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What a year

My wife Ellen and I celebrated our First Anniversary this past Sunday, July 11th.

We did so at B. Smith’s restaurant in Washington, DC. It warms my heart that we’ve spent 3 firsts in black-owned restaurants, a trend I want to continue:

  • First Date: Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, which was also where I had my first dinner with my parents after moving to Seattle in 2005.
  • Night I proposed (First night of Engagement): also at Kingfish Cafe
  • First Anniversary: B. Smith’s in DC

This have been a fantastic year and experience for me and for us. Since last July, we’ve:

  • I quit my old job at Microsoft.
  • We got married.
  • We honeymooned.
  • We sold my condo outside Seattle.
  • We drove 2 cars across the country from Washington to Washington.
  • I started my new job at the Center for Community Change.
  • Ellen accepted a new teaching position.

What I’ve learned

Marriage is an everyday thing

Weddings happen once. Marriage is something you participate in every single day. That’s been the best part. Figuring out the day-to-day stuff is less mundane when you have a partner.

Dishes suck when you do them in solitude. Doing them with someone to converse with makes it better than bearable. Plus the self-satisfaction that comes from a well-kept home is knocked out of the park when it’s a team effort. Also, laundry is much easier when the person that hates loading the washer/dryer and the person that hates folding are husband and wife. Compliments attract.

It’s more fun introducing people to your wife than your girl[friend]

I get a kick out of it. Ellen get’s a kick out of it. Everybody wins.

It’s like people take you more seriously. For example, I know that when people see me at age 27 talking about stuff I and/or my wife do, they assume a higher level of maturity and responsibility. It garners more respect.

Similarly, it’s funny how extended family reacts differently to the 2 terms.

Not old-fashioned, not new-fashioned: just our-fashioned

We both have our own old-fashioned tendencies. There’s never a circumstance where I’m comfortable with Ellen walking alone after dark. I also like to drive anytime we’re both in the car. Ellen likes proper dinner parties with real place settings. She likes classic, older homes.

We’re kind of new school at times too. I think land lines are a waste of plastic (how’s that for being green :-)) We both dig electronics.

But we too agree on things that others think are crazy. We just cut our cable. Next month we’ll turn in our car and be carless (the 1st time for me since my 16th birthday). We think paper towels are symbols of a bygone era.

None of this is necessarily revolutionary, but it has been an experience in writing our own script. I highly encourage it.

I can’t wait for my next day, month, anniversary. What a year it has been.

I Love You Ellen.

One Love. One II.

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What Makes a Black Man?

I penned an article for the Rising Oak Foundation Newsletter that was published this week called “What Makes a Black Man?”

It’s the first of a two-part series on the topic. Here’s an excerpt:

The responsible man is always accountable in everything he engages in. The responsible man has a sense of accountability that actively denies hypocrisy wherever it tries to creep in. The responsible man is healthily consistent in his worldview, while be sensitive and introspective enough to realize that he may need to update his view from time to time.

Rising Oak does a lot of great work around the country empowering communities and organizations that focus on strengthening the quality of the lives of Black boys.

Enjoy the piece, and stay tuned for part 2.

One Love. One II.

Happy Father's Day

What’s up fam,

I wrote a letter to my Dad in honor of Father’s Day and I wanted the whole world to know how I feel about him.

Dad,

This Father’s Day, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the evolution of our relationship and your impact on my life. A long, long time ago you, mom told you that she was pregnant and the baby was yours. I am sure like most men, your emotions ranged from fear to confusion to joy. In the end though, you manned up and never looked back. And when people ask me about my parents and why they are not married or your role in my life, I am always quick to let people know that there has never been a time when you were not in my life.

Always generous, gracious, and funny, I have adopted many of your mannerisms and I want you to see your best qualities amplified within me. Your being proud of me is a driving force in how I carry myself and strive to be a better person. I remember the picture of us that we took at that scholarship dinner in Southfield and I know you are not big on taking pictures, but this one is my favorite.

My earliest memory of you is the joy I felt at the sound of you jingling your keys as you walked toward the door on Biltmore. Between the familiar scent of Old Spice and a big hug, I was on cloud nine. Growing up, I don’t think I ever made a big deal about why you never married mom. Looking back though, our relationship would probably not be as unique if you and Mom got married because over the years, I have developed an ability to keep our relationship sacred regardless of what was happening between you and mom or whatever other drama was happening in my life.

And when I did cut up, you were always there to not only discipline, but to let me know everything would be alright. One memory that stands out was the week I lost my virginity. I felt horrible because I thought I let you down and there would be nothing I could do to regain your respect or favor. That Saturday, you and I went to a Men’s Prayer breakfast at Cobo Hall and I don’t remember who was speaking but I remember experiencing the Spirit of Peace.

On the way home, driving down Jefferson, I told you what happened between sobs and tears, telling you that I was sorry and I didn’t want to let you down. When I looked up, I saw tears coming down your eyes and I never saw you cry before. When we got home, we talked…and we shared like we never had and before you left, you told me you loved me and proud that I told you what happened and you gave me a huge hug and $20. To this day, I don’t see what I did to deserve any money whatsoever but it was your way of letting me know that our relationship was strong and everything would be alright. I will never forget that experience Dad, thank you.

As I got older, we developed a passion for playing pool that would become our pastime where all is well with the world. Most days we play, there is next to no conversation but the silent bonding that takes place over pool is so great that I can’t really put it into words. I just hope my kids will want to play pool too!

Always there, you were instrumental in making sure I had opportunities that really shaped my life for the better. I was the only guy on the block with a skateboard and when I made drum sticks out of pant hangars, you bought me a drum set. You taught me to play tennis even helped me get lessons. The only reason I carry handkerchiefs is because of you. If I was hungry, there was no where you wouldn’t take me and Wendy’s was the frequent destination. When I told you about my trip to England, I expected you to say no but much to my surprise you said yes and to this day, I am still grateful for your sacrifice.

I am eternally grateful for your guidance, friendship, and your love. When I thought about Tim Russert’s passing away, I was painfully reminded of how precious life is. Dad, I love you and I cherish our relationship and I am so proud to call you Pops!

Happy Father’s Day

Love,

Brandon Q. White

P.S. Don’t tell Mom this, but even though I know I look more like her, I have always wanted someone to tell me, “You look just like your Dad.”