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What's His Is Mine
By Daaimah S. Poole
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2010 Daaimah S. Poole
All rights reserved.
What's wrong with wanting half? Some womendream of becoming doctors, athletes, andlawyers. Others dream of marrying them.
— Adrienne Sheppard
It was 7 a.m. and it was already forming into a hot August day. I was off from my job as a nurse at the Mantua Nursing Home. I couldn't wait to get home and get in my bed. I was so exhausted. I did three double shifts in the last week and was so happy I had the next two days off. I planned to get some rest and get refreshed.
Right now the only thing standing in my way of getting home was the slow- moving traffic on 76 West in Philly. I tried not to fall asleep at the wheel of my Nissan Maxima. I turned on the radio and rolled down the window. I was so sleepy and really needed rest. Sleep right now was a privilege. It was the equivalent of money, an exotic vacation, or some real good sex. I wished I had all those things right now. I was so deprived. I was one hour away from sleep. I had it all planned out, how I was going to get to my bed faster. I was going to go straight to my mom's house and pick up my daughter, Malaysia. Then I was going to drop her off at day care and after that I was going to keep my appointment with my bed. I could not wait.
After fighting traffic for forty minutes I arrived at my mother's home. I walked in my mother's eccentrically decorated home. Since my grandfather had passed, my mom tried to fix up the old row home. She got an E for effort. You're not supposed to put new furniture in a house with old carpet and wallpaper. There were touches of zebra and leopard prints here and there, with mixtures of chiffon and a lot of bright-ass colored Ikea furniture. In two words: hot mess. But that was my mother, Debbie, for you — over the top, crazy Deb. My mom is white and my father is black, which makes me black. I was raised by my white mom and white grandparents, but I still always felt like I was a 100 percent black, even though I didn't necessarily look it. My complexion was cocoa butter yellow, and I had long curly hair that without a flatiron would be big and curly. I have had Spanish people try to speak Spanish to me and I always say "No español" back to them. My mother raised me without my father's assistance. Neither he nor his family ever accepted his mixed race child, and I never cared.
My mother was feeding oatmeal to my daughter, Asia, in high chair. As soon as Asia saw me she smiled and raised her hands so I could pick her up. I took her out of her high chair.
"Hey, Asia, girl. Hey, Mommie's baby," I said as I kissed her all over her dimpled cheeks. She was only sixteen months, but so smart and adorable. Asia has her father's chocolate skin and my naturally curly hair. The combination of complexions made a beautiful, cinnamon baby doll.
My mom handed me the bowl of oatmeal and said, "You can finish this. I have to get ready for work. I hope you brought her some clean clothes, because she doesn't have any."
"There's nothing clean in her bag? Mom, you couldn't do me a favor and wash her clothes? You know I have to take her to school."
"No, I couldn't have, Adrienne. I'm tired. She is your daughter. Sometimes I think you forget that and take advantage. You are going to have to find yourself a teenager or someone else to babysit. I love her, but I can't watch her all the time."
"You don't watch her all the time." I sighed.
"Yes, I do, and I can't watch her this Saturday because me and Joe are going to Foxwoods out in Connecticut. We're seeing a show and going to dinner."
"Huh? This weekend? I have to work," I said, annoyed.
"Adrienne, I told you two weeks ago to try to find someone else to watch her, because I have something planned."
"Great, Mom, now I'm going to have to call out," I said as I packed my baby up and headed toward the door.
Whatever, I thought as I put Asia in her car seat and I got back in my car. My mom really irked me. She was always complaining about watching her own grandchild. I didn't get it. Since she'd been with her boyfriend, Joe, and lost her weight from gastric bypass surgery, she thought she was young now and it was so damn irritating. She was always talking about going out and how she was not a built-in babysitter. She stayed talking trash about watching Asia, except for the days it was time for me to pay her. Then she was all smiles.
Forget her! I was tired and ready to fall asleep at every light. I was mad I had to go all the way home to get Asia dressed. I honestly thought about letting her do a repeat at day care. Who would notice? But I couldn't send my baby girl to school looking unwanted and unloved. The other option, if I didn't take her to day care, was to let her stay home. That wouldn't work. I would never get any rest with her there. She would be up all morning bothering me. It would have worked when she was a little younger. I used to be able to feed her, give her a bottle, and sit her in her playpen in front of the television. Now I can't do that, because she has learned how to get out of there. So I had to find the strength to take her to school so I could get rest.
I took Asia to school and came back home, took off my scrubs, showered, and fell onto my bed. As soon as I dozed off the phone rang. I picked up the phone groggily, only to hear my daughter's father, DeCarious Simmons, shouting, "When can I see my daughter?"
"I don't know. In a few weeks," I said as I yawned. I turned over on my stomach to look at my alarm clock. I couldn't believe I had only been asleep for about fifteen minutes. I was sleep deprived and not in the mood to have a conversation with him.
"I'm tired. I'll call you back," I said.
"No, don't hang up. Why do I have to wait a few weeks?"
"DeCarious, because that's what I said. That's the only time I'll be able to take off again. I wouldn't have to work like a slave if you gave me more money to take care of your daughter."
"Since when is four thousand a month not enough to take care of a one-year-old? I pay my child support," he yelled in my ear.
"Who are you yelling at?" I asked, sitting up in the bed. I wasn't about to let this moron get me upset. "No, four thousand is not enough, DeCarious. You spend that on drinks and dirty whores in the club."
"I don't ... Whatever, man. Can I just come up there and get my daughter?"
"No, you can't take my daughter anywhere without me. As a matter of fact, I just got off work and I'm tired. Good-bye," I said as I powered my phone off. If I didn't turn the phone off, it was guaranteed he would call back.
I hated my daughter's father, DeCarious Simmons. He is a certified asshole. In the beginning of our relationship he would do anything for me. The first day I met him in Vegas, he took me shopping and had a car take me to the airport. Back then you couldn't have told me that I didn't hit the jackpot. He was a rookie in the NFL and played for the Seattle Seahawks, making great money, and wanted to be with me. When I got pregnant he was so happy. But then his hating-ass cousin Rock told him he wasn't my first athlete and a bunch of other shit. Some of it was true, some of it wasn't. Okay, so what if I hung out with other guys in the league before ... And? I didn't think it was a deal breaker, but DeCarious thought it was.
Once he heard about my other indiscretions, he confronted me and I did what I was supposed to do, which was deny, deny, deny, and deny some more. I wasn't there, it wasn't me, wrong girl, and I don't know what you're talking about. But it didn't work or matter, because his whole attitude changed toward me.
He changed from "Baby, whatever you want" to "I'm going to do whatever I want and you can take it or leave it." I decided to leave it, and as soon as I did, I felt like I took a flight from the glamorous life back to the below average life. Let me tell you, it was not a fun transition at all. I had to go back to work and pay my own bills and do everything for my daughter on my own. And it's been so hard.
And to make matters worse, he was not in Seattle anymore. He got traded to his home team, Atlanta, and was doing good. So he thought he was somebody for real now, and he was not. He was just a dumb jock who was making a lot of money. You would think that since he was in the NFL and made two million dollars a year, I would have had it made. Wrong! I only got four thousand a month in child support. How the judge did that math, I will never know. You might think four thousand a month was a lot, but it wasn't, because I had real bills.
My mortgage was twenty-seven hundred dollars a month. Then let's not forget day care, student loans, my car note, car and home owner's insurance, gas, electric, cable, cell phone, clothes, and all the money I paid my mom for keeping Asia overnight. And then I had so much debt. When I was with my daughter's father, I paid my credit cards down, but over the last year, I'd run them all back up. I didn't know how, but I guess because I found a reason to shop all the time. I just liked shopping. Me and Asia always needed things. It's like after the third time I wore something, it lost its newness and I didn't want to wear it anymore. I just couldn't walk past a store without buying something. When I was at the mall, I always saw cute shoes or sneakers for Asia and I had to buy them.
So, long story short, living off of my child support was not an option. I was about to try to see if I could get my child support modified. I needed seven thousand a month to take care of myself and daughter properly, at the very least. That's not asking a lot. And don't try to judge me and say I needed to be happy with what I had. Please. My daughter needed to be living the same lifestyle as her father.
Okay, let's get something clear right now. Everybody wants money and likes money. Everyone wants to be comfortable and not have to work hard every day. That's why people play the lottery — to get ahead, to get that extra. I was trying to get my extra by having my daughter by someone rich. I thought I was securing my future for the next eighteen years and making an investment, but I wasn't and I didn't. All I did was buy myself a lot of headaches. My first headache would be DeCarious's ass. My second headache was my missing friend, Tanisha, who I haven't seen in a year.
Tanisha was not really missing. She just ran away. She thought she'd killed her boyfriend's crazy ex-girlfriend, who was trying to kill her. The ex-girlfriend carjacked Tanisha and then tried to shoot her. Somehow Tanisha got ahold of the gun and ended up shooting the ex-girl. She came to my house all upset, bloody, and crying, saying she killed a girl in the park. I tried to calm her down and reassure her that everything was going to be okay. I consoled her, gave her new clothes, and drove her back to the park so we could see if the woman was really dead. At the park there were red and blue flashing lights and yellow crime scene tape in every direction. Just looking at the chaotic scene, we knew she must have killed the woman.
Tanisha was hysterical and I had to help her. The first thing I did was to dump the gun. I thought if there was no gun and no one saw them together, how could they link her to the shooting? But then Tanisha's daughter called and said the cops had already been to her house and wanted to speak with her about something really important.
At that point I was so scared for her that I drove her to the train station. I just couldn't see her going to jail. The only thing I could think to tell her was to run and never come back. I shouldn't have told her to run, but at the time it seemed like the best idea.
When I told her to run, never would I have thought that the woman she thought she'd murdered really wasn't dead. And secondly, I wouldn't have dreamed that Tanisha wouldn't get in contact with me or her family for an entire year. After watching the news, I found out that Tanisha hadn't killed anyone, I ran back to the train station to get her, but she was gone. I was hoping she would call, even though I instructed her not to.
When all of this first happened, I was going crazy. I used to try to go and check on her children, but I couldn't look in their faces. They were devastated. They weren't sure what exactly happened to their mother, and I knew but couldn't say anything.
A few days after the shooting, the cops found her car down the street from my house. They questioned me twice and asked me if she had contacted me. I told them I spoke to her the night of the shooting, but our conversation was normal and she didn't mention anything unusual.
So, for a year I have been going through it. I wanted to tell the authorities what I knew. I wasn't sure if she was dead or alive. I had no idea what happened to her, until she wrote me a letter a few weeks ago saying she was okay, living in Detroit, and coming back soon. I was so happy because I felt so guilty and it had been weighing me down.
Initially, I thought about going to Detroit and finding her myself, but I decided against it. I was glad she was coming back, but I didn't know what kind of charges she was going to face. She didn't murder anyone, but she did shoot that girl.
Knowing that she was okay was a relief, but now I just hoped that I didn't go to jail, too. They could charge me with ... I think it's called aiding and abetting. I should have dropped her off at the police station and kept it moving.
So I was already so over this. I lived with the guilt of her leaving. I'd already gained weight over worrying about the situation. I'd come to the conclusion that it was not my fault. I didn't know that the woman wasn't dead. I didn't know the lady who tried to kill Tanisha shot Kevin, too! I told Tanisha to run, but she didn't have to listen to me.CHAPTER 2
"Aunt Kiya! Aunt Kiya! They fighting again."
I was startled out of my sleep by my six-year-old nephew Kyle's voice. I jumped up and threw some clothes on.
"Stay here," I ordered him as I ran downstairs to the kitchen. My sister, Lisa, was throwing canned food and anything else she could find at her boyfriend, Mikey.
"You want to stay out, so just stay out. Don't do me any favors coming in at three in the damn morning. Just stay out all night," she screamed at him. Mikey just stood against the stone-colored countertop, trying to explain himself and duck the objects Lisa threw at him. This was a common scene in our household. Fight. Love. Fight. Love. I hate you! Get out! No, never mind ... come back home. My sister and her boyfriend had been together for as long as I could remember. You see one, you see the other.
Growing up it was always Lisa and Mikey. They were the cute couple that dressed alike and had the perfect prom picture. Back then, you would have thought they were going to grow up and have the big wedding and live happily ever after. I don't know what happened to the happily ever after. I guess they both grew up, had the twins, and reality set in. Everyone was so over the Lisa and Mikey drama. Especially me, because I was always in the middle, breaking it up. I hated Mikey, and Mikey's parents hated Lisa, and I wished they would just break up for good. But anytime you suggested breaking up with Mikey, Lisa would use the excuse that she had the boys, she was stuck, and she had already put too many years in with him to leave.
I coughed and stood in the doorway, letting my presence be known, in case Mikey got the dumb idea to throw something back at her, and then we would have to jump him. They both looked over at me. Instead of ending the argument, Lisa continued to cuss Mikey's ass out.
"Listen, go back out into the streets. I don't care. I know you were out there cheating on me, probably at the bar with some bitch."
"I wasn't cheating on you. I don't want to go back out there. I just want to go to sleep, Lisa. I'm tired," he said, sighing and rubbing his forehead.
"You are a damn liar," Lisa said as she threw the toaster directly at his knee. He bent down to grab his knee.
Miles ran over to his father to make sure he was okay and said, "Mommy, please don't hurt Daddy."
Before Lisa could pick up anything else, Mikey looked over at Lisa and shook his head. He picked up his son and walked past Lisa. She stood in place — he knew she couldn't throw anything else. After he walked out of the kitchen, Lisa looked at me like why was I up? I began picking everything up off the floor.
"I don't think it is good for Miles to hear or see y'all fight," I said.
Lisa flagged me and said, "It is not good for his father to come home in the middle of the night. I am so tired of this shit, I wish he would leave."
My sister knew she really didn't want Mikey to leave. Because the moment Mikey left for a few days she was going crazy. She would go out and track him down. She would beg him to come home, he would apologize, and then they would be blissfully in love for about a week.
Excerpted from What's His Is Mine by Daaimah S. Poole. Copyright © 2010 Daaimah S. Poole. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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