I remember the night we met in Atlanta.
On a cold evening in December, I turned around and there he was. 6’4″, beautiful mocha skin, an electric smile escaping full lips, and a stature that said “dayummm“.
Focus, I told myself. This was the birthday party of one of my closest friends, and whoever this was didn’t matter as I was flying back home to Toronto in a few days. But there was something about him that piqued my interest in an unusual way, and I found myself stepping out of character by asking friends nearby who he was. Puzzled that no one knew.
As the night started coming to an end, we ended up on the same side of the room and shared a few laughs. Here we were carrying on what appeared to onlookers to be a deep conversation, but in reality, it pertained to my career goals. After what felt like one of my most difficult years career-wise, his ear and advice were both helping me to end the year and begin a new one with a different perspective. As attractive as I may have thought he was initially, now it was his conversation and advice that had my full attention. Yes, if there’s a course on how to flirt at a party, or in general, I need to sign up for all sessions.
Our plans to see each other before I left the city foiled, and truthfully I was a bit relieved.
I found myself thinking about him, but in true form was more comfortable with the idea of staying in touch when I was out of the country than around the corner. If it fizzled, like it did after a few weeks, there was nothing really to lose. And if it blossomed, it would be at a slower pace due to distance; either of which made me feel comfortably safe.
I began the year with a new hands-free approach. Goals written, desires set free, and life being allowed to lead me to the open doors; rather than me trying to push closed or comfortable ones open due to my reluctance to trust the unknown. Within a couple of months, I found myself packing my bags and trying to find a place to live to begin my new job in New York City. This was not my plan, but I was open; to the successes, the lessons, and the adventure of it all.
Weeks after moving, when “Mr. Everything” surprisingly reached out to me and mentioned that he would be in the city in a few weeks, I thought nothing of it and politely replied that if his schedule allowed we could meet. I was a little taken aback when on a beautiful sunny day while walking the Brooklyn Bridge, I looked at my phone and saw the message that read: I’ll be in New York next weekend. Let’s do brunch on Saturday. I was surprisingly excited and nervous and bursting at my happy seams.
I went from being initially nonchalant to high school girl ecstatic in a blink.
He called shortly after and we spoke about what he would be doing while he was here, where we would eat on Saturday, as I paced back and forth on the bridge. It had been eight months since we had seen each other and all of a sudden hearing that he would be here gave me butterflies.
What would I wear?
What would I do with my hair?
And oh no, my monthly visitor was scheduled to arrive which meant my breasts were going to resemble implants in whatever summer dress I wore and potentially place a pimple in the middle of my forehead.
I calmed my nerves down with the thought that we may not actually have a chance to meet during his trip. That voice of caution was always my friendly safety zone.
That Friday night I made no plans. I came home after work because clearly it was going to take me the entire night to mentally prepare myself for brunch with the epitome of my perfect package. I got out of the shower, my hair dripping wet and saw a missed called followed by a text message from him asking if I wanted to join him for dinner in 45 minutes.
This was not on the schedule.
The butterflies in my stomach returned. My hair being wet was a valid excuse, and he didn’t push it. In his calm and collected delivery that I admired, he told me to let him know if I’d be there and he understood either way.
That was somehow enough to get me into a dress, let my hair air dry, and out the door; the only thoughts being What if my hair totally explodes by the time I get there, from the humidity. And please wrap dress whatever happens next do not allow these watermelons to escape by way of a wardrobe malfunction.
The mere fact of how easy it was for this somewhat rigid personality type to go along with a plan not on the plan, made it obvious to me that I wanted to see him. When I walked into the restaurant and he turned around, all of the reasons why this was the right decision stood before me. We laughed, talked, ate, cracked jokes and created more memories in those hours than what was typical during time spent with people we don’t know that well.
He was heading to a Freedom Party afterward and I was heading home. Somewhere in between us going our separate ways, we ended going to the party where we danced and laughed until it was almost time for the sun to rise. In perfect pitch, he serenaded me with different songs throughout the night as I became lost in his stare. A change in song was the needed reminder that it was time to blink.
I felt like we were having our own party in the middle of the party, and it also felt like my hair had indeed expanded. As if reading my mind, on cue, he whispered how much he loved my curls, gently stroked them right before kissing me. The night had taken on a plan of its own and it was amazing and scary all in the same breath.
In the mind of a very shy extrovert-introvert, there were a few racing thoughts.
Has he discovered that I am wearing Spanx?
Did he notice that my 36D’s look like implants as a result of me PMSing?
Can he feel my muffin top?
And did he notice the stress sweat on my face caused by a kiss I didn’t see coming?
These were my most pressing issues of the hour.
We went our separate ways after the party and met for brunch as planned. As we walked the Brooklyn Bridge, I thought of his visit and the times we had shared, smiling on the inside as my heart asked how could it possibly get any better than this. The endorphin high was being released through every valve, and so were the thoughts of fear that reminded me what it felt like to feel rejected by love, or at the least, how temporary moments that left me in complete awe really were.
We went out that evening, and as we said our farewells I dared not look back as I needed no confirmation that he was bearing witness to the extra jiggle the ten-pound weight gain in NY had gifted my butt.
He left the city and not a day goes by where he doesn’t come to mind.
I smile at the laughter we shared due to one of my many moments of epic failure, a funny text he sent, or our last conversation. And not a day goes by when the voice of caution does not urge me to tread lightly with reminders of how delicate and fickle matters of the heart can be. He’s single and that baffles me, and just like any other time when I think there’s a missing piece to a puzzle, something inside tells me to wait for that shoe – whatever it is – to drop.
And I wait.
In the interim, I vow to make him my friend – it makes it easier for me; to not think beyond the present and to be careful. I begin restricting my responses and any messages I initiate. I give ear to internal stories of possibilities that tell of a time so good that is only a passing fling, and that somehow feels easier to believe than accepting that what has been awakened is as it appears.
After all, he may no longer exist in my life if I tell him my darkest secrets, my moments of failure, and my fears.
I’ve found in those voices: my fear of rejection, a deeper fear of vulnerability, and an equally deep fear of trust. A possible confirmation that I believe love is for the ‘perfect’ among us; that good times and ‘pinch me’ moments are for others. The battle between the Spanx wearer and the free results in us putting our crush in the safety net of friendship – a place where we know there’s a lot less to lose.
So is it that what we want doesn’t want us in return, or have we convinced ourselves of the many reasons why we shouldn’t have it and push it away?
This no longer is about being laser-focused on moments that have swept me off my feet, but the urgency becomes dealing with the magnitude in which fear has controlled my thought process.
I went back to the drawing board. To the decision that had me release my plans and fears, and moved me to a new city in unchartered territory.
It has been scary and beautiful and rich with moments I would not have been able to experience otherwise. And though I wrote no name, I pledged to be open to love. To trust that who is sent…when they are sent…is at a perfect time with no intent to hurt me, but to awaken something in me so beautifully powerful that my curls and my heart would expand.
What could this beautiful soul whose every word I hung on to as he sang one of the most mesmerizing versions of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” be here to teach me? Lost in the lyrics escaping his lips: I wanna love you, and treat you right, I wanna love you every day and every night. We’ll be together with the roof right over our heads…Is this love is this love is this love that I’m feeling? I wanna know wanna know wanna know now… I’m willing and able, to put my cards on the table.
And I forgot to blink then too. If my firewalls were higher at any other point in life that would be something short of a miracle.
I wanted to believe that this weekend, this night was real but I was afraid and could not bring myself to be vulnerable in the moment. I smiled – my nervous filtered smile.
In my perfect world, I would know the script…how the chapter ends. In life’s perfect plan, I’ll experience the story as it’s being written and with that, I’ve decided to make peace with control and with trust. To not dilute how I feel in order to feel safe, but to always trust that time will tell.
And this and all things that follow will be beautiful when allowed to unfold with little to no resistance. That much I believe to be true.
To be continued…
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