This post is also available in: Kreyol
My boyfriend walked over to me with my phone in his hand.
“Who is Daniel?”
I frowned. “Is that my phone?”
“Is this the dude you gave your number to? Why is he texting you all crazy?”
“It’s not even like that, I gave him my number as a friend. I don’t even know why he keeps texting me.” I snatched my phone back.
“Does he know you have a man?”
“Yes! I told you, it’s not like that.”
Let’s start from the beginning.
It was fall, I had recently moved to Philadelphia from New York for school. Between my studies, my weekend job, and new relationship; I was pretty busy.
My boyfriend was Nigerian-American and like me, he was entrenched in his culture. His family spoke Yoruba, his mother cooked elaborate authentic dishes, and they wore traditional Nigerian outfits to all events. One weekend at his mother’s house, she was teaching me how to make jollof rice when it hit me hard; I was homesick and wanted to see, touch, taste, and feel something from home.
Born and raised in a large Haitian community in New York, I was used to buying beef patties and djon djon like some people would buy orange juice. I missed speaking and hearing Kreyol on a daily basis. Although I was told Philadelphia had a large Haitian community, I had yet to experience it.
One day while waiting for the trolley after class, I heard snatches of Kreyol coming from a young man my age on his cell phone. Without hesitating, I walked over to him and asked, “Ou Ayisyen?”
He turned towards me and smiled. Minutes later, Daniel and I were deep in a conversation that continued onto the trolley.
“I just want to know where the Haitians are! Where can I get some pate, damn!”
“I can definitely help you with that. We are out here; you just have to know where to find us. Can I get your number so I can keep in touch?”
Normally when guys asked for my number, I told them no or wiggled my left hand with my fake engagement ring in their face. However this was different, this was my chance to reconnect with my people. I entered my number in his phone and got off at my stop. A few days later while I was at work, my phone blew up with text messages from Daniel.
Him: What are you doing?
Me: At work
Him: What time do you get off?
Him: What are you doing later?
Him: Are you seeing anybody right now?
Me: Yes, I have a boyfriend. What about you?
Him: Yes, I have a girl.
I had to make a decision: getting that griyo hook up, or being a good girlfriend. Eventually I stopped responding and after the fight with my boyfriend, I deleted Daniel’s number from my phone. He was not worth messing up my relationship over.
I took matters in my own hands and did what I should have done from the beginning; I went home to New York. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the kitchen was the familiar oil stained brown paper bag sitting on the table. I threw back my head and laughed. I never did find a place to buy Haitian food in Philly although I did meet a few young Haitians later on. I started learning how to prepare the food I craved and for those times when substitutes did not cut it, I knew the perfect place to go, my mom’s kitchen.
What would you have done?