"I think it would be best for our significant others if we go our seperate ways," he said to her.
The final blow. The cutting of the cord that had tethered three people. Severance. The end of a lifetime of friendships and memories.
I met him in high school. We had the same geometry class ran by a very traditional Indian woman.
"You like the Nightmare Before Christmas?" he asked, pointing to my messanger beg emblazoned with Jack Skellington.
"I LOVE the Nightmare Before Christmas and pretty much anything Tim Burton has touched," I replied, my heart racing. Somebody noticed me. Me! The girl with the mousey hair and heavy eyeliner. The girl whos voice was nearly crippled by adolescent angst and self-consciousness.
He graduated two years before me, and had much more of a life outside of school than I did. Studying the stars, driving through Gates Pass, a relationship with a beautiful college girl. I didn't know any of that at the time we met, I simply knew his name was Rene, and I knew I wanted to be his friend. This guy with green eyes and spikey raven hair, he was special.
When he graduated, I stayed behind. I went to classes, I grew and eventually blossomed (although I don't think I REALLY 'blossomed' until after high school), I had a precious handful of friends but was generally a loner. And all the while, through the monotony of classes, proms and events, boys and girlfriends, I thought of him. Did he still remember me? Should I try to reconnect?
Being the hopeless romantic I was, I decided to make the leap, drop a line. When I did I found, to my lucky stars, he was single (on a break from the college girlfriend he had, whom I would later befriend, but thats in a little bit).
We began to date the summer before my senior year. I was on top of the world. A girl like me (at the time a novice to the world and all things men) doesn't date older guys who seem so mysterious, who drive their own car capable of taking said girl to hidden desert landscapes to watch the Milky Way. A girl like me with an over-protective father capable of scaring away mysterious boys who come to take his only daughter to movies or dinners. But we did. Balls to the walls.
Summer came and went and before I sarted my senior year of high school I feared that our romance would have the fate of July's monsoons. Intense yet short lived. I feared some other witty, sexy, legally able to drive collegiate minx would sweep him off his feet and I would be yesterdays news. To my surprise we made it work. We made it work for nine months, but that's not to say it was easy. He lived downtown. I lived with my parents, had no car, but a bus pass and an arsenal of lies and excuses lined up for when my parents asked why I was coming home at 6 p.m. when school let out at 2:25.
"Lunch with the girls!"
"So and so needed help with her essay!"
"Yearbook layouts! Damn those deadlines!"
They didn't know I was downtown visiting my boyfriend. My father would have castrated him and locked me in a chastity belt. A chastity belt AND six dobermans chained to my hips.
We kept our romance going as long as we could, even as the currents of life got rockier and rockier. College was tough. High school was tough. My parents divorcing in front of my eyes, and not always civily was tough. We held each others hand and pushed through. Through my tears on the phone. Through the divide in area codes. And when the worst happened, when his father died suddenly and unexpectedly, I held him at the end of the memorial service, my father gave his mother a hug, my mother held my hand. It was the first time, in a long time that my family was together and it was the first time, in a long time, that we understood what mattered.
I never cried so much in my life, at one point having to walk out of the ceremony to hyperventilate in the women's restroom as my friend Samantha held me. I don't know why I was so immensely effected, I had only met his father a couple of times. I suppose it was pain I could feel in him that I couldn't mend. It was the pain I felt in his mother, a widow at an untimely age. The silences and the words that get caught in your throat. I thought I would run out of tears. I was wrong.
We broke up about a month later. He needed to find himself and time to heal. I couldn't see past the hurt. I hated the world. Why couldn't I take the pain away? Why was MY family falling apart? Why did his dad have to die? Why does my heart hurt so bad?
I fell into a low. Chain smoking every night, having sex with people I barely knew just to make it seem like I was wanted. Brushing people off. Cutting myself (literally and spiritually). No appetite. No faith. I was merely existing at best.
It wasn't until I met my current fiance Greg, that I began to heal myself. I began to deal with my demons and in turn I fell in love. I opened myself up once again and this time for good. Everything was good, and with my newfound lease on life, I realized things I should have a long time ago.I accepted the fact that he had to leave me. I respected the fact that he had to get himself together. It wasnt that I wasn't enough. It was that the problem wouldn't have been mended with ME. It lied within him. But I wondered: How was he?
Rene, was dating Colleen again. Trying to get back on track, living, dealing.
"Colleen", I thought. "The girl he left me for" I assumed. I hated her, and it went back to when we were dating. Colleen was a long time friend of his, and their history left me intimidated and thus defensive.
Little did I know, that they would break up, and one humid summer night I recieved an e-mail from Colleen. We had only exchanged insults and threats before, so I was wary of opening it. When I did, I didn't realize I was opening a new door. She apologized for her actions from the past, she was hurt and needed someone to talk to, someone who knew exactly how she felt at that moment. Our mutual experience at heartache turned into a friendship that we still cultivate today.
I learned a lot about Colleen. Her history with Rene, her personality. "How could I have hated this person?" I thought. This person who gave so much of herself, emotionally invested and sacrificed. I learned a lot about relationships by hearing of her's and Rene's. Of the ebs and flows and how sometimes things aren't always shiny and happy, but it's what brings two people together that counts. An adoration and respect of character that gets one through and reminds one to stop and refrain from throwing it all away. Friendship.
In the end, even though romantic relationships may not work out, sometimes you are lucky enough to seperate yourself from the mindset of "a lost romance" to "a salvaged friendship." Colleen had and has always wanted to make sure that frienship stayed. Even through fights, and other women who took him for granted, she was there. To take him to work when he was without a ride. To cook, talk, help, and care for and about him. I respected her immensely for it. The ability to still love someone without being "in love" with them.
Colleen has since moved on to a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man. I have since become a mother to a son and fiancee to the same man that saved me. Colleen and I still maintain a frienship. And Colleen and I still care about Rene. Our significant others may wonder why sometimes, but they support us, knowing where they stand and secure in their places in our lives.
So how come there must be a severance? How come after my congratulatory words to him about his new relationship and Colleen's support through thick and thin must ties be cut? I may never know, as I have been told that I must be stayed away from.
It may hurt, that my frienship, OUR friendships, are being tossed to sea so frivilously, but I have come to understand that change happens. Colleen and I still have each other and the memories. One day we may be talking over dinner and we'll hope he's doing well. One day maybe EVERYBODY can get along. One day, maybe Rene Pena will know we have always cared and will always be there.
Even if it's silent.