As of today, it’s been 395 days that I’ve been in a committed relationship. I’ve lived in a different city than my partner for all of those days. And 306 days have been spent on opposite coasts of the country.
This by no means is a favorable arrangement. But it’s the cards we were dealt. Committing to each other meant committing to making the distance factor work. A large part of that revolves around communication – both in quality (open, honest conversation) and quantity (connecting every day, several times a day thru various methods). The other part is spending time together in person. This, by far has proven to be the trickiest to manage – due to coordinating schedules, requesting time off from work, physically traveling to another state, and of course having the money to make such trips.
Despite the difficulty, we have yet to skip out on our regular monthly visits. And the time spent together make all the trouble well worth it.
At least it is to us. Not everyone agrees – some think we are crazy for sticking to this arrangement.
Whenever I meet new people and they learn of my bicoastal long distance relationship, they usually assume that we don’t see each other often and that it probably puts a strain on our relationship. But when I mention we see each other once a month, and take turns making the journey, people look at me like I endorsed Michelle Bachmann for Emperor of the Americas! Like it’s shocking that 2 people who love each other would sacrifice (time, money and energy) to be together! Imagine that…
The financial commitment for this arrangement is steep. Especially when most of our trips are only 3 days long. Neither of us makes a lot of money at this early stage in our careers. We have financial goals for investing in our individual and collective futures and this makes saving and investing almost impossible (without living like paupers). And the money spent to travel each month (as much as $800 a ticket) could be used to save for a wedding, a house, a vacation. But for us, our relationship is the most important investment.
Our time together is special and has enabled us to have the successful and nurturing relationship we have. The daily communication is great, but the one on one time is better. And while it sucks (I mean majorly blows muddy boar balls) to have a very limited supply of resources to support this expensive habit, it’s not a habit either of us feels compelled to kick. Hopefully we will be living in the same city very soon, but in the meantime this is our thing.
I love my better half and all the precious time we’ve had together. I don’t know how well we would have managed on longer delays but the money saved doesn’t seem more beneficial. And as long as I have even one dollar to my name, it will be used to literally bringing me closer to the love of my life.1 And that seems completely reasonable to me.
Have you ever made sacrifices in your relationship that people just didn’t understand and tried to make you feel crazy for doing?
Investing in my now,
1 Feel free to contribute to the Get Gemmie to her Habibi fund. Email me for donation details lol.
Wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers holding down fatherhood! But an extra special recognition to my own father, Papa Gem. As I get older, I appreciate my father more and more for all the many things he has done for me and the influential role he has had in my life. Our relationship is far from perfect but I’d argue all parent-child relationships have their benefits and drawbacks.
I will say though, my Dad is a bit of an enigma wrapped in a riddle. And after almost 30years I’m not sure I know exactly who he is lol. But his mysteriousness makes him all the more fascinating and special to me.
That said – I will attempt to describe my favorite things about him, in no particular order…
1. He’s the coolest of the cool kids. Just about all of my friends who meet my Dad think he’s the most hilarious and fun guy ever. And not just because he tries to liquor them up on Margaritas and/or rum and cokes. He steals the spot light wherever he goes and increases my cool factor exponentially. But on the flipside…
2. He’s kind of a gangster. Let’s just say you don’t want to be on the wrong end of his cane. You will get got. Just ask Tunde. #ExcuseMeSir
3. He has very few Fs to give. My Dad is that old Black man who just says whatever he wants and dares you to come for him – very #whogoncheckmeboo?! He speaks his mind and is unapologetic about his opinions and outlook. Be it with race, politics, your taste in music, your hair style, he will let you know what’s on his mind. Oddly enough, this is especially apparent when…
4. He wears a murse on occasion. Or fanny pack, depending on the mood I suppose. He’s not about to be walking around with fat, overstuffed pockets. It’s practical but amusing.
5. He’s low key very thoughtful. My dad isn’t big on talking on the phone or expressing his feelings but he finds ways to show he’s thinking of people. And it’s usually unexpected, making it all the more awww-inducing. Be it a hand written note, a text message (that undoubtedly took him 10min to draft for less than 100 characters), or an email – usually detailing some fact he learned that pertains to my work or city of residence – he shows me I’m on his mind in his own way.
6. He’s generous. He gives in his time and resources to me and countless others. He freely shares his knowledge and wisdom (and unsolicited opinions lol). He has a lot to offer and he offers it readily.
7. He’s a nerd. Pops is intelligent and scholarly, always seeking more knowledge and constantly challenging himself and others to think critically. He reads physics and differential equations books just for fun. He creates mathematical “theories” just to pass the time.
8. He’s a great story teller. My mom and I have probably heard the same stories 1 thousand times over, and yet he tells the story almost identically every time, complete with animated expressions and vocal inflections. It’s a gift. I want to get him on film one day. Speaking of film…
9. He’s amazingly creative. My dad is a great musician and artist (drawing/painting). He used to make video cartoons for me, using various items (my coloring supplies, McDonald’s happy meal toys, my siblings). He even served as my personal illustrator for my grade school projects (shhhh don’t tell my teachers).
10. He hates rap. And he is constantly letting me know how much he hates it and that it’s rotting my brain. For some reason, I find this terribly endearing and comforting. We are so much alike in so many ways but this is the one thing we can emphatically not find common ground on. And it makes me smile.
All in all, my Dad is unlike any other person I know. As I said, he’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He’s a sh*t talking OG who doesn’t GAF that has a murse and does nerd sh*t after work hours. He’s an unlikely combination of so many different traits and interests. My Dad is really one of a kind and all the things listed above make him so super to me. Papa Gem is just the biznass. Period.
What are some things you love most about your Dad (or whatever male figure that helped raise you)?
From a loving and adoring daughter,
11. He loves Beyonce He probably wouldn’t recognize a Bey song if she sang “This be Bey!” over and over, but he rides for her regardless. And I approve.
**Tunde from The Native Son has graciously agreed to contribute to my Religiosity series. This is his first guest post here at TWGS. We are of the same faith but came to know and nurture our faith differently so I thank him for bringing a different perspective. **
Reading Gem’s thoughts and feelings towards religion and spirituality got me thinking about my path in growing closer to God. I’m definitely not perfect and I was born a sinner and will die a sinner but I still strive to be the best person I can be.
Both of my parents immigrated to this country a couple of years before I was born (my father came before my mother). Growing up as the children of immigrants my parents realized the most critical task facing us was reconciling the culture of home with the dominant American culture. There were a couple of ways in which my parents tried to remedy this issue. We received our dose of American culture in school. This is where we picked up on American colloquialisms and etiquette. On the other side my parents spoke both English and Yoruba at home. Our family also was a member of a The Cherubim and Seraphim Movement church (C&S).
In the C&S church most of our worship methods and objects of worship come from the New Testament book of Revelations. We use objects like candles which to represent light (Revelation 3:1-3); rods, as a sign of authority (Revelation 2:26-27), incense which drives away demons (Malachi 1:11 and Revelations 5:8,8:4). Besides the fact that English and Yoruba were used interchangeably there were a couple of differences between a C&S church and a typical southern Baptist church. We take off our shoes upon entering Holy ground (as God commanded of Moses), women cover their hair and we wear prayer gowns of plain (white cloth referring to depictions of angels in the Bible).
Growing up in a Nigerian Christian church was an experience all to itself. Nigerians really take the whole concept of “It takes a village to raise a child” to heart. Looking back I’m grateful for the environment I was reared in but then I hated it. I really didn’t like going to church. I dreaded Saturday night because I knew that Sunday morning would surely come and I would spend the better part of my Sunday in church. As an adolescent I really couldn’t grasp the concept of why we had to be in church from 10am to 4pm. I wondered why we couldn’t just go to an American church and be in and out of church in ninety minutes. It got to the point where I loathed church. I still loved God but I didn’t like the particular church I attended.
How as a child do you tell your parents that you want to attend your own church? Especially African parents who aren’t the most open-minded people around. So I ended up finishing high school attending the same church every Sunday with a lot of people that I didn’t care for. When I went off to college I just didn’t think about religion. I was off put by the entire concept. I still considered myself a spiritual person. I had a close and personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. I occasionally went to church service on major holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc).
It was these experiences that lead me to describe my current relationship with God as spiritual instead of religious. In my experience a lot of Christians can be some of the most judgmental, unforgiving, hateful people there are. Bible thumpers, who use select specific passages to push their personal beliefs, really grind my gears. The church I grew up in was full of them. One minute they’d quote me scripture about why sex before marriage is a sin but in the next breath I’d overhear them gossiping about who is sleeping with whose husband. This is one of the reasons I distanced myself from church in general once I gained my independence.
It wasn’t until I got to grad school that I found a church that I felt fit me. One of my best friends in life whom also attended the same undergrad as I did encouraged me to try her church out. She noticed that I really didn’t attend church in undergrad but she knew how important God was in my life. That church she took me to happened to be Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN and the pastor is an anointed man Joseph W. Walker III. I loved my spiritual growth under the influence of Mt. Zion. It seemed like my time in Nashville (and consequently Mt. Zion) was a blur so now I’m back and square one. Now that I live in DC again I for sure won’t be attending the church that I grew up in but I still need the spiritual nourishment that only a church home can provide.
I’m still working to strengthen my relationship with God and I know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. To me Christianity is about Love. It begins with light, life and love. God gave his only begotten Son because He so loved the world. I love spirituality. I can’t imagine how people go thru life not believing in a higher power than them. The miracles and wonders that happen everyday make it impossible for me not to believe. Most times what I can’t stand is organized religion. It has too many chances to be corrupted by the hearts of men. One of my favorite quotes is from the Book of Eli:
“IT’S NOT A F*CKING BOOK! IT’S A WEAPON. A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small, fuckin’ town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ‘em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.”
HAPPY FRIDAY! I haven’t done a Friday Forgiveness post in ages and quite frankly I’m lonnnng overdue. I have testified to the power of forgiveness so I am very in tune with when I am in need to do so.
So this morning I woke up to a GroupMe chat message to a friend encouraging the ladies of our group to have a wonderful day and start the day off with a positive mood. And also to “change the channel” and say “Namaste” to those who confront us with negative energy. Namaste essentially means “salutations to use” and the gesture of namaste, with the hands in prayer position at the heart, is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in the other. If this wasn’t just the message I needed today!
For the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve been hit with a lot of negative energy lately. People have been rude, inconsiderate, and just down right difficult to work with and/or be around. For awhile, I was doing really well with letting things go, and rolling off my shoulder. I can’t control anyone else, only myself. But at some point (perhaps it was in conjunction with the added stress of my work life and the isolation I feel from my friends) I just flipped the switch and let every single thing get to me. And I find myself getting upset and annoyed by everything and everyone. I’ve got attitude for days and I’m just waiting for some one to give me the smallest of reason to hand it to them.
This is problematic. This is not healthy. I need to gain control of myself. Because at the end of the day, I can’t control how considerate, compliant or pleasant people are towards me, I can only control how I handle the situation. I can’t make things better by being irritated all the time. I’m just making myself miserable, and people will continue not to care, or get an attitude in return. And we have just been completely unproductive in our dealings. This has to stop.
For awhile I was trying to attend Bikram Yoga 1-2 days a week. It gave me a chance to give my body and mind a break, a deep stretch, and a chance to be rid of unwanted garbage (be it negative thoughts, stress, or toxins). For 90 minutes, I sweat my cares and aches away. I focus on me and what my mind and body are telling me it needs – something I don’t consciously do any other time. I haven’t been to Bikram in over a month, and I think I’m starting to see the mental and emotional effects. Because I am just one angry tornado swirling about. A huge mass of tension, stress, and impatience. I’m missing the reminders that I need to center myself and not let people change how I feel about myself and those around me. I need a good shavasana to serve as a reminder to just frikkin chill. Every yoga class ends with shavasana, which is intended to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. But in my Bikram class, just after we assume this pose after our 90 min stretch fest, my favorite instructor will say to us, “don’t let anyone piss you off, don’t let anyone steal your peace. Because if you do, you lose.” And I have been losing! I need to be winning!
So today I am making myself a promise to stop letting people piss me off, and letting people steal my peace. Today I am making myself a promise to just change the channel and say, “Namaste.” Because I will not be weighed down by the negativity or faults of others. I have to forgive and move on, and find more productive ways to express my feelings when confronted with negative energy.
Have you had any similar issues, when people just come for you when they’re not sent for? How do you respond to negativity? Are you in need of some Namaste?
I bow to you,
Yesterday I discussed how difficult it is (for me) to maintain close, meaningful friendships into adulthood. Because friendships need to be nurtured, and to be tended to… like a garden. Some plants require more attention and need certain conditions (just enough light, just enough water, the right pot and/or soil, etc) to thrive, while others need much less and still manage to grow without much interference. Most of my friends tend to be of the latter nature. Many of us can talk on the phone a handful of times throughout the entire year, and see each other maybe once a year, and still be the best of friends. No love is lost simply because we aren’t in direct communication all the time. The quality of the communication we do have makes up for the lake in quantity of phone calls and in-person meet ups. I still desire to have more communication and better contact with my friends because having those moments where we can share with each other and enjoy each other’s company are so important to me. But most of those friendships aren’t in jeopardy of existing if we aren’t up to date with minute to minute information.
I don’t have many of the “needy” type friendships now that I’m adult. I just don’t have the time or patience to tend to a needy friend. The friend who feels that if they aren’t in constant communication with you, know every single detail of your life, and have immediate access to you, then your friendship is a sham. And as I’ve already mentioned, life gets more busy and difficult to manage over time – and ain’t nobody got time for that! And I don’t know if I naturally select friends who aren’t very needy or I just subconsciously let those friendships fall to the wayside because I don’t have these types of friendships, I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with them.
And as a few people mentioned in the comments yesterday, when your priorities and life situations change, often times your friends do too and you sometimes have to cut friends out of your life. I’m a firm believer that you have “seasonal” friends – friends who are only meant to last for a temporary period of time in your life. They may be a good friend to you for a certain time, but their role in your life wasn’t meant to be long lasting. I think we all have or have had those “friends” who you think are pretty cool, we hang out with on occasion, we always get invites to for events. They might be “friends” from work, from school, from an organization you’re in – you’re connected by some common thread and there’s no good reason you shouldn’t be friendly. And I would venture to say they’re more than an acquaintance because these are people you would choose to hang out with voluntarily in leisurely settings and you might even share things about yourself (not necessarily really personal things) over drinks. I think of acquaintances as people you know from say work or is a friend of a friend that you might occasionally see after hours at ULYP events and will chop it up with but who you’d never consider inviting to attend a Foreign Exchange concert or Kevin Hart show with you and your crew. I had numerous casual friends when I was living in Pittsburgh. I was a student, in a sorority, and actively involved in my church and local organizations – so I met a lot of cool people and made a lot of friends. Just about all of the people I know in Portland also fall into this category of casual friends.
Wherever I go I tend to have a network of people I can be social with. But when I leave those places, I leave a lot of those friendships behind. I still have contact with many of these friends via Facebook or Twitter, but I don’t actively pour into those friendships. Because they weren’t meant to be long-lasting. I still like many of these people, and wish them well in life, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to be a part of their life or have them be part of mine. I haven’t needed to intentionally cut friends off because I tend not to nurture a friendship that I see going nowhere (or that isn’t meant to continue past it’s shelf life). And when I have noticed that a friendship is going nowhere (i.e. a casual friendship trying to parade as a close friendship, or a close friendship that has gone stale and stagnant), I stop caring for it. Not the person, just the relationship. There are only a few instances where I’ve cut some one off completely (no communication whatsoever), but by and large there are many people throughout my life who have just taken a very low priority on my list of people to actively think about. The people I put and keep in my life matter very much to me mentally and emotionally, and there isn’t room for some one who isn’t going to make me better or contribute to my well being.
I think the entire goal of the maturation process is finding out who you are and what you need to live the life you want. Part of that journey is learning to navigate the sometimes murky waters of relationships with various people – especially friends. It seems the older we get, the more we change but the more stuck in our ways we get. And our tolerance for people that aren’t beneficial additions to our lives seems to decrease exponentially with age as well. Unfortunately, everyone our age doesn’t mature at the same rate, or they just don’t mature at all, and so they’re left behind and look at you crazy when you say “I don’t have time for this/you.” Like, your being a fully grown adult is problematic. Le sigh.
Do you have different categories of friends or do you only have your close friends and then everybody else? How do you deal with friendships that seem to be more effort than they’re worth? Have you kept friends around that you know you should let go but you don’t have the heart to part ways?
I had an awesome Facetime date with my friend Keisha Breezy last night. KB lives in Toronto – in a different country on the other side of the continent. So needless to say, I don’t see her much. In fact, I’ve only ever seen her in person twice in the entirety of our 2 year friendship. We met at VSB’s Three Deez party in DC back in 2011, after having previously built a virtual friendship through VSB and Twitter. She’s one of a few faithful female VSB followers that I made through VSB, met in person at Three Deez, and have kept in touch with over the last couple of years. But like with KB, we all live in different cities and depend on the wonderful world of wifi, and 3/4G to stay in touch.
Living in different cities, from the inception of our friendship, has required us to put effort into maintaining some sort of communication, since we won’t ever just run into each other on the street or see each other at work/school. So to keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives (in more detail that can be shared via social media), we schedule phone/Skype dates. And I mean literally scheduled and marked in our calendars – carving out time beforehand and putting priority in making the phone/Skype date. This has to be done, otherwise it’s always “Let’s talk soon!” or “We have to catch up some time!” – and soon or some time never comes!
And that is the state of my adult friendships – having to make time for my friends is something I have to make time for! KB and I talked about this last night when we spent almost 3 hours chatting, philosophizing, and ranting over Facetime while periodically breaking to adore and gush over her 8mo son. I had so much work to do last night, work that should have been completed last week, but I didn’t put this phone date (which had already been rescheduled from an earlier date) on the back burner. I need to be connected to my friends, in one way or another. They are important to me and I don’t want to be too busy for friends.
But it’s very difficult! I live 2-3 time zones from ALL but 2 of my closest friends. And I work late many nights, or have evening commitments – so by the time I’m home, most of my friends are asleep. Plus, most of us are professionals and have busy work schedules. Those of my friends who are in committed relationships and/or have kids, have the added busyness of family life to juggle as well. And many of us are involved in various organizations and sports, so there’s always something “extra” on our schedules. Adult life is busy and hectic. I can hardly find the time to get the sleep I need to do the work I’m responsible for, and now I have to make the effort to keep up with my friends too?!?! WHAT IS THIS GROWN UP LIFE ABOUT?!?!
When I was in school (just last year), it was easy to spend time and catch up with my friends (the ones in the same city, anyway). There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t have some interaction with one or more of them. Even at the craziest time of my life (writing my dissertation), I managed to be pretty connected to friends. I had people there when I needed them – be it a shoulder to lean on, an ear to complain in, or a hand to high five. It was really sad for me when friends started to graduate/get promoted and move away to another city, because it became much more of an effort to see or talk to them.
And now I’m the one who graduated and moved away for a job. Now I’m isolated from the rest of my friends. While I’ve made some friendly acquaintances since living in Portland, I still need and desire those other friendships. But tapping into them is so much more of a chore now. And I hate that it has to be this way. Adulthood is so whack! So many responsibilities!!!!! *shakes fist and wall slides*
I am, however, determined to make my friendships last. The people who I call “friends” are friends for a reason. And I just have to continue to make the effort to keep them healthy and meaningful.
Here’s what I currently do to keep myself in tune with friends:
- GroupMe chats: I have about 3 GroupMe chats that I use to keep in touch with friends. I try to pop into these at least once a day to say hi to my girls and see how they’re doing and/or share something interesting/weird/sad/hilarious happened. This is a great way for multiple people to be connected at once. So much better than individuals texts because the convos can be so dynamic and life-giving.
- Twitter & Facebook: I’m a social media addict so I love using social media for the way it was intended – to be connected to people. Especially people you don’t normally keep in touch with (i.e. high school classmates who you like but aren’t besties with). I love being able to have access to people that are far away, and be able to do so on my own time. There’s no pressure for me to be on Twitter/Facebook all the time or at certain times. Although there are certainly down sides to this form of communication, I enjoy it when I’m using it.
- Skype/Facetime: I hate talking on the phone. Having the phone to my ear irritates me. But I LOVE to use video technology to see and talk to people. It’s not something I do often, and I have to actually schedule the time to do it, but it’s fun and meaningful when I do do it. I wish I had more time for it but it’s probably my favorite way to spend a few hours catching up with some one.
I can’t be the only one who feels adulthood is trying to ruin my ability to keep friends. How do you keep up with your friends? Do you find it hard to make time to keep/catch up with people? Do you have friendships that have suffered as you’ve gotten older, perhaps do to time and/or distance?
Friends before… ends,
In 26 days, I will be 30. The big 3-0. The Dirty 30. The Flirty 30. In the 3 Decade Club.
I could go on and on about how different I thought my life would be when I turned 30. About what I did and did not accomplish, obtain or experience. But that wouldn’t be productive.
I’m determined to meet my 30th birthday with enthusiasm and gratitude. I have been blessed to live 30 great years and I have a lot to show for my time here on this earth. While my life isn’t how I expected (what the hell do teenage kids know anyway?), or even planned, but I’m certain it’s for the best.
So in anticipation for my 30th birthday, I’m going to do a 30 for 30 blog challenge starting today. And yes, I recognize this would be even more meaningful if I had started this 30 for 30 challenge 30 days before my 30th birthday, but I didn’t think of it until today so there’s that. And while I can be very lax with my blogging on my own time and will power, I’m really good about following through on “challenges”. I don’t want to be that person who falls off when other people can hold me accountable. While the sheer thought of coming up with enough blog post topics daily for 30 days makes my head spin, and I know for sure I’ll be away at a research conference for a week that will make leisure writing extremely difficult, I’m going to go for it anyway. ASome of the posts may be less stellar than others, but we’ll see what I come up with. Could be fun right? I have so many thoughts jammed into my head, it’d be therapeutic to force myself to get some of those thoughts out in the open (in forms other than rants on twitter lol).
Today is the start. 30 posts over the next 30 days. Ideally this would be one post a day but maybe I’ll double up on some days. I’ll freestyle it. Dirty 30 will be what I make it.
Do you participate in challenges of any kind (i.e. weight loss, fitness, reading, running)? Will you help me with my challenge?What are some topics I should tackle in #30forDirty30?
1 down, 29 to go!