You never know what you're going to get on the streets of Harlem, especially on a Saturday morning before night has turned into day. Revelers head home after an evening of dance and debauchery with old friends, new acquaintances make there way to dimly lit rooms where they will exchange Hennessey flavored kisses, unbutton shirts rife with tinges of smoke and YSL and devour each other with thrust and groans, arched backs, curled toes and beads of sweat that make a trail down the spine. Oh yes, this is Harlem on a Saturday morning before the sun's arrival. I know, I have been a participant, but this morning I will settle for merely being a voyeur. Make no mistake, it aint all sexy, this is still Harlem, and on early mornings like this one you find folks making there way work - relief for the third shift, doe boys on the corner jockeying for customer and those without homes making refuge in coveys of store fronts and bank vestibules happy for Harlem's brand of peace and quiet. I am on the other hand performing a ritual different from both groups, making my way to catch a bus bound for Washington DC to see someone - a friend certainly - a lover possibly. We had met during a literary exchange on James Baldwin and have been exchanging courtesies via late night phone calls and midday emails ever since. I met eyes with the others on the street that early morning as I made my way to the train. They were just as curious about my early morning plight - urban boy carrying an overnight bag and wearing a Colgate smile - as I was of theirs. On the train I had nagging feeling that I had left something behind - yep I thought - toothpaste and a toothbrush. No worries though, this was easy enough to replace. The train was quiet, half full, and even though there was no commotion going on, you could feel energy at rest humming through the train car. Getting off the train my mind became peopled with thousands of thoughts.
I boarded the bus. My excitement weaned and was replaced by sleepiness, I knew then that skimming the pages of GQ wouldn't be enough to keep me from curling up into a crescent and placing my nocturne head on the window for a 4 hour nap. My sleeping was met with a platitude of teeth sucking and heavy sighs - I snore and find no necessity to apologize for those things that are beyond my control, so these expressions of distain did nothing more than encourage me to rest my eyes a bit. When I arrived in DC I made a mad dash to Starbucks to make use of the facilities, my bladder thanked me. After handling my business, I sent him a message letting him know that I had arrived in one piece. It was a miracle that I wasn't shanked on the bus. He was still in route. Not a big concern for me. I ordered coffee and made small talk with this Asian kid about sneakers. I was really excited once he arrived. We hadn't really made plans and check in at the hotel wasn't until 3. We did a little walking. A little talking. He seemed really tired, which was cool, but at the same time not so much, it makes it hard to wade out whether this tiredness is self-induced out of non-interest or the real deal. We had lunch which provided for a boost from the previous hum-drum. He was beginning to liven up a little bit. Once I checked in we went up to the room and talked and laughed and played. This was more like the guy I had come to know. We both needed a nap. So we slept. It was nice. He lay next to me in his boxer briefs and t-shirt. I was a taste more conservative in sweats and a t-shirt. This seemed so foreign, but at the same time very domestic - safe, at home.
We went out for dinner, and as we waited it became quite apparent that he was the "touchy feely" type. We had discussed, but I'm not sure how one really prepares for that. PDA is really not my thing. So when I suggested he stop, I felt his disappointment. I felt bad, but at the same time I didn't have ill intent and it made me feel uncomfortable. I could see that he was sensitive. If previous relationships had taught me anything, it was that I usually didn't fair all that well with guys or girls that required this kind of attention. I made a mental note. I knew this needed to be addressed. I had requested Busboys and Poets as everyone I knew in DC had made mention of it at least once. It was cool… the service horrible, but cool nonetheless. We walked back to the hotel. I stopped to get a toothbrush. It was nice. Nice to talk to a guy with a good head on his shoulders that showed consideration. He was really nice, smart and attractive I thought. Once we got back to the hotel, I felt my Scorpio nature rise within me. He indulged me, but was tired. I order dessert while he slept. The following morning eager to pick up where I left off, I felt a little let down as I felt that the goal was to please me and nothing else. We headed out and grabbed brunch in Adam's Morgan. He insisted on carrying my bag, I insisted I could take care of it myself. I like a gentleman, but I'm capable. I'm not looking for every door to be held open for me. I wasn't due to leave until seven, so after brunch we went for coffee and hashed out some things. I had a chance to meet his best friend. She was charming and called things as she saw them. I so appreciate that. Before I came to DC there was certainty. At this point I'm left with a lot of questions, some that I need to explore alone, others I need to explore with him. I arrived home after midnight. I was exhausted. And as I walked down that same block in Harlem that I had done many hour before I smiled to myself knowing that whatever happens this was a no lose situation.