Fall semester 1992 — “I don’t just love you, I’m in love with you.” Avanti said with resolute tenderness and vulnerability as she held my calloused hand like a frail baby bird, softly kissing my fingertips one at a time, her eyes hidden behind her long, Obsidian mane. The atmosphere around us in the common area of her co-ed dorm room momentarily ceased as if we were trapped in suspended animation.
Shai quietly crooned If I Ever Fall In Love on 92.9 WTUG’s Quiet Storm from the clock radio atop the bookcase. I was helplessly drowning in a fuchsia haze of warmth and fuzziness, suddenly inhaling the selfless act of this enchanted princess laying her soul on the line and confessing her love. The overwhelming complexity of emotions flooding every synaptic nerve in my brain threatened to shut down all thought as I fought in my mind to reach the surface of the haze. I’m instantaneously falling in love with no notion of how to process the moment.
I was raised in a strict, traditional, two parent, southern household where love was more so expressed through acts of being protected and provided for rather than the physical expression of it all. By the time I reached my High School years my family was in such turmoil with the divorce that school was more of an escape than a place to prepare for my future.
In hindsight, Of the 25 years they were married I experienced the last 13 of those years witnessing the dysfunctional behavior of the gross lack of the expression of love and affection and other healthy interactions that would help a growing adolescent develop more meaningful relationships with people outside of a home setting.
My two older sisters, Jenna and Janelle, having witnessed the the greater part of the descent of mom and dad’s marriage added insult to injury with the violent, adversarial behavior they displayed whenever they came home from college to visit for the holidays.
With that being said, the fear of dating as a teen and experiencing the same pain my parents endured was too much to bare. Class clowning compounded with fighting and needless risk-taking with cars and motorcycles throughout public school was my coping mechanism. Now, here I am at 21 and faced with trying figure out how to make up for a nonexistent experience with the opposite sex in 5 minutes.
Avanti’s hair draped down the sides of her face, down her body to her waist like the train of Maleficent’s dress. A bright sheen danced around her hair as she moved her head. Her smooth, mocha legs begin where tattered and torn jean shorts end. Her tiny feet with snow white socks are pressed close to each other and perched on the coffee table. A honey and cucumber fragrance intermingled perfectly with her natural scent creating an intoxicating effect that taunted and tantalized my senses.
“I’m in love with you too.” I replied as if my lips were on automatic pilot. Where did that come from? I thought to myself. Do I actually feel that way or is this just a nervous reaction that occurred out of the fear of hurting her feelings? No—This feels right. I’m actually in love this girl.
She pulled her hair out of her face and gazed those mystical black pearls at me with stern conviction revealed everything that needed to be said to my reciprocation of her love. Her boundless black pearls locked on my dilated pupils for what seemed like a moment yet my heart melted like homemade ice-cream at a picnic on a hot summer day.
I could almost feel the oozing flesh and blood of my heart slowly streaming down my internal organs all the way down to my feet when she perked her lips, and leaned into me, her black pearls disappearing behind her eyelids. I met her lips with mine and we created the deepest connection I have ever experienced in my life.
Instantaneously, my heart solidifies and pumps with a purpose like taking a group run before Rugby practice. Her lips felt like clouds of cotton candy that seemed to dissolve to the touch. Her tongue danced around in my mouth like an angry serpent attacking an unsuspecting prey. I responded with my own serpentine fire and dueled with her for what seemed like an eternity. I glided my hand down her leg, grappled my hand behind her knees and carried her legs over my quadriceps. She released a soothing whimper as I slid my hand slowly up her thigh, and under her tattered jean shorts.
She slowly caressed my chest in an infinity pattern sliding her fingertips along the contour of my firm pectorals. Just as quickly as we began kissing she pressed her hand against my chest signaling to stop. She gently pushed away with a sigh and struggles to regain her composure as if she were trying to fight off the effects of a potent elixir.
I was relieved as I could no longer hide the bulge in my jeans. The urge was there but this is the wrong time and the wrong place to go any further. As our flow subsided we sat there on the couch still intertwined and entranced in each other’s energy.
The front door swung open noisily, rustling grocery bags and voices bursting our semipermeable bubble causing time to march forward again. “Gurl we need to find a better way to carry all these bags up here.” Said Kimetria as she struggled through the door with an arm full of Food Giant bags.
“I know, gurl,” Kimetria’s other roommate, Sonja responded as she is smaller and struggled a step behind Kim with greater effort to control her bags. “We need to get one of them wire carts like what big mama had when she——“
Both Kim and Sonja froze mid-step while still in the doorway like they had both been tapped to play a game of Simon says. For a split second a look of surprise overcomes them like in an episode of I Love Lucy where Ethel and Lucy are caught in one of their slap stick comedy schemes.
“Oooooooooh! what y’all doin?” Sonja coyly says maintaining her comical look of surprise. “Wooooweeee, gurl!” Kimetria says in unison with Sonja as she also maintains her comical expression. “Gurl stop,” Avanti quickly quips with her own comical sistergirl flow. “We just chillin’.” She said with her still-fresh-off-the-boat Singhalese accent.
Kimetria and Sonja snapped out of their comedy act and scurried to the kitchen to drop their bags.“Oh yeah, Kimetria did you bring that flyer you was talking about?” I asked as my mind landed back in the land of reality. “Oh yeah it’s on my nightstand.” She says. She goes to her bedroom and returns with a flyer for the Statewide Jam, a block party-like event that caters to the black student population.
A number of up and coming local rappers and other musical talent are slated to perform as opening acts on campus in the quad with someone called Biggie Smalls as the headliner.
“Okay, so, like we was talking about earlier, I need you to utilize your expertise to jazz up this flyer,” Kim stated as she gestured with her hands how she wanted the flyer to look. “We need some kind of logo that would capture the attention of black students as well as promote the different kinds of activities that will be going on.” The wheels turn in my head even as she describes what she thinks the flyer should look.
“Got it,” I replied. “I already have an idea of what it’s going to look like.” By now it’s getting late. I have a project I have to finish for my graphic design class and a paper for my British lit class due tomorrow and it’s already 9:30. As she hands me the flyer I stand signaling my leave.
“Well, sister, looks like I’m going to have to pull another all-nighter at the art department.” Avanti walks over to the door to see me out. “Well, boi, you know I understand, I understand,” Kim says in her homegirl tone. “I got some work to knock out myself. See you next week at the International Student Association meeting?” Pass up an opportunity to meet people from around the world in one place? Not going to miss it for the world. “Sure, I’ll be there.” I reply as I walk toward the front door.
“See you later, Trone!” Sonja yells from her bedroom. “Later!” I tell her. Kim senses it’s time for an abrupt exit from the room as Avanti gives her that girl-to-girl glare. “Well, my biology paper ain’t going to write itself! I’ll see you in class Thursday boi!” Kim says as she retreats to her bedroom.
Avanti embraced me like there was no tomorrow, resting her head on my chest to feel my heartbeat. I returned her embrace, kissing her on her forehead. “What are you doing Friday?” I whispered to her.
She looked up at me like I was the only human being on earth. “My Geology class is over at 4:00.” She steps up on my hiking boots like a 5-year-old, and I started grinning ear to ear. I began a little father daughter like dance, and she playfully road along with the cutest little smile.
“My Ceramics class is over at 2:30. Would you like to come over?” I asked her. “We could rent some movies from Blockbuster and pop popcorn the old fashioned way over the stove.” I tell her while massaging her back. “Sure.” She says without looking up, still feeling the pulse of my heart.
Two figures move from around the corner in my peripheral. As I turned to see the movement Avanti felt me turning and turns her head in the same direction. “Ooooooooooh hee, hee, hee, hee!!!” Sonja and Kimetria duck out of sight giggling and cackling like two middle school girls at a sleep over.
“They are so silly.” Avanti whispered as she lays her head back on my chest. She opened the door and I slipped into the hallway. I turned to face her to see that she has closed the door to just a crack wide enough to see the somber look on her face. “Bye Trone.” she said in the sweetest, softest tone. I walked back up to the door to kiss her through the slightly cracked door one last time.
“See you Friday.” I said, feeling a slight heartache even at the slightest notion of our separation. As I walked down the hallway toward the elevator I took one last look back at the door to see it still cracked open, only darkened by her silhouette. Just as I approached the elevator it opens right on cue, coeds exit caught up in conversation. I backed into the the elevator looking to see her door still open as the elevator closed shut.