My weekend with my grandparents went by quickly, and was the perfect amount of time to spend in the country. It was relaxing being there with them, without any books or any loud noise from hall, and of course, they spoiled me rotten while I was there. I probably ate more that weekend than I had the entire week before. When Arlene and her father came to pick me up on Sunday, I was sad to go, but ready to get back to campus and excited about my date with Omar that evening.
“I’m sorry I can’t drive you all the way back to town,” her father said sorrowfully as the car came to a stop. “But I promised Miss Gordon I would tek her around today.”
“That’s OK, Daddy. We had a fun time on the bus ride here, I’m sure we’ll have fun on the way back.” And we did, the trip back to Kingston felt just as short as the ride to Mandeville had. We talked about my childhood memories of Jamaica, my experiences growing up in the big city, and how it felt for me to be an only child. I felt much closer to Arlene by the time that we got back to campus, like now we knew each other a lot better than we did a few days before.
As I unpacked my overnight bag, I thought to myself, How nice would it be to have weekends like that all the time? Back in Canada, I could never have just taken a couple of days to go spend with family. Except for a few distant relatives in the States, and a second or third cousin in Ottawa who didn’t seem all there, my extended family was all in Jamaica. Whatever I end up doing with my life, I resolved, I’m going to need to make a lot of money so that I can come back to Jamaica all the time.
I checked my watch and saw that I still had two hours before my date with Omar. That left me with an hour for a nap to get me rejuvenated again, and another hour to get ready. I hoped that would be enough time. I wanted to make sure I looked really good for the date. That was part of the excitement of going on a date with someone new and I realized I’d missed that. I’d forgotten how much fun dating is! It had been a while; the last time I’d been on a first date was with Colin about a year and a half ago. As long as the guy was a good guy, first dates were always fun.
When I was finally ready, I knocked on Cassandra’s door to get her opinion. “What do you think, is this OK for a dinner-movie first date?” I had my hair down with some loose curls and was wearing a white one-shouldered tank, skinny jeans and nude-coloured pumps.
“Wow, you look really nice, Nadiya!” she marvelled. “Omar’s going to lose his mind, trust me.”
I giggled in response. “I hope not! I don’t need to be out on the streets of Kingston with a madman.” Before I could continue, my cell phone rang. “And there’s the madman now,” I said with a smile, looking at the number on the screen.
“Hi Nadiya!” he greeted me. “Are you almost ready to go?”
“You have perfect timing; I’m all set.”
“OK, good, I’ll be there in a few minutes. Good news for you, I borrowed my friend’s car. No ten toe turbo tonight!”
I giggled. “Glad to hear it. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to walk from here to the restaurant. OK, see you soon.”
Cassandra and I went into the common room to wait for him, but we had barely gotten settled on the couch before Omar was at the door to the flat. He grinned widely when I opened the door and he saw me. “Wow, you look great! As usual.”
Cassandra winked at me from her spot on the couch. “Have fun, you two. Don’t keep her out too late, Omar.”
He kissed his teeth, feigning annoyance. “Chuh, that’s why I don’t live at home, you know. Don’t bother waiting up!” He grabbed my hand and we were out the door.
“So where are we going to eat tonight?” I asked as we walked towards the car, him still holding on to my hand.
“To the best Chinese restaurant in town. You said you like Chinese, right?”
“I do, I love Chinese.”
“OK, then you’re going to love this place.”
He was right. He took me to Jade Garden at Sovereign Centre, a restaurant that I had heard about but had never been to, and I was wowed by how good the food was. I was also wowed by the prices of the meals that we got, but Omar clearly was willing to spend the money on me.
“So tell me about yourself,” I instructed him once we were seated and had ordered.
“Well, where do I begin?” he asked rhetorically, leaning back in his chair and staring off into space. “I was born on a rainy Sunday afternoon…”
I started to giggle. “No, I’m serious! You don’t need to tell me everything about yourself, but I just want to learn more about you. I know it’s a cliche request, but that’s the point of a date, right?”
“No, you’re right, I was just teasing. I was born on a rainy Sunday afternoon though!” So I got to know a lot more about Omar over the course of our conversation at dinner, and I liked what I learned. We spent a good amount of time talking about our futures and where we saw ourselves in a few years. Omar was in his second year in the African Studies programme, but unlike me, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. After finishing his degree, he planned to go to England, where he had family, to get a master’s degree in international relations. He even knew which school he wanted to go to. Then he wanted to go back to Grenada, where he was from, and get into politics. He wasn’t sure if his aspirations went as high as prime minister, but he definitely wanted to be a major player in Grenadian politics. His family knew some people in government and he had every intention of using his connections.
“Wow, that’s so great that you know exactly what you want to do,” I said in awe and in envy. “I’m still so up in the air about it. Once I leave Jamaica, I’m going to have to start applying for grad school, or for law school, or for whatever it is that I decide I want to do, and I still feel so clueless.”
“You’ll figure it out, Nadiya, don’t worry. You seem to be thinking about it a lot, and you’re a very smart girl, so I’m sure you’ll know what you want by the time that you leave here.”
“I hope so,” I sighed. “We’ll see what I learn about myself over the course of the year, I guess, right?”
“Exactly!” He glanced at his watch. “We should probably get the bill now so that we get to our movie on time.”
Once Omar had paid the bill, we walked over to the movie theatre that was in the same centre and saw a romantic comedy that Omar had picked. I raised an eyebrow at his choice; I was sure that if he was with his friends, he would have picked the big-budget action film that was out instead. And honestly, I would rather have seen that movie too. But it was a sweet gesture from a sweet guy.
The movie was hopelessly sappy but thankfully not too long and It was shortly after midnight when we got back to campus. He walked me all the way to the door of my flat. “So did you have a good time tonight?” he asked with a nervous smile once we got to the door.
I beamed back at him. “I had a wonderful time. Thank you so much. I hope that we can do it again soon.”
“Of course we can! Anytime that you want. Anytime.” We both stared at each other for an awkward moment, and then I decided that I had better turn away and go inside before he leaned in for a kiss. He looked disappointed, but I’d suddenly realized that I wasn’t ready to kiss him, at least not yet. Besides, if anyone saw us, the Rex rumour mill would very quickly be abuzz. Much as I loved to hear gossip about other people, I wasn’t ready yet for gossip to be flying around about Omar and me.