First date

A man….

I tie my shoe laces quickly before I run for the bus coming my direction. I had just received your text telling me you were already at the location of our meeting. “Damn, she’s going to think I am always late” I think to myself but I let it not bother me. Now my thoughts are all over the place thinking about how weird the smell of sweat and the cologne I am wearing must be. Running for the bus sucks. I convince myself it will be over by the time I meet you.

I see you sitting on a bench at the park we agreed to meet. You are even more beautiful in person. You have a beautiful smile and the yellow scarf you are wearing really complements your complexion. We exchange pleasantries and I apologize for being late. It doesn’t seem to bother you. We immediately start talking and it’s not awkward at all, and that’s a relief because I do not do well in awkward situations. You are typically Burundian, respectful yet charming. I like it.

We head down to another park passing through fallen yellow leaves. It’s beautiful and for a moment it reminds me of a scene from a Woody Allen movie. But this is real life and it’s better. I forget what we are talking about but I think you said something about your dad and your family and in a positive way. I like it because, well,everyone loves a girl who loves her family.

We sit on a bench overlooking the river. I’d never been on this part of town before and I am thankful that I met you and that you brought me here. We talk about Burundi. The conversation is both electric and insightful. I am impressed at how passionate you are about our country. God, could she get any more perfect? I ask myself. We exchange ideas about how we could make the country better. I thrive off of these kind of conversations and I think you realize it. We talk more about random things, our shared love for nature and Fall, the province we used to live in and our shared experience of being new in a city. At some point, you are doing much of the talking and I am just sitting there listening to you in awe. We have so much in common. If we were white I would utter the classic television line “wow we have so much in common” but I remember that we are both Burundian and that probably doesn’t matter. May be it does, but forget about it.

It is starting to get late but time has been moving rather fast for two strangers who just met. We start making our way out of the park. It’s Wednesday and Wednesday is Wings Night in the city. I haven’t had wings in a long time so we decide to go for wings and I get excited about it. We head to the first lounge and they don’t have a wings special. We mutually agree to leave to go to another one. We’re spontaneous and it’s fantastic – in my mind. I order a beer and you order something I do not remember. It’s not alcoholic and I question your Burundianness. Aren’t all Burundians supposed to drink? I think perhaps you are trying to make a good impression by not drinking. I do not give it much thought because my beer is here and I’d rather be enjoying it than try to come up with reasons why you are not drinking. A few moments later the wings arrive and we start digging in. The conversation continues to flow, but by this time I have already finished my first pint of beer and quite honestly I do not know exactly what we are talking about but I am enjoying it anyway. I order another pound of wings because well, maybe I need to show what man I am – ngo umugabo adafungura ntasuma! I fail at it because I don’t even finish all the wings and I am somewhat embarrassed, but I have had two drinks and it doesn’t matter at this point.

It’s almost 1:00am and you have to go. Your cousin comes to pick you up and you give me a tender but totally platonic hug that I would probably have preferred to last longer than it did. I take the train home. We keep in touch over the week and it’s exciting. It’s always been a thought of mine to meet a stranger and go on this romantic adventure that I have no clue where it’s going, and now it’s happening and I can’t contain myself. The weekend arrives and I ask you out for dinner and surprisingly you say yes. I am excited but I have no plans made because I did not expect you to be available. I make calls to a bunch of restaurants I would want to check out but they are all closed on Sundays so I settle for the second best thing.

I am nervous but confident. I buy you a rose because frankly speaking I don’t know why, but I want to make a small romantic gesture. I make sure it’s yellow so I do not scare you away. I meet you at the restaurant and you like the rose, and it’s a massive relief. In fact I am jealous at the way you’re holding it. If only I was as small as rose. Wait, that doesn’t even make sense!

You help me with my choice of meal and it turns out to be delicious, and in my mind I am going nuts because you are almost perfect. We leave the restaurant and head to the park where we first met. We sit on the bench and talk some more. The sky is still clear for a summer turning into Fall kind of day. It’s also breezy and serene, but there are some questionable people in the park that look like they could be street pharmacists, but the atmosphere is still generally calm. I make a move to kiss you and dodge it nicely and I think to myself #TypicalBurundianGirlBehaviour. I have been there before. You do not kiss boys on the second date. You are not easy. One must fight for you. Alright. I get it, but I am disappointed. I have no right to be so I do not give it much weight.

We part ways and I think about you lots on the way home. We exchange text messages along the way. We see each other again, a week later, I think. You look beautiful. “She always looks well put together”, I think to myself. I realize the majority of times we’re together I am actually thinking about you. Ahh OK, I should pay attention to what you are saying. I get lost in my thoughts again but just for a brief moment. In my thoughts I realize I may be creating a version of you that’s different from the person I am with. Do I like the person you are, or the version of you I have been creating in my mind this whole time?

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