Originally published by The Washington Post on September 9, 2016
Falling in love isn’t something I planned on. Nonetheless, I woke up on a Sunday morning, and like everyone else in Washington, D.C., who forgot to make a brunch reservation, I headed to the Dupont Circle farmers market.
It was midsummer. A Nile River of sweat was flowing from my hairline to the small of my back, but regardless I stepped into the line for iced coffee with the brunch-less masses. Clutching my reusable shopping bag, sticky with sweat, I made eye contact with the bearded purveyor of locally sourced cold brew, the man of my dreams.
Lost in his eyes, I struggled to find the right words. “Iced coffee?” he said. “It’s like you read my mind,” I replied. In the moments it took him to pour my drink, snapshots of our future life together flashed in my mind. Me, rubbing beard oil though his rugged locks. Him, watching as I rubbed beard oil through his rugged locks. But just as quickly as it began, our romance was cut short by the white girl with dreads nudging me from behind.
I wanted to scream out in protest. It was bad enough that she was appropriating another culture; now she was standing in the way of love! Hadn’t she taken enough?
However, just as I opened my mouth, my ears pricked in excitement as I heard in the distance the sound of an electric violin playing Katy Perry’s “Firework.” As I pushed through the musky crowd, I saw him and my heart skipped a beat. We fell in love like the characters in a John Green novel might — slowly, and then all at once. I unfurled a damp $1 bill from my waistband and kneeled down to drop it in his violin case. As I did so, he looked down as the sun shone full in his eyes, and he winked at me. In that moment, I knew our tartan-clad children would be the next violin-playing Von Trapps.
Before I could get his name, though, a growling in my stomach told me it was time to adventure on. If fate intended us to be together, it would bring me back to him. As I scanned the rows of vendors, full of patrons fondling tomatoes for firmness, the scent of fresh peaches pulled me toward him. Who, you ask? The peach man, my peach man. I wasn’t familiar with the indie band on his T-shirt, but I’m sure wherever Tame Impala was, they were playing our song. As he sliced the sample peaches, he took a bite and pushed the plate toward me, as if to say: I picked this one just for you. Of course, he didn’t say that out loud, but the look in his eyes told me everything I needed to know.
Not all great loves are epic poems, though; some are just short stories. With a look I let him know I would carry him in my heart for eternity — and then I turned to see what else waited for me on the horizon.
Before long I found myself nearing the end of the market. Was this the moment I left my clandestine lovers for good? Of course not. As I rounded the last tent, I found myself in a sea of wildflowers. Each bouquet I turned to was more beautiful than the last, but none were more beautiful than the ones I saw reflected in the eyes of the man who was surely my future husband, the farmer whose tent I was in. “They’re beautiful,” I said as I reached down to grab a medium-size bunch. “We grew ’em just for you,” he replied. “That’ll be six dollars.” A smooth talker who’s good with his hands? The last time I felt that aroused was when the 14th Street Trader Joe’s had a check-out line of less than 15 minutes.
As my future husband assisted another customer, I realized something. It wasn’t destiny that brought me here. I brought me here, and I needed to be as uninhibited as these flowers had been in the field. “I’m sorry,” I said as I turned toward my farmer, “but I need to be free.” I turned and walked away into the balmy afternoon.