Santa's Last Ho
Entry #4: Santa's Last Ho
In my headphones: JoJo "Honest"
The holidays are a time where we all come together, re-connect with loved ones near and far, celebrate with our families, our friends, and give praise to whatever/whoever we believe in. As I’m sure everyone knows, that picture can be painted in innumerable ways depending on your tribe: maybe you have the crazy in-laws who never put in the amount of effort you expect them to, or parents who are at each others throats over whether the casserole bakes for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or 20 minutes at 425, or perhaps it’s your siblings who you look at sometimes and wonder, “if I had the choice at birth, would I have chosen you?” But somehow, there’s beauty in the insanity of it all, kinship in the eye rolls, love in the bickering, and you just know that you wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way. I, myself, always look forward to the holidays. I hardly get to spend time with my family throughout the year as a result of my ever-changing schedule but Thanksgiving and Christmas almost always mean a trip to Louisville and time spent with my parents, my brothers, my nephew, my nieces, extended family, our family friends, and sometimes even friends from high school that have all flown the nest like me but return home to re-charge and re-boot for the upcoming new year. It’s a time I truly appreciate and look forward to every year. In the past, when I wasn’t touring, I was always focused on the next job, the next opportunity, and every time I thought about coming home I would tell myself that if I left LA, I would potentially miss out on a great gig. Truth is, that's always going to be a risk--that part of the business will never change--but it is now a risk that I’m more wiling to take. My family means more and more to me with every year that passes by and spending time with them takes precedence over any job that may come my way. It took me a while to get here, but as the years go by you start looking around and taking stock of the things that matter the most to you and family, biological and chosen, tops my list. Thanks to various events that happened over the course of this year, I've also learned that, however grossly cliché it is, time truly is precious; every day we have to acknowledge that we aren’t promised ANYTHING while we’re here so we should practice staying present, appreciate those that are still in our lives, and soak in as much time with them as we can. The second we see a new sunrise, we already have so much to be grateful for.
Trees lose their leaves to the snow
Words cut like ice as you go
No amount of covers could keep me warm
And I've been freezing since the day you walked away
All you ever wanted was a free ride
All I ever wanted was your love
You gave it all away to start a new life
I guess what I could give wasn't enough
You left me cold, cold, cold
Now, the holidays can also be a time where we focus on love--the family kind, the platonic kind, and, of course, the romantic kind. By now, y’all know that the romantic side of love is always a story for this 502 kid (insert: side smirk). I can actually hear a few people who read this blog in my ear right now, “yes, Graham, get to the good stuff!” Well, as I was finishing up my last entry the “ex,” aka MPD, had double-tapped on a couple photos on my Instagram, something he has done a few more times since then and, for anyone who may have interpreted that as something else, his passive-ness doesn't confuse me, it doesn't send my overactive brain into hyperdrive, but it does make me wish he remembered that, at one point, he used to know me. Sure, I was forced to move on without closure, I spent months feeling confused, angry, and immensely sad, but, even with all of that, I would still answer the phone if he called. In fact, I sent him a message recently because I needed his permission to use something he designed for me when the times were good, but of course my message went unanswered. My grandpa used to always say, "shit happens, Grammy!" and I guess I took from him that sometimes, in spite of whatever may happen between two people, you have to separate personal issues from professional obligations. Let's also just remember that nothing bad happened between us, he was just gone. It's so disappointing when you realize that the person you thought you knew turns out to be someone else, but I will say that the clarity that comes with time away from him and our situation is a treasure worth more than gold. I have so much appreciation for the experiences I had with dear old MPD; the “golden nuggets” of wisdom I’ve gained from that situation-ship are priceless and have further shaped my standards for future relationships. But, after a few epic fails pursuing new options, I decided during the Thanksgiving break that my love life would, for the remainder of 2017, go on a hiatus. I would instead focus my attention on work, on and off the tour, spend time with great friends, prepare to see my family, and experience life without that pesky love bug running a muck on my brain’s hamster wheel. I set my intention, meant every single word, but that damn universe looked me right in the eye, held a long stare, and then, in one fell swoop, let out an outrageous, “HA!” She is such a bitch sometimes.
A Holiday Haiku:
Santa says Ho Ho
One last Ho, I say no sir
Christmas cleanse like WHOA
One of the greatest things about touring, especially after several years of doing it, is all the people you meet from all walks of life. Sometimes it’s just a great conversation with the hotel bartender, sometimes you vibe with the barista at a city’s local café, but there are special times when you meet and talk with someone that makes you wonder what their potential role could be in your life. For example, while I was in Louisville for the show, I was in my favorite coffee shop, Please & Thank You, and a friendly guy approached me because he liked the shoes I was wearing (Adidas AF 1.3 Primeknit Boots which are currently ON SALE) and we ended up exchanging contact information and have since been discussing projects that we'd each like to collaborate on in the future. He, like I will be once the tour is finished, is bouncing between LA, New York, and Louisville and works in fashion and music. Or, there's the time we were rehearsing for the American Music Awards in the basement of a gym in DC, and the manager of the place popped up out of nowhere and subtly expressed his interest. We went out for dinner that same night and still keep in contact to this day. Then, there are the rare occasions that I go out to a bar/club and meet all kinds of peronalities. All of these random introductions bring forth what I like to call “satellite friends.” These are the people I meet while traveling that are simply great people that I want in my life however they'll fit--the distance between us may mean we don't talk often, but regardless they still remain in my life's orbit. Let me start off by saying that some of my greatest friends are satellite friends from across the pond. To shout out a few: there's Natasha and Aaron Candy in New Zealand (Natasha started her own suncare line called Pure Shade and it's amazing), Brooke-Howard Smith and Amber Peebles are both phenomenal people, media personalities and influencers who also live in New Zealand, Lara Kov and Lydia Tsvetnenko are in Perth, Australia (founders of Zhivago, one of the flyest women's clothing lines), and there are many more. Every now and then, though, a satellite friend shows up and sparks the romantic flame in my under belly. This doesn't happen often, but when it does things get interesting. The time we can physically spend together is limited, but sometimes the flame stays lit, my curiosity peaks, and although the circumstances aren't ideal, I wonder if anything substantial could come of it. These friends and I may not talk much, but when the time comes around where I'm back in their city, or they're in mine, we reach out, attempt to connect and get to know each other a little more. That, my friends, brings me to the latest addition to my rolodex: Trigger Happy.
It was Super Bowl time in February and we had just finished an unbelievable Halftime Show and we were all riding the high of performing for over 110 million people. Everyone wanted to celebrate and I decided to meet some of my fellow dancers at some Texas bar that I knew nothing about. It was jam packed, we were all mingling, and a friend of mine introduced me to his group of compadres. One, in particular, had my attention the second his dark chocolate hand shook mine. Trigger Happy stood like a statue, confident in his white tee and backwards cap, he was a few years older than me, a Virgo, laid back, intelligent, and could more than hold his own while we talked about astrology and the latest books we were reading. The back-and-forth banter was more intoxicating than the tequila. At the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and loosely stayed in contact throughout the year. At one point, post-MPD, we had begun texting and FaceTime'ing more frequently. We always bickered, battling for who could trump the other and, as messed up as that may sound, it just felt good to be attracted to someone again and laugh with someone who, every time he looked at me, had affection in his eyes.
Why do we have to call it the night shift?
Why do we have to hide all our vices?
You just don't like it when I'm this open
I'm not crazy, this isn't a crisis
Trigger Happy lived in Dallas, was in Houston co-hosting a Super Bowl party when we met, and is originally from Memphis, Tennessee. Every now and then that "under-tucky" accent creeped out and would make me smile--that part of him reminded me of home. I have to admit, though, by the time the Joanne World Tour stopped in Dallas for 3 days, I had no intention of reaching out to him. A few months prior, I gave Trigger Happy shit (as I always did, and he me) for taking days, sometimes weeks, to respond to my messages or phone calls and he felt it was necessary to let me know very bluntly that we were not dating. Sorry, folks (but not really), I don't want anyone in my life, on any level, that's not timely with getting back to me. You ain't welcome in this house sir! His rudeness struck a chord, I said, "the hell with it!" and kept moving my happy ass forward. Besides him clicking "like" on some of my Facebook posts, we had not spoken to one another in nearly 2 months by the time I got to Dallas. On night 2 of 3, I reluctantly messaged him, and he came straight to meet me at the hotel bar. We ordered bourbon cocktails, bickered back and forth like an old annoying couple, and his not-so-subtle advances at me turned my internal light-switch on and off at the same time. His tact had faded since February, but his Tennessee smile and firm grip kept me in. Three drinks deep, I announced I needed to go to CVS to buy some bottled water for my room. Hey, I may have been tipsy, but I do know how to look after myself. He offered to take me, I just needed to grab my coat from my room real quick. He followed me into the elevator, I flipped around puzzled, my internal radar sparked bright red, I looked right at him, and thought, "why are you in this elevator right now? You ain't slick, Rick!" Too bad I didn't say that out loud. When we got to the 16th floor, somehow some way the door closed behind me and the two of us were both there, Kentucky and Tennessee eye-locked in close quarters. Did you say something about water?
I'm just trying to figure out if I'm in love
It's not promiscuous
It's just owning it
You need to let go of what a good girl does
It's not that obvious
It's my prerogative
I'm not sure explaining everything in detail is very holiday appropriate, but what I will say is that Trigger Happy spent more time falling asleep than he did anything else. His once firm grip had turned limp, his Tennessee smile was now face down into my sheets, snoring loudly, and the aforementioned banter had turned into me waking him up multiple times and telling him he needed to leave. It was a rather unfortunate experience disrupted by what I imagine was too much liquor. To say the least, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting from the successful, handsome, older man. However, the worst was yet to come. As we were walking towards the door for his grand exodus, he said,
"Alright, I'll see you tomorrow."
"No, you won't..."
He looked confused and slightly offended.
"The show is tomorrow and we leave right after, you know this."
"Oh, so I'm just your slut for the night?"
HOLD UP NOW.
"Why are you acting like you didn't know what this is?"
Especially since you were the one that so rudely told me you didn't want anything serious, remember THAT?! I bit my tongue and swallowed that one.
"Well, I don't leave for the venue until 2:30 so if you want to get together before then..."
"Graham, I may be Black, but I do have a job."
"See, this is what your people do to my people."
"Wait wait wait, did you just make this a race thing?"
This can NOT be happening right now. My door is wide open and we're just standing here in the open.
"Well, it's true! This is what y'all do to us!"
"Okay, it's time for you to GO! Text me when you get home please."
The door closed. I heard loud grumblings down the hall, then the elevator ding. I didn't get a message that he made it home safely until the next morning, when I asked. I, to this very day, don't know if during that moment he was just being aggressively sarcastic or if he was completely serious. After everything that did and didn't happen that night, though, I honestly don't care. It's one of those impossibly unforgettable nights, one I did not expect to go down the way it did, and where I learned, once again, that expectations are sometimes a recipe for massive disappointment.
It might not be what you wanted
But at least I'm honest
It might not be how you thought it
But I'm not that heartless
At least I'm honest
So here I am, back home with my family, knee-deep in holiday celebrations, and although I am fundamentally happy and grateful for everything and everyone I have in my life, I can't help but feeling melancholy. I'm in the midst of professional breakthroughs that I never could have predicted happening like they are, but I find myself missing the safety and support of one person. It's not about one specific person, I just feel like I'm missing that great sense of "I know you've got my back no matter what." I also feel like I'm trapped in a cycle that I have been desperately trying to get out of for years now. Every time I think I've made it out, the winds seem to shift direction and I fall flat on my ass again and, for the record, I'm tired of tripping, I'm tired of not being on the same page, I'm exhausted from meeting people's representatives and finding out who they really are when it's too late. Like I said earlier, we don't have all the time in the world, so if you aren't being honest with someone, clear the air. If you've wronged someone and have left it unsettled, handle your business. If something is beyond repair, be honest with yourself and whoever else is involved. Settle your debts, right your wrong's, and for the love of God, be authentically you in everything you do. Otherwise, karma will rack up her IOU's and there is no hiding from her when she comes to collect.
That can potentially leave you with a lot to think about, huh? I hope it does and I hope you act on anything in your life that requires action! Don't feel like it's only you, though, because all of that was also for me, too. I also hope I'm not coming off as Debbie Downer because I am sincerely happy amidst the romantic fails and nostalgia. The melancholy comes in waves and when it does I try to acknowledge it gracefully, watch the memories, images, and thoughts roll by and then wash away, cleansing the shores of my mind for the next high tide. And when I don't feel like being graceful, I bitch to one of my friends until we turn the anguish into shade and we're damn near in tears from the laughter. Plus, how could I deny the magic of the holiday season that's all around me: the morning cups of french pressed coffee in our kitchen, the daily smorgasbord of food, the hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephew, smoking cigars and drinking bourbon with my dad and brothers on the deck, the soul music coming out of the bluetooth speaker, hearing stories about my mom from one of her best friends, hearing the raindrops on the windowpane, watching the rain turn to snow, and my nightly mug of peppermint tea are all recharging and filling my tank back to 100%. The magic is all around us, but it is up to us to acknowledge it, feel it and believe in its power to move us. I have reinstated my romantic hiatus and this time I MEAN IT! It's all friends, family, bourbon, and well...more bourbon for me until further notice. Don't worry, the blog still goes on. To all of you who continue to read this blog, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and the best last week of 2017. Thank you for sticking with me.
Until next time...
I don't want you to be disheartened
I'm trying to do the right thing
Tell you the truth 'bout how I'm feeling
That's gotta mean something