chapter 2A of “Called out”
The clock said 9:29, and I was as cool as a fan cap. See, nobody knew how I felt about James but God. How I would daydream about our lives together and getting married, or when I would see him in the hallway, I would put my head down because I had such a big crush on him. Even the times I would go to the basketball games and root just for him. He was just too fine, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him tonight.
I had peace about the conversation that was about to go on tonight. I felt special, even flattered, and decided I was not going to be nervous or worried. I was gonna let James do all the talking and I was going to do the listening.
I decided to clean up my room while I waited. I cleaned my vanity mirror. I turned on my radio but listened to some CDs since the songs on the radio talked about sex, drugs, or pimpin’. Who wants to hear about that all day, even if it does have a sweet beat?
I put in my Mary Mary CD and started dancin’ to the rhythm. I loved everything about music—the drums, the bass, the guitars, the strings—if you put it all together the right way, it just made the sweetest sounds known to man. When you think about it, music controls the way we think, how we feel about things, and what we do. I remember the first time I went to the movies with my friends because Ludacris’s new song was out and everybody was playing it at the theatre. I remember my first date because when I got into the car, he had “My First Love” playing, and from that point on that was our song. Music is therapeutic, it’s mesmerizing, and that’s why I have to watch what I listen to. Being a Christian ain’t easy, but I sure do know how to make it easier on myself.
I was half way through the third song and making my bed when I realized it was after 9:30. As a matter of fact, it was almost 10:00. “He a trip,” I told myself. I knew James was eager as they come, and he was gonna call; I’m not doubting that, but if he said 9:30, why hasn’t he called yet?
I removed my makeup and got ready for bed. I had just turned on the TV when the phone rang. I grabbed it on the second ring.
“Hi Sweetie, this is Aunty Deborah. Is your mom still awake?” I looked at the phone as if it had betrayed me and yelled for my mother to pick up. “Aunty Deborah, are you gonna be long?” I inquired.
“Well, Kiva, are you expecting a phone call?”
“Well, kinda,” I said sweetly.
“Kiva, get off the phone; you can use it when I’m done.” My mother was on the line. I slammed the telephone down and rolled over. I really did not get along with her sometimes. She got on my last nerves. Seven minutes later, I heard her coming up the stairs, and I knew I didn’t want to hear what she was going to say. I quickly turned over to watch my TV, but she walked in and stood in front of my television.
“Akiva Jeslyn Niran, I don’t know who you think you are, but you don’t slam the phone on me. Do you hear me talkin’ to you?” She stood there mad, with her hands on her hips and forehead all frowned up.
“Mom, I’m sorry,” I said. “Someone said that they were going to call me and they didn’t, so I was mad.”
“I don’t care what you thought; you respect me and this house.” Paulette stepped closer, and I thought for a moment she was going to hit me. Instead she sat on the edge of my bed.
“Look,” she said softly, “I know we don’t get along all the time, and we argue a lot, but we won’t be able to get along until you submit yourself to my authority. I am the mother, not you. You don’t question me or anything I say; I question you, okay?” She looked at me with love in her eyes and slowly kissed my forehead.
“Alright mom, I’ll try.”
“I will see you in the morning; you have a good night’s rest, okay?”
I nodded. She walked out of my room and turned off the light. As I rolled back over to watch the “Cosby Show,” I thought about what she said. I was submissive to her. I did what she told me to do, and I heeded her commands. Maybe I needed to get a better understanding, because I thought I was doing ok.
By this time it was 10:15 and I was waiting patiently. I got up to go to the bathroom, and just as I returned to bed, the phone rang. I slowly reached over after the third ring and nestled the phone between my ear and the pillow.
“Uh, hi, can I speak to Akiva, please?”
I could tell he was nervous. “This is her; who is this?” I tried to play it cool, but on the inside, my stomach was flipping over. I could barely hold the phone.
“Hey Kiva, this is uh, James. How are you?”
“I’m fine; how about yourself?’’ I calmed down as I realized that he was just a boy, 17, just like me, and nervous, like I was earlier.
“Sorry I called so late. I had to finish my homework and do some things around the house first. So how was your day?”
“It was cool. After school I went to dance class and then I came home and did my chores, you know, stuff like that.”
“I’m glad you had a good day. You know, Akiva, I was thinking about calling you all day. I just couldn’t find the words to say, I mean, Akiva you—”
“Akiva, who are you on the phone with this late? It’s almost 11:00!” My father was taking his usual pre-midnight bathroom visit. Those visits were the reason why I couldn’t get away with anything because he was up periodically, checking on the house, looking in people’s rooms, and doin’ crazy stuff like that.
I sat up and put my hand over the mouth of the phone, hoping James wouldn’t hear my father soundin’ like a crazy man yelling through the house. “Daddy, I’ll be off soon.”
“Sorry about that,” I was embarrassed and almost scared that this minor incident could make him reconsider asking me out or even talking to me.
“It’s okay, Sweetie; my pops trips sometimes about me being on the phone late. But anyway back to our conversation.”
With the mixture of slight discomfort and the melting of my heart because he called me Sweetie, I leaned back on my pillow and pulled the covers over my head, hoping that my father couldn’t hear my incessant giggles when James mentioned how beautiful I was, or see the smile on my face when James talked about how much he loved everything about me. I was trying not to melt into his hands, but it just seemed as if we were meant to be. He was so sweet, so kind, and just the perfect guy.
“So James, I was wondering, why did you and Shayla break up?” He paused for a minute. I felt how uncomfortable it made him feel. I turned over in my bed and bit my lip just thinking that I may have messed up our conversation.
“Uh, it’s cool. Actually Shayla and me broke up because she wasn’t the girl I thought she was when we got together.”
“Oh,” I said with a smug grin on my face. “Well, I thought she went to church. Last year she was in the choir at St. Paul Baptist.” I was hot, so I pulled the quilt off and closed my bedroom door. I sat in my huge rocker chair that my grandmother gave me five years ago. It had a cushion over the hard wood, and I covered myself with a cotton blanket.
“Yeah that’s true, but it’s not about what we can see, it’s about her on the inside. See, Shayla was fake. She was smart and beautiful and goal oriented, but she just liked the idea of having a boyfriend. She didn’t want to work at a relationship or get to know me for me. She just liked the attention.
“I feel you, James, but sometimes people don’t know what they’re doing and you have to explain to them and give them a chance.
“That’s true, but since you weren’t in the relationship, you really wouldn’t know, now would you?” He sounded smug.
He shut me up. I sat there, contemplating what he said. I realized so much about him and his character at that moment. Being with someone isn’t about what kind of car he has, how much money he has, or what he can do for you. It’s more about who he is and what he stands for, especially in a relationship. It’s deeper than we think, but what he just said opened my eyes real wide.
“So why did you and Michael break up?” He was almost laughing. I knew why, too. See, Michael was captain of the football team, about 6’3, full of muscles but no brains. He was so cute, and every girl in my high school wanted him.
“Well, if you must know, I was on that I-can-change-him tip,” I commented.
By this time, James was trying to hold in his laughter. I smiled at all the times I got Michael to go to church with me, and then he would ask me to come over to his house, ’cause his mom was still at church so we would have the place to ourselves. I remembered how he would put his hands in my pants for good luck right before the football games. He was a trip, and he had taken me for a ride. I was so naive.
“Well, at least you learned your lesson, Miss Niran. I mean it’s not every day a woman of your caliber dates a football player, and in the end gets to keep her clean reputation.
“I’m just glad I’m done with him, if my daddy ever knew everything that happened, Michael would be on the missing persons list. My daddy loves the Lord, but he crazy.”
James laughed at my comment and sighed comfortably. “Why is this the first time we have ever been on the phone?”
“I don’t know. We worked together in groups, and we’ve known each other for four years.”
“Yeah, and you’re still the same beautiful Akiva that I met three years ago, with that sparkle in your eye, beautiful smile, and kind heart. God is pleased with you, and you living for him. He is good, today, tomorrow and forever. And he will always love you, more than your mother or father ever could, and more than I could ever try.”
I sat back and took in everything he said. “So you want to love me, huh?” I said with a smart mouth.
“I already do, but not in the way that I want to. I want to love you as a woman, one who can cherish me and my faults.”
“Sounds like you looking for a wife!”
“Naw, just wifey material. I mean, why should I look for anything less?”
I sat in my chair with a big smile on my face. He was right. How was I supposed to prepare myself for being with someone if I always got with people who weren’t worth my time?