Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How I Met Him

I met him on May 20th, 1994.  I was 22 years old and still trying to finish college.  I had taken a break for a year to be a waitress.  I decided getting an education was a better bet for me.  My father was ecstatic. So I went back.  I was going to Pace University at the time.  I had gone for a semester but found that I was no longer going to qualify for financial aid so I was deciding to transfer to Borough of Manhattan Community College for a semester to raise up my grades and GPA and then transfer again to Lehman College. This was the plan.

I was still active in my sorority, Eta Omega Tau.  I was still attending meetings.  I had just gotten a job at this hat store at the South Street Sea Port.  It was a Friday and there was a sorority meeting.  Prior to the meeting, I went to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  It wasn't far from Pace University which is across the street from City Hall.  I had taken the 1 train to Christopher Street and walked by the basketball courts to go to the park.  I was looking for my friend who was a street performer.  His name was Keith the Balloonatic.  He blew up balloons and had a comedy routine.  I hadn't seen him in a bit and I was wondering if he was alright.  I didn't see him so I walked the way to the school and attended the meeting.  Afterwards, my sisters and I hung out for a bit.  It was a nice balmy night.  I had the feeling that I should take a walk. 

My sister, Gisela, who lived by me offered to take the train home with me but I refused. I normally loved taking the train with Gisela but I felt the need to walk. I took myself down Broadway going uptown back to the Village.  I wondered where my feet were taking me.  I thought about visiting my friend, Eddie in the Lower East side but I didn't feel like making my way over there.  I was on Broadway not too far from Astor Place, past Canal street and in front of  this Reebok Store when I saw two guys coming my way.  The street was deserted and my first thought was that I was going to get robbed or killed.  There was no place to go to.  The stores were closed and there were no people on the street.  One of the guy had weird movement and I wondered if they were drunk or high. 

He came at me with purpose from afar.  I could see that he had a little smile on his face.  It was almost like he knew me.  I was going to be brave.  I continued walking.  He came right up to me and told me hi.  Did I know him?  I'm good with faces but maybe I met him and had forgotten.  How are you?  he asked.  I'm good.  I was skeptical.  Where are you coming from? He asked.  His friend had shaky movements still, but he was quiet.  Later I learned that they were making their way to his brother's house because he really had to use the bathroom.  His name was Jamal.  I told the other guy that I was hanging out with my sisters.  I figured that if he knew me, he knew I didn't have any biological sisters.  He just said that it was cool.  After a while, he asked me my name.  I didn't know him!!! 

I told him my name.  He told me that his name was James.  I gave him my pager number.  He said he would call me. He asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was going home.  He asked me to meet him later.  I said I would but I had no intention of meeting him later. I told him I would have to call my dad to let him know I would be coming home late.  This was the arrangement that I made with my dad.  He walked me to a payphone and gave me a quarter.  I called and left my dad a message.  He told me he had to go but that he would page me later. 

I kept on going with no intention of ever seeing him again.  I thought to myself, "He wouldn't last a month."  I was a notorious heartbreaker at the time.  I went to the park again, looking for Keith.  Instead it was busy with the bustle of strangers.  I saw someone I sort of knew from hanging around.  I was ensconced within a group just talking and laughing when James came up to the group.  We're in New York City!  How did he find me?  He came right up to me and took my hand.  He asked if I was ready to go.  He had mentioned that he had a gig at Nell's on 14th Street.  Later I found out that he was rapping  He was a rapper, a white rapper. 

He held my hand as we walked.  His weird friend around us.  He had picked up another friend and it was an entourage going to Nell's.  I heard him rhyme.  He was pretty good.  The club had a good vibe and we hung out for a while listening to music and hanging out.  It was late.  He asked me where I lived.  I watched his face as I told him I lived at the end of the 2 line.  He didn't even flinch.  He was going back to Brooklyn.  The trains run slow late at night.  He paid for my subway fare and went with me on the train even though his home was an hour in the opposite direction from where we were.  He got off the train and walked me to my block where I told him that he must watch because there was every possibility he might be a stalker.  Later he told me he counted the houses to my home even though he got it wrong.  It took him about three hours to get home.  He called me right the next day.  He didn't wait. 

It was a while before he told me why he came up to me with such certainty.  He told me that he had seen me when I got off at Christopher Street.  He was taken with me from the start.  He was going to approach me but he said that a little voice told him that he would see me later and I would be less busy.  I hadn't told him that I was in the Village before.  I hadn't mentioned how I made my way by the basketball courts to look for Keith in Washington Square Park.  He told me what I did as he watched.  I was in awe. Even from the very start, it seemed to be destined.  My sweet guy always had a thing for me.  Thank God I decided to go for a walk.

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