A girl in New York City | Cheyenne Noelle, 2017

How Meeting One Person Can Completely Change Everything

This morning I visited a new bagel shop in Upper Montclair called Sunrise Bagels. I got a Spanish omelet in a bagel with pulp-filled OJ. Orange juice with pulp is the best.

Now I am in Crazy Mocha, my favorite coffee shop here in Montclair. It’s officially become my place of zen — and for quite a few reasons.

This is where I met her.

I shouldn’t have even met her that day. I was originally in another spot that was super lame — the whole vibe in there just wasn’t with it. I felt pressured to — I don’t know — not relax. I hated it, so I up and left not even 15 minutes into my stay.

After leaving, I chose to walk down Bloomfield Avenue for a little bit, the cold whipping at my face; my skin wasn’t used to Jersey’s autumn wind chills. I walked into Crazy Mocha only after practically running past the coffee shop by accident. The sign outside made my head think. I entered with an open mind, like I always do during my first visits in new spots to enjoy. I am a writer and writers love coffee shops— this setting is our “playground” to work after all.

I chose a seat towards the front of the store near the door, in one of the leather chairs occupying the common area. I opened my laptop right away to begin typing, already feeling a lot less tension from the last café. I felt almost right at home. I just needed one more thing… and that was my daily tea! I looked up the other side of the shop to place my order, noticing the human behind the counter in the process.

Immediately, I was intrigued.

Her skin was like toffee, those sweet little pieces of candy bundled perfectly in the clear wrapping that I adored as a kid. I don’t know how else to describe the color other than maybe the deepest of caramels — her skin seemed so clear and soft from far away. Her hair was as black as a raven’s, cut short into a mens cut like mine used to be. It was curly and thick, indicative of what I would later discover is her Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage.

I found my feet moving me towards the cash register. My eyes rested on her while she standed there lost in her own world of work, sporting a fitted tee and hoodie.

“Hi there,” I said, my tone one part confident, two parts anxious.

After a long pause, she looked up to face me.

There was a delayed reaction .

At first, I could see her eyes glazing over — y’know, the look every barista gives new customers before the people actually relay their long, complicated order. A few moments passed and I see her eyes brighten, widening slightly with newfound interest. I could feel her my mind registering my face, analyzing and processing the sight in front of her.

“Hi,” she replied softly. I grandly grinned in response like a complete weirdo.

“Can I just have a cup of hot water?” I asked nervously.

I don’t know why I felt so nervous. I was so caught off guard. She looked so damn good behind the counter. The woman gave me a small smile out of the corner of get mouth and nodded slightly, taking a cup from the stack. I smiled back and thanked her, deciding to walk back to my laptop.

Shortly thereafter, I think I got bored with my computer. I opened my laptop bag and dug around for my book. I had borrowed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer from my roommate, Chris , recently — what a gem of a read. I’ve been meaning to read this book for years and the timing has never felt more right.

Lost in my own bubble, I engulfed myself in the first few pages. I had just gotten to the part where Jim Gallien dropped Christopher McCandless off in “the icy summits of the highest mountain range in North America” when she came over and plopped herself down right next to me.

“What are you reading?” I heard her voice filling my ear.

I looked up from Krakauer; her face was filled with such a burning honest curiosity. I showed her the book and explained the plot. We shot back and forth with each other, asking questions. Eventually we realized we had just moved to Montclair three days prior to meeting.

“No way, on Friday?” I asked, my eyebrows rising in shock. “Like… forreal?!”

She threw her head back and laughed yes. It was then I somehow tumbled down the rabbit hole.

A few days later, I was kissing her in the Crosby.

Her arm was wrapped around my shoulders. Two Moscow Mules, one round of green tea shots and another of lemon drops later, I felt her soft, brown lips on my neck. She smelled so fucking good.

We were in this new hot bar in Montclair. The design layout of the entire bar was absolutely gorgeous — a fireplace burning cozily on the side, bulbous light fixtures, wood and stone creating this contemporary, yet very intimate, environment for its patrons. I felt sexy in that bar, even though I was dressed like a hobo in a sweater. I should have been wearing the makeup like a normal adult. The coffee shop girl noticed, but didn’t seem to care. If anything, she said I didn’t need it.

I listened to her talk.

In my slightly drunken state, I watched her lips move as she smiled widely. Her eyelids would flutter down gently when she did, simultaneously creating a smile of pure happiness. She made the kind of face that only I had the luxury of witnessing, despite the fact we were in a public bar.

It was in moments like that, I realized the finer details. That miniscule period of time — one of ecstasy as she smiled wildly and unabashedly — just solidified her beauty. She spoke and I nodded in agreement, but I didn’t actually know what the hell she was saying. She had that killer smile and personality, paired with impeccable fashion taste. She dressed fresher than many men I knew, and her modest, humble confidence was intoxicating.

By the end of it all, I was feeling some type of way.

To be honest, I am pretty damn scared to feel this way for another woman. The last girl I involved myself with on an emotional level was nearly a decade ago. That girl was the first person I ever loved. That girl devoured my soul and spit it back up for me to make sense of the mess left behind. I did the same thing to her, even arguably more so. We just destroyed one another with toxicity. Even though we tried our best to love each other, we did not know how to handle a healthy relationship. The feelings were too heavy; we were not mature at all.

Quite frankly, I am nervous. Girls scare the fuck out of me.

I’m also uncomfortable with coming out… again.

I “came out” when I was 18 back when North Carolina was legalizing same-sex marriage. It was a confusing time for our state. Some people hated it, other were brimming with joy. At the time, I was living with a rather conservative Christian family the latter half of my senior year of high school. While they were great, I feel like I remember them knowing I was a bit different. Oh, well.

Since then, people really haven’t seen me involve myself with women. Sometimes I get a yearning for a woman’s essence once in awhile, but it’s very much come-and-go — normally, women only exist in the form of sexual desire for me. That is not how I feel with this one girl in Montclair, and I think that’s what scares the living shit out of me.

How do I even address this?

Now that I am in Montclair, I can be whoever I want to be without worrying about people’s opinions of me. I guess I can do that anywhere, but being in a new town feels a lot less intimidating. I’m pretty new to this area. Everything feels like slate nowadays. I have opened my mind to so many different things already. First off, I went with my Latin friend to church.

I haven’t done that in five years.

I’ve also been filling my ears with new music to expand my palette, genres that used to bore me. These new genres include jazz, lo-fi hiphop, funk, and blues. I have always loved rock and Americana, but I haven’t really explored other traditional American music much. This new appreciation came from being at Relix, last month, the ultimate jamband magazine.

One of my friends in Florida said I should be confident with how I feel with these new developments, but I am so not. I feel vulnerable and slightly uncomfortable. I’m definitely experiencing new things I have no idea how in the world to deal with, to be frank. The move from North Carolina to New Jersey has been eye-opening. I love my stay in Montclair so far.

It’s a lot easier to reinvent yourself when nobody places expectations on you.

I have realized a few truths since I had moved. For one, don’t be pressured to act a certain way, or feel a certain way, around certain people. Be free to be whoever you want. Be free to change. Secondly, life is a journey, not a destination — more so, life is fluid. There is nothing stagnant about experience, as we are always evolving and always changing.

As they days pass by, I will continue to mold myself. Eventually, I will take on a more easily deciphered shape and role from this current blob of uncertainty. I have no idea what the final model will look like, but that’s part of the fun anyway.

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