I was watching Hitch one day and once scene in particular really stuck out to me. Mainly because I felt it; I related.
I wasn’t a nerd. I didn’t catch her with someone else. I was a roving, insensitive asshole who always meant well. I just went about things the wrong way, using my foolish paranoia and insecurities to fuel my decisions. But once we were done, the way I felt about women (and life!) changed forever.
It was late in my senior year. Everyone has that one class that kicks their candy ass; mine was this weird Psych research stats class. Everyone used to fail it; the class GPA was putrid. I too botched it the semester before, but bounced back rather strongly. Anyway, we had this class AND lab together; it was somewhat preordained that we would cross paths. I knew who she was; she caught my eye long ago. I asked my guy Phil (who I always saw as an older brother) about her, and he gave me the rundown. She’s quiet, he’s seen her around, knew her friends. One of his friends tried to get at her for a while but she was never with it. His….shortcomings and & inabilities didn’t have anything to do with me. That story didn’t deter me. If my chance came around, I was going to take it. Or try my very best to do so.
That chance came early in the class. When everyone in the lab had to partner up and she came to sit next to me, I knew. I sort of knew we wouldn’t be just friends; partially because I just desired her that much. I didn’t know how it was gonna happen, or when, or if I even had control of the situation (I surely did not). I focused on not saying anything corny and not giving away how excited I was to just speak. We chopped it up. We shared laughs. We had common ground (both from the North, same majors, similar music interests, same big city edge). She had big, curly black hair, deep, expressive eyes and grinned as I spoke as if everything I said was as vital as air to her lungs. She was Dominican/Puerto Rican, which was a change for me. Even back then, I only loved my hashtag BLACK hashtag QUEENS, but something about her had me tied up. She was just so fascinating, and edgy, and determined. She was older than me, so I looked to her for her subtle wisdom. She was so modest, never really knowing that what she had to say was very important to me.
We were cool, that was about it. I couldn’t really gauge if she liked me or anything (I was 21-22, didn’t really gauge this well until MAYBE 25?). One specific turn of events woke me up to her intentions. I came into the Student Center to handle some business. I was a member of our college radio station and I was on the executive board for SGA. I had people telling me when I arrived that a girl was looking for me. I had no idea who but I soon pieced it together. She was swinging by my office, with her freshly injured/broken foot in a walking boot, trying to surprise me. Our campus isn’t tremendous, but you do NOT want to traverse it with one foot that actually works. She did this more than once and once I caught wind of it, things changed for me. Now I had to think “MAYBE SHE DOES LIKE ME”. The fact that “maybe” is there shows you how modest and how easily thrown off by female attention I was. I simply didn’t know how to read these situations well.
While that event showed how serious she was about getting to know me, my moment was coming. On a snowy night at Phil’s house, I was cooling with him and his female neighbors. This is my first time meeting one of the girls and we’re vibing pretty well. I remember kind of marveling at how smooth and flawless her deep brown skin was; her little voice so confident talking to this upperclassman who’s slowly building interest was becoming apparent. It’s going well then SHE
starts texting me. She wants to hang out. I quickly agree to meet at my apt, even though the weather is trash. I go back to talking to everyone. Naturally, I linger a little too long and get the “I’m here” text. I tell Phil I have to leave, and he sees in my eyes why. He lets me go and I hear that tinge of disappointment in his voice. I leave that girl and her chocolatey skin, somewhat knowing we’ll never really meet up again.
To make you understand, Phil’s crib is 5 blocks from mine. It’s snowing. I walked when it wasn’t bad. I’m late. SO I RAN. I think my lame ass actually fell doing this. Luckily it was dark and no one was outside. I get a half block away and stop to catch my breath. I didn’t want her to know that I really ran blocks, just to see her. I calm down, walk around to my building, let her in, and we go upstairs.
We chill out. She shows me her drawings. I remember flipping through her sketchbook slowly. I eyeballed every line, every area of shading, just taking it all in. I’m so honored she even shared this with me. We ate. We talked about Prince, and religion, and positive energy. She was changing who I was. Before our talks about doing the right thing and your energy mattering in the grand scheme of things, I pretty much said and did what I wanted to. I had respect for people, but I was just so rude. I didn’t understand how much my energy mattered to the people around me.I was moody, I shut down easily and kind of had a simmering anger to me. But she was talking me into a totally different direction. I valued our time spent and so did she. I always remembered feeling so freed of everything with her.
Thing is, as all of this was happening to me, I was pretending. No one knew how much I liked her, or even that we had something going on. Phil knew we were “talking” but I didn’t share details. I looked up to him(and still do), and girls loved him and his housemates (who were also like family to me). I was slightly a fish out of water; this was new to me in a way. At that time, I didn’t want to look “soft”. Soft. Soft for really liking a girl. My mindset was way off. My other friends used to ask about her when they saw her around. “This Spanish girl was looking for you at the station.” and “She’s cute, put me on!”. I just calmly brushed off both. I couldn’t get defensive, because now they’d know how I really felt. Little did I know, my silence as it came to “us” would hurt me.
Part 2. Soon.