August 28th, 2016
There was something about his aura that magnetically pulled me toward his general direction. Something about his seemingly confident nature, his walk of importance, the effortless smirk, and the mysterious and unknown wondrous possibilities of the type of person he may turn out to be. Nonetheless, it was there for the taking. I erroneously used past experiences to classify him into my own personalized category of man, at the time, I had not regretted it.
It had been an afternoon June when we had our first encounter. I was drearily ringing a customer up when I suddenly became hyperaware of my surroundings. Abruptly glancing up, I saw him and that was the first time we had made eye contact. I turned away from the overwhelming pang of attraction that vibrated throughout the course of my body. I glanced back, glanced away, and turned again as he smoothly strolled out of the TriBeCa Store. A month would go by with a series of similar distant indirect interactions before our paths crossed physically outside of my work scenario.
The morning of was gruesome and tiring. It was a scorching July morning; I had awakened before sunlight in order to make it on time for work. Every task seemed relentlessly tiring, I wished for the day to be over before it had even begun. A bout of negativity oozed through my pores like a thick film of menacing slime and so, negativity followed. I walked up to my bus stop in the silent tranquil darkness, sat on the bench and waited for the only bus scheduled for five in the morning. Rummaging through my duffle bag, I realized my MetroCard was missing. With a sudden pang of anxiety I shifted through the apron, my planner, and a collection of old receipts, simultaneously dropping and successfully cracking my phone’s screen. I made the decision to meet up with my close friend, Billy, to get the screen fixed later that afternoon. The day was long, daunting, and agonizingly ordinary, that is, until I had finally finished my early shift.
The sun scintillated above me as I stood outside pacing on the corner of Chambers street in front of the McDonald’s, jokingly rushing Billy over my decapitated cell phone. “Are you close? Where are you? Hurry up!” I shouted into my cell, erupting into laughter at the sound of Billy scurrying the streets on the other end of the line. At that moment, I looked up and saw him, as if deep within my core I had known he would be there. He halted across the street amongst a group of tourists, children, parents, and businessmen all waiting for the light to change from a hand to a walking man. “He’s here, Billy. Across the street, I see him. I’m going to ask for his number. I’ll call you back in a sec,” I whispered into the phone. The light finally changed and he walked past me maintaining eye contact. I immediately thought to myself, “it could be a no or it could be a yes, so go after him. Everything happens for a reason, this can’t possibly be a mere coincidence.” My spiritually inclined mind convinced itself that the universe had aligned this exact moment for us to meet, all due to the sequence of events that led to my cracked phone.
I drew in a breath of asphalt city air, steadied myself, and jogged after him. He began to turn around as if he had somehow known. “Hey!” I shouted, discreetly masking my severe loss of breath. “Hey,” I repeated, “I’ve seen you around a few times and I was wondering if you had a girlfriend.” He smiled and replied, “No, I do not.” “Well, you don’t have to or anything but I was wondering if I could get your number?” I asked shyly. “Of course you can,” he responded. We exchanged names and numbers and I jogged after Billy who happened to be arriving at that corner, inwardly, I felt an inner throbbing happiness and sense of purposeful fulfillment that I could not explain.
The days elapsed into weeks where we shared short conversations and diluted dialogues over text. Nothing developed and nothing formed, we remained on stagnant grounds and oddly enough, I was content with just that. A weekend at the Poconos with my family and an incessant photographic social media publication of everything I was doing had sparked his interest, catching his attention like an unforeseen onset of wildfire.
It was a Wednesday afternoon when he made the hasty decision that would profoundly create a shift in my realm of existence. He had texted me asking if I would like to meet up on Saturday night, after a day of work on what was supposed to be his day off. The night of the meeting the skies were colored shades of blue, orange, and pale pink as a result of the tired sun. We paced down 59th and Lexington, in search of something to do and somewhere to eat. He searched his phone for restaurants before he finally found one called Bobby Van’s Steakhouse.
The place was dimly lit with a brown undertone, mellow welcoming lights, an equally welcoming staff, and a cosmic emptiness working at our advantage. Tables lined one after another covered in white cloth, glistening silver cutlery aligned in their proper positions, and wooden chairs painted black. He pulled out my chair and I sat in awe at a gesture I was so unfamiliar with. We made our order, him, a steak, and me, an Atlantic salmon, with a shared order of mashed potatoes.
We spoke as we waited. We spoke of spirituality. He told me stories, experiences, influences that mirrored things that I have said and believe in. I sat enclosed in a shell of timid tension and doubt. “Are you nervous?” he asked, sensing my fidgeting and inner defiance to completely opening up. “Yeah, I am,” I replied, “I’m not usually nervous, I don’t know why.” But I lied. I knew why, I had made it clear to him that I was looking for fun, lacking commitment and there he was, an open book with its pages lying willingly in front of me. Any other time, I would have been willing; I would have given myself wholeheartedly and completely. Like him, I would have shared stories of my spontaneity, my dreams, my hopes, past experiences, and my faultless flaws. However, I sat behind a barrier that wasn’t truly me in fear of appearing vulnerable.
“Can I be honest with you? I didn’t expect you to be how you are, I pictured a completely different person,” I blurted. “What did you expect?” he questioned. “I expected you to act like a pretty boy. I’m sorry,” I responded. He smirked his genuine smirk and said, “it’s okay. I don’t offend easily.” I had felt a pang of regret immediately after at my cruel honesty and senseless assumptions.
We finished our meals; he graciously settled the tab despite my fighting reluctance and exited the restaurant with a final thank you and goodbye to our waiters and hostess. We took a stroll around central park, where people walked, heads into their phones, “like zombies,” he said. For the night, we were wanderers speaking, walking with no true destination. We spoke, laughed, he joked. We finally settled down onto a bench overlooking a baseball field. “Idelis,” he started off, making an effort to pronounce my name correctly, “you’re a nice girl and I’ve had a great time but I can’t just screw around with someone without having an intimate connection.” I nodded my head in understanding and stared into the open field, thinking. He could have fallen if I would have allowed myself to be the open pages of a book. I could have fallen if it weren’t for a fear of not being able to suffice.
Thereupon, I realized how quick I had to been to assume any less of another human being. My open mindedness, willing acceptance of others, and sociable open nature was what defined me. I had unknowingly allowed past experiences to mold me into a reflection based on the foundation that others before laid in front of me. That night, I was compelled to make a dramatic change deep at the core of my inner self. One influenced by a humble, spiritual, and intelligent man that I had the pleasure of being able to unexpectedly encounter; a fellow soul in which I had the honor of having a piece of, if only for one night.
Nothing happens by chance. We are capable and culpable for the decisions we make but the reasons for it are predetermined. So we can learn, grow, and manifest ourselves into a ball of love, acceptance, and light in an endless expansive universe.