He was a good mix of Stringer Bell and Cutty, with plenty of grown man swag. Took his street skills and upgraded to a government job. 6’4, dark skin, perfection. We laughed long and loud at jokes I can’t remember.
We met at that delicious moment on a Saturday when the night is still full of possibility. He was with his friends, I mine. I turned, stood apart, saw him, and smiled. In that moment, I forgot that I skipped dinner, dressed hastily in 6 inch heels and jeans, smeared red lipstick on pouty lips.
We traded more than words. We dealt in inflections, smiles, and butterflies. He left the spot but came back and found me standing, befuddled, in the midst of drunk undergrads grinding offbeat to hit songs.
It wasn’t ever serious. No dinners, just drinks–my choice. Sometimes flowers. Fun nights out with his friends, not mine–my choice. When we met strangers? “This is my friend,” I’d introduce him. Whenever he called me his girl, I’d freeze up. He noticed and stopped.
Just drinks. He told me that I was someone with whom he could fall in love. “Me too,” I said, because silence wasn’t an option, and because it was true, and because I knew it would never work. I’m not quite ready for marriage, kids, and a white picket fence, but when I am, I want to be with someone who has a clear-cut theology to which I can relate. He loved Jesus but we weren’t chatting about Him all the time. He loved Jesus but we weren’t about to go to Bible study, grinning and holding hands. He had a blues kind of soul. Worshipped God while listening to soul music in packed bars.
When it became clear we were both stubborn and wanted other things, he slipped out of the back door of my life. I wrote him a flawless goodbye note. It was a recommendation letter for a man I used to date, a man I could have loved if things were different. Something he could show the next woman. A flag he could wave, as if to say, “Look! I loved well, when I had the chance! Look, I was vulnerable, and kind, and romantic! Look, I taught a young woman that there is strength in vulnerability, that she never need be afraid of love! Look!
Because of him, I think I’ll know love when it finds me. Next time, I’ll be ready.