When I was in 9th grade, which was the last year of Junior High School, I had my first love. Sort of. I think.
His name was Reggie H. Reggie was this cute brown boy with the cutest of dimples and the brightest smile with a ton of mischief in his eyes. I liked him.
I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Not very diverse back then. There weren’t too many kids of any color knocking on my door. Reggie was the only boy who liked me, or at least openly expressed a like in me, besides Nicky T who attempted to grab my ass in the hallway. I say “attempted” because I was wearing really tight Jordache jeans that day and I don’t think there was much allowance for grabbing much of anything. I ran through the hallway in my blue Nike’s adorned with beaded friendship pins while yelling at him for touching my butt and once I reached him (which I did, because I ran track), I hit him really hard. A teacher saw this and because I was a good student girl, I remember said teacher having some sympathy for me and reprimanding Nicky. Nicky was the popular squirrely kid whom everyone knew and liked. He was an obnoxious pain sometimes, but always had a smile. I didn’t like him the way he liked me. I liked Reggie. The way he liked me.
Reggie was a gentleman. And some sort of a criminal. He had just returned from juvie or a correctional institution or something for *something*. There was a big scuttlebutt about it. I don’t know if I ever knew what he had done, and I certainly don’t remember now what it was.
At far as everyone was concerned, he was bad and I was good. We were like Danny Zucko and Sandy from Grease.
In a way, I was a new girl in town. I’d been going to the school since 7th grade, but hadn’t grown up with the neighborhood kids. We’d lived in another part of town prior. I hadn’t gone to kindergarten with them; enjoyed 4th, 5th and 6th grade with them, gotten to know them. And they hadn’t gotten to know me. Some, not all, of the black kids laughed at me for talking “proper” and called me an Oreo (black on the outside, white on the inside). The white kids just kind of accepted me, although I remember being at a white girlfriend’s house for a sleepover and her mom saying, “We like you because you’re not like other blacks.” Alas. Dating was not easy.
When Reggie asked me to the 9th Grade Dance, all hell broke loose. The girls that grew up with Reggie and really liked him, passed me threatening notes in the hallway, “You better stop messing with my man, bitch”. Like Danny and Sandy, there was this “Summer Nights‘” feeling; some kids were for me and others were against me. It was really public without all the song and dance and poodle skirts. But, everyone, including concerned teachers and faculty, were asking, “Are you going to the dance with Reggie..?!?” I didn’t know what to do. My stepmom was a teacher at the school and told my dad that a juvenile delinquent wanted to take me to the biggest dance of my life. Guess what happened? Reggie didn’t take me to the dance. My dad did. Decision made.
The weekend before I left LA for Prague, I was at a sorta swanky pool party. I’ll tell you right now, I’m 43. No kids. No boyfriend. No current prospect for family and time is ticking. There was a guy at the sorta swank party who, after, I am pretty sure popped some serious love pills, came to me and with no words, silently led me to a back bedroom. With my hand in his, I turned to my friend, whom I’ll call Ann, and whispered, “What do I do? What do I do?” This was the first time something like this had ever happened to me, like this. Exciting. Strange. An opportunity? Ann shrugged her shoulders while talking to her own new guy-friend prospect and laughed, “I dunno. What do you want to do?!”
I want a family, I want to find love. My “what do I do?” to her was trying to answer that want. I’m still a 14 year-old kid. I don’t know what to do.
I went. The whole time I was thinking, Is this it?? Is this my Prince Whatever? Is this the time where I’ll get closer to family? Uhhhh. Fuck no. Of course not.
I’m in Paris now. I’ve traveled through Prague and Berlin over the past several weeks. (I promise to write more about that stuff). I know I am here on this trip to find love. Like, to really find it. As I stare out into the rain that is living outside my cafe window, I see not just a street, but a world full of possibilities.
Alas. I still have some stupid things, stupid American things to shed to make room for these possibilities…I don’t always think white boys will like me because I’m black and because that was my experience in school. I don’t know what type of black boys will like me: the ones who grab my butt, my hand or my heart. There’s always something to figure out. Something. And figuring these things out take time. No matter where I am. But, I do want to know what to do. To trust myself and who I am. And like any girl in my position, at my age, and at this stage in life, it can be confusing and it feels like every and any decision is a major deal-breaker, deal-maker or no deal at all. (Honestly, it is easier to focus on career, which I do really well.)
But, like anything in life that you want, you simply must decide that you want it. Right? Make a decision and go after it. Like, stop figuring, looking and wondering. Just go after it. With confidence, conviction and a collection of experiences to help guide you on your path.
Souhaiter moi bonne chance!