In the second essay of my Ode to Self-Care series, I paused the direction of the piece, and vowed to delve more into detail about the story at another time. Today is the day. Before I begin, I should give a brief synopsis:
A week before her permanent move out of state, I gave Fly Light Skin-who I will now refer to as Jasmine-a call. I proposed we went out to eat, perhaps to the Royal Coach Diner on the corner of Boston and Gun Hill Roads in the Bronx, one last time. We agreed to do so over the weekend.
I saw Jasmine a couple of times in the Spring of 2018. The first time, we chatted for hours and the second, she asked if I could help wrap up and move around her heavier furniture. The second time we met, we went out to eat as a token of appreciation for my assistance. We were years removed from our frequent meetups; but still knew my way around the Bronx and joked how impressed I was to remember any of it. Jasmine then gave me a brand-new shortcut I was unaware of, only to quip she learned this specific backstreet route from me in 2015.
The day before what would become our last evening in the Bronx, Jasmine suggested we go to a movie beforehand. It was Ramadan and she had to wait until sunset to break her fast. I suggested we see Avengers because it was a three-hour film. Instead of the Royal Coach, we planned to go to Ridge Hill Mall in Yonkers.
I picked Jasmine up on time-she often fussed about my punctuality-and we headed north on the Hutchinson River Parkway towards Westchester County.
On the drive, I had flashbacks to three years prior. Memorial Day, 2015 was our first trip to Ridge Hill. I played hooky from my life and pretended to work on a holiday (I worked for the New York’s utility company, so it made sense). Jasmine asked if she could control the music we listened to en route to our destination.
It is one thing to ask a person of interest “What would you like to listen to?” and grant permission to be the car DJ. It is a serious position in which the wrong selection could mean indefinite suspension. If you let a young lady-or man-do so, it says something about her status, especially if they use your phone.
Jasmine opted for Rihanna’s album, Loud, played it at a level best described by its title, and sang along with each song. She redeemed her privileges on the way back with UGK and T.I.’s debut, I’m Serious.
My second memory was an evening maybe a week after the first to Ridge Hill. We were headed to dinner and a movie. Jasmine asked me to pass the aux cord. The soundtrack for our ride was Teedra Moses’ debut album, Complex Simplicity. She let the first two songs play, then skipped to the one I know to be every woman’s favorite tack, “Backstroke,” then skipped to “Rescue Me.” The vibe to the song fit the night perfectly.
My recollection of the “Rescue Me” moment happened after I asked Jasmine “What is the exit number for Ridge Hill?”
“I don’t remember” she said, then continued “I haven’t been up there since whenever was the last time we went.” She pulled out her phone to find our location on the map and informed me we were nearby. As I recognized where I was and changed lanes, I realized trips to Ridge Hill was our thing. She lived 20 minutes away from the mall, so I assumed it was a place she’d visited to, from time to time; I know there were other dates with other men over the course of three years. I can’t help but laugh at myself as I’m certain many of you are as well. I was a fucking idiot, oblivious to all the obvious signals and signs, simply being a stupid guy.
Happenstance or not, the 2018 experience trip was a drive through memory
parkway lane. If this was the last time we were supposed to hang out before we parted ways, it was an indirect way to say how I felt without words. We were friends. Friends who spent almost every Sunday afternoon with each other, sometimes with my daughter, for eight months. As my father told me in December of 2015, “Eight months is a long time [for a woman].”
I liked Jasmine, more than I wanted to admit to her and myself. I felt conflicted because in my gut, I knew she wasn’t the one; I cannot and will speak for her, but I think she would agree. Nonetheless, I enjoyed her company. Even if I kept a wall up to not let her in, there was a level of comfort I had with her I had not allowed myself to have with anyone in a long time, perhaps ever since.
To my future wife and girlfriends, you have absolutely nothing to worry about…this is a reflective piece and the feelings have subsided. We have not spoken in a long time. If we were to, it would be cordial because we were friends most of the time. This is an acknowledgement of lessons and self-inventory about who I was, am, and want to be. Thank you and do not bring this up in any arguments we will have because you and I both know you still have those guys you are still cool with and think I do not know. If or when this subject comes up in said argument, please refer to this paragraph. Love, Chad.
As Jasmine and I talked and waited for our table, I let her in a little. I told her an argument between the two of us was what prompted my trip to Virginia in 2015, my first and only attempt to far to visit Timile’s grave. With a surprised laugh, she said “We had a fight?!” I chuckled and replied “Yes.” It was my way to tell her how significant it was our paths crossed and her significance without crossing a boundary set in place years ago.
I later alluded to a time the two of us “went on a date.” It was apparent this was still a sore spot for Jasmine by her response. Once again, all I can do is chuckle at myself for being a dumb guy.
As far as I am concerned, Complex Simplicity ends after the seventh track. It is rare I make it to “Take Me” which featured Raphael Saddiq because I will run back “Rescue Me” a few times and move on because of the time attached to it. Hence the reason Spotify placed it on My Summer Rewind playlist.
Come to think of it, Complex Simplicity was the best way to describe the dynamic between Jasmine and me.
I first wrote about this song in an essay entitled “My Life in 100 Songs: “Rescue Me” on June 10, 2015. It revolved around the night of the second trip to Ridge Hill and the gospel rap group my former college roommate, Devin formed, I produced for and managed. If felt weird to reread because life has changed for almost everyone I referred to in it. I recognized “Rescue Me” because it was the sample in one of their songs.
It was towards the genesis of my time with Jasmine, who now lives thousands of miles from New York.
Devin’s life has changed. It isn’t my place to tell his story. However, we can tell you all about it on his podcast, The Brodies.
A month after the post, my good brother, Donnell Tyler passed away.