On my way home from school today, I got tired of listening to the foolishness on the radio, so I decided to pop in a CD. I wanted something different that I hadn't heard in awhile, so I dug out my CD book, flipped to the back, and pulled out the soundtrack to the movie "Waiting to Exhale." As I was listening, I began to remember how much I loved not only the soundtrack, but also the movie and the novel. I can remember being in the seventh grade when the movie premiered, and seeing my mother, aunts, and every other grown Black woman I knew flock to movie theaters, and bump the soundtrack on repeat. Thanks to Blockbuster and BET re-runs, I've seen the movie a million times over the years. Driving home listening to the soundtrack, my mind began to wander and I thought about the plot and the characters. There was Savannah (Whitney Houston), the woman with the successful TV career who hopes and believes her married lover will leave his wife for her. And who could forget Bernadine (Angela Bassett) who set her husband's car ablaze after finding out he was leaving her for another woman. There was Robin, another successful career woman who decides to stop being her man's sidepiece, but then can't find a decent man of her own. And finally there was Gloria (Loretta Devine) who ends up getting with her neighbor after her son decides to travel around the world. For these women, breathing was a metaphor for feeling comfortable in a committed relationship with a man. As I continued listening, it occurred to me that this wasn't the same story I had seen and heard when I was twelve. Back then it was just some story about a bunch of bitter women who had to stick together because men had done them wrong. At the ripe old age of 27, I could see myself in just about all these stories. "Damn," I said out loud to myself. "That's me."
I had been Savannah, in love with a married man who made promises that he couldn't keep. I had been Bernadine, completely compromising who I was and what I wanted for almost a decade because I was so in love, only to have the person lie, cheat, then turn around and marry someone else. While I didn't set a car on fire or sell any personal possessions, I certainly did get revenge in the most hurtful way that I could think of. And I had been Robin, smart, driven, and on top of my game professionally, but seriously dense when it came to choosing the right man. But I did recognize one difference between myself and these women (other than the obvious fact that my story was real and theirs was not). Rather than throw a pity party for myself after each failed attempt at love, I chalked it up to a lesson learned and moved on to the next one. And day by day I learn to fall in love with the woman I've become, and the woman that I'm striving to be.
As for the opposite sex, who knows...maybe I'll get to breathe by the time I'm 30 ;-)