Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Story of Linda. Part 3

It would seem that I had one of two options at this point: 1) either tear her asunder before her trip to leave her in well-deserved shambles, or 2) execute my plan of action that I had designed the night prior.

What I ended up doing was... treating her like a complete acquaintance. Ugh. "Are you excited for your trip?" "I hope your trip is great." "Are you going to know a lot of people out there?" Stupid small talk. So stupid. She gave out halfhearted answers and we arrived to the airport in no time. I took her luggage from my trunk and gave her one last hug. She left my embrace crying and I remained strong and gave her a flat, "Goodbye Linda." I drove off and sat in my car in the parking lot of Solar Turbines (near the airport). I was half-asleep and wondering what the hell just happened. I needed to collect myself. The next plane that came roaring overhead thrust me awake. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I've cried (not because I'm a tough guy or whatever, it just takes a lot). As you probably guessed, this was one of those days.

My tears and heartache would spark a series of events in which I almost quit my job, dropped out of school (with half a quarter left), and dropped everything, to go to China to see her and get her back. I was convinced and determined. People saw me and thought I had everything, but without Linda... it felt like I had nothing. A month after I dropped her off at the airport, everything was ready. I had planned out everything. I had my letter of resignation ready. I had "final" conversations planned out with all my friends. I was going to call Linda to ask for her address so I could send her a "care package" (that care package would be me). All of my plans were made with one mission on my mind: get her back.

I never made it on that trip. Not for lack of effort, but when I called her for her address she said, "I'm not in Hong Kong anymore." After a confused and garbled exchange, she admitted to me that she was in Riverside. After hearing that, I hung up immediately. I was crushed. "What? How long? Why?" I asked myself. I would find out from her former roommate that she was in a new relationship with her best guy-friend at the time. This left me completely devastated.

I suppose most people at this point would go into a huge depressive spiral. I ended up handling things "different" to say the least. I went straight into the denial stage and told myself that she never existed. I was going to try to live my life like nothing ever happened. I would try and bury her memory... it helped that I kept myself extremely distracted...

The following three months were just about as insane as the three months prior. Tons of side stories, some of which involve a psychopath named Vi and a cougar named Samantha. There were boatloads of other women that jumped into my life: another Linda, her counterpart Trang, a co-worker Jenny, and the droves of women that my friends set me up with to help me get over Linda. Each of those unique side stories started and ended in a different way, a couple of these girls are actually still around in my life today. I can say with confidence though, that every single one of them though suffered from the "wake" of what happened with Linda.

Linda is simply known amongst my friends now as "Hong Kong Linda" or "HK". Like Voldemort from the Harry Potter books, everyone avoids saying her name around me because they know how intense everything was. She was only in my life for a few months, but in that time she completely changed me.

Reading that letter that I wrote a little while back is both scary and comforting. It's scary because I know that if I saw her again it could really fuck my head up. It's comforting though because I used to fear that I had become something that I didn't want to be. I thought maybe she turned me into a jaded womanizer or a hopeless romantic with a frozen heart. Instead, when I read that letter, I see a part of me that is at least willing to take chances with my personal life again. Although I am more hesitant to let people in, I can at least begin to start trying again.

It's been almost 3 years and it is about time that I put her memory to rest. I can't let her haunt me anymore, I can't let her effect my relationships. Typing out that letter and her story made me realize that I was holding on to her in my mind as the perfect woman. I thought that I only wanted her. Tonight, I have come to terms with the fact that she was the perfect woman for me in that time of my life. That time of my life is over now. Maybe it's my hopeless romantic side surfacing again, but I think I'm ready to find the woman who will be perfect for me for the rest of my life.

The Story of Linda. Part 2

Although it seems like every moment with Linda is burned into my memory, there were 3 moments in particular that feel as if they were just yesterday. The first was the day we met at my friends place (Part 1). The great first impression, the amazing instant connection. The second was the night that I told her I loved her. I can remember our date so clearly, it was perfect. Although we both knew how we felt already, saying it to each other just made things more valid somehow. All of a sudden, things started to have more purpose than before, it was no longer "me" and "her" it was "we" and "us". The months after were some of the best days of my life. I was a quarter away from finishing college, I had 3 different job offers to choose from, and I had the most amazing girlfriend. Life was good.

The third moment with Linda that I will always remember was a Monday night. Mondays were our date nights. This particular Monday started no different, we had a great date... but it would end horribly. I dropped her off at her apartment and we did our usual kisses at the door. Before I could walk away she said "I have something important I have to tell you." and I could hear her tone of voice get serious. I braced myself for the worst. She was going to tell me that she was married, wasn't she? Or maybe she had a fatal disease? Maybe she was an alien or a figment of my imagination? Instead, the words she spoke were, "Andrew, I'm going to Hong Kong in 4 days." Relieved, I said, "Oh. *laugh* Do you need a ride or something?" She looked confused and said "No..." and since I was already late to my friends party I headed back to the car. "Okay then! See you later." I slammed my car door and drove off. I could see her standing in the doorway in my rear-view mirror and once I rounded the corner it just hit me. I pulled over to the side and called her. She picked it up before it rang once, "You dumbass, come back."

Slowly walking up her steps in a daze I could hear her on the phone with her roommate telling her not to come home just yet. The first words out of my mouth were, "How long?" "6 Months..." she said dryly. She took a step back from me and I grabbed my face while navigating to her sofa. "How long have you known?" "Why didn't you tell me?" "I thought we trusted each other with everything." "What do you expect me to do?" My confusion turned into rage as I started to understand the bomb she just dropped so nonchalantly. She blew up in tears as I blew up in frustration. For future reference, this is the point where you would normally want to walk away and cool down to come back to the situation later. Needless to say, I didn't do that. Everyone has experienced the feeling where you are so angry that you say things you don't mean? Yeah, that was me. I was filled with so much anger at the time but I can remember my sharp words line by line. Hurtful sentences about how hopelessly romantic we both were, about how selfish I thought she was, about how everything we had was just a lie. I stormed out and left her a crying wreck.

In my mind, the story was over at this point. I have the unique ability to completely shut a person out of my life like they don't exist. My breakups usually involve girls texting me to say, "Delete my number from your phone." to which I normally answer back "Who is this?" So after our fight on Monday, it was completely over, case closed, she doesn't exist... right? Thursday night comes along and her roommate calls me, but instead it is Linda on the line and she says, "Can you give me a ride to the airport?" Today, Andrew would have let out the a huge, loud, obnoxious "FUCK NO!!!" that would have her ears ringing for days... but back then, I was a little different. I had been thinking about her constantly. I still loved her. It took every ounce of discipline to not read her texts or listen to her voice-mails. But when I heard her voice for the first time in 3 days, my answer was "Yeah, okay." I stayed up all night planning what I was going to tell her. I read all her texts and listened to all the voice-mails. I was going to tell her about how still loved her too, that I wanted to be with her, and that I would be waiting for her when she came back from Hong Kong. Long distance is hard, but we could beat the odds. I even set a reminder in my phone for when her plane landed for the return flight.

The morning couldn't have come soon enough and I drove to her apartment to pick her up. As I drove along that familiar route I had my plan ready and played out in my mind. As soon as I pulled into that driveway, my mind flashed back to the events that transpired in the same exact spot not 4 days ago. The exact location that I stood when she told me she was leaving for Hong Kong. My mind blanked and anger started to mix with my plan. I don't even remember the next few moments but I was putting her luggage in my trunk and holding the door for her as she got in my car in complete silence. "Thanks for everything, Andrew." she said, testing the waters. Her familiar voice was scratched up and her eyes were still as red from the last time I saw her. She hadn't slept either.

What I did next was something unexplainable.

 Part 3

The Story of Linda. Part 1

I entered the door and our eyes met immediately. I really hoped it was her that I was "supposed to meet" tonight. Although I am usually reluctant to these kind of setups, I hadn't seen my friend in a while so I decided to come to his little kick-back-thing. Within a couple minutes came all the usual jeers of, "Oh, look who decided to come!", "So nice of you to join us!", and "Well if it isn't Mr. Too-fucking-busy-to-come-to-my-birthday!" After a few yeah-yeah's and apologies, I could already tell that this was going to be a long night. I needed a drink. I made a round of introductions, dropped off my present, and headed straight to the kitchen for a beer.

She confidently followed me and slammed the refrigerator shut with her butt when I tried to open it for my prize. "So you're the guy I'm supposed to meet?!" she exclaimed, half-sarcastically-annoyed and half-excited. Those first words had me a little curious and embarrased, so I smiled and said, "I guess so. You must be Linda... I've heard SOOOO MUCH about you!" She laughed and sassed me, "Oh yeah? I'm sure they were all good things." I pointed at the fridge, "Well, they never told me about your beer blocking skills, but I'm a quick learner." She jerked forward and looked embarrassed but quickly grabbed us some beers. At this point we both turned around and noticed the whole room watching us. Everyone quickly turned their heads back to try and fake some conversation, but it was obvious they were watching us out of the corner of their eyes. We both said at the same time, "Wanna get out of here?"

We shotgunned our beers and took off to stumble across the beach (gimme a break, we're lightweights!). It's hard to articulate exactly how perfect we were together, but our interaction felt like the textbook definition for "hitting it off". After an exchange of happy emotions, good conversation, and contact information, I scheduled our "first date". Our dialog would roller-coaster from rapier wit to loving compliments seamlessly. Within a day she had the balance of padding my ego and keeping it in check at the same time. She was a little insecure at times but I always had the right thing to say. Her issues were molehills compared to the things I've dealt with in the past and it's safe to say that our first two weeks were absolutely electric. It wasn't quite love-at-first-sight, but call it love-at-first-couple-weeks. We both knew what we had was special and although I've had honeymoon phases before, I could tell this was something different.

We quickly donned the boyfriend/girlfriend label and things continued wonderfully. Within a month of meeting her I felt like I knew her my entire life. I knew her 1st grade teachers name and her mom's favorite flower. I knew how to instantly make her smile or turn her into a furious ball of rage. One day, after being so stressed out about a midterm, she actually picked up my Java book and tried to learn enough to do my programming assignment. If that doesn't scream "keeper" I don't know what does. Everything was smooth sailing, sure there were a couple fights, but we just couldn't stay mad at each other.

Part Two

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Letter to Linda

Here's my favorite memory that took place with you:

I had worked something like 38 hours in the previous three consecutive days. You came back from your trip, I introduced you to some of my friends, we went grocery shopping, and then we went back to your apartment to make dinner and watch a movie.

I am trying so hard to articulate the significance of that day, yet I am completely failing. Ever since I can remember, I have worried incessantly about finding a career that I enjoyed because I could not imagine going to work each day unhappy. But in that one day with you, that single bracketed eight hours of time, you hit me over the head with a brick of clarity. I figured out that I was content with spending the rest of my time with you and that very little else mattered at all. I had my family, I had my amazing support group of friends, and then I had you. Whether I disliked anything else would never have mattered, because at the end of it, I would have been able to come home to you. Sweet, beautiful, funny, loving, wonderful you. That was it. After all of my worrying, job-hunting, running-around, and idle-days, you made everything make sense and be okay. Better than okay.

You were so young, and I was so naive to think that at that point in time it would all just magically work out. I am, more than you could believe, so sorry that you had to go through all of that and that I wasn't responsible enough to think more with my head and less with my heart. I would never say that I wish I could go back and change any of it, but I'm still sorry. There is no part of me anymore that wants (or believes we could) simply pick up where we left off. There's no part of me that thinks either of us could be the same people we were before. There is a large part of me (all of me, actually) that remembers exactly how it felt to love you so completely and I would be willing to try it again from the beginning, consequences thrown to the wind.

I don't know what else to say.