I met Chris downtown during my lunch break. I usually head over to Liberty Place to scarf down some food as I look over financial reports and then head back to the office. But since my department exceeded our quarterly goals, I decided to relax during lunch. It was a nice day so I strolled down Market Street and took in the familiar sights. The same old homeless man with his cardboard sign that reads: “Give me a Dollar” was in his usual spot on 16th Street and the same cabby that almost hit me last week almost hit me again as I tried to cross 15th Street. The city was teeming with people so I decided to sit in front of the fountain at Love Park and eat my sandwich from Corner Bakery. Within a few minutes, the most handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes upon sat down beside me just as I shoved a piece of my sandwich in my mouth. I was praying that he didn’t say anything to me because I wanted to finish my sandwich in peace. I hate trying to talk to someone as I eat. Knowing my luck, I’d have mayonnaise on the corner of my mouth the entire time. Luckily, he didn’t say anything to me.
Over the next few weeks, I kept seeing this same guy. I could spot him from a mile away with his broad shoulders, 6’ 5” slender frame, and dark chocolate complexion. I actually looked forward to seeing him at Love Park. It wasn’t until after the third week or so that we exchanged information. He was such a great catch. He worked for an investment firm, he had no kids, and he was single. We went out on a date twice. The first time we went to Davio’s and the second time we went to Capital Grille, two of the best restaurants in downtown Philly. Each time he treated me like a lady. He pulled out my chair, let me order first, and made sure I got everything I wanted. I had my pen and paper ready to write home to my momma about him because he had potential to be “the one.” If we weren’t meeting up at a swanky restaurant or talking about our goals in Love Park, we were on the phone. The funny thing is we never kissed or anything like that; yet, I wanted this man so badly. But all of a sudden, everything stopped: the phone calls, the afternoon meetings in Love Park, and the dinner dates. I couldn’t figure out what I did to drive him away.
I wasn’t in a relationship with Chris per se, but I felt like he had broken up with me and I was crushed. I was really depressed. I couldn’t focus at work because I kept hoping I’d bump into him during my lunch break to get a pep talk and be encouraged by his words of wisdom. But I never bumped into him again until three months later on a train ride from Boston. He must have gotten on the train in New York because I didn’t spot him in Boston. I didn’t know he was on my train until I went back to buy a sandwich from the concession car. He was sitting down sipping a cup of coffee. My stomach tightened and I didn’t know what to do, so I quickly paid for my stuff and hurried back to my seat. I hoped he didn’t see me.
Just as I got off the train at 30th Street station and hailed down a taxi, Chris came up from behind and gently grabbed my arm.
“Hey, Monica,” Chris said in his deep manly voice.
I motioned to the taxi driver to leave, declining the ride and turned to face Chris. “Hi”, I said dryly.
Smiling, Chris said, “I’ve been meaning to call you, but I’ve been so busy.”
I rolled my eyes. I couldn’t believe he had the audacity to play things off like him dropping off the face of the earth was no big deal. “Whatever,” I said, grabbing my carry-on and walking toward the curb to hail down another cab.
“Monica, I can explain. Things in my life have been crazy lately.”
“Things like what?” I snapped.
Chris breathed a heavy sigh. “ I can’t say right now…”
“I thought you were a decent guy, but I can see that I was wrong. You’re inconsiderate and you’re just like all the rest. Stay outta my life!”
Chris hugged me tightly. “Please try to understand. I’ll email you and let you know what’s going on with me. I promise,” he whispered.
I wanted to pull away from him, but the scent of his cologne enveloped me as the warmth of his breath upon my neck sent chills down my spine. “Okay,” I whispered, holding back tears.
As soon as I got home, my best friend called and we talked for hours. Before we hung up, she told me to check my email because she sent me a crazy looking picture of my ex’s new girlfriend. I was so giddy about seeing this busted picture of my ex’s new girlfriend that I almost forgot about the email from Chris. After I opened the email with the crazy picture, I opened Chris’ email. Nothing could have prepared me for it. It read:
My temples throbbed. I clutched my heart and fell to the floor. I couldn’t believe what I had just read. Not only did this man tell me that he has HIV, but he also told me that he was gay. I tried to go to the window to get some fresh air, but my limbs were too weak. I couldn’t get off the floor. “Why God? Why?” I sobbed over and over for the rest of the night in the fetal position. On the one hand, a part of me was angry that I couldn’t have this man because he has HIV and because he’s gay or bisexual. My girlfriends talk about having “gaydar”, but nothing about Chris said gay to me. I really think Chris and I could’ve gotten married. Did he used to be gay and wanted to change his lifestyle? Was he still into men? Why would he lead me on like that? But another part of me was so grateful. I was grateful that I carried myself like a lady and never had sex with Chris because I was waiting it out to see if he was the real deal. In fact, Chris and I never kissed either. We were working on building our friendship and didn‘t want anything to ruin it.
Sometimes at night when I close my eyes, I can hear my grandmother praying. “Be a fence all around her. Protect her from dangers seen and unseen, Lord,” she’d pray every morning before I’d head off to school. Although my grandmother’s not here anymore I can still feel her and I believe it was her prayers that protected me in this situation. Only God knows what would have happened to me if I wasn’t careful in this situation.
I have yet to speak to Chris again and I don’t know if I ever will. I’m not mad at him for his lifestyle or his affliction, I’m mad at him for deceiving me. If he really wanted to be my friend, he should have been open about his lifestyle instead of making me think there could have been something between us. I think of Chris all the time and a part of me hopes to bump into him at Love Park someday.
The one thing I learned from this experience is that sometimes people’s rejection, is God’s protection.
© 2010, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Author| Speaker| Life And Business Coach. All rights reserved.