I always was a pushover for a man with dreads. Up until recently, I thought it was just because natural looking dreads look sexy on a man. But not long ago, I had a revelation about why my love for the style continues to hold a special appeal for me, even more so than before.
He was the reason...
His name was Don; the kindred spirit that blew into my life, and one day just up and disappeared.
He had long dreads that were clean but natural looking, and always had a light coconut smell. The fragrance seemed to co-mingle with the essence of his natural scent and it created an intoxicating aroma. It might sound creepy, especially coming from a female, but he's one man I could literally stand to smell all day. I loved that man from head to his toes, and all the yummy parts in between.
Those of you skeptics who don't believe in love at first sight, I truly feel sorry for you. Things like that really do happen, and that's exactly what happened to me.
Not My Soulmate
It's hard to explain what I mean about being kindred spirits, but let me clarify for the record, I'm not talking about this person being my soulmate. I didn't view him as that.
I'd already found my soulmate in my ex-husband, though we didn't stay together, and he later died a violent death (but that's another story).
It suffices to say, I know with every fiber of my being that my husband was the man I'd call my soulmate. But oddly enough, I can't say me and my husband were kindred spirits, because I don't believe we were. If the rest of the civilized world feels like those terms are interchangeable, that's fine, but that's not my personal belief.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that my husband and I were married ten years and weathered a whole lot of storms. Believe me, our story of a troubled marriage is the stuff that books and movies are made of. They definitely provide enough material for the short stories I find myself writing. My whole entire life is a riveting drama (but once again, I digress).
My husband and I brought a beautiful child into the world, and all my treasured memories of the life we lived together (good and bad), will forever keep me connected to him in my soul. That, in my personal opinion is what the term soulmate indicates.
On the other hand, Don and I had a whirlwind romance that lasted all of three months. It ended as abruptly as it started, but nonetheless, I still loved him. As you continue reading, you'll see what I mean.
The Short Version
We met under unusual circumstances. It was the kind of offbeat occurrence that you see in romantic comedies, and the couple immediately fall. Fall into like, fall into infatuation, fall into bed, fall into romance, fall into love, fall into dissatisfaction, and fall out the relationship, all before the opening credits stop rolling. That was me and Don.
How We Met
I was standing at the bus stop, leaning against a railing and writing in my journal, when his beat up van came to a stop at the signal light. I didn't look up and notice it until I heard someone shouting and realized they were talking to me.
He was yelling out the passenger window from the driver's seat. "Hey, you're writing! I'm writing too! What are you writing?"
I saw he had a pen in his hand, and the small notebook he'd been writing in was resting on the steering wheel. But of course, the first thing I noticed was the dreads.
When he pulled over, we talked for ten minutes, and he informed me he was a guitar player, and happened to be working on some lyrics.
At that time in my life, I wasn't aspiring to be a writer yet, but I used to do a whole lot of journal writing. Little did I know, this new man coming into my life would motivate me to go in the direction my writing would eventually take me. He inspired me in more ways than one.
"Come on and let me take you wherever you're going. I don't have anywhere to be right now."
With no fear for my safety, and sensing no danger, I agreed to let him give me a ride to my destination.
I got in the untidy van, that had a number of cd cases, among other things, strewn all around in the front seat. This was in the early 90's and the van was at least a decade older. It was the kind with only the seats in front, for the driver and passenger, but the entire back of the van was empty. Rather, it would have been empty if it wasn't so cluttered with papers, clothing, and other miscellaneous stuff. It wasn't dirty or trashy or anything like that. It was just messy.
The mess didn't bother me, nor did I feel threatened in any way by what I saw, especially when I noticed several guitars in the back. They simply helped to confirm his story about being a musician. At the time, I didn't even wonder why he kept the expensive instruments in the van.
When I saw him up close, it reaffirmed how attractive he was, just as I had thought. He was a handsome light-skinned black man, and every bit of the hippie that he appeared to be. He wore a bandana around the dreads hanging down his back and It had images of marijuana leaves printed on it. Besides his overall free-spirited attitude, he was wearing a yellow tie dyed shirt with a rainbow in the center. He was different and seemed like a refreshing change from the guys I typically met and dated.
While he drove, we talked some more, mostly about his music, and my love of writing but lack of ambition for it. We reached my destination and neither of us wanted to say goodbye.
"So how long is your meeting? You have plans afterwards? I could stick around and we could get some lunch when you're done."
I jumped at the chance. "You know what, I'm actually not even going to be that long. If you're sure you don't mind waiting, sure. I'd love to get some lunch."
I got out and rushed inside the medical facility where I had been doing Temp work as a receptionist for the past few weeks. My assignment had ended, but the girls in the office loved my work and they convinced me to apply for a permanent position.
The problem was, I had to interview for it on the following day, and it required taking a drug test. Being a habitual pot smoker at the time, I knew that was a test I was not about to pass, at least not without some help.
The so called "meeting" I lied and told Don I was going to, took all of five minutes; long enough to greet the girls and pick up a clean urine sample from the only person I knew who didn't smoke weed.
I'll spare you the gory details about the urine and what I did to smuggle it out one office, keep it overnight, then smuggle it inside the location where I needed to provide the sample.
Let's just say, my mission was accomplished and the next day, the rest of my plan would go just as smoothly. When I got back in the van, Don was scribbling in his notebook. His whole face lit up when he saw me. I was just as glad to see him, and we proceeded to grab some burgers and have lunch in the park. That was the start of our whirlwind romance, beginning with the "like" and "infatuation" stage.
All the other stages came after that, and in relatively quick succession. Once we each modified our remaining plans for the day, we didn't leave each other's presence for several hours.
Before the night ended, we parked in an empty parking lot and climbed in the back of the van. (Hey, don't judge me. I told you at the beginning of the story I was a pushover for a guy with dreads!)
We shared an additional hour of intimacy, right there in the midst of all those guitars. That was our first physical encounter, which only amounted to exactly what it sounds like; a quickie in the back of a messy van.
But by the very next time we were intimate, it was two weeks later and our feelings for one another had blossomed into a full blown love affair. Unlike the first time in the back of the van, the second night we spent together was in my bedroom and we didn't have sex. Instead, we made beautiful, romantic love.
During the next couple of months that followed, we shared a passionate and unconditional kind of love that was almost unbelievable.
We discovered one another for who we were on the inside. That was the magical part, because he was the first person to really and truly see me, even when I couldn't see myself.
I even felt confident enough to let him read some of the musings from my journal. He was always so encouraging and inspirational; about my writing, about my personality, about my life in general.
He queried me with thought provoking questions and forced me to question myself for the answers. "You 're so smart and talented, why are you hiding it? You should write something else, other than just stuff in your journal that nobody else will see. Wouldn't you like to have people reading what you write?"
Questions like that got me thinking about how much I enjoyed writing and wondering if it was something I wanted to pursue a little more.
Only by truly taking an interest in me as a person, could he have been able to evaluate the life I lived and my effect on those around me.
He shared his observations with me, and helped me appreciate the people and things that I basically took for granted, including my own good qualities and strong points.
He would say things like: "Wow baby, you really have people in your life that love you." Or "You're a good friend to have. You should be proud of the person you are."
This is how he regularly spoke to me, and I found it to be extremely uplifting. When we weren't talking, laughing, and joking around, he would pull out one of his guitars and I'd lay on the living room floor, listening to him play. I'd request song after song, and he'd happily perform an entire concert for me.
Don was an exceptional musician, and could play just about anything by ear. He once told me his mother was a classical piano teacher, and his whole life had consisted of music.
When I passed the interview and drug test, I started my new job and I was happy for full time employment. But I must admit, I resented not having the flexibility of working temp, especially since I had a new man that I loved spending all my time with.
Like all good things in life, my unexpected romance came unexpectedly to an end. In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure what the real reason was, I only know what I determined it to be, based on the evidence of what happened. That's because there was never any real discussion when things finally ended.
As you know, I told you all about Don's wonderful qualities and why I loved him, but let me tell you what eventually began to concern me, and where things started to go south.
First of all, if you haven't figured it out by now (just like I didn't figure it out back then), I'm pretty sure he'd been living out of his van, at least to some extent. Thus the explanation for the clutter, and carrying the guitars around with him.
During the whole course of our relationship, he never gave me any concrete information about himself; not where he lived, not where he worked, or anything like that. I refused to let myself entertain the questions in my mind. I was just glad for the freedom and flexibility that allowed him to spend all his time with me.
The most I knew was that he lived in the Valley, about half an hour's drive from where I lived in Los Angeles. He indicated he worked as a musician at some local venues when they needed a guitar player. As far as the rest of his personal life, or lack of it; he didn't talk about it.
In hindsight, I realize I must have been so swept up in the romance of it all, that I didn't want or need to know anything else.
With the exception of learning about his mother playing piano and the fact that he had two sons who lived in Las Vegas with their mother, I knew absolutely nothing else about Don. I had no clue as to his past relationship with the mother of his children.
But I finally figured out, for all intentional purposes, he was apparently a loner and a stoner, traveling around and living out of his van.
I did used to notice that sometimes, he'd get really quiet and into himself. He was normally a kind of quiet and laid back dude anyway, but on some occasions he just seemed sad. If something was on his mind or really bothering him, he sure didn't want to discuss it. He just kept it to himself.
The day he walked out of my life, he did it just as easily as he had come into it. He dropped me at work that morning. We kissed as usual and he told me he'd see me when I got off that evening. I fully expected him to be waiting in his usual spot, to give me a ride home. He wasn't, and after waiting for half an hour, I finally took the bus home.
I remember being especially irritated, because it was a week before Christmas and I had done some shopping on my lunch break. Since Don never showed up, I had to struggle carrying my packages on a crowded bus.
I was home for about an hour before I finally understood what had happened. There was no note on the door, or message on the phone, but I did find a clue about where he was, and why he had gone.
I was standing at the kitchen sink, contemplating whether or not to fix something to eat. That's when I noticed the screen on the kitchen window had been tampered with. Upon closer examination, I found something sitting on the window sill, wedged between the iron bars.
It was a cute little box with a latch on it, but the box was open because something else was inside, preventing it from closing.
I didn't know what they were at the time, but sitting nestled inside the decorative box were two beautiful Chinese Baoding stress balls. The item preventing the lid from closing was a dainty miniature dog, sitting on top of one of the balls. I picked it up and saw the dog was actually a ring holder.
The matching ring was hanging from the little dog's tail. It was a flat band, with a colorful green and red pattern and a thin rope-like piece of gold etched all around it. Both the ring and the dog matched to a tee.
In addition to the balls, the ring and the ring holder, there were two more things in the box. One of the many guitar picks I'd gotten used to seeing him with was wrapped in a little piece of paper that simply read: "I miss my kids. I'm sorry."
And just like that it was over. The end. Nothing else to be said. Of course I had a good cry for at least 2 or 3 nights, but my thoughts about him never turned to anger. How could they, when he had done nothing but lift me up?
For the next few weeks, I told myself that maybe the holidays made him feel depressed about not being with his kids. This allowed me to entertain the idea that he might still come back, but deep down inside, I knew that wasn't true. Even if it wasn't, it felt good to believe it anyway.
Thanks for reading 😄
For a followup to what occurred years later, be sure to look for the story: Was I Really Ghosted by My Kindred Spirit?
And for all you fiction lovers, I have something special for you, so don't miss reading the short fantasy story I published and entered in the Vocal Media Fiction challenge.
I'm sure you'll enjoy reading: "Fragments of a Dream"