“Mama, I’m late for school again! I’m going to get detention this time!”
Kali slammed my door, as she stormed by; obviously pissed.
I rolled over and looked on my dresser, searching for evidence of a cup, or something to explain the “hangover like” migraine headache I had. I quickly remembered that I hadn’t had a single drink last night; it was nothing but the emotional roller coaster that I found myself on since meeting Rico. I was a wreck. I was missing work, missing appointments, and the kids were growing tired of my carelessness in getting them to school on time.
I got out of bed, threw on some clothes, and gathered my keys.
“Kali, Denim, get in the car. I’m ready!”
The ride to school lacked in comparison to our usual morning trips. The regular singing and clapping that ordinarily filled the car was replaced with silence and gloom. I felt embarrassed that I had allowed my moods to be determined by another man. SOMEONE else’s man, at that.
I dropped Denim, my 8 year old son off, and continued on to take Kali to her destination. She was a 7th grader at the Middle School up the street.
As I pulled to the curb in front of her school, I looked at my daughter through the rearview.
“Kali, sweetheart, I’m sorry you’re late again. I know I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with lately, I promise I will make it up to you. Let’s have girl’s day this weekend!”
Before she got out she turned and looked me right in the eye, “Yeah Mom. Until Rico calls to see you? No thanks! I’ll pass on that Girls Night Out thing.” She slammed the door, and walked toward the entrance.
It wasn’t until I heard the loud honk behind me that I realized I had been sitting in the bus zone for nearly 45 minutes. Startled, I turned the car on, and drove home.
That night, Cindy, my assistant, and friend of 10 years called. "Lida, did you forget that I was the assistant and YOU owned the store? If I wanted to have my own shop, I would have opened one. I can't do this. Call me when you get your shit together and stop chasing this fool! I've done too much Lida for you to take advantage of me like this! I locked up the shop, and left the key under the front planter. Please have my final check ready by Friday. Bye Lida." She hung up.
I was devastated by Cindy's call, but was too depleted, emotionally to deal with the situation. Tonight, I was ending things with Rico. I could no longer sacrifice my feelings or sanity for this man regardless, of my love for him.
I gathered my composure, and picked up the phone to call him.
"Rico, I need you to come by. We need to talk, please!"
"Lida, baby it's Friday night. Tanya's here and I don't feel like arguing. I'll come by tomorrow around 1 ok? Love you babe. Gotta go!" He slammed the phone down.
Tomorrow was our Annual Summer Extravaganza at the shop, and I had completely forgotten about it. I hadn’t been to the shop in 10 days. It was no wonder Cindy was so upset. There was no way I could call her for help. I decided to cancel the event, and meet with Rico. After all, THIS took precedence.
I laid in bed remembering the day I met Cindy. She was the epitome of beauty and strength and I admired her from the moment I met her. We sat next to each other on a return flight from Las Vegas.
"Hey, Girl. I'm Cindy. Those shoes are bad as hell! A woman who can rock a shoe like that HAS to be the baddest bitch! Well, after me...that is!" She slapped me a high five right before ordering two Cognac on the rocks.
"If you don’t drink sista, you WILL today!" We talked the entire flight home.
I knew we were a perfect match! She had a Degree in Fashion from the top Design school in Italy. I tried to get her to become my partner when I opened the shop, but she refused. She said she wasn’t ready to settle down anytime soon, whether it was with a man, kids, or a business. I respected her for that.
I wanted to call and apologize but decided to wait until I handled things with Rico. I needed Cindy, just not right now. She despised Rico and I didn’t need that extra negativity in my ear. I was dealing with enough.
I woke up Saturday morning at 6 am. I wanted to call the invitees and advise them of my "family emergency", before they started answering the phone. I figured 6 were early enough to reach their voicemails.
I dialed Ms. Thompson, the chairperson of "Professional Black Women's Club", last. My heart pounded with each ring.
"Hello Lida, I was just preparing to call you sweetie." she said. My heart stopped.
"Yes Mrs. Thompson, um, I'm so sorry I had something, um, come up this morning. It’s a family emergency, I'm cancelling the event." I felt foolish, and could only imagine how I sounded.
"Oh, I see. And you couldn't give any advance notice baby? You know Lida; I have always loved you and admired your professionalism. You are a young, beautiful woman who started this business ALONE from the ground up. You’ve been successful for 6 years. Do you know how hard that is in today's economy? And for a black woman? Baby, I've been around a few blocks in my day, and this city is only so big sweetie. Nothing is worth losing what you've worked so hard for. You remember that. Let it be Lida. If it’s right, you'll get it back. I'll let the club know. This is going to be devastation to your business. I hope you know what you're doing baby. Take Care." She hung up.
I contemplated calling everyone back and telling them to forget the message, but it was too late. I didn’t have the energy to deal with anyone anyway. I was embarrassed, and confused at how I got here. When did I become so willing to gift wrap my dignity, pride and happiness and hand it over to someone else? I was going crazy. There was no other way to put it.
I poured myself a drink and sat on the couch for an hour until Rico arrived.
He used his key to come in.
"Hey Boo! See, I'm on time! Bring your sexy ass here and hug your man." He smiled.
"My MAN!” I screamed. "Are you kidding me? Rico, I am tired of this shit! You've been telling me for a year that you're leaving HER! I am losing my mind behind all of this. I can't eat half the time; I barely talk to the kids. Drinking has become my new hobby! I've even started smoking weed here and there. Today, I cancelled my event at the shop to accommodate YOU AGAIN!!! Why the hell are you putting me through this? How the hell can you be so careless with my heart if you love me? Do you love me Rico?"
What the hell was I doing? Why was I begging for this man’s attention again?
Rico remained calm as he spoke, even though I was hysterical.
"Yes Lida, you are my everything, I love you with my entire heart. I want to be with you, I do. But right now, I need to be with Tanya. She needs me. She's sick. She's a weak woman Lida. You're strong. You don't need me like she does. It doesn’t matter what hand you’re dealt, you can play it. SHE can't. I can’t leave her the way she is right now. When the time is right, I will. Baby they have placed a lien on my home, my business is only bringing in half of what it used to. You don’t want me like this right now. I'm not right."
Before I knew it, I went to a place I promised myself I would never go.
"Well nigga maybe if you had a BITCH who knew how to be a WOMAN and handle her damn responsibilities, you wouldn’t be in this boat. But no! You want a weak bitch. A bitch that has caused you to lose everything!"
I was sobbing as I continued. "Why don't you want me Rico?"
He looked at me as he walked toward the door. "Lida, this is too much. I will not be the cause of you losing everything. I love you too much for that. Get yourself together, please. I won’t call you anymore. And please, don’t call me. I want you to know that this is for your own good. Goodbye."
He closed the door.
My heart felt as though it was ripped from my chest. I felt numb, but before I could stop myself I had already dialed Tanya's number.
"Hello Lida. I figured it was just a matter of time before you called me."
To Be Continued......................................