The first thing I noticed was him noticing me, showering me with attention. Initially I shrugged it off as a super friendly barista doting on a customer. But I soon realized he acted differently around me. His energy towards me was intent. Focused.
Me in my pajamas and wild, unkempt hair, padding down in my socks each morning, looking for my caffeine fix. Soon it became a double fix – caffeine and him.
The crazy week where my mother was jerked in and out of the hospital – where I flew back home after several exhausting days, only to turn around and fly right back up north – he unexpectedly took my hands in his and said a prayer for her. I suspected he wanted an excuse to hold my hands, but regardless, I felt so loved and nurtured and healed. I’d been feeling frazzled and depressed. Suddenly I felt full of light and happiness.
He seemed special, different. I began feeling connected in that other-worldly kind of way. But was it just me?
The next time I saw him, days later, I shared how powerful that simple gesture of kindness had felt. Somehow while I was sharing my thoughts, we ended up holding hands again. Then nobody was talking, and we still were holding hands. I let them go, of course, always the proper one despite circumstance.
He came around from behind the counter, a magnetic force between us – not sexual, not not sexual, just a magnetic force connecting two beings. I felt his desire to be near me, to hold me close.
I put out an energetic barrier, because I do that kind of thing – even when I don’t want to. Habit. Propriety. Things are supposed to follow a certain code. I grew up orthodox. Who fucking knows.
We talked. I told him I was going back home that day. He asked me what my plans were. I told him I was going to catch up on work. He asked again about my plans, in a couple of different ways. Suddenly I realized he was trying to find out what I was doing before leaving – that he wanted to see me. Oh. Oh!
I asked him when he got off his shift. He said 1:30 pm. I told him I’d be back before then. We hugged. I came back at 12:30 pm. There was a long line for coffee. He looked at me, eyes panicked. I told him my room number and asked him to call when he was free. I wondered if he would.
“Hi, this is Allen,” he said. “Hi, this is Loolwa,” I replied. We laughed. I told him I needed to pick up some stuff for my mom at 2 pm and asked if he wanted to come. He said yes. That meant he was going to wait for me half an hour. I liked that. We hung up.
I went downstairs at 2 pm, left my bags in the lounge area, and looked. The café was dark; he was nowhere to be found. Jaded, resilient, and simply grateful for the blessings in life, I shrugged off my disappointment and went to pick up my bags. That’s when what I mistook for a kid in a hoodie, sitting at the computer in the lounge, turned around and called my name.
Him. Out of business clothes, suddenly looking young. Oh my, what have I done. Is he even out of high school yet? Anxiously scanning the face of the 20-something woman behind the counter, comparing it to his. Physical features are so similar between high school and college. The jury is out. He’s probably just in his very early twenties, I tell myself. He wouldn’t have this job if he were in high school. But is he?
We leave, awkwardly. He helps me with my bags. I feel very self-conscious. The older woman behind the counter – mother of the younger woman behind the counter – looks.
It is pouring rain. We are wet by the time the bags are in the car. I gun up the Mustang engine, and we drive towards the health food co-op. I have a kid in my car. What am I doing with a kid in my car.
We talk. He wants to go back to school, to become an auto-mechanic. He’s worked as an auto-mechanic before. He likes completing a job and making a customer happy. His favorite cars are Mustangs and Hondas. I have a Honda at home.
I get the impression he graduated high school at least a few years earlier. I relax. A little. I notice that he is comfortable. Bold. Willing. This cannot happen. I look at him. He doesn’t give a shit about my age. Why do I care about his, if he’s college age. This can happen.
We’re in the co-op. The world of holistic healing. My home turf. He seems out of place. What am I doing here with him. Before the phone call, it had occurred to me I should let things just be, not take it out of the café where it was magic. I definitely should have let things just be.
We begin eating and talking. Things do not feel as awkward. I relax. We talk about religion. He’s Catholic. I’m Jewish. He asks if I believe in reincarnation. I say yes. “So do you think we knew each other in a past life, and that’s why we’re so connected?”
Past life talk usually sounds hokey to me. This sounds bold: “That’s why we’re so connected.” Statement of fact, not question, not “That’s why I feel so connected.” I am enchanted. My body sighs relief. This is real; the experience is mutual. I am back in café mode with him. “Could be,” I reply.
He tells me that the first day I came into the cafe, he saw an aura of light all around me. He gestures his hands in a big circle. We talk about energy. He once read about water making it easier to move matter with energy. He then sat by a river and attempted to move matter. I tell the story of how my mother used to move bowling balls using only her mind.
I share that I follow my heart. He shares that he lives by intuition. I want to see him longer. I ask if he wants to come and meet my mom. He tells me he has a friend near there, and I can drop him off after. He goes to the bathroom, comes back, and stands behind me, massaging my shoulders. He is bold.
We leave, holding hands as we run in the pouring rain to my car. We are driving down the street. He turns to face me and says he wants to kiss me, but he’s been sick and would hate himself if he got me sick on top of everything else I was dealing with. He wants to kiss me. I feel hot inside.
I am struck by how present he is.
Down the block, he puts his hand on my thigh. It creeps up as I cruise down the freeway. I tell him he can keep it there at his own risk, being that I’m behind the wheel. He says he’ll take his chances.
We arrive at the nursing facility and park in the back. It is raining so hard we can barely see out the window. I turn off the engine. “Tell me something,” I say, just to be sure, “are you legal?” He laughs. “Barely. I’m 20.” Works for me.
His skin against mine, my hand in his hair, the curve of his back, our eyes interlocking. I’ve never felt so connected with anyone/I’ve never wanted a woman so much/You are so beautiful. Not his words, not his beauty, but something intangible. I feel totally safe, trusting, connected. My entire being opens as it has with just three men over two decades.
He keeps asking me what I’m thinking. I think I’m an open book. He says he can’t read my expression. I am surprised. I am also anxious. I am here to take care of my mother. But this feels so amazing. But I’m here to take care of my mother. But it’s raining. Hard.
Eventually we go inside, and I introduce him. On the way out, he promises to visit her. I park in front of his friend’s house. We hug. He says he’s won because he hugged me longer. I only had let go because his fingers were digging into my shoulder, causing me pain. I don’t tell him that.
Story continues with “Angel in My Life: Texting”