I’m going to be sharing with you all a series of conversations that have lodged in my mind over time and might even have changed my life a little bit.
He: It’s not that I don’t like you. I do. It’s just…
Me: It’s just what?
He: I think you’re really pretty too; it’s just…
Me: You’re intimidated by my academic genius? *lame laugh*
He: *laughs* No it’s not that. It’s just…well I’ve never been out with a black girl before. Or one with glasses.
Me: *weakly* We don’t bite, you know. At least not the ones north of Birmingham.
He: *laughing* See you’re brilliant. You make me laugh.
Me: Well…that’s something.
He: No other girls make me laugh.
Me: Ah so it’s just the black thing then. Oh, and the glasses.
He: I knew you’d get it. I’ve got rugby practice now. I’ll see you at the bus stop tonight?
He had delicate white-blond hair that he cut super low to offset what he perceived as the femininity of the shade. I loved to graze my fingertips over his scrubbing-brush haircut and hear him laugh and duck away from my touch. His eyes were the colour of the sky before a summer storm. I teased him about his impossibly long eyelashes that cast shadows on his cheekbones. I told him it was girly; he responded by tugging on a braid of punching me in the arm.
We sat next to each other on the coach trip to Wales; shared stories and Doritos and when I fell asleep against his shoulder, he looped an arm around me and rested his chin on my head. I woke up an hour later but feigned sleep a little longer. The sound of his heartbeat gently thudding in my ear is a memory I don’t think I’ll ever shake.
We spent hours in silence with books in hand and the TV playing softly in the background. Sometimes, he’d catch my eye and hold my gaze and in it, I’d see something that I longed for but which remained unspoken. His grin had a way of exploding over his face like a firework and drenching me in sparks.
He’d leave his cluster of friends when he saw me walk through the doors or into the common room and he’d give my arm a squeeze and wink at me; his eyelash sweeping his cheek. He told me his secrets and asked for mine. I wrapped them around my heart and handed them over.
We were something like best friends but I always thought that eventually…eventually there would be more. And I dreamed a hundred dreams of when that would happen.
After that conversation, I watched him walk away. I felt like I had failed. Twice. I thought I was above the unrequited love that plagued so many teenage girls. I scolded myself even as I held back tears. I caught a later bus. And that weekend, I went to the opticians and got contact lenses. There was nothing I could do about my skintone so I cried instead.
I didn’t hold it against him but maybe I should have. He phrased it as best he could and blindsided me with his eyes and the hint of a dimple in his left cheek, but what he was saying was that he was scared. Scared of being judged for dating the only black girl in school. Scared of what his friends would say if he announced me, the tall, bespectacled girl with the braids as his girlfriend. He wasn’t ready for what assumed would be severe social ramifications.
Three weeks later, he was dating my friend. I can still pinpoint the moment my heart shattered.
Our friendship limped on for a while. He still came to me in the morning and squeezed my arm. But I drew away. I built a wall that he tried and failed to traverse. I found another boyfriend and started wearing my glasses again. He sent me a note after we hadn’t spoken for a month and told me he missed me.
By then, I couldn’t forgive him.
It’s been quiet in these parts of late. Dust has settled, spiderwebs have been spun. I apologise. I suffered through a terrible bout of flu and bronchitis that robbed me of my energy and played havoc with my sleeping pattern and the week after, my focus was dedicated to the completion of NaNoWriMo. I’m making something of a comeback now; thinking of new topics for the blog and daring to lay myself if not bare then certainly scantily clad for my readers. I’ve missed this.
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Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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