an episodic novel by Corey B. Buckner

Chapter 2: Hello Mr. Buckner

by Corey B. Buckner

As I sat there wondering about Tamekia's relationship status, I found myself a little bit in awe of how my interest had piqued in her so rapidly. Was I really sitting there scrolling through her pictures? Moreover, was I really just a few lines of Facebook code away from reconnecting with someone who I had shared some of the most precious and unforgettable moments of my teenage and young adult years with? Was I really in latent contact with someone who, from the time I was sixteen, I had never gotten out of my mind?

There is a story from my first marriage that I hope my former pastor remembers. It was the only time I confided in him that I desired stepping outside of my marriage. I sent him an email in which I was disclosing how unhappily married I was and how I wanted out. This was just four years into an eventually fifteen year marriage. In addition to how unequally yoked my ex wife and I were, I had recently run into a woman from my past who I had never been able to shake my vivid memories of. It was Tamekia.

I hadn't really run into her; I had seen her walking into her condo with a baby and who I assumed was her husband. This condo... it was literally right around the corner from my apartment where I lived with my family. I explained to him in detail what our past relationship was like and told him verbatim, 'this is going to be a problem for me'. His advice was, 'Obviously you need to stay away from this woman Corey,' which I did. But I made it perfectly clear to him that I felt as though I would absolutely consider stepping outside of my marriage to be with her. But I decided to remain godly in this situation, and I did as he suggested and I stayed away from her. For however long we remained neighbors at that time of our lives, I never made the one-minute trek over to her condo to 'kick the tires' on rekindling our past flames.

But there she was, after all these years, on my computer screen.

There's a certain etiquette to approaching someone of the opposite sex online; that is if you intend to be respectful and polite. Not knowing her relationship status I couldn't just slide into her DMs; especially since I knew I wouldn't be just looking for friendship. No… not with her, not with Tamekia. We were never just friends; and due to the nature of our history together, just saying hi to her could come off as extremely disrespectful to her current significant other… if she in fact had one. So I took the position that I would just be a Facebook friend and watch her posts just like the many other Facebook friends I had acquired recently.

But then something wonderful happened; my phone buzzed to notify me of an incoming message on Facebook Messenger. I didn't really use Messenger that much, so it was a little odd to receive a message on it. I looked at my phone and saw that it was from Tamekia and it read, 'Hello Mr. Buckner.'

Now this is where the dance begins. There is a subtle art to finding out the intentions of someone of the opposite sex when they slide into your DMs. I would argue that for men, this dance is less of a Waltz and more of the Lambada. It's risky and dangerous. It's complicated and someone could get hurt if you don't move just right. If you are interested in the girl then it is a high stakes game of feeling her out to find out if she is looking for a listening ear or a lap to sit on. It always feels like those are your only two options after that first slide in.

Because I had a professional presence on social media I was always getting a mixture of traffic from females who either admired my vegan diet or desired the body that my diet and exercise had gotten me. It was always a waiting game to see which ones of these women who were contacting me would eventually slide me an unsolicited nude, or start asking me about whether I was looking to get married. Some were more direct and honest about wanting to sleep with me, ranging from those looking to turn sex into marriage and those just looking for a good time.

I had so many men's wives in my DMs sending me pictures of me. Yes you read that correctly, sending me pictures of me. There were good married, Christian women in my DMs who would say 'God bless you' on my public posts, then slide in my DMs with 'God I want you.' It was shocking to me because when I got married the first time Black Planet was still becoming a thing and social media flirting/dating was just beginning. One of the last women I met before eventually rushing into marriage was a female who found me on Black Planet. I was on there looking to make connections for my music career; and I thought that she and I had just unexpectedly hit it off. It was several months into the relationship before she told me that she was on Black Planet looking for love. I was taken aback.

I am from the era when we made fun of people who took out dating classified ads or joined video dating services. I am from the era when we cautioned people that they would be murdered if they went and met up with someone that they met on the internet. Just one year after finding out that people were actually on and MySpace LOOKING for love I was married and officially out of the dating pool. As such, I completely missed the changing cultural norms that surrounded the then online dating arena that my pending divorce had dropped me in.

In that current landscape unsolicited nudes were the norm. In that current landscape it was just as common to receive a video of a woman pleasuring herself as it was to receive a genuine word of Christian encouragement. As a man, you just never knew what to expect when a woman would slide from your comments and into your DMs. Which brings me back to Tamekia.

I sat there reading that message, 'Hello Mr. Buckner,' pondering how I should respond. I was obviously interested, but didn't want to be offensive. There was a time in our shared history when I would not have cared about such things and would have just said whatever came to my mind. But I had become a different person since then and I wanted her to know that. I wanted to respect where she was in her life at that time and whatever it is that she wanted from me. So I responded politely and that is where the magic happened.

We shifted from polite pleasantries to very deep and somewhat intimate conversations about our lives in what felt like a blink of an eye. In a nutshell, it didn't take long to realize that we were both separated pending divorces that had not yet happened with no concerns about possible reconciliation. She had been separated from her then husband much longer than I had been estranged from my then wife. We both had kids, me three and her two; all of which had resulted from our relationships with our then spouses.

We ended up chatting well beyond the midnight hour filling in the gaps on what we had missed about each other over the last twenty years. Our stories were eerily similar. We had conceived children out of wedlock and ultimately married our first spouses somewhat as the result. Neither of us really wanted to, but felt we were doing the right thing. We tried to make it work, and both of us had older kids and then a younger child mere months apart from one another at times when we thought our first marriages were getting better. We both ultimately lived the reality that our first marriages returned to more of the same dysfunction that previously existed after the latter child was born. Ultimately, that renewed dysfunction was the demise of both of our relationships.

The most interesting factoid to come out of that first conversation was that once again we found out that we lived right around the corner from one another. In fact, from childhood (well before we knew one another) we realized that except for a three year period, we have never lived further than walking distance away from another. So yes, that means that we realized that night that we were living just minutes away from one another. In fact, her house was just off of my nightly running route. Of course, it would take me several months to get her exact address; but she made it perfectly clear to me that we were in fact neighbors. It was a very pleasant and promising first conversation, and it was obvious that there was more interest there on both sides beyond just being old friends.

The next evening I got a message from Tamekia with a blatant and outright reference to our shared history. It let me know that in all the years we were apart; I had still held a very special distinction in her life. While we had kind of danced around our past experiences together in the first conversation, this bold move led to more in-depth conversations about the history we shared. We were able to dig deep and really go into detail about the things we had experienced together and discuss why they had been so unforgettable for the both of us.

Over the next few weeks we started chatting almost every single night. In those early conversations we reminisced about the crazy and exciting times we had together as teens and young adults. We filled each other in on our side of the story as it relates to those teenage experiences; and it was in those conversations that it was revealed that we had unknowingly shared a once in a lifetime, coming of age moment together. Ironically; we had shared that moment together not fulling knowing the reality of what had happened for the both of us.

A mutual friend had lied to me about her, while she just made certain assumptions about me; and the end result is that twenty years earlier we had shared one of the most precious moments of life together; and didn't even know it. These conversations were beautiful; and it only took a few of them before I started completely shutting other females out of my life. I had only been separated for about eight months at this time; and was only three months into my decision that I would not be working to save my first marriage. In those short three months my phone had become overrun with potential suitors, and I was quickly forgetting about some of them and outright blocking others from being able to contact me.

I was preparing for a relationship that we had not outright discussed yet; but were obviously moving towards. I imagined that it would only be a few days or weeks before we started visiting one another's homes and moving to the next stage of the relationship. Needless to say, our conversations routinely flipped in between sweet, romantic, intellectual, sentimental, reminiscent, sensual, and outright lewd. We were blatantly and somewhat brazenly honest with each other about our pasts; as if we were airing out all our laundry so that we could enter a relationship with closets empty of any skeletons.

Every night we talked I assumed that would be the night that we finally went to see each other. Spoiler alert; although we would eventually see one another in person a few times over the next few months, THAT particular meeting that I was anticipating wouldn't happen for another six months! So what happened? How is it that two people who were obviously feening for one another; two people with a shared history that prevented them from having any boundaries or inhibitions in between them would end up staying away from one another for so long.

Well, we had a little conversation very early on and it went a little something like this?

Me: So… when do you think we are going to hookup and hangout?

Tamekia: Just so you know, I'm not randomly hooking up with someone I'm not in a serious relationship with.

Me: Well, actually I have been celibate for at least the last eight months; but it has probably been more than a year. I only started keeping track when my wife left; but I had already been abstaining long before she left.

Tamekia: Oh really? Good.

Me: Yeah, good.

Tamekia: So we can take our time?

Me: Yeah… I think that is for the best.

Don't misread my intentions. I thought 'take our time' would be 2… maybe 3 days. I had MANY women tell me that they were okay with waiting only to return to my DMs two or three days later trying to get me in their bed by the week's end. So yeah, of course I was cool with waiting. To my surprise, following that conversation, it was six months of building a real and serious relationship before we would begin going out as a couple and moving in that direction. Six months of INTENSE conversations, flirting, teasing, and verbally touching one another balanced out by the resolve to do things the best way possible to avoid getting hurt. It was six months of wonder and fascination, dating innovation, cravings with verbal and emotional intimacy combined with throbbing, pulsating desires for one another.

But we did it. We found innovative and unique ways to bond with one another. We used technology to bring us closer while keeping us at a safe distance where our carnal desires wouldn't overtake our emotional needs. We found safe ways to spend every waking moment together without succumbing to our physical appetites for one another. In the end, we did it. We built an amazing emotional relationship before indulging in a physical one. It is my belief that doing that has led us to being here right now living this fairy tale romance that neither of us saw coming.

continue to Chapter 3