A black magazine for people too hip for black magazines. The driver was so kind and the ride over was so pleasant that we asked him to dine with us. Epic nights always begin like this. His name was Drew. He sat next to me at the restaurant and eventually my three friends huddled into their own conversation, leaving him and me to fend for ourselves. Stories of passport stamps, music, and philosophies became our buoys — good and easy conversation kept us afloat, freely.
He dropped us off at our hotel, and smoothly asked for my number. The girls giggled, and I blushed…and obliged. Image captured by Kwesi Abbensetts The texting began. And then, our first date. What started off as brunch, where we both confessed our intentional avoidance of commitment, turned into 10 hours of non-stop fun, intriguing conversation, outstanding food, sightseeing new parts of Atlanta, and the occasional 3rd chakra palpitating gaze.
He even brought his dog along. The date ended with an impressive kiss we made out. I was titillated by his tenacity. Unconscious February came, as did the yearning. Drew was there on moving day and even brought a friend , lugging the heaviest furniture as my male friends and family looked on.
He stayed over a few nights later, and at a point late in the evening he confessed that he loved me. It sounded like a record screeched and stopped in my head. What in the hell?! Image captured by Kwesi Abbensetts The morning after, I had an early am meeting at work and left him to sleep until I got back.
He looked so good, asleep in my bed. The morning was cold and bright; the sun was on his sleeping cheek. And I watched him lie there, breathing. I smiled to myself, thinking that life was finally turning around — back in my own place again, with a new handsome gentleman — and headed off to what could be a new career. I rode the wave of inspiration and wrote him a poem to read when he woke up, before walking out the door.
By my return two hours later, all hell had broken loose. But not just shocked — livid even, disgusted. Conscious That bastardized word, which often represents spiritual awareness, somehow has become synonymous in a sub-culture of the Black community with natural hair and extended conversations about the pineal gland. It was my fault, I suppose…I did wear a shaved head, and do use an Akan name. And the beads…the beads throw everybody off, right? I was subjected to skin shade comparisons.
In part, I left The South because I felt very ostracized. When I moved to Mozambique for the summer in my life was flipped upside down. Ignorance Everywhere The slow-trickling rumor stream began that I was dating a White man.
And then the questions came. Does he try to act Black? Does he wear gold chains? He took you to dinner? I need to get me a White man! Because good men also like dinner. So, why are you with a White man?
Are you upset with Black men? And he has swag for days. Goodness is not binary, and Black men are still beautiful. Thanks for the expertise. You date men in their 40s without checking accounts.
You two should come over! Because we want to self-subject for experimentation? Cultural and communal pressures guide standards for dating and mating, especially among American Black women. Thus, an American Black woman who balks this trend and mates outside of her race will likely be subject to ridicule. I was struggling with opinions — and sometimes still do — which I now know to be cultural ignorance disguised as truth, bolstered by popularity.
Remember when the Earth was flat? As I detailed this new struggle with my Love, he offered this, If loving you gives other people the opportunity to grow, then I welcome it. My Facebook feed was inundated with daily injustice, and I honestly tried to log off. But then, there was a shooting in a Black church in South Carolina. One FB friend posted that she would never again sit with her back to a White man. This racial separation is what the Enemy wants, I thought to myself.
And I was walking with a White man during one of the most racially tense weeks of the year. I felt like a mark. Drew held my hand as we walked through the neighborhood, and he told stories to try and distract me from my panic. He confessed that he was not afraid — be it his spiritual resolve or because he never had to learn the same fears as me growing up. I took off my precious gold ring and put it in my cheek.
Fifty feet from home, we approached a group of locals under a streetlight and my fears got the best of me. I let go of his hand. I felt like Mildred Loving. He held my hand to secure us and I let his go to do the same. It broke his heart. Image captured by Kwesi Abbensetts Oshe-Meji This seems to be a central lesson in our relationship — how to love in hard places and hold on when it seems most impossible. To not let go when a good love is threatened by fear and anger real or imagined from the outside.
To love and be compelled to overcome the threat as one. And how could I not, when he loves me so damn…professionally? I have been mis-loved and mistreated in expert quantity. I have finally fallen in love or risen with a good man, because the support I always imagined found me without my asking. Because a love like this is unadulterated, and not subject to the angers and judgments and fears and ignorance of people nor nations.