His name was Donald Brown. I remember asking Ms. Irving about him and she gave me a look. I knew why he was there but it didn’t phase me. All of those kids were drop outs or kicked out or out there because of a court order. They still needed to go to school and they were still somewhat good kids, so I told myself.
I went to school one morning, determined to find this Brown boy and as soon as I walked in to get breakfast, there he was. Blue jeans, black Eddie Bauer, those small plaits and that smile. Shoot. He must’ve heard the door slam behind me and sure enough he turned and caught me staring. He spoke. I spoke. I continued to stand there at the bottom of the steps like a complete nerd until he told me to come upstairs where he was.
Not sure how he knew my name but he did. It sounded funny when he said it, like he was from a sacred place that made everything sound worth listening to. “You not from here?”, he asked. Of course I am! Why do people keep assuming that? “Yes”, I said, “but I was raised in South Carolina”. “Oh aight. I can tell you weren’t raised here.” Not sure how he could tell but I was stoked he noticed me at all. His eyes were mesmerizing, so inviting. I could stand there and talk to him all day. Ms. Henderson on the other hand had other plans for me. “Uh uh, cmon Angela, Donald, yall get to class.”
As soon as I was about to leave he told me he wanted to call me so we can “keep in touch”. It made me think he knew he wouldn’t be at the school long but knowing he wanted to keep in touch was enough for me. I told him I’d give it to him before the day ended and I turned and slowly walked upstairs towards Ms. Henderson. “You better leave that boy alone, Angela. Don’t even think about it.” Except, he was literally all I could think about.
We talked on the phone for hours which turned into weeks. I was living with my Godmother now and she bought me a prepaid cell phone so we would talk until my minutes ran out. My Godmother and I lived in NE, in an apartment, away from my school and friends but I got to go to SW to see some family which I enjoyed. One day, as we drove down SW with my best friend Samira, cousin Aisha, and Aunt Niecey, I gazed out of the window and saw a very familiar face. It was him, Donald. I screamed! Like, legit yelled, “Oh my god that’s him! Oh. My. God.” Samira and Aisha kept hyping me and insisted we go over to speak. Of course my cousin knew him which made it worse because she walked right up to him but it turned out to be a great thing, for me!
I never told him I had family in SW and since he knew who they were, I had a reason to go visit them even more. We hugged and talked and he promised to do me right and always keep in touch. I loved it. And for some reason I knew I would grow to love him. Thank God for A.R.E.
Side note: Washington, DC is broken up into four quadrants which are mentioned in this blog: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southwest (SW), and Southeast (SE).