“Do you have a girlfriend yet? Why not?”
“You can’t keep living like this. Let me set you up with someone.”
“I want grandkids!”
It’s 3 AM. Popcorn’s on the floor, feet are touching and Stranger Things is playing in the background. Netflix and chill, party of one.
Eyes are getting heavy and it’s time for the last stop of the night: iTunes shuffle. Beyoncé’s “Scared Of Lonely” is the first song that plays. I’ve heard this song before but, post-Lemonade, it’s taken on a new meaning. I imagine these were the thoughts that went through Beyoncé’s mind before she said “yes” to Jay Z. I wonder if she currently regrets her decision.
I rewind and press play again. I replay the song about five times over until it hits me: I’m not scared of lonely, I’m scared of love.
“I'm scared of lonely / And I'm scared of being the only shadow I see along the wall / And I'm scared the only heartbeat I hear beating is my own” – Beyoncé, “Scared Of Lonely”
Love is inescapable. We see it in hallmark cards, romantic comedies, and dancehall Drake songs. We see it in our friends getting married and our parents renewing their vows. We see it in the lives we hope to have one day.
I’ve never had time for relationships. For the majority of my life, I put work first. A devout believer in the American Dream, I chased it with the zeal of Tony Montana. I got the grades, got the degree, only to find out upon graduation that the Dream might not be for me. It’s at this juncture that you start questioning your life choices.
Up until last year, my excuse for a lack of social/love life went a lot like this scene from Whiplash:
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“This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep pursuing what I’m pursuing and because I’m doing that, that’s going to take up more and more of my time and I’m not going to be able to spend as much time with you...and because of that you’re going to start to resent me…and we’re just going to start to hate each other…because I want to be great.” – Andrew Neiman, Whiplash
Unlike Andrew, however, my moment of greatness never came. Despite my best efforts, all I did was scream my failures while those who loved me championed my accomplishments. I am Wale—cursed by my perception of success.
One of my biggest fears is divorce. It’s something that I’ve never had a tangible connection to but the concept in itself is terrifying. To me, it is better to have not loved at all than to have loved and lost. We’re born alone, we die alone so we might as well learn to live alone.
“Listen, could you imagine writing your deposition? / Divorce lawyer telling you how this thing gonna be ending? / With you paying out the ass and I’m talking half / Not some, but half, no, serious, half / Half of your soul, half of your heart, you leaving behind / It’s either that or die, I wanted peace of mind” – Nas, “Bye Baby”
Love is a drug. It’s exhilarating after the first hit and we’ll do just about anything to maintain that high. Like Yoh, GoldLink’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk slowly became my soundtrack for the summer. Its breezy beats are tailor-made for the season but they mask a pain usually reserved for the coldest winter.
And After That, We Didn’t Talk is an album about love, heartbreak and the struggles of being black in America. Over the course of eleven songs, GoldLink bares his soul as he reminisces about the one that got away and the crazy things he did in order to win her back. It isn’t until he climbs out of the abyss of drug dealing shootouts and one night stands that he realizes the error of his ways.
“I started lying to my homies and I lied to myself / I might just check into an institute to go get some help / I got a sick addiction to women and falling in love / And when the lovey dovey shit is lost then the thrill is gone” – GoldLink, “See I Miss”
A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others—the perks of being a wallflower. I’ve seen enough to know that being in a relationship is not for me, at least not right now. The temporary joy of being in another’s company is meaningless if I’m still struggling to love myself.
Love, real love, is beautiful. Jay Z and Beyoncé, Barack and Michelle, Trudy and Oscar Proud – these are the reasons why #RelationshipGoals exists. Their public displays of affection, resilience, and triumph show us the great things that can happen when we choose the right partner. I’m scared that I’m potentially robbing myself of this opportunity for no reason whatsoever.
I’m scared of love because I have little to give, I’m scared of writing this because nobody will relate, I’m scared that I’m wasting time. They say how you spend your days is how you spend your life and I’m scared that the habits of my 20s will soon become the lifestyle of my 50s: TV, junk food and late night existential crises.
My parents want grandkids and I don’t know what to tell them. I guess there’s always time for one more episode.