I had never been with someone so selective with their words.
When we would go out to a club, she would dance and light up the dance floor, electrifying me.
But, in that moment, I saw her as none of that, because I couldn’t see her.
As the questions multiplied, they took on more disturbing forms, especially since she, who just said “Nigger girl,” had met my mother, a Black woman.
I do remember wearing my soccer jersey and cleats as she, our team’s manager, sat next to me on the bus; younger kids giggling at us, wondering what we were up to.
She wore dirty Vans and followed me and my friends around during our skating phase.
I believed that what I had with her was one of the most meaningful relationships of my life.
But in bed with her, as I recounted my personal history, how my race colored it, her silence ate away at me.
I tried to justify these experiences by claiming that everyone needed to start somewhere, and that being a first doesn’t mean you will forever be an only.
I nervously asked her, via AOL Instant Messenger, if she would be my girlfriend.
I also remember breaking up, as teenagers do when a relationship means nothing more than minor flirtations, and becoming serious again, in high school.
At the time, I believed the experiences were not equal.
I may have said, “Oh, cool.” Or possibly smiled back at her. Years later, after more experiences as a white woman’s “first and only” Black man did I realize that those two moments are, not only different shades of the same problem, but also flat out racist. And though I was older, and more equipped to handle them, I couldn’t wholly ignore them.
When we first began dating, her silence was nourishing.