by La Vonda R. Staples
I get emails from all over the world.? It was no surprise when I received an email with a photo attached.? Happy, shiny Black couple beaming from the base of the Eifel Tower.? They were in Paris.? I deleted it.? Photo proof that another girl was living the dream, offered to me, but in my stubborn mind had cast to the side.
One cold day when I was living on the East Coast a few years ago a very good Black man came to me, out of the blue, and said, ?I?m going to marry.? I?m considering you.? But you?ll have to lose weight, quit smoking, quit your pity parties, and stop cursing.? I can?t stand to hear a woman curse.?? I thought I was being insulted so I fired back with both guns heated to an orange glow.? Won?t tell you what I said because I have gained enough humility to be ashamed.? He wasn?t hurt.? You see, he knew he was throwing a hail Mary pass to me and I think he knew the probability of my deliberate lack of intent to catch what was, although I didn?t know it at the time, an easy ball.? He also went on to say that he wished I would also adhere to some school of religious belief but all I was hearing was, ?blah, blah, blah.?
I knew what he was about.? He was ?made? when I met him.? But if you would have told me that he pictured making me his missus I would never have believed you.? I didn?t think enough of myself, still, at that point, to dream that high.? And let me tell you something, this was an honourable proposal which would have done me a whole lot of good.? I heard him say one thing but my mind turned it into another.? After all, the man was only asking me to control myself, to be healthy, and to be a lady in action and in my words.? What was so terribly wrong with that?
The chance passed.? I knew him well enough to know that if I had tried, he would have been faithful to my efforts.? For some reason, I reminded the man of his mother.? I don?t know how but I did.? But his mother didn?t curse.? His mother didn?t drink.? His mother was a faithful dedicated woman who never weighed a pound more than the Creator had lain upon her bones.? What he was asking would have been good for my children and if we never walked down an aisle pursuant to becoming man and wife?? It would have been good for me.? But I didn?t listen and as I said before the chance passed.
My hindsight has laser-like adroitness and acuity.? Now.? Now?? Now!? I think I might cuss about 100 times a week as opposed to my former 100 times a day.? I used to smoke a pack a day and more and now the cigarette folks can?t get 10 dollars a week out of my pocketbook.? Now?? I used to go to buffets without shame and wearing what I called my ?eating pants.?? They?re a pair of exercise pants with the drawstring pulled out.? What sickness.? What madness.? I put the barriers up and erected them high and blocked my own good blessings.? My life with him would have been everything I ever wanted.
You see, if I showed you his photograph you would say, ?You wanted him.?? And yes.? I did.? I saw something in him.? I felt something from him.? I was sensitive enough to know that he would have been my greatest teacher.? The brother was so deep he was infinite on the knowledge of Black people and the world.? And he had the humility to always be learning and trying to know more.? He would have turned me on, shone the light, to the greatest discoveries.? And yet, I refused to go through his basic training and become his commissioned officer in the battle against the greatest evil:? ignorance.? I failed to show up for duty because of my conduct which was unbecoming of an officer and a gentle woman.
I have regrets.? But I also have a plan to get to be the one who sends out the smiling photo from the base of the pyramids as well as the Champs Elys?e.? That ship may have sailed for good.? And it might return.? I do nothing negative nor do I seek to destroy another girl?s happiness.? I?ve done that before and it?s a sin I advise all to save for a distant lifetime.? I don?t want to hurt anyone because that weapon always follows the path of the boomerang.? So, I?m not gunning for that man, who could have been my man, and is now my distant friend.
I can follow his words to become the best me and therefore best use the gifts I have to help all men and women.? In so doing, the words I heard while sitting in that chair will have meaning, will resound for centuries to come.? Throwing off the colloquialisms which are rife within Black American female life I can become better than I ever was.? If I will only open my eyes and ears to the possibilities and make myself ready to be taught.? If not?? I will always see another girl living my dream and it will kill me, just a little bit more, incrementally, every day I walk this Earth.? I want more.? I can do more.? But more is needed from me.? And the hardest lesson I?ve ever tried to learn is the lesson of receiving wisdom when that wisdom hurts.