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Life After Death: A Memoir
It was exactly 2:25 pm. The Saturday afternoon of June 2011 was sweltering and utterly hot. I had plans to go to Devon House, which was one of the most popular parks in Jamaica, but the weather obviously had other plans. So instead I just went in my aunt’s room and turned on her computer. I typed in ‘facebook' and felt a volcano of excitement rising in me. I had just joined Facebook about three months ago and I already had 500 friends. Just keep in mind that in 2011, this was a big thing. It’s somewhat dumb but I was really happy about it. Those were the simpler times. When I logged in, I saw a new message from a name I didn’t recognize.
“Alrick”, I said to myself.
The syllables escaped from my lips like a sweet song.
“Hey, what’s up?, he asked.
“Just chilling,” I said nonchalantly.
Nothing about me was nonchalant at that moment. I was bursting at the seams. I had looked at his pictures and I had to admit he was cute. Soulful brown eyes and puckering pink lips adorned his childlike face. There was this innocence about him that I was attracted to. Also he attended St. Georges College for Boys, one of the most prestigious all-boys’ high schools in Jamaica, so that was a plus. We dove into a conversation introducing ourselves. I was so intrigued by him. I wanted to know his dislikes, what he was attracted to, what type of music he listened to and what he did on rainy days. Looking back, I think I had little too much enthusiasm since it was our first time talking. But that was me; always so passionate and unfiltered. But I was just coming out my first year in high school and was going into a new grade; I was still unbelievably young and naïve. During the following weeks, we really got to know each other. I particularly loved this time because everything was so light and airy. We had little meaningless conversations about nothing and it meant so much to me. It didn’t matter to me what trajectory we were on; I just wanted to stay, no reside in that moment. Isn’t infatuation a beautiful stage?
Now keep in mind, we had only talked over the Internet. I had never seen him in person before and after a month of talking and calling each other on the phone, I was yearning to actually see him with my very two eyes. Sure, he was great over the phone but how was he in person. Was he the touchy-feely type? Was he engaging? Or was he shy? I needed to know; I needed to have a face to face conversation with him. Body language reveals way more than words sometimes do. So when we first met on that cool, crisp day of October, I was nervous. What if he didn’t fit my expectations? We humans conjure up these characters in our head and are often disappointed when they don’t match the personality of our object of affection. I stood there under the heavy foliage of the mango trees, frantically searching for him in every crowd of students that surged towards me. 2:30. 2:33. 2:40. Where was he? We were supposed to meet at 2:10 exactly where all the buses stop and he was really late. I am not the patient type. But when I felt that warm touch on my hand, I knew it was him and I didn’t care that he was late. We had such a good time that day. We walked the streets of Downtown, Kingston hand in hand, talking about how the government was utterly corrupt and what we should do about the number of unemployed students fresh out of college there was. That’s one thing I liked about us. We would have some deep conversations sometimes. We could be gossiping, well I could be gossiping about some one at school and out of the blue we were having a full on debate about politics. It was great. It was really great. The following months was like a love montage. You know those happy parts of a romantic comedy where the couple has constant fun and gets ice-cream and ride bicycles and endless laughs? Yeah, that was us. Too good to last. I knew things weren't going to be always beautiful and happy-go-lucky. I expected strife and I would’ve welcomed them because if we got over them it would just be strengthening our relationship. I was ready for the sadness. I expected it like I expected rain. Both somewhat cleanse you. I was ready for the petty arguments and temper tantrums and all that but there was NO way I was prepared for the hurricane that was about to hit.
January 3rd was supposed to be a spectacular day. After all, it was my birthday, the day that started my whole existence. It was important. I’m not sure if it’s an astrological thing but I take birthdays seriously. I just think birthdays are such a special day and should ALWAYS be celebrated. I got endless texts and calls that day from literally everyone. No matter how much the love and messages poured in, I was still not satisfied because I had not heard from Alrick. It’s needless to say that I was pretty bummed. Everything just became so deflated as hours passed and he still didn’t text me. It was not until 4:36 p.m.(I’m always so specific) when he sent me a text just saying ‘happy birthday’. As soon as he sent that message on Facebook, he just went offline. I didn’t hear from him for the rest of the day. No gratification came from that birthday. I was mad because I despised myself for giving him that power to just alter my mood and my whole day like that. But isn’t that what love is? Giving them the power to do anything, even destroy you but trusting them not to? And yes I believed and I still do believe that I loved him. No, let me change that from past tense. I do still love him. Love has no past tense, you either loved and you never did. Now I actually realize that he gave me no explanation for that mishap, and I didn’t ask for one. That was stupid and weak on my part. I ran from the problem instead of facing it. That should’ve been the first sign for me that things were going sour.
I personally think a relationship ends before it actually ends, and I think we know it too. Before a tornado hits, you somewhat recognize the signs. A change in temperature, brash, harsh winds and even the atmosphere feels different. But no one actually takes heed until that whirlwind heads for you. That’s what happened to me. The signs were all there. The withdrawal, the lower frequency in phone calls, the chill, ‘I don’t care’ vibe while texting. All the works. But I ignored it.
Valentine's Day was coming up. I dreaded it but still there was a hint of welcome anticipation in me. Don't think I'm one of those sad and cliche teenage girls who just desperately wanted to be with their boyfriend on Valentine's Day. Well I am one of those girls but there was a deep-rooted cause behind it. I had always felt alone, I was not always lonely but surely alone. I don't know, I had always felt the need for human contact to fill some void in me. I mean I had a brother but I still felt like an only child. So I wanted this Valentine's Day with him to be special. I didn't care if it was just a couple minutes, I just wanted to be with him. I didn't know what we would've done though. I wasn't the planning type. I am really the master of il bel far niente. That's Italian for the beauty of doing nothing(after reading Eat, Pray, Love I became obsessed with Italy and it's culture!) I finally got up and texted him
"Valentine's Day is coming up!" I sent.
"Yeah and....?" he replied.
I was immediately repulsed by his apathetic and casual behavior. Indifference is not attractive. I asked him when we were gonna meet up and that I really wanted to see him. The answer I got was sickening and shocking and baffling. He told me he had to "STUDY". Now let's dissect and analyze this rubbish he told me. I understood the troubles of high school. I remembered at that time exams were going on and it was really important to him. But how the hell could you not meet your girlfriend for Valentine's Day? I was so mad. I turned off my phone and didn't even bother to answer him. I mean, if its even for three seconds just come see me. It's Valentine's Day for god sake. The next day he asked me to meet him. I literally snorted when I saw that message. I was so over the situation. I'm still not sure how we got over that, how I got over that. I think maybe it was because of that day we met at the bus terminal a week after Valentine's Day. I was still pissed; I'm a Capricorn and we can hold grudges for a long time.
But something persuaded me to go. I asked my best friend Alexis to come with me. When I got there he was with his friend Josh, who in my opinion is such a great guy. He was just as funny as Alrick and almost as cute. They could've been brothers but of course they had very distinct personalities. I never really talked to Josh that much but that day we did talk and he was so fun and carefree. Quite different from Alrick who's way more serious. I recall all four of us: me, Alexis, Josh and Alrick talking about this new song. Josh threw jabs at the lyrics while Alrick was analyzing it and the complexity of the beat. Don't get me wrong Alrick was funny too, but he was the witty, intelligent funny. He cracked those jokes that made you think then laugh to tears. I also remember the parting hug he gave me that day. It was...magical. He put his arms around me and held me so close as if I was going to fall apart and his hold on me was going to save my life. I loved that. That hug somewhat restored my faith in him. I'm trying hard not to focus on the bad parts of the relationship because the truth is when he wasn't being a bad boyfriend, he was romantic and sweet. But as I stated, I really don't know what changed in the new year. I was so unsure and even though we would have big moments of wonderful intimacy, it still wasn't enough to silence my fears. But the day finally came when all my fears were magnified and placed before my eyes.
I was at school, waiting for class to begin when my crazy, creative, out-of-this-world, superb friend Samantha came rushing up to me. I sensed something was wrong because there was none of her signature childlike excitement and playfulness lighting her face, just heated anxiety. She then went on to tell me that the day before she saw Alrick with this other girl on the bus kissing. It's an understatement to say that I was devastated. I don't know how my face looked but I'm sure pure horror and melancholy was written all over it. I went through the rest of the day completely silent. I didn't dare utter a word to anyone for I was afraid what would come out if I did speak. I wasn't going to accuse him, just calmly confront him. But before I could even type the words, I saw a message from him confirming what Samantha told me. No need to give you the specifics of what he said. I was numb. He went on explaining why and how but I was just so exhausted. Then he asked if we should break up. I took a while to sit back and ponder about this possibility. Lately we've been unhappy. It actually hurt me to be with him. But I couldn't be without him. I mean what if we could just stay together, being bitter but content with the fact that we weren't without each other? We made each other alive. Who cares if it hurts?
I believed if we just faked it enough we could trick ourselves into believing that we were happy. I believed so many things about Alrick but I don't none of them were true. Even his eyes told stories I couldn't understand. And so for the benefit of my pride, I agreed for us to break up. We broke up. It was a very sad time. When I went to school the next day, Samantha didn't need to ask what happened. She just took me in her arms, comforting me and saying some words of soothing. I didn't cry yet. even with all my friends arms wrapped around me, I still didn't cry. At lunch time, it set in. I was in line at the cafeteria and Alexis came to me with the saddest look on her face. God, that face could've melted Hitler's heart. And that's when the tears started flowing. An endless river of wails and sobs and illegible words burst out and I was so glad Alexis was there to mask it from the rest of the cafeteria. Some of those Wolmers' girls can be so judgmental. After we left, everything seemed so bland. In my world the rain replaced sunshine and when the sun did come out, it was dark. Even the flowers seemed to bend in pain as I touched them. Pain. That's what I consisted of. My pain was tangible;if you were to touch it you would end up touching him. It was always the toxin never the antidote.
I should just tell you from now that we got back together. Yes I know I took him back. My throat's still sore from swallowing my pride. The reason I took him back was simple. It's who you miss at two in the afternoon when you're busy, not two in the morning when you're lonely. In the two months we were apart, I realized the huge impact he had on me. I had to remind myself that he was no longer mine. He had become apart of me. I didn't fully appreciate my name until the syllables came from his mouth. The whole process of us getting back together was an odd one. I'm not sure who said 'I missed you' first but we both deeply meant it. We were back together in each other's arms and it did feel good. These were some of the best times we ever had. We were so determined to make it work. One time we had went to the park and we brought our blankets so we could lay in the grass and admire the beauty. We were just there listening to the birds and no one said a word. Silence can be so serene sometimes. It's true that seeing beautiful things alone isn't even half as satisfying as seeing them with someone you know who shares the same appreciation for it.
It was now June 2012 and things were quite smoothly for the most part. Back then I had this ridiculous Nokia phone that could not work properly so one time I remember him calling me and as soon as I answered it, I dropped the phone. I hurriedly called him back but I wasn't hearing a thing. I wasn't sure if it was because of my phone or his so I kept on talking and talking and I still heard nothing. Finally becoming fed up, I spewed some curse words into the phone and as soon as I was about to hang up, I heard his ragged voice laughing into my ear. He was there listening the whole time. I tried to be serious and upset about it but in actuality I couldn't helping laughing too.
In July the pain came back. We hardly talked and I hated that. Communication was always our weak point. It gradually became worse. He just sort of disappeared. No text, no phone call, no visit. No nothing. He wasn't even on Facebook. I was really worried. He was killing me but he made me feel the most alive. I was starting to think he was both the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. In August is when he resurfaced. He told me he was away at this social-media free camp and I just found it interesting he didn't inform me about this. I must say though, something must have happened at that camp because he was different. There was this aura about him that was unnatural. He began to show signs of depression and all he could do was just talk about what was wrong. I was suprised and often times I didn't know how to react to his dejected spirit. He was always this scintillating guy, not the glum, moody person. It was different but I wanted to help him become the funny guy he once was and if he didn't want to be that guy anymore, I would just learn to fall in love with whoever he was now.
In a desperate(maybe stupid) attempt to cheer him up, I started talking about my problems. I thought if he saw that other people are facing troubles too, he wouldn't feel so alone. Doing this and confiding my innermost thoughts and complains to him drew me closer to him. I felt so connected to him in a way I would have never imagined. I urged him to tell me what his problem really was(he always shied away from the topic) but he never did really open up. When I wasn't trying to get him to open up with my sad, internal problems, we were fine.
It was 6:10. I was at my aunt's store when I got this text from him.
"We need to talk."
Nothing good ever comes from the statement "We need to talk". My knees buckled and I started shaking. I was overcome with anxiety;I was such a nervous wreck. I literally lost all traces of consciousness when I received that next message. His words were "I'm sorry to say but I dont think I need a girlfriend right now. I'm not in a space where I can be what you need and I dont think its fair to you. We cant be together anymore". After the words registered I went in full defense mode. Why? Why the h*ll why? I was ready to give a persuasive essay on why he was wrong. I love you wouldve been my thesis statement. I shifted all my organs around to make room for your heart, what do you mean you dont want to stay. I loved you to the moon but further. I knew you were troubled but I wanted to kiss your scars and bloom flowers in places they cursed not to grow and prove to bystanders that even bruised petals can be beautiful. All these points would be in my argument. I was crushed still. When you're lost in the woods, it takes a while for you to realize it. You think you've just wandered a couple steps off the path but when it gets dark and you still have no idea where you are you have to admit to yourself that you have no idea where you are. It took me a while to realize reality. After an hour I finally replied and said,"Sure."
That was it. Alrick and I were officially over; and this time it seemed for good. I cried for the longest time even though I promised myself I wouldn't. Plus I did the worst type of crying, the one where you're wailing and bawling but not one drop of tear falls from your eye. It was a nostalgic time because exactly that time last year we had just met and were together. It made it all the more bitter. I locked my doors with a deadbolt but they weren't doors I was locking. It was actually my heart and I swallowed the key like the words I was never given a chance to say. Many times I sat down wondering exact;y whose fault it was. Was it my fault? Was it the way how my passion exhausted him or the way I was like wet paint, always wanting to leave a bit of myself on the tip of his finger? It could've been his fault too. His inability to commit or just simply the way his fire made me warm and eventually burnt me out. Or maybe the blame is on both of us. We were always like a run-on sentence.
I wont try to comprehend whose fault it was;it's not fair to me or him. But I will never apologize for my excessive passion. It is a curse of the gifted. People will use your heart as an attachment to feel good but soon that heat will die out and they won't feed you enough to recharge that. I will never regret what we had. The tragic truth of our relationship is that if we had met somewhere else, at a difference place, different time, we could have been soul mates. Fate was perhaps the cruelest creature ever. I still thank her though. You ever wonder what your life would be like if that one thing never happened? Even though it took me months to get over him, Alrick somewhat shaped who I am today. He was one of those helping hands that molded me. He awakened my artistic tendencies and made me feel. He stirred that pit of emotions in me and that chain reaction made me the writer I am today. To reflect is to ponder or think back and this brooding has certainly been bittersweet. I used to cry and wonder why I had to go through all that suffering. I stopped when a voice told me "It's all written on the road ahead if you would just stop looking back."