Faraji wasn’t waiting until New Year’s Eve; he made his resolution on the hottest day of the summer. He was never going to enter another season of spring as a single man.
His swinging bachelor years, brief as they had been, had only swung between two extremes: bizarre fate and bad luck. For some reason, he never found it difficult to find dates in autumn, even steady dating partners who would stick with him through the winter months. But once the buds showed even the slightest hint of appearing on the trees, then came the inevitable breakup.
He needed to cultivate a long-term relationship. He needed a partner who would stick with him through the most depressing and desolate seasons and on through the uplifting and joyous ones. Finding such a partner couldn’t rest on luck or fate. It would take skill and work, especially if he wanted to find a partner who’d tolerate his work habits and understand where he was coming from.
He was born in America but his Kenyan mother insisted on giving him a name that would forever remind him of his roots. That was the extent of his cultural upbringing. His mother left for parts unknown three years after he was born, and his father had little interest in Kenya and even less in Faraji. Neglect and apathy were his real roots.
He was mostly left to his own devices when he came of age. His father provided food and shelter and, more begrudgingly, sporadic funds and occasional rides to and from his after-school activities. Faraji had persevered through it all, working hard enough and presenting well enough to earn a full-ride to an upper-tier school. After graduating, he never saw or heard from his father, nor had he bothered to reach out. He was determined to make himself a new man, unbound by any ties to family or home, ties already so flimsy they may as well be gossamer.
In the big-enough city of Washington, D.C., he had galaxies of women to choose from—women of every shape, size, color, and nationality—a whole universe of potentials. That is, he had such choices when he wasn’t working himself to the bone trying to keep clothes on his back, food on his table, and a roof over his head. It was two years before he was financially and psychologically comfortable enough—wholly in his own skin—to begin approaching women, chatting them up, and requesting to keep their company over sips of tea or a quick bite. He had had success with some, much less with others. It was another four years before he finally realized he was approaching the same types of women over and over.
He eventually figured that, due to some subconscious design, he’d been limiting himself. Out of the entire universe available to him, he primarily gravitated toward women who looked like him: African American, Afro Caribbean, African, Kenyan . . . Of course there was variety within those groups, but he felt it was time to go broader. Much broader.