Friendship is very important to my well being, it is part of the fabric of who I am. I have been blessed to have some wonderful friendships. I am friends with some phenomenal women and men. Some of my friendships I’ve had since high school and college. Other friends I’ve met along my journey of woman hood. When I call you “my friend” that means that there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for you. I will support you where I can, encourage you where I can. I don’t judge my friends nor do I turn my back on them in their time of need. More importantly I don’t lie to my friends and I have the same expectations of them too. Ok enough of me on my soapbox about friendship. Let’s get to the story.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to travel. In fact, when I was unemployed my friends would often say, girl how do you do it?…still getting your travel on and you don’t have a job. Well, I could travel while being unemployed because I knew how to budget, but that’s another story for another time. For my 40th I wanted to do something a bit different. My plan was to celebrate for the entire month in September spending time with my family and friends. I wanted to make sure that there was plenty of opportunity for anyone who wanted to celebrate with me-whether they were on a tight budget, or they were not really one for crowds etc. There was something for everyone. One of my BF’s kicked off my month long celebration by hosting a cook-out at her house. I went to the Classic in Cleveland, Ohio and my besties – one from high school and the other from college drove from Indiana to meet me in Cleveland. (See I told you that I was surrounded by some phenomenal women in my life) In fact, they surprised me by meeting me a day earlier than expected. I was also able to spend time with my mother and brother and see the rest of my family at the monthly family breakfast at my aunt’s house. I also had a birthday party at a local club in Atlanta. However, the icing on my cake for my month long birthday celebration was a trip to Puerto Rico. I had been planning and saving up for this trip for six months. I invited a lot of my girlfriends. Unfortunately, some of them were not able to make it so it ended up being six ladies. This was going to be the trip of all trips as I’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. I was super excited about this b-day girls trip.
Now, the reason why I saved up for the last six months was because I wanted to really have a good time eating, drinking, shopping and clubbing without worrying about finances. In other words I want to be a baller shot caller – at least while I was in PR. I didn’t expect all of “my girls” to save up like I did..In fact, I didn’t have any idea what their finances were.
Now, my girls who said they were down for the trip to PR – one could only assume that if they were going to Puerto Rico – their finances were in check enough for them to afford going on this sun in the fun getaway. However, we all should have known that something was up when my friend …let’s call her Stephanie (to protect the innocent or not) decided to hit the hay as soon as we got to our rooms in Puerto Rico. Are you serious?? This is our first night there, but the rule that me and my girls have for girls trips is that, we are all grown and we all are free to do whatever we want. There is no strict agenda.. With that being said, we left her alone and let her get her beauty rest, while we went to the resort bar to have a bite to eat and some b-day kick-off libations. The next day because my BF is the greatest and can always get the hotel hook ups she got some discount voucher coupons for the breakfast buffet. However, that meant we all have to still pay a few dollars a piece plus a tip. Stephanie was all down for breakfast until she found out we all had to pay some portion for the buffet. She ended up pulling a, “Ummm I’m not really that hungry I’m just going to have some water,” excuse. But then when we all would go to the buffet and fix our plates, she would ask my BF could she have some of her bacon, of course my BF didn’t deny her—that’s not what friends do. Again, we still didn’t realize what was going on with Stephanie. After we ate breakfast, we headed to the pool Because we planned on drinking all afternoon we decided that each person would be responsible for buying a round for the group.
Clue #1 that something was wrong with Stephanie. She said, “I’m good..I’m just going to drink water.” Again, we thought that was weird…but we just ordered our rounds and kept it moving. Then it came time for lunch. As we all ordered our lunches , Stephanie only ordered French Fries. We all had puzzled looks on our faces, but again we were like..perhaps she’s watching her weight or doesn’t want to eat a whole lot. When our food came we all devoured it as though we hadn’t eaten in days. Some of us had fruit on our plates, and Stephanie asked each of us were we going to eat our fruit? Again, we aren’t going to deprive a friend in need so we all gave her our fruit. So while she drank water, ate fries and fruit, the rest of us were throwing back on our island beverages and smacking on some lunch like it was the last supper. After baking in the sun all day and relaxing, we all headed back up to our rooms to get ready for the evening festivities. Now, one of the benefits of staying at a nice resort is that there’s usually a happy hour where there’s small plates and drink specials. At the resort where we were staying the small plates were inexpensive so we all decided to hit up the happy hour as our dinner before we hit the town. We got a bunch of small plates and shared. Again, when it came time for Stephanie to place her order…she ordered…you guessed it..fries. They happen to be the cheapest of everything on the menu. Again, we all looked funny at her food choice..but we figured that she must really love fries. After our light dinner we went out on the town. However, in order to get off the resort we needed to catch a cab. When we got to our destination and it was time to pay for our cab ride – everyone put in money except Stephanie. Again, no worries because we knew that she surely would help pay for the cab ride back. We ended up having a good time out on the town but it was finally time to head back to the resort via a cab. When the cab dropped us back off at our resort and it was time to pay the fare, again we all pitched in …except for Stephanie. It was too late to really address this so we all just kept it moving and went to our rooms.
Day 2 – The Confession
The next day was even more beautiful than the previous day.. I couldn’t wait to get back out there so that I could perfect my tan. On this particular day, everyone got dressed for our day out by the pool. We all went to the buffet again for breakfast..except for yep…you are getting the idea now- Stephanie. My girls wanted to have the drinks at the pool bar…and I of course obliged. However, Stephanie decided that she would stay back and watch all of our belongings while we were at the pool bar. At that moment, I realized that something just wasn’t right, but I went on with the rest of my crew to the bar. While at the bar, we all were talking about all of the incidents that took place over the last few days as it relates to Stephanie. Now, we weren’t talking behind her back, we were just trying to figure out what was going on with her and more importantly how do we address this issue with our friend. At that moment, I said that if we were really her friends we should have no problem talking to her and asking her what’s going on with her. With that being said, my crew volunteered me to be the one to go and talk to her. I hesitated because I typically don’t like having those tough, hard conversations. I try my best to avoid them. However, I realized that just a few days ago I turned 40 and that meant that it was really time for me to step up and be a mature woman and not run away from hard situations. So with that being said, I bought drinks for Stephanie and I to take back to our area by the pool and as I was walking, I said a little prayer to God asking him to “Order my Steps” and help me to say the right things to Stephanie. When I reached our area by the pool…it was like something out of a magazine. Stephanie had her headsets on and she was leaning over the rail looking out into the ocean as the sun was beaming off her chocolate sun kissed skin. She looked like she was deep in thought.
I walked up to her and handed her a drink. I asked her to take off her headsets so we could talk. I started off the conversation by saying, “Stephanie. I’m your friend. And being your friend does not mean it’s just about the surface stuff – you know the hanging out etc. It’s about substance. When I say that I am your friend that means that I’m here for you. Now, since we’ve been on this trip I’ve noticed that you really haven’t been yourself and you have not really been participating and you are looking so sad. Which I don’t understand because you are here in Puerto Rico. It’s such a blessing. I mean this time next year, you don’t know where you will be…and you are missing it. So…what’s going on with you..and be honest?” Stephanie then has this look of angst on her face as though whatever was getting ready to come out of her mouth was going to be hard to hear. “I’m broke,” she says. I was like what do you mean you are broke? “I have some money to eat while I’m here, but I don’t have any money to check my bags to head back to Atlanta, and I don’t have any money to go to your birthday dinner at Mortons. I’m not happy at my job and I want a new one.” “Wow,”I said. “Stephanie as much as I wanted you to come to Puerto Rico, if you couldn’t afford to be on this trip, then why did you come? This is why I had a month long celebration so that all of my friends who wanted to celebrate with me could at any one of my planned events.” Silence, she had nothing to say. Then I went on to say. “As for the job…you always find a job when you have a job, but in the mean time you have to remember that there are plenty of folks who wished that they had a job. You are blessed. Just stay positive and keep doing a great job and look for another opportunity in your spare time. Now, what is it that you need? Would you like me to give you some money for you to have while on this trip? I can give you cash. Through her pretend like humbleness demeanor, she managed to say that she just really needed it help with food, her baggage fee for when we fly back to Atlanta and of course dinner at Mortons. I told her.., “No problem. I will pay for your dinner at Mortons, help you with your baggage fee as well as food and drinks for the rest of the trip. But Stephanie, don’t ever feel like you can’t come to one of us when you are in need. We are all here to support and help each other out…that’s what friends do.” She nodded her head and said, “:OK. And thanks so much Kim. This really means a lot.”
From the point Stephanie said thank you she instantly found herself on an all expense paid trip in PR all on me. Now, mind you she did say that she had some money but do you think she offered any of it up for tips or to help with cab rides? Um….no!. However, when we ventured out to the casino she effortlessly took out two crispy $20.00 bills out of her purse and slide them into the slot machine like she had money to burn. Hell, that $40 could have been money to pay for her bags back to Atlanta or towards her dinner at Morton’s. When I saw Stephanie does this, I was in shock…clearly because I did not confront her in that moment, as tomorrow was our final day in PR and we were going to continue celebrating my birthday with a bang. But after I saw her throw away $40, I decided that she can pay for her own dinner at Morton’s.
Needless to say, my birthday dinner was not the epic experience that I hoped for. It was the opposite. The table at Morton’s was beautifully set and what really made the table look nice was a detailed menu that said Happy 4oth b-day Kimberly Kisner. It was such a nice touch. As we all sat down the tension at the table was so thick that you would need a knife to cut through it. The conversation was at a minimum and there were awkward moments of silence. This was not exactly the b-day dinner that I had in mind. We all ordered what we wanted and we had a bottle of wine or two to share. After we broke bread, it was time for the waiter to bring the bill. Everyone received their bill and promptly gave the waiter their credit cards. However, when Stephanie received her bill she just stared at and began rocking back and forth and looking at the sky as though dollar bills were going to rain down on her. Then much to our dismay..no one knew what was coming next. Stephanie looked up and said, “Ladies, I’m a little short. I need someone to give me some money to help me pay my bill.” We all were stunned and embarrassed at the same time. No one could look each other in the eye. It was dead silent. You could hear a pin drop. Then one-by-one everyone went around the table explaining why we each could not assist her with her bill, that is everyone but me. After she heard all of our explanations, Stephanie continued to rock back and forth and look at the ceiling. I just kept looking at her with disgust and disappointment. My ears got really red and by this time we were the only patrons left in the entire restaurant. I couldn’t take the tension, not could I handle looking at her anymore, so I got up and left the table and went to the restroom. Alone in the restroom I looked at myself in the mirror. What I saw was not the woman who my mom raised me to be nor was I the woman that God needed me to be. I had to stop and remember the creed that I try to live by, “ My word is my bond.” That means when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I told Stephanie that I would pay for her dinner….so I must honor my commitment. I told God, “Ok God. You are right. I will do this, but my friendship with Stephanie is over.” I left the bathroom and I walked back to the table where all of my friends were, including Stephanie still looking in the air for money to fall out from the sky. I sat down and I said this, “Stephanie, I don’t understand why you keep rocking yourself back-and-forth looking at the sky as though money is going to fall out. It’s not going to fall out from the sky. And why did you order food that you could not afford to pay for?” (Side note: I was told later that apparently, she said in between me giving my speech “but you said you were going to pay for me.”God must have had favor on me and covered my ears, because I did not hear her say those words to me because if I had I would have surely gone over the events of the past few days and how she lied about not having any money.) Let me finish my speech. “Now, you sit here putting everyone in an uncomfortable position asking all of us can we give you some money to pay for your meal. That is not fair Stephanie. You should have only ordered what you could afford. How much are you short? Ok here’s the rest of the money to pay for your meal. And I want you to know that our friendship is over, and no I don’t want to talk about it.” I got up and promptly left the table. My other girlfriends quickly followed right behind me. It was awkward for everyone of course. We all headed back to the room, changed and headed back out for some drinks. It was a rough night for all.
It was finally time to head back to the ATL. At the airport we all stood in line to check our bags and wouldn’t you know it, Stephanie by some miraculous miracle was able to pay for her own bags. Remember she said she didn’t have money to pay for her bags? Well, apparently money did fall from the sky because she was actually standing in line paying for her checked baggage.
Be careful of the crowd you are in
I am blessed to have some phenomenal women in my life who I can call lifelong friends. I have a crew of woman who I met in high school at Beaumont School for Girls, a crew of women who I met working at a summer job, a crew of women who I met at Clark Atlanta University and a crew of women who I met as an adult through work, mutual friends, church and networking. As a young girl, like most young girls I was apart of various clicks and I’ve made a lot of friends and lost some friends along the way due to the fact that our personalities just were not a good fit. However, through those clicks and friendships I learned what type of women I needed and wanted to be around in my life. It doesn’t take me long to make friends or to open up to someone, so when I do I expect and hope that the openness is reciprocated. Often times women feel like they have to be in competition mode all the time – and this just is not the case for me. Everyone has their own path and there’s no need to be in competition with your friends. Know who is in your circle, I mean really know them. Unfortunately, as a grown woman I have allowed certain women in my circle who I thought were my friends who had good intentions, but later found out they there were ulterior motives to our friendship. At least, on their end. At 40 I’ve learned to choose my friends wisely. I have A LOT of associates but I have a small inner circle of women who mean the world to me. I am surrounded by women who are smart, beautiful, positive and powerful in their own right. Being around them brings out the best in me and makes me feel like I can do anything. None of these women are negative. They are all free of drama and they exhibit positivity even in the midst of struggles. And more importantly they are all extremely supportive of me and I am supportive of them. I may not talk to all of these women on a daily basis, but when we do talk or get together in person, it’s like time has never passed. What happened in PR for my 40th really gave me perspective on “friendship” and who is down for me. I don’t dislike Stephanie and I was even open to having a conversation with her, if she felt like she wanted to, but that conversation never happened. I think it was for the best. I wish her well and hope that she learned from that experience because I know I have.