I am all about my business. Be it my career or my man, I go hard for mine. I put in work like I’m starving and I love him like a drug that has me fucked all the way up. I hustle with the same intensity of any hip-hop entertainer or dope boy.
I’ve busted my ass for the last six years climbing the corporate ladder. Good grades in high school. Better grades in college. Dean’s List. Internships. Graduating magna cum laude with a job offer that I was too smart to even think about turning down. I was on track to become a chief financial officer at the same firm and then my income would damn near triple.
Yes, this little mixed African American and Puerto Rican girl from Newark, New Jersey, was one of those “success stories” that the press makes you think is so damn rare in this “inner” city, “ghetto,” or “hood.” Don’t let the news fool you into thinking nothing good grows in Newark. That’s bullshit. I know plenty of people who thrived: graduated college, worked hard every day, owned homes and paid rent with no problems, but those stories were outshined by the bad elements that every city has—even whitewashed middle America. I rep just as hard for my hometown as I rep for myself.
Growing up in this city, I am that mix of common sense, street smarts, and book smarts. Humph. Fuck with me. Don’t get it twisted. When pushed, I am not a bitch you want to try lightly. I mean, I can’t front like I’m the kind of chick to hide a razor blade under my tongue ready for a fight but I go hard for mine, “25/8,” like Mary J. Blige: “Every minute of every hour, Still it ain’t enough time . . . ” I have the skills, brains, and the class to broker a seven-figure deal and the right hook to straight knock a bitch out if she make the mistake of thinking I’m too bougie to fight.
I float between two worlds and although I’m comfortable in both, I am ready for some changes. The man I love doesn’t live within the law. Not slinging dope or gang banging or some shit like that; but nothing about his job is nine-to-five. Nothing about his hustle is safe or easy. See, living in fear of your man getting killed or arrested is torture.
When he is out in those streets, deep into the world that he keeps from me, I can’t sleep or eat right. When he’s not by me, where I can lay eyes on him and feel him, I live life on the edge of sanity. I have fear that the wrong move on his part will lead to the feds taking him from me or some nigga on the come-up taking his life. And then where will I be?
And on some real shit, the thought of losing him in any way scares me so much that I stay on the move. I stay busy. I’m a hamster on a fucking wheel. Going. Going. Going. Going. Going.
Trying like hell to keep my fear from making my sanity completely . . . gone.
Because I care about him. I love that motherfucker for real. I love to say it and think it and feel it. Emphasize it. Declare my shit.
But our worlds are different and there ain’t shit about it that’s easy.
All I need—all we need—is to make our shit legit. Professionally and personally.
I sit down in front of my dressing table and use my brush to work the tangles from my hair. I do my makeup. I almost get by without really looking into my own eyes. Almost.
The sadness I see in the chocolate depths has been there for such a long time.
I glance at the clock. It’s just after midnight. Dane wasn’t home and the house felt empty as hell.
My mind wasn’t on dumb shit like another bitch or nothing like that. His tricking and treating whores isn’t our issue at all. I just wanted him safe.
For a second I look at myself. I mean really sit back and take a hard-core look at me. But I don’t see the pretty face people always tell me about. Or the hair a lot of women groan about me cutting. Or the curvy body my man loves. Or the smarts that were certified by Rutgers University.
No, I don’t see any of that shit.
All I see is a woman afraid of being left alone by a game I don’t even understand or have any part in.
Somehow, I gotta figure out how to convince my man to get out the game before the game get us completely fucked up, because losing him isn’t a fucking option.