The next morning, I had to work despite the fact I had just suffered through the most restless and sleepless night in a long time. I had promised myself many years before I would never allow any relationship get in the way of making money, so I was going to work. I may not get much accomplished while there, but I would be present and accounted for.
I got an email from him the next day at work explaining it wasn't his intention to hurt me. He said he wasn't expecting me to come over, and he didn't understand why I was upset because I had ended the relationship. I later found out Terrance's luggage was for a trip to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil; soft plans he and I made while on the cruise. My first instinct was to go online and cancel the trip since I knew his Delta skymiles account number, but I decided against it. "I'm better than that," I thought, and you never allow someone to make you something or someone you're not.
As I sat at my desk with tears in my eyes, my mind drifted back to when we met. It was the middle of May 2003. We were at a fiesta party and the theme was Mexican. We sipped margaritas and ate tacos, salsa, and guacamole. I was rocking corn rows at the time. That day I was dressed in true Maryland/D.C. style. I had on a pair of butter Timberland boots, blue jeans and a black fitted cut off shirt. He knew my friend Tito that invited me to the party, so, he asked Tito who I was and if he would introduce us. Tito told him, "That's Craig. Introduce yourself."
Moments later, he walked over to me and said, "Wait five minutes, then meet me downstairs." I didn't know if it was a joke or if he was serious. "Were these really his first words to me," I pondered. I met him downstairs, but there were so many people that we ended back upstairs in the kitchen. He introduced himself, "I'm Andre." He was at the party with his best friend. They knew of another party and wanted me and Tito to follow them so we did. As we tailed them to the party, he and I talked on the phone the entire way. There were many things I knew about him already because Tito was our mutual friend and quite naturally his name had come up in general conversation before.
It became clear why his best friend drove his brand new Mercedes CLK. When we arrived at the second party, he walked over to me and it was obvious he was "full" of alcohol. He kissed me as soon as I got out of the car. His friend yelled, "Andre, get off that boy!" Somehow, we ended up kissing in one of the bedrooms of the house as the party continued just outside the bedroom door. Not longer after we fell on the bed, his friend came to break us up and escorted us out of the room.
The following Wednesday I invited him over for dinner and he introduced me to Lizz Wright's "Open Your Eyes". The conversation had a flow to it. We just seemed to click. Before he left, he asked if he could have a kiss. I told him, "Nah, maybe on the next date." He said, "Stop playing. We've already kissed." I pulled him over to me and kissed him.
A week later, I found out through our conversation he was attending a party at this spot in downtown Atlanta called Endenu, so I gathered my friends to be there coincidentally. It was the spring Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" came out. As we were walking up to the club, I saw him drive by. He obviously saw me too because he tooted his horn. When we met inside he asked if I wanted a drink. I think I was drinking rum and coke at the time. He said he really enjoyed dinner and wanted to see me again. He suggested I have breakfast with him. "I'm not spending the night with you," I told him. He said, "Not like that. I'll cook. You can come over Monday morning since it's Memorial Day." He asked what I liked, so he could have it. The date was set.
I called him that Monday on his home phone. Normally, I would call the cell first, but I figured since we were having breakfast at his house, I would call there because he should be there. There was no answer. I left a message. I tried his cell. Again, no answer. I left a message. I never heard back from him on Monday, so, on Tuesday I deleted his number from my phone. I have a rule, delete the number before you abuse the number. I didn't hear from him Tuesday or Wednesday. He called late Thursday evening. When I saw the number I knew immediately it was him. I was preparing to leave home to participate in a panel discussion, but I picked up, "Hello," I said real flat. He said, "Hey," with vibrance and excitement like we had talked that week or he as if he hadn't stood me the hell up. "Who is this?!" with aggravation in my tone. "This is Andre," he said. "You said 'hey' like I've talked to you," I snapped. Before he could answer, "I'm on my way to a meeting. I have to call you back," I said matter of factly.
Two hours later I called him back. I was nervous he wouldn't answer, but I took the chance and called anyway. He answered. He made an attempt to have general conversation without addressing the date he missed. "I have to tell you before we go any further," I started. "This isn't about us not having breakfast because I understand things come up. This is about you not extending the courtesy to me that I would've extended to you. If you weren't able to have breakfast you should've called. There really is no excuse for you not calling because even if something happened to your (cell) phone you could've reached me because we have mutual friends. I'm telling you this because I don't want to teach you, by not saying anything, that you can pull this with me again." He said, "You're right. I'm sorry. I had a hangover Monday because we went to another club. On Tuesday, I was backed up at work because of the holiday and I work late the first Wednesday of every month so I didn't have time to call you until tonight." Before he could catch his breath I said, "The president of the United States had time to run the country, be married to Hillary and have an affair with Monica Lewinsky. You're not that busy." He said, "It won't happen again."
I decided to resave his number, but I wouldn't initiate any plans with him until he proved he was not playing games. If we were going to see each other it would be at his suggestion. I knew he had "fans" that allowed him to do whatever because he was a catch. He had a great career, homes (yes, more than one) and was easy on the eyes. I also decided I would only call him if he had called me first. I'm not a game player, but I know the game. When he stood me up, the rules for how we would play changed for me. I needed to know he was really interested. We talked on the phone a few times a week and had great conversation, but I always got off the phone first. There were days I wanted him to call that he didn't, but I stood my ground. I had a standard. Eventually, we were talking everyday and he asked me to a concert. The rest was history. He asked if we could date exclusively several times before I agreed.
He was the first person (man or woman) that I fell in love with because we shared so many "firsts". He was the first person I lived and travelled with. I could never have predicted we would end the way we did. That relationship taught me so much about people, life, love, emotions, companionship and pain. It took two years to cleanse myself of the residual feelings I had. Every relationship after, I chose someone I knew would love me more than I loved because I never wanted to feel that loss again should it end. I've since learned I can love, but always keep a piece of me for me.
He was the first, but not the last....
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