Letting Go…

October 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

Day One, Preschool

There are many phases of letting go in parenting and each one I’m convinced has been harder for me than my daughter. Sophia recently started preschool. She was ready. I knew it. I was a little nervous building up to the big first day of school but overall quite relaxed and even envisioned leaving her alone on the first day, after an hour or two. Boy did I fool myself. I had no idea what heartbreak I was in for. Sitting in class with her, feeling the nervous energy of all of the kids and parents (me included), trying to remain calm while realizing that this was a monumental time in our children’s lives. I will never forget that day, anxious and proud as I stared at all of the children’s names written on orange stars sprinkled across the bulletin board. This was her moment, the beginning of many years of education, teachers, lunches, friends, books, backpacks, pencils, folders, binders, experiments, desks, erasers, tests, note-passing, whispering, giggling, tears, gym class, lockers, cubbies, principals. As I sat in class looking around at all the lovely children that she will spend the next few years getting to know, it was a special moment, one to hold sacred in my heart.

But later that day, things became dark and teary. I sobbed over burgers with my wife and daughter as I realized that she had officially joined the “rat race”. She will always live on a schedules, be aware of time, follow the rules, learn what’s right from wrong even if it’s not right, she’ll learn about love and hate, greed and jealousy, pain and suffering, discrimination and that the world can be unkind and unfair. She will race out of the house some days because she has to be somewhere, she’ll rush, she’ll slowly learn to ignore the little things, step on the bugs, sticks will just be sticks -not magic wands and crystals. My tears became heavy as I realized that life was “happening” to her. This little girl that I had spent the last 2.8 years protecting from all that didn’t need to be known yet will now learn from others, some will be better than I, others will be worse. Some will be right, others will be wrong. I know she’s young, I know that all of this won’t happen in preschool but that first day, although sweet, was a huge dose of reality for her mama. Sophia wiped my unexplained tears away and handed me a gummy burger. I looked at her hazel eyes, smiled, and put all my fears aside to eat my meal with my family.

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Just A Dream, Maybe?

September 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Joey Uva

By: Joey Uva

Have you ever had a dream that really hits you hard? That gives you chills? That makes you think?

Trevor, my partner, lost his mother to cancer over eleven years ago. Trevor and I have had conversations about his mother –what she was like, who she was as a person, how much he adored her. He has mentioned to me how much he misses her and wishes she could see his life today because he knows how happy she would be for him. He says his mother Caroline would have really loved Grace.

Well, about a year ago I woke up around 3am, crying from a dream. I was in a living room. It was dark and I was standing over a hospital bed talking with Trevor’s mother in her last days. In our dream conversation she said to me, “Trevor is a great dad. I see him with her. Please let him know that for me.” That was the last part of the dream I remembered when I woke up crying. I shared my dream with Trevor the next day, describing the details of what I could remember. Trevor started to cry, as he never told me about the last days. Trevor’s mother’s last days were spent in her living room, curtains drawn, in a hospital bed where she passed away with Trevor, his dad, brother, and family by her side.

The next part got to me all over again. A few days later I was giving Grace a bath on a Friday night and she was asking questions about my mother and father when she stopped in the middle of the conversation. She said, “Papa, have I ever met Papa T’s mama?” I said, “No honey, his mama died many years ago.” Grace then said, “Do you think she would have liked me?” I said, “Yes, I know she would have liked you very much!” Trevor was around the corner in our bedroom; he heard Grace’s question and when I saw his face, I could tell another emotional arrow had just hit him.

Sometimes I wonder: when things like this happen, are they just coincidence? Or, is there something greater trying to tell us that everything will be alright, that life goes on but doesn’t go unnoticed? I still think about that dream today. Was it just a dream, maybe?

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Wedding Bells, Part 2

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

We got in a fight before our wedding. On the ferry ride over. I can’t remember why. Could it have been the make up? Things were tense. We had been planning a wedding for a year from another state and it was all happening on this overcast day after waiting 2 years for sun.

We parted at the wedding site to go to our separate rooms to get ready and we weren’t speaking –on our wedding day! I was fine at first, chatting with my girls, putting on the amazing gown that I had been dying to step into for months, but I kept wondering how my bride-to-be was doing. Her sister came over to pick up the infamous make up and I asked. I didn’t get the answer I had been hoping for. Susan apparently wasn’t talking much and I knew what that meant and now here I was forbidden to see her before I walked down the aisle to say I DO. I began desperately trying to manipulate seeing her and was told by everyone I asked that everything was fine and I shouldn’t see her before the wedding. The schedule was set for her to get pictures with her family first, then me. I made my way down early hoping to see her but she was done. I took my pictures with the family all the while pre-occupied. I pressed further and explained that I needed to see Susan to give her a present. It worked, somehow someone sent her my way and I pulled her into the dark hall where we later had our first dance as a married pair.

“How are you? Are you OK?”

She was quiet at first and than we grabbed hands and looked at one another and all of it disappeared. At that moment the wedding was no longer about guests or flowers or make up or rules, it was about us, my best friend, my wife to be, standing before me, more beautiful than ever before. I cried. She bowed her head and looked up with her big brown eyes as if to say “There you are.” We kissed. I later found out when reviewing pictures that the photographer was there, snapping the whole scene. We didn’t even notice her. I could have escaped to the getaway boat right then and there; it was all that I needed…that moment.

A voice came from the distance: “Susan, it’s time! You have to go to the other side; the string quartet is playing. Come on.”

We ignored it. Susan grabbed my hand and led me to a small window where we watched all of our stunning guests – from LA, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Colorado, Boston –they were all there for us.

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Wedding Bells, Part One

August 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

Susan and I were engaged for two years. I’d like to say it’s because I’m old-fashioned and wanted to be sure that she was “the one” but really it’s because we wanted to get married in Seattle and there are only 2 guaranteed months of sun (if that), we were on a long waitlist for our outdoor island wedding. We, well I, started planning early, about a year out, and I was time crunched. This was Susan’s first introduction to the neurotic side of Brandy Black. I think no matter how organized I am I will always think that stress is an essential ingredient to a good event.

When the weekend finally rolled around, I was beyond prepared. I had gathered my team, my lists, my vendors, my charts and we got on a plane –two beautiful, white gowns in hand –and flew to Seattle.

To this day, whenever I lie in the guestroom bed at my parents’ house and look up at the ceiling, I can still find the two nails side-by-side where our wedding dresses hung, hiding from one another. I will always remember that first night, giddy with excitement. I felt like a bride; I felt beautiful and special and loved. My father turned on Besame Mucho –a family favorite that year and one of “our songs” and we all danced in the living room. Twirling each other, we sang “Mucho Mucho Mucho”. The song became part of our soundtrack as we stuffed welcome bags in a living room floor assembly line. These little moments, with friends and family, were the sweetest parts of our wedding.

When I prepare for any party these days I always remember the infamous boat party the night before our wedding. We had a three-hour cruise around Lake Union. This was important to me, as I spent my college summers as a deckhand and bartender, watching the breathtaking sunsets from the water. I insisted on this being the welcome party for our guests. It was out of the budget –which I’ve never really cared about anyway –but Susan, on the other hand, had to chime in. After the special Susan and Brandy font our calligrapher and I had created for the invitations, to the elaborate honeymoon plan, to the getaway boat, Susan was starting to get a bit anxious. So I settled on cheese and fruit plates –simple food –prepared by us with no extra catering fees. My aunt and mom offered to help set up. But somehow when we arrived at the boat, everything went haywire and nothing was ready and we went into full-blown panic mode as the guests began to arrive. This was the start of what I feared would be a long, disastrous weekend. Susan and I raced around prepping, slicing, flowering and couldn’t handle it on our own. Guests began pitching in, which was far from the original plan. I became overwhelmed and began to feel like a failure at my own party. But then I looked around and realized that people wanted to help, they were happy, it made them feel good. I let go, I relinquished, I couldn’t fight them, and 15 minutes later, the table was filled with beautiful food prepared with great love.

Every time I go to pick up my Lancome mascara, I think of our wedding day. I recall the many conversations with Susan leading up to the big day, one of which was:

Me- Do you need me to buy you make up?
Susan- No.
Me- No? You’re going to wear make up aren’t you?
Susan- Yes
Me- But you don’t have any
Susan- I’ll get some

A couple weeks’ later:

Me- Do you need me to buy you make up?
Susan- No
Me- No? You’re going to wear make up aren’t you?
Susan- Yes
Me- But you don’t have any
Susan- I’ll get some

Day before the wedding:

Me- Did you get make up?
Susan- No
Me- What? What are you going to do?
Susan- Borrow yours
Me- I can’t see you before the wedding
Susan- I know, I’ll have someone come get it

And that’s what she did.

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To My Daughter On Her First Day

August 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Joey Uva

By: Joey Uva

Kindergarten! Where have five and half years gone already? In one week you will start kindergarten. I attended the elementary school open house held back in April and saw what your very first class room would look like; it took me back thirty-eight years to my first class room. I don’t remember much from when I was five but I remember that classroom. Your classroom was filled with little desks, boards, and books with letters and numbers on the walls. I can’t believe we are here already!

Your new school provided me a list of skills you should have to be ready for kindergarten. We have been working on this list all summer. There were times when we sat down at the dining room table and practiced. There were times we practiced in the car to musical learning CDs. There were times we practiced when I didn’t even call it that –we would just do it randomly as a little game or challenge and you would smile at me proudly when you got it right. Those were my favorite times!

Here is your “Kindergarten Readiness” list:

· Write your first name using first letter uppercase and the rest of the name in lower case letters. You’re getting very good at this! You and I practiced. Papa “T” practiced this with you a lot. You’d both sit at the dining room table to practice; he is so good with you. You’d get a little bugged that a certain letter isn’t very good and Papa “T” would just be patient and remind you, “it’s only practice, so the next one will be even better!” And guess what? It was!

· Recite your first and last name. You had this one accomplished a long time ago.

· Recognize your first name in print. You have been able to do that for a long time.

· Hold and use pencil, crayons, scissors, and glue appropriately. We have all that covered. One thing, the scissors make me nervous even though you have wanted to use scissors since I can remember. I remember us playing Play-Doh. Your favorite thing to use was the plastic yellow scissors. You would say, “let’s cut the colors Papa!” You loved it!

· Take turns. You can do that!

· Sit still on the rug in crisscross position for 15 minutes. You might find this a little challenging, because will not be not watching a cartoon, eating at the dining room table, or reading a book with me. Maybe your teacher will be reading a book, and if not, you’ll do just fine.

· Raise your hand and wait to be called on. Yep, you can do that.

· Be able to dress and undress yourself when using the bathroom. This took practice, but you have gotten better and I am proud. You still have a little challenge with buttons on your pants, but we’ll get it right.

· Sharing materials. Check!

· Recognizing colors. I remember us driving home one day shortly after you turned five; you looked and the sunset and said, “see the colors papa.” I said, “yes it’s beautiful! What color is it?” you said, “vermillion!” I smiled and said, “you are right!” You know your colors, but it’s your vocabulary that amazes me.

· Recognize numbers and letters and the difference between them. Check!

· Take responsibility for opening, packing and closing backpacks and lunch boxes. You got this in the bag. Ha! Papa made a silly joke; you’ll probably be embarrassed by that one day. I understand.

· Speak in complete sentences. I remember the first time I went over the list with you. You said, “Papa, what is a complete sentence?” I explained it even though you just used one.

· Recognize basic shapes and colors. You got it!

· Able to listen and follow directions. You can do that.

· Work and play cooperatively. The first time we went over the list you did not know what the word “cooperatively” meant. You do now.

· Listen to the teacher without interrupting. You can do that.

I understand why there is a “Kindergarten Readiness List”. It’s there to help you and me prepare. Well, I have another list, a list that I first started thinking of shortly after you were born. A list that is harder for me to help you with. I will be able to guide you, comfort you, provide love and safety, and be there whenever you need me. It’s a list with a few items that I wish nobody ever had to write down. I am writing them down because I love you!

Papa’s Readiness list for elementary school and the future:

· I know you will be nervous and shy on your first day of school. You tend to be very shy. Give it two weeks Pumpkin, and you’ll be coming to me with the name of your new best friend. I know your heart and what it takes to enter it.

· You’ll get frustrated when you get something wrong. It will be all right; nobody is perfect. Do your best, not anyone else’s.

· You’re not always going to want to do your homework. Even though you may not like me sometimes when I make you do your homework, know that my love is still there in that time.

· You may not want to get out of bed for school. Once you are up and going, you’ll be all right.

· You’ll have to learn math. Division was especially hard for me to grasp. I got a school-assigned coach to help me. It’s ironic; today, one of the most successful points of my carrier was when I became a software engineer –it’s all about numbers and I love it. Remember, it could be your biggest challenge that becomes your greatest success.

· I did not like to read in school. I would really have a tough time getting through a book. Not sure if you’ll be the same. If you are, you’ll look back and be thankful.

· You will most likely get teased by another kid. I wish this didn’t have to be true, but if you get teased for being different, too tall, too short, heavy, or thin, remember I am always here for you!

· You might get teased for having gay parents. This one will be very hard for me. I will be here for you if you ever have to deal with this. I want you to be you; don’t worry about if it will hurt my feelings. Be yourself and know that I am your father who loves and wants the best for you.

· You may or may not be a popular kid. Popularity comes and goes. Whether you are or not, I expect you to treat all the kids with respect.

· Your friends may change as you move on to other grades. Be easy on yourself if a friend betrays you, you have a parting, or don’t simply get along anymore. Friends change throughout our lifetime, there will be some friends for which you have a very strong bond with and they will remain a very long time.

· You may get a crush and get your heart broken. I remember my first crush was in the eighth grade and my heart was broken. Being your father, I am hoping your crush is much later than that. When you do get your heart broken, whenever it is, know that my arms are open and I am here for you.

· Peer pressure can be challenging. Know that you can make your own choices. Don’t allow anyone to make you do anything you do not want to do. If you do stumble, I will be here.

· Know that I will be proud of your accomplishments. I will cheer from the sidelines as much as I can.

I am sure this list will grow as you do, as you learn and progress from elementary school to junior high and high school. I was thinking a lot today about you starting school. Your first day of school is hitting me a little harder than I expected. Maybe one day when you are older you will read this and understand what this day means to me and how much I love you. I know that some of the things on my list are years away but they’re hard not to think about as you enter your first year of school. I am proud of you! You are the very reason I wanted to be a father. To my daughter on her first day of school: I Love You!

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Jupiter Drive

August 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Family

By: Heather Somaini

The wedding was over and everyone had gone home. It was just us again. Life returned to normal. But the one thing that had been fairly consistent for me was that nothing stayed normal for long.

About a month after the wedding, my upstairs neighbor decided that my condo remodel had negatively affected their unit and sued me for damages. It had been a long-standing feud and this was the final straw. My lawyer recommended that I move –no settlement of this lawsuit was going to change the fact that I still had to live underneath them. Tere and I talked it over. I was going to make a good profit if I sold the condo. Tere was sick of the close quarters and we had planned on buying a house together anyway. It seemed like the time was more than right to make a change.
We sold the condo in maybe a week – shockingly fast with something like nine bidders. We started looking at houses. So many houses! We bid and lost on house after house after house all over town. There was even one house that we wanted so badly that driving by it today makes me cringe to think that I blundered the negotiation. Our realtor was at wit’s end and about to tell us to take a break from house hunting. But all three of us knew that we had one last weekend to find something, go into escrow, and close before we had to move out of the condo, so we went out with a renewed sense of purpose.

In one day, we found and bid on three houses. But there was only one that I really wanted: Jupiter Drive. It was in Mount Olympus, a kitschy part of the Hollywood Hills that was ripe for a facelift. I loved it. An L-shaped, 3500 square foot, one level, mid-century modern with a city lights view through Nichols Canyon. Oh, did I mention it hadn’t been updated since 1970 and the owners had passed away at home? Avocado green tile, a gold lamé master bath, and a boarded-up pool – it was perfect.
We started remodeling the day we moved in and didn’t stop for nine months. Tere hated it. I wanted to do as much as I could myself – Tere wanted to write a check. I had massive plans every weekend with trips to Lowe’s, lumber and granite yards, back-breaking work and meals from Ralph’s. The kitchen was essentially ripped out and useless for five months. By the way, it’s kind of amazing what Tere can make on a barbecue grill with one gas burner!

Every weekend was brutal. We didn’t see our friends for months and we never went out to dinner that required more than paint-splattered clothing. We felt like we were perpetually bruised, dirty, and exhausted. I would sit down towards the end of each day and just stare out at the city for what seemed like hours and then fall asleep. After especially hard days at work, I would come home and just pound a sledgehammer into the wall that needed to come down – very therapeutic.

I was always pushing to do more. I tore down a wall, rewired every new light fixture, and recycled every appliance and fixture that we didn’t want to people who did. We painted virtually every wall and I even helped install the kitchen appliances. Every bit of tile, cabinet and carpet was picked by us. It really was OUR house.

At the nine-month mark, we needed to celebrate. We were finished with everything but the master bath, so we left it so everyone could see what the house used to look like and we threw a party!

Our housewarming was during one of the worst rain storms in Los Angeles history. Everything backed up. We had a plumber working up until the guests arrived. It was a great soiree with amazing food, great friends and our brand spankin’ new house. It was the first of many in the best space EVER. Life was good.

A few months later, we were able to resume our normal lives again. But it wouldn’t stay normal for long. I was bored. I needed a project. I had become used to having a weekly plan and I wanted a new one. I knew Tere wasn’t ready but I did it anyway.
I went to the California Cryobank website and started looking for a donor….babies.

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Jack and Su

August 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Family

By: Heather Somaini

Everyone has a love story – some have many. My parents have a great one and I love to tell it. They’re seriously two of the most amazing people I know and I love them dearly.

You see, my parents met when they were 15. They grew up on different sides of the same, small Vermont town. I remember my grandmother telling me that there was never any question about how my Dad felt about my Mom. One evening as they were driving home, my Dad saw my Mom walking along the road and he told my grandmother right then and there that she was the one. The first time he brought her home to meet his parents, my grandmother said that she knew he would love her forever.

As a teenager, my Dad was a “greaser”, a bad boy. He wore jeans, a white t-shirt, slicked back hair – that classic James Dean look. My Mom says that she would lean out the window at study hall and talk to him while he hung out in the smoking section. In comparison, my Mom was the good girl from the right side of the tracks.

When they met, my Dad was actually dating my Mom’s best friend. Mom wasn’t very impressed with him and was convinced he was a two-timing jerk. She desperately tried to convince her friend to dump him but to no avail. To prove to her that he was as bad as she thought he was, she decided to ask him out to verify that he would cheat on her. I’m sure she was ecstatic when he agreed to the date. She was right – he was a two-timing scumbag!

My Dad broke up with the other girl the next day. I guess he wasn’t such a scumbag after all. My parents dated through high school and into college. As graduation neared for my Mom (Dad was now in the Air Force), my Dad proposed. I’m sure she loved him terribly but she just had other plans for her life. She really wanted to take her newly minted teaching degree to work with kids from another culture and travel. She already had a position lined up on an Indian reservation out west. She told him no.

A funny thing happened soon after that – me. Yes, I am a love child. Mom wasn’t sure what she wanted to do so she went to talk it over with her older sister. My Aunt’s advice was that they should make pasta. I guess all things become clear with pasta dough in your hands. They barely spoke but once the pasta was made, Mom had her decision. She went back to my Dad and asked him if his offer was still on the table. He hesitated and said he wasn’t sure.
She gave him two weeks to make up his mind. Anyone who knows my Dad will tell you that this was the most ridiculous arrangement ever; there was no way he wasn’t sure. He knew exactly what he wanted.

Two weeks later, my Dad came back and said he wanted to get married. Needless to say, Mom didn’t go out west. Flash forward ten years and our family was falling apart a little. I was 10, my brother was 7 and my parents were very unhappy. So unhappy that they had made decisions that were affecting everyone – divorce was imminent. My Mom decided to do the one thing she always wanted to do – teach overseas. She was accepted to teach for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools system for military kids overseas. She packed me and my brother up and we left for Germany in the fall of ’79.

For that year, my parents lived very much apart and had completely separate lives. But when we were all together, we were a family again. Every holiday we saw my Dad; he begged my Mom to come home. Every time, she said no. During the summer of 1980, we spent a lot of time with my Dad and it was obvious he wanted her back. The three of us still left in August headed back to Germany.

A few weeks passed and my Mom had a change of heart. She called my Dad and asked if his offer was still on the table and would he move to Germany to be with us? He said he wasn’t sure. Mom gave him two weeks to make up his mind. On the fourteenth day, he called and said yes. He quit his job, sold our house, and packed up what remained. All of our lives were changed forever, especially theirs.

My parents have been together ever since. Their marriage isn’t perfect but it’s theirs. They’ve been through the good, the bad, the most wonderful, and the most terrible. I love them with all my heart for showing me that all is never lost.

I wonder sometimes if my parents really know how much I love them. It’s not always the easiest thing to show. My time with them is always fun and loving and safe. They protect me regardless of who I show up as that day. They love me when I don’t love myself. They love my children more than life itself. I would do anything for them. Sometimes I do things only for them.

I truly hope they know that I wouldn’t be who I am without them and that my life is only as I know it because of them. I hope they know I love them in the most profound way possible…unwavering and forever. I suppose now they always will.

A few years ago, I was regaling my parents with my version of their love story when my Mom made a small revelation. That night back in the fall of 1980 when she called my Dad to ask him to move to Germany was after she had been out with her girlfriends. They had enjoyed many glasses of great German wine and she was a little tipsy. My father was incensed to learn that his entire future at that point had hinged on a few glasses of red wine! I like that there’s always something unexpected even when you think you know the full story.

.

[Photo Credit: top photo by Teness Herman]

[Photo Credit: bottom photo by Diana Lundin]

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First Kiss

August 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

We sat in my room, I put on the band Belly and flipped to my favorite song at the time: “Stay”. We talked, I told her I broke up with my girlfriend that day, she told me she broke up with hers. This was not a previous plan or discussion. I smiled. My song ended and she flipped to her favorite song “Untogether”. I grimaced. The song played.

“I had a dream about you last night,” Susan said shyly.

“Was I good?” I asked boldly.

She turned red and looked down “You were a good layer-downer.”

Pause.

I sat down at the edge of the bed. “So does that mean you’re staying the night?”

She’ll say it was me; I say it was her.

We kissed.

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The Aftermath

August 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Family

By: Heather Somaini

I’d like to say that from the minute I proposed everything was rose petals, rainbows, and heart-shaped clouds but to be honest, it all started to fall apart a bit.

We were both at the top of our game, making more than we had ever made before. I had recently purchased my first home – a condo in West Hollywood – and was in the middle of a complete remodel. Tere had been in her new, fabulous house near the beach in Belmont Shore for just under two years.

The first bomb hit in mid-January when Tere got word that her company was merging with another and they were going to go with “the other guy”. It happens a lot when you have two people doing the same job – one has to go. She negotiated a good exit package with our “family” lawyer Andi and had some time to figure out her next move.

She told me on a Tuesday night in the loft at her house. It was a little surreal at first. I had that fight or flight response where all the blood rushes out of your hands and feet. I was saying all the right things, trying to make her feel better, but inside all I could think of was how I had made a terrible mistake. That as soon as I made a commitment to someone, someone who seemed amazing on every level, they were going to fall apart and fail me. I was spiraling into that dark vortex of doubt and starting to think once again that I was the only person I could rely on.
Tere and I both have “responsibility” issues – we take too much. I think it’s because we both had to become super-independent early. At 18, I left “home” in Europe and came back to the states for college. There was no home to go to on weekends or short holidays. I spoke to my parents once a week if I was lucky and worked through the summers in my college town. I was like a half-townie. Tere, on the other hand, was sent to an all-girls, Catholic boarding school when she was 14. She was a two-hour bus trip away but only went home on the one mandatory weekend a month. When it came time for college, she was completely on her own. She was accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Boston (for classical guitar no less) but didn’t have the money or courage to go – she had never been out of southern California. A friend was going to Long Beach State so Tere tagged along and figured out a way to both work and go to school full-time. Neither of us felt like we could ever go home. We had to stand on our two feet from the get-go.

In that moment, as Tere explained everything to me, I became an island – again. I hated the feeling, knew it too well. I wanted to run away. But something made me stop, not exactly sure what. Maybe I decided to trust the universe for a minute. The blood slowly came back to my hands and feet. This wasn’t so bad.

A month later, one of Tere’s good friends passed away from her second bout of cancer. On the same day as the funeral, my CEO called asking me to join their refocused effort in another area but I just couldn’t sell our technology to pharmaceutical companies. We bit the bullet and sold Tere’s house, finished the remodel on my condo, and moved in together. It was not easy and Tere fought it along the way. She didn’t want to move backwards but we both needed the opportunity to take some time, re-invent ourselves and plan a wedding! I took a position with a tiny film distributor making a lot less and Tere started with a small real estate developer.

It was uncharted territory for both of us but it gave us time. We had loud neighbors, limited space, and ridiculously long work hours. We struggled; but I think of it as the time that we truly came together. We needed each other’s support and counsel and we gave it freely. We took our first real trip together to Germany and Italy with my family. It was fabulous. We shopped at Armani and Prada – Tere was in heaven. We saw the sights and ate our way through the pasta capitol of the world.

And anyway, a wedding, as we were finding out, takes a lot of time and energy to plan – especially when you don’t hire a wedding coordinator!

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The First…

August 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

Do you know how when you are dating and everything is so new in the beginning and you like the person but you don’t want them to know that you like them too much and the games sort of begin? The games…the I’m-going-to-casually-invite-you-over-to-dinner-even-if-I-don’t-know-how-to-cook games. The I’m-going-to-act-like-I-spent-5-minutes-getting-ready games. The yeah-sure-swing-by-at-8-so-we-can-have-some-dinner-games. This was the very nonchalant approach that I was using and had in the past pretty much mastered (except the cooking- I had never made dinner for anyone before -breakfast yes, dinner no). I called my best friend Caren, a chef, while wandering aimlessly in the grocery store. I don’t think I had ever seen past the dark school boy cookie and wine aisle- were they both in one? I thought so. Caren, like any good friend would do, stayed with me through every painstaking aisle as we built the menu for my dinner date. We kept it simple and full of Brandy’isms. Artichokes. Pasta. Shrimp. Capers. Focaccia Cambazola and wine. I lit candles, I found my best butt jeans, casual yet totally intentionally hot. I turned on Jewel, yep I know, Jewel? Really? I’m still mad at myself for that. I waited and waited and waited. The dinner started getting cold, I started getting drunk, my neighbor came over to visit, the wine bottle was empty, the food was gone and no Susan. I left a casual message on her voicemail “Hey, so I thought you were coming over for dinner tonight but huh, I guess I was wrong? Was I?”

The next day I was done, furious really; it was officially the first time I had ever been stood up. I was decorating my new apartment when Susan showed up unannounced with a large chocolate chip cookie in her hand.

“What are you doing here?” I said.

“I got your message,” she said through the screen door -definitely taken aback by my reaction to her. “I was asleep. I completely slept through the whole thing. I didn’t even realize it was a real plan.”

I stood probably hand on hip, foot out to the side, likely very bitchy and scary looking.

“Anyway” she said, “I brought you this cookie. I’m sorry.”

“Ok, thanks.” I took the cookie. “See you later.”

She stood, dumbfounded. I turned away coldly and began talking to Beth who had been witnessing this curt conversation.

I don’t think I turned back to see if she had left for at least a couple minutes. I was done.

“I thought you liked this girl,” Beth said.

“I do.”

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