“Everything comes

and goes…

Pleasure moves on

too early,

And trouble leaves

too slow.

Just when you’re thinking

You’ve finally got it made,

Bad news comes knocking

At your garden gate.

Knocking for you…

Constant stranger,

You’re a brute,

you’re an angel;

You can crawl,

you can fly, too.

It’s down to you…

It all comes down to you.”

–Joni Mitchell

I should start this post by addressing the neon pink elephant in the room, and write a bit about…writing. Clearly, I’ve been neglecting mine these past couple of weeks.

Zora Neale Hurston, one of my favorite writers—and perhaps, one of yours—famously wrote, in Their Eyes Were Watching God:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

I daresay that there are weeks that answer, too. This past week, I was waiting for an answer to come. Frankly, I haven’t wanted to write another word until I had one—for you, and for myself.

So, I waited. And I watched. And I didn’t write, because I honestly didn’t know what to say.

Instead, I’ve been in conversation: with friends, past and prospective lovers, and at one point, even a TV crew (cool your jets—I’ll explain later). Most importantly, I’ve been in conversation with myself.

You see, between the very real possibility of a relationship with the Scribe, and the unexpected—yet undeniable—attraction I felt to the Power Broker, I’ve raised quite a few questions for myself lately: Where am I in this process? Where do I want to be? How do I want to behave? What do I need to feel fulfilled? What does attraction—and intimacy—even mean to me now, and how is it affecting this process?

And always—always—the big question (again): What do I want???

Because I know what I’m supposed to want, as a 40-year-old single, Black, heterosexual woman living in one of the world’s most romantically challenged cities. Of course I do. The world spends ample time telling me that I’m supposed to want to be chosen—preferably, by a great “catch.”

And, should I find this ever-elusive catch, the expectation is that I’ll be grateful—grateful to be worthy of such consideration, and grateful enough to behave (lest I risk being cast as a crazy female for not doing so). If necessary, I should settle—at least for the sake of stability. After all, given my limited and swiftly dwindling options, whoever he is, I’ll be lucky to have him, right? Right?

Yes, I know what I’m supposed to want; I’m just not buying it. Aside from the fact that I’m a great catch myself, I know—if I know nothing else—that for me, falling will require far more than a gentle push and a man who’s great on paper.

Because I know how it feels to want someone—to crave his company, and his touch. I know what it is to feel the heat rise under my skin just thinking about him, let alone being in his presence. I know what it is to hang on every word, every glance, excited for every moment we can spend together. I have had that—thankfully, more than once. Having had it, I can’t possibly settle for less. Even at 40. Especially at 40.

Because I know that for me, stability without some big time sensuality (shout-out to Bjork) would feel like a slow and painful death.

So, back to last week, which I admittedly began still slightly buzzed on the Power Broker. I mean…how could I not be? The evening had been exciting and heady, easy and exhilarating—feelings that had been conspicuously absent from this journey so far.

But as exhilarating as the moment was, I was also willing to consider it just that: a really great—if very rare—moment, with a really great guy. And yet, no matter how great, a rare moment doesn’t necessarily make it a realistic one. So, I resigned myself to the fact that in this instance, it might just be too fleeting a moment to focus on.

Besides, I needed to shift my focus back to the growing possibility that the Scribe—back in New York for the week—and I might be embarking on a journey of our own. Yes, things were moving at a dizzying (and occasionally terrifying) pace, but opposite coasts and misgivings aside, it was difficult to deny that we might be that perfect matching of two great catches. And by all appearances, so far the Scribe and I were great on paper and off. In fact, we seemed to make all the sense in the world. With both of us available and interested in sharing more than just a moment, we had actual potential.

So, what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, just about everything. What began a giddy and promising reunion quickly devolved into a jumble of crossed wires, missed cues, long silences and ships passing…

By mid-week, we’d entirely bypassed the honeymoon phase I’d so eagerly anticipated; instead, we seemed destined for couples’ counseling. There suddenly seemed to be a very fine line between being swept off our feet and taking each other for granted, and neither of us seemed able—nor willing—to discuss it.

Instead, we were a study in awkwardness, and it was uncomfortable as hell.

As Jill Scott might say: I could see the season changing and our vibe slipping off its axis. The once-beautiful melody we’d begun had suddenly become wildly staccato. Now, it was sharp and arrhythmic, and as jarring to both our ears as if we were speaking different languages.

Because we were.

Despite all our years as acquaintances, it was becoming obvious just how foreign we actually were to each other; how clueless we were about each other’s needs and desires. I kept waiting for us to click into place again; to reclaim whatever chemistry had made us feel like such a possibility mere weeks before. I was banking on it, even while the tension and the resentment were quietly building between us.

By Thursday, an impromptu—and “moment” free—run-in with the Power Broker (and friends) found me a bundle of nerves, wracked with mounting frustration and confusion.

Admittedly, finding myself in such close proximity to the Broker again—and so soon—probably didn’t help, and not because I couldn’t restrain myself. No, the problem was that I didn’t feel restrained at all. The awkwardness and uncertainty I’d been feeling all week began to dissolve as the Broker and I fell into a very frank—and occasionally funny—conversation. Once again, it was easy. It was adult. It was intelligent. And yes, it was slightly intoxicating to find myself unwinding in his presence, if only for a little while.

When we parted ways that day, I realized—with both relief and regret—that I’d likely underestimated him. However, that would be my only regret whatsoever.

Of course, this left me no clearer on where I stood with the Scribe. Not that I’d need to choose between him and the Broker—neither timing nor circumstance would even compel me to—but I couldn’t ignore the seismic shifts in my comfort level, either. Whatever the Scribe and I had on paper was no longer translating in person, and I had absolutely no idea how to get us back on the same page.

It was supposed to be the week that settled things. And yet, there I was, more unsettled than ever. Had my “moment” with the Broker been my own undoing? Had the Scribe and I just suffered a case of “too much, too soon”? Did we load too many expectations onto a connection that had quickly proved itself shaky, at best? Were we just a couple of scared saboteurs, compelled to screw up even the best of scenarios? Had our moment just…passed?

Or was it worse: perhaps were we simply no good off paper, after all?

These were the questions I wanted to answer. But, almost three months into this project, as the leaves fell and I began to feel a chill—inside and out—the only answer I had was this:

Autumn had most definitely arrived. But it was not yet time to fall.

  • Cali

    You never cease to amaze. Brilliantly written.

    • Mai

      Thanks…if only it hadn’t been so painful to write.

About the author

Who me? I'm just your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow a cup of sugar? But seriously: I'm a musician, model, writer, all-around creative and devoted auntie. Like you, I'm just out here in the universe, trying to make it happen...whatever that is.