any discussions of important family matters, because as my father likes to say “she has graduated” into a different office. She is a wife and mother, a mature woman. My sister and I not so much. Yet.

Damaged.

At times I can’t help but feel damaged. That perhaps my experiences in life, love, my line of work including my own choices  have damaged my future prospects of being in a healthy relationship with another. It’s been said that men /women play with women and when they are ready to get married they go for innocent young virgins, who have been prepared for the office of wifehood, people who know how to be wives and mothers. A wise old journalist (male) who had done the exact same thing told me once over wine that the only men I’m good for, are white old men. They, he said emphatically, are the only ones confident enough to deal with and commit to an opinionated black woman who ‘knows” too much.  They are the only ones who wouldn’t be threatened or challenged by your independent mind he concluded. I like my wife because I can teach her so much and she’s like a sponge, she takes it all in. She respects me as her husband and the head of the family.  She needs me and my support. He said taking a last sip of his vin-rouge.

Lessons from the Dark Side of Love

Now that I think about it, despite leaving me still single, a little lonely and slightly jaded byt romantic love, all my failed relationships have taught me two important lessons. One: It matters who you’re in a relationship with, who you end up marrying matters. It matters more to some extent than your career choices and the work you decide to do with your life.  Because who you date or marry has the power to drastically change your life, for better or worse. They can derail your progress in life or  propel it forward.  The emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma from abusive or just plain bad or toxic relationships can take a lifetime to repair, heal and recover from. We all know relationships are important -despite what people say – and everyone including those people who say  things, want to be in a good one.

Two: When in doubt don’t do it. Be single-minded.  The right one for you is very much worth the wait.  Hopefully  it won’t be a 60 year old white male! Either way you’ll be the better for it.

To life, love and Happiness. Le’chaim!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE DAY YOU “JUST KNOW”:  ADVISE FROM MY FATHER

Wedding season is fast approaching for those in  the Northern Hemisphere and since my head is often in the clouds I have been thinking about the subject of romantic love and the related concept of “just knowing’.   I am always interested in love narratives, why people decide to get married and to their partners, how they met, why it worked out or didn’t work out once they’re divorced. I find even the most clinical arrangements interesting and when there is no one to probe or if couples are cagey about details, I look to my own string of failed attempts at relationships and try to be objective about the reasons why they didn’t work out. Especially when most of them are now beginning to fill my Facebook timeline with pictures of their married and paired up lives in what seems like loving and healthy relationships.  In my digging and probing, I am actually searching for that illusive “I just know” moment.

All the couples I have asked about how they knew that their partner was the one they were willing to commit a sizable portion of their lives to, the answer has always been and without exception “we just knew”. This answer has been nagging me for years, how do you “just know” something like that?  I have had many instances in my life when I could have said  “I just knew” but since I am single,   I must have clearly missed something really important.  My mother and I laughed till our bellies were sore and the potjie on the stove almost turned into coals this weekend when we watched Ugandan comedienne Kansiime Annes’ skit, in which she took matters into her own hands and proposed that her partner of five years upgrade her to the status of fiance right there and then on a night out at a restaurant. She brought the ring, wine glasses and a bottle of wine for the décor and a happy smile with giggles to complete the mood while her partner remained perplexed. The clip was a follow-up to another skit where she had to literally position herself at the door for the man of her dreams to notice her and even then he had to be thoroughly persuaded.

Later in the evening I showed my father the proposal video which made him laugh and after we were tired from laughing I asked my father how he knew.  He replied and said you guessed it: “you just know”.

There it is again, none of the couples seem able to offer an explanation or elaborate  further on just how they “know” exactly. To put salt to the wound they say these words “just know” with such a mysterious  sense of self-satisfaction, it makes me feel as  if I’ve been left out of the world’s biggest secrete. How do all these people “just know” something so important and I don’t?

So I decided to change the question a little since I was not making progress with the how question. I asked my father “when do you know or more specifically when do men know?” I must admit I didn’t expect the answer to this question. “The first day you meet the girl” he replied. The first day? I was incredulous, I thought that maybe one would know after three months or so but on the first day? How do you know anything on the first day? I was shocked to say the least. “Yes” my father replied calmly hiding a smile. ” You know on the first day and the rest of the time you’re just confirming what you know or making preparations or arrangements to get married” he said moving the food on his plate methodically.” Really?” I repeated just to be sure I heard right, now all my failed relationships made sense, everything made sense in a new and fresh way, a new feeling swept over me… complete relief. “If a guy hasn’t proposed or talked about marriage within a few weeks or three to six months of meeting you, then they’re still not sure” He said diplomatically. But I knew what he meant.“when they know they have met the one they want to marry, they don’t waste time” he said.

So this is most probably the most useful piece of information on love and romance I have ever received in my life. I wondered to myself why I didn’t ask him sooner. I lamented all the wasted time with people who knew from day one that I was not what they wanted. At the same time I thought this is wonderful news, finally I have confirmation. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.  If a person knows that they want you “forever” on the first day read: day one that they meet you there’s very little you can do about it, except to say yes or no once they ask.   Of course I have observed that men  especially and women for that matter can and will do and say just about anything to get what they want. So if he’s decided you’re his wife ( because that’s already decided the first day you meet) he won’t let anything or anyone stop him except of course, you.

So while this is enlightening it still doesn’t answer my all-important how question. How do you know if someone is the right one for you? All my  13 years of “dating research” corroborate my father’s statement. He’s right. I have seen people I’ve liked make a bee line for my friends as if I didn’t’ exist. Or seem to show interest in me one day and then introduce me to their fiancé’s the next.   This has led me to one conclusion.

You arrive at a place of “just knowing” when you know yourself, when you fully accept all about you good and bad. Once you know who you are, what you want and where you want to go in life then you’ll “just know” when you meet someone who is right for you.  And the odds are you’ll probably be, as I am now, the last one to know about it.

BLACK AND WHITE: TELL ME SOMETHING NEW

My last attempt at a relationship was a complete disaster.

He was perfect. For me it was love at first sound.

He was not a typical Hollywood stud. But he had me at Hello, Hello.

I was skeptical. He was sure.

We drank the truth serum.

The first night was sweet.

The second night he wanted out.

I told him I understood.

He changed his mind.

The third night we heard silence.

He made coffee in the morning.

We sang a duet.

Stay.

His arms wrapped around my waist

I wore black pants and a grey top

He wore black pants and  a grey top.

I ran.

None had shown me such tenderness.

Are you for real?

He called and said we should just be friends.

I agreed and promptly stopped breathing.

A few months later he came crushing into my basement.

With his electronic baggage.

I said I could take it.

We spoke hardly.

We told each other lies.

We were happy.

In our separate rooms.

He saw me crying.

I saw him naked.

I said I love you

He said he  didn’t know what to say.

He was skeptical. I was sure.

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? COUNTING THE COST OF RELATIONSHIPS

Does a good career guarantee romance?
Does a good career guarantee romance?

A week ago a friend and fellow journalist posted a question on her Facebook page which intrigued me. When I first read her question I immediately wanted to write about it. But I thought it wise to wait and clean out the cobwebs in the  attic of my mind and heart before writing a conclusive argument on an issue I have been wrestling with for many years. You must wonder then what the question was.  Here it is:

‘So if you had a love interest that you know is not too good at his job, would you still be interested?”

My default or rather instinctual response to her question was  to pose another:  Are you interested in the job or in the man? By the time 30 people posted their comments on her stream, many of them responding with an emphatic no for an answer;  I realized that I had not given this subject the due consideration it deserves.

The Play ground

So I decided to go back to my childhood playground and  revisit the way in which we played as children or the ways in which children play  in order to better understand how we “play” as adults today. The playground like the office or any other corporate environment  is not for the faint hearted. Children as with colleagues and bosses can be very  callous  with their words and actions. The main difference however  is  that children  tend to be more honest and speak  truth much more than adults do. So you always know where you stand in the playground. It’s obvious.  Children  are also less likely to be conniving, malicious or do anything they don’t feel like doing despite  fervent admonitions, unless of course there’s an adult at hand who might be more persuasive.  Let me use myself as an example.

I am one of five children and grew up within a large extended family.This meant that  my playground was effectively  at home as my friends were my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles.  I hardly played with other children at school, often preferring to keep my own company.  It is safe to say that I never learnt quite how to “make” friends because I never felt that I needed friends to begin with and If I did I already had “friends” at home.  It was on very rare occasions ( and often under chaperon) that I played with other children ( children I was not related to) in the neighbourhood. As a result while I did not actively pursue friendships with others, I was always curious about the “other”. In other words I was always drawn to or curious about people who were not already part of my own family.

At home we played together almost all the time except when we were at school or when one of us was ill.  We used school as an opportunity to explore new things, find new information, which we would later re-enact/ share/teach /exchange  with each other back home.  Even though at various points in our childhood all of us went to the same school, we never “hung- out” together – preferring other people or “friends” to each others company. Of course we would share everything about the “other” once at home.  Some in the family were more successful at making  friends ( bringing new people home) than others. I was generally not good at making friends.  At school I was a loner, awkward, shy, reserved, timid and mostly an outsider looking in, who was a source of jokes or an easy target for bullies. So as a result I kept to myself and never tried to infiltrate the sacred world of school “playground” relationships. Whether by default or as a result of my  own anti-social conditioning – at school I always assumed the role of the observer. I spent most of my time in and outside of class either watching people, reading or day-dreaming.

On Home Ground.

At home I was a completely different person to the timid, reserved girl, who seemed lonely and alone. At home  it was lights, camera, action! At home I was free to live out my wildest dreams, with my siblings or by myself on the mirror. At home I could sing, dance, walk around naked, tease my brother until he cried. At home I was an outgoing, confident, strong girl, who was also talkative, full of drama and  loved to perform. I think a part of me emulated many of the characters I saw at school. I beguiled my mother and siblings with stories of my classmates and teachers while doing  impersonations of them.  Going to school for me was like a game. Because at home I learnt the serious art of studying my “friends” based on their parents relationship with my parents. I keenly watched how the elder’s behaved and used that knowledge to interpret, correctly or erroneously,  the behavior of my siblings and or cousins, uncles and aunts. Even though I knew we all “loved” each other – I knew that their (as with my)  loyalty lay with those who fed them, sent them to school and loved them when no one else was around to witness such love. Ultimately no matter how much  we as children “loved” being together it was never up to us to decide the fate of our relationship. It was the parents who did.  So regardless of what was said, actions always spoke louder than words. I also knew that you can never really know a person until you have at least met their family, you can never understand another, until you know his or her parents. So in life I learnt, that unless I met your mom or dad or your family, I was not your friend. And our friendship would not last long if your parents and or most of your family did not like our friendship and  visa versa. As a child I intrinsically understood the nuance and  dynamic nature of familial relationships and the influence they have in our lives, whether we care to admit it or not.  I learnt that with people nothing was ever cast in stone, and that relationships could sour quickly and  end without much notice, provocation or any particular reason. I learnt that  it was best to accept those relationships as they were rather than  “fight against” the storm.   Even in my childhood play(home)ground there were  hierarchies, formed along the same lines we use to form relationships in our adult lives or in the “business world”.   Even within my own family, friendships were formed  according to  age group, language, familiarity, common interests, good looks, special skills/ability, access (money/influence) and geography ( how often they see each other). And you would be favoured/despised at different times, days, years  depending on which of the above mentioned skills  you had acquired or lost not to mention the state of parental relationships.  So one holiday you may be the butt of all jokes, the next holiday you might be the popular one whom everyone is focused on and wants to be with, favour was seasonal and fleeting. It was always a mystery to me how this worked. But I learnt that I could never  base “love” on any of those “things” which were wonderful to have,  but never seemed to last. Love was a deep connection shared between two people which could never be  quantified.

Love Has Everything To Do with IT

Going back and re-examining my childhood and the behavior we displayed as children in our different “home” playgrounds re-enforced my instinctual question – Do you love the person or the Job? Why? Because even in childhood finding a  good mate to play and just “be” with  – even within such a conducive home  environment – was not always easy.   Sometimes your siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, had other interests which were very different from yours. This differing interests would necessitate a compromise either from one person or group – in order for a the ‘game’ to continue. If there was no agreement, there would be no game. Sometimes you had to be content in your own company even if you were in a room full of people, because none of them shared similar interests to you or wanted to participate in the particular activity you were interested in at the time.   For example I enjoyed classical music but  my older sister loved popular music  and R&B, because she was older and had a more dominant  (parental like) role in our relationship she more than often got her way.  So I had to either choose to also enjoy her brand of music or go somewhere else and do something else. Often there was nowhere else to go.  So I learnt how to be present or absent from a place without ever leaving the room. Even though this may seem like torture it helped me to understand my siblings better, to know what they liked and didn’t like, what they enjoyed, what they were like in the morning, how they slept in bed, what they were like when they were happy, sad, hungry, irritated, scared, angry. And knowing all this made our bond stronger and closer and the love we had for each other had nothing at all to do with our marks at school.  Our love didn’t depend on the our performance at school or at home. Whether I passed or failed didn’t change how much I loved my siblings. Of course we would celebrate if one of us did well, and empathize with each other if the other did not do so well.  But the love didn’t come from what they did or didn’t do, it was about sharing all the good and bad things in life together. My siblings were always there, annoying and angelic  sometimes, I know where I stand with them.  I learnt that love is a choice. A decision you make everyday. And it  a choice or decision you can extend to everyone.

 I chose to love a long time ago!

So while finding a mate who is brilliant or great at their job is wonderful and would be much preferred. I think it is a weak trait to base your decision on. Do you love the man. The person, the human being.  His personality. His character. Do you share his values. His  principles. His aspirations.  Do you enjoy being with this person. Are you free with them. Can you share yourself with them? Can you imagine yourself changing the world with this person ? Do you love them? I think those can be more enlightening questions to ask. In fact it might even be more beneficial to meet the person’s family and relatives  first before making a decision. Considering how hard it is to find someone who can love you (more) like family does, someone who loves you for  who you are, not what you can or cannot do. I would  shy away from someone who loves me because of my job or status in life. Because that has nothing to do with love, that’s just about  appearances and material things. Love shows up when times are hard and sticks around to celebrate with you when you triumph. Yes relationships are costly, and it is only when you truly love someone that it wouldn’t even occur to you to count the cost. Because ultimately – money, career, status, influence – can never buy you love.  While some things are possible to achieve and maintain without love – with love – everything is possible. Only love can change people for the better. But you can never make or force anyone to love you no matter how good you are at your job!

That’s my opinion.

LOVE: Ts & Cs Apply

Harmony makes Love

I told  one of my very close  friends on Sunday that she must ” never” listen to other people when it comes to choosing her mate. I said this to her  like the Guru I sometimes think I am (after all this time I still haven’t learnt to never say never ).  Love, if you find that there is someone in this world you love, in secrete or in public,  love them and don’t let them go.   She looked at me with that ” Are you listening to yourself, I don’t know what you’re talking about look” and replied where does this come from? It’s a response I’ve heard so many times in my quest for love – so I was prepared.  Look at me, I said, you see that I am alone  now, and if you don’t want to be alone ( which she doesn’t, myself included) then don’t listen to other people just go for the one you love, that one that makes sense to you, the one that works. I have given up on so many people as you know, I allowed the world and circumstances to determine my love life, and well if you don’t want to be alone. Don’t do what I did.  She stared at me still with that you have gone crazy look in her eyes and then she asked;  but what if the one you love  doesn’t want to stay…?

It’s a common occurrence, in fact its way too common as far as I am concerned. The ones who are willing to stay are  numbered, 1 or 2.   I guess you’ll just have to accept that they want to move and you must move on too, continue on your own journey. Wish them well. I say, in my heart as I walked out the door.  It was truly a bizarrely uncomfortable conversation, because we have known each other and each others lovers for years and we are both at a point where we want a change in our lives – again. It was a real conversation, we aborted. It was uncomfortable for me because I realized  there are so  many people I have hurt with my love, whom I’ve left with no choice  but to leave in order to save themselves, and there’s also been others who have left me gasping for air after they knocked the air right out of my lungs. I’d say we’re even now. So where to from here….

In thinking about love ( which here specifically refers to love of the romantic kind)  I have found over and over again, despite my best intentions that:   Terms and Conditions do apply;

Money: Are you able to make and keep money. how much do you have and how much can we make together.

Sex:  How important is sexual intercourse for you on a scale of one to ten? Once a day, week, month, Never?

Status:  How would a merger with you benefit me, in my career, family life, business etc. Upward Mobility, Downward Mobility, No change?

Love:   How do you know when it is real?

Faith:  Do you believe what I believe? also known as religion.

Each of these five Ts and Cs take priority over time depending on where you are in your life  mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. So what makes for a  good merger?

I asked this question to a good friend I met a few months ago. He has just gotten married now for a second time, and he is in his  60’s.  I asked him what he learnt from his first marriage.  He said communication is important. We  need to talk.

My first wife was very insecure, never experienced love in her life, so she never fully opened up, so in the end it didn’t work out.  He told me as if he was describing a great mature wine.  The only person I think she truly loves is  our daughter, he concluded.  Talking is important  I am learning as  I go along or should I say communication is more more important than talking. We need to  let others know where we are and what we’re going through.

And now the second one? I ask. Feeling like a ten-year old again… ” well” he answered with a wry smile ” she saved my life, you see, can’t imagine life without her”  Is all he said.

So how should I choose? I asked him.  It’s not an exact science he said but you can:

1. Ignore the  looks

2.  They must be even-tempered, able to deal with you and your various emotions, moods swings etc.

3. They must not mind you being in the limelight.

Sounds easy enough one would think. Okay What about me I thought, what do I want.

1. Children? Money? Wealth? Knowledge? Fame?

After having been knocked down by love so many times,  I have drafted what I think is a simple list of my terms and conditions . If we can do this, the rest will be just a Breeze:

1. I must be able to laugh with you

2.  Work with you.

3. Play with you.

4.  Cry with you and my personal and final  favourite  is…

5. Dance with you.

I am an Artist.  A love Activist.   Which is the greatest equalizer in any relationship, which ever way you look at it.

Never thought I’d say this but in my love life

Terms and Conditions do  Apply.

What are yours…..?

Sowe-to?From here…