“You look really good today, you’re like glowing,” Daisy said as we stood on the New York sidewalk. The only way I could respond to this comment was to smile because the day she said this to me was the day after I was told my father had passed.
Daisy is an acting couch of mine. It’s always nice randomly running into her.
I thought later maybe what my dad left behind, all he saw, observed, felt, inhabited went into me and made my brown skin illuminate with a glow that was undeniable. Perhaps that’s too mystical. I’m not into that stuff. I was just a thirty-three-year-old man at the time trying to get through and wrap my head around the loss of a person I loved very much.
I went to the beach later that same week that I ran into Daisy. It was early May and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, NY had a decent crowd of people around. I walked the boardwalk and looked out at the vast blue sky, calm ocean below it, amongst many Russians walking about in the hot weather. I walked down to the cross section between Brighton and Coney Island. I turned back around and headed back towards where I came. I’d been here various times, whether it was with friends, or associates, but mainly by myself. I preferred to be by myself. I’m a loner. And I grew to enjoy it. I just accept that it was a part of my lifestyle. It suited me well. My dad didn’t mind being by himself, he’d just get up early in the morning and leave the house to go to New York. We lived in New Jersey, I still do, which in my opinion, doesn’t compare to New York. But it’s cheaper so that’s where I reside for now. He’d go to the Museum of Modern Art or the MET on 5th avenue. He’d study the masters, sit and draw. He was a painter, sketch artist; he was into African mask, oil paintings, sculptures, pastels, whatever, open to it all. His favorite artist was Picasso. He admired his range and freedom to do whatever he felt like doing as an artist. And he admired Leonardo Da Vinci. He studied the anatomy of the body like Leonardo. He loved to draw. This is what he did as a career and was able to make a living out of it. He had several art exhibits throughout New York. Me and my older brother would attend. Our mom would occasionally show up. She wasn’t much of an art lover. Many people would show up; family from Brooklyn and associates from his past jobs.
I always enjoyed to watch people’s reaction as they looked at his artwork. Some would stand for awhile in front of one art piece and observe and discuss it amongst each other. They’d express their thoughts.
One day, there in the crowd was a tall dark skin woman. She was young and pretty with long shiny black hair. She wore red lipstick on her full lips, a fitted black dress that came slightly above her knees and white high heel shoes. She stood, holding her glass, with a group of women. Her friends. I watched her walk around with them. I wanted to point her out to my brother but he was probably in the bathroom. At one point she walked away from her group of friends to the refreshment table. I walked towards her and she looked in my direction and we looked right at each other. I didn’t want to stare but I couldn’t help it, plus I wanted to make sure she saw that I notice her. I smiled at her and she returned a pleasant smile and put her empty glass down and walked across the room. I tried not to lose her in the crowd. I followed her scent, it had to be hers; it smelled like lily flowers with a citrus touch to it. I felt like I was going to levitate, her aroma and presence made me so high. Suddenly one of my cousins called across the room for me. I looked back and saw who it is. He waved me over to him. He was excited to see me; it’d been so long. I looked back to see if I saw her, but I’d lost her.
Later that night I caught her walking towards the entrance. She smiled at me and said, “Come outside.”
There was a slight breeze, but still warm outside. The blue-black sky lit by the moonlight.
“I’ve been following your father’s work for a long time now.”
“Did you get to meet him?”
“I did, briefly. He seems shy.”
“A lot of artist are. He prefers his work to speak for itself.”
“Thank you for coming through.”
“You live around here?”
“I’m in Brooklyn.”
“Really, what part?”
“Like my dad.”
“That’s right. We’re you born there too?”
“No, the Bronx.”
“Nice. I have family there too.”
“You came by yourself?”
“Yeah, I like to get up and just go.”
“I hear that.”
“What’s your name?”
“Taneisha,” she said shaking my stretched hand.
“I’ll give you my card.”
She took my card and read it.
“Oh, you’re a writer and actor.”
“Yes. You’ll see some of my work on my website.”
“That’s what’s up.”
“What do you do?”
“I babysit for a family.”
“Upper West side.”
“You like it?”
“It’s exhausting. They’re nice people. My uber is here.”
“Text me you’re number.”
“Okay, I will.” She starts to walk to the car.
“I got you,” she smiled.
“Nice meeting you Taneisha.”
“Good night Kevin.” She walked to the Uber smiling. I watched her ride away and then walked back into the art gallery.
She kept her word; she texts me her number. A few days after that night we met my dad had a heart attack. She was concern because she didn’t hear from me so she texts me. I text her back and told her that my dad passed and she gave me her condolences. She also said in the text if I needed anyone to talk to, I could call her. I told her ‘thank you’.
Many people said that at my dad’s funeral- ‘if you need someone to talk to, I’m here.’ I sometimes thought to myself, why don’t you just call me, because I’m not in the mood to pick up the phone and call anyone. At least if the person called me, I’d see that the person put in the effort to check on me. I never did call anyone because of the pain I felt. I cried it out- in my bedroom and then the shower. I cried so hard in the shower I almost fainted. I spoke to God and wrote poetry; this was my therapy. And that’s why when I woke up that day and like my dad I headed out the house and took the subway and walked the streets he walked, went to the beach he chilled at. Strangely, that night, heading back home from the beach, I thought to myself I couldn’t wait to get back home to share with him where I gone and what I saw, but then it hit me, that he wouldn’t be home. Not that night. Not even the next morning. Or the next. The void was real.
By the end of that year, I had written a new novella and performed in a short movie directed by a close friend of mine. He paid me. One late afternoon I took a trip to New York with over three hundred dollars in my pocket, a large black umbrella and a novel to read. I walked to SOHO from 9th street station. Once I reached Prince Street, I walked into McNally Jackson Bookstore. One of my favorite bookstores. I don’t believe in coincidence, so when I saw Taneisha standing in the magazine section I knew it was meant to be; I had been thinking about her that morning as I laid in bed, looking out the window, daydreaming.
She stood there in a long brown coat, short dark hair, leather gloves, black lace boots, red lipstick, black eyeliner and purple eye makeup. Her dark skin looked so smooth and shiny under the light. She looked so pretty. I walked through the crowd towards her. She turned and we looked at each other (reminiscent of the art gallery). We smiled at each other and hugged. She held me tight. She felt so soft in my arms. We wanted to get coffee there in the café but no seat was available. She bought a book and a magazine and we left. We walked to Spring Street, not far from the bookstore and went into Joe and the Juice to grab coffee. I told her how nice she smelled but she just waved it off and said ‘it’s just body spray.’ We sat and drunk our coffee and talked over the loud music and the chatter around us. We were so attentive towards each other, none of what was going on around us distracted us.
“How’s the family?”
“One day at a time. It’s the toughest loss I ever had. I mean in the, I lost my great grandmother, uncles, cousins, a school friend, but this…this is much different. Your dad is still around?”
“The two of you get along?”
“Good. Me and my dad did too. Especially the last few months of his life. We spent more time together, without knowing he would be gone soon. He showed me his latest artwork. He has like thousands finished that no one has seen. I pick the ones I like best and he’d ask me why and he’d tell me what he used to draw them, sharing what he did to achieve the look, you know. Over time, his heart was pumping irregularly. He took medicine. But one night he had a heart attack. It just gave out on him. And the day before, or I should say early that morning, he told me how proud he was of me and how he noticed my acting had improved since I started as a teen. He wasn’t much of a reader, at least that’s what he told people, but he read a lot, and he read most of my stories. He always asked how many chapters had I written, just curious, motivating me to keep writing.”
She looked at me with those attentive almond shaped hazel eyes and listened. I drunk more of my coffee.
“I’m going to miss him sharing his stories, growing up in Brooklyn. Him talking about art. He was a great storyteller. That’s where I get it from. He was a good man. I miss him. I miss him so much.” The coffee became blurry, from the tears. Taneisha put her hand on my arm, rubbing it gently.
Over the next few years, she and I would meet up in New York and hang out. We’d go to the movies, museums, eat in nice restaurants (not too expensive), we would walk through Central Park and during the summer we’d go to the beach. She would swim, I’d just watch and walk across the shoreline watching the sunset over her as she floated on her back in the ocean. When we walked through the streets she grew up on, she’d point out where she played as a little girl with her friends and we walk by the small bodega she bought her candy at. She showed me where some of her relatives live. Every time we walked together, I was smitten by her joyful spirit and her beautiful smile.
That day we walked through her neighborhood, I took her by the hand and looked into her eyes.
“Thank you Taneisha.”
“It’s been five years since my dad died. And you’ve been with me all the way. You were there for me when I needed someone the most.”
She looked at me and smiled, “Anytime Kevin. I’m happy to see you pull through.”
There was a sincere look in her eyes and voice that I’d carry with me for the rest of my life.