Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 21: The Great Adventure at Wawa (30 Days of Days)

Day 21:  The Day I Met My Most Recent Love/Last Love (originally--Day I Met My Best Friend)

References:  Does Venus Rule The Sun? | Deceptors and Reflectors | Dear Soul Mate (winks) | Farewell 2011 | Soul Cleanse 19-Embracing the Stillness

It’s strange how someone can be so close and yet for many years, never interact with each other.  It’s also interesting how you can hear about someone, yet not really know the person.

I know it sounds like I’m speaking in riddles, but it will make sense.

Before I speak on September 2009, a bit of a prelude:

After my last relationship ended in 2008, I had to admit a relationship was the last thing I wanted to be in.  The one that had just ended was about five and a half years.  I was emotionally exhausted, mentally drained, physically tired, and spiritually spent.  I had to get to this place to realize I really needed to focus on me.  I took a look at myself and realized I had traveled far away from the person I used to be, and I didn't like it one bit.

I changed the pattern of feeling as if I had to be with someone. 

Besides, the way my work schedule was, I didn't really have the time to focus on being in a relationship; heck, I barely had time for me.

Rewinding even further....

When I first moved to NJ in 2003, I lived in the Hightstown/East Windsor area.  I really liked it.  Everything was nearby---grocery store, drug store, eating places, movie theater, like within walking distance.  That was helpful because I didn't have a car, but I didn't want to always depend on M to take me everywhere.  Also, there was no really reliable public transportation in the area, except for a taxi and those can get expensive in a hurry.

Around late 2005, early 2006, I met up with this gentleman named Shelton.  He was working at the local Target, where I had worked at when I first moved to NJ before getting offered the chance to work in the food industry in 2005.  I remember it had to be around 2005, early 2006 at the latest was because I had Miracle (the white car), but I hadn't had her for that long.  Miracle will always be my favorite ride, even though Hazlenut (the car I’m in now) runs a close second.

He really liked the bumper sticker I had on the back of it, which read, “If you think Education is Expensive, try Ignorance.”  Each time he saw me at Target, he made a point to speak to me.  Shelton was a man of intellect and liked to speak about those types of things.  I don’t think he and I ever had light conversations, and every once in a while, he could get a bit intense.

In addition to working at Target, he sold Nubian Heritage products, incense, perfumes, purses, and DVD’s.  I would buy some of the things from time to time as well.  He said he had a partner he worked with who was very good at selling the perfumes and purses.  Shelton said he had a way with convincing the females to buy that he didn't, so he would let him have at it.

I found out along the way that Shelton had developed a crush on me.  At that time, I was still in a relationship, which hadn't started hitting a major decline yet.  I did let Shelton know up front about it; he understood, although he didn't like it, but agreed that we could continue to be friends.  As my relationship with M started to become sour, I wanted to confide in him, but since he had revealed to me that he liked me in other ways, I didn't want to raise his hopes up.  I got so caught up in being there for M and dealing with the increased hours at the job that I saw Shelton less and less.

By the time he and I got a chance to really reconnect, my relationship with M was over.  I had taken on greater responsibility at the job, which further consumed any time I had for myself. 

Also, because of the complexity of the living situation, I had to relocate about twenty minutes out to the Trenton area. 

True, I was on a pretty decent block.  True, it was significantly cheaper than what I would have paid in Hightstown.  True, there was a better transportation system out there. 

But it’s not the type of place where I felt comfortable in walking around the corner to just grab something, like I was back in Hightstown.  I missed having that type of freedom. 

I had to adjust to the downgrade—from renting out a house (I loved the feel of being in a house) to being in the whole upstairs of a house. 

Plus, I had to adjust to the commute, going from being five minutes from the job to twenty minutes from the job.  It wasn't so bad if I was just working mornings or just evenings, but days when I would have to do a double shift, there were times I just didn't feel like driving that extra 20 minutes, especially if I had to turn around and come back that morning. 

A few times, I just said “Screw it”, blew up the air mattress and slept in the office or the back of the store. 

Yes it was that serious.

Shelton had gone through some changes as well.  He had gotten fired from Target, but he and his business partner had been working at Six Flags (deemed Great Adventure over in NJ).  However, he and his partner were looking for work once the season was over with.  I did mention to Shelton that I was a bit short staffed where I worked at—that I could use a driver, customer service representative, or both.  It wasn't Shelton’s cup of tea, but he said he would pass it on to his business partner.

On nights when I would have to do inventory, I would give Shelton a call.  It helped to have someone to talk to, since my energy could start getting sluggish towards the evening. 

On one particular night when I called, someone else picked up the phone.  I was thrown off and said, “Oh, I must have dialed the wrong number.”

“You’re calling for Shelton?” the guy asked.

I guess I must have had the right number if he knew who I was asking for.

“Well, yes, who are you?”

“I’m his business partner.”

“Oh, so you’re the guy?”

“And you must be the one he refers to as Queen.”

I had no idea Shelton had referred to me as that.

“Well, I didn't know that…”

I heard Shelton ask his business partner in the background, “Who’s on the phone?” When his partner told him, I heard him say, “Give me the phone.”

Shelton and I proceeded with our conversation.

During my talks with his business partner, I discovered that he lived a couple of houses down from where I used to live in Hightstown.  It always baffled me why in the five years I had lived there had I not seen him. 

However, over time, the partner became the one who would normally answer the phone.  He would just start talking to me, and there were certain aspects of me I could talk about with him that I couldn’t talk about with Shelton because he wasn’t open minded in that way.  I respected that and never forced the issue with Shelton. 

Before long, it seemed I was talking on the phone more with Shelton’s partner than with Shelton.

Sometimes, by the time Shelton finally got the phone, he and I had already been talking for well over an hour.  

There were a couple of instances where he and I got so involved in our conversation that I would hang up the phone and a conversation with Shelton never took place.

September 2009

During one conversation, Shelton’s partner inquired about the opening I had.  I told him he could work on the inside, since he didn't have a car.  He said he was interested and wanted to fill out an application.  He also mentioned that he wanted to meet me in person.

In all the moments he and I had been talking, meeting in person had never come up.  Usually, after I wrap up inventory, I’m exhausted and want to go back to the apartment.  This time around, I didn't feel tired.  I stepped out of my normal routine and was like, “Sure, why not?”

He asked me if I was serious, and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll meet you at the Wawa in about twenty minutes.”

He did mention to me that he was tall, but I just didn't fully gauge how tall.  He was about 6’4”, maybe 6’5”.  He mentioned he was half black, but I didn't really see it.  I did see that he was of Hispanic descent.  Yet, Shelton never really mentioned this when he had spoken about him. 

I was just still in awe of his height.  He just didn't look how I had pictured him...not bad, just different.

“Something wrong?”

“No, you’re just tall.”

“Well, I told you I was tall.”

A couple of minutes after he and I were talking, Shelton and the rest of the night crew arrived.  Apparently it was lunch time for everyone.  Shelton was pretty happy to see me and did something he had never done in the entire time he and I had been friends. 

He gave me a hug, which I didn't mind, but the hug seemed almost a bit too long as if he was mainly doing it for his partner’s benefit.  The dynamic between Shelton and his partner reminded me of Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple.  At times, they got on each other’s nerves, but you could tell they meshed well together.

Who knew that meeting at Wawa would change our lives?

Day 21, that's a wrap!