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Under The Mistletoe

It was leading up to being a sad and lonely Christmas. Being alone came with positive feels because it afforded me time to focus on my projects, but being alone at such a time when the overarching message was to be with friends and family, was depressing. It was like a roller coaster, the excitement of ‘home alone’ freedom, coupled with the rind of falling deep down into the drop.

For weeks, I knew this was going to be my predicament—alone for the holidays; something I’d never experienced in 35 years of life. I reflected on my past Christmases, similar to the trip Ebenezer Scrooge takes in the movie, but way more positive. My childhood Christmases were filled with my parents, grandparents, and my great aunt & uncle. As I got older, my older family members passed, each time, like a burned-out bulb in a string of lights, my Christmas spirit dimmed.

On one hand, Christmas was just another day. The traditions that were experienced when I was a kid were almost nonexistent. I desired to change that. I found myself attracted to men who had large families because I longed to be a part of one; and twice in my adulthood, I had those times; but even those times were long gone.

My holidays would forever be unconventional. Every even year, I’d have the opportunity to recreate the old tradition, or to start a new one altogether. But this wasn’t an even year.

My phone vibrated with a Ring notification. I tapped the button so I could view through the Ring’s camera. A few inches from my front door, Alex stood with an ivory hoodie and jeans, looking like a 6’1 model.

His hand came closer to the camera and the bell echoed through my phone’s speaker.

“I know you’re in there woman! Come open the door!” He screamed.

I smiled and got up from the couch. After unlocking it, I grabbed the handle and opened the door. For Louisville on Christmas Day, the weather was unusually warm. I leaned against the door, smiling at him, my heart overjoyed that I was able to lay eyes on him, in the flesh.

“What are you doing here?” I asked coyly.

He remained stationary, with a bag in his hand.

A car horn tooted and we both looked towards the bottom of my driveway. “Merry Christmas”, the man in the driver’s seat yelled before his Corolla pulled off.

“Same to you!” Alex yelled after him.

He turned back and looked at me. “You gonna let me in?”

I shrugged, “maybe you should’ve asked that before your Uber driver left you.”

Alex smirked and nodded. “Yea, maybe. But I know you’re not going to leave me out here.”

The conversation we had last night left a bad taste in my mouth.I’d actually decided not to talk to him at all today; or at least until I was no longer upset about the comment he made.

I’d fallen for the romantic gestures before; the long drives just to see me, but then months later, too busy to drive across town—the switch up. That’s real heartbreak; going from someone’e everything to their nothing. To see their promises of never leaving turn to a reality of being absent; thus causing all of their words and gestures to transform into lies. Alex’s arrival at my doorstep was a serious romantic gesture, one that made my heart flutter, but my brain roll my eyes and suck my teeth.

“What’s wrong? Do you want me to go? Cuz, I—I mean, I—“, he stammered.

My thoughts must’ve made their way to my face. “Last night, when I said I was going to spend Christmas alone, your response was something like ‘I don’t have an answer for that’, but you’re here. I’m confused.”

His shoulders drooped. “Cairo, I came all the way here to surprise you, and you wanna beef?” He sucked his teeth. “For real?”

“No, I don’t want to beef,” I attempted to soften up some, “but, I am just surprised.” I stepped out of the way and gestured for him to come in. He did and then I closed the door.

Alex walked down the hallway with me a few steps behind. “You can put your bag anywhere,” I said to him.

He dropped the bag onto the floor, turned around and wrapped his arms around me. I melted in our embrace. His cologne invaded my senses and the soft cotton of the hoodie rubbed against my face. “I knew last night I was coming here to see you, I just didn’t want to give you a heads up. My bad if it came out fucked up.”

“But why?” I asked him.

“I wanted to spend my Christmas with you. And like—I wasn’t sure if you were going to be with your parents, or if you were okay with me meeting them. So when you said you’d be here by yourself, I didn’t want that—it was my opportunity.”

I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to hear. I knew I could find fault in any of his intentions. That’s what heartbreak will do to you. It casts a filter or a lens over your eyes that shades everything else you encounter.

I pulled away and looked at him, “thank you for coming. I appreciate it.”

Alex kissed my on the forehead before I moved to sit on the couch.

“What’s up babe? Something’s off.” He mentioned.

I shook my head. “Hey, you’re here. I don’t want to ruin everything by having this discussion.”

“But I can tell that a million things are going through your head. Let’s get it out of the way so we can enjoy this time together. Like, what’s up? Did I overstep by coming here? Do you want me to get a hotel?

I motioned with my hands, “no.” After clearing my throat, I continued, “it’s not that at all. Like, I am really happy that you came out here to be with me. It makes me feel special that you’d want to spend this time with me. I know you have your family, so for you to do this is a big deal. But, I just want to keep myself in check.”

“In check’ what’s what I was going for, but no other phrases came to mind.

His eyebrows furrowed, “keep yourself in check. What does that mean?”

My mind raced to find a string of words to utter out, “it means to not think too much of anything. To not place any expectations on anything. I’ve been here before. A dude did the nice and sweet stuff, the promises and all, but switched up on me.” I really didn’t want to discuss it any further. I knew that doing so would make the day go down a spiral drain.

He leaned forward on the couch. “I can’t speak on dude cuz it sounds like some bullshit for real. Sometimes dudes jump out there with a woman, thinking that she’ll just accept our bullshit. Then when she doesn’t, we realize we gotta work harder, or find someone who will accept our bullshit.” He waited for me to make eye contact before continuing. “But I’m stepping to you with my shit together, and I know what’s at stake.”

I smiled.

“I know this won’t be an overnight change of heart. I know you’ve been through some shit, been lied to, let down, all that shit.” He grabbed for my hand. “I’m here, with you, right now, because this is where I want to be. I just want you to accept that today, and the next day, and the day after that, and each day until you’re no longer doubting me.”

Similar words, though not arranged nearly as eloquently as he’d just done, were said before. Still ended up in lies. I needed to make a decision in this moment. Either I was going to continue to let the actions of a man who didn’t recognize my worth dictate my holiday, or I was going to relinquish that power. Alex could’ve been anywhere else in the world, but he was here with me, for Christmas. That had to mean something.

I moved closer and kissed him on the lips. This was the first time in weeks. He pulled me over so that I was sitting in his lap, with his arms around me. “My job is to show you how I feel about you, not fight your past demons. You can’t make their fuck-ups mine.”

I agreed with his statements.

“Oh wait!” He shifted under me and pulled his phone out of his pocket. After staring at it intensely for a few seconds, he raised his arm over our heads. When I looked up, it was a picture of a mistletoe.

I chuckled.

He leaned in and pressed his lips against me. “It’s about time you gave me some kisses! Especially since we’re under the mistletoe!”

PART II posted tomorrow!

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