Noni Jones in Harlem #18: Babies, Engagements, and Sleeping Arrangements

Noni

 

My monthly visitor was late. First thing Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and used the bathroom. Nothing. Shoot. Ever since the condom mishap I’d been waiting with bated breath. Without a second thought I threw on running shorts and went to Rite Aid.

By the time I got back, panic had gotten the best of me. I was so shaken up when I called Carter, he thought someone had broken into our place. In between sobs I assured him I wasn’t being attacked, but this was a state of emergency no less. “I think I’m pregnant.”

And of course he was in LA. I put him on speaker while I peed on the stick. Then I waited for a second pink line. It was the longest 60 seconds of my life. If I was pregnant, would this be the beginning of the end, or the start of forever?

“Aminah?”

“I’m not pregnant.”

“Oh okay… You alright though?”

“Yeah, I’m alright.” I lied. I was suddenly struck by a confusing blow of sadness.

Beat.

“Min’, you know if something like that happens I’m here for you right. I love you. You don’t have to panic. We can handle a baby.” His voice was assuring. Spoken, like a father.

“I know.” I took a deep breath through my nose and smiled. “I’m good now. I just don’t handle pressure well.”

“You’re kidding?” he teased.

He had to get back to his recording session. We exchanged brief “love you’s” and hung up. I sat on the toilet a few moments more, staring at the marble floors, confused as hell as to why I was sad. I wrapped in a silk robe went to the kitchen to make some tea. As I put the water on, I had to wonder what Carter was thinking at that very moment. He’d just caught glimpse of the little girl I work very hard to disguise. I’m the baby of my family. Some traits you just don’t out grow.

Too much to think about for a Saturday morning. I took my tea and a pint of toffuti to the couch, and resigned to spend the day there.

I was watching the Golden Girls when Damon called. My spirits lifted immediately.

“Damon!”

“Whats the tea?” Damon and I were the Black Will and Grace at Yale. He runs a charter school in Brooklyn.

“Damon, my life!” I cried.

“What’s going on?”

“Carter and I had a condom mishap about two weeks ago you know. One of those suckers broke free and got stuck.”

“Oh too bad.”

“And my period is late so I took a pregnancy test. Damon, I called up Carter crying like I was five years old and somebody had stole my bike.”

“Well hookah, are you pregnant?” he laughed.

“No! One line, not two… but I’m sitting here trying to figure out why I had to go and act a damn fool about it.”

“Well, were you scared about what Carter would say?”

“No, not really. He talked me down. I’m the high strung one. Shit doesn’t faze him.”

“So why were you upset then?”

“Well the issue, for one, is that I can barely look after myself.”

“Okay…Noni, maybe you should get a puppy.”

“I mean, really though?”

“It’ll help you get over your fear of responsibility.”

“But am I really walking a dog in the snow”

“Noni, too bad, but okay. We both know you wouldn’t. So you’re scared to be a mother. I feel like that’s every single girl? ”

“Depending, but especially when you’re not married…”

“So you don’t think he’d put a ring on it if you were expecting?”

“I don’t know!” I exclaimed, leaping off my couch. “Wait, I actually do not know.” And finally, there was the question and the answer, all in one. As usual, Damon was there to help me figure out my life.

Reality? Check.

The close call had forced me think about my future with Carter, which is a big old question mark, considering I know very little about his past. I have never met his ex-wife. Don’t know why they split. Never met his parents. Never met his daughter. I have no concept of this man’s romantic history except for the questionable statements made by the homegirl.

“Carter left his wife with an 8 year old kid and I don’t even know why.”

“ I mean, it’s 2009, people get divorced… even with kids. But it sounds like you’re having doubts about him anyways.”

“No.” If I was having doubts, I wasn’t ready to admit it, to Damon nor to myself. It was too soon for this expensive glass house to be cracked.

I told him about the homegirl.

“This heffa said what?”

“She said, ‘my ex-husband asked if Carter and I were fucking’.”

“What?”

“Yes! and I gagged!”

“You would want to watch her. She sounds like a mess. But in the mean time, I wouldn’t worry. I feel like you found the man you were looking for and for now, you need to just live your life.”

“Fabulously.” I added. I no longer felt like laying around the house. Damon invited me to a housewarming.

****

Derrick, our friend from school, had just bought a place in Chelsea with his long time lover. Truth be told, for a minute in undergrad, I had a crush on Derrick. He was fine as can be. Corporate bound. Made Yales infamous “50 Most Beautiful”… and then we found out he was gay.

“Oh my God! Damon bought Noni!” Derrick announced as he opened the door of their exquisite two-bedroom condo. I thought it was a fitting introduction. Derrick and Leon were a handsome pair, the kind that could make a successful, single Black woman weep. Two educated, chocolate, fine black men that met all husband qualifications except one… must check heterosexual. So… too bad. They were fabulous friends though.

“First off all, you look amazing”. When in the presence of friends from college one must always be fabulous, such was the occasion for a Pucci dress and Giuseppe heels. “And you’re not leaving here without signing my copy of your book.”

“Derrick, you read my book?!”

“Ummm, yes. All of Black Yale has… and toooo bad!” He laughed heartily. I let the conversation end there. He knew as well as I that the best fiction comes straight from reality.

There apartment was packed, wall to wall, mostly with Buppies and gay professionals I didn’t know. Black Yale was in the house, especially Shades alumn, the acapella group that Derrick, Damon and Geneva sang in. It was chatty gatherings like this that I craved when I was in the South. For three years I’ve been out of the loop- but a legend in my absence.

“So have you heard the news?” I was nursing some strong mixed drink that was making me sleepy as hell when Derrick pulled Damon and I aside.

“What?”

“Oh wait this is good.” He was grinning madly.

“What?!”

“Aliyah is getting married! Like, as of last night 3 carats.” As he pulled up the picture of her sparkly thing on his I-phone, I felt the room get hot. Sudden, life-changing, revelations are horrible when you’re drunk.

When I was a freshman I wanted to be just like Aliyah. This woman had the pedigree of a DC debutante and the personality of a round the way girl. She was talented, drop dead gorgeous, an attorney, a sorority girl and apparently now engaged to a wealthy entrepreneur. I mean, she literally had it all. She was my role model.

The news of her engagement made me do that flash comparison that women sometimes do. I’m a published author and Carter is the ultimate catch. But to be honest, my man is fifteen years older than me, never at home, and divorced. He already did the wedding, had a wife, and a kid. He’s been there, done that. Has alimony to prove it. I realized that I might just be the next logical progression of any hot blooded man, with plenty of cash to spare.

The younger girlfriend.

Wait a minute.Am I this man’s mid-life crisis?

Somehow, amidst charge cards, co-ops and fancy events, I may have lost my mind. Not now, but someday I really do want the fabulous house in the burbs, and two, adorable, frizzy haired Jack & Jillers. But in that moment, I realized, that Carter, my soul mate, might not want the same thing.

 When I moved in with Carter, I said to myself, “Noni, follow your heart.” But by following my heart, I think lost my head.

Damon and I cabbed it home. I was lost in thought. Then I turned to him and said, “Damon, I think I rushed into this.” I said it more for me than him.

-Noni

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