Our story was like a fairytale something that only happens in the movies or novels.
I could see you orbiting like a moth circles a flame. Gently enough that it showed your interest, but not enough that it was creepy. You were lingering in my peripheral vision. It wasn’t until you wandered back to the produce section where I was grabbing vegetables for dinner that night that you made your move.
“I like your hair,” you said casually as you picked up a head of lettuce.
I was wearing those exotic Bantu knots or chiny bumps as we call them in my culture.
“Thanks,” I replied.
Somehow, I instantly felt comfortable with you.
“Do you live around here?” I pried not ready to let the conversation die.
“Yeah,” you replied, “What about you?”
“No,” I responded.
The space between us evaporated like mist on seeps out of the forest when the sun comes over the mountain.
I effortlessly informed you of how my sister and I had impulsively rented a cabin in the mountains hence we were in town for a couple of days. Intrigued you asked some more questions to get to know me.
“There’s a bar,” you offered wanting a little more.
“I don’t drink,” I responded.
You would not be deterred. You went for plan B.
“I don’t know if this is okay, but I’d like to take you out for dinner. Would that be okay?”
Maybe I was feeling adventurous because cause this whole trip was the most impulsive thing that I had ever done. Maybe because you were far enough from home that there was the option that I would never see you again. However, I don’t think it was that. I felt something I never feel with strange guys. I felt safe.
“Can I have your number?”
I never give my number to strangers. Never. Especially not random guys in the produce section.
But I gave it to you.
I wasn’t sure what would come of this whole thing. I had never been on a real date before. I’d never held a hand. I resisted kisses. I had pushed away relationships. For the first time, I just let myself be open to this. Yet, I didn’t expect much. It felt almost like a dream.
You did text. You were intentional you planned a date the next day –a hike. You brought water and a knife. The knife was to fight off wild animals. You let me hang it around my neck.
“I don’t know how to use a knife,” I confessed.
“Just go for the throat,” you told me.
I let myself relax into you as the creek babbled below us and a bright celestial body rose over the evergreen trees.
I took you home and fed you. I was intoxicated by your attention and overwhelmed by your fondness. Yet, you were gentle and respectful as I wordlessly communicated my boundaries even though you craved more of me.
The next day as my sister and I drove down the mountain, I felt almost hungover from the emotions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see you again.
But you texted and I responded.
Back and forth like a steady rhythm we communicated. Many of your sweet messages made me blush. In fact, the thought of you made me warm all over.
I went far away to do my Masters and I missed you. I called you and we talked for hours. We dreamed of what we’d do for future dates. You brought out sides of me that I didn’t know existed. You calmed my fears about a potential relationship.
Then, as suddenly as you had come; you disappeared.
I agonized over our last conversations. What if I had told you when you texted me earlier that day that the cramps were agonizing and getting worse by the minute. What if I had not accidentally left my phone in the car in a moment clouded with pain too nauseous to go back outside to retrieve it. Was it too late when I rushed out at midnight to grab it knowing you have probably texted me?
As soon as I came back home, I rushed to the hamper and pulled out your sweater. That is the only thing I have to remember you by.
When I tell people the story, their eyes light up.
“Can I see a picture,” they ask.
I shake my head. I don’t have a photograph of you. Not one. I didn’t follow you on social media. We never took a selfie together.
Everything between us happened in real life soaked in the moment. Two lovers dancing like shadows in the night.
My friend once told me that after a break up she went Italy dressed just a tad bit provocatively. The men appreciated it and she soaked in their attention. After that, the world opened for her. Her heart began to heal. Soon, she found her future husband.
“Sometimes, a little objectification does wonders for the soul,” she said.
For me it was different. I needed to be folded into your arms. I need you to nuzzle my neck your whiskers tickling my skin. I needed your sugary sweet voice to croon, “I got you.” Ever so brief as it was.
I savored every moment. Thanks for the sweater.