Mid-winter, he found me at a kitchen-sink college bar [a year into my Atlanta transplant]
He fell. Calling my attention against the deafening Future chorus. “You’re beautiful” he quipped. I shrugged/ with my hook? Slicked curls, chiseled nose, light frame. I filed him with the Dawits and Amans.
The texts volleyed- inquisitive, unassuming.
His persistence, my isolation.
His defiance to my indifference.
First call, ignored. 2nd call, explored.
Feigning interest for company. [missing the comfort of hookah/ Addis zefen on shuffle/loose conversations]. I gave in. The date was charity. He ran through the lines, peach-mint hooka saturating the space between us. Work? Atlanta traffic? The level of comatoses my drunk wing-woman climbed out of? Sinking into my seat, I obliged, spurting canned responses.
Per etiquette, “and your parents”.
He searched for a response.
Intrigued, I nudged closer.
Longing for a mother he left at age 5. [I ached]
Anxiety over stained viber calls. [I sympathized]
I was disarmed. Like the tobacco, my superficiality dissolving at each pass of the hose.
Tracing our intractable feeling of displacement in America.Soothing our alienating encounters in Ethiopia.
He walked me to my car. I kissed him.
Makings of an Ethiopian Love
Gradually, I shared. My father’s love, inebriated nights and machismo slights.
He drank it all. Epilogues of uncomfortable honesty funneled by our families failure to adhere to perceived Ethiopian common values. Oh to find my reflection!
He banded me with his longing
Tethered me with his anxiety
Made me feel whole in his estrangement
Mid-April, he has devoured me. With each confession, a transgression. Mornings I murmur against his departure. Come dusk I bask in our sin.
He didn’t drift. He departed. Reduced to a catch phrase by my own kind- “ghosted”
One phone call to unhinge me
“I don’t think I want this anymore.”
What is your affliction?
You who gathered me, hurled me.
All of the pain you shared? The bond you fostered? Please erase them.
The boundaries I shifted for you? Penance a dozen.
What about the pieces of you, you gave to me?
Please take them.
Young immigrant girl come undone by her safe space
No “forgive me” for his disturbances.
Young immigrant girl admonished by her identity politics.
Lord “forgive me” for my transgressions.
Young immigrant girl vacillated by the love of a troubled father and being “the other”.