Melony and I had chemistry from the beginning. I met her on a student union–organized trip to Washington, D.C., in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March. Our school’s BSU had organized the whole thing, and urged everyone who could to join the trip from Nashville to D.C. for free. I sat a few rows from the front of the bus and watched the students pile on. I was glad to have a window seat, and looking forward to the time I would have to just think, relax, and prepare myself for what I imagined was going to be a weekend filled with sadness and anger, but also with a lot of pride, empowerment, and upliftment. I was ecstatic to see one of my favorite artists, Erykah Badu. When I spent time at my aunt’s house growing up, which was often, I was exposed to Badu’s rich neo-soul sound and eclectic artistic personality. Not only was her music moving but I was attracted to her unique style, the way she exuded confidence, and a care-free spirit. Although I didn’t understand everything she sang about, she was quite beautiful and alluring, even to my young eyes. My aunt admired her and was a huge fan, and so was I.
My headphones crossed my straight-to-the-back cornrows and I bobbed my head to the powerful lyrics and blaring music as I stared out the window—until the smell of her floral body spray and the weight of her body falling into the seat next to me pulled my head in her direction. Her eyes were soft. Her hazelnut skin was smooth. Her short, wavy hair was pushed back by a multi-colored headband.
I watched her full lips mouth Hello . I smiled and quickly removed my headphones to return her greeting.
“You play for the girls’ basketball team, right?” she asked boldly, foregoing the standard introduction.
“Y-yeah, I do.” I was startled she recognized me: a third-string point guard who played limited minutes. “You must be a big fan of the team,” I ribbed, tickled inside that she knew who I was.
“Something like that,” she smiled nodding her head in agreement. “Taylor M. Dawson. Point guard, number twenty-three, like Mike. Averaging about four minutes per game, two points, two assists, zero steals, and one rebound.”
I stared at her, bug-eyed.