Secrets

By , Boca Raton, FL
As a teenage girl with only one parent, I had learned to accept my fate, possibly one I subconsciously drilled into acceptance rather than one I could’ve easily overlooked, overcome, and forgotten. At a year and a half old, my mother left for the States in the hopes of fulfilling my father’s dream of starting a family in a country so far from our own. I gave up talking and my pediatric development was stunted since I somehow sensed my mother’s drawn-out absence and didn’t want to continue growing without her. Nearly a year later, at the age of two and a half (yes, the halves counted), my father was killed in a car accident in Romania, the country directly north of his homeland and only miles from the daughter waiting for his monthly visit. Perhaps if I asked my guardians- my mom’s childhood best friend and her parents- if I showed some sort of reaction to his prolonged and sudden disappearance, they might have given a shady answer based on half-encoded memories; you didn’t eat as much, didn’t play as often, and didn’t smile half as much as you used to. And when I was finally revealed the unfortunate truth of his death at the age of seven, my reaction was silence and a desire to return to the sandy, pebble-plagued playground I’d temporarily abandoned. At the time, I didn’t cry or weep or sob bitterly late at night; I didn’t envy fathers walking by, their three year-old daughters eagerly observing the city from their loving giant’s shoulders. No, these feelings of solitude and pangs of envy and misery would come years later, when the realization of my reality finally caught up to my unguarded heart.

At the second part of my life- when I arrived in Florida, completely oblivious as to what to expect- the absences kept on coming. I was seven now and because my mother was the sole provider of our two-person family, she had to work all day, leaving for work when she dropped me off at school and coming home around eight or nine at night. I passed my days watching cartoon network, flushing my happy face French fries down the toilet and not-so-wisely forgetting to flush a second time, and replaying memories from Bulgaria. With time, I would also experience the falling out between my mom and her mother, her father, and her close childhood friend. There were also the unrequited differences between my own best friend and I which led to our unofficial divorce. Not to mention the numerous other friends, love interests, and family members who had entered and exited my life and heart without the realization that their footsteps would make irreparable marks. The cutting of ties with each is a story all its own and provides for my accepted fate- everyone will leave me in time. I figured that was my own coming to grips with reality and submitted to it for a short time until I came up with a revelation, a loophole, an exception to the rule. In my search for the common denominator among all the individuals that had packed up their bags and hauled ass, I found what the similarity had been and always would be- I cared. I had placed a limitless amount of my love and devotion into the relationship, oblivious to even the mere possibility of abandonment. After the first two departures, I was sure I would not have to undergo those experiences again for two times were too many for anyone, especially a girl of only sixteen.

The brutal truth was it would happen again and again, as if life were trying to make me aware of my mistake in regards to the part I played in my connections with those closest to me. I’d get hurt over and over until the fog cleared up from my view and I could spot the light in the distance. And so came my epitome- what better way to prevent hurt feelings, broken hearts, and shattered hopes than not setting up any expectations or hopes? It was simple- don’t put all you have into a personal connection so that when the person left or it didn’t work out, you experienced none to minimal sorrow. Looking back on how wrong this belief turned out to be, I can only wisely chuckle at my childish logic and grin at how wrong life can quickly prove you.

“So, can I get your number?” He had a reputation and no matter how many times I’d try to convince him he did, he’d always plead otherwise. We’d first met in French class, where I highlighted him as the quiet, handsome, and mysterious Hispanic guy that always kept to himself. We never talked in class and never had reason to seeing as I quickly guessed his type to be the classic Brazilian model, complete with the to-die-for body and perpetually outspoken personality. Anytime we crossed paths in school, we exchanged a quick hug, maybe a word or two, and a hurried “see you around” as I ran to my next class, thoughts of my next test or overflowing stack of homework already eclipsing those of our short encounter. Following my history of relationships and love interests, I never even considered an “us” ever developing. I had probably entertained the idea once or twice, playing around with the vast possibilities available to us both, whether together or separately.
“Would you be interested in being friends with benefits?” I couldn’t help myself- I laughed out loud at his question. Somehow, however, I expected it. Perhaps incorrectly, I assumed he was a player, judging by the many times I’d seen him caught up in conversations with girls, a different one every time I walked by. The discouragement from my friends at the time also didn’t help improve my impression of him, and later made me question who to trust- him or my so-called best friend of over four years. We had started talking outside of school about this time, texting and conversing daily. Well aware of his other female friends I didn’t take his attention toward me as anything to swoon over and, with my newly adopted philosophy of not involving my feelings in relationships as much as I used to, anything particularly promising.
“Why did you buy me something?!” This I heard twice, once on Valentine’s Day and again on his birthday. Valentine’s Day was a Monday so I was forced to walk to my classes, mindful of the lovesick, giddy girls carrying nearly every possible Valentine’s Day product one could buy. As if this wasn’t enough, people had recently found out we were together and so came the seemingly endless “OMG what’d he get you?” questions. Knowing myself very well I know that had my boyfriend been anyone else but him, I would have immediately administered the silent treatment followed by the pouting face and closing speech. Somehow, though, I really couldn’t find it in me to waste my time being upset and furious; it quite simply didn’t matter.
“Can you imagine this but every day?” Yes, I definitely could. We were spending the day at my house- something I never would have predicted would earn my mom’s approval- and it was, by far, one of the best days we’d spent together. It was on this day that I realized my philosophy was wrong and the age- old “all guys are pigs” statement was biased and oh-so-wrong. Anytime before this, I would have believed someone if they had said we weren’t compatible- he’s a well-known guy around school and two- time district wrestling champ, while I was on the school JV soccer team which had never even scored a goal; he was eighteen, a senior, and I was sixteen, a sophomore; he preferred to live life and have fun while I dedicated the majority of my time to getting “A’s” and succeeding in the IB program; he could separate the physical from the emotional while I couldn’t which was also why I had shied away from the physical aspect of our relationship. But that day changed it all because being in his arms, whether to kiss him or to just watch TV, felt natural, instinctive, innate. That, more than what age we were or what our talents were, was compatibility.
“Nobody has their own secret.” I’ve given more of myself to him than to any other man, both emotionally and physically. I can only hope that what we have won’t disappear with time or won’t end like the majority of my relationships have- one leaving the other behind. Before him I had very recently given up on the idea of having your wishes come true, getting what you’d previously only dreamed of, and having someone that was always and forever there for you. As of late I’ve felt my whole outlook on this and my position of where I stand on it shift, if not completely then just by an inch. An extremely significant inch that I feel will, with time, give way to whole-heartedly believing that some things are just worth waiting for, that it makes them that much sweeter when you finally get them, and that the purest secrets are ones that even strangers can decode on your interlocked lips, moving together in effortless harmony.





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