ADULTING IS THE SOUP AND I’M THE FORK: LESSON FOUR (A CONVERSATION)

Rain. Blessed rain.

It’s been a sweltering couple of months and this feels like heaven! I climb out of the uber and
pull the black hood over my head. The rain is soft. Droplets of water spit on my face and on my
hands making my skin taut. Some of them gather in my eyelashes while the rest bequeath
themselves unto the cooling air and quench the soils from sandy hues to a thick dark chocolaty
appearance. The coffee house I’m to meet Cindy at is a few meters away. I saunter there,
smelling the aroma of the rain as it splatters on dry tarmac and sand. I almost want to shove a
handful in my mouth as I used to do when I was a child, oh what a curse it is to grow up and
learn biology; I know way too much now and wouldn’t dare. A gusting wind blows and turns the
gentle diagonal sheets to crazy chaotic drops. I rush in.

I find a corner booth and settle down. My form is a bit saturated and the cold begins to bite. I
pull my sleeves over my hands and blow warm breath into them. I haven’t seen Cindy in six
years and I don’t know how it’s going to feel seeing her after all this while. Although we have
kept in touch via social media, it’s usually a whole different feeling seeing someone in person.

“Laurah! Classic! Do you ever not have your nose stuck in a book?” Cindy’s familiar voice
questions. It’s just as I remember it, authoritative and fun at the same time.

“Ha-ha you know what they say ‘never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them’.”

“What?! Who says that?”

“For someone who also always has their nose stuck in a book, you should know!”

“If I did…” it goes without say, she wouldn’t be asking. She is in a mustard body cone dress and
cute white Adidas sneakers. Golden hoop earrings hang loosely above her clavicles. Her afro and
“natural” make up look highlight her best features and at this point I’m beginning to feel
underdressed. Her ensemble is completed by a black biker jacket and her greatest accessory; the
Colgate smile. We embrace and she takes the seat opposite mine. She orders a Cuban macchiato
and I get a hot chocolate. It feels like the first day of the term all over again. Time has cast away
familiarity and replaced it with warm confusion.

“So besides Sandra Brown’s White hot, what have you been up to?” she breaks the silence.

“Well, the same things everyone our age is up to…finishing school, graduating, boys, keeping up
with the Kardashians…”

“People still keep up with the Kardashians? Y’all don’t know what entertainment is! Love and
Hip-hop is the isht!”

“There are way too many reality shows nowadays, I can’t even tell them apart. Is it the one you
posted on your WhatsApp status yesterday?”

“No…” A muscle twitches involuntarily at the corner of her right eye and she shifts her gaze to
the slithering beads of rain slicing down the window. We both do.

“See! Can’t tell,” I sigh in defeat. “What about you? What’s been going on the past six years?”

“Finishing school as well, sort of. Campus has been military but at least, one down one to go.”

“Tell me about it. I wish people knew, mehn I wish I knew. University is the military we don’t
need. We’re just spoon-fed bullshit; of fear, of validation. I’ve been out six months and I can
testify; you get your honors, put that piece of paper aside and hustle like a dropout. What
students need to do is find mentors to work with, for, under, whatever. Someone to teach them
their ways and inspire them. But no one tells you this until you’re out and you see for
yourself…”

“You don’t mince words! It’s really that bad?” her left eyebrow shoots up

“Not as I make it seem but the journey is different for everyone. Bottom-line is unemployment is
real and to whom much was given, much is still expected!”

A moment passes in silence. To be a graduate is bitter-sweet. On one hand you’re probably
enlightened but on the other, there’s a lot of pressure. Your parents have clearly invested in your
education and want to see the ROI. The people who look up to you expect to see you living the
fairy tale that we’re told ‘work hard in school and you’ll graduate and land a well-paying job’.
Most of this pressure is self-inflicted however and trusting the process is underrated.

We are knocked out of our torpor when the waitress arrives with our orders. The taste of hot
chocolate instantly warms me up.

“Remember when we joined? Young, naïve little girls…”

“I wouldn’t say little ha-ha but yeah there have been lots of lessons along the way. Emotional
ones especially…”

I shake my head and say “Boys! Men!” as if it is a bad thing. There’s a twitch of a smile on my
face. It’s as if their exuberance settles on my now less taut skin and reminds me of what it was
like to be young and naïve. “We’re still young though, just not naïve”

“I know I share my experiences and lessons on my blog and I have been talking about glass
houses…”

“Wait, you still write you blog? I haven’t seen a post in a while…” I interrupt.

“No I don’t, I stopped. I realized I give the men in my life too much breath. Way too much.”

“Oh…”

“As I was saying, I have been talking about glass houses, not because I moved back into one just
to end up eating up my own puke over and over again but because I get where people come
from.”

“And where is that exactly?” I ask confused.

“Would you just listen? We all want the Dwayne Wades and the Will Smiths, we all also want
the post lemonade Jay-Zs but no one, none of us wants to be the Gab Union that marries a man
she can’t walk down the aisle to but forces herself because they spent all this money and by they, I mean she…We all want to be Jay and Bey but no one wants their Jay to cheat on them for
eleven years…”

“Jay cheated for eleven years?! I have been keeping up with the wrong family. And Bey stayed
knowing this?”

“Do you know love Lau? Relationships are complicated…”

“Some say love is blind, others say it’s retarded. But it’s really black and white for me; you’re
either into each other or you’re not. There are no in-betweens” I remark

“Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t…”

“It has to be either or Cindy, because that kind of emotional indifference always leads to bad
places.”

“Well let’s say you’re right. What does being into someone mean? Because it is not just about
their laugh, or how they smile or how they look at you. It’s more of sitting yourself down and
realizing that you still want to go home to them despite all their annoying traits. Sometimes you
can’t take it and you walk away…”

“Yes I agree with the part where love is about choosing that person over and over. We women
are born when we’re already in a relationship because of the nature in which God created us, in a
relationship with man, to be the helper. That is why we seek for constant friends throughout life.
But then I believe it’s the duality that really seals the deal, a mutual feeling from both sides,
right?”

“Right.” She affirms.

“Being into each other is sharing the feeling of deep care and compassion for one another…”

“But loving someone genuinely lifts you up. I think it’s why people are quick to want you when
you’re happy. Suddenly all these niggas are all over and you stay off social media because your
DM always has a ‘can we make plans this weekend?’”

“Ha-ha! That’s just when they don’t know how to keep off!”

“They cannot! There’s an aura that comes with genuinely loving a person, something
unexplainable; you look at someone and want nothing but them.”

I wave at the waitress and order another mug of hot chocolate. Outside the dusk is ebbing its
gradual way into night. The neon lights from a club across the street highlight the rain showers as
the rest of the world passes in a blur of red and white lights. The hiss of the tyres over the wet
smooth tarmac road can be heard as more cars come and leave the parking lot on the other side.

“Also each heartbreak takes away something, some innocence. You learn something you were
better off not knowing,” Cindy adds as she stirs another sugar into her second mug of Cuban
macchiato. “But it’s the losing the innocence part that’s really hard.”

“Really? How so?” I interrogate

“Instead of crying for a month, it goes down to two weeks, then its two days, then it’s just a day
and you’re done.”

“I thought that’s a beautiful thing, learning to quickly cut your losses and move on.”

“There’s nothing beautiful about getting used to a heartbreak,” she swallows a sip. “Also starting
over is a motherfucker. Remember when we used to fall for guys because they were tall dark and
handsome? Then we started looking at if they had a vision board, then we advanced to if the
vision board ended up in something we’d want to come home to?”

“Yeah, we really have complicated things but it’s probably worth it.”

“Now we’re wondering if, if we were to die, would they ensure the children are okay? Do they
respect women? Can they help raise a child that knows the world is equal? We all want Russell
but is it so bad not to want to have a son with a Future before meeting your own Russell?”

“I guess not,” I retort.

“It’s innocence gone! Remember when you cried for a month because you didn’t know if you’d
ever get a man as tall or as dark or as handsome? Just to end up dating a medium height
chocolate skin because he loved you just enough to want to talk to you all the time? Just to cry
over that and stop because there’s a dark one who loved you and still gave you your space?”

“You mean ‘you’ in a general sense right? ‘Because I don’t remember doing none of that.”
“Yes, in a general sense. People assume that when they tell you that going back to an ex is bad for you, you’re too blinded to listen…”

“Sometimes that’s the case…” I chip in.

“It’s not love. Well it is love but its hope that blinds us. That you don’t have to unlearn
something, hoping that the little innocence remains. Hope that it is better to try solving the one or
two flaws you couldn’t bring yourself to love than give yourself time to unlearn something and
be changed entirely.”

“That’s deep!” I’m impressed by Cindy’s fountain of wisdom.

“Fitzgerald once said that the best thing a girl can be in this world is a beautiful little fool. I think
being wise in love is tragic. I miss the days when I could date a guy because he smelled nice,
days that I could cry over a guy for six months…” she nods in disbelief.

“I think it’s amazing now that we have these lessons. We can strive to make healthy choices.
Imagine a guy who thinks you’d leave your house on a weekend to go have coffee, wouldn’t it
feel empowering to say ‘I’m sorry you sound like a mistake I made…NO!’” I say excitedly.

“It sucks having to let go of your innocence in the name of lesson learnt. That a new hot guy
comes along and says hi and you see it will never work out because his self-esteem is low or he
is too materialistic or his family seems like one you wouldn’t want your children visiting on
Christmas.”

As she says all this she is looking into the distant as though she is reading it from somewhere.
Her face keeps changing expressions from a frown, to a blank, to a smile and sometimes it’s just
indecipherable. The waitress brings us our bill, smiles and dashes off. The café is now engulfed
in a tincture of calmness, groups and pairs hurdled at individual tables are lost in their inaudible
mutters.

“But let people be in their glass houses, it never ends well. Since we are nothing without hope
maybe some of them can be so lucky to Steph and Ayesha Curry…”

“Girl, you know way too many Hollywood people. I can’t keep up. Steph and who now?” I
exasperate.

“Never mind,” she waves me off. “For the rest of us, Aye, shit happens. Plus we’re only twenty three so it sucks but in a good way having to choose from the wild wild singlehood forest…”

“And never making permanent decisions over temporary emotions!” I absent-mindedly add on.

“Yeah! Choosing guys based on their dreams, and how they talk to cleaners and beggars on the
streets. Not only because their eyes feel like the sun. It’s about looking at a man who would love
you more than anything and knowing from the way he ties his shoe that you’ll hate him when
you turn fifty, by looking at how he says ‘hae’ with his tallness and darkness and ten-ness and
knowing you can never go anywhere because he doesn’t know who Paulo Coelho is! Worse still,
he thinks Young Sheldon is stupid right in the middle of telling you a very funny joke…”

“That’s just sad! Sad! Speaking of, I think I’d be a better conversationalist if I was on an empty
bladder,” I excuse myself and head to the washrooms.

Not before long my throat begins to tighten and my eyes water involuntarily. I cough. Something
is stinging, and I can’t breathe properly. I attempt to draw more air into my lungs but it stings some more. I’m chocking. I cough again. Just then my phone beeps, I reach
for it from my purse.

“What’s happening?” I manage to shout into the phone. “Someone just walked by and threw a
tear gas canister into the café, we were all evacuated before I could find you. I however alerted
the staff and they’re coming for you,” Cindy explains.

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ADULTING IS THE SOUP AND I’M THE FORK: LESSON THREE

YOU DON’T QUIT

Life will throw and throw and throw and throw. Life will attack you. Sometimes with the good, sometimes with the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the unforgiving, the enjoyable, the not so enjoyable, the nice, the not so nice et cetera et cetera. And guess what you are allowed to quit, you really are, but you don’t!

In those times when life is doing its thing, you’ll be hit by the why’s and who’s.

Why am I still holding on?

Who am I doing this for?

Why can’t I just let it go?

Who is going to appreciate all this effort?

Until you can answer these vexing questions, it won’t matter if you hold on or not, it’ll be in vain.

And when you have the answers, no chance in hell can life break you. When you understand the purpose for your struggle, it doesn’t matter how hard it gets you know you’re going to make it because whatever gets thrown at you, doesn’t measure up to the strength you have for your purpose. And you live on. You get to fight another day. You get to win. You get to rejoice, you get to celebrate.

The best part of it is that you get to inspire somebody else. Someone who was marred and trampled on. If you can do it, they can too!

You can quit, but you don’t.

DON’T JUST SAY IT, MEAN IT!

In this world of today, the word sorry has become trite and flippant. Often we say. But do we really mean it? From what depths does it come? Do we count each and every letter and feel how heavy they way?

Sometimes it may just come as an impulse. You stepped on someone’s foot? Oh sorry and you go on with your life. What if underneath that unpolished shoe was a wound that was on the verge of healing and by you stepping on it, it opens? Do you know how much pain the victim will be in? To undergo an ordeal all over again? So sad. What ifyou ruined someone’s pedicure that was so expensive and it actually took them some months to save up just so they could afford it?

5letters of the alphabet but once said can end world wars. Once said can mend broken hearts and uplift  weakened spirits. Once said can wipe away tears and bring back lost joy. So small but carries an enormous weight. Don’t just say it, mean it!