The summer progressed and we were getting closer.  Not officially dating yet, we were enjoying getting to know each other.  I still couldn’t believe we were hanging out.  Did he really like me the way I had liked him?  Still guarding my heart and feeling somewhat nervous around him, I decided I would just be in the moment and not overthink anything.

My birthday weekend rolled around and we celebrated with some friends with a trip to Kings Dominion.  As it grew closer to the park’s closing time our friends began leaving and it was just him and me.  We were sitting near the entrance waiting on my brother to come out.  Things were a bit awkward which I thought was strange because between the two of us, he was usually the more relaxed one.   We sat in silence for a little while and all I can remember is the stifling humidity and wishing my brother would hurry up. There was an anxious energy that I had only  felt from Keith one other time before (when he initially asked me on a date).  “Did you have fun?”, he asked. I nervously told him “yeah”, not knowing what his next words would be.  The details get a little fuzzy here, but I remember he took his time and asked me in so many words if I would be his girlfriend.   All I can remember next, was a flood of emotions that I could not sort out.  Sure I had high school crushes and flirted here and there; but I had spent all of my teen years avoiding getting close to guys so I would not have to be asked this question.  What was I supposed to say?  What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to act once my brother finally came out? What would my dad think?  My mouth got dry, my heart was racing and I nervously said “Yeah.”  He seemed both relieved and happy.  Relieved that he had finally asked the question and happy that I agreed to be his girl.  Were we now a “couple”?  LOL.  Poor little 18 year old me was all alone in my head.  Completely overthinking EVERYTHING.  He asked me how I felt and if I was happy.  Unsure how to respond and still very anxious, I gave the rudest response a new girlfriend could give to her new beau.  I turned to him and said, “Yeah, what do you want me to do?  A back flip?”  *insert face palm here*

Of all the responses on the planet why did I have to say that!?  Thankfully he took it in stride and decided he wouldn’t write me off just yet.  The whole way home I was full of anxiety.  Wondering if I had made the right decision agreeing to be his girl.  I started questioning everything.  Should I have consulted God first? Am I doing the right thing?  It was a pretty quiet ride on the way back. I can remember him turning his music down occasionally to check on me, making sure I was okay.  He had no idea the war going on inside my head.  Looking back now I am able to see that while it is beautiful that someone my age would want to acknowledge God with such a decision, I took myself through way too many emotional changes.  Rather than being relaxed and at ease, I felt God did not approve and that HAD to be the reason for all the anxiety I was feeling.  Not sure how or why I pinned the reason for my angst on God.  Rather than just understanding this was something new for me and that may have explained the anxiety, I made it super spiritual.  If you’ve read my blogs How my Human Sexuality Course Challenged my Spiritual and Religious Attitudes or Hey Church Girl you know by now early in my life I found it difficult to rest in God.  I often made things more difficult than they had to be.  This was something fresh and new with a great guy and I robbed myself of something beautiful because I became my own God.

Rather than being filled with anticipation to see my new boyfriend the next morning, I tossed and turned all night. Wrestling with my thoughts and anxious feelings made for a restless night.  Sunday morning was getting closer and closer and I was contemplating every way I could avoid him the next day at church.  

My family was traveling down to Atlanta for T.D. Jakes’s Megafest.  This conference was apart of our family vacation that year.  I’d managed to get through the entire Sunday service and not make contact with Keith.  He called me to say that he had missed seeing me and had hoped to see me before I left for vacation.  While on the phone with him I acted like a complete weirdo.  I didn’t know what to say so I made up something stupid as to why he hadn’t seen me.  He had no idea I was actively hiding out in the church building, watching from afar until I was sure he was gone.  Thinking back now I would not have blamed him if he chose to end things and moved on with someone a little more “sane”. 

We stop in North Carolina and I am going back in forth in my head on what I should do.  Do I call this guy and tell him I couldn’t be his girlfriend? What reason would I give?  Would he understand if I told him it was God that told me to end things with him?  When and where would I have a private place on this trip to call and talk to him about how I was really feeling?  I reached in my back pocket, pulled out my little red LG flip phone, scrolled to his name in my contacts and began drafting a text.  I send him a message that contains the 4 dreaded words no man wants to hear “We need to talk”.

It was the summer of 2005.  Mario’s Let Me Love You, Mariah Carey’s We Belong Together, and Chris Brown’s Yo ( Excuse Me Miss) were all radio hits.  The final season of the Newylweds (which I am STILL devastated about) had aired.  I’d just graduated high school and started my first job.  Before I graced the campus of THE Virginia State University, I had finally been asked out by my long-time crush. 

He was tall, dark, laid back and most of all respectful.  I’d had a crush on him for years but played the “big brother/little sister card”.  Some of you KNOW what I am talking about.  That one guy that may have been in your circle that you were crushing on. Unsure how he felt about you, you played it cool and called him your “brother” or my personal fave “best friend”.  Anything was better than nothing.  Never being the type to be forward or one to “shoot my shot”, I let those feelings linger.  We’d known each other most of our lives growing up in the same church; but never had anything more than a few exchanges of laughs. 

One night after a church service he had asked me out.  I was caught COMPLETELY off guard and thought that he was joking around.  He had never expressed an interest in me nor dropped hints that he may have liked me in any other way than the “big brother/little sister” dynamic I had fostered.  Feeling uncertain about how serious he was I laughed it off and never gave a real response.  A week or so passed and he asked me again. Maybe he was serious the first time after all.  We picked a Friday and decided he’d pick me up from work.

Yall! I was nervous as can be.  Growing up in a house with a father that was present caused my dating experiences to be limited.  He never technically said I couldn’t date.  Just assuming the answer would be  “NO” I never bothered having the conversation with him.  In high school there was no dating, no one was taking me out, I tried my best not to get close to any guys so I wouldn’t be asked out on a date and have to tell them no.  Asking my dad if I could go on this date had me shaking in my boots.  The only reason I was probably even allowed to go was because my father knew he came from a good home and knew his family.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  That entire night before and all day at work I was so nervous my stomach was in knots.  He arrived at my job.  I opened the car door and the smell of Curve cologne greeted me as Bobby Valentino was playing.  He could definitely sense my anxiety but I do not know if he knew this was my first time ever going on a date.  I’m sure he did his best to make me feel comfortable but I found it hard to be as relaxed and laid back as he was. LOL.

This was something new for me and I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel…