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by vivrant thang on all about me


Who are you
In the face of disappointment
Where is your character
The one that keeps you going (tell me)
Who are you
When heavy weather is blowing
Where is your character
The one who keeps you going

With the election of Barack Obama and the impending move of the 21st century incarnation of the Huxtables to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, much ado will be made about what this means for the state of black love and relationships. Call me a cynic but I’m not yet convinced that it will stimulate a mass change in our folks’ behavior but it certainly can’t hurt to see a black man and a black woman IN LOVE and parenting young black girls together.

Since Barack and Michelle were first thrust into the national spotlight, I feel a certain pang when I see pictures of themlooking at each other in total adoration. At first I couldn’t place it. Soon I realized it as a longing for that same thing – despite my creeping doubt as each year passes by that I’ll find someone to put up with me for more than a year, much less sixteen!

You know, as much as women (including me) will be hollering about wanting a Barack, we need to first ask ourselves, am I a Michelle? I know I’m sure as hell not – although I’m actively working towards being half the woman she is.

I was reading in Washington Post writer Liz Mundy’s new book, Michelle: The Biography, about the early parts of their courtship and marriage. It was clear early on that Barack wasn’t going to be pushing a luxury vehicle (in fact, he had a jalopy with a rusted hole in the door that would break down so often she would have to get rides for him). He wasn’t going to put his paycheck on his back (he had 5 shirts, 7 blue suits, and a bunch of ties). He wasn’t going to be moved by the almighty dollar and blinded by dollar signs. So she would have to do something real crazy and actually love him for his values.

Reading this made me take a look at my own expectations and list of non-negotiables for the future Mr. Vivrant Thang. The list has changed over the years. I made the first one back in the 90s after seeing an episode of The Real World Boston where housemate Kameelah made a list of 1000 traits she wanted in a man (!) I believe I made it to about 300. I barely remember any of the foolish things on my list except “must like my cooking better than his Mommas.” As if! I can laugh at that now. What the hell did my 20-year-old self know about what I wanted in a man when I didn’t even know who I was yet?

Today my list is much more realistic – filled with personality traits. Believe it or not, there is not one physical characteristic on there. I most certainly have my preferences. Attraction is very important but I’m not going to set any limitations on what package that may come in by putting that on paper.  Besides, I don’t want the list to be fifty eleven items long so I won’t take space from things that are ultimately more important.

Like character.

Who is Mr. Vivrant Thang in the face of disappointment? How is he going to handle things when the odds are stacked against us? When tragedy strikes?

I’ll use my hair stylist’s marriage as an example. Since I’ve known her, they have dealt with some incredibly rough stuff:  step-daughter’s two week disappearance; her father’s long-term illness and subsequent death; her mother’s mental illness; losing everything in a fire a week before Christmas (no renter’s insurance);  her mother’s sudden death less than a year after the fire, followed a couple of days later by her husband’s grandmother’s death.

Now I’m on the outside looking in but from what I can see, they are still standing strong – together- and still in love. Couples fall apart everyday trying to deal with much less. What I need much more than a boy more concerned with his $600-a-month car note and the designer labels on his back is a man who knows how to be there for me during the tough times and allows me to be there for him.

When the Jennifer Hudson tragedy occurred, one of the first things that came to mind was that the one good thing to come out of of this tragedy is that she would definitely see whether she is marrying the right man. As she lowered her mother, brother and nephew into the ground and continues to experience that unimaginable pain, is the man holding her hand through this the man she wants to spend the rest of her days with? I can’t think of a better test than that – as morbid as it may be.

Where is your character – who are you when the heavy winds are blowing?