h2>Dating : Forbidden Love in California: Summer ‘18
Even though it’s been almost a year since this all went down, am happy with a new girlfriend, I still think about this in flutters of memory.
I was working at a grammar school running the summer programs so I was responsible for the teachers, they reported to me during the summer. It wasn’t an employee/boss relationship — I just made sure that their summers went as smooth as possible. Anyway, we get this 4th grade teacher we’ll call John. John calls off for a WEEK after the first day of summer classes. So I’m like “Johnny boy, wtf?” Anyway, he already had arranged for a sub and shared the curriculum with her. I was CC’d on the email so was thankful that it was cleared up quickly.
The next day, I go to meet this sub and she’s late. It was her first day so I wasn’t going to bust her balls or anything, that’s not my personality type anyway. I walk into her classroom and I see this long haired, apricot skinned, hippie clothed Filipino woman with the most giddy smile. Rosy cheeks, looking like she spent her days surfing and reading. I couldn’t help but cheese when we introduced ourselves. I didn’t instantly fall in love or anything but she certainly elicited an unbridled urge to smile. We’ll call her K from now on.
Over the next week that she worked at our school, K was about 15 minutes late every day. I’m easy-going but jeez! This was a private school so parents aren’t really game for excuses past a certain point. So every day, I’d have to drop by the class to see if K had arrived and she’d offer a really rushed, dishevelled apology paired with a sheepish grin. I’m the type that smiles even at the WORST times (funerals, getting fired, etc.) so that’s all I could do when I was asking her to come meet her students outside. Her students loved her. Despite having some rowdy girls, K had them under her spell. They wanted to please her and learn from her. That really left an impression on me.
Something else I noticed was how K would always eat alone for lunch. The cafeteria is packed with classes sitting together and teachers mingling as well — all except for K. She obviously wasn’t standoffish so I decided to join her. Looking back, I realized that she would always be vigorously focused on eating and would never really meet my gaze which led me to believe that she’d rather do without my company — at the time. Stang — I loved those chats. I remember once she gave me her scholarly (lol) outtake on Aragorn’s character in the LOTR movies and my jaw just dropped. I consider myself intimately knowledgeable of such things and people like us ain’t just walking around. The fact that she had the same love really touched me. The conversations became that more exciting.
Anyway, I thought nothing of them until Rosie, the cafeteria manager and a grandmother figure to me, hesitated before giving me my tray. “You gonna go sit with that new teacher again?”. she asked with a devilish wink. I just gave a bashful grin and walked off. But I did go to sit with her.
So the end of her week comes and I’m thinking, “stang — I HAVE to keep in contact with this girl. Shoot but what about being professional?” Man I had to kill ALL that noise. Right near the end of her shift I asked her if she thought it would be a bad idea to get tea and talk some Tolkien or Star Wars. K looked at she shoes then then gave me a sidelong glance for what felt like ages. I was so scared. She said yes and then gave me her number. I was cheesing.
It should be noted that I was exiting a maliciously toxic situatutionship with a girl that very night, so it was nice to know I still had The Juice.
After I handle my business that night, I hit up K so that she has my number. At this point, her intentions are opaque and I can’t tell if there’s a mutual romantic interest or not. I don’t wanna probe. We keep it short.
Ten days later, now early July of 2018, I ask K if she likes Japanese food and if she’d consider getting some with me that week. She said she liked all food but she was out of town with family for a couple of weeks and that she’d reach out when she got back. Now, I’m no dummy. Anytime a girl gives an extended time period to get back to you on something, they ain’t getting back to you. Despite my instincts on that, I still couldn’t be sure!
I waited exactly 20 days to reach back out and this time, I called. I swear it rang twice and then went to voicemail, indicating that the call had been hung up, but I couldn’t be sure. I reiterated the date but that there was no pressure. I was going to call it if she gave me the runaround again.
The next day, I’m at work and I get a text from K. It says, “theblackmandalorian, I’m sorry for giving you the runaround. I’ve been dating this guy and things just started getting serious. I feel like I shouldn’t talk to you because I super like you. I feel like a turd. I’m sorry”.
This must have been what audiences felt when Darth Vader told Luke he was his father because I could NOT see that one coming. Woahhhh shorty you SUPER like me?! When did this happen?! So you mean to tell me that this whoooooole time I’ve felt this way, you’ve felt the exact same? Human intuition is crazy like that. I’ve never felt our communal nature operating on that level. Anyway, at first I tried to do the honorable thing and just let her go. Except when I said, “don’t forget about me”, she replied with a finite, “Never”.
Two days passed and I couldn’t shake her. I couldn’t shake this seemingly divine message. How could we have been feeling the EXACT same thing at the EXACT same time without even speaking for almost a month since we met? How? This was getting to a point where I felt I wasn’t in control of how I was feeling or what was happening with K. It was beyond me. I reached out to her and told her that I wanted to speak to her when I got back from Chicago and that it was important. That gave her some anxiety and we agreed to meet 30 minutes late when I was on my lunch. I was gonna be gone for ten days and, looking back, I would’ve been sick waiting that long too.
We met at this beautiful park in which an old Spanish battlement overlooked a valley (I live in California but am from Chicago). I told K that I couldn’t explain the way I felt but I knew in my mind and heart that we are supposed to be together. I know it like I know my social security number. I’m not prone to flights of fancy, and this was cinematic. We’re both reeeeally walking out on a limb here. I mean damn, I don’t even know her from Adam. She doesn’t know me. We know absolutely Nathan about one another but the message was real. We both laughed that we ended up in a situation like this.
In any case, we didn’t resolve anything, just told one another how we really felt as she felt the same. i went to Chicago. We didn’t speak until mid August.
From August ’18 to October, we talked via Instagram which was kinda sneaky looking back, but it was innocent to us. We went to breakfast, got lunch at an all pork place, she even took me hiking along this insane trail. It looked like Jurassic Park from afar. All this to say that K and I became incredibly close. Despite how I felt, I always kept it respectful. never stood too close, never held her hand, none of that. I remember one time we went to a record shop (I collect) and she was saying how Hounds of Love by Kate Bush was her all time favorite but she’d never been able to find it on vinyl. Later that day, I went on a record marketplace and ordered a mint condition copy from Germany, gift wrapped it, and gave it to her one of the last times I saw her. I’ll never forget sitting in her car when she said, “Don’t give me a gift” with her lip quivering. We had our longest hug after that. I remember I could feel her looking up at me with her arms around my waist (I’m 6’5’’) and I refused to look down because I knew I’d have to kiss her.
It wasn’t all roses. She opened up to me about unabashed serious drug use of cocaine and shrooms and that froze me dead. You would’ve never been able to tell if she hadn’t said so. That was a huge red flag for obvious reasons. At this age, I’m more concerned about my future family, and, keep that in mind when dating. Ethically, physically, and mentally. Spiritually too. Even still, I was deeply fond of K and remain so.
One day, we went to the beach and decided that we needed to talk on serious terms. I told her that this couldn’t go on forever, we each have to make a choice. Be it for better or for worse. Then live with it.
I told K that I knew us meeting was more than chance. It was serendipity of the highest caliber. I didn’t say this, as it felt corny to say, but I know that we’re soul mates. That is to say, the one person on the planet who matches you so perfectly that you both know before it’s spoken. As if you’ve always known. I told her that I wanted her to choose me instead of her boyfriend. This pained me to say because honestly, I do believe in honor as archaic as it may seem. And I want to go to the grave with my honor intact. “Love is the death of duty”.
K freaked out a little. I was still in school, her family lived in the Carolinas while mine was in Chicago. We both wanted to raise our kids near our respective families. She didn’t wanna stay in California forever. Neither did I. I reasoned that all of those things can be achieved through teamwork, thoughtful conversation, patience. Through each other. K then asked me to give her a timeline to make a decision as she would’ve dragged. That was a Thursday. I told her make a decision by Monday. She dropped me at the crib after that.
That was the most emotionally straining weekend I’ve ever had. For four whole days I was at the precipice of despair and love, crucified in the gray area. I hated it. I had to prepare myself for the worst.
Monday comes and K tells me to meet her at the same park that we first talked about our feelings. I knew what was to come. This was October 8th, 2018, I’ll never forget it. When I pulled up that afternoon, she had her hair in a slick, right bun pulled back. A coral blue blouse and a black pencil skirt. Sexy, beautiful. Ravishing. My dream. She was also crying. I hate when women cry.
Ultimately, she held her honor, which was the main reason I was so fond of her. She couldn’t break her word to someone she’d given it to — for anyone. You gotta respect it even when forever is on the line. It made me so proud of her even though I sunk to the ground with my head in my hands. K held me for a long time. We stood up after while and walked to our cars.
This partially irritates me to this day. She dusted me off and said, “You’ll be busy this year with nursing school and I’ll be…where I’m at. You’ll date lots of women and then maybe one day we’ll be us again”. Just amputate the arm baby don’t let it dangle. I was too crestfallen at the time to fight it. I sat in my car and wept for awhile. She drove off.
We still follow each on IG and always like one another’s pictures. It’s been 8 months since I saw her and almost and exact year since we met but I still think about these happenings with regularity. I tried to date, but she was always there. I moved on and got a girlfriend (my first in 5 years) and I’m happy. But K is always there, in the depths of me. I can’t man. Just can’t really walk away from those times. Sometimes, I’ll go to that park and play Prairie Night by Aaron Copland as it seems to be our theme song.
Anyway, I’ve only gone into explicit detail about this once and won’t ever again.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad I took a leap of faith although it was only to be dashed, in the end. I’m happy about the time we spent together. I still believe that we were made for each other, romantically speaking.
Love is hell, friend. But we always come back for more, don’t we?