“Why did you have to go and tell the poor boy that you were seeing someone else?” Giselle asked. “He didn’t need to know until you were ready to leave the island.”
Genevieve argued that she and her new boyfriend were practicing honesty, and that to return to her island fling from three years ago, and not inform him that things had changed, would be wrong.
“Don’t get me wrong it broke my heart to tell him,” Genevieve said. “But…but it was the right thing to do for all involved.” Genevieve nodded in an attempt to convince herself. She had still not told Giselle that this new man in her life was really a woman. How could she begin to explain gender/sexual orientation politics when she wasn’t out yet.
On the ride home from the airport, as she and Giselle were doing their ritual of reminiscing, Giselle had asked about Veya, a former classmate. Genevieve had casually mentioned that Veya was still single and planning to join the convent. To which Giselle had sarcastically remarked that she, Giselle, was no more suited for the convent than Veya was. Genevieve laughed. Neither of them suffered from moral amnesia when it came to talking about their college escapades. She wondered what Giselle would say if she knew that Genevieve had kissed, and had a tumultuous two-year relationship with Veya. This relationship led Genevieve to explore her bisexual side. Genevieve had agonized over telling her college roommate about her newly-claimed identity. Her girlfriend, Jade, had questioned why Genevieve wasn’t out to her friends. Genevieve knew that Jade would never understand her need to preserve certain friend circles. For Genevieve, there was no need to share such details if she never crossed paths with some of these circles. Jade had been an out-lesbian since her first year of college and was confident in her sexuality as a lesbian. Genevieve, on the other hand had yet to define her sexuality, much less have a long-standing relationship with a woman.
To an extent, Genevieve knew that Jade was right. She was often shuffling between living two lives and lately, it had become exhausting. Take for example this vacation, even though she had really wanted to go on vacation with Jade, she knew it would be a bad idea because Giselle didn’t know yet, and it would have been totally awkward trying to keep their hands off each other in Giselle’s presence. In the end, she promised Jade, she was going to come out to Giselle when she arrived on the island. She was yet to clear that hurdle!
Anyway, Genevieve thought to herself, she was looking for the perfect opportunity. Truth be told, there had been quite a few presented to her and she had expertly avoided them all with excuses that the PhD program she was enrolled in was too demanding for a man and children. After years of warding off marriage and birth questions, she had a defense prepared that would give any lawyer a run for her money. She wondered when she would stop lying about her real reason for not getting married.
That night as Genevieve settled in for bed, she could not help reminiscing about her first visit to the island.
The year was 2007. She was turning thirty in a month, and badly in need of a distraction. After breaking up with her fiancé of five years, during her study-abroad trip to Sierra Leone, she had experienced a sense of freedom that brought with it utter abandon. Within a matter of eighteen months, she had dated about ten men and finally gotten the guts to kiss her best friend of five years, Veya. When Veya kissed her back, she knew she had to explore this other side of her. Things changed when both she and Veya panicked, and decided that what had happened had been just an experiment. They attempted to return to men unsuccessfully. The eventual disaster of this trial and error first lesbian relationship left Genevieve broken hearted.
To restore her usual confident self, she returned to her habitual shopping spree and sampling of men. She went on dates. She had men doing her bidding yet, she felt empty. She broke off engagements. She lived her life this way attempting to forget that she could be, and was attracted to women. She still found herself plagued by memories of what could have been with Veya. She knew she needed to let that go and move on with her life, and she knew just the cure for that! A vacation! She would go to Giselle’s in Madagascar! Giselle had been inviting her since they both graduated from college and Giselle left the US to return to her island. She called Giselle up and arranged a visit.
They were both equally excited to see each other, but Genevieve, even more so at the possibility of meeting someone who might take her mind off Veya. She arrived the day after Christmas, intent on beginning her 30th year with a new attitude.
Marigot was fine, spell that with capital letters and embellish it with italics and an exclamation mark. FINE! Just thinking back on their initial meeting now, still brought a smile to the corners of her mouth. A young black man with a Caribbean accent to die for, Marigot was the sommelier who served Giselle and her that first night of her vacation to Madagascar. Genevieve had just arrived, and on the way home from the airport Giselle had suggested they stop at her favorite local bar to get a drink to celebrate a reunion that was long overdue. Three years since Giselle had been out of college, six for Genevieve. After hugs and kisses, they made their way to Midnight Waves, Giselle’s hang-out.
No sooner had they been seated than out came this fine young man asking what they would like to drink. A tall glass of you! Genevieve thought quietly to herself. Not wanting to embarrass Giselle, she looked at him intensely and asked, “What would you recommend for a long overdue reunion?” He smiled and returned her intense gaze with one that surpassed hers and made her spine tingle. He recovered in time to begin offering suggestions just as his manager came out to say hello to Giselle. Genevieve didn’t drink much and usually stuck to the staples of imported beers and white wines. Afraid to appear boring, she asked him to surprise her. He returned with a glass of Muscat for her and a Campari on ice for Giselle. He returned a few minutes later and inquired “How are you ladies doing?” Genevieve made sure to catch his eye as she answered.
Giselle had barely started the engine when Genevieve began inquiring about their waiter. Giselle gave Genevieve the quick run-down. His name was Marigot. He was in his mid-thirties and reputedly single. Had a five-year old he adored, from a woman who gave him hell to pay. He was hot. That’s all that mattered at that moment. “Do you have his number?” Giselle shook her head but promised to get it for her at work the next day. They arrived at Giselle’s, and after giving her the grand tour and showing Genevieve her bedroom, Giselle left Genevieve to her thoughts. Genevieve had plenty of those that night and they all centered on the chance meeting. She smiled to herself as she replayed the five-minute encounter in her head. Marigot.
Did she mention the man was fine? He stood at six two, with about 200 pounds of muscle, and had skin the shade of dark chocolate with raspberry flavoring. His arms were cut as if he worked out regularly; he blamed it all on his second job. He wore a heavy-linked chain around his neck on which hung a gold US dollar coin flirting with his collarbones. Genevieve wondered what the story behind that coin was.
She snapped out of her reverie as she recalled the current event that had led to Giselle’s chastising. Even though Giselle had warned against it, Genevieve had done it; Genevieve had told Marigot a few minutes into his hugs and attempted kisses that things were different this time. The pain on his face tore at her heart. She could not have known his reaction, or hers at seeing his pain. She felt that the same knife she had stabbed him with had managed to pierce her heart as well. She looked wistfully at Marigot as he got into his truck to drive away. “You are no fun this time,” he grunted. Genevieve lowered her head in sadness knowing that Marigot was right, and she could not blame him. She knew all too well the pain of unrequited love.