I had become accustomed to going to bed with no one beside me- waking up the very same. I had completely cut off all contact with potential suitors, and old flames. I listened to a lot of Eric Bellinger, read a few books by Michael E. Reid and within months I had found total peace.
As far as I was concerned it was easier to just be by myself. My past relationship had left me so exhausted and drained; I was quite honestly, nauseated by the idea of binding myself to another person.
Then, out of nowhere, he showed up. I wasn’t looking and I didn’t want anything like this, but there he was- and I’m so damn thankful that he showed.
He and his two sons had just moved in next door during my time of solitude. The boys caught my attention first and was ultimately what drew me to him. They were the cutest and certainly the most well behaved children I had ever encountered. It was refreshing to see how involved he was in their lives.
When he wasn’t in his work uniform, he was always well dressed. Well groomed, fresh haircut and full beard every time I’d see him. I figured he must really be into sneakers the way he never wore the same pair twice, and sometimes he and the boys would all have on the same shoes.
As time went by, I noticed he and I had similar work schedules as I’d often see him heading off to work at the same time. There was not much dialogue the first two months we passed each other. Nothing more than a “good morning” if we were coming home at the same time, or a simple smile of admiration watching him bring the boys home from school.
Have you ever met someone and just instantly… clicked? Cliché, I know. I had been home sick for about a week and once the stuffy nose surpassed, I stepped out on my porch to get some air. I sat there and let the night’s summer breeze blow from the lake behind my house and across my face. He was leaving out for work and I suppose I was high on cough syrup because I suddenly felt bold enough to talk to him with complete disregard for my messy bun and mickey mouse pajamas that I had on for about 2 days now.
“Are you going to work?” Probably not the smoothest thing I could come up with.
He looked up at me and gave a small grin and sarcastically answered “Uh yeah.”
“So what do you do? Are you like a security guard or something?”
He proceeded to his vehicle “Don’t insult me like that. I am a Detective”
I laughed. Definitely high on cough syrup now. “Oooo, fancy!”
I learned early on that his facial expressions give away what he’s thinking. In that moment he was thinking “What is wrong with this girl?” as he got his car running with the push-to-start feature.
“Wait. If you are leaving, where are the boys?”
“They are with their mother” he nicely replied.
“Those guys are so cool. They are like your own little minions!”
He chuckled “Yeah, they are my mini-mes” He opened his car door and stopped himself just before getting in. “What is your name?”
“Give me your number and I’ll tell you” I challenged him with a smug grin.
He put his head down to hide that he was blushing. His huge smile exposed burning cheeks and a mouth full of braces as he gave his number.
I waited about 10 minutes before I sent a simple one word text message that only contained my name.
From that moment on we bonded over long phone calls at night, and text messages all day. We would loose track of time when together and then be exhausted at work because we were up chatting, laughing, and sharing music like two teenagers instead of sleeping. Then, when we would sleep, the first person to wake up calls the other.
Andre and I were compatible on all levels, and overall we just meshed well. You’d swear that there is no possible way that we had only known each other for a short period of time. Communication and affection was just too easy.
He is the first man that I genuinely loved as a person. He fit the entire fantasy I had about my perfect guy. We all have a list, and I’ve had at least one Dopes I’ve Dated exhibit enough things on that list to make me THINK I was in love–but Andre was everything. He wasn’t perfect, but I never doubted that I could carry his flaws. There were no deal breakers. The way he looked, his journey through adversity to a successful career, his love for Anita Baker, how he actually laughed at my knock knock jokes, and of course those beautiful little boys…I loved all of who he was.
I’m a sucker for a guy with a beautiful mind
One night he went out with some friends and came home sloppy drunk. I learned that he gets very chatty when he’s drunk. We always had a level amount of dialog when we converse, but I couldn’t get a word in when he’s drunk. I helped him get to the bathroom to puke, then gave him some aspirin and water once I got him to lay in bed. I kissed his forehead and said good night as I tried to leave for work. He stopped me and said there’s something he has to say to me. He stared at me, eyes closed, then open, then closed again and said
“I love you”
I was in complete shock, yet not surprised. Not sure if he’s serious because hes drunk, or if he really means it because hes drunk. For what seemed like 30 minutes but may have only been about 10 seconds, I was frozen with nothing to say and a million thoughts. I noticed him taking short deep breaths.
I asked, “you have to puke again?”
He nodded yes and I helped him get to the bathroom.
I put him back in bed and headed off to work. I assumed I got off easy only because he was sloppy drunk. The whole night I wondered why didn’t I say it back. I loved the man that he is, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea of “us”. I wasn’t sure if it was safe to be consumed in him yet.
Andre once shared this story of how he and his best-friend dreamed up this perfect girl and named her after the university they’d want her to go to “Spelman”. Well I didn’t go to Spelman, but he had no problem telling me that I was everything they thought she’d be.
He’d put me on a pedestal and it was important to me to earn my way up to that expectation. Not much time went by before I was 100% sure of my abilities and said “I love you, too”.
He was the one I’d been waiting for. Our connection was organic, and the love was authentic. I was consumed now. Everything I did, every decision I made from what I wore to work, to thoughts of actually leaving that job, every thought I had was connected to him. I’d do absolutely anything to see Andre happy; to see him look at me with adoration brimming in his eyes. Everything I had believed previously about the contingencies of a relationship and love was gone.
Andre flipped my entire reality upside down. Actually, he shook it and spun it and contorted it so it was barely recognizable. Everything I thought I knew about love and what it means to love someone changed. It was bigger than just making him happy or him appreciating me. I learned that love is not just getting used to a person, and it’s more complex than being interpolated in a situation enough to just stick with it. This time it was about genuinely loving a person first, then building something that makes both of you unapologetically proud to be apart of.
Loving him was the best experience I have ever had thus far, but it also turned out to be hands down the most hurtful breakup in all of my dating history. I’ve been through some pretty tough stuff, but the faith I had in this one and the words that were said at the end is what made this breakup so hard to cope with. All the other breakups had signs; there were lies and cheating. But not this time.
It really came down to one disagreement that stretched over the span of one week. His arguments were harsh, yet honest. His theory was not wrong, but the delivery was a bit fanatical. It was okay to hash out his own feelings but there was never any regards to mine in that heated moment. Even when I took accountability for my mistakes (something I learned to do through him) and made sure we never had to revisit them–it wasn’t enough. To him, I was wrong enough to give up.
He gave up on something that would have been the greatest thing he’d ever have. I’d do anything for him as long has he kept doing right by me. He loves me, yet is fine living without me. It’s easier to hate me than to acknowledge I was everything that he wanted, until the one time I wasn’t. I needed him to LOVE me more than he HATES my flaws. I needed him to acknowledge that: 1) there is a such thing as growth; and 2) he has flaws too.
To the detriment of our relationship, his one and only repetitive mistake was having no faith in me. There was no faith that I was what he wanted, I could fix my flaws, and we really could work if only he’d allow it.
That space between what was and will be is where you change and become free.
I was left feeling like a failure. I believed that maybe there was no saving me. Maybe my flaws, my past, my fear of a real man, my inexperience with REAL relationships made me damaged beyond fixing. I blamed myself for something that was never clear to me. He expressed how he felt, but called it quits without allowing me to fully understand WHY he felt that way, and he never allowed me to express how I felt. Although I never reset my sleep pattern, I was able to use the tools I had gained during my time of solitude. For the first time I was left to cope with this breakup without acting out, falling into destructive behavior, or resorting to old habits.
Nevertheless, although it was his call, I believe Andre was equally as hurt as I was in the end. There is and always will be a void. I am not a shitty person and I am not a monster. And, now I have solace in knowing I put my best foot forward and there was absolutely nothing I could do to save us.
One thing that I’ve learned in my journey through this single life is when it doesn’t work, whether it’s a good guy with bad intentions or dopes I’ve dated, sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on.
While Anita Baker’s Angel is my favorite song, it wasn’t until Andre that I finally connected with the lyrics. I don’t know where he is or what hes up to now. But, the imprint that he’s left on my life; the lessons I’ve learned, the feelings I felt for the first time, are now remnants that are always with me. His spirit, what he stood for, the love that he felt for me always reminds me that things can always get better.