Kwame wasn’t handsome in the traditional sense of the word, but he was very attractive, a man who was very comfortable in his own skin. He drew women to him, he was like Godiva to chocoholics. Our romance started when we spent a summer together in New York, when I was doing an internship at Gourmet magazine and he was doing a program at the Columbia School of Public Health. That was the summer I first fell in love. He used to come over to my little studio apartment in Brooklyn and I would cook him egusi or jollof rice, occasionally he’d bring Ghanaian delicacies like kenkey or banku. We would talk about our dreams and aspirations. One day after dinner, we were lying on the roof of his building. He had sublet this apartment for the summer which wasn’t much to write home about, but it had a great rooftop deck. That night we had packed a picnic basket, a portable CD player and a bottle of cheap wine. We felt so cosmopolitan. I was only about twenty and he was twenty two.
After eating, we lay down on a mattress and gazed up at the sky, listening to a Bob Marley CD. We had come to a lull in the conversation and the song that had been playing came to an end. I still remember that moment like it was yesterday. He turned to me and said, “do you know what I have been wanting to do all night?” His voice was low and gravelly. “What?” I asked simply because even though I was not unaware of the sexual tension between us, I was simply content to be next to him, the evening could not have been more perfect. “I’ve wanted to kiss you.”. I remember, noting how fast my heart was beating, I had begun to feel a little light headed. It was a different time then. We had spent practically every evening together for about two months and the summer was coming to an end. He never made a move and being a virgin, I definitely didn’t make any moves. I didn’t know what to say, I just looked at him. He must have taken my expression as an invitation because he kissed me. I feel like there should be drum rolls or a symphony playing even now because even that could not describe how wonderful that kiss was. It was every thing I thought a kiss should be. That night, for the first time, I put aside all my fears and thoughts of my parents’ disapproval and gave in to the sensation of pleasure and love. Kwame was my first and at the time, I thought he would be my only. When the summer was over, we started a long distance relationship, he in Boston and me in Bronxville, NY.
Things changed soon, when my mother decided that a liberal arts education was a waste of my time and I should focus on getting a practical degree, like medicine or pharmacy. She announced over the telephone that she had decided pharmacy was best and that I should study in Boston, where my aunt and uncle could keep an eye on me. I went without argument, partly because I believed that it was futile but also because it would bring me closer to Kwame. When I moved, our relationship shifted into high gear. We became incredibly close. I met his parents and siblings but I never introduced him to mine. He was always a little bothered by that. Every time the subject came up, we would argue. I tried to explain that my mother was very opposed to me being with anyone who wasn’t Nigerian. He couldn’t believe that I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself.