When I was in college, I worked as a box office manager at a movie theatre in Flagstaff and became friends with a black guy who was an usher there. He was also gay, by the way, and had a huge crush on me. I only know this because he told me upfront, which was about the most honest fucking thing anybody has ever said to me. "We can be friends and all, but I want you." I wanted his sister. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She should've been a model. I wish I could've been her agent. Anyhow, I had trouble making friends at college. Like I said, I'm fucking weird. I don't have any friends now. (But that's OK. I have my wife and children, and I'm doing all right.) So, I started hanging out in the neighborhood behind NAU and dated several black girls. My friend's family kind of adopted me. I was at their house whenever I wasn't in class or working. It didn't matter who was there. We got on. I loved his brothers and sister, his mom and dad, his cousins, his grandparents. We all ate together, played together, partied together, shopped together, watched movies together, went to church together. I was the only white boy at those services, and I couldn't sing or dance a fucking lick, but I could set up the mics for everyone and read a prayer with just the right drama. Theatre student, remember? And they loved me for who I was: this nerdy little white guy with Elvis Presley license plates on the front of my '79 Chevy Nova.
While dancing at a club in Phoenix the Saturday after my 21st birthday, I met a black girl and we got really serious. We dated for nearly a year. She was the first girl I ever told "I love you." Sure, it was tough at times. Why wouldn't it be? Not everyone accepted us. We didn't care. The real problem was that she had a toddler, and I was way too immature to be a father-figure. The relationship ended kind of abruptly (we got into an argument outside a bar), but we reconnected on Facebook almost 20 years later.
The romance found its way into my writing, of course. I wrote several stories about forbidden love, the best of which was my first serious (read "grown-up") novel, Samantha. The story's about a boy who falls in love with a vampire. If I only knew then how big Twilight would eventually become! I kick myself in the ass every day for not trying to publish that book!