Change My Life
When I was a child, I had the ridiculous notion that I could change my life, just by wishing that it were different. I would stay up at night, clenching my eyes shut, and resolutely repeating in my head what it is that I wanted to be. I wanted to be taller. I wanted to have blue eyes. I wanted to be a fireman. I wanted to be William Carrick down the street. It was just one of those stupid things that kids do. One of those stupid things that kids believe.
Then, when I was twenty-four, I finally managed to succeed.
I'd gone to bed, drunk, as always. An evening shot of whiskey to anesthetize me after a day of drudgery in a career that I felt I hadn't chosen (it'd surely chosen me) had somehow turned into raging free-for-alls almost nightly. I hated my life, and I wanted it to change. For the first time in years, I played that old game. I wished it could be different. I thought of my dream. Then I cried myself to sleep, and slept through my nine a.m. meeting.
When I woke up the next day, I didn't have a job. I wasn't a lawyer anymore. I was an actor. The decision had been made years ago; I was just waiting for an impetus to make it happen. Finally, I'd succeeded. I had changed my life, just by wishing that it were different.
I'd managed to do it twice more, since then. Once, when I realized that the last vestiges of my drink habit were getting in the way of my dream career and I'd made the decision one evening to get sober and stay that way.
The last time...
There were no tears in her eyes, but I could see the pain on her face. This had not exactly come as a surprise, but I knew that still she wasn't taking it lightly. I almost wanted her to scream and rage at me; to have a reaction that would give me an excuse to cut off contact with her. She would give me no such satisfaction. In making this easy on me, she was making it incredibly difficult.
She pursed her lips and just looked back at me. "You're sure?" she asked finally.
I gave her a solemn nod and forced out an apology. I was sorry. I had never wanted to hurt her.
I did love her, or at least I had at one point. Never had I had such a carefree and easy relationship. She was understanding about my busy schedule, and though she must have felt some jealousy at my flirtatious ways in the media, she kept it in check. She never hassled me about not hearing from me. She took what time I wanted to give her thankfully. She was a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, patient, and caring woman.
"I think you know I can't be what you need." I didn't want to have to tell her that I'd let things get too far with the woman I'd met in Rio; that that was the final indication to me that it was time to move on. I didn't want to have to hurt her that way, but I was prepared to.
"And what do I need?" she challenged me.
I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "You need more than I can give you. You deserve more."
I'd gone to bed that night in the midst of a two-year relationship that was threatening to become serious, and woken up the next morning once again unattached and available to engage in any debauchery I could envision.
The other times I'd changed my life had been positive. The jury was still out on this one. It was six months ago.
Sure, I didn't have to pull myself back when the French Canadian twins had made eyes at me the previous week. I didn't have to watch what I said in interviews, and worry about checking in. But who was it really who had created those impositions? Was it her... or was it me?
Still, it didn't take me long to dive headlong into the good life once I was a free man again. I wasn't one to sit back and let life pass me by. I was living it, and I was having fun, but for the first time I was wondering if it was really the right kind of fun.
I'd thought about her a lot since we'd broken up, but I hadn't thought about her that day. Not until I'd glanced up from the dingy, beaten coffee shop floor into her sparkling blue eyes (the same color that I'd always wished for as a child).
She had no right popping up in my Starbucks in Los Angeles. She lived in Tulsa. She hadn't tried to contact me since I'd ended things, and I thought that if I ever saw her again, it would be on my terms. I wasn't prepared for it that day. She had no right dropping in on my life and making me wonder what might have been.
The blare of the car horn beside me brought my thoughts back to reality. I jerked the wheel, pulling my convertible out of the neighboring lane upon which I'd encroached. I gave a conciliatory wave to the driver next to me, which he answered with a hand gesture of his own. I shrugged it off and continued the drive to my agent's office.
Before retreating into my thoughts again, I took the opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous day developing around me. Eighty-degrees and sunny in the middle of October.; the sparkling blue sky interrupted only by two clouds that ludicrously resembled cotton balls. L.A. certainly was a change from the dark harsh skies that I’d grown up with in Scotland.
Still, my thoughts couldn't stay away from her for long. Making sure to keep my eyes focused on the lane-lines in front of me this time, I allowed my mind to drift back.
The look on her face as I'd passed by her that morning was enough to elicit a deep and throaty sigh from me. I didn't want her to still be hurting. I'd figured she'd be with someone else by now. Some blonde corporate attorney named Chet who made her laugh and shared her fondness for homemade rice krispy treats on a warm summer morning. I smiled fondly as I recalled that small silly detail of her personality. She truly was one of a kind. I shook my head though, as reality intruded.
As if a corporate attorney could ever make her laugh.
I glanced into the rearview mirror, ensuring that there wasn't a car in my way this time before I moved into the right lane to merge onto the freeway. In that split second, I caught my own reflection, and saw the face staring back at me.
Though I was by no means old, I wasn't a young man anymore. The crow's feet around my eyes were deeper than they used to be, and suddenly that morning they seemed deeper still. My life up to that point had been a roller coaster, and for a long time I'd been content to stay on, going around and around, up and down. Could I do it forever though? Or at some point, would the ride break down?
I had to allow myself a laugh at the ridiculous metaphor as I pulled into the parking space at my destination. I turned off the engine and reached out for the button to put the top up, but I hesitated. I wasn't always the most self-aware person, but at that moment, my thoughts were flowing. Instead of locking up my car and heading inside, I just let myself sit, soaking in the sun, and practically feeling my long dormant freckles kicking up a fit as they struggled to re-emerge.
After letting my thoughts wander across our entire two-year relationship in the span of a few seconds, I pulled out my cell phone and found her number in my phone book. My finger was hovering over the 'send' key when I stopped myself...
"So when am I going to meet this girl of yours?" she asked chirpily. Lately, it'd been the same thing with my Mum. Every conversation we had--which were few and far between considering I was so busy--returned to that. I'd been with her over a year and a half and I still hadn't introduced them. My Mum was beginning to think my girl was imaginary.
"Oh soon, Mum, soon. She's going to see if she can fly out for Christmas, but her job keeps her pretty busy."
"I've heard that one before," she laughed, good-naturedly. Despite the pleasant tone, that comment sent a pang of guilt into my heart. I tried to call as often as possible, but sometimes I was so busy it felt like my life wasn't even my own anymore.
Just then, I heard my heavy oak door open and close.
"I've gotta run. The meeting's about to start." My mum acquiesced politely, and I clicked the phone shut just as she entered the room.
"Hi baby," I greeted her, taking her face into my hands and kissing her deeply, as if I hadn't seen her in months, which in fact was the reality. She tasted just as good as I remembered. It took her a few seconds to find her voice after the kiss.
"Who was that?" she asked, pointing to the cell phone still attached to my hand.
"Just a producer."
Mentally, I kicked myself in the balls. I'd always kept her at a distance. I'd never completely let her in. Everything I'd said to her that day that I'd broken up with her had been right on. She did deserve someone better than me. She deserved someone who could give her more than just half of his heart.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my slim brown leather wallet. I never liked to carry much with me, so I kept it as sparsely filled as I could. My license, two credit cards, and a handful of cash. Slowly, I reached inside the clear flap. Behind the ID I pulled out a tattered and worn picture. I had my arms wrapped around her from behind and was smiling cheekily at the camera. She was looking at me. Just at me.
Suddenly angry, I shoved the picture back into its secret space and pushed the memories back down with it. When was I going to grow up?
I thought about a lot of things as I struggled to fall asleep that night. I thought about what might have been. I thought about what I wanted, and I wondered if it was really even a possibility anymore. My last thought before I drifted off that night though was a wish. I was hoping that I still had some of that old magic left.
The next morning when I awoke, I suddenly felt sure of what it was that I had to do. I picked up the phone and dialed the old familiar number, free from the hesitations I'd felt the previous day. After a heartbeat, there was an answer. The voice was unsteady, unsure. Still, I thought I heard a yearning in the soprano tone, deep inside.
"Love, can you come by my place after you're finished with your business today? I've got some things I need to talk to you about." I paused, barely allowing myself a thought before I took the next leap. "I miss you."
I'd managed it a fourth time. I'd changed my life again.
Edited by AbandonThought, 20 April 2010 - 04:28 PM.