For a diploma.

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May 1st, 1950


10 years old, traipsing around my mother’s closet in 4 inch heels and a dress that I could barely keep on my forearms, my dreams were reflected as I stood before the oval shaped, full length mirror. I imagined the handsome boy who would sweep me off my feet: brown hair, darting blue eyes, a carefully structured jaw, and his sculpted body, attired in the most elegant of suits. He would be a dedicated family man, a passionate lover, and an educated professional. We would be married in the midst of June: a wedding amongst lilac orchids and mahogany pews.


Charles was seated next to me at the community picnic. We had introduced ourselves over slices of apple pie and awkward glances; his eyes were blue, bluer than the ocean, they mesmerized me. He had just moved to town that summer, and would be attending Notre Dame High school with me for senior year. He was a gentleman, never letting me carry the basket, opening the door to my car and politely saying good night all whilst trying to hide his trepidation. He hadn’t even kissed me until our third date; we went to the matinee of Pride and Prejudice. By the end of senior year I dreamed in Technicolor, and he played directly into every one of my visions of perfection.


On June 3rd, 1938 we were married. The heavens must have smiled down upon us, for the sun shone brighter than any day that June. It was the happiest day of my life; it was the beginning of my ideal marriage and would pave the road for our joyful future. Everything seemed larger than life; my mind spun at the very thought of where we were heading and I couldn’t keep my perfect white smile from taking over my made up face. I was in ecstasy.


The following January brought news of war, and Charles, a noble, patriotic man enlisted in the army. He was but through 4 months of law school, and gave it up to defend our freedom and our happiness. He had tried his new green uniform on a few weeks prior to leaving for Europe: his barrette perfectly placed amongst is soft brown curls, his strong arms showing through his shirt sleeves. He was never so handsome, and I couldn’t contain myself. We drank each other in until the very moment he left, our lips still touching as he half boarded the train and I stood on my tip toes. I left smiling. I romantized his role as a soldier; at that moment he was my knight in shining armor: my handsome, perfect man. When he got back, he would be respected, and we would move right on with our perfect life. I skipped through the daisy field on my way home; I hadn’t noticed all the women weeping on the roadside, staring at me in amazement. I was oblivious; everything was wrapped in bliss.


Still living with Charles’ family, I had not even noticed their constant worries. They never wept in front of me, and I believe my happiness for Charles’ departure had worn off on them too. We had all wrapped our selves in a web of terrible lies. We forced ourselves to see only the honorable attributes of going off to war and we ignored the deaths of the neighbors’ sons; nothing would ever happen to Charles.


3 years passed, and Charles arrived by train. I stood on the platform, my hair in perfectly formed ringlets, dressed in a yellow sun dress and my hat draped over my eyes. I envisioned how Charles would come bounding off the train, take me by the small of my back and kiss my passionately. I waited. A lanky, scruffy man approached me. He just stood near me. I finally looked to him to see what the matter was, what his purpose was, why he was acting as an imposter upon my perfectly planned out moment, the moment that would live in my memory forever. Charles stared back at me. His eyes the only recognizable feature. The rest of him changed, altered in an indescribable way. He didn’t kiss me. He shed a tear and took my hand; we walked home.



It took me over 3 months to finally confront Charles, “Do you think we could get a place of our own sometime, darling?” His eyes met mine with apathy, he left in love with me and seemed to have come back hating me. I was but a mere annoyance to him now. He scuffed at all my dreams and plans, and I dared not bring them up often, but we were imposing so long on his family that I felt it was important. Charles hadn’t even touched me since the day he arrived. He barely came to bed; instead, he spent much time out at the bar, or sitting watching the television, or simply watching the fire crackle and spark. I hated my life at this moment. I hated that I was unhappy and that he had turned into such a robotic, monotone, lifeless lug. He didn’t love me anymore.



One chilly October evening, I was perched upon the stairs. My chin in my hands I stared at what used to be my perfect man. Suddenly his head turned and his eyes penetrated my soul. I thought he would yell at me again for being so immature, but instead he got up from the leather chair and walked up the stairs. He stood in front of me and held out his hand. I looked up at the face, still not the same, but better, I took the calloused hand and we put on our fall jackets. He started the car; we waited in silence for the engine to warm. We drove for what seemed to be hours, but was probably only half an hour, and arrived in town. He parked at the side of the street, in front of an old apartment building, took a key out of his pocket and held the door for me. We walked 6 flights of stairs and arrived at door 6F. Inside was a 2 bedroom apartment: one room contained a bed and a small closet, the other a stained and tattered love seat and chair pointed towards a small television which was placed upon a wooden crate. A bathroom was visible off to the left and a make shift kitchen was implanted in one wall, containing a small stove, a bar fridge and a half sink, topped off with about 1 foot of counter space. I was in hell. Plans of serving Charles his breakfast while he sat at the breakfast table and read his paper and of my children running through the backyard enclosed with a white picket fence, flashed before me. This house did not spell out perfection, it spelled out hopelessness. I looked around in despair, but Charles didn’t seem to notice, he started to kiss me, I stood motionless. No passion ran through me, I was simply a rag doll; I didn’t care what was going on, my mind was racing. The bed creaked eerily as I fell on to it; this wasn’t the sensation I remembered. What had become of our relationship? Was I simply just a woman he had once loved, and now just a burden and only good for his own pleasure, but nothing more? Was I worth loving any longer in his eyes?



Charles fell asleep next to me in the creaky bed. I wrapped my bare body in my jacket and stared at his peaceful face as he slept. He was my husband. This is was my home. This was my life. Nothing made sense to me; my mind was simply unable to grasp the failure of my dreams. Everything planned out to a T, and we ended up here. Tears streamed down my face, I went to sit in the washroom, wishing Charles wouldn’t wake up and hear, for I knew he would lash out in utter hatred against my “materialistic view point.”



I was sitting in the tub, still wearing my jacket, just crouched down in the dingy ceramic bath, silently weeping. I heard a wrap on the door; Charles slowly walked in and his gaze met mine. He saw my swollen red eyes and running mascara; he began to weep. The door slammed shut as he slid down the back of it and hit the floor. He began to speak in between sobs, “I can’t make all your dreams come true all at once, Anna, I just can’t, I don’t even know who I am anymore.” He is silent before continuing, “I didn’t know how to tell you, I just avoided you, and hurt you more.” I had gotten out of the bath and had begun walking towards him. I ran my fingers through his soft curls and kissed him, “I love you.”


We sat in the bathroom in each others embrace for hours. The sun had begun to shine and a drive to the shore seemed the best suggestion. The ocean in front of us, stretching far beyond where the eye could see, the crashing waves providing a soundtrack to our morning. I gazed into my loving husband’s eyes. Everything was going to be all right, he was the only part of my dream that needed to stay; everything else would work its self out in some way or another. I realized nothing else really mattered as long as he was there, as long as we had such profound love for one another. He leaned over and kissed me and I felt a new sense of security. My new vision of the future only contained Charles; everything would be perfect because he would be there.





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