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Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.

Diane

After a long day like today, all I want to do is hit the road, make my way over to have dinner with the man I love, and skip dessert for the best massage ever given on earth. Unfortunately, I’m going over to Jonathan’s instead, whom I don’t love – not even a little bit – and whose massages are only somewhat less than so-so. The only reason why I accepted his invitation to come by is because he said his mom stopped by earlier with some peach cobbler, and he had a carton of vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer. That’s almost equivalent to telling me that Denzel Washington is in his living room, half-naked, giving out free Louis Vuitton bags and kisses. With tongue. Of course I couldn’t resist, and I even volunteered to pick up a pizza on the way over. Besides, the one thing the two of us do have going on is the whole physical attraction thing. He’ll just be back from the gym when I get there, full of adrenaline…and I’ve had a long stressful day…and we haven’t hung out in nearly a week…you figure the rest out. What can I say? I’m a sucker for lust.

I confided this much to my sister and new roomie, Jina, last night while we watched a rerun of Cold Case and ate her not-so-famous lasagna. Initially, I started the Jonathan conversation just to tell her about my plan to dump him if he didn’t go all out for my birthday – big present, big dinner, the works. But then we ventured into some uncharted territory – deep into my feelings and emotions: Do I love him? Have I ever been in love? How do I know? Why am I still with him if you don’t love him? There must be some reason why I’m keeping him around. After awhile, I felt like I was a guest on Dr. Phil’s show (without the annoying quips and over-affected drawl from the host).

Her diagnosis of me is that I’m relationship dependent; that no matter how terrible things are, I always need a man in my life. As much as I wanted to protest and list off examples of how that wasn’t the case, the best I could do was remind her of the summer when Billy Thompson dumped me, and I ended up spending the days from Fourth of July to Labor Day all alone.

“Di, wasn’t that back when you were, like, 13?”

“14!” I correct her. “And I turned 15 on August 1.”

“Exactly. My point exactly. You can’t be alone.”

And by the time we hashed it over again and again, I finally agreed that she was right. Then we spent another forty-five minutes on why that was such an issue.

“Diane, you have to give yourself time just to be yourself, to be without commitment.”

“Why? I’ve always met the next person when things were winding down with the current person so, technically, I’ve never been all that committed in the first place.”

“Well, that’s a problem too. The way I see it, you’ve never truly been in a real relationship. In a real relationship, you’re not just settling or waiting around for someone better. You’re investing in one another. You’re building.”

“Okay, Tyra,” I told her, trying to assuage the pain of her truth with humor. Her advice to me was to just end things now – what was the point of waiting?

“Jina, it’s only two more weeks.”

“Two more weeks you could be out taking care of yourself, learning how to enjoy life by yourself. Spending your money on yourself. Buying dinner for only yourself.”

“Yes,” I said. “Going to the movies by myself. Talking to myself on the phone.”

No matter how salient her points were, I had my rebuttal for her; although most, I confess, were pretty shallow or straight-out irrational. Jina finally gave up, but I’d done nothing since but think about our dialogue. Between her statements and Veronica’s lecture for me a couple weeks ago, it was clear that I had to end this, at least if I didn’t really have feelings for him; if I didn’t really care about him.

Because really, he’d been more like a playmate or a buddy, aside from the sex. I probably haven’t been in love before so I can’t compare my feelings, but I’d say that I’m about as indifferent as one could be about this relationship. So I made the decision this morning that tonight would be the last supper between us.

He’s in the shower when I let myself in, and I tell myself this is the last time I’d have to endure him screaming out his favorite Sade songs with the bathroom door wide open during his ridiculously long washings. My goal is to just cut him off cold turkey, tonight…right after we eat and my stomach is busy digesting its second slice of cobbler a la mode. Jonathan, it’s just not working, is what I’m planning to say, perhaps even offering up a couple of tears so that it seems like the decision was a difficult one.

I settle down on his couch, unwinding his apartment gate and front door keys from my keychain. After nonchalantly dropping the keys in an ashtray, I hear the unmistakable hum of his cell phone vibrating on one of his end tables. It’s not like me to pry, but on the verge of ending this thing, I’m down with taking a risk. So I pick it up not quite knowing what to expect, but the ‘name’ I see on the display instantly agitates me.

‘Ex’

Ex? Who the heck is Ex? And if Ex is truly an ex, then why is she calling him? Why did he take the time to add her in as a contact if she is the ex? And why is she noted as ‘Ex’, and not ‘Lisa’ or ‘Kim’ or ‘LaKeisha’?

Acting solely on adrenaline now, I press the green answer button on the phone, my palms sweating and my pulse doing an Olympic sprint before I say, “Hello?”

After a slight pause, the female on the other end responds. “Can I speak to Jonathan?”

“Who’s this?”

Another slight pause before I hear the faint sound of the phone disconnecting. The display confirms it – she hung up. And I’m almost hysterical, fumbling the phone and almost dropping it, when I hear Jonathan’s singing coming down the short hallway. Just in time, I’m able to return the phone to its place on the table.

“Di! What’s up, babe?” He’s still damp, in a pair of boxers and a thin white t-shirt, as he makes his way over to give me a kiss. I don’t look him in the eye, but try to remain normal, like I’m not pissed off. Boy he’s lucky I was going to dump his ass in the first place or else I would be dumping his ass right now.

Ex?

My heart’s still racing and my palms wet as he makes his way to the kitchen to help himself to the pizza. I can’t believe him. I can’t believe he’s still communicating with his ex-girlfriend. And immediately, I’m curious for the first time. What’s her name? How tall is she? Did she go to college? Does she make him laugh?

And from somewhere, deep inside, it hits me – perhaps I do care. In fact, yes, I definitely care. I’m mad as heck, which is a long way from indifferent. I’m not dispassionate; I’m not lacking emotion. I hate that I just intercepted that call, but that might have been the best bad news I’ve received in a long time. My emotions right now tell a different story than the one I spilled last night to Jina.

So maybe this isn’t the best time to end things, I think to myself as I reach for the two keys I was going to return, slipping them into my purse pocket. I can at least go back to my original birthday plan, buying a couple more weeks to think about this situation. I just won’t tell Jina – really, I don’t think she could care one way or the other about my relationship with Jonathan. She just wants me to experience love, like she says she’s had before. I’d like to know how love feels as well.

Maybe love is not what I have for Jonathan. But I’d sure hate to find out that it was love by spending the next year or two recovering from the break-up.

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