Starting this month through September, we will feature exclusive excerpts from the sequel to "Waiting to Exhale," titled "Getting to Happy," which fast-forwards 15 years and catches us up on the lives of our four beloved friends: Did Gloria remain with her fine neighbor? Bernadine ever learn to trust again? Savannah stand strong and continue to stay away from her married lover? We won't tell, but what we will share is McMillan has lost none of her edge, humor or ability to capture our stories. Up first? Here we check in with Robin Stokes, who's raising Sparrow, 15, her irrepressible daughter she chose to parent alone, and still searching for her soul mate
. What ever happened to ROBIN and her baby? "Mom, you should sign up for one of those online dating sites because at the rate you're going, you're never gonna get laid ever again in life, and you're not even like completely over the hill or anything," Sparrow says to me out of nowhere. Most mothers would be shocked to hear this coming out of their daughter's mouth, but sometimes Sparrow acts like she's my mother. We're best friends and talk about most everything. This topic, however, is off-limits. I ignore my daughter's comment and just keep my eyes on the nontraffic as I back out of the driveway. We're on our way to the DMV so she can take the test for her learner's permit. She turned 15 this morning. She will take the driving test on Thursday, June 16, 2005: six eternal months from today. The only time these kids wait longer than 24 hours is if their birthday falls on a weekend. "Mom, did you catch what I just said?" "I'm not deaf, Sparrow. My love life and my sex life are none of your business. Put your seat belt on." "I'm very aware of that, Mom," she says and clicks it in place. "But it's not normal to live the way you do," she says and crosses her arms. It's true; times have changed. Twenty years ago I couldn't go more than two weeks without having some kind of orgasm and feeling desperate wasn't even a concern. I'd just pick one out of a lineup and call it a night. Back then we also didn't have to worry about AIDS or vaginal dryness. What my daughter doesn't know is I've been so preoccupied raising her and working long hours so she could take ballet and karate and now violin (which she happens to be getting quite good at), and trying to make sure my mom stays comfortable in that facility down in Tucson, that I forgot all about romance. I can't even remember the last time I was in love. I also can't believe I've never been married when just about everybody I know has been divorced at least once. I'm beginning to wonder if it's too late. If it is, it seems unfair that all the good stuff only happens when you're young. I haven't loved anybody in a long time. And nobody has loved me. It's not the hand I thought I'd be dealt. I don't think I really loved Russell. He was just good-looking, a good lay and more like a hard fish to catch than the kind of man I imagined spending the rest of my life with. I should've thrown his ass back. Deciding to kick him to the curb after I learned I was pregnant was a major step in owning up to just how bad my judgment had been about him. And other men. I was tired of chasing ghosts, hollow men who were outside my comfort zone, men who had nothing to give me except a rush. It was all I asked for, and all I ever got. I just want to be happier. To feel more fulfilled. I wish there were some kind of class I could take that would show me how to go about achieving it.