We stood on the head of our warnings every day as we got to know each other. I knew I was a far away from the Latina girls he was used to with silk hair, milk-toffee skin, and sharp tongues: I had forgotten how vulnerable it felt to be black in the apartment building lobby of a potential love. Before every date I would always buy myself a new outfit or piece of clothing to impress him, as though being constantly new would distract from any shortcomings.
I would stretch my hair every inch that I could, to make it appear longer. There were days when we fought and said things to each other like “That must have been from how you were raised.” We got assaulted on the street by men who would yell “Black and white don’t mix” and smash their shoulders into ours.
She was looking to me for advice on raising a fatherless child, considering my firsthand experience. It was like that for a while—dismissing every suitor who resembled my father.
We rolled down the windows in her beat-up car and took in as much air as we could. Every black girl I knew was saying, “Get yourself a white man,” as though they were selling out quick.
He rode skateboards and carried around napkins in his front pocket, a habit he’d learned from his grandpa.
He joked like friends from my hometown, but there was a newness to his voice that I didn’t know.
I wondered how men with such delicate bodies seemed to be the only ones who could endure the storm. We bought crop tops, tight jeans, and earrings so big that they touched our shoulders.
The year before I graduated college, black boys started dying on TV: Trayvon Martin, then Eric Garner, then Michael Brown, then Tamir Rice.
He told me that he had gotten out of a 10-year relationship with the girl he thought he would marry and I told him that I had spent two years alone finding myself.
The match wasn’t ideal, but we took to each other like people end up doing when left in a room alone.
We live together in a small studio in Chelsea, where we cook dinners and take showers.
We ask each other about dessert options and call each other good-looking even though we have gained weight.