I once knew a woman named Maria. We were friends for over a decade before I ended our friendship. I want you to flashback with us today…not about why our friendship did not work but more about Maria’s journey to marriage. I’m going to tell you a story that just may put some perspective on something you are going through. Flashback with us as I tell you about the Tale Of Two Men. Maria is a beautiful and intelligent woman that was always a male magnet while I am more like the best female friend most guys have. We played our roles very well. She always had a boyfriend and I was always kicking with the homies…who were strictly my friends. One day Maria met a guy in college named Jasper who would one day propose marriage to her. So much I could say about their relationship and their engagement but in order to not violate the Ex friend code (do not tell intimate details of a person’s life that you are no longer friends with because they entrusted you with this information in confidence when you were once good friends)…I will only snap shot one part of that engagement. Basically neither Maria nor Jasper were actually ready to get married but because they had been dating for years and college was now over…the family pressure was on to get married. During this time period, I moved from PA to MD to VA and then to NC for work and school opportunities. I loved Julio but I was my main focus. Finding me, educating myself, and exploring all that life had to offer. I knew I was not ready for marriage and thank goodness the Michaels family was not in the business of meddling in my personal life. I could just be and that is exactly what I did. I am who I am because of that special time period where I moved only for me and I traveled the world as I added on to my degrees. Now back to Maria. I supported her quest for love though found her need to always have a man strange…I had never known her to be single since we were 14 years old! ?And she was very use to me always being single with some love interests through my journey of self discovery. Once again…we played our roles well. I was the side kick to Maria’s life and never did she take me on a crazier journey than when she became engaged to Jasper! At the time of their engagement, per her request, Maria and I lived in the same building in Northern VA. I was on the 7th floor and she was on the 16th. I lived there for two years before leaving for graduate school in NC. At the start of Maria and Jasper’s engagement…they became estranged. Barely spending time together…when they use to be joined at the hip. Maria could feel the distance but could not figure out how to pull Jasper back in…to focus on their upcoming nuptials. All things weddings…he seemed to avoid. Maria decided that it was time for her and I to hit the streets of D.C. and enjoy life. She was not just going to wait at home for Jasper. It was up to him to value what he had with her and work hard to build on it. I could respect Maria’s stance. I probably would have done the same. I know what you are thinking…Jasper and Maria were playing a dangerous game leading up to their nuptials. I agree but it wasn’t for me to say. She was one of my childhood best friends so my only job was to support her on whatever decisions she made. However, the true danger did not lie in the clubs and lounges of Washington, DC. Maria actually started falling in love with a guy who worked at her job. His name was Lawrence. Over time I got to know Jasper and Lawrence very well. Hell I hung out with Maria and her dudes on many occasions but she needed me to tag along on most of her outings with Lawrence so that she could honestly tell Jasper that the reason she was M.I.A. was because she was hanging out with me. ?Once again, she was my homegirl so I had her back no matter what. Plus I can honestly say she did not purposely seek Lawrence out. Jasper was always missing in action his damn self and if you ask me, he probably had a female version of Lawrence that he was kicking it with while he was suppose to be engaged! ? There would crucial evidence of such an affair later on in their engagement but I digress. And I won’t break the Ex friend code. But the evidence was damning and terrible! Back to Maria though. Even though I had known Jasper longer…there was something about him that I just did not trust. He had a perfect resume and good family blood lines which was important because Maria came from stocks and bonds money so she needed a driven man from a good family. Lawrence, on the other hand, was educated, up and coming, and from a family with some serious issues…according to Maria. Yet Lawrence had kind eyes and a kind spirit. Something about him made me think he would love Maria with his entire heart til the day he died and even from the grave! That’s how Lawrence looked at Maria and cared for her! ?? I watched the two of them fall in love for about a year before I moved to NC for graduate school. I knew it was wrong but part of me felt like God was trying to show Maria that it wasn’t all about a man’s resume and earning potential. There’s just so much more to a life partner…at least I think so. So much occurred after I left the D.C. Metro. Maria no longer had me there to tag along and play her side kick. She had to admit to herself that she was now involved in a full blown emotional affair with one man while being engaged to another! ? There was no hiding from that fact. Maria’s engagement to Jasper was 1.5 years before the set wedding date. And there Maria was…falling in love with Lawrence! Lawrence told Maria that if she would choose him…he would marry her. And I think we both believed him. It was all right there in his eyes. His vulnerable eyes. It wasn’t my place to tell Maria what to do but I know I would have chosen Lawrence. I would have wanted the man whose eyes said that he could love and commit to me forever. Not the one who could commit on paper but the journey of true commitment would be a long road. ✌? Maria had all of these facts before she got married…and right down to the night before she was suppose to marry Jasper…Maria was on the phone with me…asking me who she should marry. I never answered that question. It was not my place and it was not my life. All I could do was listen. And yes I was a bridesmaid in Maria’s wedding… I was there for her nuptials to Jasper. ? I know their first couple of years of marriage was rough…but I hear that’s normal. I also know Maria thought about and made contact with Lawrence several times after she married Jasper. She still wasn’t sure if she had made the right choice. And I truly believe Lawrence would have forgiven her for marrying Jasper if Maria finally decided to choose him! Well…it never happened! This year will make it 10 years since Maria made her choice and married Jasper. I have no clue if they are still together (though most likely) and if they are happy. When I cut Maria off, I asked mutual friends and associates to never give me an update on her…good or bad. However, my gut feeling is that Maria found out somewhere along the lines that Lawrence was the man for her! If I’m wrong…I am wrong but that is what my gut says. While I do not keep in touch with Maria and Jasper…I’m still very cool with Lawrence through social networks. Ironically, Maria was the one who asked me to friend request Lawrence and keep an eye on him since he did not accept her friend request after she married Jasper! ? Lawrence is still not married but from what I can tell he was in two long term relationships after Maria, got another degree, bought a house before Maria and Jasper, and has an amazing job! ??He still appears to be cool peoples. Though I do not know if his eyes will ever sparkle like it did when he saw Maria. I pray so. ?? The reason why I’m telling you this story is because often times we get wrapped up in the way life should be instead of the way it is. Maria was wrapped up in resumes, bank accounts, and everything else but her heart. Yes a man must be able to provide but you look at a man’s potential and ambition before you focus on what he’s currently doing. He just may be a bum in disguise living off of his family’s name! Now I’m not calling Jasper a bum. Naw chill…I’m not going there. But what I’m saying is why wasn’t love the main factor in Maria’s decision?! The moral of the story here is “not all that glitters is gold!” Sometimes you just have to follow your heart! I have dated the “mister great resume with some money” men…and it’s been my experience…that if I don’t love them…I won’t stay with them more than a couple of months! LOVE is the only reason I would marry! After all, I’m a chick that makes her own. Matter of fact…so was Maria…because last I check she was the breadwinner in her marriage. Ain’t life interesting…..~KJM on Flackback Friday saying LOVE is the reason why I stay down with the Ex Factor through thick and thin. That and I see things in him that I have never seen in any other man! ?? Stay down?