This is a story about a boy and a girl. A man and a woman. It’s a true story. Nothing really happened. You probably should stop reading. I thought a bunch of things while having a mundane conversation with a simple guy. Nothing to see here.
If you’ve come this far then let me tell you something. I want to tell you something, but I’m full of nothings and nowheres. There are doubts in my mind that I even exist, that this is all not but a dream.
You know when you are dreaming and you are suddenly dialing a phone number, but you can’t get the numbers right. You try to say something but no one can hear you. So you fly. This is that kind of reality.
I don’t interpret dreams for a living, but I wonder why I can’t get the numbers right in my life. Why can’t they hear me? If I could only fly, oh god, if I could fly.
I stand near a fountain that’s off during the winter. Please be my friend, someone, I think. I want to know that fountain and who stands near it. Who else is moved by a fountain? I always had friends, but when I went to Wayne State I had only a few. I was lonely, and in search of something…I left my hair curly that day. And a younger guy, someone whose age seems nebulous walks by me. “Hi,” he says.
It had been a while since a man that I did not know talked to me. It had been a while since I flirted. He wore a brown leather jacket and a black back pack. He looked younger than me. He wore wire-rimmed glasses and his hair was the same shade of brown as his jacket.
He looked uncomfortable in his own skin. There is so much I want to say to him but I don’t even say things the right way:
I want peace, but I’m like a ballerina who cannot move. There is a dance in me. I promise you. You’ll never see it but it is the silence between my breaths. I don’t know what to say. I am always saying, and saying and you are not getting my song.
I won’t lie, I don’t have a song that is worth singing. I think I’m an animal, I think I just live to live. I don’t have a meaning. I want to make sense, so badly, but then I know there is no sense.
None of us knows where peace is hiding. Maybe it’s inside me, buried underneath my dreams and my reality. Why am I so intense? Why don’t I laugh more? I want to see the absurd visions in your eyes.
But I don’t say any of it, because how can you, how can you be real with a man you meet literally while crossing a small street in Detroit on the Wayne State campus. “I’m sorry I’m just so cold,” I say in the freezing wind. It’s the middle of winter. Don’t ask me what month. “See I washed my hair before I came and now I’m freezing.” Oh the uninteresting things we actually say.
“Oh yeah, you just washed your hair?” he asked as my long wavy hair wisped in the wind. “I can smell it.”
Excuse me? I was wearing a Coconut hair cream that smelled, like coconut. Did he know that I hate that my hair is curly? Did he know I wanted a man to wash my hair? Did he know that I have trouble being real? Did he know that I am after all, just a girl.?They say I’m a woman, but it seems like a lot of pressure, to be a woman. I want to be a girl right now. A girl who smells like coconut. A girl who made a boy smile.
He was standing away from me, I’m not good with measurements so I can’t tell you how far away he was from me. I must have put a lot of leave in conditioner on for this man to be able to smell it with all the other smells of the city.
But the thing is, he noticed me. A younger man who looks smart could smell my hair. I wasn’t in love. I was impressed with the world for a moment though. I wanted real coconuts, right then and there. And a real face. Not this face that I’ve been walking around with. This face is not working. And I realize as I’m standing there, no has ever written a song for me. I look at him again with his half grin in the searing sunlight. His face does not impress me:
Tell me something. At least tell me we won’t die today. We started talking about this and that. He was studying education too. He was studying special education. I wanted to tell him special ed teachers are statistically the happiest people on earth. He didn’t look happy.
He seemed nice enough.
But what is nice anyways? He didn’t kill me. Is that nice of him? But he didn’t write a song for me, about me. By what standard do we measure each other? What do we expect out of nice? Do we expect peace out of it? Maybe if we were all nice, there would be peace. But we think nice is boring. I think chaos is boring. Violence is boring. I’m bored with the world self-destructing.
I’d rather go back to the boring things in life that matter. Things like the scent of a woman’s hair.
The man suddenly says to me, seemingly out of the blue. “Would you like to get some coffee sometime?”
Are you real? You don’t know me? I’m mean. And small. I don’t have the audacity…
“Sure that sounds great,” I say without thinking. I rarely think before I speak anymore.
I glanced at him again. He was decent looking but not good-looking. “How old are you?” I asked. I had to ask.
“I’m 26,” he looked me in the eyes.
“What’s your number?” he asked and took out his phone.
“What’s your name?” I don’t remember his name anymore so I don’t remember what he said.
“I’m Nina.” And he took down my number.
He never called. I never saw him again.
I don’t know his name.