the brush…

I became disenchanted with love at a very early age. I saw failed marriages, hearts broken after years of dating and the strange behavior of women in love. I learned that love was cruel and it disappoints. The situation that disillusioned me the most, made me question why any self respecting woman would put herself through unnecessary pain and grief, happened at the age of 14.


It was the summer of 1994. I was visiting Courtney, a good friend of mine who was home from college for the summer. I grew up with her in my church. She was smart, pretty, a fantastic dresser (before being a fashionista was cool), could sing and dance, and she was sweet as pie. She always knew the right thing to say, always had a funny joke and never had anything negative to say. Everyone loved her, including me. She even smelled lovely, she wore this gardenia lotion from Victoria’s Secret. She gave me a bottle of it for my birthday, I thought she was Miss IT, the end all be all of what a girl should be.  I always wanted to be around her. I admired her. I think secretly I wanted to be her, or the remixed version of her that was me.


We were sitting in her room along with two other girls she went to high school with. Everyone was in college except for me. They were talking about jodeci, makeup and summer jobs when the subject of men came up. All the chatter stopped and everyone kind of paused and looked at her. She had gone to college with her high school sweetheart. They sang duets in the choir, always sat together, went to prom and decided they couldn’t be apart so they decided to go to college together. Of course they were the perfect little couple or so they seemed. Not understanding the silence I asked. “So how is Chris?”

I will never forget her response and the events that followed. She responded, “That lying little son of bitch is fine sweetie, but he won’t be for long.”

Well apparently they had all gone to a party the previous night where he was way to friendly with some girl that none of them liked. Then he disappeared for two hours. This was followed by my friend confronting him when he returned. He laughed and basically told her to be easy and chill out. Apparently this was not the first time something like this had happened because she then went to a drawer and pulled out a brush, a hair clip, a bracelet, and a pair of sunglasses. These items had all been taken from either Chris’ dorm room or his car. She laid them on the bed and proceeded to tell us to whom she believed the items belonged. When she got to the brush, she picked it up peered into it and then shoved it into our collective face.

“Do you see this? Do you see that hair? This is not my brush and that is definitely not my hair. I found this in his drawer. When I saw it I snatched it up, threw it at him and asked him who it belonged to. Do you know what he told me? He told me it was his study partner’s. I wanted to beat his ass.”

She put her head in her hand and just stared at the brush and for a moment I thought she was going to cry. I saw tears well up in her eyes. She looked away and said,

“Everyone knows that is my man, but why does he have to do things right in my face?”

Everyone agreed that he was trifling and that she should leave him. She looked at all of us and said “Every time I think I am going to leave he tells me he loves me and he doesn’t know what he would do with out me.”


The friend who sat closest to her and was almost assaulted with the brush responded, “You are crazy. You are the one snatching brushes out of drawers and I don’t know what he would do without you, but I know what he does with you. Girl, would you get a clue.” Both her friends started laughing. She just sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes. I was, hurt, angry, sad, dumbfounded and shocked all at the same time. Here was my teenage hero confused, distraught and on the verge of tears all over a silly little boy. I couldn’t believe she had collected these items, and kept them, traveled with them, and could pull them out for show and tell. She held the proof of deceit and cheating, but didn’t have the strength to leave him. Cheating happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean break up, but repeat offenders should not be trusted. In my mind each item was just another reason to leave him alone.


Plus at 14, I was like duh doesn’t everyone say whatever they need to say to get out of trouble. If you are caught doing something wrong, you will say whatever it takes to rectify the situation even lie. He told her he loved her and couldn’t bear being without her. I realized that she believed him and sacrificed her happiness and sanity on this truth. A selfish statement from a guilty man that might have been true, half the truth, or not true at all, but she believed it.


Today I was at the mall looking for some stuff for work, when someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Courtney. I screamed, she started laughing and I was all oh my gosh is it really you. She gave me a hug and held me at arms length so she could get a look at me. “Ursala, how have you been?” I gave her a quick run down of my accomplishments which I thought would pale in comparison to whatever fantastic life she had managed to put together. 

“I have someone I want you to meet” and she looked past me and said “Chris.”

I turned around and there was Chris with a little baby carrier and stroller. He walked over, and I must mention that he did not look particularly happy and even less impressed to see me. I said hello and gave him and the baby a hug. I cooed and gushed over her beautiful family. She then went on to tell me that they got married three years ago, they had just built a house, and where trying to have a third baby. She quickly whipped out her phone to show me more pictures of the family. The whole time Chris just stood there. He kind of smiled, and nodded along, but he didn’t talk, he was just there. She just went on and on, and he just stood there. We talked for about twenty minutes and then we said goodbye and promised to keep in touch.   


I couldn’t help but remember that brush in her hand. I hope she is happy, I hope she got what she wanted.


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