My friend Imani invited me to spend the weekend with her at her apartment in Harlem.
“You should definitely go,” said Miss Light, my most supportive and oldest friend. She was energetic and optimistic. She smiled bright and could light up any room.
“Imani’s never invited you to her house before. You should definitely go,” she repeated.
“Okay,” I said. “What are you going to do this weekend?”
“Eh, probably do a lot of cleaning up,” she said. “You know these fools are always making a mess.”
“…but call me if you need me,” she said.
Miss Light was my oldest friend in age. She hung around my family. She used to help watch me, but I didn’t really get to know her until I was about seven years old. She took a road trip with me and my mom. I had heard lots of stories about her, but we had our first conversation in the car that day.
She told me that she had traveled all over the world and met lots of different people. She loved children because they were innocent and happy, and they believed in everything they could. She told me I was like that too.
I asked my mom if I could spend more time with Miss Light. She said, “absolutely.”
I went to Miss Light’s house on Sundays. She would talk to me about everything. I thought she was like this with just me – but she had lots of friends. Some how she made time for all of us and never made any of us feel like she was too busy.
When I went to Miss Light’s house, she always made this bread for me. It was sooo good. I always wanted to eat more, but I wasn’t sure if she would think I was being greedy. Sometimes I would get so full, that I was tempted to fall asleep right there at her house while she was talking. She was just so comfortable to be around. My eyes would be so heavy, but I was afraid that she’d tell my mom that I was sleep – so I fought hard to stay awake. But now that I think about it, I don’t think she would have minded. Our friendship developed through my visits to her house.
Anyhow, back to Imani’s house. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so we caught up. I told her about my trial and errors in dating. She told me to sign up for Tinder. She said she had been on 10 dates in the last month. I hesitated.
My phone buzzed.
MISS LIGHT: How’s it going sweet pea?
ME: It’s okay.
MISS LIGHT: What’s wrong?
She always knew when I was troubled.
ME: Imani’s trying to get me to go on this dating site.
MISS LIGHT: …
ME: Well, I don’t know.
MISS LIGHT: Well is it going to hurt anybody?
ME: No, I don’t think so.
MISS LIGHT: Okay, well let your friend help you then.
ME: Help?! I don’t need help dating.
MISS LIGHT: Not to be rude, but you’re divorced and you found out the last guy you were dating was a drug dealer, so…
MISS LIGHT: Let your friend help you.
She was right. She was always right. Maybe because she was much older than me. Yet, despite her age, I felt like I could tell her anything and everything.
“Okay, Imani show me how to do Tinder.”
She set up the account and then told me to swipe left if I didn’t like their face; right if I did. I swiped and swiped, but then I got to one face – and I just stared at it. I got stuck. Do I swipe right or left?
ME: Are you still there?
MISS LIGHT: Don’t I answer you every time?
I rolled my eyes.
ME: There’s a guy up here. I’m stuck. I don’t know if I should swipe left or right.
MISS LIGHT: Swipe right.
ME: Are you sure?
MISS LIGHT: Yes.
ME: How do you know?
MISS LIGHT: Because you’re not sure. If you swipe no, then his picture might be gone forever.
ME: Hmmm, but what if he’s crazy?
MISS LIGHT: You asked me my opinion, and my opinion is that you should have a little faith.
When two people swipe right on Tinder, they are granted access to message each other.
TINDER GUY: Hey, what’s up?
…and the conversation stayed just as dry as that. Actually, I think that was about as exciting as the conversation got, with the exception of me asking him for his Instagram name. Well, I guess the guy wasn’t crazy – just a dud. I told Miss Light.
“Give the guy a break,” she said. “You never know what could happen.”
Miss Light was always so optimistic – so hopeful.
Tinder Guy liked a few of my pics on Instagram, and I liked a few of his.
A few months later, Miss Light, her old self, came to a club with me and my friend Jalisa on New Year’s Eve. She invited herself, but it wasn’t really her crowd. She didn’t like wild parties, but she didn’t embarrass me either. She stayed right by my side. And when a fight broke out, she made sure me and my friend got out safely. She even helped my friend locate her car keys after they got knocked out of her hand.
I told Miss Light that I thought I saw the Tinder Guy at the club. I showed her his picture on Instagram. I sent him a message because she told me she was sure it was him.
ME: I think I saw you at Terminal 110.
TINDER GUY: Yeah? I was there.
Miss Light was right. Tinder Guy asked why I didn’t talk to him at the club, and I said because I didn’t know his name – only his Instagram account name, and it would have been bizarre to identify him by his username. He laughed.
Eventually, Tinder Guy gave me his phone number, and we texted more. Then we talked on the phone. We went on our first date. We went to the movies, and I insisted that we go out to eat afterwards. Our date was pretty dry until I told him about a solo trip I took to Italy – then his face lit up.
I told Miss Light all of this, and she said, “Aren’t you glad I told you to go?” The Italy trip was her idea.
Tinder Guy and I kept dating and became a couple about a month later. We were spending a lot of time together, and my Sunday visits with Miss Light were becoming less frequent. She understood, but she said to make sure that I kept in touch with her. I did.
A little more than a year later, when my relationship with Tinder Guy started feeling funny and he stopped talking to me as much, I told Miss Light. She said, “Don’t worry, there’s going to be a shift in your relationship with him. He has to work some stuff out.”
I went to Miss Light’s house shortly after that and she talked to me about how a man knows when a woman is the right one for him and how he prepares himself for her. About a week later, Tinder Guy broke up with me.
I yelled at Miss Light. I told her that she lied to me. A man doesn’t let the “right woman” go, I said. She listened to me. I started going back to her house on Sundays, and I cried just about every time. And when I wasn’t at her house, I was calling her on the phone, asking her how the break up could have happened. We were talking all the time. Over time, Miss Light connected me with some other women with relationship problems, and we became friends and encouraged each other.
Miss Light also told me to use my time away from Tinder Guy wisely. She told me to start having fun, and she also told me to start writing about my hurt. So I did. I started sharing my painful stories on Facebook, I started a blog, and I went to Barbados with my close friend and had a blast. And when I started meeting guys, Miss Light cut in and said, “No! Wait for Tinder Guy!” She was so confident that we were going to get back together. I didn’t believe her.
But when Tinder Guy and I reunited and got back together, she never said “I told you so.” However, she did remind me to thank God for all of my blessings. So I did.
“Thank you God!” I said loudly.
And Miss Light looked at me right in my eyes, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re welcome.”