I do…Again. Maybe? Not.

Only two months, give or take a few days, after my husband and I decided to separate, I have already been asked the inevitable question, a dozen or so times, “Do you think you’ll ever get married again?”  My response seems to vary depending on who is asking, the circumstances at which the question is being asked under and the level of intoxication I am currently experiencing.

I was most recently asked this question by my very good friend, Jimmy. I’ve known him for about six years, it was almost 3:00 in the morning, I was probably at a level 6 of intoxication, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being completely out of my mind, shit-faced and John Legend was on the stereo.  My response?  “Listen to this song, Jimmy.  If a man ever feels this way about me, then yes, I will say ‘I do’ again.”  Jimmy’s response was along the lines of, and mind you, his level of intoxication was at about an 8, “I’m not quite sure I get it but right on!”  I chuckle as I write this, completely sober, because in truth, my answer was actually quite accurate.

Those who know me well know that I am a music woman.  Music speaks to my heart and to my soul.  It is, for lack of better words, the very essence of my existence and the means of extraordinary communication.  Not only did I lose my parents and my relationship in the past three years, I lost my self and along with my self, I lost music.  A week prior to receiving my mother’s horrific diagnosis, I was performing with Jimmy, for what I thought was the last time at a mid-week show at Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles before making the big, cross-country move to New York City.  I was excitedly banging on a djembe, chanting about how I loved LA but New York had my heart.  If I only knew that I’d be giving up a lot more, for the next couple of years, than merely the city I called home  – I suppose that’s life, though, huh?

Surprisingly and gratefully, like “Amazing Grace,” I’ve been found.  In these last couple of months, I’ve managed to find my voice and my passion – I found music again.  I actually attribute finding my self to finding music first.  I would like to say I never took it for granted but living the past three years of my life with no intention of being involved in music again was definitely taking it for granted, to say the least.  Music has never solely been a form of entertainment to me.  It’s a beautiful language, a means of speaking to another person’s soul.  Prior to my reunion with music, it was as if I had been living as a mute or someone who forgot their native language, synonymous with wandering around Spain and not even knowing how to greet someone with, “Hola.”

So to further explain what Jimmy didn’t quite get the other night and to answer that unavoidable question:  Music is my first language and I now know exactly what I want and most importantly, what I deserve.  If a man ever feels the way about me the way John Legend was feeling about his lady while writing the song, “All of Me,” then yes, I’ll marry him.  My mother always said, “Sometimes, hope is the only thing we have” and I can only hope that if the day comes that I do walk down the aisle again in an ivory gown, it’s truly for forever this time.

“All of Me” John Legend

[Verse 1:]
What would I do without your smart mouth
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
Got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind
I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright

[Bridge:]
My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

[Chorus:]

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all, all of me
And you give me all, all of you, oh

[Verse 2:]
How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

[Bridge:]
My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

[Chorus:]
‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all, all of you, oh

Give me all of you
Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it’s hard

The Symbolism and Melodramatic Conundrum of the Empty Seat

My early Friday morning Virgin America flight to Seattle took off on time from Los Angeles International.  I was bound for a long weekend and much-needed getaway to the Pacific Northwest, specifically to attend a close friend’s wedding the following evening.  The entire trip had been booked a couple months prior, shortly after celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary.  My husband and I were seemingly stoked to be exploring the Emerald City together and of course, witness a wonderful friend, who had graciously accepted an invitation to our wedding, pledge her vows to the man she loves.

As the plane rose higher and higher into the clouds and the Pacific marine layer, I silently cursed the fact that I had been vexed with the notorious middle seat after my now ex’s flight had been understandably cancelled.  My weary head would nod off, longing for the stranger’s lap next to mine and the lack of solid landing would rudely awaken me from my partial slumber.  At least I could be thankful that the drool didn’t ensue.  I peeked to my right, to the lucky individual with the window seat, and I envied his neck pillow.

My late night, return flight home to Los Angeles came with slightly more luck.  I had been awarded the window seat this time!  Hooray!  This particular night, though, as the plane climbed into the chilly, Northwestern skies, something else was aloof.  I had a place to rest my head, albeit, a plastic and hard place but it beat a stranger’s shoulder any day.  My Ipod was charged and ready to lull me into a snooze with the latest John Legend album.  There was an infant seated in his mother’s arms in my aisle, however, he was perfectly serene.  Was it the temperature of the cabin?  No, I was seemingly comfortable in that sense.  And then, I peered to my left.  I realized that the seat next to me, the middle seat, was unoccupied.  In that moment, I felt a sharp pang of sadness in the pit of my stomach and I knew the tears wanted to escape their ducts as John Legend crooned, “Give your all to me and I’ll give my all to you…”

That empty seat stood for so much more than its face value.  To every one else on that flight, it was simply an empty seat, one of which would most likely be deemed unwanted for it was the middle seat and he/she would have been right next to a potentially fussy baby.  To me, it was his seat.  It was the part of that trip that had been cancelled due to a change in marital status.  That seat symbolized a separation, another loss in my life.  I realized that, on the departing flight, I was too busy being pissed off about the fact that I was in the middle seat to even notice that his seat was occupied.  I sure noticed that empty seat on the return flight.  It was shouting loudly, tauntingly, “Look at me!  You’re alone!  Again.  You are the pathetic product of a failed marriage!”

The case of the empty seat occurred a couple of weeks later at an R&B concert.  I decided to purchase a ticket for myself, as sort of a gift celebrating my independence and love for all things music.  Long story short, if you’ve ever listened to R&B, you understand that a lot of the music is “baby-making” music, so of course, a large scale concert held at Los Angeles’ Nokia theater is going to be chocked full of beautiful couples dressed to the nines, holding hands and locking lips.  *In effort to validate this opinion, in case you’re not familiar with the art of rhythm and blues, I had lost my virginity to the headliner’s love ballad, twelve years prior.  I knew what I was getting myself into and I was excited, nonetheless, because I was there for the pleasure of witnessing one of my favorite artists grace the stage.  What I didn’t anticipate, however, was for the seat next to mine to be – you guessed it – empty.

Now, I know this seems a little melodramatic, and perhaps it is, but I find it important to recognize these emotions, to listen to that little voice inside, telling oneself that he/she has failed.  The sooner we can go through these moments in our lives, the sooner we can move forward, with our head held high, telling that little voice to “Fuck off!”  If I feel like crying, I cry.  If I feel like screaming, I scream.  If I feel like cursing, I fucking curse.  The point is that there’s always going to be an “empty seat” at various points in our lives.  It’s what we do with the empty seat that makes the difference.  Me?  I’ve embraced it.  I welcome it.  Hell, I sit in it!  I understand that it doesn’t mean I’m alone, no matter how hard it tries to make me feel like the giant, white elephant in the room, er, on the plane.  I now view that empty seat as a chance at personal growth, at opportunity and most importantly, a thrilling mystery!

*Read more on the hilariously shameless day I lost my virginity in “Lightning, Hooters and a Mixtape” as well as other “Deflowered Memoirs” at

http://defloweredmemoirs.com/

Leap of Faith

It has been said that sometimes our only available transportation is a leap of faith.  I have learned some very valuable lessons during the course of or thereafter some of those leaps – some that have shaped a few of my present day beliefs on life and love and some that threatened to mold me into a cynical bitch.  Thankfully, I challenged the latter with my compassionate heart and a little virtuous practice called, forgiveness.

If someone had approached me four years ago and said, “This exact day, four years from now, you’ll be filling out lengthy divorce paperwork and reluctantly visiting the Los Angeles county courthouse on multiple occasions,” I probably would have chuckled and responded with, “That couldn’t be possible because I’m never getting married.”  And I would have meant it.

I proceed with caution, as I write, as this is such a sensitive situation, surrounded by a multitude of conflicting emotions for all who are involved.  I choose my words with great care and absolutely no intent of inflicting harm and I have purposely omitted or changed names for the sake of privacy.

Once upon a time, a twenty-five year old woman sat across from a twenty-one year old boy at The High Line, a raised park constructed over an old railroad line in Manhattan’s west side.  He spoke with such vigor and conviction about his beliefs on family, marriage and children.  He respectfully stated his differing opinions of her contentment with possibly being a single mother one day, should her so-called biological clock begin ticking.  He willfully shared his visible enthusiasm and his deep desire to be a father one day.  And in four days, they had fallen in love.  Two years later, the woman who swore to every one she’d never get married and truly believed it in her own heart, married the passionate boy who managed to drastically change her stubborn mind.  A year after that, give or take a few days, they had fallen out of love.

Now, obviously, there are a lot of details intentionally excluded from the above love story, but for sake of this particular post, I only want to speak on that giant leap of faith.  A lot of times, these leaps are taken with a blindfold on.  For some reason, love tends to blind us of very crucial details, red flags as I like to call them, which is part of the reason why I’ve purposely omitted three years of information for now.  You see, after that boy actively pursued and confessed his undying love and need for a marriage certificate or “piece of paper” as the woman liked to call it, the woman decided it was time to take a leap of faith.  At the time, it appeared to be the only available transportation and so it went.  Three years later, after losing what seemed like everything she ever earnestly loved, she found out that sometimes the only available transportation to a renaissance is a roller coaster.

In Memory of Colleen Denise Dellinger, April 8, 1955~August 30, 2011

Circa Easter, 1986
Circa Easter 1986

I recall being attached to my mother’s hip as a wee one and I mean literally.  If she was sitting on the couch, I was laying my head on her lap as she gently brushed my hair behind my ear.  If she was grocery shopping, I was sitting in the cart she was pushing down aisle four, reaching for various items a child would typically crawl on the kitchen counters in search for.  If my mother was crying her eyes out on a park bench on a brisk autumn day, I was sitting next to her, doing my six-year-old best to console her.  Unknowingly, twenty years later, I would be sitting by her bedside, consoling her through the inevitable depression that ensued after the shock wore off from the tragic diagnosis she received days before my 26th birthday.

Through the many years of this undeniable bond with my mother, or mama as I called her, she bestowed upon me many life lessons, words of wisdom, values and morals.  I dedicate this blog to her.  In fact, I dedicate my life to her for she gave me this life and it’s about time I picked myself up from the many falls I’ve taken over the past few years.  She taught me how to do that.  Most importantly, she taught me the meaning and action of strength.  My mama was the strongest woman I know and my words could never do the depth of that strength justice, but I will certainly do my best.  I was fortunate enough to witness it, to learn from it and to become the strong woman I am today because of it.  Not a day goes by that I don’t give credit where credit is due for that.

It may have taken over a couple of years, after her death, for me to sincerely feel this, but my mama lives on inside me.  I carry her in my heart, in my stories that I share with the utmost candor and humility and in the decisions I’ve made in my life that have led me to this very moment that I type the word, revival.  These are some of the uncensored stories of my journey to a renaissance, if you will – I share in the hopes of reminding one human being that he/she is never alone.