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Due to a foolhardy mix of “the wrong stuff,” I couldn’t sleep. I told her about how when my Jamaican grandmother came to America, she thought snow was cotton falling from the sky.This woman, though she had work in the morning, remained awake, silent, listening to me.
I was unaware of how difficult it was to evict tenants of the mind. An autumnal wind passed through Washington Square Park.I was sitting on a cold slab of granite facing the barren fountain.Next to me was a classmate from freshman year, but she and I had recently become better acquainted at a party I threw. We spent hours sitting together; on benches in Gramercy, in parks, in my room, in dining halls, and anywhere else we could speak without being bothered.Instead of producing sweaty palms and gut-wrenching nausea, this anxiety manifested as questions that still meet in the alleys of my mind, blazing most fervently whenever I date white women.Such questions revolve around if my partner’s parents will accept me, if my manhood will live up to her expectations, what I will do if she ever says “nigger”—whether in passing, or even “nigga” while singing along to a popular song—and why I put myself in situations where I have to weigh the cost of silence versus the benefits of romance.