Friday, September 17, 2004

Be careful what you wish for...

When you’re growing up, adults annoy you with clichés of time and it’s unpredictability. They feed you nonsense like “Time is a teacher” “All in it’s given time” or even “With time comes all the answers”. These clichés are a great way of adults getting their way without having to give too many explanations and you find yourself without the ability to argue back. However, as you grow older, not only to you begin to comprehend the meaning of these clichés, but also begin to understand if not also feel their true meaning…

On the last day of school, she collected signatures from all her schoolmates. Many faces that had barely said a few words to her during the five years they’d studied together, were now expressing their deepest hopes along with their goodbyes. She wanted to leave his signature for last; she was hoping that the going away spirit would affect him into writing something meaningful in her book. Almost her whole grade had signed her book and soon she was going to ask her teachers to leave a few words of advice that would send her on her journey to adulthood. Entering homeroom for the last time, she spied out a girl that hadn’t signed her book yet. Louisa wasn’t exactly one of the friendliest girls, keeping to her gang and never having anything nice to say about anybody. It was in her nature to probably write a critical or negative message but just as our girl reconsidered asking Louisa for a message, Louisa herself grabbed the notebook out her hand rudely remarking that she hadn’t signed it yet. The message Louisa wrote, was neither critical nor negative… it was strong and deep filled with foresight:

“Be careful what you wish for, it just may come true… Louisa.”

Our girl sighed. Even though the words brought chills of warning to her spine, she somehow could not see how ever her wishes and prayers could come true. Today was the last day of school and she’d probably never see him again besides in her dreams. Across the lawn, he stood with his friends organising the final party arrangements. The party she wouldn’t be attending because she wasn’t part of the elite crowd of the school. He caught her eye and they smiled at each other, she knew exactly what he was thinking. He’d had enough of school, he wanted to spread his wings and this was his chance to finally bury his books and face the real world. Taking a deep breath, she summoned all her courage and took her book for him to sign, knowing all too well that he hated these clichéd moments.
“No! Please don’t make me sign this… I hate signing these things! I never know what to say! Okay but just tell me what to write…”
“That’s okay… just sign your name then, just so that one day it will serve as proof that you existed.”
It must’ve been the disappointment on her face that made him change his mind and he stared long and hard at the blue pages before finally putting the pen to the page. He swore under his breath and mumbled something about him already being unforgettable and that he wasn’t signing any more of those things.
The message was neither poetic nor inspiring, but at least it was sincere:

“I simply cannot top what other people have said, so whatever you do, enjoy. G”

After that, it seemed that someone pressed the fast forward button on the remote control and things began moving really fast. Our heroine found a job a month or so after graduation and a few short months later, she’d saved up enough money to buy herself a plane ticket to another country. Through all of this, she’d tried her best to keep contact with the most of her friends but like most of us… one by one, they began to disappear.

But not him. Not her high school sweetheart. He didn’t change his phone number or his address and each time she pressed the dial, he picked up the phone. They didn’t speak often, or for very long but with time… they began unravelling the secrets they kept in high school. What once seemed unfathomable to reveal, can seem pretty harmless with time and distance. Things became crystal clear after sharing thoughts and intentions and often they laughed at each other’s past behaviour. Talking to him was like watching an old movie of your life. A reincarnation from another time and era. They shared stories of the past; the present and their hopes for the future and he promised her that one-day he’d come visit her.

Time had turned our wet-behind-the-ears little girl into an independent woman with a demanding career, aspiring goals and the personality to go with it. An e-mail announcing the blast from the past was nothing more than a pleasant surprise. Little children eventually stop believing in the tooth fairy, Father Christmas and the boogieman… teenagers also stop believing in their first love and the only aspect about his visit that made her nervous was that she’d encounter a complete stranger. She’d changed so much; it was only natural that he did too.

Even the tourists stopped to look when two crazy kids hugged each tightly as if they hadn’t seen each other in years… four to be precise. The words flowed naturally and quickly, it seemed like no amount of time would be enough to catch up on everything that happened. Time stood still as if it had never gone by.
Memories… be very careful how you create them, when the time comes, you’ll be reliving them all over again.
The first night stretched into the early hours of the morning with photos and memories being shared. It felt like just yesterday that it had all gone by.
The greatest pride she’d felt is that he finally confessed that all the photos, notes, diaries and memoirs that she’d kept were worth the effort she’d made. Time cannot take the sweetness out of an “I told you so!”.

We regret more the things that we didn’t do or say, than those that we actually did.

While some things change drastically, others will always stay the same. Often when we begin our lives from scratch, we tend to bury the past behind us. Fresh starts involve erasing past memories and if it weren’t for a box of old diaries, there were some that surely would’ve been forgotten by our girl. She sat on sitting room floor and began reading. It wasn’t just any novel, it was her life and as she read, she relived every moment, every smile, every tear, and every emotion. On some pages, she would laugh herself silly. On others, tears ran down her face. It was bittersweet literature; it’s value only known to its author.

I sat with her this morning; he had already left and with him took the colour of her cheeks and the sparkle from her eye. The woman I know suddenly looked like the girl I knew four years ago: Speechless, lost and vulnerable. I ran my hand through her hair while she continued her story.

The two weeks that he spent with her seemed to fly by. In that time, they got to know each other all over again.
“Tell me again, what do you think about me now? A lot has changed huh?”
He still hated questions or talk that involved emotional thinking but this time around she had the courage to put her arms around his waist and her head on his shoulders to keep him from running. Groaning, he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to get out of answering and once again they spent until the early hours of the morning talking about the changes in each other. He seemed more independent but still needing a lot of growing up. She was the one that seemed to have suffered the most change of the two of them. He thought that she was now a woman but that something about her was still the same. He didn’t seem to know how to describe exactly what it was that stayed the same, limiting himself to saying that her eyes were still the same, the soul was still the same and once again he criticised her for giving too much of herself.

Perhaps it was the look that she found in his eyes or the wonderful time that they spent together on an island made for couples… but the kiss was inevitable.

“Be careful what you wish for, it just may come true.” She told me that the moment she kissed him she felt like she was back in high school with the sweaty hands and butterflies in her stomach.
“I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry that God somehow had heard all my prayers in high school. It was all I ever wanted, now I didn’t know what to do with it!”
I began considering asking God for an Audi, a penthouse in Miami and a fat bank account in Switzerland… I certainly didn’t mind waiting four years for my prayers to come true!

“I finally had him in my room, in my bed, his eyes belonged only to me, his kiss was mine to take and things were going to go as far as I wanted them to. The countless prayers, the endless wishes and the many nights of pleading with destiny finally produced its fruits. It would be one hell of a story to tell at my high school reunion! But that much awaited kiss is where everything began and ended.”

That’s it?! That’s where it ends? But why?!!! Why not go all the way? Why not fulfil the prophecy that began in high school? When two people have come so far, it can only be a crime that they don’t give into each other! How is it possible that you let that chance go by?

The woman looked at me beyond her girlish looks and replied:

“People come and go in your life. There are those who only stay a little while and there are those that stay for always. I will love him for always because he was the first. The great love, but not the man of my life. The friendship and respect that we feel for each other helped preserve a love that will never end, never change and never evolve into anything more than it already is. And the day I do find the man of my life, I know he will give me his blessing just as I will give him mine when he finds the girl of his dreams.”

Looking at her, I know that with time she’ll be back on her feet and living and loving just as before. The heart of a woman is so big and complex that it’s capacity to love and survive is incalculable. It has reasons that reason itself cannot explain. More and more, I start to wonder about how much of our lives are really under our control and how much is ruled by fate. Looking up at the skies, I pick a star and make a wish… being just a little more careful of what I wish for.

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