Stories: "We Shouldn't Go To Church Together Anymore"
As I was leaving church, the girl in front of me fell walking down the stairs. Not with grace, but with a thud. Her Bible came with, smacking the ground upon landing. One would think she caught the Holy Ghost.
But this girl who fell made falling look good. I noticed her all service, and as we were being ushered into the chapel, I deliberately sat right next to her, you know, just in case she forgot her Bible and needed one to share.
It turns out, she didn’t need a Bible, she had her own, but when she fell, and her Bible came down with her, right at my feet, I saw my opportunity. I helped her up, trying not to laugh, but definitely smiling, and what I liked about her was, she was smiling too. Smiling like someone else fell, not her.
“Here you go,” I said, handing her the Bible.
“Oh, thank you,” she said.
“Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.”
“Oh it happens to me all the time,” she replied.
“Well, then that must mean you’re better than everybody.”
It was a corny thing to say. She knew it, and I knew it, but we kept walking and chatted briefly about the service.
The two of us never saw each other prior to that Sunday, but as it turns out, she, like me, always went to 9:00 service. After that Sunday, we saw each other more times than we missed each other, pleasant coincidences. But I hesitated to make any move beyond our brief chats as we walked to her subway stop after service. We peppered each other with easy, get-to-know-each-other questions, just to feel each other out. Then, after the third our fourth run-in, I decided it was time for us to choreograph our church attendance.
“Hey, how about instead of running into each other next week, we just meet before service starts and walk in together,” I suggested.
“Yeah, let’s do that,” she said.
We exchanged phone numbers, and before I headed in my direction, I told her not to worry, I would use the number only on Sundays.
From there, we started meeting up at the corner down the block from where the church was, every Sunday. And still, we kept everything light, talking about the word of the day, finding out where we went to school and what we did for a living. She told me about her career and her side hustle. I told her about this blog. It was all so surface, but I started to think about these surface level questions long after Sunday passed, sometimes on a Wednesday or a Thursday. And I got the sense, she did too. So one Sunday, I finally mustered up the courage to ask her if we could hang out on a day other than Sunday at a time other than 9:00.
“You’re going to get me in trouble,” she coyly replied.
I knew what that meant. She had a man.
“You have a boyfriend, huh?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Oh okay, well then…we’ll keep it at church.”
I wasn’t embarrassed. More relieved if anything, because knowing the specifics of her situation helped me relax a little bit more around her. Not only that, her answer led me to believe, she was feeling what I felt. She didn’t say, “No.” She said I was going to get her in trouble, which meant, in her head, she already got in trouble with me a thousand times. But I didn’t press. I let it go.
The next Sunday, as Church Girl and I were walking in to church together, she mentioned both our alma maters were playing in a game against one another later that week. Of course, trash talking began, and I asked if she wanted to make the game interesting by placing a bet.
“What’d you have in mind,” she asked.
“If my school wins, you have to take me to brunch after church. If you’re team wins…”
She finished my sentence, “You have to write about me.”
“Write about you?”
“Yeah,” she said. “On your blog, you have to write about how you tried to go out with me but couldn’t, because you always seem to write about all these girls you get with. You should write about the girls you can’t get with.”
I told her, “But, you want to get with me, you just can’t, and I would say that.”
She sucked her teeth and said, “Whatever. If my school wins, you write about this.”
I agreed. “Okay, Mrs. Jones. That’s a bet.”
(Since I’m writing about this right now, one would think her school won, and this whole story is my paying back the debt I owe. But, let it be known, brunch was delicious.)
My school won, her school lost, and we went to brunch. The conversation revolved around two things, this thing her and I developed over many a church service, and her boyfriend who, for all intents and purposes, she sounded perfectly happy with. I came away from the brunch sure of two things about how she felt: 1) She would if she could and 2) she can’t, so she won’t.
We were each others church crush. Sunday things, who thought about each other the six other days of the week, but never showed it, unless one wants to count all the times we sat a little too close together in the church pews, and the occasional check-up text in the middle of the week.
Then, a few weeks after our brunch, she replied to my mid-week “How are you?” check-up text with some shocking news. The text read: “My boyfriend broke up with me.”
She didn’t give me many details, and I didn’t really ask for any. As a matter of fact, I knew to leave it alone. It wasn’t my place, it wasn’t my business, so I didn’t press. Conveniently enough, we were both out of town on different Sundays for the next couple of weeks, which made it even easier for us to give each other some space. Sure it was only once a week, but when she told me her boyfriend broke up with her, I couldn’t help but feel like I was somewhat responsible, but again, I didn’t know any specifics.
After the weeks out of town passed, and I knew we would both be at the next service, I sent Church Girl a text to see if she wanted to meet up beforehand the old fashioned way. I didn’t bother asking for updates on her boyfriend, but I did say I was looking forward to church and seeing her.
She replied via text: “I am going to church, but we shouldn’t go to church together anymore.”
“Why,” I text back.
Her text said, “My boyfriend and I got back together, some of his friends go there, I don’t need anymore issues. It sucks but it’s the right thing to do.”
“Okay,” I text back. “I understand.”
Another text from her followed: “We can speak, I just don’t want anyone seeing us sitting together and starting some stuff.”
“Well, if I see you, I’ll say hi,” I wrote back.
“Do that,” she replied.
A couple Sundays later, as I was leaving the church, she walked out of a separate door at the same time. As per my text, I said hello, she said hello back. We walked in the same direction and chatted real briefly. Then, we hugged and as I walked away, I thought about that brunch we had, and laughed to myself.
She won the bet.