I remember sitting and watching tv one day. I’m not sure exactly what it was that I was watching when I saw him, but I saw him. This man with the most beautiful face and most beautiful energy I had ever seen. I was immediately in love. Not in passing love either. Not the kind of love that you see a famous person and you think, “Wow! He’s really handsome. Kudos to his parents for creating such a masterpiece.” No. It was much more than that. Much worse than that. Borderline stalker love, really. I was gone. My sanity was gone. My sensibility was gone. KyMani Marley was all I could focus on. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I was 14. Or 16. Or even 20. But I was a 36 year old woman who knew better and was rational and most of the time sane. And then I wasn’t.
I tried to find out everything I could about this guy. I googled. I bought his book. I bought his movies. I YouTubed his interviews. I did this for about 3 years. Let me clarify and say that this was not all I was doing. I worked. I dated. I went out. I had my life, but in the moments of alone time when I was sitting at home, my mind would always wander and I would start to daydream. About him. And then the obsession would gain steam. But I was still functioning in my normal life. And I didn’t have some weird Kymani Marley shrine built in my room or anywhere for that matter unless you count the hundreds of pictures I may or may not have saved on my phone that I stole from Facebook and Instagram. And maybe they weren’t all from his account. Maybe I stalked other artists who knew him and stole their pictures too. And possibly his older kid’s Instagram. I had a problem. A big one. And I knew the only way I was ever going to get over this Kymani thing was to meet him. And then I got my chance. He was performing in a club in Florida and it just so happened to be during the month of my birthday. I was turning 39 and I bought myself a ticket. It was finally happening. Or at least I thought it was. I should have bought my plane ticket when I had a chance during that little window where I could have actually afforded it before the rates start climbing the longer I waited, but I didn’t. And then life happened and my car needed work and I wasn’t able to go. I was terribly heartbroken. I blamed my Volvo. I spent the money to get a new battery and run a series of tests to find out what was wrong with her. I took her to two mechanics in the hopes that I would be able to figure it out soon. And I did. There was a whole list of shit wrong with her. At first she needed a new transmission and then it wasn’t the transmission at all but a bunch of different sensors and the list grew and grew until it was a $2000 list.
Then I was scrolling through Facebook one day and I saw his name on a post I was following for the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae cruise. My love was going to be on a boat. On a boat in the middle of the sea. On a boat in the middle of the sea with nowhere to go but into my arms. The universe was finally going to set my world straight. So I took the $2000 I could have used to fix my car and I bought a ticket to that cruise. I bought it about ten months in advance. So I had to wait quite a while. It was like torture. I even started this ridiculous countdown. I would post it almost every day. Eighty six days to go. Sixty-six days to go. Ten days to go. It was quite annoying to all my friends, I’m sure. I probably even lost some friends because of it but I haven’t figured out who unfriended me yet so I guess we weren’t all that close anyway. Thoughts of this trip occupied every free moment of my day. It even occupied moments that weren’t so free. I had to tell myself to put it out of my head. It rarely worked.
I then got the brilliant notion that I needed to take him a gift. Actors and singers are always giving people stuff. Autographs photos, etc. I know they get lots of free stuff from companies and corporations who want them to be spokesmen for them or at least that’s what I think happens, but I didn’t think they ever get really cool heartfelt gifts from fans. And never from fans that they are going to fall in love with and spend the rest of their life with, right? I was on a mission. I wracked my brain wondering what I could get this guy without seeming too stalkerish. I didn’t want to get him something too personal because then he would know that I actually was being stalkerish……. for the last few years. It’s actually pretty difficult when you feel like you know someone so well but you are really strangers. What I did know that was pretty much public knowledge was that he was a coffee drinker. What kind of gift can you get for a coffee drinker that doesn’t scream, “RUN”?
A coffee cup. I was on a mission for the perfect coffee mug. It had to be big, but not too big, but it had to hold a decent amount of coffee, not a dainty little amount, because he is a man. A strong, talented, amazing, beautiful man with big, strong, talented, amazing, beautiful man hands so he needed a big, strong, beautiful man cup. This is the part where I tell you that I searched high and low for this cup and traveled from one side of the globe to the other until I found it, but it didn’t happen like that at all. It was way more magical than that. It practically fell into my lap.
I went to an artisan fair. I hadn’t really planned on going but it popped up in my events online and it was right next to where I live and I was already out and about so why not? I walked in, looked around at some of the other artists and then I turned the corner and there was a guy selling pottery. I saw the cup immediately. It was big and only half glazed with a tree of life burned into it. It was about twice the size of a normal coffee cup and it was so comfortable to hold. It. Was. Perfect. I bought it immediately and I hadn’t been there for ten minutes or seen any of the other potters yet, but I knew this was the one. I walked around and looked at all the other pottery that was there, but none compared to what I was already holding. He was going to love it. He was going to think of me every time he drank coffee out of it. And he was going to always drink coffee out of it because he was going to fall in love at first sight with me. Remember?
The day finally arrived. I had my bag packed for at least a week or two. Mentally I was on the boat way before that. I started with a little carry on size suitcase and I just kept adding and adding to it. What outfit would I want to wear when Kymani saw me and fell madly in love and we lived happily ever after? I just kept adding more and more to this suitcase until I had to call my mom and ask her for her super large suitcase that I could literally have fit Mr. Marley himself in if I had the wherewithal to be a kidnapper. I feel like I shouldn’t have to clarify that I was planning no such thing, because he was going to willingly fall in love with me, not like when the abducted falls in love with the abductor, but even my super close friend, Samantha, who knows me, may have said a time or two, “You’re going to jail!” So maybe it wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities, but didn’t happen.
What did happen was I got to Florida and used Airbnb to stay with this very nice family in Miami. I took a plane. I took a train. I took a bus. I took a taxi. Never take a taxi in Miami. Unless you like being totally screwed over, in which case, I highly recommend it. I explored the world (of Miami). At this point my rational mind was mostly gone. He was all I could think about. I wonder if he’s eaten here. I wonder if he’s walked on this part of the beach. I wonder if that white dress is going to make him fall in love with me. Or will it be the white pants? Or will it be my stunning personality? I had pretty much gone mad. And I wasn’t even on the boat yet. I had almost two days before I would leave, but I made the best of it by going out and wandering around.
There was a pre-sailing party that was going to be happening at this club called Toe Jam Backlot which was actually super cool. I didn’t know if Kymani would be there but I wasn’t going to miss it if he was and I wasn’t going to use a cab again because the first one took advantage of me just going from the airport to the place I was staying. He charged me an arm and a leg and it was not three blocks from the airport. I walked it a few times after I got there because that is also where the train station is that takes you everywhere else you may want to go. I walked to the train station and took the train to the city bus terminal or close to it. It’s all really a blur because I was so excited. I was using the GPS on my phone to figure out where I was in relation to the club. When I got to the bus station I just broke down and asked someone and then he used the GPS on his phone because he never heard of the place. After he saw where it was he looked at me and said, “Are you going there by yourself?” And I replied, “Yes, but there will be other people there.” He then proceeded to tell me that it was in a pretty bad neighborhood and maybe I shouldn’t be going there at night or at all because there’s lots of drugs and homeless people and murders, but I was determined. And optimistic.
The bus ended up being super late. Or maybe I read the schedule wrong. I still don’t really know. I sat and talked to this stranger for about 45 minutes. He was practically in love by time I left him sitting on that bench. We exchanged Facebook info and went our separate ways. He messaged me before I even got home from the club. It was really sweet. He was sweet. And very tall. And very handsome. And twenty three. A year older than my daughter. If this guy could fall in love or infatuation with me after less than an hour then it was settled. All I had to do was get Kymani to sit down and have a 45 minute conversation with me and that would be all she wrote. I would get my happily ever after.
I went to the club and stood in line for what seemed like an eternity, but I did meet a couple of awesome girls from New York that were also going to be on the cruise and we chatted and hung out for a bit here and there after we finally got inside the club, but I am a loner and a wanderer and I bore easily so I ended up leaving after a relatively short time there because my gut told me he wasn’t coming. I left and caught a cab ride back to where I was staying. I paid $40 for a 8 minute cab ride but after walking past the droves of homeless people on the way there and the warning from young buck at the bus stop about getting murdered, it seemed like a $40 negotiation with a Haitian cab driver who didn’t want to turn his meter on seemed like a small price to pay for my life. Plus, I was leaving in the morning to meet my future.
I woke up bright and early and put on my sexy jeans with the hole in the knee and my favorite purple sweatshirt that I basically wear every day and packed the rest of my stuff and took off into the monsoon that was Miami that particular day. The people I was staying with were gracious enough to give me an umbrella for the journey and it came in very handy. I still have that purple umbrella. I’m planning on sending it back with some fresh apple cider from the mountains when it comes in season. Southern hospitality plus I’m no umbrella thief. I took the train to the park by the pier and it was pouring down rain. There were two German guys running across the street with no umbrella so I offered them some of my borrowed umbrella. They politely declined but offered me a ride to the pier because they were headed that way anyway to pick up friends who were getting in from another cruise. Of course I got into the car with two men who could have easily raped and pillaged me, but I was sure in my ability to trust my first impressions and I figured they were harmless. As it turned out, I was right. They were harmless and amazing and they definitely had some Damian Marley on their iPhones that they played on the five minute ride to my destination. I don’t remember their names if they even told me. By that time I was flying high on hopes and dreams. They dropped me off safe and sound and I never saw them again which kind of makes this a tragedy.
Ironically, as soon as I got in line at the cruise ship, I met two German girls, sisters, who were equally as awesome and amazing as the two blokes I just met. We got to know each other rather well in the three hour delay that happened due to a runaway passenger on the ship. Once we were finally on board, we ended up seeing each other over and over. I think sometimes people are meant to meet each other and I believe that was the case here. There were actually quite a few people that I ran into on a regular basis on that cruise, but that, my dears, is a completely different story. I was not there to make friends. I was not there to party. I was not there to get completely hammered and fall off the boat, although I have added that to my bucket list. I was there for one reason and one reason only, to meet Kymani and make him love me. I knew it was silly going in to it with the expectation that I was even going to meet him. There were thousands of people on the boat and a lot of my friends (or at least they were until this point) said that it was highly unlikely that I would even get close enough to look at him let alone close enough to talk to them (and then they were not my friends anymore). All of my friends except Samantha, of course. Yes, the same Samantha that said I was going to jail was also the only one who said if anybody was going to meet their soulmate superstar it would be me. We are still friends, not just for that reason, but that’s definitely one of them. You have to have faith in your friends. Even if you don’t actually have faith, pretend. It’s what good friends do.
We finally all got boarded on the ship which seemed to take an eternity. I may or may not have sat looking at the onboarding ramp for half of eternity hoping for a little glance of him getting on. I didn’t even shower or change my wet clothes. Like I said, I was on a mission. I eventually broke down and went to eat and I had a few drinks, but I didn’t get drunk. I was already on a massive high from knowing that my life was about to change. I ran into Anna and Charlotte, the German girls, again and we hung out for a bit. We watched the show that was happening. The sailing away part was postponed because of the weather. It was still raining, but the show must go on. I was exhausted by 10pm. I think I may have stayed up until eleven or maybe even midnight. I went back and forth from my cabin to the deck. I walked around the whole ship. Inside and out. A few times. I unpacked my suitcase. I did eventually shower and I laid down to sleep. I set my alarm clock to wake up before the sun because I wanted to watch the sunrise from the middle of the ocean. When I woke up, there was still a party going on in the pavilion under my room. I was so tired, I didn’t even hear it until my alarm went off, which is funny because the alarm on my phone was not near as loud as the bass coming from below.
I got up, showered again, and put my favorite jeans and purple sweatshirt back on and headed to the deck. There was drumming coming from the upper deck so that’s where I went. There was a group of Nyabinghi drummers having a sunrise celebration. That’s what I call it anyway. I’m not sure what they would call it. I sat and listened to the drumming. It was beautiful. And moving. And Kymani wasn’t there. The sunrise was also beautiful. When it was over, I met the drummers. One of which, wanted to take me to bed immediately, but I was saving myself for you know who, so I politely declined and we became friends for the next 4 days. I spent day two and day three doing the same old thing. I would nap, lay in the sun, listen to music, eat, walk around the ship (in a completely non- threatening non-stalker kind of way), but I never saw him. I met a bunch of people and I even met some of the artists who were there to perform. Everybody was so very nice. Even security, when they told me he probably wasn’t on the boat yet because some of the artists had gotten off in Jamaica from the last cruise that had immediately preceded this one and wouldn’t be getting back on until we got to Jamaica. Bubble burst. I put on my charm and asked if they would be so kind as to send him to my room when he got here because I had a gift for him that was not hidden underneath my clothes. They didn’t believe me. So I told them about the coffee cup. They said they still couldn’t bring him to my room even if my naked body was not the gift in question. Bubble double burst. But I was able to relax a bit because then I knew he wasn’t there even though I was a tad bit pissed and felt like I had been halfway ripped off.
Then we got to Jamaica and I was back on Kymani lookout. I did walk around a bit by myself in Falmouth and I got a foot tour and drank a Red Stripe and smoked a joint that cost me way more in American dollars than it should have but when in Rome. Or Jamaica. On my way back, I ran into the drummers and walked around with them for a bit. I drank coconut water out of a fresh coconut and while I was with them, the locals stopped looking at me like I was a tourist and it became fun to be there and not a bit stressful. Then I headed back to the ship to await my destiny. And I waited. And waited. And waited. He still wasn’t there. So I had to go another night without meeting him and there were only two more nights left on the cruise. I was starting to doubt the universe all together. The next day, we were in Ocho Rios. I only left the ship for a moment because I knew this had to be the port he was getting on at. There were no more stops. If he didn’t get on here, there was a very good chance that I was really going to lose my shit. I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like, but it wasn’t going to be pretty. So I got back on the ship and went to eat. Did I mention the food was amazing? Two word: Ital Stew. If you’ve never, you should. I got done eating and I was getting ready to walk out of the restaurant that I had been frequenting and out of the corner of my eye, I see a familiar figure in a familiar shirt. As it turns out, I am a stalker, because I knew it was him by just glancing. I had pretty much memorized every possible thing about him that I could memorize without ever meeting him. I had the way he stood memorized. I had the way he walked memorized. I had his hair memorized. His voice. I could have been blindfolded and picked him out of a lineup of ten thousand people. He was there. He was standing in front of me with his son. And I had a small internal debate about whether to say hello or keep walking and then his son’s mom walks up to him and says, “Are we eating here or in the room?” And I died inside. Just a little. But not enough to give up hope. Just enough to keep walking and go back to my room to sulk a bit.
Kymani performed that night and it was amazing. I was in the front row, of course. And I was right next to this asshole who wanted to record the whole thing but didn’t know any of the songs. I truly feel like the first three rows, at least, of any show should only be filled with die-hard fans. If you don’t know the words to all the songs, please step away from the stage. It turned out ok though, because the next night Protoje was there and the asshole with the camera was a huge fan of his and I kept myself directly in front of him. Karma. Anyway, Kymani performed all of the songs that I love so much and he was so close he could have dripped sweat on me. And all of a sudden I was my sister 25 years ago at a New Kids on the Block concert. I was smiling and reaching and taking pictures and I had butterflies. Yes, I had butterflies. The kind you get when the phone rings after a fantastic first date kiss. I was swooning. And then his show ended. It wasn’t nearly long enough. I left from in front of the stage and went to take my regular evening loop around the outer deck away from the crowd. I came back to where the party was and walked down to the lower deck and almost walked right into him. Anna and Charlotte were standing right in front of him and I noticed them, but I had completely overlooked him until they pointed and gave me a “What is wrong with you? There he is!” face. So I walked up to him and said, “hi. Can we take a picture?” And he said yes. One of the girls took the pictures of us. And then I took one of them. In the first picture of us, I look like someone just jumped in front of me and yelled, “SURPRISE!” But the second one, I look much more relaxed. And not a bit stalkery.
So it happened. I met him. But he obviously didn’t feel the spark because after the picture, he just went on with his life. The nerve of that man. There were a few more artists that performed after him and I watched them halfheartedly while wandering about in partially disappointed state. I walked around the upper deck again and on my way back through to the stage area, he was standing right there in my path talking to someone. And the little voice in my head said, “stay calm and don’t make it weird.” I casually walked by and gently invaded his space by placing my hand on his chest (because he is built like a greek statue and I like touching statues) and I said, “hey, I brought you a gift. If I see you at the meet and greet tomorrow, I’ll give it to you there.” What I should have said, was, “hey, I have something for you in my room, let’s take a walk so I can give it to you,” but hindsight is 20/20. And he said something along the lines of “you brought me a gift? Cool.” But I don’t remember because the fact that he talked to me had made me lose all ability to think straight. I probably couldn’t have even tied my own shoe at that moment. And then I walked away. It was a ten second interaction, just like the first. I only needed 44 minutes and 40 seconds more and he would be all mine if my 45 minute spell was to take effect. After that happened I decided there was no need for me to stay up any longer. And I went to bed.
I wish I could say this is the part where the security guard I was sweet talking came through and brought him to my room, but that part only happened in my head right before I fell asleep that night.
The next day, there was an artist meet and greet. Not all the artists were there, but some of them showed up. I had spent the morning lounging around on the deck reading a book. So I had that sweaty sunblock smell that I like so much. When the time got closer to the meet and greet, I probably should have gone to my room and changed into something more fantastical, but I went with comfort instead. I wore my The Tomato Head t-shirt because it’s my favorite restaurant and my favorite t-shirt and I had on my cut off jean shorts that used to be my other pair of favorite jeans until my thick thighs thinned them between my legs and I had no choice but to make them into shorts. Fairly short shorts. Luckily I have nice legs, so it I’m pretty comfortable and confident in them. And that was what I was going for when I met Kymani. So I got to the meet and greet and waited in line, patiently. Only four artists were there. By the time I got to the front of the line, he still hadn’t shown his beautiful face. So I turned on my charm to security again and asked them if he was coming. This whole time, I’m holding that beautiful coffee mug in my arm. I’m taking pictures with the other artists and all the while I have this random cup in the bend of my arm. I don’t know what they were thinking about it if anything. The security officer told me he would be here so I left and got back in the line and waited another hour to get back into the meet and greet room. I followed the line all the way back up. At this point, there was only about thirty minutes left before the meet and greet ended. Then in walked Protoje and I knew my man had to be right behind him. There was only ten people in front of me before I was going to go back through the artist line to meet the artists again and he was not there yet. In those few minutes I think I went through all the stages of grief. By the time I got to acceptance, he walked in and I saw his beautiful face, and hair, and arms, and hands. The things I felt all over cannot even be explained or put into words that will make any kind of sense to you, because love like this makes no damn sense.
Finally it was my turn again. In order to get to him, I had to meet three of the artists again, so I basically told them, “hey, we already did this once, I came back for Kymani, so let’s just take a selfie. Say cheese!” and I snapped a pic and made my way to him. When I finally got to him, I handed him the coffee mug and told him that I had gotten it just for him and it was hand made and since I didn’t have enough time to make him my best friend or to make him fall in love with me, I was going to settle for giving him the cup that may or may not contain a little love note with my phone number on it and taking a picture. Until I said the word “picture,” I was so wrapped up in the 45 second conversation we had, I almost forgot to hand my camera to the guy taking the pictures. I almost walked away without getting one at all. After the picture, when I was leaving, he said to me, “It’s never too late for love.” And then I died again. And tried not to trip and fall on my face on the way out.
I saw him about an hour after that and he was carrying my gift in his hand. I hope that he actually uses it and it wasn’t thrown into his “gifts from all my stalkers” box. I didn’t see him any more after that until later that night when he made an appearance on stage with Protoje. I actually stopped looking for him at that point because I had done what everyone thought was impossible. I had met my superstar soulmate. I had given him the gift I brought. And I didn’t go to jail in the process. I’d say all in all it was a success. I never got the other 43 minutes and 55 seconds I needed to make him fall in love with me, but I’m sure after he reads this he will see the error of his ways and call me since he has my number.