Sunday, March 09, 2008

It Could've Been Love...

I promised the new blog would come on Monday, but it's Sunday night and my favorite show in the history of television - "The Wire" - just had it's series finale, so I'm a bit down in the dumps; the blog has been written for days; and so I figured I should just go ahead and post it. No need to wait til Monday...

I know that my last post was a bit out of left field and some people were weirded out by it, so I'm going to hold back on posting about my dreams. For the record, I'm still having my dreams and they are getting stranger, so I think it's best not to let you in on what I've been thinking about in my sleep. Back to what I know and love - men!

Several years ago, I took a trip to the Bahamas where my brother was headlining a music festival. I remember that I woke early on the morning of my flight and was picked up by the airport limousine (aka the Blue Van, but doesn’t “airport limousine” sound so much more impressive??) and caught a plane to Miami. That leg of the trip wasn’t so bad. But when I got to Miami, we had to walk outside to board a smaller prop plane that didn’t really look so sturdy. First of all, I had never been on a plane with actual propellers. And the propellers on this one didn’t look like they would do much to keep us in the air. But, I got on the plane anyway. I had no choice. I called my parents to say goodbye to them one last time just in case the plane didn’t make it all the way across the Atlantic, and settled in for the relatively short flight to the Bahamas.

The first few minutes of the trip were uneventful. Then, we hit turbulence. I looked around to see if anybody else was panicking. The people around me all seemed to be old pros at this flight between Miami and the Caribbean, so I was the only one who looked nervous. After the third of fourth violent turbulence attack, I was visibly shaken. The older man in the seat across from me kept glancing over and chuckling, and I scowled back in response. The flight just got worse and eventually the plane grew quiet. I could tell then that I wasn’t the only nervous person. We all gripped our seats and looked out the window at the expansive Atlantic Ocean beneath us. In time, I lost my bearings and I was pretty certain at one point that the plane was actually flying upside down. And that was when I started singing old Negro spirituals. Not gospel songs by Kirk Franklin and all that jazzy contemporary stuff. No, I was singing the hardcore joints – the ones that got my people through slavery and Jim Crow, because I was certain that only Jesus could save me now!

Well, just when I lost all hope that I’d see my brother and our friends in Nassau, the plane began its descent and we landed safely at the Nassau airport. I had never been so happy to see the ground. I almost kissed it, but then thought better of that idea when I realized just how dirty the floor was. When I got out of baggage claim, I was totally confused. I tried to call my brother multiple times until I realized that my cell phone didn’t work. Fuckin Nextel (got rid of them after that trip)! I finally got outside of the airport and located the shuttle from our resort. But not before I had to fight off the advances of probably 40 men within 5 minutes of walking out the front door. When I found my driver, I was so relieved. I sat back, put on my headphones and watched green, green grass and blue, blue water zoom past me outside the window. I have been to 8 Caribbean islands (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Guadaloupe, and the Bahamas) but I have to admit that the Bahamas are probably the most beautiful out of all those islands. (Many apologies to my Jamaican peeps, but I gotta tell the truth on that one!)

I arrive at my hotel and settle-in and later that night, my good friend and I decided to go to an outdoor festival that was being held in a public lot a few blocks from our hotel. It had rained earlier in the day (it rains frequently in the islands) and the ground was still a little damp. It was January and it was very breezy, but the breeze was warm and coming from the ocean, so I was comfortable with a light sweater over my tank dress. My friend and I walked from stand to stand looking at the wares that each vendor was peddling. We walked over to a stall where a man was making conch salad, pulling the fish out of the large shell, chopping it up with onion and pepper and sprinkling it with salt and lemon juice. We decided to be brave and eat it even though there was no cooking involved. We were delighted to find that it was delicious. We continued visiting stalls, chomping the conch salad on the way.

We saw a stall with a Bacardi sign and immediately made our way over to where they were mixing free drinks. The “bartender” at this stall was wearing a baseball cap and his head was bent as he mixed drinks. I busied myself reading the different bottles on display until he looked up from the table to take my order. He smiled and I was stunned. I was looking at, quite possibly, one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. He had a round sturdy face, with the deepest dimples framing his smile, and bright eyes that crinkled when he grinned. His skin was golden and his head was bald (by choice). He asked what I was drinking and the lilt in his voice brought me back to reality. I ordered my drink and squeezed my girl’s hand, letting her know that a cutie was in the vicinity. She peeped the bartender and immediately started flirting with him.

“Whoa, pump your breaks chick!” I hissed in her ear. “I saw him first.”

We spent the rest of the night hanging around the table making small talk with the bartender and trying to out-flirt each other. This was a test of determination and whoever wanted him most would have him. So, we complimented him, asked him questions, offered to grab him samples from other tables. The competition was really getting kind of ugly. We asked him what his name was. It was the French word for love. My friend, who is fluent in French picked it up right away.

“Is that really your name,” she cooed.

“Yes, that is what my mum named me,” he said. We sighed at “mum”.

Before we retired to our room, we learned that Love had grown up in Nassau, his father was a very well-known local politician. During the day, Love worked for a bank in Nassau and he supplemented his income by doing promotions for Bacardi in the evening and on weekends. We told him where we were staying and gave him the number to our room. We told him to call… and he did. That night, he called the room and spoke to my friend for almost an hour while I pouted on my bed and watched television. He didn’t even ask to speak to me!

I pretty much gave up at that moment, accepting the fact that he wasn’t interested in me. I know not every guy is going to like me, and I’m ok with that. After my friend hung up the phone, she told me that they had agreed to meet for lunch the next day and they wanted me to come along. Great! I get to be the third wheel, I thought. But, of course, I agreed. I really had nothing else planned the next day and it was too breezy to relax on the beach. So, I tagged along with the lovebirds.

Around noon the next day, Love came to pick us up for lunch. He was dressed for work in a blue button-down, tie, and khaki slacks. He drove a yellow jeep that didn’t have any windows or roof. I didn’t really understand how this kind of car was practical given the fact that it rained just about every day in the Bahamas, but I didn’t ask questions. I just sat in the back seat and listened to Love and my friend make small talk on the way to the restaurant. Love took us to an outdoor cafĂ© a few miles from the hotel. We could see the Sandals couples resort from our table and I thought, this is just fabulous; more reminders of coupledom. When Love excused himself to use the restroom, my friend made fun of the shoes he was wearing. I was wondering how she could even tear her eyes away from his handsome face long enough to see his shoes, much less care about what they looked like. The dude was F-I-N-E.

I ordered a heavy lunch, thinking that if I wasn’t going to meet the man of my dreams on this trip, I might as well eat what I wanted. My friend excused herself to go to the restroom and Love and I were sitting at the table alone. I was slurping away at my pasta and just when sauce dripped onto my shirt, Love looks over at me and giggles.

“You’re so cute!” he said. I rolled my eyes in response.

“Thanks,” I said, taking a sip of my Sprite and dabbing at the spot on my shirt. I then busied myself salting my pasta until my friend came out (yes, it was waaaay too salty by the time she showed back up, but I ate it anyway) – anything to keep me from having to make eye contact with Love.

We hung out with Love pretty much everyday until it was time for us to go back home. He would come by after work and chill with us by the pool or meet us for lunch in the middle of the day, but it was always the same: Love and my homegirl chatting it up while I pretended to be bored and took every chance I could get to stare at him out of the corner of my eye without him noticing.

On the last night of our trip, we all got together to go to dinner – my brother, one of his friends, my friend, me and Love. We to an outdoor restaurant that was right by the water. The food was amazing, the service was impeccable. Love noticed me staring at him a few times during dinner, and once he winked at me to let me know I had been caught. Another time, his leg brushed mine under the table and he looked up at me and grinned. It was all a bit too much for me, the atmosphere, the company, the food… the wine. It was all going to my head.

After dinner, we made our way to a tiny cigar shop, where Love knew the owner. We bought cigars and puffed them, while strains of Andrea Bocelli, singing some Italian masterpiece, filled the humidor. My friend was literally throwing herself all over Love, which seemed to make him uncomfortable. I couldn’t see why. She looked great in her seagreen tube dress and I looked frumpy in my black slacks and summer top. But for some reason, tonight, he didn’t seem interested in my friend’s advances.

We finally made it back to our hotel and my brother went to meet up with some other friends. My friend and I sat on the beach with Love until late in the evening. All of a sudden, my friend, growing bored with Love’s lack of interest in her flirtatious ways, announced that she was tired and was going back to the room to lie down. So, that left me and Love together. Alone. For the first time since my friend excused herself to go to the restroom during lunch so many days before.

It gpt breezier than usual and, even though I am wearing a jean jacket, I begin to shiver. Love, who was wearing only a polo shirt and shorts, put his arm around me to warm me up.

“Is that better?” he asks softly.

“Yes, thank you,” I said weakly. I am all of a sudden very nervous to be sitting here with him alone.

“So, I take it that you don’t like Nassau,” he says.

“Are you kidding?!” I shout. “I love it here! I’m so sad that I’m going home tomorrow.”

“So how come you always look so bored.”

I just laugh. I didn’t know how to tell him that I had been feigning boredom in an attempt to hide my disappointment that he favored my friend over me.

“I’m not bored at all,” I say. “You just make me nervous.”

If I am not mistaken, I think he actually blushes. He looks down and then away.

“If I make you nervous, does that mean that you… like me?” he asks, staring at the surf.

“Well, I…” my voice trails off. “I… I mean, yes, I guess that’s what it means. But I am not going to disrespect my friend. She likes you, you like her. So I just stay in my lane.”

He looks at me like I am crazy. “I don’t like her!” he shouts. “I mean, she’s cool, but it’s not her that I’m interested in.”

“What?” I ask, genuinely confused. “But ever since we’ve been here, all you have wanted to do is spend time with her.”

“Well, she’s the one who asked me to hang out. She’s the one who engaged me in conversation. But, you’re the one I’m interested in. Haven’t you noticed that every time she and I make plans, I always ask you to come along? It was you…” His voice trails off and we just look at each other.

“I can’t believe you’re just telling me this now!” I say. “We could’ve spent time together. Alone!”

He stands up, grabs my hand and we walk back into my hotel. We don’t say much to each other along the way. I guess we are reflecting on all the things that could’ve happened had we just communicated our desires a little better. I walk him through the lobby and out the front door. His jeep is parked across the street. Now, it is probably 2:30am and my flight leaves at 8am, but I don’t want this night to end. He stands there staring at me. The ocean breeze is blowing all around us. My hair is in my face. He reaches down, brushes it away, leans into me and kisses me. The feeling is surreal. And the kiss is even better than I could have ever imagined. When we finally break away from each other, he backs away from me.

“I am glad that I know you,” he said. “Please call me sometimes when you are back at home.”

All I can say is, “I will.”

I move toward him, hoping to kiss him again, but he turns and starts walking toward the jeep. In my head I am screaming “NO! DON’T GO! COME BACK!” But, in reality, I say nothing. I just watch him walk away. Before he hops into the driver’s seat of the jeep, he turns and looks back toward me and gives me a slight wave. I blow him a kiss. Then, he is in the jeep and speeding down the road toward home.

I go to sleep that night, thinking about him, the way he smelled, his handsome face, and I wonder whether it would’ve been better if I had continued thinking that he had no interest in me. In fact, I think it definitely would’ve been preferable given the fact that I now cannot stop thinking of all the fun we could’ve had. Torturous thoughts of coulda, woulda, shoulda, plagued me all night.

The next morning, I boarded a plane back to DC. And once I got settled back into my routine, Love and I emailed each other regularly for a time. There was even a brief period when we discussed him coming to DC for a visit. But it never happened. Eventually, we communicated less and less, until we stopped altogether, and all I was left with were memories of our kiss by the ocean.

These last few weeks, my girls and I have been planning our annual Girl’s Getaway. We threw out a lot of destinations and someone mentioned the Bahamas. Love immediately popped into my mind. All of a sudden, I had to know what had become of him. I email him, praying that he still used the address I had for him. I tell him that he had been on my mind a lot lately, that I missed him, and I hoped all was well with him. The next day, he replies and says:

Hey stranger!

It's funny that you emailed me... I thought about you the other day... How have you been?

I got married! January 6, 2008 was our one year anniversary. How about you? Any news? Marrige? Kids?

How is....????? (Can't remember her name) You know, the one who came down with you that time.

I really hope all of you are well. It was so good hearing from you, and I hope to hear from you again soon.

Love

After reading his message, I literally laughed out loud. First and foremost because my Love got married. I should’ve expected it. It was really only a matter of time. He was a catch and practically royalty in Nassau. I knew there had to be many women waiting in the wings. Second, because of the line of questions that he threw at me. Am I married? Hardly! Kids? Far from it. Third because he couldn’t even remember my friend’s name. (That made me feel kind of good, in a sick and twisted way.)

So, another one bites the dust, huh? All my men are moving on. For whatever reason they are finding happiness with any woman but me! I am happy that Love is happy, though. He is a good man who is worth his weight in gold. And his wife is a lucky woman to be able to wake up next to that face every morning. Good Lawd!

I probably won’t contact Love again. What good would it do? I am just glad to know that he is ok and content to have the memory of our time together so many years ago…



1 comment:

LOVEly said...

this was one of my favorite posts! such a sweet story, and it felt like a movie. I'm such a hopeless romantic!