The Five Great Stories
Friendship/Social Life/Romance —
As I recount my most jovial moments that I have experienced throughout the course of my 71 years, I can not help but remember the very first time I felt passionate love in my adult life. I have always understood that love was at the center of my being. At age 25 I had just graduated from Harvard Law, filled with ambition, I was eager to begin the life I dreamed of. I moved to Los Angeles where I happened to run into a guy I dated as a junior in college. His name was Carlos, and we had to split after some months because he was struggling with himself as a person and discovering his own path and destiny in life. However, we became friends again, being that we both did not know many people in Los Angeles. It was not that we rekindled a flame but more so created a deeper bond. We had grown into people who understood each other and could provide the romantic fulfillment that we both desired. He became my husband at the age of 28. He taught me about God’s will and destiny, I remembered being 20 years old, wishing that he would come back into my life, and at age 28 I was ever so grateful. It was beautiful that love found a way back to me, in the most powerful form that I had ever seen it in.
At this time I still maintained a close relationship with my best friends Victoria and Kiana. Kiana, my childhood friend, had decided to raise her family in Boston, therefore we did not see one another as frequently as we would have liked but we would speak everyday. Victoria lived about two houses down from me in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles with her own family. We still did everything together as if we were still kids. I met Victoria in college at Howard University, she was my roommate during my second semester of my freshman year, and we were close ever since. We spoke about our marriages and understanding the importance of identifying love languages, and what causes marriage to fail. We shopped, dined, took our children to disneyland together, and confided in each other as women should. When Victoria divorced her husband and college sweetheart at age 46, I helped her with her decisions and guided her back to herself. I had always valued the power of friendship and made sure to be that support that she needed. It was the same 20 years later when I found that my husband of 18 years had throat cancer. She helped me struggle through watching the health of my husband fail for 2 years. The thing about Victoria was that she invested such a strong faith in God that I had to work extremely hard to develop throughout my life. She made me understand life through faith in religion, and with that I prayed for the revitalization of my husband’s failing health. As a result, he recovered.
Partnership (Family) —
My husband had always been very reluctant to ask for help, or to even show that he was hurting and needed to be nurtured. This had been the reason for why he chose to end our relationship when I was in college. It was fear. Fear of not being able to properly handle something, and fear that someone was incapable of caring and attending to his needs. He never got that nurturement from his parents as a child, and it became evident throughout our marriage and partnership. I had to help Carlos understand the beauty of vulnerability, and help to vanish his negative connotations of being in love and being vulnerable. As a man in the Black community, love is feared because we see so much of its dark side. But, as his wife I showed him how important it is to trust others and diminish fear. His parents divorced when we were in our early twenties, and it led him to fear love and partnership. I was surprised when he asked for my hand in marriage, because I know he was afraid but he wanted to feel love more than fear. at age 71 we are still together and prospering in our partnership.
(Business) Victoria was my first business partner in life. At age 22 we decided to work on opening a clothing boutique. Being that we both love fashion and shopping, we figured that we could become our own distributors of what we like to wear. We budgeted accordingly and saved. Victoria was always better with saving her money, so I appointed her to be in charge of our business account and the allocation of our funds. I was the creative one, I had the vision for our brand and what exactly we could do to appeal to our target audience and increase our sales. Eclipse Boutique took about three years to really succeed, especially with both of us in law school for a majority of its foundation being built, it was tough to give it the attention it needed to grow. Disagreement occurred within the pricing of our merchandise once we actually purchased clothing to sell and got our website together. Victoria wanted more high end pricing, but I did not think this was a completely wise idea because boutique businesses were booming, especially online. Everyday was buying from the same whole sale retailer and selling for different prices. My thoughts were, what someone could get from our boutique for $120, they could find somewhere else for $50. It took us about another year to actually make profit because of all of the competition. Finally, our actual careers and families got in the way and we kind of just stopped tending to the boutique. Be that it may, I was able to learn that I like working alone, when I am not working for someone else.
Fresh out of undergrad at Howard University, I joined the Peace Corps for six months. I taught english in the Philippines, where I met a little girl named Sai. Sai was 8 years old and could not read or write. While I had never been the best person with children, I had a sudden yearning to care for her. I felt responsible for who this child would become. Sai was an orphan, and most girls in the Philippines would end up as mothers in their teens, and would focus on being mothers to their children and wives for their husbands. While there was nothing wrong with her destiny, I understood the power of knowledge and education because of my mother. My mother was a child prodigy, and although she did not cure cancer or become the next einsteen, she instilled her wisdom in me. I thought now would be the perfect time to be a leader and I focused all of my six months on helping her read. All she needed was a push and a teeny bit of assistance. Sai was eager to learn, once she learned her letters, and eventually was able to form sentences, and then finally able to read — she devoured information like a child who had not been fed in years. Her intellect had been starving and I was happy to feed it. I had once heard a quote that said, “The man with the most money in the world could be so poor.” My peers spoke about the lack of resources and material things these children lacked but I knew that the lack of knowledge and a brilliant mind were more important. I still keep in touch with Sai, she has a beautiful family and went on to become a surgeon. While I do not take credit for her future and her success, I am content that I was able to inspire a mind. This experience in the Peace Corps lead me to achieve a life dream of becoming a member of a Historically Black Greek Sorority. With this membership I chartered a sorority chapter in Jamaica, where my parents are migrated from, which would in turn help the community with their view of women. I wanted girls and women to understand that they are brilliant inside and out and could be whoever they wanted do what their hearts desired. And I most certainly did.
I worked long, exhausting and strenuous nights as an intellectual property attorney. While I loved working in the fashion industry as the patent attorney for CHANEL, it was exhausting, and I was happy to retire at age 63 and open a winery in Napas, California. Fresh out of Harvard law I made the decision to move west and get started on my dream of practicing intellectual property law, regarding all copyright, trademarks, and patents. I moved with some bartending money I had saved throughout my tenure of law school — approximately $15,014 was enough for me to get on my feet. I stayed with a college friend and searched for firms that would be interested in molding a fresh new attorney into a professional. My goal had been to work at firm for about 10 years and then hopefully open my own. Everyone kept telling me I would find a place in no time, I was a Harvard grad, a minority at that! However, I wanted to be sure about where I invested my time. I found an intellectual property through my Harvard network that was looking for some newbies, so I decided to give it a shot. I interviewed, and was hired on the spot. I was eager to practice and get some guidance in the field I just knew I would love. Actually, I hated it. I worked at the firm for about five years before I finally told myself I could no longer get up in the morning and do something that I do not love. I made great money for those five years and I taught myself to save. Once I quit I went on a trip to Greece, just to enjoy life and see the world in a place I had always dreamed of visiting. I dragged my husband with me, and at first we just wanted to vacation and relax. I knew it did not look good to bounce around from firm to firm and I had no idea of what I would do. I researched different things. I thought maybe I could get into bartending and painting and doing all of these little recreational past times that I wanted to do to restore the amount of unhappiness I experienced. I was a great intellectual property attorney, but it consumed my life and I was no longer sure about it. I learned that I had to be emotionally fulfilled to feel accomplished, and no matter how much my salary was I just could not stomach hating my career. Especially when I spent so much money and time on my education. My husband and I did everything Greece tourists could imagine, but my dying wish was to visit the infamous oracle at Delphi. It was an extremely spiritual experience. The oracle told me different things about different aspects of my life, when to expect my first child, my marriage, my family, my religion and so on. When I asked about my career, I was told “France.” I hated France and had no desire to go there or let it have anything to do with a career that I love. I went back home after the trip and got some rest that I had not been able to get while working with the firm. I called some family members that I had no time for. I picked up a job bartending at Del Friscos Double Eagle Steakhouse. I was making great money, thousands of dollars in tips each week. I thought to myself, I am 32 years old, with a Harvard Law degree, and I am bartending to pay my mortgage. Just when I wanted to quit and find another firm, I met an older gentleman at the bar one night. We spoke a little and I eventually told him about my impressive resume and the fact that I was an attorney. He told me he may be able to see if his company needed any patent attorneys. He ended up being an accountant for CHANEL. I kept in contact with him and prayed on it. I had dreamed of working for VOGUE magazine as a young girl but CHANEL? That was huge. Almost a year later, he gave me a call and explained that the legal team for CHANEL wanted to have dinner with me. I accepted the invitation. Long story short, I became a part of CHANEL’s intellectual property team. They said they needed a young firecracker like me, with an eye for detail. I was great at my job, and I loved my career. I could work from home for a majority of my time, and I traveled pretty frequently. It was super exhausting but I was happy enough. However, my marriage was failing, with all of my working and my husband as a fireman, we saw each other less and less. I barely spoke to my family. My life was all about work. It was as if God knew exactly what I needed, by the time I was 34 I was pregnant, and I had to take a leave from CHANEL.
Spiritual/Intellectual Enlightenment —
I was never forced to have a faith as a child. I knew who God was, I questioned if he was real most times, but for the most part I did not give my faith much thought. Going to Howard University, I met a lot of friends who cherished God and their faith. I experienced some things where my friends made me call on the Lord to help me push through, and I began establishing a relationship with God. My religious faith became stronger through love. God showed me certain things and taught me lessons about myself through heartbreak and learning to love and appreciate myself. With that I was able to love God in return. I learned to not only call on to God for help and assistance in a time of need, but to thank him for the life I had been granted. My faith is what helped to save my marriage and allowed me to have my first and only child. I began practicing my faith more, going to church on holidays and trusting in the Lord. I learned that through Christ I could achieve anything and make anything happen. The Lord has been my saving grace, and he has helped me fear nothing but him.
Epitaph: A Woman Who Fears the Lord will be Greatly Praised.
My career became the most draining of my five stories. It drained me of my passion for anything else. I was lucky to save my marriage through God and my faith and my overall passion for love. It was difficult trying to be a wife, an attorney, a woman of God, a friend, and a daughter. God helped me by providing me with a new form of love, a child, to slow down my life and help me cater to the things that were not draining me. Now, as a college student, I dream of my career, I think about it everyday, and I can already see that it is consuming me before it happens. I am learning to focus on each aspect and story of my life.