Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hi, My Name Is "Stella"...

Some of the best things that have ever happened to me have occurred in the greatest city on earth: New York! Pre-September 11th NYC could not be beat! It was the bomb!! After the terrorist attacks, for a little while it felt as though someone had sucked the life out of the city, but once the initial guilt wore off, people went back to partying – thank God!

In late 2003, I accompanied my cousin on a trip to NY to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology. My two best friends from high school, Jenna and Karina both were living in the city. After my cousin and I finished at the formal open house in the fashion district, we went to visit Karina at her apartment in Midtown. Karina said that her friend Belle had invited her to a house party in Queens later that night.

“You trying to roll to the party,” she asked as I suffocated from claustrophobia in her miniscule apartment.

I looked at my cousin, who just shrugged her shoulders. “Sure, we’re down,” I said while walking to the window to get a breath of fresh air.

My cousin and I went back to our hotel in Brooklyn where we changed and headed out for a night on the town. We cabbed it back to Midtown, met up with Jenna in Karina’s lobby and waited for Karina to come down. We caught the train to Queens, got off on a platform in a very residential area and walked the three blocks to Belle’s apartment. She, her twin sister Ariel, and another girl shared a three-bedroom apartment in Astoria.

A motley crew stood outside on the lawn.

“This is an apartment?” I asked Karina. From the outside it looked like a regular two-story brick house.

A guy wearing an ascot and a Kangol opened the front door for us and told us to walk up the long staircase to get to the party.

The door to the apartment was ajar and Belle greeted us in the dimly-lit foyer. She was a plump, pleasant light-skinned chick with a short haircut.

“Welcome to our humble abode. What are y’all drinking? We’ve got tequila and lemonade and vodka and punch,” she yelled over the thumping base of the music.

Ever the designated driver, I respond, “I’ll just have a coke.” My girls looked at each other and burst out laughing. My cousin shouted, “You don’t have to drive anywhere girl! This is NYC, we took the train!”

Good point! I went to the kitchen and filled a large, red, plastic cup (you know the ones) with the vodka and punch mixture. I followed Belle and my girls into the living room where the music was blasting. Dude with the ascot comes sailing through the apartment, stopping to get love from each girl and give dap to each dude. I noticed him, watched him move effortlessly through the mixed crowd. He was very, very dark-skinned and he had the most beautiful smile and the straightest pearly-whites that gleamed against his jet black skin. He was wearing a tan Kangol (more Sam Jackson than LL Cool J), a white shirt, brown jacket and peach ascot with jeans and pointed-toe shoes. He sure doesn’t dress like the guys back home, I am thinking. I am not yet sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Eventually, he comes over to speak to me and my girls.

He asks where I’m from. I tell him. Turns out that his parents are divorced and his dad lives in my town. I notice the lilt in his voice and ask where he’s from.

“Jamaica,” he says.

Oh shit! I am about to get my groove back like Stella.

He asks me to dance and we salsa around Belle’s living room floor. We laugh, he asks if I’m thirsty and brings me more vodka and punch. I am starting to feel myself. This is not good. You see, I have this problem with control. I don’t like to feel as though I am losing it. And the second I start to feel it slipping away, I snap back to attention. I put the drink down and step into another room to get some air. He follows and we continue chatting. He is smart. He is funny. He is fiiiine!

Turns out that in another life he used to be a model, a pro soccer player and a club promoter in Manhattan and now he is working on Wall Street at a huge investment bank. Is this guy for real? Eventually, he leaves me and I miss him as soon as he walks away. I find my girls and we hang out for a while. I don’t see Ascot anywhere. My girls have made a decision that we are leaving, without consulting me. I cannot leave without Ascot’s number. I start making excuses not to leave. I will go to the bathroom. I wait in line and there are four people ahead of me waiting to use the toilet. Good thing I don’t really have to go myself. When I finally get inside, I look at myself in the mirror, splash my face with water, and reapply my lip gloss. Then, I flush the toilet and head back outside. Next, I make a really big deal about finding my coat. Karina says, “Hey, you can stop stalling. I can always ask Belle for dude’s number.” I stop cold. Why didn’t I think of that? Ok, I am ready to leave.

We are outside and there is Ascot chatting up another girl. I am floored when he walks away, leaving her looking pretty stupid and lonely, and says “I wanted to give you my card. Feel free to call me anytime.”

Whoo-hoo! I have his number in my hot little hands and tuck the card deep into my handbag.

A few days later, I am sitting at my desk at work and pull out the card. I run my fingers over the raised letters and think that I probably shouldn’t call Ascot at work since he is probably busy doing very important Wall Street work. So, I email him instead, telling him that it was nice to meet him and that his personality and style were very refreshing and that I hope to see him again soon. I take a deep breath and swallow hard, proofreading my words. I change a few sentences, read it again, and slowly, I click “send”. Oh shit! I did it! I have never been this forward before in my life. I immediately want to take it back. What if he didn’t feel the same way? What if he doesn’t even remember me? What if I have made a fool of myself? Oh well, I can’t get it back. It is now floating it’s way through cyberspace and into his inbox. I get up and walk around the office to take my mind off of what I have just done. What do I expect anyway? He’s a friggin investment banker, former model, former professional athlete. What would HE want with lil ol me? And, he lives in NYC, the greatest city on Earth. I’m sure he’s not interested in some out-of-town lovin.

Within 5 minutes, I am back at my desk and he has replied. OMG! I am afraid to open it.

A great big grin spreads across my face as soon as I read the first line. He also found me refreshing, thinks my spirit is effervescent, and… what’s this? He’s visiting his dad down here in a few weeks and wants to see me.

I cannot contain my excitement. The Brown Girl really will get her groove back, afterall!

To be continued…

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