This series happens once a week. In order to understand what’s going on in the series, be sure to read the column, in order.
There’s this scene in Brown Sugar where Kelby Dawson and Sydney Shaw make their way down the Brooklyn promenade, after dinner. (An area that’s always been super, erm, Starbucksy.)
The minute I saw the background behind their kiss, I knew instantly where they were. My mother took me to the promenade as a child and pointed out the buildings across the water, telling me the history behind each one. Although I knew nothing of romance then, I knew that I wanted to be there, in that kind of moment or in that physical space, with someone special.
I was infatuated with the perfect timing of everything. The passersby that walked around the pair, the twinkle of the city lights, the corny lines, and the unexpected kiss.
I’d imagine prospective dates this way. I’d dwell on notions of light pecks, hand holding, and love taps. I knew exactly what I was going to say, tried to guess how’d he’d respond, and have it all worked out before the doorbell rung.
Unfortunately, the doorbell, for Christopher and I, was a ringtone meant for him. Chris had asked me to come and see him, but he hadn’t brought it up since. Maybe he’d just been in the moment.
We’d spent three months digitally conversing, with a few phone-calls in between. I’d try to prompt his excitement, to see where he felt like we were.
“I think I’m going to have to come to DC for business in a few days.”
He’d answer nonchalantly, “Oh really? Dope. Where are you staying?”
I mistook this as a soon-to-be invite, “Not sure yet. I’ve got family and friends out there. I might get a hotel. I’m still thinking about it.”
“Hmmm…doesn’t your ex live here too? I hope you’re not staying with him
He was referring to my ex Micah, the main character from my last dating series.
I sighed, “Nope. I’m not staying with him.”
Christopher was so concerned about who I was hanging with and where I’d been, but he seemed to be feigning interest when it came to us being together. He was downright confusing.
Just as I was almost finished with his weirdness, the videos began. I was sitting at work, when one popped up on my phone. It was him, alone in a bathroom, doing his fraternity’s stroll to music. I started laughing so loud I had to cover my mouth, so my colleagues wouldn’t hear.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t used to seeing a stroll. I went to an HBCU and I’d rushed my ass to the side plenty of times, to avoid getting stomped out by some Timberland boots. It was just that it was the first time I’d ever seen someone doing it alone, in a room, on video. At the end of the 2 minutes of what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch, he leaned into the camera, put two fingers on his lips, and made those same two fingers kiss the screen, while he said, “I hope you liked that, baby.”
Trey had become inconsistent.
Other than the random script update in my email, I hadn’t had a real conversation since we went out salsa dancing.
I text him one night, to find out what was going on.
“Someone’s been MIA lately.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve just been busy with work and other things.”
I wondered what these other things were. He was speaking the language of disinterest and if that was the case…he needed to be gone, so I could pull someone else on to the roster.
I asked, “So when am I going to see you again?”
I regretted it the minute I pressed send. I hated prompting visits. I wanted to feel wanted. Don’t we all? This type of vulnerability was never easy for me and it didn’t matter how old I got…it never became easier.
He answered an hour later; “We can go over the last few pages of the script later this week.”
I rolled my eyes. One second we were “dating” and the next we were all business. Just as I was about to respond, there was a knock on my front door.
I looked through the keyhole to see a fuming Marsha. Lord. What did I do now?
I answered and she stormed right by me and straight to my living room. I followed her.
“Hello to you too.”
“You said you weren’t going to date him!”
“Don’t play stupid, America! Edwin!”
She was calling me by my full first name. I knew she meant business.
“I’m not. I saw him at a café earlier and…”
“You saw him? I didn’t even know that. He just sent me this text!”
She handed me her phone:
“Listen, I think you’re great, but I’m really into your friend. I’ve always just been a friend to you. Don’t have her thinking that it’s something more than it is. Please?”
I couldn’t hide the shock on my face.
She caught it, “You’re into him, aren’t you?”
I sat down on the sofa, “Yes, I am. He’s a nice guy. You’re talking to so many guys. You didn’t want him.”
“Fine. Enjoy. Have fun. I’ll talk to you later.”
She left as quickly as she’d come.
Everything wasn’t fine. It was clear that she was pissed and she didn’t want me having fun at all.
It’s something we all want, but it’s a rarity.
I visit the promenade often. I think about the years I spent writing on its benches and running on its pavement with friends. I yearn for a day where I’ll walk and witness the other side of the city with someone that finds me as beautiful as it is, at night.
But I’m learning that what you imagine isn’t promised. In fact, it’s usually exactly the opposite. The best things usually come along unexpectedly, out of sync, when we assume we don’t have the time.
I wondered if Trey, Christopher, or Edwin was this unforeseen thing. And then I decided that it was best not to wonder at all.