Some moments happen in the twinkling of an eye, yet, they leave the impression of a lifetime. This is where I was when I met him at Morales'. A male server in his tuxedo, he came by to serve us. As he pushed his cart up the aisle to our table, I fixed my gaze on him. Tall, comely with a gentle demeanor, his caring spirit seemed to be the only thing that gave me a little sense of comfort. I couldn’t help but notice the ornament of grace that was upon his head. It was as though he knew how we felt. As he brought out the serving tray and placed our meal on the table, he seemed to be extending his sympathies. I was glued to his every move.
As a young adolescent girl growing up in a religious home, I always wanted to be like the other kids. I wanted to live life as they did because I thought they had it better than me. I envied the relationship they had with their parents and I longed for the same closeness I observed.
The year was 1996. The Olympic Games had just concluded in Atlanta when I headed for the Peach State. I remember it almost like it was yesterday. I had just turned eighteen after our summer camp, making me an official adult. I was moving here to live with my sister and complete my college education. In Smyrna off of Cobb Parkway, she shared a rented apartment with a pair of sisters from Kenya. I would become acquainted with one sister as we spent some time together in the apartment at times when both our sisters were out to work. She would recount tales of her own adventures since she had moved to Atlanta and I would listen, hoping that I too, could start getting familiarized with the city. She used to teach me how to properly say Atlanta the Atlanta way. She would say, "A - lan-na," and I would repeat it to her. She was enrolled at a religious-based curriculum school and I was at an all women's school. She allowed me to read one of her books while on break. It was a book about how to win souls for Christ. I had read a good chunk of the book before the fall term began and I had to go register for college.
I had been out of work for almost six months. That was about as long as my sister had been married. I was living with her and my brother-in-law and had been living with my sister even before she got married. I moved in with her from campus after graduating from college. My brother-in-law started working at Kinko's several years before the merger that transformed the company into FedEx-Kinko's took place. I wasn't as lucky as he was. During the last several months, I had looked for a job, walking up and down the familiar shopping plaza nearby, and nothing had materialized.
The phone rang at my extension around two thirty in the afternoon. It was Michelle on the line. I picked up the receiver and gave my usual greeting: