YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST…
When Brandon Greene, an oatmeal-skinned junior from upstate New York, drunkenly hurls a beer bottle at an unsuspecting, brown-skinned Natalie Chandler, both their worlds are changed indefinitely.
Brandon makes his intentions clear from the beginning: he is hopelessly in love with his girlfriend, Sophia, but does not want to marry her. He does, however, want to be friends with Natalie.
Neither Brandon nor her curiosities about him make sense to her at all, and her complacency begins to tumble, as she and Brandon grow closer. She’s thrust into a love triangle that she wants no part of and suddenly, a streamlined future to success in the medical field is the last thing on her mind — all she sees now is a shade of gray. Brandon and Natalie have a powerful dynamic; but can it stand the weight that time, spatial disparity and color have placed on them? When You Come to Me is a sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic take on the loss of innocence in its most colorful form.
I present this book with a little trepidation. I first wrote this as a result of a long, winding bend of confusion that had lasted almost two years between myself and a person of the opposite sex. Four years ago in the early spring of 2007, I was only twenty-years-old and a junior in college, and my frustration turned into jotting down ideas and feelings in between classes. I was sitting in the parking deck on a particularly warm day in early March, and while I should have been studying my notes for my forthcoming art class, I was reeling from the conversation I’d had with the aforementioned person of the opposite sex. I realized that we’d never work in the way I’d figured in my head. It was equally tragic because we were best friends and we spent a great deal of time with one another. But the disparity of our color and cultural makeup were always glaring us in the face. So, as I sat in my car with my laptop in front of me, and the clock ticking, I began to think: “So what if it did work? What would happen? Would it be easier? And why would it work?” I’m a romantic, and I’m a sucker for happy endings. But I also enjoy realistic dynamics. Please don’t read this as an autobiography. Although I am very similar to Natalie Chandler in many ways, my characters are a composite of people I hold very near and dear to my heart. They are my inspiration. Some of them are mentioned below.
Even years later, I still recall writing this novel as being one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life (thus far). It was like my first love in many ways: it was my first completed novel, and anything I’ve written since, I’ve unconsciously compared to it. And though my writing has since matured, I still like to read this from time to time and reflect on how inspired and happy I was. After all, I would feel shameful about not putting it out there, when the people mentioned below know it just as well (if not better) than I do. These people helped in my creative process more than they realize. Some stayed up nights with me coming up with titles, names and new ideas, some said that they were similar to the characters. But they all read and listened to me go on and on about it, partially out of love for me and out of genuine love for the book itself.
Without further adieu, this book is dedicated to Dea Sloan, who read my ratty mead notebooks in 10th grade band and thought that they were the best things in the world. To Alonzo Dent, who stayed up with me until sunrise coming up with titles for this book, who answered every single one of my asinine questions. To Princess Valentine, who hated when I gave her random chapters that weren’t in order, who always wanted me to do this. To Kashif Norville, for patiently listening to every single one of my ideas, good or bad, long or short.
I love you all.