Read an Excerpt
Sunday Go to Meetin'
Lord, good morning. It's me again--Lexi. I come to You this morning with humble heart and mind. I'm truly grateful for the many things You've done in my life. I'm thankful for passing the bar examination on the first try. I know it could have only been You. I'm thankful for my law practice, even though I'm not making all the money I want to make right now. I know it's coming. I'm thankful for wonderful friends, even Jewel. You've truly brought me a long way.
I know I haven't been reading my Bible like I should lately, but honestly, Lord, I've been tired. I know You've delivered me from some "stuff," but sometimes I feel like I have to fight for everything. Is this the way it's always going to be? Forgive me for questioning You. And speaking of forgiveness, please excuse my weakness (again) when I gave in to Reggie. I'll try to be stronger the next time. I know sex is a sin; I'd been doing pretty well by holding out, but some of these men are really not with the celibacy program. (Oh, why does this phone always ring when I'm in the middle of prayer!) And Lord, please bless this day! Thanks. Amen!
My eyes sprang open. Still kneeling, I reached over to grab the receiver from the nightstand. "Hello?"
"Hey, bud. What's up? It's Capri."
I got up and sat on the side of my bed. "Hey, girl."
"Just calling to see what time we were meeting for brunch."
"Angelica said we should aim for one, which is when I made reservations, so we should head to brunch right after church."
"I mean Angel."
"Since when do we call her Angelica?"
"I don't know. She's been going through this pseudo-bourgeoise phase."
"What's that all about?" Capri asked.
"She's on a 'I'm a mature business woman of the world' trip. You know Angel. She can be intense."
"I would expect that type of drama from Jewel, but not Angel."
"Anyway, girl, what are you wearing?" I asked.
"I don't know. Whatever I get up and decide to put on."
"I think I'm going to wear a dress today. I feel like being very feminine," I said.
"Whatever. This Sunday brunch thing is really starting to be a bore . . . all we do is gossip."
"Ummm . . . I know. But with all our schedules, it's the only way we can stay connected," I said.
"I guess you're right."
"I really look forward to our little brunch dates."
"That's because you don't have a life," Capri said.
I tried not to get an attitude about Capri's comment since, for the moment, it was true. Dating Reginald wasn't exactly my idea of "a life." I tried to remember the last time we'd gone out for a date instead of staying in, watching rented DVDs and eating takeout food. It had actually been several months.
"I have to go. I have to do my usual Sunday morning makeover," I said with all seriousness in my voice.
"Alright, girl, but make sure you exfoliate those feet, because the last time I saw them, they were lookin' kinda rough. Oh yeah, and please be on time to church."
"See, why'd you have to go all there with the feet?" I said as I inspected my heels. "Some of us can't afford the weekly pedicures, OK? Some of us have to get out the old pumice stone from time to time and do it ourselves. Some of us have to slather on the petroleum jelly and use a few plastic sandwich bags. Is that OK with you?"
"Lexi! I'm just kidding, girl. I know how sensitive you are about your feet."
"And I'll be on time."
"Bye, girl," Capri said.
After I hung up, I walked to the bathroom and ran my bathwater. I added some crystals and a little baby oil to the water. Steam and the scent of vanilla tickled my nose. I removed a large natural-colored towel from the linen closet and draped it across the vanity stool. I pulled out a mulberry-scented candle and lit it with a match from a San Antonio souvenir matchbook. I slid in the tub and let the clear, smooth water cover me like a blanket. Then I tilted my head back against the inflatable terry cloth pillow.
I grabbed my favorite magazine, Essence, and perched it on the silver bath tray in front of me. I flipped each page, trying to find something interesting.
Oooh, beauty secrets of Hollywood's A-list. Hmmm, let's see . . . Oh, that's what Janet Jackson uses on her skin? Bet. I'm going to check that out. She's still my girl! . . . Get out! Tyra Banks uses this lip gloss? It only costs $4.99?
I continued flipping the pages, soaking up the latest celebrity beauty trends and outfits, enjoying a guilty pleasure before getting ready for church. I soon dropped the magazine on the floor and slid farther into the warm water. My muscles welcomed the soothing liquid.
My serenity was interrupted by hunger pangs.
I still have some fruit in the fridge. I can grab some grapes on the way out to tide me over till brunch.
Brunch with Jermane, Jewel, Angel, and Capri had become our ritual ever since we graduated from Westwood's School of Law. Regardless of what's going on in our lives (and it could be anything), we rarely failed to meet after church every Sunday.
Although I wasn't raised in the church, I had developed a deeper connection to God since moving to Houston. In the South, church is such a normal part of life. But the longer I live, the more I realize that going to church is just the beginning. You don't experience true growth until you develop a personal relationship with God.
Back in my undergrad days, I was way too busy enjoying the freedom and benefits of the "Black college experience" to get deeply spiritual. Plus, some of the students who said they were saved were the most conniving, cheating folks I'd ever met. I almost resented Christians, and now here I am, going to church weekly, on my way to developing a personal connection with the Lord. God has a plan for all of us to be in certain places at certain times, to meet certain people, to grow, love, learn, share, teach, and uplift.
Despite my delayed spiritual connection, I've always had wisdom beyond my years, which has helped me to keep all of my friends connected. We're all at different places in our careers, relationships, and spiritual lives, and learn a lot from each other. Unbelievably, my friends think that I have it all together. What's even crazier is that they think I'm very spiritually grounded because I pray often and am the most expressive about my walk with God.
Still, there are times when I really struggle. My girls don't realize that sometimes, when I'm alone, I go into a hole and have my minor breakdowns.
When I go under, I go into deep thought and meditation. I may cry, shout, scream to God--apologize later--and eventually pray. Sometimes I get depressed. What? Christians aren't supposed to get depressed? Well, it happens. What's most important is that you don't stay depressed, or claim that for your life. And I'm getting better. I don't go under as much. I'm talking to and trusting God more and more.
Still, each day is a challenge. People have a tendency to push my buttons, even more so since I've become a Christian. I guess it's all a part of my test to become more Christlike in my actions. All in all, though, my friends are right. I'm pretty together and, might I add, quite fashionable.
I cupped a handful of water and let it trickle down my chest. I looked down at my body and smiled to myself. It had taken me quite some time to appreciate it. God made every inch, including a little cellulite. I began bathing with my natural soap.
Hmmm, Reggie hasn't called.
Instead of going with me to church, as he often promised he would, Reggie usually called Sunday mornings. Reggie is my latest "S. O."--significant other--and my latest project.
People tell me that I set my standards too high. I disagree, but in the interest of possible self-improvement, I've decided to be a little less stringent. After a string of heartbreaks in college and law school, lately I've been meeting guys who don't fit my "ideal man" list, but have potential. Hence, Reginald, a plant supervisor, was able to get through the door.
I met him one night while I was at happy hour with the girls at The Sky Bar, a local hot spot for professionals. I've never been too into clubs, and since I've given my life to the Lord, my club days have been fewer and farther between. Nonetheless, when I first moved to Houston, I went out occasionally.
When I met Reggie, he was dressed in a black suit, French blue shirt, and dark grey tie. He looked masculine, sexy. I could tell he was staring at me, but I pretended not to notice. Finally, he eased over, introduced himself, and asked me to dance. I said "Yes."
While we were dancing, I managed to take in as much of him as possible. I inspected the areas I usually notice on a man. Hands: not extremely smooth, but clean. Shirt: ironed, crisp, fresh. Hair: cut low with short, faded sideburns.
Then I took in his face . . . smooth, milk chocolate skin, thick eyebrows, and deep-set eyes . . . potential.
I could tell he was surveying me as well. I had on a fitted burgundy suit, the one I wear when I want my waist to look smaller. My pencil skirt, strategically resting right above my knee, hugged my form. A hint of cleavage peaked from underneath my jacket. Plus, I wore my "killer" burgundy ankle-strapped Via Spiga (the only pair I possessed in my closet) leather pumps.
My hair was flatironed to perfection with a side bang gracing the tip of my arched eyebrows. My nutmeg skin glowed with a hint of bronzer, and my sheer lip gloss played up my natural features. Of course, I smelled good enough to bite . . . some new fragrance the saleswoman at Victoria's Secret had talked me into.
The DJ put on a slow jam--"Anytime," by Brian McKnight. I signaled to Reggie that I wanted to stop dancing, since Brian McKnight is sacred and reserved only for that special someone. After easing off the floor, I positioned myself next to him, but not too close.
"This is a nice crowd," he said, attempting to inch closer to me, trying not to invade my comfort zone.
"Yes. I haven't been here in a while. This is my night to hang out with the girls, so I decided to come out for a minute," I said, trying to sound relaxed.
"Are you from here?"
"No. I'm originally from Virginia," I said.
"Oh," he said, almost with a look of relief.
"Are you?" I said, bracing myself.
A native . . . hmmm.
Maybe it was my imagination, but so far, the native Texan men I'd met seemed a bit spoiled. It didn't help matters that some of the women seemed so aggressive, fighting over brothers and even setting traps to keep them. I wasn't about to do all that to get a man, so I figured I'd definitely have to wait on Jesus to guide me to my special someone. There had to be men out there who knew what they wanted and how to treat a woman. Maybe Reggie was one of them.
"Would you like a drink?" he asked.
"Just club soda and lime," I replied.
He signaled the waitress, adorned in tight black low-rise capri pants and a halfway-believable weave, to come over and take our order. She looked a little tired, but she was still polite.
"Can I get you something?" she said, not even acknowledging my presence.
"Yes," he said, trying not to look at how half her breasts were showing out of her white satin shirt.
"I'd like a cognac and Coke . . . club soda and lime for the lady," he said, trying to sound smooth.
She acknowledged the request and swished off into the sea of people.
"So, are you single?" he asked.
"Depends. What do you mean by single?"
"Unattached, not married, no one special; I can't imagine you not having anyone special."
Please, a little more originality. "What if I told you I had someone?" I said.
"You can have friends, can't you?"
Oh brother, so predictable. Can we just bypass all the preliminary mumbo jumbo?
"Well, I don't have anyone special, but I do have friends."
"Well, that's good enough for me. So, how can I get in touch with you?"
"Do you mean may you have my number?" I said.
"Yes, that's what I meant."
"Uh . . . OK. Do you have a pen?" I said with hesitancy.
"No, but our waitress is on the way back. I'll ask her."
When she came over, she handed him her pen and gave us our drinks. We exchanged numbers and small talk. He was articulate and seemed like a professional. I didn't ask what he did. I always thought that was a tacky question to ask when you first meet someone, although my friends begged to differ.
He called after the typical two-day waiting period, and we ended up talking for hours about our likes, dislikes, movies, sports, and relationships. The conversation just flowed. It turned out he'd been in the service and traveled extensively. Reggie was intelligent and funny. He made me laugh aloud throughout our conversation. I didn't see any immediate signs of sexual orientation issues or abusive tendencies, so even though I wasn't thrilled when I found out his line of work, I agreed to go out with him.
Our first date was simple but fun. We rode out to the boardwalk in Kemah and had lunch one Saturday afternoon. It seemed like we were off to a good start, though in retrospect I realize we never talked about spiritual issues. Then, after several pleasant outings (including a few trips together to church!), I became his "after he got in from the club" date. I allowed myself to fall into that zone because I was just happy to have the company. He was so comfortable to be around, like an old pillow. His chest was solid and broad and great to lean against. He was affectionate and loved to call me "baby girl."
Reggie was nice, but he still turned me off because I was last on his list of priorities. It seemed he had more time for everything else, including his obnoxious, unattached friends, over me.
From the Trade Paperback edition.