It is easy to love. I should know, I fell in love with you from day one. The hard part is staying in love. It is almost as if you are punishing me for going away all those years, as if you gave yourself to another and you no longer have space for me. I felt you slither away this December, those whispering words I often heard from you were no longer there. I felt your warmth and your love was cooler, those encouraging words no longer constant. A part of me understood that 29 years later, it was perhaps time to make a decision. A decision to come and stay or a decision to leave. A decision I have no idea which way am leaning.
But how can I make that choice? If I stay, I still feel like you can’t give me what I need. That my needs are way beyond your capacity to fulfill them. We are still getting to know each other, (ironic because it is so many years later) and some things you do drive me up the wall. It makes no sense to me that the simplest things are often the hardest for you to comprehend. That my courtesy is greeted with aggression, that my smile is sometimes welcomed with silence and other times frustration. I honestly thought we were passed that. Seeing you was so bitter sweet. Two years ago, I promised to let you soar, to let you come back to me willingly… Two years ago, I never imagined my heart would pump this much in anticipation, beating as fast as the hopes and dreams I have been making in my head (waiting for you to get there, that there where we were both headed). And then, sitting there with you, it all came crashing. Your half ambivalent reception left me yearning and searching. Your shielded indifference at my excitement. Part of me hoped you would still look at me the way you used to, with continued longing, with reassured wanting. Part of me hoped that the things I had learned elsewhere would make me the perfect match for you, but your brothers and sisters laughed me off with disdain. All they said was « you’ll end up like us. », « Who do you think you are? », « What makes you so different? », « You think we didn’t have big dreams just like you? », « You can’t change him. That’s the way he is. » There was so much finality in those words, like they didn’t believe in us, like they didn’t think that I could make a difference in our lives, that together, You and I could be a driving force.
Could this be the end of our season, our story? Are we doomed to an eternal life of « what ifs » and « we should haves »? I can’t bear to fathom it. There must be more, Love truly is not enough. Perhaps, I need to go and work on myself a little more. I need to understand myself better so that I can work at us, because my unconditional love is simply not enough. For your erratic, you need my cool, calm and collected. For those days when you are submerged by the bureaucracy and corruption that is, you need me to be precise, firm, organized, transient and decisive. For the things that even you can’t comprehend, you need me to mobilize others around me – that we may do things as a group, and forget our individualism. And on the days when your fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles think it is okay to take everything from you, leaving us with nothing, you need me to speak up. To always speak up, even when I don’t think I am being heard.
Am I up to the challenge? It seems that you have done your part, and now it’s up to me to decide, to jump. To finally come home, to be by your side without any question. To be your ride or die. You still make me feel some type of way Mr, I can’t give up on you, not just quite yet, we will find our balance. And no matter how many obstacles get in our way, I am ready to fend each and everyone of them off. Will you allow me?
Previous chapter Nine (click here)
I could feel him fidgeting close to me. I kept my eyes closed and heard his phone continue to ring. And then I felt the empty space close to me on the bed. He was speaking in soft tones in the bathroom. I wasn’t sure who it was but the reality of our act suddenly came into perspective. Me naked in his bed, basking in the sin of our act. A glorious act full of love and passion. Sensual and liberating. But one full of guilt as I thought of Tina. We had said, “she can’t know”, but I knew all actions had consequences, but these, we were yet to know the real depth.
He walked back to me, only his boxers to his name. That same smile, still carefree, that same dimple. Smooth baby skin, well defined muscles, everything to make a girl crack. He looked at me,
“How you doing?”
I couldn’t speak. I was just contemplating him. He got back in bed and nuzzled into my neck. Giving me tender kisses. It was the middle of the night now and he had ignored all calls from Tina. She must be worried I thought.
“I had to take the call, just to reassure her. I will see her in the morning”
I just nodded in guise of a response. I didn’t want to hear all this. He took me in his arms and kissed me on the forehead. We lay there for minutes just caressing each other. The silence the only sound. And then he whispered in my ears, “Thank you Lisa”. I didn’t know what he meant, but I didn’t want to spoil the moment either, so, I nuzzled further into his arms. I loved his smell, there was a hint of musk.
My phone was ringing. I knew who it was. That was his ring tone. I ignored it . Why was he calling? I thought me hanging up had been clear enough? I just continued to draw letters on Jason’s chest as my phone sang away. He tried to move and I held him back.
“let it ring”
“You fighting with MJ?”
“How do you know it’s him?”
“(lol) Lisa… We chose that ring tone together….”
True, we had chosen “danger” by Mystikal. It was supposed to be my warning. Jason truly knew me inside and out, I don’t know why I was always so surprised when he figured out my shit. And why had I resisted him for so long? Was it because he was dying that I suddenly loved him so much? Why was life so unfair?
“So…are you fighting?”
“No I just want to be here with you, no drama”
Even as I said it I knew he wouldn’t let it go. He always knew when I was lying. Yes fact is I just wanted to be here with Jason, but, I had indeed had a fight with MJ and I don’t even know why he was calling. My phone kept on ringing. Jason eventually got irritated. He inched across me and took my phone. As he threatened to pick it up this time, I saw a yellow little envelop.
“You have a message”
I took the phone from Jay and opened it as he was leaning over me, inquisitive.
**You are with HIM aren’t you? That’s why you are not picking up my calls!**
Jason looked at me after reading the same message I did. I just closed my eyes and lay still on the bed – this was a mess. I knew the questions would come but I just needed a moment of quiet time. So when I heard him speak, I ignored him as I gathered my thoughts. I did not want another MJ fight.
“So Lisa… What is THAT about?”
“I don’t want to fight.” I had said it quietly and ever so softly
“Who says we are fighting? I want to know what that is about…?”
I took a deep breath and then I told him. I told him about the phone call the other day and told him that MJ was probably calling to apologise or he was really mad at me for hanging up. I told Jay that I was tired – that he was the only one that mattered. That nothing else meant anything anymore. I could see him tense up, he had moved away while I was relating the incident and I could see that he was livid. His eyes were much smaller, just scrutinising me, a hint of tension in his jaw line, but when I had said the words, “you are the only one that matters” – he’s body had relaxed ever so slightly and I saw a hint of his dimple. And then when I was done, in a twisted change of direction he said:
“I think you should go see him”
I was at a loss for words. And he could tell…
“No! not to reconcile. But, to tell him once and for all that it is over. I think you need that closure.”
“But Jason, you need me”
“Stop running away from shit as usual Lisa. Go see him and end it or don’t end it (cause am not even sure what you want). But GO SEE HIM. (And when you get back… We can…) , anyways, it will give me a chance to talk to Tina too… “
“Don’t worry about that. Promise me one thing?”
“never say that Lisa…never say that”
“Anything for you Jay, what is it?”
“Will you take some time off and travel with me?”
“No I mean like 6 months just travelling, doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do”
“Think about it, all expenses paid by me of course. Your job might not be there when we come back, but that’s the other thing I want to talk to you about…. My company. Our company if that sounds like something you want to do”
“Jason stop it!”
I jumped out of bed and rushed to my room. The tears were already running down my cheeks. He was making his dying wishes? Ouuuuu -the-fuck- saaaaaaaah! I just couldn’t handle it. I can’t. I dug my face into my pillow and gently cried. He was knocking at my door, calling my name and trying to talk to me. But I couldn’t, I needed to cry.
ONE WEEK LATER
My birthday is only a few days away and I am currently in Detroit. I landed a few hours ago. Yes, I decided to come and see MJ, am not sure why but the ticket was bought and Jay encouraged me to do so. Am not sure what am going to do about this situation but on my mind, the only thing making me anxious is Jason, his tumour and his proposal to take time off and Tina. Tina, I can’t seem to get her off my mind. I like her and had it been anyone else I wouldn’t care. I like her and I hate that we did what we did. But Jayson, I love him and I want to spend every waking moment with him. So why am I here? Because Jason said I should come and because yes I need some closure and yes I just need to get MJ out of my system.
He seemed happy to see me, even if we didn’t go through the motions and he didn’t take me for my traditional chipoltes burrito. It’s a thing we used to do. Every time I would come down to visit, he would 1st take me for my burrito….I guess he’s mad or something, or he’s forgotten our traditions. Am not going to bother to remind him. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, and perhaps the fact that he is still mad at me will make it easier and smoother for the break up.
Am currently sitting in his living room, having a glass of water and watching him put away the groceries. He’s a bit of a maniac so he does all his cleaning and stocking. Even when I do end up in his kitchen, he’s always at my heels cleaning up after me. Its rather unnerving but I do appreciate it at times because I can never find his apartment in a mess. He wants to eat Chicken and plantain today, so am going to cook. Then maybe we can have THE talk. I plan to be back in Montreal for my birthday. Jayson is all the present I need.
Previous chapter Eight (click here)
He had heard me and responded. But did he understand the implications of my phrase. I don’t think I was saying ‘I love you’ in the fraternal way. I was yearning for Jason, I was in love with him. All these years, I had pushed it to the back of my conscience, but today it was clear as day. Perhaps because I realized I was losing him, but a reality all the same. I loved Jason. I loved him in every way possible, for being my brother and friend. For protecting me and loving me unconditionally, for being the realism in my life, for being so cute, for always being him. I loved him.
I watched him in the kitchen, smiling, moving around, not a care in the world. It was like he had not been given a death sentence in the morning, it was like he had so much to live for. I don’t know where Jason got that strength from. He came back to the table one more time to clear out the glasses and he started washing the dishes. I watched him from afar, and thought back to the first time he had “taken” me out.
It was October of the year we met, 2002. I had not shown up at the Hearts & Crown on that cold September evening and Jason had proceeded to stalk me in philosophy class all semester. He would wait for me at the entrance, and I would ignore him. He would be at the door at the end of class and walk me to my next class. I would pretend I just couldn’t see him. We would walk side by side and he would talk, I would just look ahead of me not uttering a word. Then one Fall morning as the weather was getting chillier he had grabbed me and taken me in the opposite direction of my class. I had wanted to protest but was a little embarrassed to be screaming and shouting in front of so many people. So I let myself be guided by the crazy man. He took me to the Second cup in the Chapters bookstore, he ordered two lattes. And then he started talking.
Jason talked up a storm. In the beginning I just watched him, talk & talk – and he didn’t seem to be the least bit bothered. Then, I had realized that I was being a bit childish, so I eventually joined the conversation. He wasn’t phased by my indifference. Jason had made me laugh so much that morning that it eventually became our little routine. After class we would go to the second cup have muffins and lattes and laugh and rant about our days. Talking with Jason was so easy, so carefree and highly entertaining. Jason and I had shared epic moments, and no one could take that away from us. Not even now.
As Jason came back to the table, I stood as he approached me and I said again, “I Love you”. We were standing face to face now and I was looking him in the eyes. I kept repeating ‘I love you’ as I slowly inched towards him. I knew what I was going to do, but I don’t think he realized where I was going with this. I got very close to him and could feel his breath on my lips. I parted my lips slightly as I tiptoed to reach his lips and then I kissed him softly. He didn’t react. He just looked at me, a look of questioning as his eyes grew wider. I stepped back a little watched his reaction and then engaged his lips one more time, this time more vigorously as my hands moved to the back of his neck.
Seconds felt like minutes after I had stopped. We just watched each other. I wanted to walk away embarrassed but Jason held me back and kissed me. It was a kiss full of passion and excitement. Our tongues were dancing to their own tune, our hands exploring each others bodies. We were lost in our world, a tango understandable only to our bodies. Our breathing was getting heavier, our bodies hotter. Slowly he haltered my sweatshirt, and I his t-shirt. Me in my sports bra and him shirtless, his body against mine. Kissing and moving, moving and kissing. We inched towards the room. Not for a moment did I think to stop. My body was responding to every caress Jason was giving. We were in his room, he dimmed the lights and put some music. Then came back to find me on the bed. Sitting there looking shy and perhaps regretting were this was going. But no words could utter my hesitation, I just wanted to feel his warmth. So he picked up from were we had left off. He continued to kiss me, this time all over my body. Gently, caring, charming, sweetly, softly. Every kiss a new promise. And then he asked me, “Lisa are you sure?” and I simply responded with another delicate kiss on his lips.
Lisa had just crossed the top item on my bucket list.
She was sleeping in my arms. More peaceful than I had seen in years. My phone was ringing. Tina was calling. Oh shit, I was propelled back to reality. I couldn’t pick up her call now, I would have to call her back.
The night with Lisa had been… Amazing. Full of surprises & promises (that would perhaps not ever come). I had less than a year, I was not trying out any new surgeries – my mind had been made up and there was no one, not even my darling Lisa that could change my mind. I had long promised that I wouldn’t make the people around me suffer. And this experimental surgery was just that. Giving us all false hopes and having the people I love watch me slowly deteriorate between the medication and hope for cure & recovery. No, that was just not happening. I would live what was left of my life to the fullest. Travel the seas, and mountains. Discover the lands, and do every single scary exciting thing I could think of. Perhaps this was a good time to ask Lisa?
Speaking of hurting people, what was I going to do about Tina? She was such a sweet loving individual. Drama free and has been there through and through. This would kill her, there was no way she could find out. As much as I believed in honesty and all that, this secret was best kept locked; Tina wouldn’t recover from it. Especially because in the beginning she had been insecure about Lisa and I had always told her there was nothing to worry about. I had convinced myself too there was nothing to worry about.
Lisa pulled me out of my reverie.
“Jay! What are we going to do about Tina?”
And then we both said,
“She can’t know!…. Ever”
And then we went silent.
I was Tina’s first, I did not realize the implications at the time, especially because she had kept it from me. I had found out after the deed was done, I had felt a sense of loyalty to her, she had given me one of her most precious gifts and she was just a good woman. So I had let my relationship with her grow and I had learned to love her in my own special way. Tina was an oxymoron, a delicate but strong willed individual, a naive but wise woman. She wasn’t Lisa but she was a good woman. I had settled in some ways for her, but I couldn’t tell anyone that.
I knew for sure, she could not know, that was final and definite. We would keep Tina in the dark about it all. Even my tumor. When I said to Lisa “she can’t know” I meant the tumor, the moment we had just shared, my true feelings for Lisa… Everything. Tina did not deserve this and I had to find a way to protect her.
Previous chapter seven (click here)
Jason my everything. I have said it yes? And you do understand why I love him so? Yes in the beginning Jason had wanted us to try out a relationship – I was attracted to him, don’t get me wrong. Very attracted. His arrogance and his dimple. Have I told you about that one sided dimple? It makes me crack every time. But at the time I was sure of one thing and one thing only, Jason had the capacity to hurt me in ways that I could not even envision. Why you might ask? Because around him I lost my senses. From the very first day we met, he unnerved me. And with each subsequent encounter I realised that if I let myself go I would lose myself in him. I did not want any emotional drama – I felt I was too young for that. It was often a strong battle with my inner me but I think I eventually won because Jason had settled for my friendship. What he didn’t know was that I had settled too. I had watched him over the years, mature into a respectable man, a caring man, a man with scars but a loving man. I had seen him love other girls and take care of them. I had seen him hurt some girls but above it all, Jason had stayed true to the boy I had met in 2002.
For the longest time, I had played the innocent girl, even though to give my battle more merit I had challenged myself. I had decided I would step up to his arrogance. I never let one of his witty comments slide me by. I didn’t allow him to charm me, even though sometimes that is all I wanted. I exercised so much self-control around Jason that he was convinced that I was one hell of a tough girl. A ride or die. And so that is how we became who we are today. Best of friends.
It was going to be a long week, waiting to see the doctor.
One evening after I had received my ticket to Dallas, I sat on my bed and pondered. MJ had booked my flight from July 5th to the 12th. I had already requested some days off. That meant I would be spending my birthday in Texas. But with recent events, I wasn’t so sure I was up to leaving Jason alone. I called MJ,
“Salut cherie. Ca va? (Hey darling, how are you?)”
“Ouais (yeah)… Am okay… Its just that I don’t think I’ll be able to come…”
“what do you mean?”
“Jason is …”
“What do you mean him again? He needs me right now!”
“And I don’t need you?”
“It’s not the same…”
“Lisa, you complain about Sandra a lot but I don’t see you staying away from Jason”
“Not the same MJ. And I don’t feel like getting into it with you today”
“Yeah well… When will we get into it? Huh? I’ve never been comfortable with your relationship with Jason but I don’t say anything. And now we are finally talking and make plans for you to come and you’re cancelling on me because of him?”
“I’ve never slept with Jason”
“That’s not the issue. I paid for the ticket already, I’ve made all these plans…what is it about Jason that makes it impossible for you come?”
“I told you, he’s going through some things right now and he needs me”
“I need you Lisa. I NEED you. Why can’t you understand that?”
“I’ll come in a month, but not now”
“Lisa…if you don’t…”
I hung up. I could hear an ultimatum and I wasn’t ready for that shit. He hated being hung up on. So did I, but under the circumstances, it was the only way I knew how to deal. The audacity. He wanted to compare my Jason to Sandra? Jason who has been there for me unconditionally and there has never been anything physical? Sandra who sleeps over and has been the reason why our relationship has taken such a downfall? Sandra who calls me, texts me pictures of them in bed and doesn’t miss an opportunity to remind me that she has him most part of the year. That same Sandra? The same one who told me that it would never work between MJ and I as long as she was alive? No MJ is going crazy. He can’t be that egocentric and inconsiderate. He didn’t even give me a chance to explain that I can’t come because I don’t know if my best friend is going to die or not… He was only interested in the money that he had spent on the ticket and the fact that he supposedly needed me! I felt this was the boiling point. MJ was definitely a selfish bastard!
We were going to see the doctor this morning. It had been a week since I had made the appointment and two days since I had had that conversation with MJ. I had not bothered to call him back and he had not made any attempts at reaching me either. He was probably still sulking at the fact that I had hung up on him. Today Jason and I would know his fate. He was sitting at the breakfast table looking dapper in his cream pants, blue polo and the loafers I had given him at Christmas. He was busy having a coffee and I just watched him. He looked so carefree, his hair a little longer than usual, and a bit messy. A smile plastered on his face, as if nothing phased him. As if he wasn’t about to get a death sentence. Jason was always so cool, calm and collected. I on the other hand was a nervous wreck, but I had to get my spirits together, Jason couldn’t see me like this.
I headed into the kitchen, gave him a big bear hug from the back and asked what he had made me. As usual, my coffee and bagel were waiting for me. I loved him. I did. I ate in silence as he read his paper. Twenty minutes later we were on our way. We were taking his car. The neurologist had his offices downtown. We rode in silence as Sam Cook filled the silence. ‘I don’t know much biology, but I do know that I love you…oh what a wonderful world…’
“Looking at these scans, It is indeed in operable…”
“I could do some more scans, and I would suggest maybe a new procedure, but it hasn’t been tested yet”
“No I don’t want to try anything”
These words were resonating in my head. We had seen Dr. Sloan and he had said the same thing as the other neurologist. He had however suggested perhaps a new procedure, that hasn’t been tested yet. He couldn’t guarantee any results. I was holding out for hope and wanted Jason to try it. But he had been categorical, he did not want to try anything. If this was his fate then so be it he said. I couldn’t believe that Jason was giving up. My Jason… The doctor had talked about 6-8 months. That’s all I had with Jason? No! My world was definitely crumbling around me, with nothing for me to hold on to.
We had driven home in silence again. Jason looked appeased. Not a trace of fear on his face. Not a trace of sadness. He was still smiling that smile. He looked at me often and held my hand over the gear box. Squeezing it sometimes to let me know he was there. This was ridiculous, I should have been the one to comfort him. But, Jason true to himself was being strong for the both of us. It was time for him to talk to Tina I kept on thinking to myself. But I wanted just one more night with him. Just him, having him to myself. No one else. So I asked him for one of our “date nights” in the afternoon. He obliged .
The minute we walked in I headed for the freezer. I was on autopilot and refused to deal with the results of this afternoon’s tests. I took out some smoked salmon and went to get comfortable. I was making us lunch. Avocado salad, smoked salmon in cream sauce, pasta (he loves it, I hate it). There was some haagen daaz mango sorbet in the freezer. I took my time. I could hear him on the phone in his room. He was probably talking to Tina. How was he going to tell her?
As I finished cooking, I could hear him in the shower. I set the table for two.
As we sat and enjoyed our lunch, Jason was busy cracking jokes here and there. As the lunch came to an end I got up to try and clear out the table and bring the dessert, he put his hand on mine and said,
“please allow me”
He gave me that smug smile from years past and then I could see the dimple. As he walked away I whispered ever so softly,
“I love you Jason…”
He turned and looked at me, and then said loudly,
“I love you too Lisa!”
I thought he hadn’t heard me.
"Single women with no children can't do anything", said the world as they gently smiled on.
I don’t even know where to start, as I write these words I am livid. Mad at what people come up with sometimes. A recent conversation I had with some folks of the male genre went something like this [I have contracted it for the purpose of my piece]:
Me: #RamaYade has decided to vie for presidency in France
X: How is a single woman with no children going to run a country?
Me: *speechless* [Knowing that my issue with her running for presidency has nothing to do with her marital status]
X2: It is impossible to hold a position of responsibility when you do not have stability in your life, and being married makes you a grounded person
Me: *Still speechless* although I quickly added ‘being married is NOT a criteria for anything‘
X: Come on, we can’t put someone in power who will change her mind according to the kind of d*ck she getting and how regular it is.
No really. Literally, mind blown. I can’t! I am done, miss me with all the bullshit. They tried to tell me that it applies to men too, that what they were trying to say is that a position of responsibility demands that the person be grounded, be married with children. [Didn’t matter at this point that She is in fact married with a girl child, the discussion had taken another form].
I was shocked, suffocating but mostly hurt, and then not entirely surprised that young men could reason like that. That is the society we (now) live in, one where women have to CONSTANTLY apologize for being single with no children (or just being who they are).
Girl Bye! Am done. Let me say it again. That is some bull. Please if you are a single woman, with no children DO NOT f*ing apologize for who you are. A woman should be able to do anything she wants without being defined by the ring on her finger and the cellulite on her body. And this was what I said to all these men I was having this *discussion* with.
I hate to think of a world where my nieces, cousins, sisters are scared to aspire to greater things because they are not yet married, because they have no children. Miss me with the conventional norms that society has made you believe all your lives. Getting married and having children is a personal choice and has no impact on the kind of leader you should or could be. We know married men and women with very questionable moral compasses and leadership qualities, so there goes your ‘theory’. Middle fingers up, tell them BYE.
I ended that discussion by telling the fathers of the group, to certainly give me a call in a few years when their daughters are told that they are not suitable candidates to be the CEO of a company because the company is afraid of the kind of decisions they will make after a man passes through that p*ssy. Excuse my unfamiliar vulgarity, but that’s how I feel about all this BS. (isn’t this how all those isms – sexism, racism begin!?) Oh, here again, they tried to tell me that running a company was not like running a country. Should I say it again? MISS ME WITH THE BULLSHIT! [if you can have such reasoning then really what message are you putting across?]
The issue is very clear to me: do NOT teach your daughters (sisters, cousins & nieces) that they can’t do x, y or z because of a, b and c. We have a responsibility to uplift and empower the girl child, (every child actually) to know that leadership is about character and having a child or a spouse does not maketh you a leader, that you should not be discriminated on and it is utterly ridiculous to think that as a woman you can”t think on your own (god forbid a man whispers things in your ears). Your character is built by your experiences, and if those experiences happen to be in marriage and children then good for you, if they happen not to be, oh well, remember the world thinks: single women with no children can’t do anything!
I implore you, PROVE THEM WRONG child.
Disclaimer: I wrote this while listening to #Lemonde, so if it feels a little salty, well tis cause I had tequila too!
Previous chapter six (click here)
My head was spinning. I called in sick very early that morning – or rather emailed them and said I would be working from home as I was dealing with a very particular client. My head weighed over two tonnes – for sure. I hadn’t drank like that in years. Sure Jason and I had wine once in a while, and when I was really adventurous I’d have a whiskey and coke here and there. But last night, he and I finished one bottle of JW and then we started a second one. We just kept on drinking and remembering our crazy days. We laughed like silly little children and then we both passed out in my bed. He was still sleeping next to me when I woke. He looked so peaceful. My Jason.
I got up slowly, not wanting to wake him up and headed into the shower. A cold one, that is what I needed. The summer heat was already breaking through the walls of our condo. I would make him some breakfast too and then try to get an appointment with a doctor. Thank God for the health care system in Quebec and the private clinics… Because had we still been in Ottawa we probably would have to wait an eternity to see a doctor. I took a long tepid shower as I contemplated the situation, there had to be a solution, there had to be an alternative. Jason was too young, too strong, he still had so much to accomplish, his upcoming marriage and a series of things he had wanted to do before his 50th birthday. This couldn’t be it for him. It just couldn’t.
I remembered the last time we had traveled to Cameroon together. Jason had arrived a week before me. He had wanted to climb the Mount Cameroon. We had been to Cameroon once a year since 2006 when I had first taken him and he loved it. In the years when I couldn’t afford to go, he would surprise me with a ticket – he called it my birthday present. I suspect he loved it even more than I did and he could get around better than I ever could. My parents were always very happy to see him, maybe even more than me. But that is probably my fault, because after I went off to college, I slowly broke away from the cocoon of family life.
One December holiday, James had gotten a month leave from the army. He was home and we were excited. James had joined the US Army when he turned 19. He had gone to the states to do his studies in Electrical engineering and had ended up in the army. According to him, they were paying for his studies and that was incentive enough. His mother had thrown a fit but she had eventually gotten used to it. We didn’t see him much but when we did, it was always pure joy.
James and Jason had attacked the mountains of Cameroon together that year. I loved that they got along so well. James was my favorite and I said it openly. He was four years older than I was, and the 2nd born. When I had failed my semester he was the only one I could turn to, and he was the only one that did not condemn me. His was to make me understand that failure was part of life and given the circumstances, he understood why I had dropped everything to be with my friend. After that semester when I had said that I was not ready to go back to school that I wanted to take some time off, everyone else but James thought that I was crazy. Immediately, he asked that Jason and I come down to see him in Florida for a few days. So I had taken Jason along with me and he had met my brother for the first time. They had hit off pretty well, the rest they say his history. James understood me, better than anyone I could think of. He was my all… When he was around that is.
That year my relationship with my father began to deteriorate. He threatened to no longer pay for school if I did not return the following Winter semester, that is January of 2006. I told him I wasn’t ready to go back. I had found a job working as the assistant to the Assistant of the marketing head in a small sports management company. I was loving the experience and I wasn’t just ready to get back into the books. Content and confident with my decision I began to work, and sure enough he had cut me off and was hardly speaking to me. James had told me he would come around and that I too would have to come around. That as much as I wanted to explore and take a break, at some point I needed to get back on my feet. I needed to finish what I had started. I knew I had too, I just wasn’t ready.
Jason dropped out as well that year, although for him it was understandable, he no longer saw the necessity to give life its’ all. But I had tried to cheer him up, keep him busy and allow him to explore different avenues. Eventually, he got an internship with Ubisoft. He was loving it, he had always been enthralled by video games and gaming software. When I had told him that my dad was cutting me off, he urged me to go back. He told me I had already given up so much for him and that it was time that I get back to life. I told him I would only go back if he did too and that I wasn’t doing it for him but for me. And so we were at an impasse. None of us was willing to fold.
Lucky for me James continued to support me when my dad didn’t. It wasn’t always easy for him, but he gave me the necessary. I can never thank James enough. He remains a one constant in my life. Like all men who have had success with me in their lives, I was part of his universe…close enough to the center of it; however, the army beat me to this one. He and I speak sporadically but the army keeps him too busy, I never know where he is or when I will see him. So as much as he is my constant, he can’t be my everything. I don’t count on him as much as I used to.
Through the trials and tribulations that year I had another guardian angel in my life, Jason. He paid our rent and took care of all our bills. My small job was allowing me to save up a little money and think about how I was going to go back for my last two semesters.
As life often goes, Jason had eventually paid for my school. He had insisted and said it was his way of paying me back for not letting him fall after the tragedy. His parents were wealthy enough and he had mentioned that it would not affect his future in any way. I had promised to find a way to pay him back and he had said I could consider myself the first recipient of the Collette & Daniel Walker Scholarship – he eventually created 2 scholarships in their names at the University of Buea in Cameroon where his mother graduated.
That was the kind of man that Jason was. That was why Jason was my everything. Because since that day of September 2002 when he accidentally bumped into me he has never walked out. And he has been there when I needed him most, and even when I didn’t think I needed him. Today I needed to find a doctor who would tell me that I would still have him in my life for a very long time. That my everything wouldn’t be going anywhere. Selfish? I didn’t care. I wasn’t ready to loose J.
As we ate breakfast late that afternoon, I told Jason that the earliest the doctor could see us was next week. I had booked the appointment and decided that for the rest of the week and the weekend I would do anything he wanted, cook anything he wanted to eat and just be there for him. I also suggested that he not talk to Tina until he had seen this second doctor. I wasn’t trying to interfere in their relationship or be selfish or anything of the sort… but Tina was fragile and always blew everything out of proportion. In my opinion, it was best to tell her when we, he, had definite answers. And to be honest, what was he going to tell her? ‘Hey baby, so I know I said we were going to get married, but I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see our children..’. This shit was MESSED UP!
Lisa had taken the news pretty well. She had wanted to cry, but as usual I had told her that her tears were highly unnecessary. I had made Lisa a tough girl. I just did not believe in wasting tears on idiots and I was one of those idiots. I liked that Lisa was being optimistic and wanted to see another doctor. Good for her. She had learned a thing or two from me over the years. How to see the glass half full.
Personally, I was not getting my hopes up. I had apparently seen one of the best neurosurgeons in the province. And if he said it was inoperable, then it probably was. I was resigned. I was being philosophical about the whole thing I think. I knew one thing for sure, I did not want to undergo any treatment, I just did not believe in long treatments and making the people around me suffer and endure months of hospitals. I wanted to live the rest of my days (if that’s what was planned for me) to the maximum. I had a bucket list and my intention was to cross off every item on it. I needed Lisa to be on board with this, but would she quit her job for me? I mean I was talking of traveling and days of doing everything. Crazy things, away from this real world. I wanted her to come with me but I couldn’t dare ask!
Next chapter eight (click here)
The key to a successful business is being Positive, being Patient and being Persistent. I read that once and it made absolute sense to me. Entrepreneurs endure so much pressure and added motivation to succeed because ultimately if they are not the ones bringing in the money well then they aren’t making any. Gone are the days where they could rely on their employer. They now have to put in the work and the means to reach their ends. But am not talking business here am I?
You would think that I would only advise this in the business world, for success. But I’ve come to realize that relationships are a lot like business “contracts” – an endeavor that must and will succeed if it has all the right elements. So why not apply Positivism Patience and Persistence when talking about Relationships/marriage? I say why YES!
Because being positive is half way through the journey. You have to continue to believe that you made the right choice and that things will get better. You have to avoid bringing in negative vibes and attitudes to your relationship/marriage and you have to set dreams and goals that you can and will achieve together.
Love is kind… It is patient… Yes yes, it is. It will not always be black and white. Times will be hard, and your partner/spouse might not always understand your reasoning, motivations or attitude and YOU might not always understand them, but you have to be patient enough to listen, and be prepared to work at it. Just like in business when you patiently sit and wait for your investments to bring you fruitful returns, you might have to be patient before she gets pregnant with that 1st baby, you might have to be patient and wait for him to finish that masters before he starts earning big money, you might have to be patient that your routines are not yet what you want them to be. Ultimately, it is an investment you have made and you have to be patient to enjoy all the joys of it; they won’t all come today.
Also known as endurance – everything worth having for me has to be worked for. In business like in life you will fail and fall so many times, but your success will be determined by how many times you got back up and how persistent you were. Your character will be built by just how enduring you have been over the years. In Relationships/marriage too, I think this can apply. If you commit to always getting back up on your feet when things don’t go the way you want them to, then there is no reason to not succeed.
Perhaps you need more than this for a successful relationship/marriage. I like to think that marriage is not a one day commitment, it’s a lifetime – much like a business it needs to grow and be nurtured. Don’t sit on your backside: be Positive, Patient and Persistent.
Previous Chapter: Chapter Five (click here)
From: Jay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: Anne-Lise Mbakop (A.L.Mbakop@mfoster.com)
Date: June 13th 2012
Subject: Good Morning
You’ve got mail!
Yes? why the surprise, my name is Anne-Lise; but I have modernized it over the years to Lisa. I hardly ever opened my personal email at work. There was always some guy from IT filtering and checking our systems and to be honest I like to keep my personal away from my professional. So, whenever we had things to be said Jay would email my business email with ‘you’ve got mail’ so that I could log on to my personal iPad and exchange with him.
But I wasn’t talking to Jason except for the strict necessities. I expected him to apologize first. So I ignored his email and continued with my day. It had been 2 nights since that fight… I wasn’t fighting though. I was indifferent. Jason had made his position clear and I didn’t necessarily agree with him. I had walked in late the night before, made dinner, left a plate out for him and gone straight to my room. I had locked it (we hardly locked our rooms), but I needed him to know that I wasn’t talking to him. Contrary to other people when Jason and I fought, we talked, we shouted at each other but we talked. This time though I wasn’t talking. It would hurt him more. I was sure of it. And right now that’s what I wanted….to hurt him. Because in spite of it all, he was leaving me…he was getting married and I would no longer be his number one. He was another one walking out on me. What was it with all these men putting me second? I continued my days work and stayed away from my personal email.
Around 6pm as I was getting ready to head home when I got a text message from Jason that read: I sent you an email & no response. How long with the continued silent treatment? J
I ignored him. I took out my iPad and logged into my email.
From: Jay (email@example.com)
To: Lili (LisaTMbakop@gmail.com)
Date: June 13th 2012
Subject: Apologies required
I know you hate it when I call you like that, but this is a serious matter and I can only be professional and polite. Ms. Mbakop please allow me to express my deepest and most sincere apologies for my behavior a few nights ago.
I do agreed that it is not my place to tell you how to conduct your business or take care of things in your life. I realize that I may have over stepped and for that I am truly sorry. But I will not apologize for what I think and how I feel about Michael Junior! But whatever decision you make, I will support you because above and beyond you’re my number one *John Legend reference*
I am sorry we haven’t spoken lately. And that I have been soo distant. But this message is two fold, and perhaps might shed some light on the situation. I wanted to apologize but also to talk to you. Am realizing that there is so much I need to tell you and I just haven’t been able to muster the courage to do so face to face. Am not even sure where to start. This might not be the best medium, but right now its the only way I know how. And Lisa I need you.
Lisa, a few weeks ago I was having quite a few violent migraines, I don’t know if you remember.? I ended up seeing a doctor and he said that he couldn’t give me any conclusive results. The other night I wanted to talk to you about it, but then it seemed more important to tell you about Tina and then we got into that fight.
Am tired of fighting with you about MJ, I truly am and as I said I will respect any decision you make. Just know that I love you and I don’t want to see you hurt. Anyways, the Doctor wanted an MRI done to confirm his findings, so yesterday I had it done. I don’t know when you’ll have some free time but I wanted to talk about it with you before I talk to Tina.
Don’t shut me out ….
Jason was in trouble. I had to get home fast.
LATER THAT EVENING…
I don’t know how I had figured out from that email that J was in trouble, but there was just something about the way he wrote those words. Something about the way he was speaking lately…like when he had said, “I will no longer be here to catch you when you fall” or when he had asked Tina to marry him. It wasn’t will you spend the rest of YOUR life with me he had told me, he said the rest of MY life with me. Whatever it was that Jason was going through, it was deep.
Jason had just told me everything about how the doctor had said he had an inoperable brain tumor. This truly was a dream. And then I thought about my dream from a few days ago, a premonition? It was too weird for me to even think about it further. How could I have known? Or how could have my subconscious have known? Did I know? Was I expecting it? Was it why I was this calm? And how was he going to break the news to Tina? Inoperable…? Jay…. Son…
While he was talking though pragmatic Lisa made her way into the conversation. I told Jay that we couldn’t rush into any decisions. That was one doctor’s opinion. We had to seek a second opinion. I apologized for my nasty attitude in the last few weeks and then I held him. I wanted to cry..just ball out and cry. But the minute my eyes began to glisten, Jay was already saying,
“are you going to cry for me?”
“Lisa… How many times am I going to tell you? You don’t cry for ANY man! Not even an idiot like me”
Oh Jason! He had managed to make me smile. What was I going to do with him? Or without him? I did not want to contemplate the eventuality. This was huge, enormous, gigantesque and I couldn’t truly air out my frustrations and my pain. I wanted to break something, I was angry. Now being mad about him not telling me about the engagement seemed so futile. And the engagement – why would God let him get into something like that if he didn’t have long? Sometimes I just didn’t understand the man upstairs. I just did not understand him.
I wanted to break something. I needed to break something. I didn’t know how to deal with all this. I looked at Jason and then I bolted up from the couch we were spooning in. I headed straight for the cabinet in the kitchen were we kept the hard stuff. I grabbed two short glasses and then I got some ice. I came back to the living room set a bottle of Johnny walker double black and everything else we needed on the table. I returned to the kitchen grabbed some nachos, hummus and dill dip (our favorites).
I got his iPod, loaded it onto the docking station and circled to the Tupac All Eyez on Me album. I took my phone switched it off. I asked Jason to tell Tina he was unavailable tonight and then switch off his phone. He could come up with any excuse he wanted, I did not care – he just had to be unreachable. He executed and just watched me do. I think he was a little excited, the crazy Lisa in me was back if only for a few hours. Tonight we would live like we did in undergrad…we would drink until we could drink no more, play those silly games and forget that we were 28 and 30 with life’s problems on our shoulders. And then tomorrow we would find another doctor who would refute this rubbish and life would go on. But tonight, we would drink! Bottoms up!
I knew that drinking wouldn’t solve any of our problems. But seeing Lisa so carefree made me happy. I obliged with everything she requested. I saw the Lisa I had fallen in love with so many years ago, that Lisa that had disappeared under the pressures of life and had been lost to me. That Lisa that I only saw when she often spoke of her moments with MJ, my Lisa. She was here, with me, now and that is all that truly, really mattered. Drink! Drink! Drink! We were now chanting.
Consequences? We would deal with that tomorrow. My medical issues? What issues? Tina? Tomorrow, tomorrow was another day. Lisa & I had once promised ourselves that what we couldn’t deal with today we would tackle tomorrow. Procrastination had sometimes been our friend. So now? drink. Problems? Tomorrow!
Next Chapter: chapter Seven (click here)
Nota bene: This chapter is uncharacteristically long, things had to be said. Remember to let us know how you are enjoying this so far, and even if you are not, we want to hear from you. Have a pleasant week.
Previous chapter four (here)
Riding the orange train in the opposite direction this time the usual cacophony from the morning was now annoying to me. I was in a bad mood. Only yesterday Jason and I had had another fight. MJ really was a no go zone between the two of us. I understood where Jason was coming from but couldn’t he see that no one had made me as happy as MJ did. That no one could make me as happy as he had the potential to? Granted he had hurt me but I was okay with the hurt…I had moved on from it. I had learned to deal with it. To be honest, I think it made me stronger… Would I live through it again? I doubt it, but it was part of our story – my past and our future.
I knew MJ could be the right man for me, if he simply made the choice to keep me and only me in his life. He was so loving and attentive. My only issue with MJ was HER. She had appeared in our lives out of the blue (as far as I was concerned) one morning and 3 years later she was still roaming about. I just could not understand why he didn’t get rid of her; he always promised to, did, and then all of a sudden she was back. She was like a nasty rash that just did not go away. I knew deep down that he loved me and I rationalized it. Telling myself that he always went back to her because she was so accessible and only lived about 30 minutes away from him – that, she made it impossible for him to go, she kept on throwing herself at him. I think he eventually began to use my own excuses against me when I threw a tantrum.
MJ and I met towards the end of my undergrad year. He was vacationing in Montreal with his brother. It was a private loft party and he offered me a drink. We started to talk and have never stopped talking since. That is the one thing we did best in the beginning, talk. It was easy and crucial to our relationship. I was instantly attracted to him intellectually, physically I wasn’t sure. I didn’t believe in long distance relationships but MJ made it easy, MJ made it worth it. I learned to love everything about him. He called me every night, flew in or flew me over every month. He sent me random gifts and always had surprises for me. I would sometimes get embarrassed when the delivery guy would show up with tons of flowers at my part time job on campus. Jason respected MJ in the beginning, he was happy to see me happy even if he had his reservations. I think Jason just came to dislike anyone I dated, but his feelings towards MJ changed towards the end of 2009.
I was on my way home and thinking about our fight once more. I had no more energy to fight, so I wouldn’t fight. I would just act like it didn’t matter. Besides, it was my life and Jason was building a life of his own. He & Tina were getting married. I had made my decision I would go see Mj. My birthday was coming up in July and it was the perfect present (to myself). Because above and beyond all the drama, MJ and I had crazy chemistry and I hadn’t felt ‘alive’ in months!
Like most women, Lisa often wondered what she had done to the good Lord to have such luck with men. The mantra, the good ones are always taken, although so cliché seemed so true to these ladies – in my opinion, either they were looking in the wrong places or they just had expectations that were too high (or unrealistic). It was so much more particular for Lisa though…she had grown up around men and you would think she had learned a thing or two. But in her defence she had become estranged to half of them, lost one to drugs, one was too young to understand her and another was in the army – the only one she listened to, the one she probably loved the most. So I was her replacement brother; the one she loved to hate. So perhaps she never really had the example, but I thought I had always shown her better…
The last man she dated was a piece of shit as far as I was concerned, like all of them really. No man so far was good enough for Lisa. We men had one thing and one thing only on our minds. How many girls we could get….and how fast we could get out. Don’t get me wrong, there were the rare good ones out there but I killed myself to make Lisa and all other few women (in my life) understand that it was always about sex first with us men and everything else second. That even when you have the good ones they have to have been through their “chasing” phase. Like my boy T often says; “you know if you want to sleep with her for one night or if you want to sleep with her for the rest of your life. But it all boils down to the s-e-x.”
Lisa and I had only had one catastrophic fight in all our years as friends. And that fight had been about MJ, her one true love (so she thinks). She had left our apartment for almost a month after that and had only recently moved back. Here we were again, another fight, not as big but still about MJ. How was I going to get rid of the idiot?
This fight got me thinking, as I sat in front my computer that evening…. searching, looking for the right words to comfort her, I hated how we had left things last night. I wanted to email her – that’s the only form of communication she would entertain from me at the moment. I knew her. I really needed to make things right with Lisa now, and I was tired of fighting.
I came across an email she had sent to MJ a while back. She had this habit of blind copying me on all her emails… (I think she just needed reassurance, and it was her protection. Because, ultimately, if she sent me the email; she would stop herself from saying anything stupid – because behold I would hold her accountable for the rest of her life)
As I read her words, I had a tingling feeling. I often hoped that Lisa had the same passion and the same love for me….she loved me in her own way and was too blind to see that I once loved her (more than anything in this world)….
From: Lisa T (lisaTmbakop@gmail.com)
To: MJ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: May 23rd 2011
Subject: Magic of 1st love
It is me again…. Again & again, as usual. I often wonder why I bother, but for a long time now I have stopped asking, how, why, and when. I just need you to know some things so that I can move on and be happy in my life too.
For the last couple of weeks, I have thought and over-thought. I have been a mess. I have relived our relationship over and over again. And I realize that as much as I loved most of those moments with you – I hated some so much more. Only God knows where I stand now and he alone knows how he will make me get over you. Because 5 years later it seems am still so smitten by you – in spite of all the hurt from 2 years back.
But as I have relived my past, our past – I see now that I am in this dark and unhealthy place because I have not done perhaps what was the most important thing. I have and had never forgiven you for all the hurt you brought to me. I still carry a huge burden and to me, you were entirely responsible for my pain and worries. I need this to move on definitely.
So in this mail, find my words of forgiveness and my eventual closure. I am from this day taking away that burden and responsibility from you.
I never told you I HATED you (sometimes), how often I regretted meeting you (even if it was a temporary feeling). You never saw how much it made me sick and crazy to hear you say “I love you and care about you” but not FEEL it – to hear you speak yet see no action that confirmed your words. You were too blind to see that I despised the fact that you mistook me for some naive girl. You never talked to me or explained anything to me, and too often you just acted like there was nothing wrong. I loathed you because, you always tried to convince me that everything was ok, or that everything would be ok….when it was clear to see that NOTHING was RIGHT. If your world was OK, then everybody else’s world should be fine.
Do you know how much you infuriated me when you often asked me, “what do you want me to say?”, “what do you want me to do?”. Or how much I cried most nights alone in my room because according to you I was just playing the victim? Do you know how tempting it was to just say FUCK YOU?! Sandra came into your life and hasn’t left it…I don’t know how it happened, but she changed you completely. You became someone else and I no longer mattered the way that I used. You tried your best to comfort me but your words were just empty promises.
I have been carrying this BURDEN all these months and today it feels great to finally get it off my chest. Finally, I do not hate you anymore, I do not hold you responsible anymore -obviously you were just doing what was right for YOU. You were looking out for you. I finally know that sometimes in life it is OK to be selfish! And I am applying it to the fullest. I forgive YOU MJ! I forgive you for taking some many years of my life and for not being man enough to choose me; for being a coward and taking the easy way out.
At long last, I can take back my life and start living. I can stand before you without remorse, without wanting to seek revenge. I can look you in the eyes without having the urge to say and do things to you that would hurt you as much as you hurt me. I can take my share of the blame and I can let this go. MJ, I forgive you.
I am being selfish now. I love me.
“The magic of first love is our ignorance that it will never end”. My love, this is the end of our story.
I had told her that the email was completely, utterly unnecessary – immediately I blew open the can of worms.
When it came to MJ, Lisa was always this erratic, confused and simply incoherent. She hardly ever made sense and to me she just simply loved too strong, too much and too hard… I often wanted to slap her back to reality. She was grounded in EVERYTHING else, but this… This…she had no control. This had been the end of their story (for that period of time apparently). I think MJ has just gotten tired of them making up and breaking up. Lisa had found out she was not the only woman in Mj’s life and had become completely insecure and irrational. She had given him ultimatums and questioned his intentions. She had asked him to make a choice between her and the other woman. MJ had gone round in circles and ultimately subdued my darling Lisa – he had convinced her that his adventure with Sandra was temporary and born out of necessity and satisfaction of his needs. In the beginning she had believed him but with time she saw that they were sharing much more than his bed. However, she kept on falling back into his arms until the next email (from Sandra), the next picture or the next realisation that she was not the only one.
Although at the time I had chastised her for sending this email, it ultimately had been the ‘it’ that brought the end, because he had walked away from her too. She was devastated; I think she had expected her emails to wake him up or to force him into choosing her. Just like the coward I thought he was, he just let their story die. A little over six months ago when he resurfaced I had warned Lisa, but she had walked out on me (the epic fight).And yesterday she was talking about going to visit him. I really did not understand why she was so into him… What did he have?
My Lisa, my darling Lisa, I prayed she would find the right man and that if she did not, after my passing she would always remember the things I told her….Because yes this was fact, the doctor had confirmed earlier this afternoon that I had an inoperable tumour and I didn’t have long to go. It was all these things that had me thinking about Lisa so much and about who I was going to leave her with?
This fight I felt was different. She wasn’t fighting, worse she seemed indifferent. And that was the worst kind. For now, I had to make it disappear, because honestly, I don’t know how much time we had left. I composed my email to her.
Next chapter: Chapter Six (Click here)