Saturday, January 8, 2011

It Must Be

As salaam alaikum,

{Currently Listening: Deve Ser - Jorge Vercillo}

I fell in love with B today.

It is a cautious thing, and it took me now three months in to feel it, but I did.

We were sitting at IHop this morning and had been there for about an hour after we finished eating, talking about everything and anything. I started talking about my brother, who has autism, and how the public schools really screwed him over in terms of his education, and how much more he could have been doing if they had actually been educators.

This was on the topic of him talking about how his brother is the one in his family who has the least education. His brother has a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering. I teased him for his super stringent Nigerian standard. When he talked about his brother and he talked about his brother kind of not doing it big in college, I assumed his brother didn't graduate. He got a degree in mechanical engineering! You can actually work off of that! Whatever, man!

Anyway, that's when I started talking about how, when my family went to visit a family friend of ours, a reverend and his wife, and they were talking about how their second youngest son was a JD and working for a law firm (after I had to present myself...I felt like an overgrown, under-dressed debutante), I could tell my parents felt a twinge as they looked over to my brother, who was falling asleep on the couch.

My brother doesn't quite know how to act, manners-wise, when we go in public and invited places, simply because for years, we wouldn't take him out.

So, I was talking about my aspirations for my brother's education. And this is something I'm passionate about. I admitted that my parents were helping me out for medical school, but once I was done with medical school, I just hoped they would pour tons of money into my brother's education. I admitted that my parents at this point were more interested in my brother being happy and healthy and weren't so much concerned about him fulfilling an education, the standard measure of success in this country.

But for me, it's not even about success, I explained to B. For me, it was about keeping his mind stimulated, growing, him reaching his maximum potential and doing things that he perhaps didn't otherwise imagine himself doing. For me, it's also important that he interacts with other young men, role models for behavior in public, not only as a male and age-appropriate, but just general mannerisms for him to carry himself. I'm especially concerned about that with him being a black man in this society.

And B agreed with me.

I then said, "I was thinking about my brother's education..."

And then he said, "Yeah, so was I."

And then I stopped. I didn't expect him to say that! We'd been talking all this time, and that's not what I expected him to say. He then went on to say that he didn't see why my brother couldn't do some college, in the future.

And I just started bawling! I cried, but it was like an explosive cry and he didn't quite know what to do, haha! I wasn't expecting it, either. My bottom lip trembled, I put my head down and cried for about five seconds before wiping my eyes and apologizing, really touched because...he was thinking about my brother's education.

I can't share this with my mother...because it will only come off as presumptuous and a poor start to their potential relationship as mother-and-son-in-law. But it was really touching to me that he was thinking about my brother's education.

Truthfully, I don't talk about my brother a whole lot and he doesn't know the degree of his handicap. My brother's pretty high functioning, but he still would need a ton of remediation before college was possible. I see where my parents are coming from in wanting him to be happy, but I think a part of his health will come from academic and social stimulation and a sense of purpose. To my parents, who have been with my brother more than I have (though I was once closest to him), these are just lofty ideals that do not jive with the reality of the day-to-day life.

I could have taken it a different way. I could have reflected that B's thinking about my brother's education was an affront, him being naive, because he doesn't know my brother from Adam at this point.

But I didn't take it that way. I took it like...not even my brother's educators took an interest in the education of my brother. B is a future educator himself...he wants to be a professor. That he can care in this way about my brother without having met him...that was really touching to me. Surprising to me...I was left speechless.

B probably has little idea. He's probably at home, eating his first attempt at vegetable soup over his physics equations or working out in the gym, absently thinking of me in intervals as he says he does but otherwise focused.

He has little idea that I fell in love with him, right then.

Our Saturday was nice. We had breakfast and then went to the Tropical grocery in Roxbury where they sell Dominican, Haitian and African foods, along with some Asian and a small halal selection. They had real yams, not the sweet potatoes Americans think are yams. They were also playing old soul music. I fell in love with the store, too. But more as I watched him collect the ingredients for his vegetable soup, the recipe he had on his droid, I was falling in love with him.

I excitedly called my father and told him I'd found a store in Boston with bitter leaf, stock fish and yams, and I wish I had taken him here while I was in Boston. Even before this moment, I realized that B was the best fit for me in my life. One reason is because of how freely I can talk about him to both of my parents, but especially my father.

And then, he expressed interest in my brother and his education? He's not scared away by the fact that I will be caring for my brother someday? Adorei!

We approach this thing tentatively, the both of us. We still act as if we're just a fleeting friendship and that our lives will go on in separate ways soon enough. He doesn't want to jinx it, and I am protective of my heart these days. One day, we'll talk religion in a way that we'll need to for this to go forward. But he became one of my best friends today, and I love him for it. And that's all I can say.

Now, off to listen to "Deve Ser" a couple more times...

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