The Moment I Met Him (part 2)

For seven or eight months, it stayed that way.  RAM and I did no kissing, generally no touching unless we were on the dance floor, and not even a hug at the end of the night when he would walk me to my door and stand all up in my personal space to say good night and call me by my full government name.  He’d smile that perfectly imperfect thing; I’d temporarily die from an unfulfilled longing, and I’d bolt away from him, trying to remain that good girlfriend I’d promised myself – and my boyfriend – that I was.

One night, Tony and I met up with RAM at a warehouse-turned-club for a Black Diamonds party on the West Side.  The venue had a gigantic Buddha sitting in the middle of it.  When we met RAM at the bar, something was different about him.  He did his usual I -ain’t-trying-to-be-your-friend greeting, but this time his energy intertwined with mine more strongly than usual.  I ran to the bathroom to escape it.

Eventually, I made my way back to the bar and found he’d disappeared.  Maybe RAM had finally given up on me.  Tony was gone, too.  I spent the next hour trying to get a phone signal – pointless- and searching for Tony.  I knew he hadn’t left me.

I was looking over a railing at the crowd below, contemplating heading home, when someone grabbed my elbow from behind and jerked me around.

“Ive been looking for you all night!” RAM yelled over the chorus of Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U.  “Stop running from me!”

I was a split second from bellowing some bright feminist retort about who RAM thought he was, putting his hand on me uninvited, but I didn’t have a chance.  He simultaneously yanked me to him and shoved me against the railing.  He planted his lips on mine, slowly sucking my bottom lip first, then sticking his tongue square in my mouth like it belonged there.  I didn’t even think about pushing him off me.

We kissed until I realized we were not alone and in a very public place.  I pulled back and looked up at him with star-struck eyes.  Something in my consciousness had shifted.  Like the first time I had an orgasm, and realized what all the fuss was about.  Yes, it was worth all the work, and the world is a better place because that feeling is possible.  I also wanted to kick myself for waiting so long.

RAM looked back at me, his eyes equal parts confused, searching, and taunting.  I had to know if I imagined what I felt.  I stood on my tiptoes, grabbed the back of his bald head, and pulled him down to me.  I know, I know, I had a boyfriend. But I wasn’t thinking about him at that moment.  Plus, I’d already messed up.  What was another kiss?

I recovered my common sense at the end of the night.  Tony had long since left.  I told him I wasn’t ready when he said he wanted go.  RAM assured him I would get home safely.  Tony looked at us and shook his head, told me to call if I needed anything. At all.

I was already inside the car, but RAM was holding the door open, waiting for an invitation.  “K.Reagan, do you want to take me home with you?”  “I will go if you want me…….to,” he added when i didn’t answer for a full fifteen seconds.

I was someone’s girlfriend – not his.  And just because I slipped down a slope didn’t mean I had to go tumbling down a mountain.

“No, I’m good,” I said, shaking my head.  I didn’t mean it, but I tried to say it as if I did, if only because it was the right thing to well, say.  Sometimes that’s half the battle.

He smiled.

Thump-thump went the traitor in my chest.

He said, “Oh-kay,” but what he meant was I’ll accept that for now, but I’ll be trying again later.

If later was sixty second, I was screwed, literally and figuratively.  I reached for the door handle and pulled it shut before I changed my mind.  As the cab pulled away, I had to stop myself from looking out the back window with longing.

Back at my apartment, safe and sound on my living-room couch alone.  I did the same thing I’d done the night I met him: stayed up until daybreak thinking about my boyfriend….and RAM.  I listened to Donnell Jones’s “Where I Wanna Be.” On repeat.

RAM called, and I answered, before the weekend was over (i.e, the next day).  We didn’t talk about the Incident, just pretended the whole thing never happened.  Perfect.  we could go on as usual, as “just” friends.  When I recapped the night to Katrell, I blamed it on the alcohol, but neither one of us had a drink that night.

I decided not to see RAM for awhile, although I didn’t tell him about my vow.  And to his credit, he didn’t ask me to see me.  And I didn’t call as much.  Neither did he.  I thought about him, though.  Constantly.  Went to visit my boyfriend one weekend and drove to his apartment blasting Luther’s  “If Only for One Night”: “I won’t tell a soul, no one has to know……”

I did more pleading than I did singing.

But then I saw RAM again.  I needed more than consequences to stop me.  By then, I didn’t give a damn about karma’s boomerang.

I switched to Mint Condition’s, “What Kind of Man Would I be?”:  “If we lay down tonight, it won’t justify throwing love aside…..”

It appealed to my sense of personal decency.  It was all I had left.

That worked – for another month.

I broke up with my boyfriend.

And I began dating RAM.

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The Moment I Met Him

“The early bird catches the worm; a stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can’t pretend we haven’t been told. We’ve all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to ‘seize the day’. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore, until we finally understand for ourselves like Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.” – Meredith Grey

Back in 2000, I had a boyfriend nothing serious, not even a real boyfriend in the sense of the word.  We had dated on and off thru college, and even played around with the idea of getting married, and living happily ever after.  Well he decided to grow up and get a job some  states away.  I wasn’t ready to relocate so we toyed around with the idea of having a long distance romance, until I was ready to be where he was.  I lived in North Carolina.  The boyfriend lived elsewhere.  We were good.   And then I met RAM by accident.

I was new to the city, moved here to get into real estate , knew no one other than the family members that were already in the city, and a few areas surround Charlotte.  I befriended a guy, Tony, who lived in my apartment.  Tony was a Charlotte native.  He dutifully agreed to take me under his wing and make sure I got a sense of the city without getting myself maimed in the process. Tony was also the only black guy who lived on my side of the building.  We hung out most weekends.  That’s what we were doing on Saturday night uptown in the Queen City.  We were supposed to be meeting up with his cousin.

I’d just followed Tony to the basement of this little hip-hop club when I spotted a man.  He was so  very much my type.  I was into pretty boys .  Said stranger looked over at me.  I smiled; he smiled back.  I don’t know what came over me, but I walked up to him, and we began to dance.

After a few songs, I was compelled to do my girlfriend duty and blurt over Biggie’s “Hypnotize,” “I have a boyfriend, you know?”  There it was on the table.  I’d let him know I was not on the market.  He looked directly into my eyes as he spoke more into me than to me.  My monogamy censors went crazy at this clear threat as he responded, “It gets cold in Charlotte.”  Then he smiled, a perfectly imperfect thing that made my heart go thump-thump.

Three hours later, I left the dance floor.  I’d sweated out my dress and my hair.  I didn’t want to be caught looking crazy when the lights came on.  I hadn’t even asked the stranger for his name, and we hadn’t had any real conversation other than my declaration that I was unavailable to date.  But I knew I wanted to know him, likely in the biblical sense.  I thought about my boyfriend and decided it would be best for my relationship if I carried myself home without having a way to contact this new, smiling, dancing man.

I thanked the stranger for a wonderful night, excused myself, and followed Tony to the door.  Then my song came on.  It was “One More Chance.”  I scurried back to the floor for one more dance with the stranger, then left as soon as the song was over.  Tony was waiting after all.  Standing on the corner with him, looking for a cab with its light on, I asked about his night.  I hadn’t seen Tony since we’d walked into the club.

“Did you see your cousin?” I asked.

“Who? RAM”?  He laughed.  “I saw him.  Didn’t get a chance to speak with him, though.”

“Huh?”

“He was busy,” Tony explained.

“Oh.”

Tony laughed again.

“So why didn’t you say anything?” I prodded.

“You wanted me to interrupt you?”

It took a moment, but I got it.  Ohhhhhhhh!  That would be the sound of light dawning above my fluffy- haired head.

He gave me the you-cannot-be-that -naive look.  Ooh, but I was.

RAM and I became the greatest of pals.  Hung out every weekend at the movies and various restaurants.   We talked on the phone most nights, mostly about nothing, sometimes just breathing into the phone while we did other things.

The only giveaway that we weren’t completely platonic was his greeting, a hug that was a little too tight, then a smack of his lips right on my cheek that lingered a little too long and was a little too close to my mouth to be just a friend.  Me?  I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from grinning with all thirty-two every time I met up with him.

Because I was convinced that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I told my boyfriend about RAM, my new found NC friend.  Of course, he wasn’t too happy to hear about it, but I assured him, “There’s nothing going on.”  It was the God’s honest truth.