On a random day of recess, she asked me to stay back in class. I thought I was getting another extra lesson to catch up to the rest of the kids but instead she told me Darin Jean had a crush on me. Her advice was that I ask her out. What a fifth grade teacher was doing fixing her students on dates was beyond my imagination. She could probably tell that Darin Jean’s freckled face had grown on me.
I was only a few months into my immigration journey and I was still struggling to understand societal customs, but for some reason, I had no problem understanding that white small-town girls like Darin Jean didn’t like black ass African immigrants like myself. Someone with lips as big as mine wasn’t supposed to kiss those two big horse teeth of hers.
Yet, she was my first girlfriend. We spent the next week sitting next to each other on the school bus to our Catholic school. We occasionally made eye contact during mass rehearsal and my lungs deflated each time we talked in public on the way to recess. During the second week of our relationship, she asked me if I should come over for dinner and meet her parents.
I was only a few months into the melting pot, yet my racial guardian angel must have put the fear of God in me. Or the fear of Emmett Till’s mother. I don’t know what it was but when a spirit moves you, you listen. All I remember is saying that it wouldn’t be a good idea. She never pressed the issue. A few days after, she broke up with me. A week or so later, she was dating this new kid. All-American, small town, midwest-bred white boy.
Darin Jean was my first girlfriend. We didn’t know it, then, but we taught each other the first sins of this nation.
To heal through storytelling, I’m now writing a book that wrestles with the realities of living in such a violent and colonized world titled Loving Is For Everyone. Follow this instagram handle, @Loving_Is_For_Everyone, for updates/excerpts from the manuscript and read occasional blog posts from the book on my weekly column at TheGoodMenProject.com.
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