I was a pretty tough girl throughout my life. I was always labeled as confident, arrogant, prideful, having a ‘heart issue’, you name it. I was a girl just like any other girl, I just covered my insecurities with confidence – both real and contrived. I was strong-willed and apparently gave my parents a run for their money in raising me. I was okay on my own, enjoyed being independent, and took pride that I didn’t let guys get to me. For the most part, I walked all over the boys I dated and could get my way when I wanted it. Oh boy was that last one going to change – although I’d never let him know it.
On our date, he might not have been nice about what he ordered, making me truly pay for losing the bet, but he was definitely nice to me. He was touchy, holding my hand and putting his arm around me. If you were an outsider you would have thought we’d have been together for a while. Even David asked me as delivery man got up to get something what was going on.
David: “So Natalia, did I miss something? Are you guys together now?”
Me: “I don’t know! I mean, maybe, if he’s acting like this. Should I ask him? Or just go with it?” He shrugged me off as hottie returned to the table.
I didn’t ask questions. I just reveled in the fact that this big, hot man had his arms around me. It was so nice. And I felt small! Very rarely in my life had I felt small. Being 6’0″ tall and very often taller and bigger than most boys, I was actually not small at all. But with his 6’7″ frame and big muscles to go with it, I was petite in his arms. Nope, I didn’t ask any questions at all.
I was never allowed to call boys growing up and it was somehow still ingrained in me. If they wanted to talk to me, they had to call me. Although I thought it was a stupid rule my parents made up to be mean at the time, I see the point they were getting at and I am very glad they had that rule. I didn’t chase boys. I didn’t chase after him. I didn’t call him. If he wanted to see me, he called me. I know there’s give and take in a relationship, but this was just the beginning and I had to make him hunt.
Hunt he did.
We hung out as often as we possibly could. We met somewhat towards the end of the school year and we knew we didn’t have a ton of time before he left to head home to The Bahamas for the summer. Our typical hang outs was watching movies on a lap top in the park (we were cheap college students), spa hopping using different spas from hotels, apartments and condos until we’d get kicked out. Then we’d just find another. It was a fun time to kinda get to know each other, chat, and just hang.
One time as we’re lying by the pool he had his shirt off and I was just marveling at all those muscles. My word, there were a lot. And man he’s smoking. This was before babies & during playing collegiate volleyball so thankfully I was pretty smokin’ too. As I was slyly admiring his physique I noticed a few big scars he had. Wow, those are gnarly! I thought. And being the nosy girl that I am, I had to know how he got them.
“You have a lot of scars, were you in some kind of gang or something?” I said, kinda teasing, to break the ice.
Without turning to look at me or raise his sunglasses he simply responds “No.”
“Well, how did you get so many of your scars then? What about this one, where’d you get this one?”
“That had to be an intense basketball game. What about this one?”
“Scraped my knee when I was younger.”
“This one?” I had decided I was going to point to each scar until I got some kind of reaction out of him. Or at least a cool story or something. I had to know more about this boy from The Bahamas.
“I was ran over my a car when I was little.”
“WHAT? How does that even happen? Where you okay?”
“Ya. Just got my ankle.”
Sheesh, that was intense. He wasn’t one to elaborate, so I moved on. “This one?”
“I was stabbed with an ice pick.”
“WHAT? Are you serious? How does that even happen? Oh my word, tell me what happened!” This was going to get interesting, I just knew it! How the heck do you get stabbed with an ice pick? He had to have been into something bad.
“Nothing. A fight broke out by the school, I happened to be close by and had to defend myself. The fight ended, I had blood all over my clothes, so I changed, put a pad on my back and went to class.”
“No you didn’t. Liar. That’s crazy and couldn’t have happened. NO one does that.” I was naive. I grew up in a place where ice picks weren’t common and if they were around at all, they were used to, you know, PICK ICE.
“I didn’t grow up like you, Natalia. There were bad areas and bad people. If you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be in trouble.”
Well, okay then, sheesh. Remind me to watch my back in The Bahamas. I had to know about these three scars on his shoulder that looked similar to each other.
“Well what about these,” I said sarcastically “did you get shot or something?”
“WHAT? You can’t be serious!”
“Ya, wrong place, wrong time and I got three buck-shots to the shoulder. My friends pulled them out because I didn’t want to tell my mom about it. I still don’t think she knows.” (She still doesn’t know – if you’re reading this – sorry Sherrie!!)
This entire time he never raised off the chair, never lowered his glasses, and was cool, calm and collected. Me, on the other hand, well I had never even seen a gun at this point in my life and I was totally intrigued how this man had led a completely different life than I had. Not only that, but he’s known around campus for being a really good guy. I need to know more about him.
Time was running out. He had to leave in a week and was going to prom with some girl his coach set him up with in a couple days. I was a little bugged, but what do you do? I couldn’t act like the crazy jealous girl, it was still too early for that. I had to play it cool. We still weren’t officially dating, he never called me his girlfriend, and we had made no commitments. I had asked a few times what we were and his answer was always the same “oh you know, we’re kickin’ it.” I didn’t know and this was a phrase I would grow to hate.
We decided one night after school was out to see a movie. It was one of the Star Wars movies that was super long. Not my cup of tea, but you know, taking one for the team. Except that’s not entirely true since we weren’t a team at all, we were just two people ‘kickin’ it.’ After the movie we hung out in the car outside of his friends house, where he was staying, and just talked. It was nice. Until I looked at the clock and saw that it was 3:00 AM! Yikes! And since school was out, I had to drive back to my parents house, about 45 minutes away. Better get on my way.
On the way home I was so tired. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I turned up the radio super loud and tried to sing along. Still. so. tired. I’ll just close one eye, I thought. Ahhh that’s better. Now switch and close the second eye. Before I knew it, I was falling asleep at the wheel. Literally. I heard a loud grinding noise that shocked me awake and I realized it was me – driving on the inside shoulder of the freeway! I freaked out, slammed the breaks, and went into a total spin out on the freeway. I spun around three times and slammed into the center divider.
Not to mention, all these happened in my friends car that I had borrowed who happened to be leaving for Kansas the next morning. Yep, I wrecked her car.
God had his eye on me and thankfully I had slowed down quite a bit as I was falling asleep at the wheel. The only thing hurt was the car, I didn’t have to even see a doctor. We’ve all heard stories of people dying from following asleep while driving, my life was totally spared. And yes, I used to think it was impossible to fall asleep while driving too, but it’s not.
Needless to say, my dad was furious. At me for being so stupid as to stay out so late and allow myself to fall asleep while driving. At the hottie for keeping me out so late and allowing me to drive home alone while so tired. It was not a good look. My dad was a pretty fierce man and I got the wrath. I had to pay for her car to be fixed which ended up being my whole summer’s income and this guy did not have the best reputation with Pops.
He decided he wanted to come see me (at my parents house) before he headed home to Nassau. But since all this had just gone down, he knew he needed back up – David came along. David, like I mentioned, had been a good friend for a while and knew my family well. When the doorbell rang my dad answered. I’m pretty sure he made sure he was present to get that door that day. David comes moseying through the door with a smile and a handshake for my dad and then heads on into the kitchen comfortably finding a snack.
Delivery man, on the other hand, stood at the door waiting to be invited in. He was a ball of nerves. He might have been taller and bigger than my dad, but man my dad could pack a mean glare. He was a good dad of a daughter. He didn’t trust this guy at the door who would allow something like this happen to his baby girl. Delivery man got up the nerve to come in with a “Hello, sir.” and with the exception of some mean glares on the part of my dad, that was all the interaction they had that day.
We spent the afternoon cautiously hanging out around my house, trying to avoid my dad. He left the next day for The Bahamas and it would be another 3 months before I’d see him again. He wasn’t my man, my boyfriend or anything else, just a guy I “kick it” with I guess. He made no commitment to me and would be a world away for the entire summer. I wasn’t sure how to handle this, but there really wasn’t much I could do. I could force a commitment out of him.
I spent the summer working to pay off the damage I did on my friends car and he very rarely called – maybe twice or three times the whole summer. I thought for sure he’d forgotten about me or moved on with some exotic Bahamian chick. I thought about him, but thankfully, I didn’t let this rule me. I had a nice summer working & taking vacations with my family like usual. As I geared up to go back to school, I was sure I’d need to move on.
A couple weeks into preseason my dorm phone rang. Lauren, who usually would be calling me, was sitting right next to me. Who could it be?
A deep, masculine voice came through “Watsup.”
It was him. I looked at Laruen and she just shrugged her shoulders. She knew too.
“Want to go to the spa tonight?”
Oh geez. I should have said no. I should have walked away right then and there but I just didn’t have the will power. This man had some kind of power over me that I didn’t like. I hung up the phone and got out my suit.
“I guess we’re going to the spa tonight.”