The Rat and the Desks

1 10 2012

Here is a translation of my short story, El ratón y los pupitres.

The Rat and the Desks

The worst day of the year: the first day of classes.

Between the flood of cars, kids, parents, teachers, and lots of noise, I sit in my jail for yet another year again, watching the crowds through the window.  On the blackboard, I’ve written “Mr. Lema.”  The desks in the room are dull, empty, and cold.  Slowly, students enter, talking in loud voices, laughing.  They never pay attention to me, never look at me.  When they fill the desks, I stand up.

“Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Sixth Grade.  My name is Mr. Lema,  your teacher.  We’re going to learn a ton of stuff this year.  I hope you’re all ready and excited.”

They all laugh.  I imagine that I am the joke they are laughing at.

***

I remember when I was a child.  I loved to learn everything — math, science, geography, music.  I was so curious about the entire world.  But when I see kids today, with their high-tech gadgets, their diverse and confusing vocabulary, their indifferent and bored faces, it’s all a reminder that these boys and girls aren’t like I was.  Enthusiasm, passion — it’s not there anymore these days.

Or maybe it never existed.

***

One day, the principal tells me that a new student is registering in my class.   I don’t think about this news much.  While the class arrives, I short and quiet boy, like a mouse, stands at the door.  He looks at the floor in silence.  But I can see something special in the eyes of this young boy, something shining, like a little diamond waiting to be mined.  During class, he doesn’t read, and seems afraid of everything.

The students are outside during recess.  I am sitting at my desk when I feel someone in the room.  It’s him, of course, and I smile because I see those shining gems.

For a month, during lunchtime, I help him with his studies, especially English.  I can feel the quiet passion in this little mouse, the curiosity in his constant questions.  He never tells me about his family or where he comes from.  Little by little, he talks more and more in class, better and better.

One Friday, we are in the Music Room.  He sees all the different instruments in awe.  I pick up a trumpet, my favourite instrument.

“Would you like to learn how to play this?” I ask him.  He nods, a smile on his face.

“It’s a small instrument but loud,” I say.  “I can teach you tomorrow.”

***

I haven’t seen him since that day.  People say his family simply left.

While the bored students arrive as usual, and the grand noise returns again, I sit at my desk and I notice the dull and flat desks in the room.  I notice that the students that fill the desks year after year, both waiting for nothing.

 

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El ratón y los pupitres

30 09 2012

I’m taking 5 courses this semester, three of which are Creative Writing courses.  Ironically, the first story I wrote this term was for my Spanish class, in which we were to re-tell a story we read and studied in class called Cajas de carton (Cardboard Boxes) from one of the other characters.  The word limit was 200-250 words, which I found incredibly difficult to do, and when I was done my first draft, I was up to just over 450 words.  I was able to edit and cut out a bit part of my story, but it just wasn’t as good.  I debated whether or not to simply hand in the long version, since I found it to be a lot deeper than the shorter, edited version, but decided not to, in case my teacher would take off marks or whatever.

Anyway, here is the longer version that I didn’t submit.  I’ll post a translation in English tomorrow or perhaps tonight once I get through my piles upon piles of homework.

El ratón y los pupitres

El peor día del año: el primer día de clases.

Entre la inundación de carros, niños, padres, profesores, y mucho ruido, me siento en mi cárcel por el año siguiente otra vez, mirando la multitud a través de la ventana.  Suspiro.  En la pizarra, he escribido “Sr. Lema.”  Los pupitres en el aula son romos, vacíos, y fríos.  Lentamente, los estudiantes entran, hablan en voz alta, se ríen.  Nunca me prestan atención, nunca me miran.  Cuando llenan los pupitres, me pongo de pie.

“Hola, todos, y bienvenidos al grado sexto.  Me llamo Sr. Lema, su profesor.  Vamos a aprender muchísimo este año.  Espero que estén listos y excitados.”

Todo se ríen.  Me imagino que soy la broma.

***

Recuerdo cuando era niño.  Me encantaba aprender todo – matemáticas, ciencias, geografía, música.  Era tan curioso del mundo entero.  Pero cuando veo a niños hoy, con sus aparatos de alta tecnología, su vocabulario diverso y confuso, sus caras indiferentes y aburridas, es un recordatorio que estos chicos y chicas no son como yo era.  El entusiasmo, la pasión – no está allí estos días.

O quizás ya no exista.

***

Una mañana, el director me dice que un nuevo estudiante matricula en mi clase.  No pienso mucho en su noticia.  Mientras la clase llega, un muchacho bajo y tranquilo, como un ratón, está a la puerta.  Mira el suelo en el silencio.  Pero puedo ver algo especial en los ojos de este joven, algo brillante, como un poquito diamante esperando ser minado.  Durante la clase, no quiere leer, no habla inglés muy bien, y parece aterrorizado por todo.

Los estudiantes están fuera durante el recreo.  Me estoy sentando a mi escritorio cuando percibo alguien en el aula.  Es él, por supuesto, y me sonrío porque veo las joyas brillan.

Por un mes, durante el almuerzo, lo ayudo con sus estudios, particularmente inglés.  Puedo sentirme la pasión tranquila en este ratoncito, la curiosidad en sus preguntas  constantes.  Nunca me dice de su familia o de donde viene.  Dentro de poco, habla más y más en clase, mejor y mejor.

Un viernes, estamos en la sala de música.  Ve los muchos instrumentos diferentes en el temor.  Cojo una trompeta, mi instrumento favorito.

“¿Quisieras aprender a tocarla?” le pregunto.  Asiente con la cabeza, una sonrisa en su cara.  “Es un instrumento poco pero fuerte,” digo.  “Puedo enseñarte mañana.”

***

No lo veo después ese día.  La gente dice que su familia simplemente se fue.

Mientras los estudiantes aburridos llegan como siempre, y el gran ruido vuelve otra vez, me siento a mi escritorio y me doy cuenta de que los pupitres romos y planos, y los estudiantes que los llenarán año después ano, ambos esperan nada.





Comme une rosée de larmes – Ludovic Bource

6 08 2012

I imagine this being played as a guy is waiting in a restaurant on a date.  He nervous — fidgeting with the tablecloth, and adjusting and re-adjusting the utensils on the table to their exact place.  He constantly turns to look at the front of the restaurant, hoping, wishing to see his date.  He waits and waits.  Couples are all around him, laughing, smiling, and enjoying themselves, while he sits alone at his table with a candle burning.  A bottle of red wine sits unopened at the table.  A loyal waiter comes to check on him now and then, but the guy only gets refills of water in his glass.

Hours have passed.  The last couple leaves the restaurant, while the guy still sits there, the last bit of hope in his eyes dying.  He gives the restaurant a last look around, searching for that one person, then lets out a sigh of defeat.  He puts money on the table, gives the waiter a smile for tending to him the entire night, and trudges home.

The waiter goes over to the table, and blows out the now-short, barely flickering candle.





Good Morning, Heartache (end)

13 07 2012

Click.

And with that, Jake’s list is sent into the world, like blowing ashes into the wind.  He takes a breath.  This is yet another time when the outcome is uncertain, and it unnerves him greatly.  There’s nothing left for him to do but wait and see if anything happens.

Days go by.  Jake does his best to carry on with life, but it seems as if every moment, his thoughts are interrupted by a voice shouting in his mind, or a sign that suddenly turns on — “Heath.”  And in that moment, it all comes back to him.  Whatever he’s doing no longer matters.  It alters his day, his mood, his thinking, to the point where Jake spends more time in a day thinking and dwelling about Heath than being in the present.

The worst part is that he knows it.  The worst part is he can’t stop thinking, no matter how hard he tries.

An email arrives in Jake’s inbox, sandwiched between a groupon email and a library notification.  Jake is alone in his room, having just woken up.  There’s a blue downwards arrow attached to the email — Heath’s marked it as low priority.  Upon glancing at the little font on his screen that shows Heath’s name, his breathing immediately increases, and a wave of nausea hits him.  He has to avert his eyes and tell himself that it’s okay before he’s able to control his breathing again.

Click.

Dear Jake,

I got your letter.  I read it.

I’m sorry it’s been rough for you.  You’re wrong when you think I’m without emotions though.  If you don’t already know, you’re such a wonderful guy, and you deserve someone who can give you what I can’t.  Truth be told, I’ve moved on, and though you’ll always have a special place in my heart, I don’t feel that way about you anymore.  Maybe that’s a harsh thing to say, but I feel like if I don’t, you’ll take longer to get over things.  I want that for you.   I know you think and think about things a lot — that’s what happened with your ex.  A relationship should come naturally for both people for it to flourish — otherwise, we’d be constantly fighting to stay together.  

We just don’t work out.  I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.  If you want to stay friends, or if you need someone to talk to, to heal old wounds, then we can do that.

But please don’t try to win me back, or I will have to hurt you.

H.

Jake stares at the screen for minutes, even after finishing Heath’s email.  He doesn’t move, and his breathing is in shallow puffs.  The hum of the computer, and his breathing are the only sounds in the room.

He knows how these things end.  Jake is liberated, self-empowered, meets a new, wonderful guy, and gets a new beginning.  That’s what should happen.

A cold hand touches his shoulder.  “Come back to bed,” a voice beckons him.  “It’s getting cold without you.”

Jake turns off his computer.  Yes, Jake can see it now — his new life.  All the possibilities flash before his eyes.  Suddenly, they all disappear.

“Don’t daydream like that.  I’m all you have.  I’m all you will ever have.  I’ll be yours forever.”

He crawls into bed, and the sheets wrap around his legs and body.  He pulls it close to him, shivering slightly.

“Good morning, heartache.  Hold me for a while…”

THE END





Good Morning, Heartache (part 9)

14 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 9)

Dear H.,

Well, I actually hope you’ll see this, and if you do, please just listen, and think about it instead of dismissing it right off the bat.

I know you seem to have moved on, but there are so many things I wish I could tell you.  I don’t know if it will make a difference or not, but I’d still like you to know.

First, my biggest regret is that I wish we didn’t break up so fast. 

I wish we would have taken the time to sort things out, to figure out a solution.  I should’ve known that I would spend hours, days, months thinking and thinking.  I wouldn’t have let you give up on me so easily instead of accepting everything you said.  I should’ve known that I would overthink everything to try and fix things.  I wish I realized just how much I loved you, and how that should count for something.

The thought of going on a break did cross my mind at the time, but I didn’t see how that would’ve helped, since the issue was about not spending enough time together.  In retrospect, I wish we did go on a break, so we could both think and re-evaluate things, as well as come up with a solution, instead of chucking away everything so damn quickly.

I keep thinking about how, when we were walking along the beach after our conversation, we walked in silence, and I could’ve… I should’ve stopped walking and said, “No, this doesn’t feel right.  I’m not going to throw everything we’ve worked on away so quickly.  I know we can work things out.  Please, let’s try.”  But I didn’t. 

List of Sorrys and Future actions:

It would be easy to lay out all the things I am sorry about, but that would all be talk of the past.  In addition to all the things I acknowledge I did wrong and all the fuck-ups I’ve made, I’m also including ways I will do– or at the very least, try– to fix them, so I won’t have to keep fucking up.

My first and biggest apology is that I never apologized enough.  Sometimes, I think I apologize too much; other times, I am so stingy with my apologies.  When it came to you, I know I didn’t offer enough apologies.  I can have a lot of pride and a lot of the time, I don’t like to be wrong.  I am so, so sorry for a lot of things.  Mostly, I’m sorry I didn’t say sorry back.

I’m sorry I didn’t say I’m sorry back to you about the chapstick incident.  I remember you apologizing about it after, but I didn’t.

I’m sorry for making such a big deal out of our 6th month anniversary.  It’s just goddamn 6th months– a blip on the relationship timeline, nowhere near important as, say, one year.  I should have been more understanding that you were busy.  And for the record, when you said, “Forgive me for being busy!”, I forgive you.

I’m sorry for snapping at you that one time while we were walking after class.  It was noisy outside, and you asked me to repeat what I said a few times, and I eventually yelled it at you.  I never yell, and I the only reason I would is because I was comfortable enough (and not self-aware enough) with you to do it.  That was not nice of me, and I should have more patience than that, not to mention I shouldn’t snap at you.

I’m sorry I complained about the Amazing Race event during the sleepover at the Botanical Garden.  I probably sounded ungrateful, and even though I caught myself in the midst of ranting to you and stopped ranting after that, I actually didn’t apologize.  I will be sure to apologize if I do it again.

I’m sorry I didn’t try as hard to get you off after you got me off.  (I’m extra sorry about this one)  If I get off first, I will work extra hard to make you feel as good as you make me feel, which includes lots, TONS more rimming since I didn’t do it nearly enough, and I know you love it.

I’m sorry I stopped you from sucking my dick in the private changeroom at the community center because I was afraid we’d get caught.  In retrospect, that would’ve been really hot.  I wouldn’t stop you if it happened again.

I’m sorry if I didn’t make you happy.  If you ever had any problem or issues, you know you can talk to me.  I am always willing to do my best to make you happy.

I’m sorry I can’t be as optimistic as you, or as you want me to be.  I know it will take time, but I’m willing to at least try to think more positively.

I’m sorry I was insecure about our relationship.  I’m not used to good things staying with me (as you can see now).  I’m sorry if my insecurities got in the way.  I will try to enjoy having you around instead of wondering and questioning everything.

I’m sorry how obstinate I was when you were cautious about holding hands in public near Commercial Drive.  If you weren’t comfortable with it, I shouldn’t have argued with you and pushed you to do it,  and I promise I will listen to you next time you tell me you don’t feel safe about things like that.

I’m sorry I didn’t go with you and your friends to the beach at low tide.  I know it was something you were really excited about.  I’m sorry I missed out on that opportunity.  I would go in a heartbeat if I were invited.

I’m sorry I wasn’t more expressive about everything you were interested in.  I really am enthousiastic about the things you love, like animals.  I love nature and animals too.  I’m sorry if I didn’t acome across that way.  I think sea slugs are actually pretty cool looking.  I hope you realized that I’m not outwardly excited much, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy or excited about things.  I forget that it can be difficult to tell if I’m not outwardly expressing myself, and I’ll do my best to show you how I’m feeling.

I’m sorry for about half the times I said “I love you”, because I didn’t mean it as much as the other ones.  Maybe I said it too much, but it goes back to how I will not hesitate to tell and show people I care about that I care about them.  To me, whenever I saw you, I was always, always taken aback by the stunning, beautiful, handsome, caring man before me.  My husky.  I’m reminded of a line from a movie: “Love me less, but love me a long time.”  If that’s what you want me to do, I will.

I’m sorry I didn’t want to go to any of the other haunted houses at Fright Nights.  I’ll man-up.

I’m sorry for the time I got annoyed when I flaked out on dinner with my family to be with you.  I’m sorry I didn’t realize it was one of the few times you actually wanted to be with me instead of the other way around.  I will be sure to cherish all the time we have together.

I’m sorry I refused to take salsa dancing lessons together.  I thought it was a great idea, and I honestly didn’t have any good reasons to object to it.  At least it would have got us more times together.  I’m sorry I didn’t realize this.  I’m still up for it if you are.

I’m sorry I was so opposed to Shakira.  She’s not that bad.  At least better than friggin’ Rhianna.

I’m sorry I realized all these things too late.  I suppose knowing all these things now is better than not at all or never, but it’s been so long that I feel as if it’s useless now.  Please tell me it isn’t.

Here are some things I’ve thought about as well:

I never tried to pry you from your family obligations because I knew they were important to you.  You pulled me out of having dinner with my family at the last minute because it was nice outside.  Sometimes, I thought you didn’t understand. 

I wish I was more adventurous with you.  Now I wish I had let you put that big beetle thing on my hand on Langara Day.  Or that time I stayed hard after we had another day of mind-blowing sex, and you hinted that you wanted to stay and do it again, but instead, I ushered you out.  

Because of you, I doubt my ability to be a good boyfriend.  I feel as if I have failed — failed our relationship and failed to be understanding as your boyfriend.  If you ever had a problem with anything at all, I would’ve hoped you could be comfortable to share it with me, despite how I might feel about it.  My goal as your boyfriend would be to make you happy, and to love you, and if you spared my feelings but not telling me something that was bothering you, I wouldn’t have been able to help.

You know I am insecure.  I am insecure with being in a relationship because I feel that things will end and that I will lose whomever I am with.  You said you didn’t feel insecure because our relationship was strong.  I let you know how much I loved you as much as I could because unlike my father and my family, I will not hesitate to say or show that I love someone.  I feel like I did that for you, but months after we were together, I didn’t feel it back.  I no longer felt special to you, and sometimes, it seemed you could go for days without seeing me or even speaking to me if you wanted, and you could be content with that.  You became complacent with me, did you not?  When we would meet, did you think, “Here comes my fantastic boyfriend.  God, I’m so in love with him.”  Or was it simply, “There’s this guy who happens to be my boyfriend.  Meh.”  I asked you to show me– show me that you love me, and I didn’t feel like you showed me much.  I wanted to be around you so much because I loved you so much.  There’s no simpler way to explain it.

Looking back, I think it’s clear that I loved you more than you loved me.

I know nothing about this guy you’re with, but I know he will not love you as I did.  Whether or not you think that’s a good or bad thing is up for you to decide.

I keep thinking of the times we had sex and I thought this was a bad thing, that I should be thinking of something more profound than the times we did it.  But I realized that these were the times — as cheesy as it sounds — we made love, and I felt such a strong emotional connection to you, to the point where I remember saying once, “I love you” when we had amazing, passionate love.

Everyone seems to think I’m better off, or that I can do better, and even you think so.  It seems I’m the only one who thinks otherwise.  Does it not mean anything to you that I’m willing to fight for you?  You really think hapy enedings are just in movies and shows?  What does it mean to you that I’m doing all this?  Do you think this is all just a big stunt?  I wouldn’t be doing this I didn’t think you were worth fighting for.  I’m showing you.

When I got your text that there were things you wanted to discuss a few days after we broke up, I thought you were going to ask me back, and I was so happy and relieved.  Oh, how I was wrong.

I’ve also thought about a lot of what you said, mostly what you said in December, but some of them are further back.  Here are some of my observations (the quotations are things you’ve said):

Apparently, you’ve been telling people who ask why we broke up, “I’m not ready to settle down.”

I never asked you to settle down with me.  If I gave you the impression that I wanted us to move in, get married and have kids — which is what I think settling down conssits of, then I’m sorry.  I simply wanted to be your boyfriend, here in the present.  Anything in the future, whether it be settling down or whatever, is uncertain.  That is all.

If your idea of settling down is being in a monogamous relationship– if what you really meant was that you wanted to go out and have fun with other people and not have to work at a real relationship– if that’s what you thought, then maybe you should’ve said that.  You may not believe when I say this, but if that’s what you want, I still think we could work things out.  I’m not as inflexible as you think.

“Sometimes there’s no easy way.”

Is this how you justify breaking my heart?  True, sometimes there are no easy ways to fix a difficult solution, but letting me go instead of working hard to fix our almost year-long relationship seems like the easy way out. 

It seems quite easy for you, the way you cast me off seemingly without hesitation, how you resisted me so easily when I kissed your cheek and brushed my nose against your like we used to do on what would have been our 10 months together.

“I’m no good for you.”

It’s another way of saying the good ole “it’s not you, it’s me.”  It’s not that you’re not good for you.  It’s that you don’t want to be the one for me.  If you genuinely don’t want to be with me, then I would think you would be man enough to say that.  Don’t tell me it’s for my own good, because it’s not.  I never asked you to break up with me, and I didn’t want to that day.  You said you weren’t expecting to break up either.

You are good for me.  Why do you think we were together for so long?  Because even though you disappointed me, you made me deliriously happy, and in the end, being happy with you is always better than disappointment.  That’s the plain and simple truth.

“How many people end up with the first person they’re with?  You gotta go through 2, 3, 4, 5 people.”

With that thinking, in your mind, our relationship wouldn’t have worked out anyway for the sole reason that I was the first person you were with?  How can you think like that?  You may think it’s realistic, and yes, many people don’t end up with their firsts, but once in a while, there are those who do.  Couldn’t we have been an exception?  You say this like probability is a valid reason for us not to be together. 

“You can choose to not be sad.  You can choose to be happy.”

When you said that, it made me feel as if you weren’t happy when we were together, that I made you sad or unhappy.  I wonder if you chose to be happy by being with somebody else.  I wonder if you were even a fraction of how sad I was.

“I didn’t know what I wanted when we were together, and I don’t know what I want now.”

Why didn’t you tell me?

You were my boyfriend, and I thought that’s what you wanted.  Was I just some test for you to figure out what you wanted?  I poured all my feelings into you because I knew I loved you. Was it just convenient for you that we broke up?

I guess you know enough that you don’t want me, right? 

When I asked you if you honestly had time for a relationship, you said, “I guess not.”

But quite obviously, you do have time if you’re seeing someone.  What you meant was that you couldn’t– didn’t want to– dedicate time to our relationship.

My friend said that she honestly felt you didn’t prioritize our relationship.  That’s not to say that being boyfriends should be the number one thing in your life, ahead of school or work or whatever, and I wouldn’t want either of us to do that.  Of course not.  But a relationship is something you have to continuously work on, and I don’t think you spent enough time working on our relationship.  Do think you did?  Or did you do it intentionally because you didn’t want to see me? Am I crazy to even think that?

“He’s not here.  He’s gone for ten months.”

Why did you tell me this right after you admitted you were seeing someone?  Did you think this would soften the blow somehow?  If anything, it only means you’d rather be with someone halfway across the world than with me, who is here, ready and willing to sort through this mess, to make things work again.

“I know you don’t want an open relationship or polyamory.”

That’s not fair.

You asked me that based on a hypothetical situation and said you didn’t mean anything by it.  I may have not had favourable opinions on either open relationships or polyamory but that doesn’t mean I would never consider it.  Like all things, we’d have to talk about the rules, what’s acceptable and what’s not.  We’d have to talk it over.  I would listen and I would think about it before making a decision.  Anyway, I thought the issue was the amount of time we had for our relationship, not about whether we wanted to include others.  I thought you were too busy with work and volunteering to spend time with me, and now you’re implying it an open relationship or a polyamorous relationship would’ve been an option?  I don’t understand.  Were you trying to find a way to say you wanted to date around and not be with me all the time?  Or did you think that if I was allowed to date others, that I wouldn’t have to see you as often?

“Kind of.”

For someone who is so concerned about not hurting others, you certainly hurt me an incredible amount just by saying “kind of”, when I asked you if you were seeing someone.  Those aren’t very kind words at all.

Here’s some info that may or may not interest you:

According to wikipedia, a panick attack is “a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes:

  • Palpitations, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • De-realization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  • Fear of losing control or going insane
  • Sense of impending death
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
  • Chills or hot flashes”

Also according to wikipedia, this is one of the causes of panic attacks:

“Short-term triggering causes — Significant personal loss, including an emotional attachment to a romantic partner, life transitions, significant life change”

Sound familiar?

When you said “kind of”, it felt as though something inside me burst, or that I was bleeding internally or something.  I told you I needed to sit down because I felt so physically weak I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep standing up.  I wonder what you were thinking as you sat beside me while I gasped for breath, trembled, and tried to fight away the feeling of throwing up.  My heart collapsed right in front of you and you didn’t even know.  You didn’t do anything.

You may have seen me at school, walking away from the bus stop where you were standing.  The few times I have seen you, I get anxiety– the same symptoms as a panic attack (increased heart rate, trembling, difficulty breathing, gasping, sweating, feeling like I’m choking)– and I have to walk away because I cannot bear seeing the boy I used to love anymore.  The same boy who broke my heart.

It’s been almost a year.  I’ve changed, and I’m sure you have too.  The wants I had before are all different, and I now view relationships differently.  You say you’ve grown a lot because of me, and I have as well.  The difference is that I am willing to take those lessons that I’ve learned to try and make them right again, because I know you’re worth it.  You seem to want to take your knowledge and apply them to someone else.

I don’t know how much I would need to see the person I’m with.  Things like that should be worked out together, not expected.  I know that now.

“Try to be more optimistic.”

You know I find that hard to do.  But if there’s one thing I can honestly believe in that is optimistic (and perhaps it is blind optimism), it’s this:

It is never too late.

“I wish I could have done things differently.”

Don’t you see? 

You still can, H.  You still can.

We still can.





Good Morning, Heartache (part 8)

13 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 8)

Good morning, heartache, thinks Jake, waking up to another day.  How cold you’ve kept me in my bed at night.

More like the movies and TV shows of post-dumped characters, Jake has been crying in his room for the past few days.  He listens to “The Only Exception” by Paramore at least three times a day, and a specific scene from the movie The Broken Hearts Club, where one of the characters tries to win back his ex by proclaiming everything he did wrong, and then wishing him a happy life with his new beau. Sometimes with the door closed and sometimes not, Jake sobs alone, drenching his shirt with tears, his whole body heaving up and down, gasping from sadness.

(Skip to 4:27 in the video)

All these months have been a waste.  I was a goddamn fool to ever think there was hope.  I thought there was hope, but there’s no hope at all.  He’s with someone else, someone who is better than me.  It’s never going to be me ever again, are just some of the negative thoughts going through his head.

Our It Gets Better video we made together.
The times we made love.
Every “I love you.”
The bath we had together.
The one night we slept together.
The roses we gave to each other.
The poems we wrote to each other.
The songs I sang to you.
Every kiss we shared.
Every laugh we shared.
Every second of every minute we did something together.

Don’t these things mean anything to you?  I know they do to me.

Thanks, or possibly no thanks, to the fact that it’s in between semesters, maybe he would have less to think about if he were busy with classes.  On the other hand, maybe he needs to cry it out.  Even going in to work at the theatre, Jake is so ovewhelmed that on a few occasions, he leaves the building on his break and heads over to the empty parking lot next door, listens to “The Only Exception”, and cries to himself in the cold rain.

And when he goes in to work at the park… well, most of the time, he’s making kettle corn like a robot, and doesn’t have to think about much.  When he goes in to work later the day he and Heath meet in December, Jake tells Mozilla what happened.  He expects her to be surprised, but she confesses, “Yeah, I just found out yesterday about this guy.  Basically, Heath’s been doing the same thing to him as he did to you– ignoring him.  Except this guy doesn’t care.  He’s in Japan for 10 months.  I don’t trust him.  Apparently he’s bisexual too, and he just gives me a bad vibe… When you’re away from someone for such a long time, I think the pressure to sleep around can be pretty up there, and I can see this guy doing that.  I think Heath is going to get hurt because of that.”

Heath won’t get hurt because he doesn’t care if this guy cheats on him, Jake thinks to himself.

Every night working in the park brings Jake down.  He can almost see where he and Heath told each other “I love you” last year.  How different a whole year has been.

His friends tell him to take his time and cry all he needs.  Again, Jake tries to move on since it’s clear Heath has, but this time, it’s even more difficult.  He tries dating, and does meet some interesting people including Kurt, who is younger and very patient.  Perhaps it’s the people he’s been seeing or that it’s too soon since the incident in December, but whatever the case, Jake doesn’t feel “it” with his dates like he did easily with Heath.  He wonders if he’s lost that part of him that believes in things like Hollywood endings.  Maybe it died in December.  Maybe now he’s been disillusioned, and true love doesn’t exist.

His entire being, after all, is to love (and be loved, of course).  Or at least that’s what he thought.  And now that he’s failed with Heath, he can’t help but feel like, again, he’s failed in loving.  He knows people won’t understand if he tried to explain it to them.  Of course he can live without love.  Of course he can be single.  He obviously isn’t imploding into nothingness.  It just doesn’t feel right to not have someone to love.

The city becomes a minefield.  No longer can Jake go without feeling a pang in his chest when seeing ads for the botanical garden on TV or online.  Working at the park is an obvious one.  Such things as hearing a song by Shakira or Lady Gaga, whom Heath adores, red sweaters, hearing and speaking Arabic– it all reminds him of Heath.  It almost feels as if every time something reminds him of Heath, what’s left of his heart dissolves further, decomposing.  It all makes Jake stop and feel sad.

Even going to school, knowing Heath is somewhere in those halls creates a sense of dread in him.  When the next semester in January starts up, Jake is so disinterested in college life that he makes half-hearted attempts to do pretty much everything.  Walking around the school makes him nervous because of the possibility that Heath could appear anywhere, and Jake figures that ignorance really is bliss in this case.  If he doesn’t see Heath, the better it is for Jake.

There are times when Jake sees Heath waiting at the bus stop.  They used to take the bus together.  When Jake sees Heath, his breathing immediately because short gasps of air, and he has an overwhelming sense of nausea and panic.  Jake has to walk away and find another way home, and he wonders if Heath notices him walking away at all.

Although Jake considers himself to be “seeing” Kurt, they haven’t talked about being official boyfriends.  Things with him are simpler, but at the same time, are also complicated.  With Heath, they went out a few times, and talked about being boyfriends.  Jake does like Kurt a lot, and he’s told him about Dorian and Heath because he feels it would only be fair that Kurt know how and why Jake is being affected by issues in the past.

When Jake tells Kurt about seeing Heath at school and how he felt as if he were experiencing the same symptoms as in December, Kurt tells him he had anxiety.  Although anxiety is a common problem in society, it’s not something Jake ever thought he would develop, at least not when it came to exes.  He supposes this must show how much he loved Heath.

There are times when Jake finds himself still thinking about Heath and this new guy of his, and surprises himself by clenching his fist until his knuckles are white, or shouting profanities to no one in paticular.  Jake’s mental health deteriorates; he gets sick several times in the following months, as opposed to normally once or twice a year.  At the very least, he is aware that his mental state isn’t that great, but doesn’t know what to do about it.  Kurt, who has been extremely understanding and patient with Jake this whole time, helps Jake sort things out.  But it’s still not enough, and Jake knows it.

One day, Kurt advises Jake to write down every thought, positive or negative, around Heath.  Write it all down on paper.  This, Kurt says, has been proven to help people feel better about things.

So he does.  After filling three pages of scrawl, Jake sighs.  He does feel slightly better, but now that the words are written on the page, staring back at him, it feels like a waste of ink.  These words hold power for change, and to let them lay on the page, flat, not living up to what they could achieve…

And with that, Jake types up his written thoughts and organizes them.

To be continued!





Good Morning, Heartache (part 7)

12 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 7)

Months pass.  Jake tries to get on with life.  His friends tell him it was better to end things with Heath before he became completely absorbed later down in his career and completely neglected Jake.  They tell him that Jake can do better, and that Heath was kind of immature anyway.  After all, as Jake reads, breakups, however painful they may be, happen to millions of people all the time.  What Jake is feeling has been felt before.

He starts by putting the gifts such as the stuffed animal Heath gave him in the back of his closet.  Harder to take down is the poem and a sketch of Jake Heath drew and gave to him back when they were first going out.  Jake had it framed and hung it on the wall of his bedroom.  He sadly takes it down from its place and also stores it on a shelf in his closet.

Now that his room is more or less Heath-less, Jake occupies his time with school and work.  He finds life relatively alright, and aside from thinking about Heath every now and then, he still feels fine. When he does think about Heath, it’s always about how they left things, how unresolved it feels.  He goes back to the things they both said, and all the things he should have done or said.  In his mind, Jake begins making a list of everything he did wrong, all the times he should have apologized but didn’t, and how things lead to the way they did.  What could I have done differently? he wonders over and over again.

When he goes back to school in September, he doesn’t see Heath around campus.  There are times when Jake is so busy with homework and projects that he has to go home right after to work on things, just like Heath used to do.  It’s times like these when Jake is glad he’s not in a relationship because he honestly wouldn’t be able to spend much time with someone.  It makes him wonder how much he time he really does need with someone, and whether or not he really does need to see someone as often as he thought he did.

It’s now December, Jake’s favourite month.  He still thinks about Heath, and wonders how he’s doing, and finds himself missing Heath a lot.

Jake is invited to work at the park with the Christmas lights again, and although he knows the park is where he and Heath first said, “I love you” to each other, he accepts, thinking it will keep him busy.

On his first day of work, he sees Eliza, whom he hasn’t seen since last year working there.  He and Eliza are very friendly and get along well, and she is the type of person in whom he can trust about telling certain things.  After re-introductions and catching up on life, Eliza says, “So, I heard about you and Heath.”

“Oh.  From who?”

“Mozilla.”  Eliza gestures behind her, where Mozilla stands nearby, making hot chocolate from chocolate syrup in a big tin (if people saw how it was made, would they still drink it?).

“Oh.  Okay.”  Jake looks down at the ground.  Any and every thought of Heath makes him sad.  “So I guess you know what happened then?”

Eliza shakes her head.  “No.  Only that things ended.  Mozilla doesn’t even know what happened.”

Jake is taken aback.  Mozilla is supposed to be one of Jake’s closer friends, who is also studying botany at school, and would likely see her somewhat often.  At the same time, how do you explain to your friends that it was your fault for not putting in much time in a relationship?

From her platform, Mozilla adds, “He’s just been saying he ‘doesn’t want to settle down yet.'”

“Oh.”  Jake doesn’t know what to say.  Settle down.  Like move to the suburbs, own a house, and drive kids to soccer practice?  That wasn’t what Jake wanted at all, and he didn’t think he made that impression on Heath.  What he wanted was just to be a loving boyfriend and to see where life would take them.  That wasn’t settling down by any means.

So Jake fills Mozilla and Eliza in on what happened.  After everything, Eliza is pensive.

“My ex-boyfriend and I would see each other on the weekends only, but it was an arrangement, and we were both okay with it.  Yeah, we have full-time jobs and lives outside of work, but we always made sure that we knew when we could see each other.”

And in those words, a spark ignites in Jake’s mind.  All this time, Jake had been upset that Heath wasn’t able to see him as much as Jake wanted.  In fact, Jake had been imposing his own schedule onto Heath, and since Heath was busy all the time, of course Jake was upset.  They never sat down together and worked out how much exactly they wanted to see each other.   They never agreed on how much time they could both dedicate.

It was all Jake’s fault he was ever upset.

The revelation surprises Jake.  You see, Jake wasn’t simply dwelling on the past– that would be unproductive.  He inadvertently was analyzing everything to figure out a solution to their problem, despite it being months after their breakup.  It’s taken half a year, but he finally thinks he’s found the solution to Heath and Jake’s relationship problem.  No wonder it never felt finished.  He was looking for the answer all along.

After work, Jake texts Heath and asks how he’s doing.  It’s been months since they’ve talked.

“I’m fine.  Exams are done.  What’s up?”

“I just wanted to talk to you about some stuff.”

“Okay.  About what?”

Jake hesitates.  If he says it’s about relationship stuff, then Heath might think he’s still dwelling on things (which he clearly is), which might look bad.  He figures it’s better to be honest than to ambush Heath later, so he replies, “Well, it’s about a lot of things.  If you had to categorize it, I guess it would be relationship stuff, but it’s not really.”

He waits nervously for Heath’s answer.  When he gets it, he’s relieved.  “Okay.  Want to meet tomorrow at noon?”

Tomorrow it is.  Tomorrow things will work out.

***

“I don’t know where to start.”

It’s the next day.  The noise of the traffic whizzing by makes things harder to hear, and Jake finds himself having to say things a bit louder, which is awkward when he’s about to tell Heath what’s on his mind. The two are walking on sidewalk on the edge of downtown.  Heath seems fine, as usual, and Jake is nervous, as usual.

“It’s okay.  Just start wherever you want.”

It’s been so long since they’ve talked that Jake has almost forgotten how good a listener Heath is.

“Well… my co-worker Eliza told me that she and her ex-boyfriend made plans specifically on the weekends to see each other, and that worked for them just fine.  I realized that I never did that with you– made up a schedule of when we could see each other, and instead, I imposed my schedule onto you, and that’s not fair.  I now see that a relationship is based on two people, not just one, and it wasn’t right of me to expect you to see me as much as I wanted to see you. And I’m sorry.”

Jake pauses, to see if Heath wants to say anything, but he doesn’t.  Jake goes on.

“Just for the record, I’m not asking you back.  If anyone should be asking anyone back, it’s you, and I’m still leaving it up to you.  I just wanted to tell you what I’ve figured out.”

“Okay.”

They turn down the street, now walking into downtown territory.

“I also wanted to tell you that you said you didn’t want to hurt me anymore by not seeing me as much as I wanted to.  But that wasn’t what hurt the most.  What hurt the most was that you knew, from the very beginning of our relationship, what happened with me and my ex.  I told you I didn’t want that to happen with you because I care about you so much, but you still let it happen.  That’s what hurt the most.”

Heath is silent for a few seconds.  “That makes sense.  I wish… I wish I could have done things differently.”

Is this an admission of guilt?  “What kind of things?”

Heath is again silent.  Jake wonders if Heath really meant what he said.  “I don’t know,” he musters.

Jake doesn’t what to feel.  Is there any truth to what Heath just said?  Who knows.  Heath, in all likelihood, hasn’t been thinking about the way things were nearly as much as Jake, so it would make sense that he wouldn’t know.

“Let’s walk up this way.”  Jake leads them down the city’s gay street, a street where the two of them walked many times together before.

“I also never asked you an important question that I failed to realize until it was too late with my ex.  What is it you want, Heath?”

Jake, not looking at Heath at all, hears Heath sigh beside him.  “I don’t know.  I don’t know what I wanted when I was with you, and I don’t know what I want now.”

Jake pauses, to collect his thoughts before asking the next question.  “So, since you don’t know what you want, I guess that means you’re not seeing anyone?”

Heath looks over and gives Jake a strange look.  “Just because I don’t know what I want, why should that mean I’m not seeing anybody?”

Now, he feels something.  It’s as if there’s a tsunami, building power and speed from the ocean, rushing towards the shore.  Jake feels something like that, something loaded in his question.  He can feel the tsunami closing in on him, and yet he needs to know.

“Okay, so are you seeing someone?”

There is a brief silence before Heath says it.  Jake will remember these seconds, the calm before the storm.

“Kind of.”

How does one describe heartache?  How does one describe devastation?  We’ve all seen it in the movies: crying, sobbing.  But is that really enough?  Words are so feeble in showing just how painful it can be, but I will do my best.

After hearing those two simple words, Jake feels something in his chest burst, like a damn bursting.  Physiologically, it feels like a sudden explosion of hormones or blood or something else right in his heart.  Mentally, it’s as if a nuclear bomb just dropped.  Metaphorically, his heart just broke.

The tsunami hits the shore, flooding the village, sparing nothing in its path.  It drags people and debris back into the sea where they drown.

Jake stares on ahead, unable to look at Heath.  His breathing intensifies, and a wave of nausea hits him.  Still walking, Jake’s legs suddenly get weak, and he is afraid he’ll keel over and vomit.

“I need to sit down,” he chokes out coarsely.

They walk over to a nearby bench, and Jake slumps down in it.  He whole body shakes, and he keeps gasping short puffs of air.  Thinking it’s because he can’t breathe properly, Jake takes off his scarf, and though that helps a little, he still can’t breathe properly.  He buries his face in his hands, then runs his hands through his hair, desperately trying to do something with his hands.  This goes on for several minutes, Jake gasping and gasping for air, as his heart pounds in his chest.

It’s not until Jake becomes aware that he’s breathing erratically that he calms himself down.  He starts taking normal breaths of air slowly, and his heart rate returns to normal.

All this time, Heath sits silently next to him, presumably staring at the ground.

Once he feels more or less normal again, Jake asks, against the better part of himself, “How long have you been together?”

Heath thinks.  When he’s taking a longer than usual time to answer, he says, “Hold on.  My timeline is a little off at the moment.”

Okay, well, it’s obviously been a while, thinks Jake.

“Since the end of August?”

Jake furrows his brow.  “So, a month and a half after we broke up.”

“Yeah.”

It takes everything for Jake not to start gasping for air again.  “But he’s not here.  He’s gone for 10 months,” Heath quickly adds, as if trying to console him.

“I don’t understand, Heath.  If you don’t know what you want, why are you with someone?”

“Sometimes, to figure things out, you just have to try things,” is Heath’s reason.  “Please don’t be sad.  You can choose to be happy.  I know you’re dwelling on things, but… I’m no good for you.  You’ll find someone; you’re only, what, 22?  Think of all the years ahead of you, all the people you’re going to meet.  People never end up with the first person they get into a relationship with.  You gotta go through two, three, four, five or more until you find the right person.  Just… try to be more optimistic.  I know it’s hard for you to do, and it might seem like it’s easy for me to say all these because I’m with someone, but I really mean it.”

It’s not Jake’s turn to stare at the ground.  Although he is hearing everything Heath says, he wants to leave the situation.  Nothing ever seems to work out for Jake.  This whole idea was stupid in the first place.

“I actually thought that you weren’t the kind of person who would ask me back, and now I see that I was right.”  Jake stares sadly at the dirty ground.  “I feel like such a fool.  I was a fool to ever believe you’d get back together with me, and I was an utter fool to spend the last six months after we broke up trying to figure out a way for us to get back together.  I’m such a damn fool, a dumbass.”

“You’re not,” says Heath, but even that sounds forced and untrue.

The two sit in silence for a little while.  “There was also something else I wanted to tell you today.  Do you know when I realized I loved you?”

Heath looks at him and shakes his head.

“Well, I’ll tell you, whether you want to hear it or not.  Do you remember when I asked you when we were together, how and when you realized you loved me?  You said you didn’t know, that there was no one incident that made you realize it.  I wanted you to ask me the same question, but you never did, and I never told you.  Well, here it is.  I was watching Glee — yes, I realized it by watching Glee — and there’s this one character, Rachel, who has a major crush on the high school quarterback, but he doesn’t even know she exists.  Classic love story.  Then, after they get in glee club together, he notices her, and then, after many, many obstacles, they end up together.  At the end of one of the episodes, she sings a cover of Paramore’s song “The Only Exception” to him in front of the class.  Have you heard that song?”

Heath shakes his head.

“I hadn’t heard it before I heard it that night on Glee.  Basically the song is about how the narrator never wanted love, that she distanced herself from people, and would “never sing of love if it does not exist”, but the chorus goes “you are the only exception.”  And in that moment, after hearing those words, “you are the only exception”, a link in my brain, unconsciously, connected it to you.  Immediately, I thought of you, that you were the only exception for me.  And that’s when I knew I loved you.”

Jake waits for a response, but doesn’t expect any.

“Oh.”

That’s as good as a response as he’ll get from Heath it seems.

“Things like Glee and movies like Twilight just perpetuate this idea of romance and love.  Reality is not like that.”

Jake looks over at Heath.  “No.  I suppose you’re right.  Winning people back is for the movies.”

Jake puts his scarf back on.  “I need to go to head home and get ready for work.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

What difference does it make? Jake wonders.  “Yeah.  Can I… have a hug?”

Heath offers a small smile.  “Of course.”

Jake hugs Heath tightly, not wanting to ever let go.  After they part, Jake stands up.

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

Jake paces down the sidewalk quickly, speed-walking.  All this time, the most insecure part of his mind kept telling him Heath was with someone new.

“I was right…” Jake mumbles to himself, not caring that people are looking his way.  The tears he was holding back now pour down his face.

“I was right… I was right…”