The year was 2013 and it was September and I was rushing through downtown Newark in the ironbound section, the Portuguese neighborhood trying to find a Sovereign Bank. I couldn’t believe in the entire city the only Sovereign Bank was on the other side of town. As I’m walking, the fall crisp air flowing through my fro, an elderly woman with a single long French braid down her back stops me and says, “Mami, I can tell you’re not happy. There’s a guy and you’re having doubts about him, let me talk to you about it.” She was swaying closer and closer to me with her long brown skirt and tan turtleneck. She walked with her hands behind her back. In a rush, I said sorry, put my head down and kept walking. As I power walked further into the Ironbound, I was stopped by another woman who repeated the same exact thing. This lady was younger, much larger and had on all black. I smiled and said “no thanks,” and continued down the street completely in my thoughts about what just happened. I knew I had to go and get some answers. I walked up and down the sidewalk twice looking for either woman, but I couldn’t find them. When I brushed it off and decided to just let it go, the first elderly woman appeared in the doorway to a storefront apartment, I followed her inside and up two flights of steps into a room where she asked me to have a seat. She laid out a row of brightly colored tarot cards and told me a story.
Romantic relationships are a lot like story charts. There’s the exposition or beginning. You’re at that stage where you’ve just met and are getting to know the basics about one another and figuring out what makes you like this person. Pretty much this is the undefined, infatuation phase. Then there are the rising actions or the building process where you’ve gotten into the groove of each other and are committed. All of these events will hopefully lead you to the climax where you reach a high point or significant milestone in your relationship. Depending on how you write your chapters, the rising actions repeat themselves until there’s another climax and another, but if you aren’t lucky, you peak and then begin the denouement process—the decline that ultimately leads to the conclusion. The end.
After years of dating, we reached our climax at year 6. We had moved in together and adopted a cute little fur baby who I absolutely adored and for six months into living together my entire relationship was laid out in front of me and I realized I wasn’t happy at all, thus beginning the denouement process, falling actions. I was working towards a degree in a career I wasn’t thrilled about, but I thought the stability that came with that field would allow me to have the family I wanted or in other words, I settled for a career choice that would accommodate him. That was mistake or falling action number one. I had given up my dreams of being a writer to focus on preparing for a marriage that in reality wouldn’t have benefited me much, mistake number two. I became a domestic house woman, working part time while I finished graduate school, doing all the cooking and cleaning and taking care of the dog to my frustration. I did start to have my doubts and I questioned daily is this the life I wanted for myself, but I had invested six years of my youth in this. I was 17 and fresh out of high school when he and I started dating and spent all of college and graduate school with him. I didn’t know anything else. I was accustomed to one type of guy, him. Until I met someone else who lit me up like a Christmas tree. He inspired me.
Here he was this creative, deep and adventurous guy. He had ambition and serious drive. He had everything I secretly desired and wanted for myself. It was as if the door to Narnia had been found. I reached the last of my falling actions and he was the new beginning and conclusion to something that needed to die. I wondered could he be the man the elderly lady told me I would meet. She said he would show me a different life and open me up to a world of love, life and adventure.
Even though he was just a season in my life, he did show me all of those things. I walked away from my six year relationship with nothing at 23. I had to learn financial responsibility, how to lease an apartment on my own, and how to just be an individual since most of my identity had been molded into someone else’s. This new love and inspiration served as my muse to begin writing again, it was the thing that catapulted me into this adventurous journey to figuring out who Deja is. I’ve come to know her well and love her life. Even though I had concluded that phase in my life, I was just reaching the climax of one hell of a journey. The cards had been laid, and my fate lied in them.