We were mid-western boys united at a University that not only pushed Black excellence but excellence PERIOD! Up-rooted from our blue collar cities, we were placed in the nations capitol at 18 years of age, forced to abandon our comfort zones of home and embrace strangers that would become family as the years past. We resided on Howard University's campus at Drew Hall in room 212...and in that room we became brothers through sharing personal stories, vulnerable moments, and taking the time to truly understand each other differences. I recall a convo in which we spoke on marriage and children and he asked me what age do you want to be married by? How many children do you want to have? Where do you want to live? I asked him the same and the only answer I remembered of his was he wanted to move back to LA where he was born but I surely remember all of my answers.
What age do you want to be married by?
26 definitely 26!
How many children do you want to have?
Well my parents had three of us so I have to have at least three but I think a starting 5 would be great!
Where do you want to live?
When it's all said and done...Cleveland is the city!
I like my 18 year old self. I had it all figured out. I was going to graduate from Howard and go out into the working world and make a ton of money and after four years of getting settled into adulthood, me and the girl of my dreams were going to get married at 26. Afterwards, we were going to buy a house and start having children and eventually move to Cleveland. Sounded like a great plan at 18.
2005 arrived and Senior year was upon us in the blink of an eye. I spent the summer before working diligently on my demo with hopes of becoming a songwriter but all of that changed when my same roommate from freshman year convinced me to sell the demo to students on campus and that we did very well! So well that it led to a concert in the Punch Out with a band I had scrambled to put together that I called "The Souljourners." It was crazy to me how many people liked the demo and even crazier when my mom called me to tell me that she gave the demo to my cousin who arranged a meeting for me in Cleveland the week before graduation with his college roommate...who happened to be the Senior VP or A&R's at Sony Records.
I was hyped! After taking my last final of my college career, me and my other roommate drove over night to make it to that meeting in my hometown and the meeting was great! They loved my music and said they'd be in touch really soon. Before I left the meeting this older white man who was with the A&R pulled me aside and said "you're extremely talented but I want to tell you something about this business...In the record business...A YES is a maybe and a NO is a no...today you got a yes...good luck to you."
I left that meeting feeling great! I was on my way to the top and nobody could tell me different! Me and my roommate drove back to DC and we were talking about the meeting and how I felt and then he asked me a question...When do you think you'll be at the grammy's? With all confidence I said "No later than 2008." That yes definitely meant maybe and eventually was a flat at no! Yet and still...
I like my 22 year old self. I had it all figured out. I was going to graduate from Howard and sign a record deal with Sony and record a classic album! Me and my band were going to tour the world and definitely by my sophomore album I was going to win a grammy. Then at the end of that year I would be married just as I planned. Sounded like a great plan at 22.
Ten years later...it's the year 2015! I brought in the New Year playing with my band "Nat Turner" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which happens to be the city where my college roommate was raised. It was great to see his family at the show supporting me and my band. As for him he couldn't make it cause he's happily married with a one year old son and living in Los Angeles, California. I'm happy that he made the answers to his questions at 18 a reality. As for me at the age of 32, I'm non-married, non-children having, non-grammy nominated, and non-grammy award winning Aaron "Ab" Abernathy and I LOVE my 32 year old self! I had the opportunity to have all the things that I don't have and made the decision to forgo them for all the right reasons at that time.
ON THE GRAMMY:
In 2010 my demo landed on the desk of a top executive at EMI Records and I got a call to meet with him in New York City. The meeting went really well and less than three months later I signed a subsidiary deal with one of top guys in the music industry. He said he loved my music and with a few tweaks I would definitely be a star. We had 11 months to tightened up and present to major labels. He was connected to everybody in the business. When he placed a call to almost anyone, they would pick up or call him back shortly. I was sure that this was the beginning of something great. Two months after signing the deal, I received a record from him in my email inbox that he wanted me to record for my album and to present to labels. This record was soooo corny. It was a bad record and definitely something that I would never sing! I told my management that I politely decline from going in this direction and they agreed with me. They delivered the message and that was the last time I heard from that top executive ever again. We had nine more months left in the deal to work and nothing! The subsidiary deal terminated the next year and that was that. I'm pretty sure If I would've recorded what he wanted me to record...I'd probably have a grammy but there was no way that I was going to be someone that I'm not to climb the latter to get an accolade.
It's very simple...great people are very easy to come by and I've been blessed to spend time and get to know women who are extremely talented, wonderful, and beautiful human beings...but locating the rare find that fits you that is not easy.
In my mid twenties I can be honest and say I didn't know myself well enough to know who I was in order to know what the rare find that fits me looks like. At 26 I had an idea but truly didn't know enough about what marriage entails and most importantly myself to vow to spend the rest of my life with someone else for better or worse. I was in serious conversations with the woman I was madly in love with at the time about getting married because 1.) I felt like we'd been together for years and 2.) I LOVED HER and 3.) it was what I was suppose to do right?...WRONG and I'm glad we didn't go through with it because it wouldn't have been fair to her or myself.
What was interesting about my mid twenties was I didn't even know I was focused on fitting into the program that the world sells to us daily...
- Finish school
- Get a good paying job
- Meet a significant other
- Get married
- Buy a house
- Have children,
- Live happily or sadly ever after
I actually went the opposite way of what the world deems as normal and to this very day I'm questioned on...
What age do I want to be married by?
How many children do you want to have?
Where do you want to live?
Feels like I'm 18 all over again but this time I'm totally okay with not knowing the answers to any of these questions. What I found in my late twenties was perspective in spending years by myself. I needed to be alone way more than being with anyone. The years I've spent by myself, getting to know myself and dealing with myself are my golden years. In these years I've found out who I am and have cleaned up the mess around my heart so that I won't damage others. I've grown and continue to grow to be a better person by being hard on myself and fairly assessing my shortcomings. I've discovered that we all go about life in different ways and no particular way is the "right" way. I've discovered the way I want to go about it and what I need to maintain my happiness...therefore I know what the right love for me looks like. At 32...I can identify my rare find and in the proper time we can answer all the questions above...
In the proper time....
Alone I discovered that timing is everything and sometimes love and timing just don't add up. It doesn't mean that you have to abandon the love but you do have to be mature within the frustration. I've watched and been a part of the frustrating situation of bad timing and witnessed the disbanding of relationships because of it. I've seen people hurt each other because they weren't realistic about the bad timing and their expectations were impossible to reach. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done in that space and time to appease what you want...that's when perspective is most helpful. Sometimes it's no ones fault...it's just not time! I truly believe that everything (including LOVE) works in God's perfect timing!
The greatest thing I've learned is my life is my story and no one else's. We can listen and receive advice from friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers but at the end of the day we have to live with every decision we make so it's highly important that you do it your way. There are so many things that will be out of your control and so many situations that you can do absolutely nothing about but you will always control your destiny, how you treat others, and most importantly the decision to grow to be a better person everyday. It's your choice to be aware of yourself and your shortcomings and it's also your choice to clean up your heart and heal from whatever has happened to you that's hurt you. Sometimes it's very painful to deal with ourselves and the messiness that comes with life but it's worth the pain in the long run. No one is responsible for cleaning up your heart but yourself!
In 2015 fight hard for yourself cause your personal story is told through your existence. We're already reading your chapters...try your best to make sure it reads like you see fit. Don't expect everyone to understand how you choose to live your life and what you have planned to accomplish. Don't be afraid to move on when situations, friendships, and relationships are over. Era's end and new ones begin...and the few chosen people that God has handpicked to walk through each era you'll go through in life will always be there. Those friends are rare finds as well.
As far as lovers are concerned...don't settle...take time to truly understand yourself and what you need. When it's all said and done...there's no such thing as a physical type...there's nothing but a heart type...Is their heart compatible with yours? Will they be honest and vulnerable? Will they respect your differences? Will they be able to handle your crazy (cause all of us are crazy in our on type of way)? Are they seeking out self-growth? Are they willing to grow with you?
Most of the people you date will not fit your specific equation and that's okay but if you have an agenda to be married or have kids by a certain age you'll ignore it and that's dangerous. The person who can do all of these things is the rare find! Love awaits you...The question is will you wait for the right love for you?
Aaron "Ab" Abernathy
P.S. While you're waiting for love the world needs you...meanwhile I'm still after that grammy!
Hope to see you out at my winter sessions w/ my band Nat Turner...Dates available here