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Chapter 1 "The Beginning" PART 1
Chapter 1: THE BEGINNING
Whether love exists had always been a mystery to me. I’ve always found it difficult to believe in love… simply because no one had ever proved its existence to me - every marriage I had ever looked up to failed miserably. I equally envied and pitied those who believed in love and who said the worn phrase “I love you.” I wanted love more than anything because I could feel the vacant space in my heart where I knew the feeling for another but I also believed those around me were not truly in love; love was the opium of the people around me, an illusion that numbed and stupefied them.
Fairytale stories engaged me as a child, the magic that could never happen in reality made me wish and wonder why our world could not be so exciting. Although I let my imagination run wild with possibilities deep down I had always known they were false. I was absorbed by everything about make believe: castles, fabulous sparkly dresses and talking animals, but the hover of doubt in my child imagination was rested firmly with the happily ever after. Conveniently the bad guys would always be defeated and love would fall easily into the lap of the main characters. At first sight they knew they were destined for each other.
Of course this is what everyone always wishes, that relationships and that matrimony can be that easy - love at first sight with no arguments, compromises, abuse, lies… but reality has these flaws and so I promised myself that even if I found love that marriage would not be a part of it. I refused to be trapped into an unhealthy relationship or become a statistic of the sad and broken word divorce.
I doubted, criticized and cursed love continuously but I was never bitter until I experienced and lost it, a feeling so sweet and delicate - utterly incomparable. Love is like an incredible smell or taste. Why does freshly cut grass smell so good? Why does chocolate melting in your mouth release a soft, orgasmic feeling down your throat? When these sensations tingle in my nose or mouth they fill me with pleasure and satisfaction and I breathe and taste them openly. Love was the same yet an intensified tingling throughout my body instead of just in my nose or on my tongue. It filled me from head to foot, the feeling was warm like butter and cinnamon hearts, jalapenos and honeycomb, fireworks and lightening combined – so powerful, so indescribable.
I made a mistake - I fell deep and started believing in fairytales. I guess that perfection can’t be expected to stay that way. Before I had the chance to prepare for the winter months an unexpected light frost powdered the lawn and the cheerful smell of freshly cut grass was absent. Canada is brutal; the long winter waiting for the ephemeral summers. The short warmth is unfair, waking up and peering through the shutters only to see the grass dead with tips of white is utterly disappointing, but the loss of the most irreplaceable feeling: Being in love, is a fatal shock and a jolt back to reality.
“I’m worried about you, Robyn.” I flinched caught by surprise from my eldest sister’s blissful voice coming from behind me. “You look so miserable, please… try not to think about him today it is mom’s wedding, try to be happy or at least pretend.”
I sighed quietly; of course she was right because today was not about my bitterness, it was about my mother and her wedding. I didn’t understand how my mother thought she could trust her fiancé, his name was Randal and he was 38 years old, seven years younger than my mother. She was drop dead gorgeous so the age difference wasn’t noticeable, but there was something about him I didn’t like that I couldn’t put my finger on. Perhaps it was his immaturity and obsession with sports and expensive things. He didn’t have enough depth or creativity; he was just too boring. He was smart and businesslike; but his intellectuals were not something I respected as they were memorized figures rather than ideas conjured originally. I imagined him as a chef that would follow a recipe to the unnecessary dash of salt not daring to add any unspecified ingredients.
Previously, my mother Katrina was married to my father for 25 years, but of course that was a lost cause due to the melodramatics of money and affairs. After the wedding, I would be moving on… not with my mother and Randal, but going to stay with my dad in Greece for a few weeks and then perhaps exploring on my own a bit. One could only stay in a country with a foreign language for so long.
“You, know I’m fine you don’t have to worry about me, I’m just excited to get away… just take care of everyone for me.” I turned around to face Adriana, her beauty always stunned me. She always looks well put together even if she doesn’t take time to get ready because of her natural beauty; of course today she put extra effort for the wedding. Her huge green eyes were lined with long dark lashes, her natural full lips were plump with gloss and she smiled a small unusual smile, a strange smile for her face as she usually had a large smile that plumped up her cheeks showing off her set of sparkling teeth. People have always been attracted to her beauty, but it is her inner goodness that held their attention.
“Meaning, Lucie? You know she’ll be fine, she’s almost thirteen now.” Adriana swung her extensive curly blonde locks over to where our youngest sister was sitting, I followed her gaze. I hoped she was right, Lucie was always the most rebellious, but I couldn’t deny the most independent.
“The car will be here soon enough, and you’ll be rid of us.” she let out a sad sigh, puckering out her lower lip childishly. She knew I didn’t want to leave them, but I had to leave here. There was nothing for me in this town without Miles, it was always the same repetitive small town gossip and prying people; unchanged. Ironically the nothingness of this town that I despised and that bored me wasn’t empty at all but so full of memories it was painful and suffocating.
“There’s nothing for me here anymore.” I told her expressing my thoughts, she nodded and I knew she understood. My heart was empty; I had no desire to excel at anything. The world seemed more bland and fake as I grew older and wiser, especially now as my mother and Randal sat hand and hand a few seats near us at the grand, over decorated wedding party table. The hall was huge with grand white columns, and shiny beige marble floors. Hydrangeas and Roses were strewn over all the tables. The wedding was every brides dream yet I could taste the false happiness and congratulations from every guest and the cake was so over-frosted and elaborate that it was almost comical.
“Did you see that wedding dress… I bet it was a fortune.” one of the ladies from my mothers work wearing a hideous purple pant suit commented, her friend responded with jealousy dripping from her every word.
I rolled my eyes at Adriana, these woman were ridiculous. Yes. .. I definitely couldn’t wait to leave these fake people, and this petty town.
“I know, people here are...well…bored with their own lives.” – She paused thoughtfully – “I would leave too if it weren’t for Lucie and Rinaldo.” I already knew this of course, but hearing Adriana admit this confirmed my assumptions. Rinaldo was the love of her life and had finally broken up with his girlfriend of four years. I had watched Adriana suffer for two long; although she was always immensely optimistic there had been a puncture in her heart tainting her cheerfulness. Without Rinaldo she wasn’t a grey sky, she could never be a grey sky instead she had been a clear blue sky with that one annoying dark rain cloud raining on her happiness. He and Adriana belonged together, and that rain cloud had finally blown away. I leaned over the white silk tablecloth, sighing once more wondering if that rain cloud had blown my way.
I sincerely hoped her and Rinaldo could be one of those few couples that found true love that didn’t falter and would last long and forever like the fairytales claimed. She was so sure of their bond that it mirrored my exact outlook on love from only a few months ago. I badly wanted to protect her from the extreme power that provided the perfect high and a long plummet down to the depressing low. I wanted to warn her that life could get in the way of plans and instead of worrying about one small rain cloud a whole storm could erupt instantaneously.
Regardless of my urge to warn her I kept my thoughts to myself deciding she deserved to be happy while it lasted… I was not as optimistic as Adriana.
“I hope that it all works out for once. You really do deserve to be happy and remember I will always be here for you, you’re my best friend.” I told her standing up and giving her a hug; a goodbye hug, because I knew this would be our last moment alone before I left to meet my father in his old village Kratero in Greece.
“I love him she responded, and I hope that everything works out with you too… you deserve to carry a full heart. And if they don’t find him soon… If he doesn’t ‘come back’ to you, there are always other people you could let into your life.”
I wish I could have told her then, that no-one else in this world, in this lifetime or in eternity would ever touch my heart the way he did. Nothing in this world could fill my heart the way his smile did. If he didn’t ‘come back’ to me, as she’d put it so casually, as if he had just gone on a vacation - avoiding the real words of ‘surviving’ or ‘living’ then nothing could fill my heart. It would remain empty forever.
Not knowing whether he was dead or alive was agony. It had only been a few months but this was too long, I knew the search for his body was thinning. With no bodily evidence of death or of survival the search would soon halt and I would never know where his body laid to rest; I would be distraught if they never found him, always carrying that small hope that he was alive.
Dancing and Cake and more fake congratulations followed the dinner. It was exceptional, as a vegetarian my mother had eggplant parmesan served, my favourite dish. Adriana was in another world with Rinaldo on her arm, they already seemed as if they were a couple even though they were `taking things slow`. He was tall, rather thin but very handsome with a mass of dark brown hair and warm hazel eyes; I could see the attraction she had to him as she looked at his face magnetically drawn towards him. The sound of his voice gave her shivers as if it was the soft breeze of the ocean. I sat at the wedding table trying to hide from all my relatives as they departed to go home, the night was nearing an end which I was pleased about.
A black town car pulled up in front of the hall, which I knew was my cue to say goodbye to my family until I decided to return home. I stood up and walked over to my mother and Randal who were in conversation with my mum’s brother David who had traveled all the way from England for the wedding. He was playfully cheeky and had a large beer belly, his skin was a shade of pink probably from too much wine; he reminded me of a younger Saint Nicholas smoking a cigar instead of a pipe.
“Mum, my car is here it is going to take me home to get my things and then I have to catch my flight.” I had purposely booked my flight on the day of the wedding for a chance to skip out from it early and avoid socializing. I wanted to stay and see my mother as she was ecstatic; the happiest I had seen her in years yet my selfishness to avoid more painful questions about Miles was an offer I couldn’t let pass.
“Oh honey… Robyn” she gushed over dramatically due to a little too many toasts of champagne, “I can’t believe you’re leaving us, especially now that we can be a real family again.”
“Yes the timing is bad isn’t it?” I don’t think she noticed the sarcastic edge to my voice; I really couldn’t have timed my leaving any better and we would never be a real family again without my father. A new family maybe, but a sad attempt at real.
My mother extended her arms to emphasize the fact I was still wearing my bridesmaid dress “Aren’t you going to change?”
“In all seriousness I don’t think I could forget the fact that I look like a pink marshmallow. I have clothes set out at home I’ll change before I head to the airport and hang the dress in my closet.”
David walked off and started trying to dance with the waitress serving the champagne in what I could only describe as an erotic version of the chicken dance. I couldn’t help but let a smile slip on the edge of my lips.
“He’s just being silly!” my mother called over to the surprised waitress. I looked back to my mother and let these last images of her lock deep into my memory: long white silk gloves placed around her mouth to extend her voice, an elegant gown swooping down her neckline, a wedding ring sparkling beautifully on her third finger, the smile immersed in her eyes.
“Well have a safe journey.” Randal interjected breaking my mental image of my mother. He nodded his masculine jaw in my direction.
“Thanks,” I acknowledged frostily, and turned to look at my mum in her tipsy, glassy hazel eyes “I’ll miss you mum, I love you.” I gave her a tight and tearful hug.
“I love you too. Go say bye to Lucie she’s upset you’re leaving.”
Lucie would be hard to say goodbye to, I could see her outside of the hall she was in a daze sitting on the front steps of the hall and looking at the town car she knew I would be leaving in shortly. I almost didn’t leave because of her, because I wanted to protect her from high school and guys, and girls that would tear her apart and tear her down because she is stunning inside and out just like Adriana. I walked up to her and took a seat beside her, she turned towards me looking mournful and starting to cry big, wet salty tears.
“I wish I was coming with you, I don’t want to live with Randal and mum.”
“Randal’s not bad, he’s cool.”
“What about high school, I need you to help me. I don’t want to get into any trouble.”
I was worried too; I didn’t want her to go the wrong path. I could see her doing what I did in high school, getting intoxicated on a regular basis and making mistakes that could never be forgiven or taken back. I never slept around but maybe it was just as bad or worse too fool around with many guys, giving a piece of myself to each one. The few I did sleep with took more of me then the others, it still hurt when I reflected on the hard memories from those years and the reputation they had given me: a sl*t. It was such a harsh word even now hearing it was like a slash from a whip: quick, sharp and derivative as if they didn’t want to waste time to think of a term or punishment that would dig deeper. Sl*t - the word took a millisecond to think of and even less time to say, but the slashes took a long time to heal often becoming infected and eating away at my self-confidence before scabbing over and leaving permanent scars.
All I was really looking for was a kiss or a touch that held me that made me feel more than just the physical but the emotional.
When I finally found my match I knew right away; all of my past searching was unnecessary and it proved outlandish to look so hard. Somehow we just found each other; serendipity brought us together just like those damn fairytales claimed - and I realized that I had been jamming puzzle pieces that didn’t fit together for too long instead of being patient.
But this dreadful search, the search for Miles's body was truly the opposite. Not just because I had never been on a search to find out if the man I loved was dead but because:
Firstly: I knew who I was looking for; I knew every line on his face, every pore and stubble. I knew the way his skin stretched over his muscle and bone, the warmth of his chest and the way his heartbeat quickened when I lay there. I knew his name, family, biggest fears, wildest dreams, and the way his toes curled when he was ticklish and trying not to laugh.
Secondly: Instead of looking for something I hadn’t found yet I was looking for something missing; I had been one half before but when I found him my other half, he was the half I cared most about and couldn’t live without. Without him I was missing the most important part of myself he was simply irreplaceable.
The best analogy I could provide myself with was that he was the perfect dress: when you don’t know what you’re looking for it is so much easier to settle for something less but when you have the perfect image, colour, fit, style even brand you can’t possibly settle for something unsatisfactory.
I looked back down at Lucie breaking my own self absorbed thoughts about lost love. She was avoiding my gaze, “You’ll be fine.” I told her, with more confidence in my voice then I really believed. I just didn’t want her to go through the same heartaches I had found myself in. High school heartaches were so trivial and repairable it was not the mere aches but the emotional blows that gutted you – they were unavoidable. “Goodbye Lucie. Call me, write me, and email me. I’m here for you sis.” I patted her on the back and ran my fingers through her caramel hair before I stood up and walked slowly to the black car without looking back.
It was time for me to be born again, for a new life to begin. A life without happiness I added cynically. But I had to do something for myself: Robyn. I had to hope for a miracle.