Photo by Victoria Oluloye
Six years ago, I did something I’d advise anyone else not to. I made the internet my diary. And while I believe in keeping most things privates, I’m glad I decided to share this particular story because it allowed me to literally write a man into my life.
Six years ago, I wrote a story for MadameNoire.com about the first time I met my husband. You can read it here. But to make a long story short: We met at 34th Street (He’ll say 59th.) as I was on my way home from work. I make it a habit not to talk to strange men in the street. But after he complimented my Tupac shirt in New York City, the land of BIG, my interest was piqued. We went on to have a nice little chat.
And more than what we discussed, I just remember the level of comfort I felt speaking to him. I gave him my number. But after exchanging a few text messages, I stopped responding because I was “talking to” someone else. The man I thought I was supposed to be with. The piece I wrote ended with me looking around at the 34th St. Subway station, everyday after work, wondering if I’d ever see him again.
That was as far as the internet got into my business. What the readers at MadameNoire don’t know is that a week after I wrote that article, Soils texted me again. At first, I’d assumed he’d stumbled across the article in some way. But on our first date, when I asked what made him reach out again, he made no mention of it. Months later, I would learn he wasn’t playing coy. He really hadn’t seen it. Instead, his absence was due to him spending the last year in his home country, South Africa.
Soils was late for our first date, so late that I’d talked to my mom and sister while waiting for him. I was literally walking out the door, on my way back to my apartment when he texted me saying he’d fallen asleep but was on his way. It wasn’t a promising start. And I was upset. But when he stopped in front of me, after running down the street, I looked in his face and all of that anger and irritation dissipated. What I was left with was that same calm I felt that day on the subway.
We had a great first date. Too great. While I appreciated the conversation and the time we’d spent together. The next day I called best friend freaking out. I was worried about the alone time I’d have to sacrifice, the consideration I’d have to take for another person’s feelings. After being alone for so long, it was a scary prospect. But my best friend reminded me that it was just a first date and I should probably chill. I heeded her words and took it down a notch. Still, something told me that he was going to be around for a while.
For another one of our early dates, he invited me out to some concert late on a Tuesday night. Once again, I called my best friend and asked her if I should go out so late during the week. I can’t remember her advice. But after I talked to her, I had a dream about this little dilemma. In it, my grandmother--my homegirl, my soulmate, my guardian angel passed through and said, “Tuesday’s fine.” After she said it, she grinned wide and winked.
We dated for nine months before I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore. I know he would tell this part differently. But my version is that he told me he was falling in love with me. But there was still a large part of me that was holding onto the hope that I’d work things out with the man I was supposed to be with. And if Soils was in love with me, I couldn’t continue to monopolize his time, not fully invested.
So we stopped seeing one another. Within a few months, I learned--or finally recognized what I’d likely known on a subconscious level. I’d never be able to get what I needed or wanted from the “supposed to be man.”
And after a year of accepting that fact and spending time with myself, I sent Soils an email saying, “Happy New Year.” He responded shortly after with an invitation to see KING in concert. I’ll always remember that concert. Not because of the music--which was incredible--but because it was February when we saw them. And I wore some thick heeled shoes. Leaving the concert, we decided to cut through a park to get back to my house. We had to walk down several flights of stairs and in those shoes, I stumbled on the first or second step. So Soils wrapped his arm around me and guided me down each step.
Something about the intent of protection, the seriousness with which he performed the task and the pressure of his grip let me know how much I meant to him.
Since then, there have been more than a few signs, conversations and conflicts resolved with patience and kindness to prove that I’ll continue to be safe, loved, challenged, supported and improved by my partnership with Soils.
People keep asking me, if I’m excited to be getting married. I don’t know if that’s the right word. I know that marriage requires work and, given our recent journey ordering furniture, much compromise, (which is not fun for a woman who’s been making her own decisions mostly independently since I was a teenager.) What I am is hopeful that we’ll make it and be better for having not only known each other but deciding to spend our lives together.