“Let me hold your bags for you,” he asked. I looked him over. White short-sleeved button-up. Khaki shorts. Loafers. He was fine.
“Nah, I’m good,” I replied as I switched hands to continue holding my bags. It was the last weekend in June, it was hot and humid as hell, the train did not have air conditioning, and we were stuck somewhere in a tunnel between 59th and 125th street. The fingers on my left hand were burning, he could obviously see that as I switched hands but my pride and ego didn’t need his help. That morning I had been reminded that niggas were not shit after watching my ex text some other woman lovey-dovey things and then lie about it while I was still naked in his bed. Of course, the only logical way to make myself feel better was to get up and new shit. But I was paying for it now because the germaphobe in me wouldn’t let me put my newly purchased items on the dirty ass train floor. Items I only calculated holding for an 18-minute ride back to my Sugar Hill residence.
“You don’t look like you’re good,” He taunted while wiping away the sweat from his forehead. We were all sweating at this point. Frustrated too. But not him. He just wanted to hold my bags.
I didn’t respond to his comment, in fact, I’m almost certain I pretended like he didn’t exist up until the train finally resumed its service and we both exited at the same stop. St. Nicholas Ave – 145th Street.
“You live near here? I live just down the block. But I’m moving to 96th soon.” He continued to make conversation as I continued to provide him silence. When we finally made it to the street, he lightly tapped my shoulder and asked me for my number. I rolled my eyes, responded with a curt, “No, thank you. Maybe next time,” and that was the end of the conversation.
Well, it was until I saw him two and a half months later on the same train heading downtown.
Serendipity I think is what they called it. It’s what he called it after he managed to grab the seat next to me during our commute to work.
“My name is Michael, Mike for short, and I think this is next time.”
We exchanged numbers that day. Not on the train, but right in front of my office building. He just so happened to work a block away from me. And I wasn’t ready for him.
I wasn’t ready for the thoughtful dates. The expensive dates. The “come over and let’s talk for hours” dates. I wasn’t ready to be escorted to work the mornings that our schedules aligned. I wasn’t ready to be introduced to family or invited to work happy hours. I wasn’t ready for the notes that were magically hidden in my notebooks or different purse compartments. I wasn’t ready for the support, the cheerleading, or the unconditional care and concern. I wasn’t ready to be loved.
I wasn’t ready for him.
And the deeper he fell, the more my anxiety and fears grew, until I did the unforgivable… and disappeared. The night he told me loved me was the last night we spent together. The night he gave me keys was the last time I made myself readily available. And the night after my birthday weekend where he gifted me a purse (with yet another letter tucked inside) was the last time we would see each other romantically.
I was ready to run before I ever experienced him. But he taught me what pure and unconditional love could feel like, and when I was ready to receive it, I welcomed it with open arms. No more running.
Every month, G.G. Renee of All the Many Layers provides writing prompts that encourage self-discovery while getting on into the habit of releasing via art or writing. Seeing as I can only draw stick figures and smiley faces, writing is the avenue I’ve decided upon.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise that over the years my writing has become less about me and more about helping others. I’ve kind of lost my mojo over the years but have found peace in my short-form shares via IG captions and tweets. But I miss the days of personal blogging.
I miss being able to keep up with the lives of other bloggers through their writing and personal essays. I miss when the words didn’t have to be pretty and come with some sort of underlying takeaway, other than the lesson learned from what was shared.
So instead of searching the internet for it, I figured I’d start with doing just that myself. I’m going back to my roots: writing for me, and writing for my healing.
I hope you all don’t mind, but this next month is for me.