11:15 a.m. - 2005-11-13
We met up at the disco bar on the ship. He's a bar tender for Royal Caribbean. I was struck by his face. He's an island boy with chisled features and kind eyes. He was struck by my personality. He said I was very English, not like an American, and he was so pleased that I understood his humor and his speech. He made me roll off my stool on several occasions. I was surprised by my attraction for him. Despite my desire to be openminded and modern, I hesitate to look at black men as potential partners. Stigmatism, societal pressure, general meanness and lack of opportunity I guess have prevented it. But I looked in this man's eyes, and saw so much that I liked.
I ended up staying up with him till dawn each evening while he cleaned up the bar with his buddies. The officers were kind enough to turn a blind eye to the fact that he was socializing with a passenger. I sensed that this was odd behavior for him. They seemed pleased for him.
When we got to Bermuda, he asked Pam and I if we wanted to take a walk after the bar closed. We went out at 2am in Kings Warf, and got the personal walking tour. We walked what seemed like miles, and he told us all the history of the buildings and differences among the islands. The next day he took us to a local beach bar and we sat there sipping mango daqueries talking about life and philosophy. It was so cool being there with Max. He had a beautiful repore with the tender and the Rasta man behind the bar. He spoke so gently and respectfully with the old man. I felt I was witnessing something very special and rare. Max fit in there. With the beach, the people and the island culture. He was himself. Not a bar tender, not a travelor, not a professional. He was just Max. In his own clothes, his own skin. Vulnerable, gentle, big, strong, knowing...
We talked about our loves and losses and where we all went wrong and where we all wanted to be. He was graceful, balancing his attentions and giving of himself in an intimate way that seemed new to him. Now and then, I'd see him drift off, seeing pain behind those deep eyes, then he would lift his head, look at me, move the hair from my eyes, or touch my toe polish, noticing how the color changed as the light changed. Intimate things that were natural and easy.
Max has a wisdom that seems innate, yet I think a good bit of it comes from experience and the benefit of an old culture and simple way of life. He apologized for giving me advice, and giving me glimpses into my own soul. He said that I was a grown woman and had no need for his wisdom. But I do.
I told him that I was trying to grow up really hard, but it had taken me long time to get there. He understood that, because it took him a long time too. He understood that I have the potential to love big, but that I am strong and guard my heart viciously.
The second to last evening, he took me aside, and said he had something to tell me. He said this:
"You are not beautiful. Your are not ugly. But I love your face, and I think about it all the time."
I was undone. He kissed both my eyes, my forehead, my nose, then he pulled me into a long, comforting hug.
I've only scratched the surface with this entry. There was so much more that was only sensory or pure emotion that I can't begin to describe in words. We just sort of fell in together like long lost soul mates.
He told me he wanted to be my lover. Come to me on his breaks and while he was in port. I could get a 50% or more discount on cruises as his girlfriend so I could see him. He also wanted me to visit his home in St. Vincent.
I told him that I didn't want another lover. I wanted to find a lifelong mate. I'm too old now to be playing around. Part of that was true. Part was fear of something new and exciting. Part was his color and the weirdness it caused for me. Part of it was fear that I would fall in love and be hurt.
I told him I had to be diligent because I wanted to have a family, and I was getting to that age/health where I have to make it sooner rather than later. Which is funny, because I go back and forth on the baby issue almost daily.
He told me that if God wanted me to bear my own children, he would have given me a man to have them with by now. That I was meant to have them in another way. Which I needed to hear. I needed someone to tell me that. To be honest enough to hurt me a little, in order to give me peace.
So. Here I am.
I'm not sure what's going to happen from here. We exchanged info. I'm going to call him when he gets to port next Sunday. He'll have six hours of freedom. If he answers his phone, and I see him I'll be very happy. If not, I'll write him a letter and see if he writes back.
In any case, I will always be grateful for having met him and gained from his wisdom. He even gave me a fledgling faith in God again. Its a peaceful feeling.