I loved classical music. She loved to write. We traded places.
Debussy’s piece was gold but it doesn’t even come close to touching my own real life girl with the flaxen hair.
It was the day before New year’s Eve. It was a little overcast, cold but not yet chilly. There was a light breeze, but it wasn’t strong enough to bite, just pleasantly tingly. For some time now, the snow had been flirting with this area, sprinkling only a thin layer now and then. So, there were a few spots on the edges of the pavement where snow from a few days ago was melting and running little rivulets across. The New year would arrive soon enough and the temperatures would still drop further and the snow would fall thicker perhaps if the air was humid enough. But today, it was perfect weather as I walked into the Verizon shop on the corner of 109th, along Broadway.
If today was like any other day, perhaps I would have walked in, walked up to the nearest free customer representative, laid my complaint, sorted it out and have been on my merry way.
But it was not an ordinary day. It was a free Saturday- as rare as a lunar eclipse. I had arranged to meet with my friend from high school at Central park. The arrangement was for my benefit, seeing as I had moved to New York, as an exchange student at NYU, little more than 2 weeks ago and she wanted to show me around a little. She lived in the fabled Harlem district and despite my insistence, had told me point blank that I wasn’t ready yet to come there to visit her. We’d meet halfway sort of, on neutral ground.
I had arrived early as I didn’t know what the traffic would be like coming over from Brooklyn. I walked into the shop to kill time, waiting for her call. She had told me she would get off at Cathedral parkway by 110th. We’d meet there and walk down to the park.
I walked into the shop with my head down. I didn’t notice anything at first. However, as I made for the nearest seat, I saw her.
At first, it was her hair that I saw. A full, beautiful, absolutely beautiful Afro- jet black with a healthy sheen. She had her face slightly turned away from me. Even though I wouldn’t have wanted anything more than to drink in her features, that was a good thing because she didn’t notice me freeze in my tracks and start to stare. I didn’t sit down, at least not immediately. I couldn’t. Not until I woke up from that daze.
I have seen my share of beautiful women, but nothing I had seen before could have prepared me for this. She was beautiful beyond words. And blissfully unaware. The first thing I noticed was her hair. It was full and beautiful and shiny. Each strand I’m sure was just the perfect length and thickness, curling beautifully at the ends. She was slim, but her curves were very visible. She wore a dark blue cotton shirt and black leggings. A brown sweater was slung over her left arm. Her skin, the parts I could see, was a pristine and even mocha-latte-coffee-brown color. Smooth as butter, shiny as gold. Her fingers were long and slender, capped off by nails that were both long and trim, covered with a clear layer of lacquer. Perfect. Her toes were not visible, but I imagined them to be equally as breathtaking. I don’t even know how I was able to notice all these details, but it was literally impossible to tear my eyes away from her.
She stood near the counter but then calmly walked over to where I was and took a seat behind me to my left. Watching her walk was hypnotic. She glid with grace and agility across the hall. As she took her seat, I had to crane my neck to continue glancing in her direction, but I couldn’t help it. She was looking into her phone most of the time. From time to time, she would brush a little bit of hair away from her face and lift her eyes to the TV screen on the wall across the hall. From time to time she would smile while looking at her phone screen. She would then shake her head a little and lick her lips. The sight had me spellbound.
I’m quite reserved, but I wouldn’t describe myself as shy. But as I sat there, there was a nuclear war going on in my head. One part of me wanted so badly to go up to her and start a conversation, the other part of me was worried about being a creep or making her uncomfortable. All this infighting was taking a physical toll on me. A fine veneer of sweat had started to form on my forehead, despite the weather. Just then, my phone rang. My friend had reached her stop.
I knew then, right then, that if I didn’t take those few short steps and talk to her, that this would be a moment I would regret for the rest of my life. I knew that I would always look back and wonder what if? What if I had looked my fears in the face, unblinking and walked up to the most breathtaking woman I had ever come across? What if ? That was the moment my mind was made up. I would talk to her or choke on my tongue in the process. But talk to her I would.
I took those few faltering steps to her side…
and the rest as they say is history.