He’s Getting Married - No, Not to Me

And, I couldn’t be happier for him

To my surprise, on August 29, 2020, I opened my mailbox to their invitation. One of my exes and his fiancé are marrying soon. I guess I cannot really call it a surprise. I knew I would receive an invitation. He and I spoke about it, but I buried it in the recesses of my mind and sort of forgotten about it, until yesterday. This will not be a belligerent recanting of how I am hurt or upset or even bitter. I am undeniably happy for him and his wife-to-be.

*Jay is a catch. He is a man I would be more than happy to recommend to a woman deserving of him. He’s intelligent, witty, creative, and in touch with his feminine side — he is a listener who heard me every time I had something to say. And if there was action needed for us to work, he stepped into that action. We just did not work, and there are reasons for that — all of them outside of our control.

I think it’s important for couples in intimate relationships to recognize when the spark disappears and is no longer attainable to move on from one another in that realm. Jay and I stayed friends — good friends, the kind that check up on each other and have lunch or dinner with each other when he is in town. We had/have so much in common, and that remains. But, I knew, years ago, I did not want marriage. And even if we had made it as a couple, I doubt, if he proposed to me — I would have said “Yes.”

Learning of this significant news caught me off guard. I’d sent him a text message one evening, as I am apt to do from time to time and we sort of fell into a discussion about life and he later said, “Hey! Did I tell you I am getting married?!” To which I replied, “You most certainly did not!”

I wish I could describe the overwhelming feeling of elation to you in my response. I want this for him. I have always wanted him to find happiness and whatever he believes that to be — it is my hope it manifests.


I gazed at the invitation for a long time. I looked at him and his beautiful wife-to-be and smiled. I shook my head in disbelief — this is happening! Jay is getting married. And I smiled again. The background image is of the two of them, standing in a record store, holding up an album, and on it are their names imprinted announcing the date. I thought to myself, “This must have been his idea.” We both love music and it is one of the first things that connected us to each other.

Now, this woman, this beautiful person he found to spend the rest of his life with, will get to enjoy his talents and all of whom he is.

They prepared for the times in which we live. Because of the global pandemic, the number of people who can physically attend is limited, however, they will stream it live. I will be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I will also send them a gift. I am more than happy to share in his joy in this capacity.

I wanted him to know I received their invitation. I sent him a text message that read: “My invitation came! Thank you! It’s beautiful and I’ll be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I’m so happy for you!” Knowing him as I do, I knew he’d respond within moments — that’s just him. And he did with, “Lol. Ok. Cool. Glad you got it. Did you have any questions about the live stream? And thank you!!”

When I think about who he truly is and who I truly am, we couldn’t last — not on that level, but as friends? There is a beauty to who we are as friends that needs no explanation. I love him and want only the best for him. I have watched his siblings grow up, begin their own families, move away to cultivate and enrich their lives, and I now know he is doing the same.


Four years ago, I may not have been as equipped to feel this way for him — to want him to find true happiness outside of being with me. I held on to some emotions that needed releasing and extracting from my system decades before, but this is what aging does — this is what growth does — it allows you to reflect on what you need to change deep within you and put it into action.

Because of this, I can tell you with no doubt, I am happy, truly happy for this man I once loved intimately and passionately to begin his life anew with his wife-to-be. I wish them wedded bliss–and anyone with evil intentions cannot harm or touch it. And should they want children, that they are happy, healthy, and equal parts of both of them.

He’s getting married and everything in me shouts in elation. And nothing else.


*Not his real name.

Come. Sit, Please. Tell Me What You’re Feeling.

How My Boss Made Space for Me When I Needed It Most

I had an emotional breakdown at work. To be frank, I have been met with more responsibilities, lack of support from my direct higher-up, and an indescribable amount of tension within our walls due to America’s current state of affairs. My role has shifted. Not only do I register patients for imaging scans and invasive procedures, I also screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering our waiting areas. My hours, on some days, are longer than others and my shifts have been inconsistent. I have been exposed to positive COVID-19 patients as well as patients who presented with symptoms or who have been around someone diagnosed with Coronavirus, COVID-19 in the last fourteen days.

I am currently on my ninth day of self-monitoring as our Employee Occupational Health team believes I have not been in contact with these patients long enough for it to warrant actual testing for COVID-19 — I am presumed to be safe enough to be at work. In each scenario, I was prepared, wearing a face mask, gloves, and goggles. They too had on face masks — one was wearing gloves. I was with each person for about five to six minutes. Upon verifying their status or confirming symptoms, these patients were directed to the PUI (Patient Under Investigation) facility where they would, in fact, receive their care.

I should have prefaced this by stating, we started the Coronavirus season with three screeners. One of my co-workers who screened with me is out on medical leave, post-surgery. The other has had two panic attacks due to exposure to positive patients and the fear it brings along with it. I stand alone, doing what I do to ensure the safety of myself and others.

But, I don’t feel safe at all.

From the constant cleaning of our front doors and entryways to questioning over one hundred fifty people per day, and dealing with the various attitudes that accompany some of these people, I am worn thin. Because we are short-staffed, there is no one else to turn to. We are all trying to make what we do work with the help we still have. It is not easy. There are many days where I dread getting up and taking another stab at the workday, but my bills are not going anywhere and I still have to take care of Jernee.

One of the recent changes among the ones listed above presented to us by my direct higher-up was to have us come in one hour early on our respective closing days and reduce our lunch break by thirty minutes. (That would be a 9 to 10-hour shift with a thirty-minute break.) She emailed this order to us one of the days I was scheduled to close. I received the message on my phone and upon reading it, the anger that had been boiling up in me unloaded.

I typed in a rage-response to her what I would and would not do and why it is wrong of them to ask more of us, then take even more from us as well. She passed my thoughts on to our center manager and since she and I have a history (she used to be our direct supervisor, left the center for a year, then returned, and is now the current center manager), she called me into her office to speak with her.

Come. Sit, Please. Tell Me What You’re Feeling.

I sat in her office knowing full-well why I was there. I had “acted out of character”, my response to an ill-fitting request of those who are already overworked, underpaid, and thrown into roles, not previously designed for them, was not what they were expecting. But, our center manager understood this. She said eight words to me, “Come. Sit, please. Tell me what you’re feeling.” And, I did. As I expressed what I felt and why and was open about how we’re being treated and what it does to me, the tears rolled down my face. My breaths quickened. My chest heaved. Sobbing became something that could not be contained.

She said, “You can take that mask off. I don’t need to be protected from you.” She handed me a box of Kleenex and let me continue. She listened to me, truly listened to me. I saw the expression on her face change from “concern” to “understanding.” In the midst of my storm, she tried her best to be a raft — something that provided safety. I cried until there was a sense of relief in my heart. She assured me they would find a way to lessen some of the weight hoisted upon us recently.

She did. She kept her word. But she has always done this. She informed me on that day if I ever felt the need to express myself to come to her — to not let my feelings stay pent up until they have nowhere else to go but out and in a way someone will not understand it or expect it. She ended our conversation by saying, “I am saying this because I care about your head (pointing to her head) and I care about your heart (pointing to her heart).”


Fast-forward to six days later on the evening of June 04, 2020, my co-worker, another African-American woman, was faced with the blatant tongue of a racist patient we have an obligation to serve. The next morning, she could not wait to come to my station in an attempt to tell me what happened. She teared up as soon as she saw me, and I felt it. I already knew something happened the night before that would change our center — change our leadership. We talked as quickly as we could and I ached for not being able to hug her — to provide comfort. I said, “We are not who they say we are. Do not let them live in your heart. Don’t give them room there.” She shook her head in agreement at me, wiped the tears from her eyes, thanked me quickly, and went back inside to register patients.

On the same day, I had my run-ins with a few racist patients who flaunted their “Trump for President 2020” paraphernalia upon entering the building and attempted to bypass donning masks. I was not having it. I stood my ground. I always do. I always will. You will not treat me in a way that is not aligned with how I wish to be treated or refuse me the respect I deserve. I am not a child. I will not be spoken to as one and I certainly will not bend to your rules for me without my consent.

I got through my workday as I always do — with prayer, belief in the work I do, and assistance from my co-workers. But, the pain was there. It sat in places in my body where I have not felt it before. My heart is heavy and it must show on my face because as I was leaving, our center manager said, “Tre . . . Come here, please. How are you feeling? How are you dealing with everything that’s going on in the world right now?” And all I needed was an invitation to tell her what was/is on my heart — to fully express just how hurt I am by the hands, tongues, actions, and behavior of her people.

I cannot be in her position. She cannot be in mine. She will never know how I truly feel just as I will never know what it’s like to be on her side of things trying to understand what is going on in my head — in my heart. But, she is empathetic to our plight. She has assured us we do not have to deal with ignorance and if someone brings their nasty behavior into our building and attempts to toss it at us, she is to be summoned to the location of such things. She let it be known, “You do not have to deal with the stupidity of others. You come and get me and I will handle it. I do not want anyone here feeling less than who they actually are. I won’t stand for that.”

I am forty years old. I have been working full-time since the age of eighteen. I have been Black my entire life — this will never change, however, this is the first time, someone in a position of power at any of my jobs has taken the time our center manager has to hear me.

Does it change what I feel or ease the heavy weight on my shoulders? No.

But, it is a start.


*Author’s Note: One of the worst things you can say to me is “I don’t see color” or “I don’t see race.” I need you to see me — to hear me. Seeing who I am and what my plight has been opens the doors to the conversations we need to have regarding systemic racism, social injustice, and how we can create change. I don’t need or want anything else. My boss has taken the necessary steps to sit her employees of color down to hear each of us out — to be there for us. That is how you move towards change.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

Featured Writer for January

Anthony Cloe Huie

Anthony has been on Medium for as long as I can remember and I used to edit and publish his work in This Glorious Mess a few years back. Naturally, when I opened up A Cornered Gurl to all writers on Medium, I reached out to him as I wanted to be able to continue to work with him and have his work published in my publication. I knew Medium’s readers would benefit from his lyrical approach to poetry and his rhythmic and melodic refrains. He has a knack for writing about love, the heart, and maintaining relationships. I love what he brings to A Cornered Gurl. The poem that earned him this feature is “You’d Be My Do-Over.”


You’d Be My Do-Over

Daniel Adesina@exileartisan

 Although we said goodbye so very long ago
still the slightest whispering of your name
brings back every loving feeling, every
painful memory
Each and every thought of you
reminds me
what I lacked then in courage to love you
I still lack in courage now to forget you
You are my sweetest thought
my bitterest memory

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Life has not treated me unkind in any way
and truth be known, when I awake
each and every day
I am blessed, having no regrets
glad to know the world around me
has decided to stay

Still those thoughts infectiously
chip away at me
chasing away my rationality
Sometimes I am not the me I should be
the slightest of distraction has me
thinking this way
What is it about you
I just can’t say
But your memories just keep
getting in my way

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Today I chased away
my final memory of you
I know that is exactly
the thing I said yesterday I’d do
but today my glass is dry
the bottles are all closed
I am a different guy
I am on that life’s natural high
Not looking behind me
because I could not stand
to see you waving goodbye

So forgive me, please
if sometimes my feelings get in your way
And if at times you wished you too had
turned the other way
Nothing will ever change yesterday
to become today
And if distance will have to be
the saver way
that’s okay
cause
in my heart, you’ll always stay

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Online Dating:

I Almost Did It Again

man and woman sitting and laughing
Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira via Unsplash

In my mid-twenties, I logged on to an online dating website. If you asked me today, I swear, I couldn’t even tell you which one it was. It proved to be a decent piece of my life at that moment as I matched with a handsome young man who was incredibly intelligent, independent, secure in his job, funny, and respectful. We lasted all of three months. In all honesty, we were unclear as to what we wanted from each other in the beginning. After that third month, I noticed we were good together, compatible. We enjoyed each other’s time, we did jigsaw puzzles together, went to the bookstore, walked in the local parks, etc. We had in-depth, intense, and impressive conversations. However, he did not want anything serious.

I did.

Thus, our end made its way in front of us all too soon. I think about him from time to time. Although we only dated for three months, those were a pretty damn good three months and I smile when I think of them. Every so often, I wonder how he’s doing. If he still lives in the Greensboro area. If he ever got his own business up and running. He was the first guy I dated who kept an immaculate apartment (much like myself) and at that time, I thought it odd as the only young men I’d ever dated, almost never really cleaned house or cooked, let alone had a place that was worth leaving my place for one night or two. He had all these things yet we did not work out.

The more I thought about him, the more I realized–I was dating a male version of myself and today that seems pretty creepy but that’s what it was. It was going to fail and fail hard and fast had it not done so when it did.

But, something pressed upon me a few weeks ago. I have been thinking of saddling up the old horse and getting back on it to give it another go. I did so on Thursday night. I e-trotted over to eHarmony, answered their compatibility questions and guaranteed matching assessment quiz, built a profile, tossed up a few photos, then promptly deleted it. I lost my nerve. The fear that landed itself in my lap was palpitating and real. One moment, I was excited about the possibilities and could not wait to see what my new age and this new year has in store in the land of dating and the next, I was the Cowardly Lion.


women's black leather zip-up jacket
Photo by Naitian (Tony) Wang via Unsplash

I no longer bite my nails, but if I were still doing this, they’d be nubs. Within seconds, an indescribable sense of nervousness overcame me and all I could do and think of was to back out and back off. Before anything could even begin, I shot it down. I did not let it live a life of two to three days.

Nothing.

I told my best friend about this and she said, “It is beginning to concern me of the rate in which you’re letting fear prevent you from doing certain things. What’s the worst that could happen?” And I instantly thought, “Well, the worst that could happen.” I did not tell her this, though. She can overcome fear within seconds–she just does whatever it is she wants to do. If it needs questioning later, it’s questioned. But, I overanalyze things and create a small place in which I dare not go and this is what keeps me from doing many of the things I set out to do.

Last year, I overcame several of my fears and I am learning to be gentle with myself about the things that need work–about the things for which I still have mounds of hesitation in my spirit. I won’t rush things, but I am planning on not remaining in the bowels of the unknown for too long either. I know what I want. I know who I’d like to have these things with, but I am still unsure if I want long-term or dating only. I believe the last thought makes itself known within the first few weeks of dating someone. From what I recall, one can usually tell after two to three dates if one surely wants to keep spending time with the person one is dating.

According to a few statistics compiled by eHarmony,

“Female users aren’t just looking for hook-ups . . . Only 33% of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60% of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.”

This is good information to know as I am surely not just looking for a hook-up. This next statistic is intriguing and gives me a little hope about the way the dating world does things mostly now:

“Online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”

I know at least four couples who met their mates online and they are still together, three of those four couples are married. That says a lot, don’t you think? But, the older I get, the more I know/feel I do not want to be married. This is my now. Who’s to say what I may feel like or know deep in my bones one to three years from now.

So, I almost gave online dating a try again. I was so close. If I were to give myself another pep talk, build myself up to a place of belief that perhaps, a committed relationship could flourish for me too, there is no telling where my mind will lead me. But, will I stick it out, though? I guess there’s only one thing to do in order to know . . .

I still fear it just a bit. Just a tiny bit.

Featured Writer for December

Christie Alex Costello is a gem of a writer and I am happy that she is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl. She brings an airiness to the publication that isn’t often shared and I am delighted to have her as a part of our community. Christie shares with us in her first published piece, the true beauty of love and what it feels like to her. And, it’s not one of those listicles or checklists that we are all so tired of seeing as well. This piece is what landed her the feature:


What Love Really Feels Like

This is not a checklist.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The world spins quickly and while you hope it slows, it never does. Everyone keeps moving, calls keep coming, and each morning the sun builds faster over the horizon. Your world needs stability, yet all you find is madness.

Someone catches your attention for a moment. Everything around you seems to slow as you meet this unfamiliar set of soft brown eyes from across the room. A calming sensation wraps around you like a warm fleece blanket; this is safety. Looking into the soul of this human, your heart begins to race. The sand turns in your hourglass as the two of you shake hands. Welcome to my life, you think to yourself. You begin to speak your name but your throat feels like a hot shot of Fireball; the taste simulating and terrifying all within a single instant. Their hand feels like the kiss you waited for and never felt that first time.

As years go on, this sensation becomes more familiar to you — almost becoming accustomed to this person whom you seem to know well, or so you think. Your eyes have a harder time finding the fire which once burned so brightly. A third sensation builds — an ocean wave of turmoil at its core.

“Am I enough?”

Yes, but in a depth that you never knew existed until you do — you look into the crystal ball but have no understanding of how to read even your own message. You reach, search, and talk with strangers just looking to find a sense of grounding. You find none. The world returns to its fastest speeds yet. Your toes grip the ground to find balance. You wonder to yourself as you stare across the room, stuck in your own head.

“Will I ever be the same without them?”

No, you won’t, and you wouldn’t want to be.

No one warns us that water can get this deep, too deep to tread lightly in. The sensation of its blue vertical drop beneath you is captivating and frustrating. Self-love becomes this necessary ingredient now, a prerequisite to keeping the other human connection beside you; anxiety ensues. You are the depth that you once found daunting to swim in. The other human and yourself are now intoxicated by the power of this vast feeling of surrender; it is becoming hard to pull everything apart — these emotions feel like volcanic eruptions spilling into a world you both created. Although on some days, it can feel like an easy life, living as you watch from a different point of view. The power of your own existence.

“Has this always been our purpose as humans — to understand love?”

The same eyes from all that time ago stare into you now. They are brilliant. You have found a sense of home here. Those glimmers of acceptance hold your soul captivated and mesmerized, worn at the edges like a good book you’ve found yourself reading over and over again. The stillness through the chaos feels like a drunken spin of serendipity.

You think to yourself, this is us.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.