CHRIS LIGHTY PT. 1

I could write a book about my friendship with Chris Lighty, god rest his soul. Today I write about how much I wish he was here right now. We had many moments like the one depicted here. Chris, hard at work, and me, like a monkey on his back, burying my face into his pristine blue chambray.

No matter how busy he was, and he was a busy man, Chris always made time for me and opened his office door to his odd little friend. He was strong, steadfast, and loyal to the core. I've said it many a time and will continue to do so: Chris Lighty was my Rock of Gibraltar, the wind in my sails, my shelter from the storm. After getting some disappointing news last night, I would normally be in his office today, crying on his shoulder, looking to him for encouragement and guidance. But he's not here.

Having Chris in my corner made me stand taller, walk stronger, move sharper. Without him there is a hole in my heart that is at times temporarily filled by the love of others, at others echoes loudly and cruelly like a cold ferocious wind through a empty canyon. Today is one of those days.

I can barely write this because my vision is blurred by hot bitter tears and I keep clutching at my heart as if I could grab your hand again and pull you back to me. I miss you, Chris. I will never stop loving you and honoring our friendship. 

AVOIDING THE QUESTION FOR FEAR OF THE ANSWER

My girl Kysha recently said to me "I've always admired that you won't not ask a question because you're afraid of the answer." I deeply appreciated the recognition. I don't believe in being motivated by fear, unless it's truly keeping you safe from harm, like not going into the bear cave even though you want to see the cubs.

I have a girlfriend who's exceptional in every way: brilliant, beautiful, kind, loyal, a great cook, independent, superb career, and more. In other words, she's a fucking catch and a dream wife and mother. Definitely a member of the Baddest Bitches in the Room club. If I were a single man, I'd be trying to swoop, believe me. But I'm not (praise Jesus) and we're just extremely close friends. She's in her mid 30s and it was critical to her that she have children.

She fell in love with a man and when I asked if she'd asked him if he wanted to have kids she said he knew. How? They had talked about kids' names, he had heard her talk about how important it was, etc. But that's not the same thing as looking him in the eye and straight up saying "Do you want to have kids with me?" And she was on a clock. I found it surprising that someone who is as intellectually probing and intrepid in every other arena of her life, would shy from this question because she was afraid that he would say no.

It's not that I don't understand that fear. The last time I fell in love was the most insecure I've ever felt in a relationship. With my first two loves it was clear as day. I literally knew the day we met that we would to be together. With this one, though, it was a slower start. I had spent years after my marriage avoiding commitment, even walking away from men I liked too much because I didn't want to get attached. But he was different and I was finally open to the possibility of love again. 

As I started to develop strong feelings, I got scared but didn't want to jet. I wanted to explore being with him. He was handsome, stylish, and worked part time in nightlife where he was surrounded by drunk flirtatious women. Easy pussy. But as shook as I was, I had to know. I don't remember ever being this afraid to ask a question. It took a little time and a lot of nerve and I don't drink so there were no stiff shots of liquid courage.

We were in bed and I didn't even have the courage to look at him. I asked "Are you seeing anyone else?" And the second that it took him to answer felt like an eternity. When he said no I was the happiest girl in the world--cloud fucking nine. I said "Good, because if you were, I'd be out. I like you too much and couldn't bear to share you with anyone else." We ended up falling deeply in love and he was the best I've ever had.

I try to practice this in all aspects of my life, with my colleagues, my bosses, my friends. The only way we can grow is by being honest with ourselves and we often need help seeing that truth. It's not easy, but for me, the purgatory of ignorance is the inferno.

SHARED HISTORY?

I recently met a woman whom I liked immediately: sharp, funny, and considerate. We spent some time together on my last trip to LA and upon my return she texted to ask if I was still in LA, she was hoping to get coffee. I answered "No, is everything okay?" She proceeded to send me a cryptic text and asked if we could get dinner the next time I was in town. Apparently we had "shared history" she wanted to discuss. Oh, so we fucked the same guy. I immediately responded "I don't care."

And for real, for real, I don't care. But then I it dawned on me that I would be devastated if it was my ex and my mind started racing at a velocity and in a direction that only begets dread: he spent a lot of time in LA, they could have easily found themselves in the same rooms, etc. So I had to ask: "Who was it?" And those few minutes between my question and her answer were excruciatingly long; my blood ran like mercury through my veins, I could barely breathe. It felt like she was torturing me with each second that passed. When I finally got the response and it wasn't him, I felt a sense of relief, the likes of which I don't recall feeling in years.

Until recently I only ever thought about how the grief for someone who's passed away can blindside you. But this picayune exchange showed me that the loss of love can lurk in the corners of my heart which, thank god, still beats with ferocity and abandon.

FAREWELL, HEARTACHE

In addition to the election, Syria, terrorist attacks, police making black lives shatter, the passing of brilliant artists, etc. I am personally ready to say "sayonara, bitches" to 2016 because my heart was wounded this year. Sia's "Chandelier" was my 2nd most played track on Spotify as it was emblematic of my defiant determination to continue to drink life to the lees. But my bravado was beleaguered by anguish.

Not long after we split, I took a shower and blasted the song on repeat so that I could feel the pain as deeply as I felt the love. I am not afraid to cry and, in fact, embrace the catharsis. As I sang the chorus at the top of my lungs, I surrendered to the sadness and sat down, sobbing. I pulled my knees tightly into my chest, while the water and tears formed a swirling eddy of heartbreak and vulnerability around me.

I'd spent years after my divorce ducking & rolling and sticking & moving to protect myself from just such feelings. But at the beginning of 2013, I was finally open to the possibility of love again. Late that year, he approached me at a birthday party, took my hand, and didn't let go. As I sensed myself falling I was shook. It had been almost 20 years since I'd felt this and I'd forgotten how consuming and unsettling it was. When I shared my fear with Joan she said "Soph, don't you remember? When you love, you love hard."

I'd always wondered what the man after the father of my children would look like and here he was: kind, patient, soft-spoken (but from the Southside, so definitely not soft), funny, smart, intellectually curious, ambitious, creative, supportive, and the most attentive man I've ever been with. I spent my career and marriage supporting and managing brilliant men and here I was, being cared for by one.

He guided me wisely and steadily through every experience and encouraged me above all to tell my story. He made me laugh, dried my tears, touched my soul, listened to my spirit, and held my heart ever so carefully in his strong gentle hands. And I was safe. As ferocious, independent, and powerful as I am, I need my man to make me feel protected--emotionally, spiritually, physically. Only then do I surrender myself utterly to the stunning power of love.

I knew he would be different from the gate because we never played games--no calculating how long to wait before responding to a text or call. We both hated drama and dealt with issues head on. And we never ever had a fight. The beauty of being with a grown ass man as a grown ass woman is that you have grown ass conversations about everything, including goodbye. 

I am eternally grateful for the Journey, but it's time to move on. So, here we go 2017, show me what the fuck you got.