Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ghost of Christmas Past

The best kiss I’ve ever had was in the empty parking lot of a Japanese restaurant. I was back home in Charlotte for Christmas and this was the third night in a row I had met up with JC, an old acquaintance from high school. You may remember JC from my post “Welcome to My African American Home.

The first night we met up I was nervous. Not because I had a crush on JC, but because I thought we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Of course this fear was ridiculous because

1. Who is a social butterfly?

2. We had also been texting and occasionally talking on the phone for hours at a time over the past 2 years.

That night was unseasonably warm for December, even in North Carolina. It was so warm that I was able to wear a short black dress with knee high boots and no stockings. After dinner, I sat in my car with the driver’s side door open, bare legs facing JC in the parking lot. We talked a little more about nothing in particular, like people do when they don’t want the night to end. Suddenly the floodlight illuminating the parking lot went out and surrounded us in darkness.

I guess that’s our cue to go home,” JC said, opening his arms, inviting a hug.

I scooted to the edge of the leather seat, adjusting my dress so I didn’t show off my goodies. Goodies meaning granny panties, which I am not ashamed to say I wear. They are comfortable, affordable and last longer than the overpriced lace held together by post-it note glue that’s for sale at Victoria’s Secret.

JC moved towards me and enveloped me in a huge bear hug. I immediately thought to myself, When I back away from this hug, I’m going to kiss him on the cheek.

But he beat me to it.

Right before we pulled apart, JC turned his head toward mine and softly kissed me. He stopped and lingered at my lips for a moment, literally causing me to lose my breath.

I hope that wasn’t inappropriate,” he apologized. “I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”

My flight back to Chicago was in the morning.

It wasn’t inappropriate,” I said lowering my gaze to the asphalt beneath his wheelchair.

And sorry if it was bad, I’m also out of practice.” He laughed nervously.

His hand rested on the metal rim of his chair, and I noticed the moonlight shining off of it. Without making eye contact I said, “You could kiss me again. You know, for practice.

At this moment, JC slowly reached out his hand and cupped my chin. He brought my face up to his, leaned in and parted my lips with his own. I think this is what old people mean when they say, “I felt my love come down.

I promise ya’ll it was like I had bit into a York peppermint pattie and was instantly transported into a shampoo commercial.  As he kissed me, a light breeze wafted the scent of Herbal Essences in a cloud around us. In my head I started yelling “YES, YES YES!
It was soooooo nice to be kissed. And even more so by someone I actually liked. Who also happened to smell like reasonably priced hair conditioner!
Thanks Santa!

I was so excited that of course I told all my friends about it.

But 8 Months later, in a different parking lot from where we shared our first kiss, I sat alone in my car. My tears splashed onto my Texas toast, making it a soggy mess, while I chanted positive affirmations to myself.

“If he liked it, then he would of put a ring on it.
Don’t be mad. Hopefully, you can grow from it.
You’re a single lady. You’re a single lady." 

To this day, I can no longer eat at the Zaxby’s on Highway 74 because that’s where I went after my heart was broken. The memory is too much for me to even use the bathroom there. That night I held back my tears long enough to order a #5 with Zax sauce at the drive-thru window and then I parked in the back of the restaurant to eat my woes.

I’d like to say I ended up at Zaxby’s because chicken fingers give me clarity, but it was mostly because I was crying so hard that my eyes started stinging and I couldn’t see the road clearly. I also didn’t want to die in a fiery car crash on the same day our friendship forever changed. To add insult to injury, JC told me he would no longer be my plus one at my best friend’s wedding that same weekend.

That was the last night JC and I spoke to each other. He stopped answering my phone calls and he stopped replying to my text messages. After years of friendship and months of dating, typical of an Aquarius, he ghosted me.

Speaking of ghosts, earlier in the relationship, JC and I had planned a trip to México City to experience  Día de Muertos. The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is when families and friends come together to remember their loved ones who have passed. There are elaborate parades and church services, tombs are decorated with colorful flowers and special foods. Ofrendas or alters are arranged with offerings and photos of ancestors.

I was so excited to see it first hand, but I was extremely anxious about the outbound flight to México too. I hadn’t heard anything from JC since the night I was left crying outside of his hockey practice, 3 months prior. When I got to the airport I didn’t see him. He wasn’t at the gate and he wasn’t on the plane.

I didn't know how to feel about him not being there. Should I be mad or should I be relieved? Part of me hoped for reconciliation. To sit next to each other on the plane and talk about any and everything like we used to do as friends. Maybe even get caught up in that Herbal Essences cloud again, heavily kissing under our jackets and banned from flying Delta Airlines after a viral Twitter scandal. 

But even with slight sadness about my travel partner/ex boyfriend abandoning me, my trip to México started off on a high note when I got bumped to first class.

After I settled into my seat, the flight attendant brought me a mimosa and asked if I thought the passenger sitting across the aisle from me was cute.

Good evening, I’m Vonda. I picked you two to come to first class to balance out the plane.” Then Vonda lowered her voice, leaned down and whispered to me, “I also thought you two would make beautiful babies.”

I almost choked on my mimosa
I didn’t see a wedding ring on his finger honey. You should talk to him.” She raised her eyebrows at me before walking away.

To a different person, Vonda’s words may have been seen as unprofessional or too forward, but to me, they were right up my alley. In fact, fowardness was one of the things that made me like JC. On our first date, he said I could have his children.

Sometimes you miss out on what’s in front of you because you’re too busy thinking about what’s behind you. So after Vonda went to service another passenger, I made a big show of taking off my jacket so that I could check out my first class neighbor without being too obvious. I peaked over and saw his face. I can not believe I didn’t notice this guy sooner.

Hot Passenger (as he will now be called) looked like what happens when God takes his time to expertly craft an individual instead of just throwing together a torso and random body parts like most of the men I normally see walking around. 

When Vonda came back with our meals, she stood in the middle of the aisle, between our seats and struck up a conversation with the both of us.

How old are you two and what do you both do for a living? Are you traveling for work or traveling for vacation?

I don’t know if she had a bet with the other flight attendants but she was trying really hard to make a love connection.

At one point she brought us complimentary shots of tequila, because Ayyyyyeee, Viva México! Not gonna lie, I’m kinda surprised she didn’t give me a lime and some salt to lick off of Hot Passenger’s expertly crafted torso.
I'm almost positive that if I had asked Vonda if Hot Passenger and I could join the mile high club, that she would have found a way to arrange it.

When we landed at Benito Juarez International Airport and deplaned, Hot Passenger grinned at me and helped me with my carry on luggage.

I’m going to visit family in Monterrey for a few days. How long are you in México City?” he asked,  handing me my bag.

 I couldn’t help but notice the visible veins on his muscular forearms. They were like a road map to mi corazón.

4 nights and 3 days,” I said while trying not to get lost like Nemo in his dark brown eyes.

He looked up at the flight connections board. “My connecting flight is boarding. Ay dios mío, I have to go.

Oh. Ok. It was nice meeting you.

Hot Passenger grabbed my hand and kissed it. Then he flipped it over and pressed his business card into my palm in one seamless move.

Damn they suave like that out here? Orale? I better be careful before I end up pregnant in some Mexican man’s kitchen, hand-pressing tortillas with his mom and sisters.  

Nos vemos, que te vaya bien morencita!” he yelled as he ran towards his gate.

I waved goodbye and stuffed his business card into my back pocket. Dragging my bags behind me, I stepped outside into the humid night air and ordered an uber to my Hostel.

This was going to be a fun trip. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

My Ex Boyfriend and the Chamber of Secrets

There is a bangin' sandwhich shop in my old neighborhood near Northwestern University called Soulwich. This one time I didn't have that much cash on me, so I lied to the restaurant owner about being a college student to get the discount meal. Whenever I would come in, either him or his wife would always ask me how my classes were going. If friends came with me, the owners wanted to know what their majors were too. It took a lot of thinking on my feet and nudging in the ribs to keep up those discounted meal lies. I eventually told the owner I graduated, but then he wanted to know where I was working. To this day I still feel bad about it because if I had just told him I was low on cash the first day, I'm sure he would have let me pay him back on the next visit. So below is a story about why honesty is the best policy...

I decided I wanted to live in Chicago after watching the movie, What Women Want. I planned a trip to the city for my 21st birthday, had my first (legal) alcoholic beverage at Navy Pier, and then saved up the funds to move by the time I was 24. About a year later my boyfriend who was still living in North Carolina joined me. Girlfriend Achievement Level 10 Unlocked!

The plan was for him to stay with me until he got a job and his own place, mostly because his parents didn’t want us living together without being married.

Spoiler alert, he never got his own place

I had lived alone for a few years already, so living with a boyfriend was a new frontier. I liked inviting friends over to sit at the lakefront, having someone to kill spiders and turn off the lights after I had already crawled into bed. Our living situation was pretty great until his family wanted to come visit.  He sheepishly confessed to me that he hadn’t told his parents we were still living together.

During the time they were going to be visiting I had to go out of town for work and felt like this was the perfect time for him to come clean.

Unbeknownst to me, he didn’t think it was the perfect time

While I was gone, I get a call from my best friend. The BF had begged to borrow her apartment like an episode of TLC’s Wife Swap! He offered to thoroughly clean her apartment and buy her beer in exchange for living at her place while his family was in town. 

“And you just told him yes?” I asked in disbelief.

A lot of apartments in Chicago require you to schedule a time to use the service elevator so that you don’t hold up the regular elevator from tenants. So the BF hired a guy from Craigslist to transport his queen sized bed and whatever other belongings wouldn’t fit into his car up the stairs and into my best friend’s high-rise studio apartment for a week. He was doing the most, but his family was none the wiser when they came to stay.

Over the next few years, his family would forward magazine subscriptions of Eastbay, send birthday cards, and Christmas gifts to my best friends apartment in his name.

In my mind it was only a slight inconvenince that he’d ask me to go pick up his new driver’s license from my bestie’s place. I was headed over there to eat loaded baked potatoes and binge watch Korean dramas anyway.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with his family, because his mom didn’t like me, but the few times we were in the same vicinity, I never felt like it was my place to tell them the truth. It really tugged at my insides though because I felt like I was being hidden. Plus all of my friends and family knew the truth and it pissed them off.

“Does he think you're not good enough for his parents and that’s why he won’t tell them?”

“If he can cultivate that type of lie and keep it going for years, what else is he capable of?”

“He could have a wife and kids on the South side of a Chicago that you don’t know about.”

Honestly I wasn’t worried about him cheating on me. It would be very easy to stalk and kill him if I wanted to. I’m an excellent snooper, and he’s a creature of habit. He wakes up around the same time everyday, works out every Monday and Tuesday morning but only in the evening on Friday, and he farts at approximately 11:45pm every night before turning off Battleground 3 on the Xbox.  If he was creeping, let alone had a whole other family on the Southside of Chicago, I would know about it.

Fast forward 4 years later… I’m 28, he is 32 and we are living in a new 2 bedroom apartment, not far from the old one. He still hasn’t told his family we are living together, and they are coming to visit the next day.

With his cell phone in my left hand and my right hand on my hip, I force him to call them the night before they are scheduled to fly out. “You can not let your family get off that plane at O’hare airport, without telling the truth.”

He dials their number, closes our bedroom door and doesn’t let me hear their conversation.

And trust me, I tried listening at the door but in our apartment you can hear the slightest creak of the hardwood floors. Even ghosts can’t creep up on you, so I retreat to the couch.

When he emerges from the room, I pause Real Housewives of Atlanta on the tv and ask, “How did it go?”

“They were not happy about it, but they were glad I told them the truth.”

The next day I can tell a huge weight has been lifted off his chest. He actually added butter AND jelly to his English muffin and let me watch Scandal from DVR instead of hogging the tv and watching The Rundown on ESPN. I’m so happy we’ve had this emotional break through. Girlfriend Achievement Level 25 Unlocked! Things could only get better from here!

But things only went down hill from here

The BF picks up the parentals from the airport and they do some touristy ish like take pictures at “the bean” and eat deep-dish pizza together. For the record, real Chicagoans only
The Bean, or "Cloud Gate"
eat deep dish when their out of town family and friends come to visit.

I meet up with him and his fam after work and the plan is to go back to our apartment so they can check out where we live.

But things did not go according to plan

The BF and his dad go to the bathroom, leaving his mother and I sitting together in front of Panera Bread on Michigan Avenue. *Sidebar, people that go to new cities and eat at chain restaurants... Ya’ll are trash.

As I’ve explained to you guys in the past, the BF’s mother has never been warm and fuzzy towards me, but I thought I'd try to make the best out of this situation by starting up a friendly conversation with her. Girlfriend Achievement Level 50 Unlocked!!

“I’m so happy that you guys are coming to see the apartment”

“We’re not coming” 

I thought I must be mistaken. “Excuse me? 
What did you say?

“You heard me. We are not going to THE apartment”

Maybe it was in my head, but I swear his mom snarled at me, like a saber tooth tiger ready to tear apart its prey after an intense hunt.

“Why not?”

“We don’t support you living together. So my husband and I decided that we’re not going.”

I notice a vein in her neck twitch. I keep my composure the best I can, not making any sudden moves and talk slowly, as not to aggravate my predator any further.

“It was really hard for the BF to tell you the truth, especially after all this time. I know it would really mean a lot to him if you came to the apartment” Girlfriend Achievement Level 100 Unlocked!

Then she loses the last bit of chill she had left.

“I don’t know how you were raised, but my son was not raised to live in sin...”

I realize the couple at the table next to us has stopped talking and is looking over at us in eavesdropping delight. I’m almost certain this convo is being live tweeted. 

She continues through clenched teeth, “He never wanted to live with you. He wanted to get his own place and he should have. Its just wrong and I won’t discuss it further with you.”

Although I'm aggravated, I remember the couple sitting next to us and don't want to become a twitter meme. I still remain as respectful as I possibly can.

"I never forced him to stay with me. I always encouraged him to tell you the truth, and even suggested he move out if it made him uncomfortable to live together without being married."

She was acting as though I held her son hostage for 5 years, making him rub my feet and pay the rent against his will. He came to live with ME! Its not like I cocked a gun at his head anytime he mentioned moving out.

At this moment the BF and his dad come back from the bathroom. You can feel the tension in the air like an ice cold seat at the Bears stadium in January.

“What are you guys talking about” the BF's dad asks

The BF looks worried. 

“Oh nothing," his mother says. "Are you guys ready to leave?”

By this time the sun has gone down and it's a warm summer night. As we start walking away from Panera Bread down Michigan Avenue, my sandal's strap is digging into my foot. I'm walking next to the BF's Dad while him and his mom walk in front of us. I suggest we take a cab to where ever they want to go next.

The BF's mother whips her head around and says, "Why don't YOU take a cab home and we'll keep walking."

The BF is stunned into silence, standing there with a look of shock on his face. The BF's Dad however,  apologizes for my hurting foot, raises his hand and hails a cab. We all go back to their hotel to drop them off and after the BF says his goodbyes for the evening (I stayed in the cab), we make our way back home to our apartment.

“I’m so sorry they wouldn’t come see the apartment. I know you really wanted them to.  And after all this time, you’re finally honest with them and they don’t even support you. I’m so, so sorry.” Girlfriend Achievement Level 1000 Unlocked!!

I can tell the BF is trying to keep his composure too. Like he is fighting back tears, trying to remain masculine and strong.

As we make a left turn onto Lakeshore Drive, he quietly says, “My mom told me what you said when I left their hotel. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for you [making me tell them we live together]. Why’d you have to bring any of this up?

Girlfriend, GAME OVER!

Today I turn 33 and I share this story because I want my friends and any lovely strangers reading this to do what makes them happy and have no apologies. What we not gon do is pretend to be someone we aren't. When do you get to be the real you? When your parents die? When you reach a certain age or pay grade? 

*Whispers I'm not not a virgin* There I did it. I'm free. I’m not making fun of the Ex BF in this story for his actions. After all he was a young man of 33 when this happened, who am I to judge? Jay-Z didn’t get it together til he was in his 40’s. We live and we learn and it takes some of us longer than others to get there.

I have never been the type of person to lie about who I am or what I want. Ever since I was a child, if I’m tired I’m going to sleep. If I don’t like you, I’m not going to pretend that we’re friends. Its just never appealed to me to be anything other than who I am. It's exhausting to have to keep up the facade. 

I'm living my life for me and my numerology said this year gonna be lit. I’m ready

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Arabian Knights

If French Montana was walking down the street in Marrakesh I would pay him no attention. Not because he's unattractive but because he would blend in. Most of the men we've interacted with in Morroco, remind me of a tall, short, skinny, pudgy or middle aged version of him. 

Additionally, the men in Morroco have been very kind and helpful, but consistently aggressive. Whether they're trying to negotiate business deals or pour mint tea; They have no chill. 
Pouring tea with flair 
For the entire 8 days we toured this captivating country the men basically spit Drake lyrics at us... 

You too fine to be laying down in bed alone 
I can teach you how to speak my language 
Rosetta Stone  

Coming from the United States, where whiteness is "rightness", I must say that it feels extremely nice to be lauded for your beauty as a black person.

Even the manager of one of the hotels we stayed at said we'd easily fetch a one hundred camel dowry. This compliment seems pretty impressive when you don't have anything to compare that unit of measurement to. Are 100 camels better than say, 100 instagram likes? 100 free Uber rides? 101 Dalmatians? For me though, the most impressive part of our trip was our 3 day excursion into the desert.

On the first day we wove our way through the Atlas Mountains and our driver was wildin'. He was dressed like Bruno Mars in a fitted navy blue suit and fedora, but facially he could still pass for French Montana's older brother. He kept passing cars on the two lane mountain roads while speeding around hairpin turns. 

The Atlas Mountains
I wanted to say, "Excuse me, Mr. Bruno Montana? Sir, we are on the side of a mutha fucking mountain," but instead I just put my seat belt on, closed my eyes and prayed for our safe deliverance.  

Ait Ben-Haddou 

We do a guided tour of Ait Ben-Haddou, where Lawrence of Arabia & Game of Thrones were filmed, have a group dinner & spend the night in a hotel. The second day we walk through a Berber village. The villagers farm figs and grapes and show us how they dye camel and sheep fur with cumin, saffron and indigo to weave handwoven carpets. They also except plastic money (their words not mine) and ship FedEx if you're interested.

Watching carpet weaving
That afternoon our tour group arrives at the Sahara Desert. We file into a building at the edge of massive sand dunes and a man dressed in a traditional Berber tunic brings out Morrocan tea for everyone. I ask the tea guy, Karim*, some vital questions.

The view of the Sahara Desert from the camp

Whats for dinner? (At this point I'm really craving a juicy 5 guys cheeseburger, as I had been eating shish kabobs & tajines for the last 4 days. Karim said it was going to be Chicken Tajine and bread)

Where are we gonna pee? (He informs us that the camp has an outhouse with a squat toilet and no running water)

Do ya'll have wifi in the desert? (There would be no wifi and no water either so he tells us to bring our own bottled water)

We were going to be roughing it.

As we're preparing to get on our camels Karim brings my paperwork over and asks if I have whatsapp.

Outer me was like, "Oh he probably just wants to practice English."

Inner me was like

I'm pretty naive though so I give him my whatsapp anyway, hop on my camel and keep it moving with the rest of the group.

Now I don't want to tell you how to live your life, but if you have never ridden a camel for an hour and a half through the desert, it is not a necessary life goal to achieve.
Right before I lost my scarf

Riding a camel hurts ya'll. Your neck, your back, your poonani and your crack. The entire ride I felt like a Republican with unlocked car doors at a stoplight next to a car full of minorities: Uncomfortable.

I couldn't help but wonder, how did Jafar find the Cave of Wonders? If I had gotten separated from the group & lost in the desert, there was a good chance I would literally become a line from the Bible a Beyoncé song; From ashes to ashes, dust to this chick.

After snapping multiple selfies and losing my scarf in middle of the desert from atop my camel, we finally stop to watch the sunset.

The view was stunning. We could see the border of Algeria to the east, over the peaks of the untouched sand dunes.

The only working out I've done lately has been working out my issues, so I'm catching my breath after trudging through the sand when I get a phone call from a 212 number.

I don't answer it because Verizon charges $2.99/minute for international phone calls. Instead, I grit my teeth & pay 50 cents to reply by text.

Then I realize it's not a 212 number from New York, but that 212 is the country code for Morocco.

It's Karim, the tea guy.

We get to the camp, sit down to dinner and Karim shows up in full Berber regalia. In addition to his bright blue tunic, intricately woven with golden fibers, he is donning a turban the size of a Thanksgiving turkey serving platter. Its made with 2 brightly colored scarves instead of just one like the other desert guides. Either he is kind of a big deal or he is seriously peacocking.

Karim not pictured 
After dinner the desert guides build a bonfire, and start playing and singing traditional Morrocan music. When Karim isn't whispering about me to his coworker, who looks like French Montana's first cousin, he stares at me while he plays the cymbals like I'm the last sip of water in the desert.

Desert bonfire 
Meg and I are exhausted. We've already been up for over 12 hours and tomorrow morning everyone is supposed to watch the sunrise. he desert guides say it's not good to go to sleep on a full stomach and urge the group to climb one more dune to see the next city over by moonlight.

But this is no regular dune. It is the Starbucks venti of all dunes. It's legit 900 meters to the top. We start the uphill trek and I'm in front but want to tap out early. People keep passing me until I'm at the very end of the group and then Karim magically appears.

He says, "Take my hand, I will help you."

I really don't want to because I can tell he likes me and I don't want to lead him on, but I am seriously struggling to keep up. I reluctantly take his hand.

Eventually we catch up to a group of Chinese tourists that are resting from the climb. We stop just before we reach them and Karim says

Lets just sit.

I want to keep going but I'm tired as hell. The Chinese people are only about 15ft away, close enough to hear my screams if anything goes down. *Whispers* but in all honesty I don't know if they'd help me. 

I swear this dude whips out a carpet from Allah knows where and smooths it out over the sand.
It was almost like he had planned this whole thing.

Did you get the messages I sent you?

I lie and say no.

Normally I'm the concierge and don't come out to camp, but I couldn't stop thinking about you. I came to get to know you.

You really didn't have to do that Karim.

I walked 1.5 hrs through the desert just to see you and talk face to face.

I wonder if he found my scarf? I thought to myself.

Karim keeps going on and on about how he never got married because he's been waiting his whole life for a black woman. I kinda want to remind him that he was born and raised in Africa. Every woman he grew up with is black, but instead I ask,

How old are you?

31. Every year I wait for a black woman to come to the desert camp. Last year a black man came so I was still disappointed. You're the first.

I do like to think of myself as a trailblazer.

He moves his hand close to my face and says, Here in Morroco we call your hair Rasta hair.

That's interesting. I back my face away from his hand. In America we call it Yaki 1b/350.

He asks if he can touch it. Immediately I think of The Lonely Island's, Jizz in my Pants song and say no.

Then he starts talking about us getting married. I can move to Morroco or he can move to NY. (He saw that's where I was born on my passport). He comes from a family of 10 children, well 9 now, because his sister just got married. He wants to know how many kids I want to have.

Now Karim isn't an ugly dude. He doesn't even look like an immediate member of French Montana's family. If the circumstances were different (ie. I was desperate and ignorant to the fact that many men prey on foreign women vacationing in their country in hopes to get a green card) I might have given him a chance. But my life isn't a Disney movie. I can't instantly fall in love with a stranger and move to a foreign country. I am not Pocahontas.
Me as Pocahontas

Am I?

I gently tell Karim, I don't like you in that way. I don't really like anyone.

That's not normal. The purpose of life is to find a mate, love each other and make each other happy. Happy wife, happy life

Why do you like black women anyway?

He shrugs. I don't know why. Allah made my heart that way. But I can also tell that Allah made you a good person.

I get teary eyed but do my best to hold it together. A little over a year ago I was in a long term relationship with someone whom I wanted to tell me all the things Karim was telling me right now. But he never did.

It's so dark outside that we can't see each other's faces. The only light is from the moon and the stars and I have to admit it is a beautiful night. I hear a desert beetle scuttle by and I tense up.

Karim scoots closer to me on the magic carpet and breaks the silence, "I only have one heart and I want to give it to you."

That line right there almost got me ya'll. 

But my mama ain't raise no fool.

Karim may be a lot of things, none of which I'm familiar with because we just met 4 hours ago, but in this moment he has transformed from Aladdin into Prince Ali baba and he's showing me a whole new world of compliments. It's like Drake is serenading me by moonlight, kicking game like judo.

How many days will it take you to forget me?, He whispers. I will always keep thinking of you.

How many more women will you say this to this week, I think. But I jokingly reply, I will never forget this night.

Then I tell him I'm tired and want to go back to the camp and he says ok but suggests we hold hands.

I bury my hands in my coat pockets and while we're walking down the sand dune Karim tells me to never give my heart to someone who won't give their's back.

Maybe French Montana's 3rd cousin, twice removed isn't as naive as I thought he was.

As we reach the camp, I politely tell Karim good night and duck into my tent. Meg is inside preparing for bed and asks where I've been.
I tell her the whole story as I pull on my sweat pants and fuzzy socks.

"Wow that is creepy and intense," she says. "But now you can never date a guy who won't cross a desert for you."

One of the desert guides who took photos for me
*names have been changed