Loving Lola- Ch. 48

Taking the night off.

Sam arrives home, goes straight to his room, not saying a word shutting the door behind him. As the front door slams shut, Tiana rushes in to greet Sam but is too late to catch him. When Sophie looks at the time, she sees that again, it is 10am. Since signing the lease to the studio, Sam has been pulling 12 hour shifts back to back, working tirelessly trying to raise the remaining $1,700 in time. Tiana slowly walks back to her mother and sits down looking at her with a sad face, “awe come here baby, it’s okay, Uncle Sam is just a little tired right now,” “but why?” Tiana asks softly, Sophie holds her tight, “he’s trying to be a big boy… but I promise, he’s going to be back to fun Uncle Sam soon, okay?” Sophie says kissing her forehead. “In the meantime, how about I make your favorite, chocolate chip pancakes?” she asks giving her eskimo kisses, “no, pasta.” Tiana says, “Pasta? For breakfast?” Sophie asks confused, “it’s Uncle Sam’s favorite, and maybe when he wakes up, he will be happy and feel better,” she says fiddling with her doll. Sophie smiles, “I think that’s a great idea, pasta it is.”

When Sam wakes up, he is still disorientated and hazy from the lack of rest, so he lays there for a moment trying to fully wake up. He feels around the nightstand for his phone but does not seem to find it. Remembering that his phone is still in his pants pocket, he realizes that he was too tired to change out of his uniform before getting into bed. Reaching into his pocket for his phone, he hopes that it still has some juice left to at least tell him the time. It does not. He slowly maneuvers out of bed, putting his phone on the charger, sluggishly making his way to the bathroom. He turns on the water in the shower and just stands there. He looks at himself in the mirror and feels disgust, but he is too exhausted to care. Once out of the shower, he brushes his teeth, puts on sweatpants and a t-shirt then heads to kitchen for something to eat. Sophie and Tiana are in the living room watching television when he notices a big pot on the stove. He goes to lift the lid and is surprised to see that it is his favorite pasta. Before he is able to react, he sees Tiana peeking at him from around the corner, “she wanted to surprise you since you’ve been working so hard,” Sophie says to him. Sam walks over to Tiana and squats down, “is that true Tiana?” She nods her head yes, “I wanted you to feel better,” she says fiddling with her doll. Sam smiles and picks her up squeezing her tight, “I feel a lot better, thank you,” he says kissing her on the forehead. Tiana smiles and hugs him back.

“So, I guess you’re working tonight to huh?” Sophie asks. Sam looks at her, then at Tiana and notices her change in demeaner, “naw,” he says eating a big fork full of pasta, “I was thinking of hanging out around here tonight, that is if that’s okay with you guys?” Both Sophie and Tiana cannot contain their excitement. Sophie rushes to her room and returns with a piece of paper. “Since you’re taking the night off, I was hoping that you’d go with us to the Artis et Operis Gallery showcase tonight. It opens at 8pm and I hear it’s going to be amazing.” Sam looks at the flyer and hesitates for a moment, “everyone in the city will basically be there,” Sophie adds. “I guess it would be nice to see what kinds of talents I’ll be up against in this city,” Sophie jumps with excitement and hugs him tight, “yes! This is perfect! I haven’t been to an art showcase since, hell, the last one you were in, I’m so excited! Oh crap, you said yes, what am I going to wear?” she says rushing off to her room. Sam grabs the flyer and takes a deep sigh, “I hope I still have what it takes Sophie…” Tiana walks over to him, places her hand on his knee, and smiles.

Loving Lola- Ch. 37

A “Piece” of Mind.

“Welcome to the Artis et Operis Gallery, where every piece of art has a story to tell!”

Although these past few days have been a rollercoaster of crazy ass emotions, with a hardy helping of bullshit on a stick, coming to work always makes me forget everything I thought mattered because here, they don’t. My life is far from perfect, but this, being able to find works of art that not only speaks to me, but echoes volumes to everyone who sees it, fills me with this peace that I never thought I’d find. I’ve always known that I wasn’t the, “running a company type”. Sitting in the big chair at the head of the table was never my forte, I was content with just having a seat at the table. However, that contentment was never enough. Have you ever felt like you’ve just been putting one foot in front the other, not really knowing where you were headed? That was my life before this Gallery. For years, I’ve just been climbing this hill of hierarchy for the sake of my family, constantly wondering if there would be anything left at the top for me. That kind of uncertainty would probably force others in my position to work their hardest just so they can get the chance to see what lies at the top, but that didn’t fuel me at all. If anything, it just made me feel empty inside. Not only was I not confident in my abilities at holding my seat at the table, but I also found myself parading around in a mask of self-assurance, shrouding in despair. I could not take living unsure of what was to be of my life anymore, but I didn’t have the power to leave on my own.

The first time a piece of art spoke to me, something inside me clicked, and everything just made sense in that moment. I’m not even sure if it was the piece itself, or if it was the way it made me feel. When I looked at it, the story it told helped me see how things in my life would never change just by aimlessly placing one foot in front of the other. I realized I was only trying to fit into a pair of shoes that were clearly not meant for me and that, that gave me the power I needed to leave my family’s company. The hardest thing was leaving my sisters behind, but I knew if I only stayed for them, I would just resentment them later so, I did what was best for me. I’m sure they all thought I was either stupid or selfish for leaving, but by doing so, I found something I was never going to find being there, and that’s happiness and a peace of mind.

Loving Lola- Ch. 36

New Start.

Eric and Sam walks over to the counter and each take a seat. “Alright Mr. Guevara, we discussed many payment options for renting out this studio yesterday, and as I recall, you chose to pay the entire 6 months at once correct?” “Uh, yes, yes sir.” “Okay great. So, the total amount, plus the $300.00 down payment brought you to $4000.00. However, we agreed that you pay only $2,300 today, and the remaining $1,700 one month from today. Are we on the same page so far?” “Yes sir.” “Great. Now, that we got all the numbers situated, lets sign some papers. I have a few forms here that I need you to sign, one of which is just stating that you acknowledge the terms and conditions of the payment plans, the other is a privacy policy, and this one here is a form stating that you acknowledge the consequences of nonpayment.” “Actually, I wanted to ask about that, what would happen if I couldn’t get the money up in time?” “Well, we will remove your name from this property and you will no longer be able to occupy this space. It will go back on the market, and we will cease any property needed to cover the remaining balance.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you never said anything about taking my property to pay anything!” “I understand your concerns, but this also why we are discussing the terms of nonpayment now. However, I was also under the impression that we would not have to cross that bridge anyhow. You agreed to a deal you said you could handle financially, so what’s the problem?” Eric begins to look more serious. “Nothing, I just wish I was aware of that beforehand.” “Hmm, and now that you are aware, does that change anything?” Eric asks. “No. I am going to do whatever’s necessary to keep this studio, I cannot afford to lose this opportunity.” Eric looks at Sam intrigued. “Alright then, let’s get this process started.”

Eric explains to Sam everything he needs to know about the studio and the obligations of the lease. Sam lets him know that he understands and is ready to sign. “Alright, Mr. Guevara, how are we paying today? We accept cash, card, and or check.” Sam takes out his wallet and pulls out his debit card, “Card is fine.” “Alright.” Eric hands him the lease agreement and takes his debit card. “Sign here, here, and initial here for me and I will be right back with your receipt.” Sam looks at the form for a moment, no turning back now. He lets out a deep sigh and signs his name on the dotted line. Eric returns with his card and the receipt. “Congratulations Mr. Guevara, it’s all yours! Remember, one month from today, you must pay the remaining $1,700. You can also pay it early, whatever works for you. Here are your keys.” Sam takes the keys and looks around the studio not able to contain his excitement. “Thank you,” he grabs Eric’s hand. “You don’t know what this means for me.” “Hey, I’m glad I can help. Whatever you been through, things are definitely going to get better.” “Thanks man, I really appreciate that.” Eric grabs his things and begins walking towards the door, just before he leaves, he stops and turns around, “if you don’t mind me asking, what are you going to use this place for?” Sam turns and looks at him, “I’m an artist. And this is going to be my art studio.” “Well, you’re definitely in the right area. There’s a gallery right down the street, they are always looking for new talent to showcase. I know one of the curators who work there, if you’re good, maybe I could introduce you.” “Yes! That would be amazing.” “Well, you got my contact information, call me if you have any questions. Good luck.” Eric waves goodbye and takes his leave. Sam looks around one last time in disbelief. He walks to the door clinching the keys in his hands, he then locks up the studio and heads back home.

Loving Lola- Ch. 35

First Encounter.

Slam! Clang, clang. Sophie tosses and turns from the loud noises coming from the kitchen. She picks up her phone and looks at the time and sees that it is 8:30am. She turns over and throws her face in a pillow letting out a heavy groan. She slowly gets out of bed, groggy and disoriented, making her way into the kitchen. “Tiana! What did I say about playing in the kitchen?” She walks around the corner and see’s Sam standing over the stove. She looks around, and then again at the time, “Sam? You do know it’s 8:30 in the morning, right?” “Hahaha, yes I’m aware.” He says flipping his omelet. She looks around again still confused, “hmm. Umm, why are you up then?” “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I had to ask permission to get up early in MY house.” He says sarcastically taking his food to the table. “Smh, no, I just don’t understand. You’re fully dressed, but not in your work clothes; what’s going on?” “Well, if you must know, I have an appointment with the realtor of that studio at 9. I told him I wanted to rent out the space, so I’m going to close the deal today.” “What?! OH MY GOD! Why didn’t you tell me? When did you do all of this?” “Calm down, I didn’t want to say anything until everything was official. I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed if things didn’t go as planned” She walks over to him and hugs his head, “Sam, I am so proud of you. You are finally taking control of your life; I would never be disappointed. Wait, so what did the guy say?” “Well, he broke down all of my options, but I said it would be easier for me to pay the total 6 months now instead of doing month by month payments.” “Okay, how much is that?” “… 4,000 dollars” “Holy shit!” Sophie yells loudly, “Mommy!” Tiana calls out in the distance. “Sorry honey!” “Sam, you don’t have that kind of money just lying around.” “I know that Soph, that’s why he offered me a deal.” “A deal? What kind of deal?” “I pay $2,300 today when I sign the lease, and I have one month to pay the remaining $1,700.” “Okay, okay, can you do that? I mean what will happen if you don’t get up the money in time?” Sam sighs, “I don’t have time to think about that…” “Yeah, okay. Well I support you no matter what.” He stands and puts his plate in the sink. He checks his watch and grabs his coat. Tiana walks out into the kitchen rubbing her eyes. “Uncle Sam? Why you not sleeping?” Sam picks her up and kisses her forehead, “I have some important business to handle that’s why.” “Portant business?” she asks. “Yep. Things are starting to look up,” he says looking at Sophie. He puts Tiana down and she walks over to her mother. Sophie grabs her hand and walks over to Sam giving him a hug, “you got this bro!” “Thanks soph.” He smiles, and waves goodbye walking out the door. “Alright, what do you want for breakfast honey?” “PANCAKES!” Tiana yells loudly. Sam walks away with a smile on his face, things are looking up.

When Sam arrives at the studio, he sees a tall man in a blue suit with papers in his hand standing at the counter. He parks and takes a deep breath before getting out of the car. Okay Sam, this is it. No going back or changing your mind. It is time to get your life back together and focus on doing what’s best for you! Sam walks inside, looks around then clears his throat catching Eric’s attention. He then turns around and looks at Sam and the gentlemen locks eyes with neither of them saying a word. Eric walks over toward Sam still silent. They look at one another for a moment and then Eric begins to laugh, “Gotcha!” He puts out his hand and Sam grabs it in relief. “Hahaha, yeah I was a little nervous for a second there,” “Hahaha, no need to be, that’s just a little joke we like to play. Now, let’s sign some papers huh?”

Loving Lola- Ch. 30

When all hope is gone.

“Hey, Damien do you mind dropping me off? I didn’t think about how I was going to get all of this home without my car.” Eric says looking at his cart full of groceries. “Yeah man, no problem.” “Alright sir, here’s your receipt,” The clerk says flashing a big smile. “Enjoy the rest of your night.” She says handing Eric his receipt. With a monotone, he thanks her and takes his receipt without making eye contact. He then pushes the cart away leaving the store making their way to the car. Justin looks at Eric, “You know she was flirting with you right?” Eric rolls his eyes, “or, she was just being friendly doing her job.” “Bro, she was staring at you smiling the whole time.” “Yeah because she was ringing up MY stuff.” “Smh, you are something else.” “Even if she was flirting, I don’t want-” “Yeah, yeah,” Justin interjects, “you want what’s her name,” “Lola, her mane is Lola. Why can’t you just show her a little respect? “Ugh, I’m going to need you to get out of your feelings Eric, this shit is getting old.” “Man fuck you Justin, stop addressing her like she one of those chicken heads you be fucking with, and just show her some respect.” Eric says angrily putting his groceries in the trunk. “I don’t even know her, hell, YOU don’t even know her! Why should I respect a woman you are not even with? This shit is dumb E. You over here defending this woman while she is ignoring the fuck out of you. Not answering your phone calls, not responding to your texts, she probably laughing at your ass while you’re over here crying over spilled milk.” “Justin chill out!” Damien says walking in between them. “Naw it’s alright D, at least I have someone to be “crying over”, you are just jealous and lonely. Whenever anyone tries to be happy, there you go bitching and complaining on why we’re stupid for even trying. Even when Damien was going through what he was going through, there you were, the main one talking about how he should just give up and move on. Why Justin? Is it because you can’t stand the fact that everyone around you isn’t miserable like you? Yeah, I might be in my feelings right now, but at least I found someone worth being in my feelings for. Whether she wants me back or not, at least I put myself out there trying to hold onto the little piece of happiness she brought to me. So, you can go find someone else to be miserable with because I’m done with that shit.” Eric slams the trunk closed and gets in the car. Justin angrily begins to walk away in the opposite direction, “Justin where are you going? Just get in the car man!” Damien yells out. “Fuck yall!” Justin yells out as he keeps walking. Damien starts the car and proceeds to take Eric home. Silence filled the car the whole way there. Once they reach his house, Eric gets out and beings taking his groceries inside. Damien assists, but no one is speaking. When they bring in the last bag, Damien stops before leaving, “Eric, you gone be alright?” “Yeah, I’m straight man.” He says looking away. “Did you really mean all that stuff you said?” Eric lets out a big sigh, “Yeah, I did.” “Damn. So, what are you going to do about Lola?” “I don’t know.” He says rubbing his face. “Well I don’t think you should give up, call her again, you never know.” “I’ll see.” Eric says with a smirk. “Ight bro, I’ll hit you up later” “Alright.” They dap each other up and Damien takes his leave.

Eric starts putting away his groceries, contemplating reaching out to Lola one more time. Once he is finished, he goes to his room to change his clothes. Once changed, he grabs his phone and goes into his call log and stares for a moment. He exits the screen and locks his phone placing it on the bed. He gets up and paces back and forth deciding on what he should do. He grabs his phone again and goes to her number, when he is about to press call, he changes his mind again and throws the phone back onto the bed. He goes into the bathroom and gives himself a pep talk in the mirror. He comes back into the bedroom, grabs his phone, and quickly dials her number before he changes his mind. The phone begins to ring, and he waits for an answer, even if she doesn’t answer, at least I know I tried. Just as he is about to hang up, he hears her voice on the line, “Hello?”

Loving Lola- Ch. 24

Healing.

Jhené walks over and joins her sisters in the group hug. She wipes her face and they all sit there quietly together. “Mommy would be proud of us. No matter the choices we’ve made, we are always here for each other and I think that is all she wanted from her daughters. We are three totally different women, but our hearts have all beat inside of her once upon a time and that speaks volumes. The love we share between the three of us can never be matched and I’m okay with that because, that is something no one can ever take from us. I know that I still have some experiencing to do, but I am proud to have sisters like you guys to look up to. Both of you are stronger than you realize and that’s okay too, but I can’t wait for the day to come when yall realize your true strength because all of this will no longer be of importance. I love yall no matter what these ugly guys think and yall are going to find your special someone that will never let you feel this way again. You will always hear you’re beautiful, and they will not only say the words I love you, but show you the meaning behind it so please be patient.” There’s a moment of silence between them. “In the meantime, we have each other okay? So, let us stop these tears, help Lola clean this house so we can go get something to eat; I don’t know about yall, but crying makes me hungry.” They all chuckle then release each other from their embrace. They grab some tissue and begin to pull themselves together. Lola looks at Jhené smiling, “I’m so proud of the woman you’re becoming; hell, sometimes I forget you’re the youngest. I love you Jhené, thank you.” Jhené smiles and touches her arm then her and Giselle head to the living room to finish cleaning. Lola continues cleaning the bathroom then stops and looks in the mirror. With watery eyes, she flashes a smile, we’re going to be just fine.

Once the last customer leaves the bar and everyone has cleaned their areas, Sam grabs his things and gets ready to head home. “Sam?” Trisha says sweetly. “Hey, what’s up Trish?” he says grabbing his bag. “I was wondering if you’d like to grab a bite to eat, you know, like old times?” Sam looks at her quietly for a moment, “um, sure, why not. Where do you want to go?” Trisha gives a big smile and grabs his hand, “anywhere is fine with me hehehe.” They both walk out of the bar hand in hand and head to Sam’s car. “Remember that place we used to go all the time after work?” Trisha says excitedly, “what was it called again?” “Um, you mean Depasco?” “YES! We used love that place. The whole crew would go after our long shifts to just unwind.” She says getting in the car. “I miss those days” she says to him. “Well, do you want to go there then?” “Really?! Sure!” “Okay.” Sam cranks up the car and heads over to Depasco. Finally, here’s my chance!

Eric wonders around his home. He goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator and stands there for a moment, water, eggs, milk… He lets out a big sigh then closes the refrigerator moving toward the pantry. He opens the double doors and looks inside, wheat bread, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter… He closes the pantry in disappointment and leaves the kitchen going into the living room. He plops down on the sofa and grabs the remote hoping to find something to watch on TV. He turns on the television and begins switching through the channels, nope, nope, nope, nope…Ugh. Annoyed, he turns off the TV and walks past the training room. He steps in, turns on the light and stands there for a moment. Fed up, he turns the light off and walks away. He goes into his bedroom and searches for something decent to wear. He opens his drawers and grabs a plain white T-shirt and pairs it with a pair of black jeans and his classic vans. He goes into the bathroom checks himself in the mirror and does a quick mouth rinse with some mouth wash then leaves. He grabs his cellphone from the nightstand and picks a light jacket from the closet and heads to the front of the house. Looking for his keys, he spots them hanging by the door. He turns on the light above the stove, takes his keys and leaves the house.

Loving Lola – Ch. 1

Lola.

Lola sucked at love. She sucked at just about anything emotional. Smart? Hell yea. Beautiful? You better know it. Bout her shit? Always. But her heart…? That thing has broken in so many ways it’s hard to believe it’s still pumping blood to that powerhouse she calls a body. Like every woman, she’s been through her fair share of shit, but she took it all like a champ. Of course, there were those days where black eyeliner flowed like the dead sea and cookies and cream ice cream were her only companions for the weekend; but she always managed to put her big girl panties on and continue being her greatest self. You know why? Because heartbreak was her second language. She was fluent in disappoint, eloquent in betrayal, and she mastered the art of fuckery. She spoke that shit with such proficiency, it was a shame she couldn’t put it on her resume. That was Lola for you, cornbread fed, with a humble spirit. The best type of woman for any guy to have on his arm… for the night. Always the homie, never the wife. That, “oh you’re so perfect, but the time isn’t right”. Yea, Lola was that type. It was hard to break her spirit though; she had a childlike wonder to her. She wasn’t the most outgoing, but she knew when to assert herself. Never wanted the attention, but somehow always got it, and she never abused it. People just enjoyed being around her simply because she was genuine. Friends were never hard to come by, well acquaintances really. Her mantra was, “we don’t trust these people”, but for good reason; that title had to be earned. Nonetheless, she never let the fakers and the flaw change her. She held onto hope like it was her last breath. Even with the constant disappointment’s, she believed in her heart of hearts that she was destined for a fairytale kind of love. Little did she know, her story was about to begin.

Self Love

I want you to burn that shit inside your mind.

Put it on repeat, and then rewind.

It’s appreciating every piece of the bad;

Going into the future, and from the past.

Acknowledging that you may have some flaws,

And loving that shit just because.

Knowing your perfections are built in those,

And understanding that none of you can be disposed.

It’s more than saying it to get through the day,

But believing it every step of the way.

Realizing that YOU ARE good enough,

Especially when the smooth turns to rough.

It’s more than having confidence,

Because self love doesn’t create narcissists.

You are both important and competent,

Worth loving, and is proud of it.

But mostly, it’s about forgiveness.

Really, being able to bear witness.

And loving everything you have to offer;

The ugly, and the beautiful with no falter.

– S.T.

Metamorphosis

This heat between us burns hotter than the lava emittng from my throat after finally uttering that forsaken four letter word. Frozen in this eliptical state is what have become of me – Stuck. Constantly revolving my time and energy around you since our meeting. We are two distant travelers from oppsosite sides of the continum, constantly pulled by a gravitational force; a continuous attraction that moves through us, holding our world in place like earth’s magnetic field. Unknowingly, you approached me while going through my metamorphosis. Still learning how to use my wings, I neglected to notice yours starting to spread. They opend up around me like sails on a ship; strong and free. You’ve lifted me higher than I ever thought I could go and secured me there. No pedistals. No prasie. Just love.

– S.T.

5 Senses

“The sparkle in your eye, shines much brighter than the stars”, is what he says while holding me, tight inside his arms. “Your touch feels much like velveteen against my skin tonight”, he says to me, whenver I am holding him real tight. “Your smell is just the sweetest scent that I have ever known”, he says to me, whenver I am in my workout zone. “Your heartbeat is the rhythm of my favorite song to sing”, he says to me, as he pulls out a diamond wedding ring. “You’ve captivated me so much to take this faithful leap, you’ve done the most unthinkable and swepted me off my feet. Every sensation I’ve felt thus far is only one of you, so I’d hope you grant this wish for me and repeat the words “I Do.”

– S.T.