In the fall of 2017, I started to drive.
I finally decided I’d had enough of hopping buses, waiting forever for TTC buses to arrive, jumping across puddles, being eternally hungry because a 5 minute drive home would take 30 minutes by bus. So I went to the Yorkdale Toyota and spoke with a guy called Ramon about getting a 2017 Corolla. After much haggling, we arrived at a very sweet deal that most people still cannot believe (even my friend who works at the Brampton Toyota says he couldn’t possibly dream of getting such a deal).
So how do I celebrate the new wheels? I throw myself into a leadership training. I’m kinda sure it’s not what you were expecting 😛
Alex Ihama’s School of Greatness was holding a conference and my Church offered to pay for every leader who wanted to go. And so I signed up. It was somewhere in Woodbridge. A w
hopping 1 hour 15 minute bus ride mere 20 minutes from home!
The first night, I was tired and I didn’t pick much up. But I got to drive Andrea, an older lady back to her home in Richmond Hill. There was a lot of traffic on the way, and I’m pretty sure I passed through a wormhole because I was driving east the whole time on Highway 7 – only for me to look at the compass and it showed me I was heading West. HOW. HOWWWWWW?
Saturday went by in a blur. I had fun.
Listen, if you think I’m trying to stall, you’re probably right.
On the Sunday, my Bishop asked me to bring the spare Keyboard from Church. I packed a lot of other extra stuff just in case the sound was as terrible as the previous day. I took my whole mainstage rig (Laptop, bass amp, USB interface, extra cables, sustain pedal). On my way there, I noticed the traffic lights weren’t working. The front desk guys at the hotel told me that because of wind damage, there was a power outage in the entire city of Woodbridge and some parts of Etobicoke, there’s no backup generator and there was no timeline as to when the power would be back.
I was annoyed I came all the way with all that stuff, but I set up anyway. In the parking lot, I saw this elderly man with a “Bishop” collar, walking with a lady and this kid in a sunny yellow dress. It was African print. I tried hard not to stare 😀
See, I often try to guess where a person is from by looking at their faces, their skin, their clothes. But with this child it was hard to tell. Her hair was a natural fro… so she had to be old enough to be this woke. Her skin was dark so she could be from Africa.Or Jamaica. The yellow African print dress… NOW that threw confusion into the mix.
As I was carrying the last of my gear into the hall, the wind slammed the glass door in my face. I have never heard something that loud – not even at a rock concert. It was so loud that people rushed out of their conference rooms to check out the noise. That pain transported me into another world! It felt like my ears were bleeding inside, I tell you.
When I got in, I was much more annoyed that the event was NOT in fact part of the conference. Mr. Alex was being commissioned as an apostle to go and teach people greatness. I felt it was something that COULD have been done in a different ceremony instead of dragging people all the way out on a Sunday evening!
The power was restored at about 5pm and I was more than happy. I played a few songs while the prayer was going on. Nobody seemed to know them except Natural Fro girl. I’d see her turn back every few minutes. She’d turn, look at me, turn back, mouth the words.
I’m not ashamed of this: I began to test her, throwing in songs that were a bit obscure in mainstream church circles. She knew EVERY one. Who is this child?
When I threw in Jeremy Camp’s “overcome” (that’s the original. Take that, Tye Tribbett gang), she visibly sighed and just lost it, breathing the song in and chewing it and enjoying it with her whole self.
It was then it occurred to me that this was probably not a child. What child worships so deeply?
So when the service ended and she walked straight towards me, I knew that she had to be at least 17. Just then her mom called her and she changed course. The old white-haired lady (I’m so sorry I never caught her name) prayed for her and she started to leave with her mom.
I refused in my spirit!
Shamelessly, I started to play the song again, just to see if it was a coincidence. The moment she heard it, she stopped in her tracks. She turned and started walking back to me.
“I just wanted to tell you – that song you’re playing? THAT’s my song”
“Oh really? I love it too. But are you old enough to know it ? It’s like 5 or 6 years old”
“oh omg. I thought you were younger”
“that’s only because I look small”
“sorry about that… erm what’s your name?”
“I’m Peter. Abby’s short for…”
“ohhh that’s cool. If you know that song then you have really good taste in music“.
I looked up and saw her Mom glance impatiently at her phone. Then she walked towards us.
“we have to leave” she said
But Abby was staring right at me, unmoving. Smiling.
“oh hi, are you Abby’s mom?” I asked, trying to break the awkward silence.
“Yes. I’m K”
“K… for Kate?”
“no, Just K.” she said, laughing.
I turned to Abby to rescue me from this Joke.
“is she for real?”
“Yeah, K as in A B C D E F G H I J K.”
“No way!” I laughed
“it’s spelled as ‘Kaye’ though”, K said.
“ahhhh, that explains it. Your daugher has really good taste in music, Kaye”.
“I know, I sing as well!”
“oh that’s cool! What church do you guys go too?”
“We came with Bishop Fisher. We go to Family Worship Centre”
Just then someone called Kaye away. Phew 😀
“I didn’t know they had one here. I know there’s one in Texas, one in Nigeria...”
Abby rolled her eyes. “It’s not the same thing. When people hear the name they just assume it’s affiliated”
“well the one I know in Nigeria seems to be run on the same principles. Let me ask you a question, does your church have a school?”
“see? It’s the same thing.”
For the first time that day, she laughed. It was a beautiful thing. That laughter came from inside, like the way a shaken bottle of coke fizzes when you open it. It spread fast, and it lit everything in sight.
There was yet another awkward silence. Sometimes when I think back, I feel like time slowed down for only me. It could have been 3 seconds or 3 minutes but we just stood there, looking at each other – her smiling that Abby smile, and me sporting a crooked smirk, trying my best to play without missing any notes.
In the hours after that episode, I began to think that I saw a look in her eyes that said – hey! we should talk after this! take my number! or my instagram handle!
Please abby, don’t be interesting. Just go away. Just…
Kaye came, and she took abby away. I said goodbye but I didn’t really mean it.
I was sad for the rest of that evening. Rarely do I ever meet people THAT intense, people who are so alive that they make everything they’re not doing seem dull and lacklustre. And in my usual unwillingness to just take a step beyond meeting nice people… I just let that slip away.
I held on to everything she had said to me that day to make sure I didn’t forget. She lived in Pickering. She went to Family Worship Centre. Her mother’s name is Kaye. I tried to find any page for the FWC, or any Kayes who lived in Pickering. Part of me condemned me for being so creepy (If someone researched me like that, wouldn’t I be creeped out?). She did not seem to exist on anything – facebook, instagram, or even google. So I figured – she probably doesn’t go by Abigail on social media.
I found her church on intsagram and looked through the photos. It took a few days but she showed up on the praise team… in that yellow sundress. So she DEFINITELY goes to FWC.
Yay!!!! also, Ewww, Stalker much??
You wouldn’t think highly of me if I told you that I checked every single account the church followed? and all of their followers? Scoured every post to see if she commented? There was nothing. Who doesn’t comment on their own picture on social media???? Ah well, I turned on post notifications and at some point I think I’d decided to show up for service at FWC one day and see if she remembered me at all.
Of course my friends didn’t let me rest until I verbally agreed to just let it go, and add this to my list of cool-people-i-only-met-once. It was hard, and even I had to agree that my preoccupation with finding her again was approaching unhealthy obsession (in my book there’s a healthy obsession. If you disagree, we aren’t friends 😀 )
I let it go. From time time I might randomly see a photo from FWC on my feed and I’d check it out. Mostly Scriptures.
Then on saturday, I saw a post by @k******* . Something whispered in my head; what if this is Kaye? And I clicked. Surely, there was a video of Abby singing. I thought I must be mistaken because the person tagged was @Kris****** . So I thought – hmmmmm maybe it’s a different person. Maybe her account is private.
Nope, it’s public. Say a word!
I played a few of the videos and I felt the chills. Such a beautiful voice! How did I never hear her sing before now? Such madness! I felt dizzy – I won’t lie, guys 😀
So I did the unthinkable. I messaged her, knowing that at some point I’d have to explain how I found her. I have to take this step – it will come up sooner or later. If she hates the idea that I could have been affected by just one encounter – long enough to keep me looking 2 months after I met her… well then, I can really classify her as cool-people-i-met-only-once. It’d prove that I was right when I concluded in the past that perhaps we meet certain people only once because that’s where the magic lies. Any closer and they’d see you and all your flaws; and you’ll see all the annoying things about them that makes you question your initial amazement.
And so after 2 months of holding it in, I’m telling her the general madness that followed that 10 minutes we spoke in Woodbridge.
There are maybe 1,000 people on the entire planet who would think this story isn’t creepy, and I’m hoping you’re one of them.
You get the picture.
PS: Abby if this isn’t all too creepy, send me your number, will you? I feel like there’s a lot of catching up to do 😀