1 – Must Be Chemistry (Zyara)

When you live, you learn. This allows for you to be able to provide an accurate account of what went down. It also makes room for you to review what you did right, cringe at the things you did wrong, and find peace in doing things differently when you move forward. I can tell you that dating has its ups and downs. However, dating a married man has proven to be straight downhill. Most people will pass judgement on my situation before even knowing the details. Yes, dating a married man is morally wrong and unethical for obvious reasons, I suppose. So is fornicating and having a baby out of wedlock. The truth is these “situations” are hardly ever planned. Who really wakes up with the goal of seeking out a man who is legally committed to another woman? Certainly not me. But this happened to me and I wasn’t prepared. I experienced feelings of intense love to utter betrayal, yet I’m the one that’s wrong. Consider this – What if you feel like as a single woman, it isn’t your responsibility to care about his wife? And his family? What if he was yours first? Each story has three sides. Well this is my side of it.

Djembe was my friend long before anything happened. He admitted he was attracted to me from the first day of meeting in college, but I was clueless. I was so caught up in my failing relationship with Mark that I was unable to receive, much less interpret the non-verbal messages Djembe was sending my way. I worked diligently at maintaining my focus on my family and my goals to complete my degree.

He was studying to become a pharmacist. I studied for entry into the medical assistant program. Our professor Dr. Cohn was a comedian who’d missed his calling. Settling as chair of the Biological Sciences department at Long Island University, he performed academic stand-up routines in place of Chemistry lectures. I had a seemingly good rapport with Dr. Cohn and often visited his office to discuss my future career goals. He’d advised me that medicine was a great field to get into however, a vigorous one for a young, full-time employed mother. I had much to consider and although I had a passion for medicine, there wouldn’t be enough room for the medical assistant program, the full-time job and the family. I had to make some major decisions and soon.

Djembe came from a similar background as mine. We were both children of Caribbean parents and had multiple siblings. That was only the beginning of what we would share. We were also passionate about being in love. How we met? We met in Chemistry class. I know, ironic right? Nearing the close of the Fall semester, a fellow classmate, Tessa, approached me. She pulled me aside and told me that Djembe was interested and wanted to make contact. I thought she was joking but she was serious. She went further to inform me that he is a great man and that I needed to pay attention. I wasn’t sure why Tessa was so adamant about hooking me up with him but I just responded with “ok.”

After my encounter with Tessa, I became more conscious of the stares and the burning eyes on my neck from the rear of the classroom. On the last day of class, Djembe came over to me and offered to give me a ride home. Home was the apartment I shared with Shawn’s father. It was cold and although I probably shouldn’t have accepted the ride, I knew I didn’t want to ride the train and then take that long walk from the station. With that in mind, I kindly accepted.

I told him the area I lived and he assured me he knew exactly where to go. I’d find out later he meant that in more ways than one. We walked to his car and talked about how we think we did on the final. I already knew there was a slight chance that I’d failed and somehow, I wasn’t worried about it. He insisted he did just alright and probably should’ve done better.

On the drive, he stopped at a bodega. He returned with an endearing cup of peppermint tea. I was smitten. Djembe paid attention to detail. He noticed that I arrived to class late, always with a cup of peppermint tea in hand. His notice of that made me smile.

I had Djembe drop me a block from my building. I didn’t want anyone to see me exiting his vehicle. Mark would not understand that it was just a ride and nothing else. Djembe offered his number and email and urged that we keep in touch. He seemed sincere and I was already drawn in. I accepted his information and gave him mine. Nothing happened that night but I had a feeling that something might if we saw each other again especially outside of the classroom.