Back in October or November, I begun to realise that there was some emotional distance growing between myself and YMK.
We talked on the phone regularly back then, and you know, I knew something was going on. Back then, it was hard not to tell the change. Our conversations grew pallid, all colour bled out of them.
By the time I browbeat the truth out of him, I already knew what had happened. He was never the kind of man to have no one to relieve him. More than that, when things developed between us, it was aided–for good or ill–by the interference of other people who engineered the break up between him and the 18 year-old whose virginity he took.
By the time I left–determined and committed to my own road and unwilling to be distracted by whatever my feelings for this man, singular and spectacular but diaphanous and amorphous–I knew (and wrote here in this space) that this separation was going to be the true litmus test of the relationship between us.
So by October, when our conversations changed, and he kept dodging and weaving, I knew she had him back. No one had to tell me, I dreamt it was happening and by the time he said it, it was merely a confirmation.
Yet again, a man I had feelings for chose a malleable, foolable creature rather than my knowing strength of purpose.
At the time, I wrote it off. I said to myself, “Well, it’s just as well I wasn’t inlove, iit was only a phase.”
Maybe, the loss of this relationship, this lovely sweetness that was this thing between us, was at the core of my depression in the subsequent months. Maybe it was just a part of it.
Whatever it was, our pumpkin haunted me. I saw spinning away in the river, saw it flowing to the sea in my mind–my wishes, my hopes, my prayers sweetened in it’s belly–received by Osun, carried to Yemoja.
For me, the same way I let go of the pumpkin in the river early that morning, his fingers and mine wrapped around each other, the cool water of the river flowing around our ankles, knees and hands when we both let go, it was a release of what was happening between us. If it was to be, it would be the will of Osun, the Mother of Love, because we both gave it over to Her. She accepted it, found everything right in what we did that morning, so I could not quarrel if She chose not to let it go further.
I Goddess, my heart felt it though. It did not overwhelm me with grief, but the bender on Bailey’s did it’s job and numbed the disappointment.
As the weeks stretched to months, I cannot lie, YMK was in my thoughts. He was in my dreams, and all my dreams told me it was not the end.
How could he, we, I say goodbye? It was too sweet between us. For the first time I got a glimpse of what comfort and compatibility was like with a man. For him, I knew he saw all I could show him, teach him. He saw I was strong enough to take his shit, and still love and care for him.
And the dreams… dream after dream accompanied by a child of Mama Oya, always telling me a change was coming. Sudden an unexpected as Mama Oya always moves.
Me, I tried to ignore. I started to see people. Unfortunately, the more I see, the more they are not him.
There has been no shortage of buzzing interested men. They are everywhere. They say the same things men tell me always: I am pretty. I am smart. I am sexy.
The one time I had sex, it was without even trying, comparing him to YMK. I know it was bad, but oh God, he wasn’t YMK. The gentleness, the heat, the banter, the passing back and forth was so absent as to create a hole it seemed onlyy YMK could fill.
It was the Ethiopian.
I had told him that my sexuality was deep and like to a river. He said he understood, but he didn’t. He was too rough when he should have gentle; too gentle when he should have been rough, and the whole time I was being fucked, I thought that it was YMK who knew my body as well as I did, and my heart wrenched thinking I’d never find that again with anyone. The Ethiopian’s penis was much to small as well. A little chubby, but nowhere near as filling as let’s say, YMK to begin with, or other lovers that made me see and learn what I liked. Lack of size can acquit a man if he has skill, the Ethiopian has none.
My orgasms with the Ethiopian were cheated. He was kind of crass too. The first time he came before I did. Then he got it up again, and did it. After he questioned me, “Did you come?”
“How many times? Once, twice, three times?”
“Four times,” I muttered. Four mediocre orgasms that had more to do with me knowing my body, than any skill he possessed.
“Oh my God,” he crowed triumphantly, “I’m a hero.”
I smiled inwardly, sadly and with such a depth of longing, and said to myself, “My man, YMK is a hero. YMK was my hero.”
But you can’t tell a man that. They’re much to fragile for the truth. The truth crumples them in a way it simply doesn’t for women. He couldn’t handle it if I told him, “You and your little chubby could never make me come like YMK, where one blends into each other, and four mediocre orgasms never occurred, more to the point four of my orgasms was never enough for him; he relentlessly pushed me higher and higher until four intensely brilliant orgasms were merely an appetiser, an opening salvo in the heated sexual exchange between us. No, no, YMK is a hero. The Ethiopian never once asked me what I wanted, and YMK asked the first night, before he even touched me.
In the couple of months since I have been back in London, three or four men have been tracking me, the Ethiopian being one. I have been, let’s say, playing the field as it were. I have been, maybe I am searching for someone to replace YMK. Or at the very least, distract me long enough so I may make a connection with someone else.
But I knew coming to England was going to tell me what my feelings for YMK were. What real feelings really were underneath the sex–the amazing, heart stopping, soul freeing sexual passion between us. I wrote it so many times in the months coming down to me leaving Trinidad.
So here I am. In England, not only seven months without seeing him, but three or four months without even talking to him.
I tried to call him for Christmas–just to say hello–but his number had changed and I didn’t have enough money to call him again.
On Valentine’s Day, I thought of him. I supposed to be seeing the Ethiopian that night; he had promised me a romantic dinner and well, I suppose what he had considered sexual callisthenics. I sent YMK an email, just to inquire whether he was alive.
That night, the Ethiopian took too long to call me, and he was pressuring me to cook for him. (Again, why do Black men think a relationship with a woman MUST involve them cooking for them. To me, it’s something given, not demanded. All these guys think it’s kosher to ask for it, within the first few conversations.)
I was too tired and begged off. Besides, he had disappeared on me and didn’t call for three nights, so you know, didn’t want to reward him for his disappearing act.
So Tuesday came, he called me early and we made arrangements for that night. Before I left work, I checked my email and there was a message from YMK. He said he was definitely alive and missing me. He said he was glad I had started to work and was beginning to get happy. He gave me his new number and asked me to call him anytime I wanted to. He said the thought about me, and missed us talking and I couldn’t stop my smile, or the burst of warmth through my body.
I had to pull myself back. I had to prevent myself from reading too much into it, but it was good to see I was not forgotten by this man.
That night, the Ethiopian got to Fulham late. Nearly nine o’clock. I had called him earlier and asked him to bring me something to eat.
When he got there, I was ravenous, having not eaten since about 11am-12noon that day. He brought enough for one, so I asked him for the food, dug it out and attacked it in the best lady-like wolfing I could manage.
First he told me to put it on a plate, not to eat out of the box. That rankled, but I shot back that I felt that was just adding to the plate I had to wash, and that I wasn’t about adding more work for myself. In a laughing way, he said “You’re too lazy.” Chile, I nearly had to stop my eyes from cutting at him.
I kept eating. After a minute or two, and three or four mouthfuls, my boy says in his barely understandable english, “In my country, when someone comes in from the cold and you’re eating, you offer them some of whatever you’re eating.”
In my head, I’m like, “Well why didn’t you bring enough for two motherfucker?”
“What are you trying to say? Are you hungry?” I asked, getting annoyed now.
“No, no, I ate already,” he said.
Again, internal monologue: “Then what the fuck you on, Papa?”
Actually said nothing, but when I tried to eat again the food turned to cardboard in my mouth. I put down the fork and the box of food.
“I’ve lost my appetite,” I said.
To me it was like he was expecting some kind of typical ‘Oh-mi-god-I’m-so-lucky-to-have-a-real-man-here-with-me’ female response. In fact, he seems to come from a culture where, let’s just say, women know ‘their place’.
“What’s the matter? Food not good?”
I couldn’t tell him I felt his comment was loaded with prejudice, and that he had ruined my appetite with not only the plate comment, but the sharing my food comment. It was like he was watching me and judging me in some way.
He pulled out a handkerchief and blew his nose loudly.
“You’re sick,” I said with trepidation. Okay, my selfish streak just burst into fucking life. If this motherfucker was sick and tried to make a move towards sex tonight, I was going to get sick. It was probably too late already, because he kissed me full when he came in the door. If I got sick, I couldn’t go to work and that was going to cost me money, since I’m paid daily. I was pissed. Maybe I was being selfish, but I felt he was being selfish too.
“Nah… just stuffed up, you know?”
He went and boiled water for some Lemsip, went into the kitchen and came back with the food on plate. He shoved the plate in my face, and said “Here, try it now. It will taste better.”
I refused. He shoved the plate further into my face and insisted, “Eat!”
I pushed the plate out of my face and went across to the open window and llit a cigarette. “I’m not hungry.”
He took a few bites and continued, “It tastes good.”
I said nothing.
He took the plate back to the kitchen and came back with his cup of Lemsip. I kept smoking my cigarette.
When he came in, I was watching the extended version of Return of the King. Which he began to dis. I looked at him without revealing my disgust when he said he hated these types of movies. He said he had brought “White Chicks” for me to watch, and bottle of red wine. Now when we had discussed us meeting up, he had asked me what kind of wine I drank. I told him I drank white wine, so when he asked me if I wanted a glass I told him no, I don’t drink red wine.
Also I told him, by now rankled and annoyed, “There is no way I am taking off, Return of the King to watch White Chicks. It just ent happening Papa.”
He started to give me a lecture, about how funny the two younger Wayan’s brothers were, and how unreal ROTK was. Internal monologue, “This motherfucker just cyan be for real.”
I launched into my own lecture about the stereotypes that I found all of these two younger Wayan’s brother’s film work to be steeped in. Also, I asserted how much I dislike most slapstick comedy. I told him I hoped never to watch White Chicks, or that Gin & Juice movie, etc. etc.
By this time it was about 10pm, and I was getting sleepy. I told him so.
I told him I worked hard that day. I had, the work was starting to get interesting and demanding and I was enjoying it.
“What are you tired doing?” He asked.
“What do you mean?” I answered with a question.
“Well all you do is sit at a computer. You don’t actually move anything from one place to the other do you? How can you be tired doing that.”
Alll I could do is look at him. Internal monologue: “This motherfucker just ain’t for real.”
I just prayed for a way to get out of any kind of sexual interaction with him. By this time I was disgusted with him. I just didn’t even want him to touch me. I turned off the TV and went into the bedroom.
“Are you going to sleep?” He called from the living room.
“No, just lying down.” I replied. Maybe that was a mixed signal, but I said “Are you coming?”
He asked me if I wanted a glass of wine, I told him no I didn’t drink white wine (again pissed off, because the conversation about what kind of wine I drink was a mere few days previous.) He brought his glass and came into the room.
He stood watching me, buried to my neck in covers before he came and sat next to me on the bed. We talked a little, but I guess he finally picked up that there wasn’t going to be any fucking in Fulham for him tonight. He said he’d better go and let me rest, and I did not protest.
When he left, I refused to kiss him. He laughed and said, “You won’t get sick.” I told him I’d rather not chance it. Chile, the door was closed and locked before he hit the end of the hall.
I was so annoyed with him.
I think too, he put his foot in it and didn’t even have the sense to stop. More than that, when I examined myself, I was missing YMK too much to allow another man to touch me that night. He hasn’t called me since, and curiously, I do not care. Maybe if he knew how to fuck me, I’d care. Maybe if he cared to know me, then I’d care. But I don’t.
One of the other guys who have been tracking me, a Jamaican Nyabinghi Rastafari, had asked me for a date for that Saturday. I agreed, not sure what to expect, but determined that I wouldn’t allow my feelings for YMK to seal me off from another opportunity.
The Jamaican–I’ll call him Jammin J–has been calling me two or three times a day for the last three, almost four, weeks. It’s been an interesting interaction by phone, and we were going to meet again and sit and ‘reason’.
This was yesterday, Saturday.
I don’t know why, but that afternoon on the way to go look at a flat, I called YMK. I bought a phone card and called him.
He was so glad to hear me, and I was so glad to hear him and we could hear in each other’s voices. I told him I was still thinking about him, he told me he was missing me and our talks. I wanted to tell him I missed his dick, but I didn’t think it was appropriate.
We chit chatted, caught up a little. I asked him if he was coming up to England still, he said yes, but he had to finish his studies first. Then he asked me if I was coming back to Trinidad anytime soon. I told him yes, I had to go to Barbados and see my mother. He said he’s save his money and come across for a weekend and meet me, then go back to Trini with me when I went, “That way it’ll maximise the amount of time we get to hang out and spend together.
Our conversation ended, true, but it was on a hopeful note. There is still something there.
He told me he hoped we got a chance to pick up where we left off. He said he’s hoping we get a chance.
When I hung up, I was warm; warm down to my toes. Moved by the simplicity of it, of things; how after four months we could still talk and the same warmth, camaraderie was there, how we will still simpatico after so many months and so many changes within us, in our lives, that whatever it is between us, remains.
Holy shit! Whatever it is between us, it isn’t passing away… it isn’t dying a death natural or unnatural. No matter what his shit is, no matter what my shit is, I can’t let him go.
“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”
Those are the last words he spoke to me in July, and well, seven months later I’m beginning to believe it.
That afternoon, I saw snow for the first time since I’ve been in England. It wasn’t much. A light snow fall, but it was my first time and it was magical! I was worried I’d make it all the way through my first winter and see no snow, but it fell, I saw it and it was magic enough for what was a magical afternoon for me… already warmed by one conversation with a dark, creamy, bald headed saga bwai.
Later that night, Jammin J came by. We sat and reason, but you know… he’s devoutly Rastafari, and I mean in the Haile Selassie is GOD kind of way. Me, I’ve travelled through all that and come to different conclusions.
We spent the evening going back and forth about spiritual ideology. I could see he was interested in me. Very, very interested in me. However, I just couldn’t give it up, give in.
It was this whole, “when am I cooking” thing. Then this typical thing I get with men who are just dying to impregnate me, “Think about babies.” Then all that rhetoric on Selassie and Zion, and all that just turned me right off.
But Jammin J is a gentleman. Yet, I’m too old to go making the same mistakes, and when he said, “What I need for you to do, is observe the Sabbath.”
I was like, “This man ain’t for real.”
In the end though, I turned him down like a lady and he acquiesced like a gentleman. I appreciated his understanding at least, but you know I could tell from one serious conversation that we were on opposite sides of something that wouldn’t meet in the middle.
He is a son of the Patriarchy and Rastafari, and I don’t think he could handle me, a daughter of Orunmilla and Osun.
His view of reality is not mine, and it seems to me that he talks a good enough game, but he doesn’t really seem to understand the implications of what he says. I can sense the latent sexism in his words and deeds, just waiting for me to try his patience one good time, to see who and what he really thinks.
I think he spent the whole night trying to convert me to Nyabinghi, and me explaining why Orisa was my road.
Again, yet another man who just ain’t for real.
In fact the only man I’ve met in years who’s for real, is my Trini Sweet Man, the one and only YMK. You know, there’s little to no bullshit between us. Even when I knew he went back to his girlfriend, and he knew I started seeing people, there was no possessiveness, no pressure, no drama. Just you know, flowing with the river…
But hard lessons learnt, have taught me not to depend on even the simpatico connection between me and YMK.
I depend on Osun. She is the only one who will put us back in each other’s path. More to the point again, I still really want to be alone. The only man I want in my life full time is YMK.
Am I in love? Don’t know, still don’t know. Is he in love? Don’t know. Still don’t know.
Right now I don’t need to know. I guess I trust my feelings already entrusted to a pumpkin and taken by my mother to her mother. If it will happen it will happen. However, to tell you the truth, all these recent comers to the playing field can’t have what they want.
Someone else has it already, and whether it’s love or not, that’s the truth. Until this thing between YMK finally plays itself out, no one else has a chance. My heart made space for him, and then let him go to see if he could fill it up.
Until then, until I know one way or another… no one else has a chance with me.