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Being Single In The City

Congratulations Sex And the City. The movie's weekend take was roughly $56 million, knocking down Indiana Jones from the Number One spot after only one week. If another woman I know tells me she cried while watching this I'm going to throw up.

...yay...I'm very happy...can't you tell?

In reality I could care less as I don't get to see any of that revenue. It's so ridiculous that I stay on top of the weekend box office tallies, every week without fail as if I have some stake in Hollywood.

This past Friday was a good day. I left the job with a sense of accomplishment, the sky was bright, the air was warm and it was payday! Although I had no desire to see Sex and the City, the buzz for this movie was palpable. Every female (white, black, pink, purple, polka dot and otherwise) seemed to have made plans to see this movie opening day. There were Carrie rejects everywhere in Midtown, talks of flasks, blah, blah, blah.

I had a walking meeting with a colleague after work and she too had plans to meet up with girlfriends for the silver-screen estrogen-fest.

We completed our talk at the corner of 42nd and 6th and then she left me in order to continue uptown a few more blocks to the theater, her friends and SATC (Sex and the City). Before we parted ways I had to ask how she, as a black woman of Nubian complexion, could be so excited to see a movie based on a television show that portrayed a New York devoid of people of color, except for Blair Underwood and a Latina lesbian (there may have been one more, don't quote me). On the show the help wasn't even African American or Latina. My coworker provided one of the most compelling arguments I’ve heard to date. To paraphrase: despite the presentation of a lily white New York, the needs/wants/issues of these [superficial] women navigating relationships, and the single life and motherhood, matrimony, etc. were portrayed in such a fashion that all women could relate to them, effectively transcending race, ethnicity, class, etc.

I couldn’t disagree and wished her well. As she walked away I couldn't help but wonder what it must feel like to meet up with a bunch of friends and hang out. It's been years since I've hung out en masse, rolling ten to twenty deep, racking up hundreds of dollars on bar tabs and restaurant checks. In the midst of this moment, my wife called to tell me she was going with a coworker to run an errand and would be home later that evening. I sighed. It's my job to pick up the kids, but in that moment I just didn't want to. I wanted to take my time going home, like I did when I was single. The energy in the air was screaming, "It's Friday!" And everyone on the street seemed to be aglow in their singular statuses.

I felt quite dull and ashy. In truth, I felt alone.

As a single man on Fridays, I didn't have plans or anywhere to be. I'd shop, eat out/buy take-out, rent movies, get a nice bottle of something (with alcohol). Once I got home to my quiet, spacious apartment, I'd blast some jazz or some alternative R&B to the tune of Maxwell or Jill Scott, take a bath and smoke a cigar. Sometimes, I'd indulge in a combination of these activities; sometimes I'd do them all. A little more than ten years ago, I learned to embrace me-time, rather than dread it --- a very liberating moment for an only child previously plagued by solitude. But last Friday, there was no one to call, no one to cover for me with the kids on such short notice, and nowhere to go, but home.

I walked to the train, feeling constrained and openly reluctant to fulfill my duties as dad --- pick up my pollen-covered SUV, dirty with litter from the wife and kids; pry words out of my too-cool-in-his-own-mind preteen; and be the personal assistant of my megalomaniac of a daughter. This was a new sensation for me --- one I grew more ashamed of the more I acknowledged it. By the time I was seated on my train home I was a complete mess.

After rounding everyone up, we stopped by my mother-in-law's house in the Bronx to kick back. My son went straight to the back to watch bad action movies with my wife's stepdad, my daughter ran to hug her grandmother, smacked both of the excitable dogs that are always so happy to see her and began playing with the toys we keep there to keep her entertained. I sat down and caught up with Mom #2 without mentioning a word about my woe.

In the end things weren't as bad as I had made them out to be, although at times they can be much worse. My wife even came home earlier than she said she would, which is a rarity for her. We spent the evening talking and laughing until she petered out, early --- exhausted from a week that ran on for entirely too long. On Sunday, I kicked everyone out of the house, in other words, I sent them to the park so I could clean the place top to bottom with no one to pick up after. I put on some alternative R&B, opened the windows to let the breeze in and enjoyed the solitude.

My kids didn't choose to be here. I chose (was divinely chosen) to be their dad. I chose to be my wife's husband. I'm proud of the responsibility I carry. Balance is one of those things that I'm working on, but I'm not there yet. Lord knows, I'm trying.

It's not easy being daddy...but no one ever said it was.

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