What is Love?
Jarrod Rockwell“I’ll see you in a few weeks, once I get settled in, okay Jarrod?” my dad says as he hugs me.
“Sure.” I reply in a hollow voice.
“You know that I love you.” He says sincerely, trying to prompt some emotion out of me about this whole ordeal. But I won’t break, not now when it hurts so much, not in front of my family. I know what he wants me to say, but I’m not going to say something that I don’t mean; not like him.
I stare at him, not bothering to hide the anger that I know is showing in my eyes. A look of hurt clouds his features for a moment and suddenly I get the feeling of something like triumph.
He climbs into the open door of his car and slowly backs out of the driveway. The rest of my family goes inside, but I stay where I am, standing in the front yard. Before he drives down the street, I see him wave at me through the window but I don’t wave back, instead I just cross my arms over my chest.
I stand like that for a long time after his car disappears, staring down the street as if daring him to come back and mess up my family even more.
I knew that my parents where getting a divorce long before they even told us, not being oblivious to the frequent fights that broke out between them when they thought everyone was asleep. Yet somehow I’d always seem to convince myself that they would work through their problems. I never truly believed that love could change so much over time, but I guess there’s an exception for my parents.
I feel like I’m lost at sea, the waves sweeping me out farther and farther from the shore into its vast blue waters without a life preserver. I used to look up to their love. They’d raised me to never give up on love and now they’re calling it quits, and just like that, I’ve lost my life preserver. Now I don’t know what love is anymore… all I know is that years of their lives are now being thrown away. How do you admit that for years you’ve been living a lie? How do you start your life over once it has begun?
Suddenly, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and I don’t think that I can go back inside the house now so, I start walking down the sidewalk just to get away from this situation.
In a few minutes, I find myself at the park with, luckily, no one here. I walk over to the rusted swing set and sit down, letting my bare feet brush over the wood chips as the sun sets over the horizon and a warm breezes messes with my hair. I try to remind myself that even though my parents seemed to have given up love I can’t do the same or else I may end up just like them, but how do you believe in something when you don’t even know what it is anymore?
I don’t know how long I sit on that swing, all I know is that the sun has set and I’m enveloped in the darkness of night. Finally, I decide to walk home to try to get some sleep before the first day of school even if I know that it’s hopeless.
The next day of school passes in a daze (as do the following days). I don’t listen in any of my classes, but instead I try to keep my mind blank and void of feeling any type of emotion. I walk robotically from class to class sometimes not even going at all because
I just don’t care anymore. I’ve never liked school anyway because they try to teach you a certain way to think. And now I have a fool proof excuse for “acting out” because I’m now seen as the poor kid whose parents spilt.
These days turn into weeks and before I know it, it’s nearing the end of September. I slowly trudge into English class and find a seat in the back corner of the classroom. I have come to find that the teacher never seems to look back there which means that I don’t have to answer any questions. I’m pretty sure that she’s forgotten that I’m even in this class, so you could imagine my surprise when I heard the teacher call my name standing near the first row of desks. I look at her with slightly unfocused eyes.
“… you’re partners with Corrie Anderson,” Mrs. Schloss reads from a sheet of paper. “Robert Parker, you’re partners with Mason Colt. Sarah Powers, you’re partners with…”
At this point, I tune her out again and start looking at my partner, Corrie Anderson. I know who she is; she’s one of those people who work super hard, always turning stuff in early and doing extra credit even if they don’t need it. I mean she’s not a nerd or anything she’s just crazy smart and I’m guessing that the reason she works so hard is because she wants to go to a college far away from here. In a small town like this no one has a lot of money so scholarships are pretty much your only way out of here.
She turns around to look at me, her blonde hair flying behind her as she twists around in her seat. Her gray eyes stare at me for a few seconds like she’s trying to figure out if I’ll cost her a good grade. I start to feel uncomfortable with her just staring at me like that, so I give a slight nod and look down at my desk.
A couple of days later, Corrie approaches me in the hall. “So I was thinking that maybe we should start on the project.”
“Already?” I ask as I continue to walk towards my locker. I avoid looking into her gray eyes because whenever she looks at me her gaze becomes so intense, like I’m a puzzle that she’s trying to figure out. Instead I look straight ahead at the row of dark green lockers.
“Well, I mean it’s a pretty big project with only three weeks to get it done.” She says almost impatiently as her pace matches mine.
“Okay, we can start on it if you want. It’s not a big deal.” I say causally as I spin the combination for my locker. I decided that this was the best way to handle her apparent annoyance. I didn’t want to fight with anyone any more; I’d had enough of that at home.
“So do you want to meet up at my place tomorrow at five?”
“Sure, do I need to bring anything?”
“No, I mean we’re just supposed to learn about each others beliefs and put a presentation together.” She answers somewhat briskly, like she’s afraid that I’ll decide not to come, like I’ve chosen to do for school most of this month.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.” Throwing my books in my locker, I glance at her out of the corner of my eye and I let a small half smile appear because I thought it was kind of funny that she was so panicked that I might not show up.
I think my smile threw her a little bit when she replies, “Um… okay, fine. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Looking slightly confused, she turns around to walk in the opposite direction down the hallway.
I can hardly remember the last time that I’d smiled and it felt good, even though it hadn’t lasted but a second.