He told me he had been trying to talk to me–seen me around the building but hadn’t been able to catch me. He helped me take my basket to the car. He wanted my phone number. I told him I was sorry and hadn’t seen him around, that I appreciated him taking my basket to the car and that I would see him around. I asked him how old he was. I told him I was too old for him and that I had to go. It was raining. He told me he didn’t live there so I wouldn’t be able to see him like that and that he was 24 but that didn’t matter. Then in an act of desperation, he gave me his cell phone. I plugged in my number.
He called me later that evening. Then he left me a text message.
I texted him back the next day.
He was in the building and wanted to come over to talk. I took the chance and let him come inside my apt.
He told me that he was indeed 24, had been on his own since 16 when his Mom died. His Pops was in Bahamas. He hails from Bahamas but he’s Haitian too, he said. He told me about his girlfriends–he’s a serial monogamist–whom he had had, about 6 since he started seriously dating at 17. His last girlfriend left to go to California. She was white and her family was uprooting to Cali where she was planning to go to school. The relationship ended sourly. It ended a month before… He didn’t see any future with her. His future was uncertain, he said. He lived with some friends in a house where he paid the mortgage and they cooked/paid a few bills. The mortgage is $800. He pays it by being a security guard up in Ft Lauderdale. A job he used to get to via his brand-spanking new BMW something class which he acquired 5 months before and lost 3 weeks ago in an accident. On a rainy night. After going to the club. With some friends. Driving 90mph at least. When he switched lanes but didn’t realize the 18 wheeler in front of him would be so slow. Until the front end of his car got stuck to the back end of the 18 wheeler, and his friends threatened to sue him. But they’re good friends he says. Even though they live in his house relatively pain-free, ride in his car, take his car around Miami, threaten to sue him and aren’t emotionally supportive like he could envision I would be.
Because that’s what it was all about. Me. Me and him. Together. He told me he had seen me a few times and that I seemed "simple". That is I seemed to project a simplicity of existence–a lack of duplicity. What he saw would most likely be what he got. And what he saw, he liked. He wanted to be the man who was my "first" boyfriend. The man who showed me how to treat a man and to be appreciated by a man. The man who massaged me, listened to me and stood by me. The man who showed me what a "real" man was all about. And I would be his lady. The lady who would listen, supportively to him. The lady who would be by his side no matter what. The lady whose star he could hitch his wagon to as he imagined a future of opportunities and possibilities. The lady who would not see other men behind his back. The lady he could trust. The woman he could see himself with as he lived. He wanted to go to business school but would not be able to do that without someone supporting him. And that someone would be me.
I told him that I didn’t want to hurt him, didn’t want to string him along. I told him that I just got here and needed time to figure my life out. I told him I was a doctor, 29, eclectic. I told him I wasn’t like other girls. I tried to explain that he didn’t need me to get somewhere in his life. I tried to tell him–gently–that this wasn’t the way I envisioned relationships. I tried to understand how he could see so much in me–based on a gut feeling. I tried to tell him that I didn’t want him to to upset with me, to be angry or sad about it. I tried to see myself with him. I couldn’t.
I didn’t understand how he could decide all this after watching me a few times and having an hour long discussion with me. I couldn’t understand how he couldn’t just be friends with me for a little while. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t talk and hang without him knowing that I would be "talking" only with him. I couldn’t understand why he had to rush into a relationship–why I couldn’t take my time to get to know him. He couldn’t understand why I would let caution play such a large role in my decision. He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him in. He couldn’t see himself as a friend without the assurance that I would "try him out" and let him show me how he could be the best man I would ever have. He couldn’t let go of the fact that I would be so consistent with my "nos".
He left, looking dejected. I’ve seen him around a few times since then. He doesn’t look at me. I think he’s ashamed or upset. Maybe both.
I think he wants to make a place for himself in this world. I think he could, but not with me. I wonder, if I was 19/20 and he was 24 or if he was 30/35 and Iwas what I am now, would something come of our talk? What do you do with the feeling that someone is on their way? That no matter how rough around the edges they may be, they’ve got IT–that something or other that enables them to have potential. That potential you can spot. That real-ness that you can feel. What do you do with that? Well, I guess the only thing you can do is pray. Pray that he finds that someone who will be there for him. Pray that he becomes more than potential. That he’ll take his potential and make it kinetic.