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Learning to Let Go
I sat in the café across the street from my apartment with my laptop and a mug of hot chocolate. My hair fell out of my loose ponytail and fell into my eyes. I looked outside the window and frowned at the dark clouds that covered the sky. It was drizzling slightly when I arrived at the café and now half an hour later it was pouring. I took a sip of my hot chocolate and jumped a bit when I heard the familiar you’ve got mail that chimed from my laptop. I opened up the email and smiled. It was from my aunt in Connecticut, she sent pictures of her new puppy and of her garden, and how much her flowers had bloomed. I became mesmerized by the picture, I saw the bright sun and the cool grass and instantly became happy; then I saw the rain outside my window and frowned yet again. I hated the weather in England, mother nature was so bipolar over this part of the world, one day it was beautiful but most days ,like today, were dark and gloomy. I sighed as a hint of nostalgia hit me, I remembered all my high school years where I would sit under the oak tree and read or just lay on the grass as the breeze ruffled my hair. But most of all those pictures reminded me of that special day, when Kale and I parted ways.
It was a gorgeous day out. The day that people would describe as the best day ever. The air was cool but not too cool and the sun was just warm enough kiss your skin but not burn it. The grass was freshly mowed and there were no clouds in the sky. And there we laid, under the tall oak tree in my back yard. The leaves rustling above us as the rays of light that parted through the leaves danced on my face. It was the kind of day I would think of as the best day ever where the sound of lawn mowers and bikes dashing down the sidewalk were music and not an everyday annoyance. It was the kind of day where magical things could happen and as the wind swept the hair away from his gorgeous eyes I knew magic had happened for me.
“You don’t have to go, we can just stay like this forever; you and me.” He pleaded, his soft brown eyes begging me, his warm calloused hand holding my much smaller softer one. I secretly loved when he got all sappy on me, but I only ever saw this side of him when we were alone. This was a totally different Kale than the one I saw everyday roughhousing with his friends or swimming on the beach.
“I wish, if only time were to stand still and you could hold me like this for all of eternity. But time can’t freeze, and life does go on, and I can’t let you waste your life away over some silly high school crush.” I said, my voice was quiet but strong.
His hair fell into his eyes, I loved his hair, I always said it was the color of midnight when there were no stars in the sky. He gripped my hand tighter and made me look into his eyes.
“ You are not just some silly crush to me Jessica,” I winced. I hated my name, it was so bland and common. But his, Kale, was so original and exciting. “I care about you very much, don’t you see that?” he continued.
“ I see it Kale, I care for you too. But it’s the right thing to do my dreams take me back home and yours take you to L.A.” I picked at the grass and then let the blades fall out of my hand.
“What am I supposed to do without you?” he sat up so he was hovering above me.
“ We can always text or call each other. I promise.” I took interest in the grass once again as I said this. I was lying and knew if I looked into his eyes I would cry.
“I love you Jessica.” He moved the hair away from my face and brushed away tears I didn’t know I had shed. I smiled and he smiled back, with those perfect lips I loved to kiss. Those perfect lips I ached to kiss, but I knew if I did I would never leave, and then where would we be?
“You know I love you Kale .” I sat up and hugged him.
“Should we go?” I looked at the window where my aunt was watching us. I nodded and he stood up and pulled me with him. He lived next door which was what made this especially hard. We walked to the sidewalk and he kissed my forehead.
“Goodbye love,” I said and hugged him then kissed him on the cheek. He let go and I already missed his warm embrace. I turned and walked towards my house. My aunt was already in the driveway packing my luggage into the car. Later that night I stepped onto a plane back home and left my love behind.
I sat in the café misty-eyed as I remembered the events that occurred on that warm day in that small town in Connecticut. Kale was my first love, my only love. I missed him every day of my life and even after five years this flood of memories only made my heart ache for him even more. I took one final look at the pictures and knew I had to go back. I had to visit one more time. I had to see his family and find out how he was doing, and most importantly, I had to try and win him back.
As I boarded my plane I wondered what he was doing right then at that moment, and if he was happy. I also wondered if he had found love. That was the question I found myself thinking about the most during the eight hour flight . I even wondered if he still lived in that small town or if he had fully moved to LA like he said he would. He wanted to direct movies and I wanted to be back home, how foolish of me, but in the end I guess it was better for the both of us. I got accepted to the University of the Arts in London, a school I had dreamed of going to since I was a little girl, and not even Kale O’Brian was going to keep me from that dream.
As I sit in my aunt’s house I peer out the window watching the old tire swing hanging from the oak tree. I smiled as it swayed back and forth peacefully, a prisoner to the wind. I sighed remembering many a times me and Kale had spent nights out there ,talking about dreams and wishing our lucky stars, that if we wanted it badly enough I wouldn’t leave. A gust of wind blew open the curtains of his kitchen window and I got to see inside for a few seconds. It looked the same as the day I left. . There was the old leaky faucet that his dad always said he would fix but never actually got around to doing it. The marble counter where a blueberry pie sits, the ones his mom used to make when I would go over for dinner. They were having someone over for dinner, and I wondered who, and if they were important.
“Jessica?” a male’s voice called from behind me , I was so entranced in my memories I hadn’t heard anyone walk in the room. , I looked up to see my uncle calling me, I smiled and ran to him, It had been too long since I had seen his face. My aunt joined us in the kitchen as we caught up and talked about everything.
Later that afternoon I decided to take a walk and see what had changed in the town in the five years I had been away. My hazelnut hair was up in a messy bun and I was in my favorite shorts with a loose, flowing top. Half way through the walk I had kicked off my flip flops and held them in my hand the rest of the way back to the house. I smiled as the hot cement burned my feet, but I loved it; it was something I couldn’t do in England, at least not without people looking at you weird.
As I got closer to my house I saw a car parked in Kale’s driveway. I saw a man and a woman step out of the car, the man was wearing a grey suite with a navy blue tie, he had the body of a runner. The woman was dressed in a black cocktail dress and stiletto heels. I wondered who they were, and if they knew Kale. I walked by their house and shielded my face as a particularly strong gust of wind blew gravel into my eyes.
“Jessica?” I heard the man say, “Jessica is that you?”he asked again. My head whipped in the direction of the voice, my vision still a bit blurry from the gravel. I recognized the voice from the boy in my dreams but I didn’t think it was Kale. I looked at his face and saw that he had dark black hair and brown eyes and sweet rosy lips. I then realized he had dark black hair that was the color of midnight when there were no stars in the sky, and dark brown eyes that I could look into forever, and rosy lips that I ached to kiss. I smiled as I realized the man standing there in front of me was Kale O’Brian. My Kale.
“Kale O’Brian!” I exclaimed not believing my eyes.
“Jessica Olsen!” he exclaimed that warm, crooked smile I loved spread across his face. I ran over and hugged him. He smelled like the cologne his mother had given him for his sixteenth birthday, he smelled like home and I felt safe. We were too busy hugging to notice the woman standing next to us. When we finally stopped hugging and he realized he had totally forgotten about the woman he blushed and scratched the back of his head , like he always did when he was nervous. I finally took a good look at her, she had long brown, wavy hair and dark blue eyes. She looked prim and proper and from a wealthy family, everything I was not.
“ How’d you know it was me?” I asked.
“You’re the only crazy person I know who walks around barefoot on the scorching cement.” he laughed as he said this, I did too.
“Jessica, this is Sarah” he said gesturing towards the woman next to him.
“Sarah this is Jessica, she was my best friend in high school.” I winced at the term best friend.
I waved to her like a shy little girl. She smiled at me, and then looked at Kale as if wishing him to continue speaking, like there was something he forgot to say.
“This is Sarah,” he said once again, I nodded my head understanding. “My fiancé.” he said a little louder. I felt my heart sink deep into my stomach, I felt as though I was going to throw up.
“That…that….that’s really great. Oh my gosh I’m so happy for you!” I said, I loved how with two simple words I could be reduced to a babbling idiot.
I shook her hand and smiled. We walked to his back yard and sat on the benches and talked about life. Then after half an hour I said goodbye and left., They stood walking hand in hand into the house, her giggling as he whispered sweet things into her ears. I learned he had moved to Los Angeles. like he had dreamed, he was happily directing movies and that’s where he met Sarah, she was a producer who was working on one of his various films. He was only in Connecticut for his wedding which he was having in his backyard. We talked about me and how I was back in the states visiting and spending some time with my aunt and uncle until it was time to return back to work in London. We discussed how I worked at a very popular magazine over there, and he joked about how I was always writing little stories in my notebooks, even though every day I said I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse. I told them how I started taking pre med classes and then caught one sight of blood, fainted, and never again set foot in that classroom again. He always knew I would end up in a job where I was writing, he knew it was what I loved to do. They laughed at all my jokes, I laughed at his and Sarah didn’t speak much. Or maybe she did and I just wasn’t paying attention. As I crossed the lawn to my house I sighed and felt a mix of jealously and despair. He was the only reason I came back to visit and he was gone. I felt rage towards Sarah because I felt that she had stolen him away from me. I sat on my bed and cried as I realized there was no way I would win him back. Then in the midst of it all I started laughing hysterically at the irony that I would still be going to his wedding, just not as his bride. He had invited me to the wedding a few minutes before I left and I promised I would be there.
The next day I got dressed in a dark blue dress and put my hair up all fancy. I crossed the lawn and took my seat in the audience, waving and smiling at his parents. As the ceremony commenced he took his place at the altar and I smiled at him because no matter how I was feeling he could always make me smile. He smiled back and nodded his head in appreciation that I was there supporting him. Then the bridal march began and everyone turned to look at Sarah, I stared straight ahead at Kale. His eyes glowed in adoration of the woman walking towards him, he looked excited and nervous. He clasped his hands tightly, something I knew he did a lot when he couldn’t contain his excitement. I smiled at his nervousness and found he was genuinely happy that he was marrying Sarah. As she walked down the aisle I kept looking at Kale thinking how happy she was going to make him. I realized things would be different now if I hadn’t left. We could have broken up or things could have gone badly between us. I then wondered if I could have made him as happy as Sarah was about to make him? I wondered if he would be as successful as he was now if I had stayed, and then I realized I wouldn’t be the woman I was today if I hadn’t left. I smiled and as they kissed in front of a crowd of their loved ones and realized that me leaving was the best thing that could have happened to either of us. I also realized that I came back seeking love but I was leaving with a greater understanding of myself.
All the women, including myself, stood behind Sarah as she tossed the bouquet. I happened to be the lucky one who caught it. I smiled and glanced over at Kale who winked at me. I would get married soon, just not to Kale, and somehow I was okay with that.
It was a gorgeous day out. The day that people would describe as the best day ever. The air was cool but not too cool and the sun was just warm enough kiss your skin but not burn it. The grass was freshly mowed and there were no clouds in the sky. The leaves rustling above us as the rays of light that parted through the leaves danced on my face. It was the kind of day I would think of as the best day ever where the sound of lawn mowers and bikes dashing down the sidewalk were music and not an everyday annoyance. It was the kind of day where magical things could happen and as the wind swept the hair away from his gorgeous eyes I knew magic had happened for me.
I congratulated him and hugged him, I kissed her on the cheek and said my goodbyes. I waved as I walked away, he waved back smiling and promising to keep in touch. I smiled as he chuckled when I slipped off my heels and walked barefoot on the scorching cement towards my house.