He called on a Tuesday, just as I was beginning to wrap my eardrums around the soothing tempo of his tone. I’d become accustomed to three months of early morning and late night phone calls, dancing banter between space and time. We’d just spent our last date watching a Broadway play and twiddling our fingers together before the curtain rose.
He spoke, “A few of the sisters at my church were at the play we caught. They told the church about my affair and now I have to pay for it.”
I knew nothing about his religion, only the little he’d told me. All I knew was the relentless women grasping pamphlets, adorned with Watchtower, and the 7am knocks on my front door.
“What do you mean you have to pay for it?” I asked.
He explained, “When you’ve done something wrong, in my church, you’ve got to confess to it and then you’re on probation until they feel you’ve earned your right to join the community again. That means I have to go to weekly classes and hang around my congregation, so that they could know that I’m true.”
I didn’t understand. We hadn’t done anything wrong, we hadn’t gone all the way; shoot our kisses rarely involved tongue.
I hissed my teeth, “So what does that mean for us?”
“Well when I’m off probation, we could be friends. I can’t really risk getting caught again. I value my faith. I need to keep peace with my church.”
My morale threw a temper tantrum inside of me. I was proud of him for standing by his beliefs but angered that he’d known from the start that I was just a mere experience and nothing more.
I hung up and moved on with my life.
I heard from him once more in a text laced with apology, years later, “I miss you. I think about you often. I really enjoyed the time we spent together. How have you been?”
But I know rapture—it’s something you don’t fiddle with in love or religion. By then I knew better than to drown by the hands of what-ifs.
I’ve been on a few dates since then and even found myself a brother that might answer all those tiptoeing questions. I’ve learned that love has no hesitation and is a sacrificing jester. Love is a person who’ll drag you along or amend to keep you.
Too often I walk into the midst of a story too similar. A Baptist brown boy who loves a Middle Eastern Muslim girl, infatuated by the shade they both render but torn by the God they abide by. An Asian girl sent home for laying in the arms of a man whose ancestors had them in tenement camps—an angry and old-fashioned mother will say. The Kenyan scholar who is afraid to bring his Brooklyn native girlfriend back to his motherland.
Where there is love, there is no stumble; only assurance.
Have you asked all the right questions?
Are you here to stay?
Are you strong enough to defy boundaries?
Are we a unified front or a burning bush?
Am I nothing, but smoldering leaf and blazing brush?
Are we just fire and flame?
Or do we solidify like the earth underneath our feet?
Ask the right questions. You are no out-of-the-box experiment and for-the-moment.
“RivaFlowz” is a teacher and professional writer living in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter: @rivaflowz.
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