Tag Archive | relationships

The 20th Anniversary Edition

20th-anniversary20 years. I moved to the DC area 20 years ago. How amazing and crazy that life has passed by so fast. Today is the anniversary of my first day at my good government job. I moved to the area a few days prior. I never remember the exact day but I always remember the circumstances. I waited 7 months for the background check to be completed for my job. By the time it was completed and I picked a start date, I accomplished nothing I wanted to prepare for my big move. It was an interesting time. Any time I say interesting, it means I am protecting some party from a potentially incriminating story. I hoped to do an apartment hunting trip, buy furniture and schedule movers in anticipation of my start date. I did none of this. All I did was look up potential spots online and realize I know nothing about D.C.. My girlfriend offered to look for places for me as she was near the area but I nixed that because she has expensive taste and I was worried she would select a spot I couldn’t afford. I came up with the brilliant idea in my 22 year-old mind to just drive to D.C. the weekend before my start date with a few suitcases, book a hotel and look for apartments that weekend. As a full-blown adult now looking back this idea sounds terrible but God looks after babies and fools. So it actually worked out.

I found a simple, clean, and cheap hotel to serve as my base. And looked around. Overwhelmed, I discovered I could rent a room in a group house. I decided to do that until I could better understand the area and pick the best apartment. This seems like the weirdest idea ever to anyone who doesn’t live in an expensive area, but this arrangement was very popular in the D.C. area. I had a room furnished with a bed, chair and dressers, shared bathroom, a parking spot (more on that later) and two random other people living there. The landlord ran a “Christian” house, meaning no members of the opposite sex there without the door open and no overnight guests. I really didn’t care as I didn’t know anyone anyway. I was so excited to start my new adult life that I couldn’t even process all of my mother’s constant complaining, which is miraculous in hindsight. I conducted a test run to my new office which turned out to be in a terrible neighborhood, a neighborhood that even looked terrible on a Sunday afternoon. I kept getting lost. This was pre-GPS and I relied mainly on actual maps and printing out instructions from Mapquest. I completely confused 295 and 395 but knew my job was off of one of them. I didn’t understand quadrants and first went to the same address in the wrong quadrant only to find a restaurant. Upon finally finding it, my mother remarked that this cannot possibly be where they let government workers come and she actually asked the guard if there was a nicer building I could work. This was my first instance of DC customer service when all questions from the public are just ignored.

But surprisingly, in three days, I secured a place to stay already with furniture, practiced driving routes to my job and found a Wal-Mart to buy sheets and towels after being told there was no Target nearby. Lies! There was a Target! For some reason, my landlord wanted me to have sheets that fell apart after two washes. I drove my first day but could not find out employee parking lot, which was not adjacent to the building. A nice guard let me park in the parking lot for another government building. This never happens but I must have looked young and clueless. Started my adult life and was well on my way to success.

Oddly that first week, it snowed. Not real snow to a Michigander but enough snow where everything was closed: my job, the stores. I had no food. I relied on my housemate’s okay spaghetti and boring conversation. Thankfully, the next day conditions improved (well for them). But my car wouldn’t start (I left my lights on all night). My kind neighbor actually recommended that I take the Metro to work and gave me detailed instructions. I hopped on the bus, got on the Metro and walked across the street from my job to work. Easy peasy. Unfortunately on my way home, I quickly realized Maryland was full of communities that all looked alike and I got off in the wrong neighborhood. I walked around aimlessly, slipped in the snow and lost my mitten. Which was hilarious (again in hindsignt). My solution: go back to the bus stop, get back on the bus, and figure out where the hell I lived.

After a few months, I found an apartment, not my first choice as it had no vacancies. Bought a bunch of economical furniture in Michigan. Had the government ship it back (turns out I had a 90-day window for moves, thank goodness). Had a huge fight with my landlord at my rooming house. She wanted to charge me for parking but our townhouse community only designated 2 spots per unit and I frequently had nowhere to park nearby. Funny enough, she still hates me to this day. I found this out the hard way a few years ago. But my apartment. My own little apartment. I felt so grown-up at 22. The mover (yep, just one) arrived and had me help him move my furniture to my apartment. That’s when I learned that the lowest bidder wins these contracts. So much education! But I didn’t care as it was all so new and exciting.

Thankfully, my job had a 4-month internal training program for my work role which was full of people like me – young, new to the area, and excited for no reason. The Agency, to stem the mass exodus of retiring govies, embarked on the largest hiring program in their history. Because of this, I developed a little social network via classmates and Agency employees including meeting my best friend on the shuttle bus. We discovered the power of D.C. happy hour. That was my Friday routine: happy hour after work. I attempted to explain this phenomenon to friends back in Michigan and so many thought it was so weird to drink in afternoons. Ha!

My social life consisted of Friday happy hours with coworkers and biweekly Sunday matinees and chain restaurant lunches with my college friend and her adorable toddler. I was so happy. And I wasn’t even busy. I would go on little solo outings around the city on Saturdays. D.C. is full of activities I would see in the newspaper. I met a woman at some free DC summer festival and she invited me to join her book club (this was quite hot back then). However, the book club was terrible with spotty attendance. I ended up great friends with a woman after the two of us attended a meeting alone. Yep, just the two of us. She introduced me to other friends, Howard Homecoming, Republic Gardens and U Street, CBC weekend, road trips. Man, D.C. was the place to be in the early 2000’s. City life almost kicked my butt. I even interviewed for another government position in another region which I got and turned down. After meeting potential colleagues, I didn’t like any of them. Decided to keep my talents right here.

Eventually some of those friendships petered out due to marriage and babies. But I survived. These 20 years have been nothing I could have imagined as that eager, silly 22 year old. Right now, I smile thinking of my great circle of friends – including that amazing woman I met on the shuttle bus – and the love of my life. Despite my career restlessness, I still got a good government job. I wonder where I will be in 30…

The Reflections on Dating Past Edition

So earlier this week, the Washington Post ran The Cloture Club’s article on the 10 DC Guys We’ve All Dated. I was so excited as a chronic singleton I thought it would be good for a laugh. And it was not. I did recognize some of the “Guys” from men I worked with but honestly never dated any of them. I think the list was missing a little color. So The Root came out with its list of the 10 Guys Black Women Have Dated. It was cute and more familiar but  I came with my own mental list after reading the article that I just needed to share.

Here’s something I discovered over the years, I have a defective girl dating gene. I just can’t date properly. It annoys most of those around me who want me to find a husband already. But I don’t think I know how. My coffee dates seem to turn into Saturday Night Live sketches and the only thing that happens is a sad story to make marrieds and long termers feel better about their romantic lives. When I was younger, I was sold the fallacy that I was “picky.” People often ascribe this problem to the chronically single and feel like you are somehow limiting your choices. So I decided to date a lot more, taking “The Year of Yes” as my model. In the book, the author said yes to every date proposal except homeless people and the visibly mentally ill. I didn’t go that far but I gave it a try. What that yielded was a serious of God-awful dates make me never want to date again. So, here I sit from the sidelines watching others happily (this all seems so mysterious to me) couple. And here without further ado is my list of A  Dozen DC Brothas We’ve All Dated

***This only applies to those that do date. Not those that go on the aforementioned coffee date the year they move here and voila are married for 10 years.

Southern Transplant

Cloture Club had a similar gentlemen from the melanin-challenged perspective. However, our brotha usually went to a HBCU, is very religious and knows only a few people. He is kind, charming and ridiculously polite while a tad boring. He complains all the time about living here, the price of everything and the traffic. Your first date is probably in a nice restaurant in the deep suburbs such as Manassas, Ashburn or Woodbridge. He tells you all the time how “interesting you are.” However, complains that you go out too much. “You are going out with your friends on Friday? Didn’t you go out with them last Friday?” Ultimately, he judges that you are too “wild” for him for having Sunday brunch plans and going to Happy Hour on Friday. Don’t be surprised if six months after you break up, he marries his high school/college sweetheart and moves back home.

Displaced New Yorker

He’s really cool. He constantly tells you that he is from New York. He puts down DC as “country.” Don’t be surprised if he quotes rap lyrics in casual conversation. He absolutely loves debating for hours about random facts or trivia. Even though you are right that Marla Gibbs was on The Jeffersons and not Good Times, he continues to discuss it for a solid hour as he gets excited and you get annoyed. For your first date he probably picks you up in his SUV while loud hip hop plays, taking you too a really nice restaurant in Georgetown though he is wearing shorts and sneakers. These relationships work best if you yourself are a Southern Transplant because it works something like the Jay Z / Beyonce pairing.

Military Dude

He is really dependable, protective and smart. He occasionally has anger issues about some things that shouldn’t faze him. You counterbalance this by being extra sweet. He will shovel your snow, wash your car and fix a leaky toilet. Your first date is usually coffee so he can scope you out and then if he likes you, some hiking, biking or other outdoorsy nonsense that you may or may not like. He doesn’t like you to drink (empty calories) and if you make it there, the sex is awesome. However, you always feel inadequate because he does so much: work, exercise, take care of his friends/family and you like sitting on the couch watching HGTV. This relationship is tricky as you can quickly lose yourself in his life and cannot figure out if you want to or not.

International Lover Part I

He is usually from West Africa and came to school here in the U.S. He is usually extremely smart, capable and funny. Your first date is usually a chain restaurant in the suburbs that he absolutely loves which perplexes you. His friends and family must meet your quickly in the relationship and you could be blindsided on date two with an impromptu meeting. Said friends and family also have first right of refusal on his schedule, so he often cancels dates if they want to do something instead. This grates on your nerves, but he doesn’t see the issue. If you like to keep things casual for months than this relationship could work. Otherwise, it will not.

International Lover Part II

This brotha hails from the Caribbean. He is sweet, charming and always willing to help you out of your clothes. Your first date is usually some hole in the wall for authentic (fill in the blank) food and drinks, then grinding at a tiny club the size of your bathroom. You can’t tell why you like him but you do. Then he requests that you call him regularly to check in. At first it’s endearing but then you realize that you have an important job to do and don’t want to be that “girl” always on the phone with her man. He makes plans for you without your knowledge. “What do you mean we are going to Ocean City for the weekend?” And again if you make it there, the sex is incredible. However you start to feel smothered and can’t breathe. You eventually break up and he takes it coolly but continues to call you constantly. You then change your number but run into him in moment of weakness and give him your new number. This continues for years unless you marry somebody else. This could also continue if he marries someone else, so be careful not to get your tires slashed.

Baller

This brotha is awesome. You and he both know it. He is moneyed, legitimately connected and usually comes from one of those Our Kind of People families, athletics or somehow lucked upon the secret formula for wealth. He has houses in various parts of the country, Caribbean; knows famous people and is never in town for more than four days in a row. He usually lets you pick the first date as a test of your taste level. Then buys out the menu for one of those elusive $200+ dates Twitter debates. Subsequent dates include car services, parties with people from the White House administration or box seats at sporting events. You realize quickly that your wardrobe isn’t ready for this relationship but try to fake it the best way you can. His family is okay with your presence but hasn’t totally warmed up to you. You finally discover that there is another miss taking his time and you seriously consider if you should break up and leave the perks behind. You do, but don’t really like it.

Frat Bruh

There comes a time in every DC sista’s life when they meet the fraternity  member. This brotha loves his fraternity. Your first date is probably some happy hour after work. He always asks if you are a member of a sorority, if you are he rattles off a dozen sorors you should know and if you aren’t he wonders why not. If you make it, get lots of rest, as you will have picnics, cabarets, charity events, day parties and comedy shows to attend. You will be exhausted. There will be some knucklehead frat that you will hate but have to see all the time. You will never get a moment alone as most fraternities guys are natural extroverts. So if you are a fellow extrovert, you may thrive but too much and steer the focus away from him. It’s a really fine line.

Entrepreneur

This brotha has decided to become rich by 40 or 50 depending on his age. He read somewhere that the best way to become rich is to own a bunch of businesses (that’s how Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got their starts right? No, umm…okay). So he normally has a 9 to 5 or 10 – 6, then does wedding photography on the weekends, flips houses, sells bootleg Louis Vuitton purses, does web design and landscapes on Sundays. You usually met him at one of his gigs though you didn’t realize he was working or online. You chat for hours but rarely sees each other. Your schedule must somehow align with the 3 -4 waking hours that he is free a week or you must (horror of horrors) allow him to kick it at your house at like 11 p.m. when everything is done. If you don’t, your first date is a meeting at one of his jobs, like a hotel lobby to a quick drink. You chat for months but nothing ever comes of it. He quickly becomes your “guy” friend that you use for advice on other guys.

Connector

This brotha is in DC to become the next Barack or Eric or Cory. You usually meet him at a function as he loves functions. He vaguely knows everyone, whether or not they remember him is the question: bouncers, bartenders, bell hops. He belongs to a charity but doesn’t do any work such as Urban League, NAACP, 100 Concerned Men. In the summer, he attends Essence, BFF and other events in Martha’s Vineyard, Atlanta, etc. In fall, he is consumed with CBC and Howard’s Homecoming. Your first date is drinks at Park. Always Park, then you can move to other hotspots as you are deemed worthy. He is always stopping to chat with someone when you’re out but you are never introduced. You feel like a prop and soon grow bored. You eventually part ways but you see him occasionally at events where he doesn’t acknowledge you while intensely chatting someone up.

Native

Every once in a while, you attempt to date a Native. Not many outsiders in DC has successfully dated Natives. Your first date is usually some long term DC institution, such as the waterfront for crabs. You sort of connect though he often refers to you a “college girl” though it annoys you. He seems knowledgeable until you realize that he knows nothing about Washington things such as the museums or historic landmarks and calls them “tourist traps.” You are never really allowed to visits the suburbs even if that new spot in Bethesda is right by the metro. DC Natives are a rare breed and hard to decipher. He truly believes in the ratio thing and constantly reminds you that there are more women that he could be dating. You break up and vow to never date a DC brotha again.

Mr. Ivy League

He is smart, cultured and reads! He reads! He is very clean cut and usually has a post-graduate degree i.e. law, MBA, doctorate. Your first date is usually at Best 100 list restaurant. Then he drops a bomb on you: he has never really dated a Black woman, but you seem nice. He makes attempts to seem down but stays surprised that you don’t act like a woman on Love and Hip Hop. You ignore these things because he reads! However, he has a tendency to ask you about “Black” things and is trying to figure out what you are attempting to do with your hair. Eventually you break up. However, all isn’t lost. You continue to keep contact and he eventually marries a Black female version of him. You served as a great entry that Black women aren’t crazy.

Professional Student

You usually meet this brotha as he waits on you at a restaurant or sits next to you at a sporting event. He is fun, funny and engaging. You decide to date him because he is in D.C. to take advantage of the great universities in the area and not really a waiter. Your first date is usually a visit to the museum or an outdoor free music festival, then on to a nice restaurant with afternoon specials. You like him a lot but you wonder when he will make actual money and take you on a real date. You always hang out at your apartment as he has at least two roommates and two girlfriends to accompany those roommates. You think you can hold on for the Barack and Michele fantasy until the day that he mentions it would be fun to get a dual medical and law degree, then you bail. You hold out hope that he will graduate, get a great gig and come back to find you.