I have no children.
Ironically, there are many women in my life who have claimed me as their baby’s father. Usually, these kids don’t really exist. As in, it’s a joke. Sometimes there will be a kid who looks like me, so the joke is I’m their real daddy. And other times, people just accuse me of being a closet heterosexual with kids stashed away somewhere.
One of my baby’s mamas (We’ll call her Hot Mama) came over to visit today for an alumni reunion meeting. We looked through old yearbooks as a guide to figure out who would be likely to come to our reunion. It was fun. I pointed out a few guys I had crushed on and wondered where they were. Much like the main character in Lazarus, Adrian Collins, I have had many crushes on many boys over a long period of time. It is only recently that I haven’t had a serious one.
Hot Mama asked me if I had been dating anyone. The answer was no. I guess you could say that I had a date earlier in the winter when I entertained a guy who was otherwise occupied in the intricacies of his own life. It didn’t go anywhere, nor should it have. And before then, it had been a year since I’d gone on a date.
I don’t feel single. I generally feel fulfilled and accomplished and I don’t have a desire for children. Yes, I get lonely and some nights it’s worse than others. But it is not a chronic loneliness. Recurring. Acute. But not chronic.
For some reason, I got out one of my Georgetown yearbooks and flipped it open to the [sport redacted] page. I paused. No, it wasn’t a pause. It was a full stop. And this wave of euphoria just came over me. Hot Mama noticed it immediately.
“Well who the hell is that?” she asked.
“This right here…..this is the face that launched three novels.”
I’m of the opinion that most great works of fiction start with the question “What if?”
I won’t describe him here. I won’t tell you the sport he played. I won’t tell you anything else, really.
The events of Lazarus and Covenant and Epiphany are completely fictitious. They really are. But the people whose faces inspired the characters…the men whose eyebrows and noses and cheekbones…..and their walks and their smells and their smiles….. those guys are real.
Over the years, they became other people. “Adrian” became Adrian. He had his own story to tell and he chose me to tell it. “Savion” became Savion, and he used me to share with you the anguish of being unlucky in love, to be misunderstood as clingy and stubborn when all he wanted was his enchanted love. And “Isaiah” became Isaiah, passionate, loyal, humble, and flawed. And he used me as the medium to let you know the depth and breadth of his love for Adrian.
The aesthetic inspirations for these characters have all gone on to other, better things I suppose. From time to time, I encounter them and feel lucky to have known them then, and grateful to know them now. I support who they are. I celebrate who they became. And I’m thankful for what they gave me, for as a 19 year old Sophomore at Georgetown, my “Savion” and my “Isaiah” were the seeds to my “what ifs.” Those seeds became a play, first called “Behind Closed Door” then “Discretion” about a fraternity man and a varsity basketball player. And then my characters said no, tell the whole story, and tell it right. And I gave birth to Lazarus, and the characters didn’t even look like the seeds anymore. And then came Covenant and then came Epiphany, and the next thing you know it’s over a decade later and my babies didn’t remotely look, talk, or sound like their inspirations anymore.
My “what ifs” became “what is.” My crushes became “what was.”
My crushes launched three novels. Imagine what my loves will launch.