We were sitting inside of a train car in the subway, sitting close to one another ignoring the free bench space. With shoulders touching, our heads moved in sync to look up at the people who walked into our train car and stood nearby. The emerging group was a foursome of older people, I’d say in their early sixties or so. Each had grey hair, each had a smile on their face, and we watched as they talked about wherever it was they had come from. You never know where people are coming from in New York, but you’re always watching them on their way to somewhere new.
When the doors next opened, one of the couples kissed their friends goodbye and stepped away into the night. “Hippies,” Brandon whispered, “definitely former hippies”. I had to agree. If her husband’s buffalo plaid jacket and neat, but shaggy hair didn’t give it away, then the woman’s loose, drape-like clothing, deep laugh lines on her face, and casual footwear were the final giveaway clues. Brandon continued to talk about how it was so obvious that they were former acid-dropping, concert-going, no-clothes-wearing hippies who were now settled into a normal adult life. It’s nice to see people like that, you know.
I took a moment to picture us in the future, and then asked, “What do you think people will say about us when we’re old?” He shrugged and then started to tell me that people will look at us and think we used to be cool. That didn’t excite me as much as he thought it would, so he continued on by saying, “You know how you see old people and you’re like ‘Oh, that dude was probably really cool when he was young?’. Well that will be us. Two cool niggas. Two cool people.” I laughed. It was an answer I could live with. There’s alot in my past I don’t want you to ever be able to know by looking at me. Just see the cool. And see what being cool got me.
It got me Brandon. And Brandon is a cool guy.
I begged him to stay at my house on Saturday night. We had both had long days working for our respective Church ministries earlier in the day, but I was set on waking up on Sunday morning, my 29th birthday, with him there to wish me well and cook me bacon. I’m in this stage of life right now where I crave bacon and brownies on the daily, and it only worsens when I feel entitled to it. A birthday certainly qualifies as an occasion to be happy and have bacon, so I didn’t want to hear Brandon’s reasoning that he’d be over first thing in the morning. No, I insisted, I’d go with him to his house in Harlem to get an overnight bag and then we’d travel all the way back downtown to Brooklyn to sleep at mine. He reluctantly agreed.
When I arrived back at my house it was almost midnight, and I was carryig two dozen white roses that I’d accidentally discovered waiting for me in Brandon’s refridgerator. I guess he had good reason for telling me to stay put on the couch and not move. I knew he was telling me that because there were most likely birthday presents lying in wait, but I didn’t think there’d be one in the fridge. In any case, he wasn’t too upset. It’s like he expected me to get into trouble, and was just going with the flow at this point.
It was after seven, but way before eight when I heard Brandon rustling around in my room the next morning. I was trying my best to stay asleep when he came and sat next to me on the bed. He put his hand on my back and told me happy birthday. I mumbled thank you right then, and again when he said he loved me. I mumbled that I loved him too the next three times that he told me he loved me, and then let little grunts do the talking for me as he continued on. After a solid sixty seconds of “I love you” I laughed, though only slightly, and told Brandon to come to bed. “It’s so early baby,” I said.
“Ok,” he said, “I’ll get in the bed.” There was a soft thud as I heard him drop to the floor. And then the sharp click of a box opening. Even with my back to him I could identify the sound. “But…will you marry me?”
My eyes popped open and then I shut them quickly. ‘Maybe that isn’t what he said’, I thoguht, but only for a moment because you could never, ever mix up those words. I turned over just enough to see the ring, a beautiful emerald surrounded by diamonds, sitting in a little velvet box. I let myself stay facing him, but I put my hands over my face and then pulled the blankets up. He gently pulled them down, and asked me again. I nodded, and finally when I felt I could speak I said, “Yes”.
No one can prepare you for the crying that comes next, the euphoria, or the laughter.And no one can prepare you for how honest an exchange you have with another person who is seeing you early in the morning, at your most vulnerable moment, with nothing to cover your flaws–and still wants to marry into it all of it for a lifetime. As Brandon joked about going back to sleep, I did a little leap onto my feet into a leap frog position, and told him that I was going to go get pretty for him. ‘Because I can’t marry you looking like this’, I kept thinking in my head and then said aloud. Brandon reassured me that I looked fine, and then stopped me on my way out to tell me there was another surprise for me in the bathroom.
There was another surprise waiting for me indeed, but I’d rather keep that between us and the few people who we shared it with at my birthday brunch later that day. Suffice it to say that Brandon’s thoughtfulness goes beyond. He has surpassed my expectations. Like Ephesians 3:20 in the Bible says, God has done exceedingly and abundantly above all that I had ever asked or thought that moment could be.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, keeps asking me what I feel. And I feel…like I just got a second chance at everything. I feel like I’m stepping into the role of a lifetime, and it’s the one I never knew how badly I wanted until they told me the part was mine. I feel like I’m the creator of the rest of my life right now. I feel like everything I want my life to be can be shaped into existence just by being humble, and listening to God’s instructions, and by loving the man who will be my husband like he already is. Loving him and building him up, and making sure he knows that together we can do it. This is that rare thing people say they want to find, that Cosby Show, Barak-and-Michelle, Gatsby-and Daisy, true love. We can actually do this.
Two cool people.
There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.-Homer
Written to: “Such Great Heights” by Iron and Wine; “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James; “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz; and I’m just going to admit it…”Sex Therapy” by Robin Thicke.