When I return to my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, I'm always surprised by the people I don't see. I always assume that from the moment I step off the plane, it'll be something like a high school reunion. That's certainly how it was in high school. You could never leave the house looking too crazy because you could be certain that if you went anywhere within a 20 mile radius, you would see somebody from school. But today-- and really, since I graduated college, with the exception of an occasional run-in, that's just hasn't been the case.
I can't say I'm disappointed by not running into anyone because, I wasn't all that social in high school and am even less sociable today.
But during my last visit home, I saw someone I didn't even know I would be so thirsty... excited, to see.
Tristan Brown--*name changed to save myself from the following parchedness.*
In high school, Tristan Brown was on the basketball team. And I'm from Indiana where basketball is king and our high school, during the four years that I was there, produced a couple of current NBA players. While Tristan was a part of the team that would go on to win a couple state championships, he was good but not great and didn't get to play all that much. That's how I knew my lust for him was real. Because it was never about the prestige of being on the almighty basketball team. It was about the brutha's fineness.
While my best friend from both middle and high school until today, would swear that my type is bug-eyed light skinned boys, I really have a preference for darker skin. And that's what Tristan had going for him. That, and a serious, approachable but 'don't f*ck with me' demeanor. Not to mention there was a smoothness to him that is hard to find in this world. It might have been my imagination, but I swear the brutha used to glide down the hallways in his bright red basketball warm-ups on game days.
My obsession with Tristan was so real that I wanted a picture of him. Not a yearbook picture. But one that would capture his essence more accurately. And during one of our school dances, in the gym--or cafeteria...I can't remember--I tasked my more outgoing and impossible to embarrass younger sister to get one. She did so by screaming his name while he was rapping lyrics to some song and when he turned to look, she snapped the shot. While I'm sure I tried not to draw any more attention to us and our desperation, I would have done anything for my sister at that moment. Weeks later, after we'd developed the film, and I saw that the picture did come out and had captured his beauty, my sister was dubbed and will forever remain thee most clutch player on my team.
God has always been good and He smiled on me by placing Tristan and I in the same journalism class before he graduated. I was a sophomore and legit serious about the class and Tristan was taking it to fulfill requirements before he got up out of there. With the exception of working for the high school newspaper, most of my high school career is a blur for me. But I will always remember that class not only because Tristan was in it but because of our interaction during that time.
On the first day, I vaguely remember sitting in class waiting for the bell to ring, and watching him saunter in to sit on the side diagonal from me, gangsta-leaning in the chair attached to his desk, in a way that was just cool AF. I was intrigued to have this up close and personal time with dude. It was like a case study to see who this guy I'd admired for so long, really was.
I would learn that while he wouldn't visibly exert too much effort, he wasn't stupid. And didn't mind answering questions in class if called upon. Always in the midst of collecting data on Tristan, by the middle of the semester, I asked him outright if he was planning on going to college. He joked and said he was attending BED University--as in bed. Me, rarely too quick on the uptake, asked with potential disappointment, "Are you serious?"
I sighed in relief.
"I'm going to _____________ State. My momma would kill me if I stayed home."
I nodded in approval, probably smiling a bit.
He wasn't too good to talk to the lowly underclassmen. And I would learn during that spring and summer that his taste in music was also quite stellar.
It was Tristan who taught me that when Aretha Franklin said TCB in her most famous song "Respect," it was an acronym for "Take Care of Business."
The class became even more memorable because Usher's Confessions was released that Spring and as the semester wound down and our teacher's lesson plans only covered about half of the class period, the Black kids, and one down ass White girl, who actually burned the cd for me and my sister, found ourselves discussing our favorite songs from what would become a classic.
While I was trying to convince the group that "Bad Girl" was the shit, Tristan preferred "Can You Handle It" and "That's What It's Made For."
I was one of those kids who was no where near having sex in high school and I assumed that most of my peers weren't either; but the way Tristan sang the lyrics and simultaneously slow wined in his chair, I assumed that he'd already crossed that frontier. It was a revelation that made me a bit sad/jealous and even more curious to know how such an experience would be with him, soundtracked by Usher's "Oh ooo's."
Most memorably in the last couple weeks of school, Tristan taught me and a couple of other kids, how to play Craps. (I went to what I would consider a great school at the time but that's how un-involved our teacher was for those final weeks.) I remember I took to the game easily and did quite well and Tristan congratulated me on my savvy. I was elated and must have told my sister and best friend the story of how Tristan taught me a new skill so many times, a skill which I remembered for so many years, hoping to be invited to another game. Never happened.
Anyway, Tristan, was two years my senior, graduated and went on to college. And aside from the rare picture on social media, I didn't really see or hear much about him. I do recall there was an unfortunate s-curl phase and perhaps even a brief period of weight gain. But when I saw him in the airport, yards ahead of my sister and myself in the security line, he was looking just as scrumptious as he did back in high school and I was transported right back to sophomore year.
Turning my head in the direction opposite of him, I whispered to my sister, "Oh my God, it's Tristan Brown."
We all thought he was fine but she couldn't help but laugh at my excitement. Y'all it's crazy how feelings can rise back up in you. I don't know if you've been paying attention to this story but Tristan and I never had extensive conversations, never dated and only had one class together throughout both of our four years in high school. But the way I was feeling, you would have sworn homeboy gave me my first kiss and I wanted that old thang back.
I have a whole man today, but still for a brief moment, a big part of me thought about taking my locs out of the slumpy--don't pat my hair down--ponytail, shaking them into a style and causing some diversion to get him to notice me.
Thankfully, reality kicked in and I reminded myself that not only would that be just too pressed, there was likely a great chance that he didn't even remember the girl he taught to shoot Craps. And that would have been too devastating.
So I did what I did as an underclassman. I whispered, I giggled and stared, low-key hoping we would lock eyes, and one or both of us would wave in recognition.
What I did do was consider telling my boyfriend about the encounter; but realizing the only person who would appreciate this was my best friend, I shared the non-story of this sighting with her.
Me: Gurl *changing the subject* why did we see Tristan Brown at the airport.
I felt like I was 16 again.
Nigga lost that weight I believe he picked up at one point and is still looking good enough to eat.
Whitney: (Before she received all of my messages.) How's he looking? Fine?
I was really wondering where he was going to at.
Whitney: Lmao he was smooth too.
Vanessa has to reenact my reaction. But I was like "Oh my God, it's Tristan Brown."
Like I'd seen a ghost lol.
Whitney: Lmao now I'm tempted to stalk.
Me: If you decide to do so, lemme know what you find.
Whitney: LOL ok
Me: I was so excited I wanted to tell Soils but then I was like he won't appreciate this. I have to tell Whitney.
Whitney: Fine nigga nostalgia is real.
God is good Gurl.
Whitney: Ain't He tho?!