All of this kindled a romantic fire inside of me that was white-hot before our lips ever touched.
I turned the phrase over in my mind, like when my high school girlfriend said “nigger girl.” But the incongruity between her words and smile didn’t paralyze me like the phrase “nigger girl” did.
Uber rides to her home in Queens, my hand in hers, didn’t feel meaningless.
But the distinct anxiety eventually returned, adapting to new situations, refusing to die.
I was in bed with a woman next to me; the last time we would share a bed.
I was sitting on a cold slab of granite facing the barren fountain.
Next to me was a classmate from freshman year, but she and I had recently become better acquainted at a party I threw. We spent hours sitting together; on benches in Gramercy, in parks, in my room, in dining halls, and anywhere else we could speak without being bothered.
I asked myself if I should feel guilty about being this woman’s ready-made racial starter kit; complete with one mocha-colored body, curly, but not nappy, hair, and a brain.
I tried to justify these experiences by claiming that everyone needed to start somewhere, and that being a first doesn’t mean you will forever be an only.
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I had never been with someone so selective with their words.
When we would go out to a club, she would dance and light up the dance floor, electrifying me.
But, in that moment, I saw her as none of that, because I couldn’t see her.