by Matia C. Johnson
April 2007

Whoever said breaking up was hard to do?  The person obviously put too much of their emotions into cutting the strings loose on some loser.  I have my breaking-up strategy down to a science.  Let me tell you how it all started.
When I was in seventh grade, I learned that dumping boys was just as easy as changing an outfit.  I was only twelve, and I had no real experience or emotion when it came to the dating field.

There was this boy named Kenny.  He was short, brown skinned, cute face, and was my very first boyfriend.  He was in all of my classes, so I had no choice but to see him everyday.  I would always notice him staring at me in English; trying to get his friend to pass me one of those Can I have a chance? letters.  Of course, they were romantic in 1998, back during the days when owning a Giga pet or a portable CD player was cool.

“Matia Johnson, would you please be my girl?  Can I please have a chance?” I mused, letting Kenny’s words sink into my head.  I didn’t know what to say.  A chance?  The term seemed foreign to me.  I had never had a boyfriend before.  I didn’t know what to do with them!  I knew nothing about the art of love or even keeping a man at that time.  I didn’t even know how to kiss, but something inside me gave Kenny the thumbs up.  I was heading into unfamiliar territory, so I turned to my best friend Trai for help.

“Don’t ever show emotion.  You don’t want to get too mushy,” she warned me.  Trai was the expert on relationships so any advice she gave I followed.  She was a year older than me so I just knew she had more experience.

After a couple of days with Kenny I realized that he wasn’t the man for me.  Hell, I didn’t even know who the man for me was, but I knew it wasn’t him.  I had quickly lost interest in the boy.  Kenny became annoying; almost co-dependent.  He called my house at least four times a night, asking me the same tired questions:

“Where are you?  What are you doing?”  Like I wasn’t doing the same thing I was doing thirty minutes ago when he called the first time.  Something had to be done!  I had to cut this needy person off of my hands before things got too serious.  I turned to my best friend Trai again for help, and the rest was history.  Ancient history.

“Matia can’t go with you anymore because she can’t have a boyfriend.  Her father found out somehow; don’t know how, but anyways, she can’t be with you.  So you can stop calling her now.” Trai warned, and it was as simple as that.  Skip to four years later and I was still doing the same thing.  Trai was still handling my dirty work.  It had become a game to me.  No feelings attached.  If you didn’t meet the right standards, then you were sent packing fast.  No hard feelings, just business.

By the time my senior year rolled around, the news about Trai and I had spread quickly through the halls of Northwestern High School.  No boy took me seriously and just about everyone was hip to my game.  I was no longer twelve and I was looking for something other than a two week relationship.  Then Tony Toliver stepped into the picture, a transfer student from Connecticut.  I met him through a mutual friend when I was in chorus.  He was seventeen, the same age I was, and very popular.  Everyone knew him.  When he walked down the hallway there was always somebody saying “Hi” to him or giving him dap.  He also played the bass-line drums on the band, and during lunch he used to freestyle outside.  He would always develop a crowd, people tuning in to see what hot lyrics he would spit from his mouth this time.  Other than his musical abilities, he had a way with me that no body ever had before.  He was able to look at me with those big, brown mesmerizing eyes, and convince me that nothing else in the world mattered.  I was in love, taken aback by his charm, but didn’t have the heart to do anything about it.

“Don’t be a sucka Matia.  That’s the last thing you need.  You’re better staying away from these boys then ending up like every other girl here; just another pump,” she warned me, but something inside told me not to listen.  Till this day I think it was my backbone, something I never knew I had.  Did I really want to graduate high school without ever having a real boyfriend?  Did I really want to go into college doing the same thing I’d been doing for the past four years?  “Hell no” was my answer, and it was about time I grew up and started taking responsibility for my own actions.

One afternoon after Chorus and Band rehearsal, I saw Tony walking to the mall with some mutual friends.  I was biting the big bullet.  I was throwing myself out on a limb.  But none of that mattered to me any longer as I intruded in their group, making myself known and available to my future man.  Trai didn’t approve, but I did.  Two weeks later, Tony and I were dating.  For the first time in my life I was experiencing a real relationship and love, something that I never allowed myself to experience before.  Everything was all good.  I was in true bliss. That was, up until my first semester in college when he broke up with me.

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