By: Kandice Hill
Older women know how to find and stay in-love. That was what I used to tell myself.
I see older couples in the mall or at church or at the nearby Piccadilly cafeteria holding hands, showing off their twenty to forty year old relationships with innocence and grace. Every now and then I will see a peck or two but older couples look at one another in the eyes with so much ease and comfort, letting observers like myself know that they are committed to each other. After I exit creep, people watcher mode, I internally battle my wants and desires (e.g. better job, better friends) and a more consistent love life always end up the victor. And in my head, I say to myself, “damn, I want that.”
The opportunity for a chance of love (or what I thought was) presented itself to me in the form of my male best friend. I have the ability to romanticize situations so I played this out in my mind perfectly: both spending four years as platonic friends, both dating other people and supporting each others love endeavors, both realizing they we were the one for each other all along, both getting married and having children.
However, I was determined to do it right this time. I did not want to make any mistakes. I was going to ask an older woman who has been in a long-term relationship for advice along the way.
That was the worst decision I had ever made.
My best friend and I had been spending lots of time together. For hours we would be on FaceTime talking about love and relationships, religion, and the current state of race relations in American. It was perfect. Two or three weeks in our new found whatever-ship, he asked if I could come visit him in our old college town. Unsure of how things would go, I agreed but I still had a few things to consider. He had recently starting dating much more than usual. I would ask him about his feelings of each date and he did not appear to be interested, so I stopped asking questions.
I asked my godmother, an older, black woman if it was a good idea to go visit and she agreed. She is a mechanical engineer. She is a mother. She is engaged. She is life goals. I trusted her opinion.
“He spends most of his time with you. You do no have anything to worry about. Men love to roam and try something new. As long as you are the one he talks to at the end of the day, you are fine. Young women love to focus on things that are out of their control.”
At the time, I thought she had a point. He and I did spend a lot of time together. She was older, so I listened: I packed my bags and traveled up the Florida Turnpike.
My first night during my visit was cool. He and I watched television, ate and laughed with his roommates. He and I are best friends, so a night like that was pretty typical for us. We even appreciated each other’s company in a way that we never had before if you catch my drift.
The next day he informed me that his lady friend had an issue with me being there and he had to spend the night over at her apartment. I felt a little embarrassed so I thought about what my godmother had said and I called her again-just to be sure and all.
“Well he is only spending time with her because you two no longer live in the same city. You should be fine. You have a guy friend there, you should spend some time with him.”
At the time, I thought she had another point. I did live in a different city. I did have an old flame that lived down the street. But my old friend with a few benefits was not what I was looking for, nor did I have any intention on spending nights in a room alone. She was older, so I listened: I went to another man’s house. I figured we were even.
Three or fours days passed by and it was time for me to return home. My bags were packed. My car was gassed up. My good-bye speech was filled with words for encouragement and terms of endearment. I was ready to go. But then a curve ball was thrown my way: my best friend had asked me to stay an extra week.
I could hear my godmother’s voice in my mind, “I told you he cared. I told you were special.” But by this time, I already knew that a relationship with my best friend was a no-go. There was another woman in his life that was equally as intelligent and driven and dark chocolate as myself. She may have had an advantage because she lived in city limits, but when a man wants to be with you circumstances of that sort is a non-factor. However, I made a decision that most women make-young and old. I settled. I played the same narrative and reasoning in my mind that most women play. He will come around.
We eventually spent some time together. We have this unspoken tradition of going to cheap burger joints to talk about our life’s problems. But something happened that broke the straw on the camel’s back, something that brought me to the realization that I’m not about that settling, side piece main piece life: he had gone on a date with another woman.
I had had enough. I could not do it anymore more. I waited until he left his house to pack my things. I wrote a note and placed it on his desk filled with homework and notes, and I hopped back on the road
Two weeks go by and my mind is in a more reflective apace. While driving to grab a bite to eat, Betty Wright’s “After The Pain” blasts on my Fantasia Pandora station. Ms. Betty is a native of Miami, my hometown so I had a tendency to snap my fingers to her songs without questioning the lyrics. However, being in deep thought a
majority of your day forces you to hear things you have never heard before. But as I am in my car, I hear an excerpt at the end of Betty’s song that I found to be problematic. She says:
You see God is gonna’ bless me for lovin’ you. For all the times that you treated me wrong and I kept bein’ true…but I still love you like I do…there’s a woman in me that keeps on lovin’ you.
After hearing this song that was created in the late 1980s, I was forced to question the true dynamic of older relationships. Betty’s words made it very clear to me that there is a slight difference by generation in the method of how women should go about “keeping” men.
The following week Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” booms out of my car speakers. I listened to the lyrics with purpose this time and Whitney’s views are almost as disheartening to hear as Betty’s. That song was too released in the 80s.
To know that that kind of messaging was given a platform for mass groups of women (women I thought I should go to for love advice) to hear and appreciate at a point in time is ludicrous. I am not aware that not all women at the time were accepting of this, I searched for criticisms on the Internet for each song’s production and lyrics and I found nothing but YouTube comments praising both singers for their beautiful voices.
I decided to go to the mall and couple-watch again, wondering if I would see the inner Bettys and Whitneys in these older women in-love that I once admired. I saw nothing. I could not find any signs of past pain or a sense of relief in any women’s eyes as they lightly cling on to their mates. There could also be a possibility that the women I saw this time around had not experienced any.
I experienced a two-week period of pain that forced me to make a decision about myself, coming off of the premise of seeing the down sides of going to older women for advice. Despite how much I do not agree with their go abouts of being in a relationship, I thank those women for allowing their honesty and public displays of affection to challenge me to try something new, receive some push back, consider alternative methods, identify some problematic trends, find my way and choose me.