He Said He Loved Me- Continued.

Deanna picked me up. She was my best friend and most trusted ally. Deanna was tall and beautiful with hair so blonde she made every season feel like summer. We were on a mission. Deanna and I drove her car and parked two blocks away from his house. As a joke we got Dunkin’ Donuts to eat and wore baseball caps for our amateur stake-out. We didn’t have to wait long. We saw him leave the house and my heart dropped. He always wore those Levis. His weird friend was with him. Do guys have sleepovers? They got into his friend’s car and drove off. Nerves took over my body and my hands shook. In a minute they were gone.

I took a deep breath and walked up to the house. Everything so heartbreakingly familiar, but this time I felt awkward. I knocked on the door. Quiet. I knocked harder. Still nothing. Should I just go in? I started to turn the doorknob just as his mom answered apologetically. That was close. She was in the kitchen frying up dinner. I told her I had lost something and would like to check her son’s room if that was okay. She didn’t seem to mind.

As I stood in his room, it was strange to realise how quickly everything between us had changed. I opened the cd player to his stereo. It held the same CD we listened to on prom night. Odd. I layed on his bed. His pillow smelled of his hair gel, but his blanket smelled of a cologne I knew he didn’t wear. Suddenly I realised I didn’t know when he’d be back. Ten minutes? A few hours? I had to hurry. The truth was I had come to collect, but not something I lost. I searched his room. Would he miss this bracelet? Probably not. What about this photo? Who cares, mine now. Then I saw his CD case. Bingo! It was under a big binder full of handwritten papers. His songs. I couldn’t help myself, I quickly scanned some he had written. Kind of wish I hadn’t. When he said I was the kind of girl guys wrote songs about, I thought it was a compliment. I bit back tears. He was so unfair. I unzipped his CD case, flipped to the page which had the U2 album and found the $100 I knew he hid behind it. Although not because he told me, I just happened to see it when I was there months ago. Glad it was still there. I tucked it quickly in my pocket along with the photo and bracelet, but before leaving I squeezed his hair gel between his bed covers. Good-bye room.

At one point did you think you were taking things too far?” It’s just like TV. Dim, bare room with one table, two chairs and a mirrored wall. The man looks like he had a rough night. His coffee is smelling up the room.

I didn’t think I was at all. A bracelet, a photo, some money. Big deal.” Remorse was overwhelming me. Deanna and I should’ve stayed home that day.

A misdemeanour is no big deal to you?” Why do people complicate things?

Not compared to what he did! You think material things are more important than a person’s emotional trauma?! He made a joke of me!” This man don’t care. I cup my face with embarrassment.

After you two girls left the house, what happened next?” He’s tapping the table. Annoying.  I let the events slowly play again through my mind.

Him and his friend had just come back in time to see me walk towards Deanna’s car. They stopped the car and this time waited for us to drive off. I was shocked and scared to see them follow us. He had never been aggressive towards me before. I had no idea what they were going to do or say. This was not part of my brilliant plan. Nothing felt real anymore. Deanna improvised pretty good behind the wheel. They were literally riding our tail. At a red light we all looked at each other and, I assume he did this to rip me apart even more, they kissed. Been cheating on me with him! Him! That creep! We decided to get whatever-was-about-to-happen over with so we pulled into a Kmart parking lot. They parked like ten spaces away from us and just stared. Nobody got out. I thought they would since they followed us, but nothing happened. After another minute Deanna and I just drove off.

Is that the last time you saw them?” He sits up straight and raises an eyebrow at me.

Yes.” Do I look like the kind of person who premeditates murder? Come on!

Silence.

I swear it was the last time I saw them! I had no idea there was a shooting until the police called. Look, I was an angry girlfriend seeking innocent revenge, but I would never take it that far. I wanted him mad, not dead!” How stupid and trivial everything now seemed. He didn’t deserve to get shot. I should visit his mom and give her my condolences.

Mm-hm. Don’t leave town in case we need to call you in again.” He stands up without making anymore eye contact. I sit a few seconds longer before following him out.

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He Said He Loved Me… cont’d

One afternoon we were at his house and I met his best friend. Weird guy. He was not funny, but I smiled. Finally he left, and we were alone. He said he had been looking at rings. Really? I knew he was the one! He said he had never felt a love like ours. He said he worshipped me. He said I was the kind of girl guys wrote songs about. He said to go into his bedroom. I shook my head no, and again he said he loved me. This time, I said I loved him too.

The night of his prom we met with his big group of friends at the nicest restaurant in the city. Weird guy wasn’t there. Good. While looking at the menu he whispers in my ear to order the most expensive meal. He ate two lobsters! At the Hilton, where his prom was held, the venue was extravagant and my dress flowed across the room. Later that night we kissed a lot and after he told me he loved me, I fell asleep in his arms.

Soon enough high school was a past time and summer fun was on everyone’s mind. A wedding was mine. Thank goodness I was marrying young because twenty was just old.

On a particularly hot day, I was already swimming at a public pool waiting for him to show up. He did and, to my surprise and dismay, he brought his weird friend. They were laughing a lot, but I didn’t understand their jokes.  I swam to him and wanted to put my arms around him. He smiled, but wouldn’t let me get close to him. He swam over to his friend and jumped on his back. Why was I being neglected? Did he not like my bathing suit? I suddenly felt unpretty and lost confidence. I got out of the pool and put on shorts and my teeshirt. As I sat on the picnic bench watching the two of them a strange feeling of jealousy crept into my chest. What! Of that weirdo? But he got more attention than me. A while later they also got out and packed their things to leave. His friend didn’t acknowledge me as he walked to the car. Before my guy left, he said he still wanted to marry me. He said this without giving me a kiss.

Weeks went by. He stopped coming to the house. I called him. And called him. I left a message. Then another. My body ached for his touch. My heart ached for his words and adoration. My mind ached for reassurance. Finally he called back and said he was going to take me on a date. Butterflies filled my stomach. Mom was counting on me to help her at work, but I begged her to give me the day off. She saw the desperation in my eyes and said ok. I waited for hours, just sitting on the front lawn looking down the road searching for his car. I was still sitting in the same place when my mom came home from work.

More weeks went by without explanation of his strange behaviour. Tears ran each time my heart broke. It broke everyday.

One day he just showed up at my house. We sat on the couch and my head spun with confusion. He said he wanted me. I said I needed him. We kissed. But then he said he had a confession. No ways! Was he serious? He did what?!? He said I deserved better. Meaning what? This was supposed to be love! After he left, I cried all night.

The next morning, I knew exactly what to do.

To be continued…

He Said He Loved Me

We met in the normal way. A bunch of teenagers at a party. Eye contact from across the room. He caught me looking over at him several times. How embarrassing. Then he winked! I smiled back. He came over and sat next to me. I’ll never forget how he smelled. A mixture of laundry detergent, cologne and a faint hint of cigarettes. He was the only one in his family who cared about religion and his parents smoked. I didn’t mind, too captivated by his handsome good looks and the attention he gave. His voice was so deep and reassuring. Not like the seniors at my high school. He was different.

Our first date was at a French cuisine restaurant, with musicians that played around us and candles lit on the table. Vines of flowers cascaded from door arches and around all the columns. It felt like we ended up on the other side of the world, but the trip was only a ten minute drive. I watched his mannerisms and dubbed him a gentleman. He spoke kindly to the waiters and tipped them well. I never saw the bill. He opened the car door for me and we drove farther down the road. So much thought went into this date. I was so impressed. Dessert was eaten at an ice cream parlour with a fifties theme, a blend of Happy Days and Baskin Robbins. We shared a milkshake and he let me have most of it. What a sweet guy. A keeper. On our way back to the car, before taking me home, he put his arm around my waist and my heart pumped hard. His hand slid lower, almost resting on my bum. I acted like I hadn’t noticed. Part of me felt thrilled for the new affection and another part of me felt guilty for not feeling so bad about it. He must be the one.

Days later he came to my house and sat on the front lawn with his guitar. A musician! Lucky me. I listened to him play a song he had written about us and my eyes blurred. This had to be love. We went to a park and walked hand in hand talking the whole time. Such a good listener. He cares so much! The pond with ducks set another romantic tone to the afternoon. When I got tired he carried me back to the car. So strong! In the car he kissed me. It was a long kiss. He then pulled me onto his lap and said he loved me.

To be continued….

Experiencing the World

In my younger years, it seemed most of my friends were married, had been married or were getting married. I didn’t have a man to fill my days with excitement and love so I decided to travel. This beautiful fountain lies in the heart of Barcelona, Spain.

While living in Sweden, me and an American family drove down to Copenhagen. I remember visiting lots of museums, learning about Vikings and eating delicious bread. And yes, there were bikes EVERYWHERE!

Ah, Chinatown in Toronto. My favorite place to shop! I’ve been there twice 🙂

This is the CN Tower in Toronto. We had a beautiful view overlooking the city and beyond. The best part was the FOOD!!! The best best best best best best meal I have ever eaten in my whole life. If were a rich girl, I’d eat there all the time.

One summer a girlfriend and I went to Greece, a little place called Corfu. I will never forget the delicious giros and sirloin steak so good I still crave it. The people that live there are the nicest ever. During one afternoon we bought some strawberries and sat by the road enjoying the quiet beautiful scenery. The old man and his wife who lived in the house nearby brought out chairs! Yassou!

This is the Duomo in Milan. I saw it in the moonlight and it took my breath away. Italy was just beautiful everywhere. Even the night sky seemed different! I sat outside of the main train station, a place that reminded me of big open palaces, on a bench just admiring the scene. I was in Italy! And I must say, they have the best ham ever.

After I turned in my dissertation for my BA, I packed my bags and headed straight to Turkey! The water stole my heart here. I stood thigh deep in the water and saw the bottom perfect. All the rocks and plants and fish. Nevermind that I’m short, the water was crystal clear! And I’m a sucker for palm trees. I heart Turkey.

Living in Sweden, of course I have been to Stockholm many times, and at one point lived there for a few months. If I were to be honest, it was in Stockholm, in a little restaurant known only to the locals, I ate the best meatballs! Discovering delicious food is the highlight of any trip.

And this is the city I live in, kind of. The train takes me there in a quick 20 minutes. London, the place to shop, look glamourous,  and ride on the underground. It’s been exciting.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had to see some of the world and appreciate the beauty each has to offer. I hope to continue to travel with my family one day. But for now, I must tend to the crying baby….

Two Souls, One Story

I was twenty years old when I stepped into my grandmother’s living room for the first time.

Neglect reigned the room. A painting by her brother covered the main wall, blurred by the tears it witnessed. Dust sat as idle servants longing to move. Rat faeces made their home in forgotten corners. A browned paper lantern marked years of observing the lack of life around it. A couch held the shape of her family’s absence. Chests from China locked shut with rust, and like her heart, its contents remain unknown. Two red marble dragons sat on a bookshelf, protecting her journals and all their secrets.

Hand painted flowers lined a silver and pearl vanity table, and on that table stood a sculpture of her head. It was evident she had once lived a life of wealth and grandeur in her aristocratic mansion.  Her belongings revealed she also lived in war-torn China during the 1940’s. When she escaped, Australia was her hero. The story possessed her heart, later written in the journals.  Journals now lost, stolen by greed. Maybe that’s why her heart decided to stop.

In the face of the sculpture I saw a woman who might have began her life naive. The walls of her home guarding her innocence. She had good intentions, but found herself trapped on foreign soil, unable to leave year after year. Surrounded by a language she did not own. Hoping, losing that hope, then trying to find it again. No longer ignorant to the harshness of the world surrounding her, she learned to distract her pains for home.  Breathing in what good she could find, and breathing out the ugly she did not want.  In time, she did find some good in this world. They ran away together to another far away place. A home was finally built, and her hope came back. I think she would have understood me.

She was my grandmother, a woman I barely knew. Through her and because of her, images of the streets in Shanghai captivate my dreams. Cherry blossoms adorn every cheongsam dress I wear. Jade earrings silently signify my belief in their good luck. A timid obsession of all that I will never know yet connects my blood to that place, that country, that life in China.

My fingers trace a flower painted by her mother near the edge of the vanity table. So many women have touched that same flower. Where a woman with answers once sat, a sculpture now resides. Death took her spirit, her unmarked grave a permanent wall. All I have left is what I imagine in my mind and feel inside my heart. Like a thief, I took all that I could carry with a promise I’d never let it go.