Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Let It All Go"

When it gets really cold and I can smell the temperature in the air it always reminds me how I am not in Florida anymore and this fantastic journey of life I've been on. I used to be so paralyzed by insecurities, so occupied with uncertainty. But when that crisp air hits my cheeks I can feel it dissipate into the wind.

I love the fall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chapter 5: "When It Isn't Like It Should Be"

Why is everything loneliness with me? Sometimes I try to hard..... I just want to be like everyone else. Why can't I be everything to everyone else, or maybe just to you? Just once I would like to be something.

Who was Elliot Acosta? Who was he? After 21 years, I had no real idea who I was anymore. For so long I'd find my identify within the relationships that I found myself in, but if I wasn't Elliot the boyfriend... then who was I? I wasn't an athlete, an academic all star, popular..... I wasn't anything.....

Along with not taking care of myself emotionally, I certainly wasn't taking care of myself physically. My gout was constantly flaring up, I would get persistent nose bleeds, I started to developing sleep apnea, my eczema was covering my face and body, I wasn't monitoring my blood pressure for years and I was extremely overweight. I was tipping the scales at 275, I was so disgusted at myself that I couldn't even wrestle heavyweight if I were to still be in high school.

Despite the reservations I had in myself I started the summer thinking I can transform myself into a ladies man. I played the role as the nice guy for so long, believing in relationships, believing in love, only to find myself broken. I started out in Chicago with Mike. Most of the time spent there was exploration of the city and enjoyment of culinary delights. But one night in particular, I spent determine to forget that there was even a word, "relationship." Being newly 21, we went to Coyote Ugly, I mean the movie made the place seem so welcoming. The night became a whirlwind, it was going to be the first night I'd be drunk since I was 15. I spent the majority of the time there pursuing a Coyote that looked like a dolled up Karen, brought Mike a body shot as I screamed to everyone "my friend is losing his innocence!", and befriending an Hispanic man who I bought drinks for because he was my "friend." The night led us to a club in the outskirts of Downtown Chicago, being led there by random females we met at Coyote Ugly. A couple nights after that event, we were at Buddy Lee's Jazz bar and I met a female from Australia. She had clear green eyes and a Jewel-like-cuteness of a crooked tooth. I was infatuated by her looks and accent, so much that I poured $50 worth of drinks into her and her friend, only to end the night it a kiss on the cheek. Back then, I figured I spit mad game to get that far, now I understand the pity that action was breed from. After Chicago I traveled to Vegas to spend time with family, there I realized the stupid amount of effort I was putting into my attempts to pick up females. Also, I came to the realization that I could not button my shorts over my huge belly.

Once I returned to Florida from my trips, I was able to begin finding my center. I even found motivation to exercise again. Being on my way to healing myself from my emotional wounds, I took a trip to NYC and Massachusetts with my mother and brothers. Its funny to me how close I must of been to Sara during my trip to Massachusetts. I had no idea, I couldn't even fathom the thought that the woman I'd be marrying was just minutes away. I wonder, did I pass by her on the Mass Pike? Were we at the same Friendly's and just never knew it? Not knowing in a couple of months we would be introduced.

Though the trips around the country were exactly what I needed, I started to feel myself becoming exhausted with all the travel. I longed for that little rural town located in the middle of nowhere North Carolina, I longed to be back in the Creek. That year it would be just me, Ryan and Kenny sharing an apartment. Kenny typically did his own thing, go home on the weekends, spend time with his girlfriend. So I knew that I would be spending most of my time with Ryan. Ryan's popularity at Campbell was skyrocketing. He was becoming as much legend as man in the Creek. And as that legend grew, so did my own social status. I was never part of the social elite growing up. I always figured I was well liked by people but I spent most of my time in the wrestling room or with a small select group of people. The social structure at Campbell is different than a typical university as its more like a high school. Of course there are those who just did their own thing and did not participate in campus activities and groups, but those who found themselves in the mainstream of campus life found privacy hard to come by. Soon enough I would enter any room at Campbell and be obligated to greet at least one person in the room. The phrase "I've heard a lot about you," would be how individuals would introduced themselves to me. Our weekends felt like a constant rotation of people that would accompany us drinking or clubbing. Despite my initial reservations of such a life style, I was having a lot of fun. There was nothing that I was attached too, nothing to worry about. Any self doubt I had about myself could be drowned out by the bottle. I was flirting with as many females as possible and to my surprise I felt like I was actually making a bit of progress. I thought I was making these great strides to discovering who I was. Focusing just on myself for the first time in the long time, I felt like I finally starting to figure myself out.

This path of self enlightenment is what I figured I needed. Being detached from relationships, not to be bound by the responsibility of being romantically linked to another person. The thought of placing myself in a romantic relationship felt distance. That was until Kristen Lohr happened. I truly believe that nothing would have turned out like it has if it wasn't for Kristen. I met Kristen freshman year when Adam introduced us, they went to the same church in Maryland. I thought Kris was a nice girl and we always had a pretty casual friendship throughout our undergrad careers. I started to spend an increasingly amount of time with her social circle, eventually they became some of my favorite people to hang out with my senior year. As I spent more time with that group of people, I gravitated towards Kris. We'd talk long into the night about experiences, travel, and the future. She was sweet, funny, outgoing, charming, just overall wonderful to spend time with and talk to. Still, I was successfully curbing any urge to begin a relationship. We'd go out to clubs or late night Waffle House runs, I'd shamelessly flirt with her.... I mean I was having fun..... so I thought. But eventually real emotions and casually flirting began to mix up with each other, suddenly I didn't quite know how I felt about Kris. What I knew was that I lacked any emotional capabilities to carry on a relationship. One random Friday evening, me and Ryan decided to go clubbing with Kris and a few of her friends. It became a wild night as soon as we arrived to the door of the apartment. Drinks, shots, laughing, partying, flirting. All of it became blurs as we stumbled down to the parking lot, stuffing ourselves into a SUV. The party continued has we headed for Raleigh. Kris was being particularly entertaining with her antics during the drive up. The party was getting a bit too hectic inside of the car, so in the brilliancy of my drunken thought I figured a way to calm it down. I grabbed Kris's face and plunged my face into her's. Hasn't been my most romantic moment in pursuing a first kiss but it sparked the trend for that night. That overly affectionate couple in the club? Yeah, that was me for a night. Drunk and affectionate we headed back to her friends' apartment. We attempted to have a serious conversation on the floor of her friend's bedroom but it was constantly interrupted with her friends persistence that we hook up and me interrupting her with kisses. By the end of the night, she was sober enough and I was hungry enough to ride over to Waffle House. Sitting there waiting to be served, I reached over the table to take her hands in mine. Our waitress greeted us with awes, "Are you guys a couple?" she asked. Confused we looked at each other and then back at the waitress, we didn't have an answer, we had no idea what we were.

With our relationship still up in the air, the next day I was filled with confusion and anxiety. I laid in bed staring at the sky wondering what had happened. This wasn't suppose to happen, not this year, not this time. I wasn't suppose to find someone that I loved spending time with, talking to, cared that much about. Intimate moments were suppose to be fleeting, as was I. I wanted easy moments and easy fun. My romantic life was suppose to spark like a match then die out just as quickly. That day for me was emotional and mental torment. As my anxiety built throughout the night I came to the conclusion that I could not handle a real relationship if this undefined one was causing me this amount of internal strife. Kris appeared to agree, she wasn't looking for a relationship, she didn't know how she felt about being in one with me. But neither of us could stick to our convictions. We would be convinced that we should stay platonic friends for a second then the next we would be kissing. We would run into each other wondering around campus and I would never know how to react. She would invite me over to her place and I never knew if it was a romantic or platonic invitation. With the semester coming to an end, we started to solidified on the fact that we were nothing more than good friends. But as that flicker of romance faded it gave light to the fact that the partying, man-whoring, casual Elliot had an expiration date and it was coming sooner than later.

Kris and I were never quite the same friends after that tiny bout of romance. It disappoints me how that friendship faded away, because I love talking to Kris. You really do put the relationship on the line when you take a chance, and sometimes it never comes out the same.

Coming back for my final semester of college I was celebrating the personal progress I've made. I felt like I was finally defining the rough edges of who I was and who I wanted to become. Life was coming around quite nicely as well, it looked like I was well on my way to graduation. I had a vibrant social life, between being part of the Challenged, member of SGA, CAB, and CU sport fanatic I hardly found a dull moment. I even reconnected with old friends that I had all but lost. Life was good. Yet I still felt inadequate, ugly, unsure of myself. I was keeping those feelings in check until at a random party me and Ryan was hosting at our apartment. We were hanging out with a new group of people we recently were introduced to. For whatever reason the party turned to where one of the ladies were asked if she thought I was attractive. She gave a clear cut no. Hearing this, all my insecurities and self loathing bubbled to the surface. Ugly and undesirable were the thoughts dominating filling my head. Her opinion was what I thought was the woman wide opinion about me, it felt like the entire female race rejecting me. Locking myself in my room, I scribbled in my prayer journal how I was nothing. How shitty of a person I was on the inside and out. The words of Saves The Day's "Handsome Boy" were filling my head, "Hard to look at the mirrors these days when everyone has everything you rather be." I left the apartment and wondered around campus, finding myself in front of one of the school's fountains. I cried myself to whimpers. I realized I was still broken. That I still needed healing. Adam and I would have discussions, and I'd tell him how just completely undesirable I felt. That no one took me seriously, and I was just the Asian punch line. I just wanted to be like everyone else, I didn't want to overly emotional or weird anymore. Why couldn't I just be like every other guy and just fool around without a conscious. I had more acquaintances and had more fun than I had in a very long time, yet I still couldn't find complete peace within myself.

I hoped for a life of comfort that year. A life of ease, void of real emotions, or as I thought of it a life without difficult emotions. But as I ran from those things God didn't provide me that luxury. I attempted to become the opposite of everything that I've made myself out to be, but I could not hide from myself....and as I was soon going to find out, I couldn't hide myself from Sara.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Hear You Me"

Bored, sitting in the corner of a department store as Sara was shopping for clothes, scrolling through Facebook on my Blackberry, I saw Dexter Dodd post a memorial on someone's wall. As I looked at the wall it was posted on, I found that it was John Kim. I only shared a year, more like a semester and a half of friendship with John. Even in that short time, I felt I was able to truly know the heart of who he was. The goodness of him as a person, the reflection of Christ he projected. Though I can't reenact many of our specific conversations, the time we did spend together left me with the understanding that he was a true person, a true friend, even for just a fleeting moment in time. Though the time I knew John was short it was devastating to hear the news of his passing, so it crushes my heart to think of those who were blessed with knowing him for even longer.

John transfered out of Campbell the following year. We became "when you are in town" friends, saying to each other that we should meet up when the other is in town over FaceBook. Leaving random comments, typically about sports, on each other's wall. Eventually even those stopped and he became another status on my newsfeed. Sometimes I wonder if the effect of his death has on me is more selfish. That his passing brings my morality even more to light. Or if I am forcing myself to be sad for an old friend.... But when I think of lost of a friend, no matter how seemingly minimal that time was, no matter how small the moment in the scope of life, lost of true friendship, lost of true fellowship, should always be mourned.

Why does apathy get the best of us? It feels like there are countless friendships in the past that I've let slip into oblivion. Relationships that I've truly delighted in, even counted on, for a period of time turn into acquaintanceships. I always figured that the divine purpose of that relationship had been fulfilled, and God leads you to move on with those relationships always in your heart. But there is a certain accountability that must be placed on oneself. If there is one glaring lesson I've learned in the past years is that friendships take an amazing amount of work. That to nurture and grow a relationship with a friend takes an amount of laboring. That friendships do not necessarily come easy. I pray for the resolve to put in that work, to nurture those relationships.

May angels lead you in, hear you me my friends. May angels lead you in.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chapter 4: "Cheer"

It's been so long since I had a smile, stayed sad for such a long while. If you can cheer me up, I could learn to love you. I don't want to spend the rest of my days dreaming yesterday's daydreams. Don't want to spend the rest of my days giving yesterday's promises.

Honestly, I do not remember how I met Robin Carawan. I vaguely remember my good friend Jenny Sweet introducing us once freshman year. When we first started our friendship she actually told me we were in two classes together, which I have no recollection of. In my memories, its like she came in my life out of nowhere. Which is pretty accurate description on how it all began.

Fast forward to my second semester of my sophomore year of college. The first real relationship I ever had was in shambles. I was completely broken inside, an emotional wreck. I would spend most of my day walking around campus with my head down. When people would ask how I was, I'd tell them I was doing horrible. I felt like my life lost all its color and all that I had left was shades of gray. My closest friends at Campbell tried their best to cheer me up. Well actually not all of them, AB did utter her famous line, "The only reason you go on a break is to cheat on somebody." Despite their attempts, no one understood how I felt. How could they? All their relationships combine didn't equal the length of mine. By that point none of them have been in love. They would offer words of encouragement and I would just nod my head and continue on with my path of despair. Arrogantly, I thought that if I were to become single, that the tales of my amazing relationship skills would have reached everywhere and there'd be a parade of woman awaiting to win my heart. But there was no parade, no females. Just loneliness. The first real tangible memory I have of Robin was at Marshbanks cafeteria. She was sitting across from me, next to my dear friend Mary. As the meal progressed, me and Robin started to casually flirt. Nothing serious, just some witty remarks and shooting smiles back at each other. I remember that night because I was actually happy. It felt like it had been so long since I had a genuine smile, it felt amazing to not fake it. From there mine and Robin's friendship exploded from nowhere. We would talk to each other on IM well into the night. As I came to learn, Robin had a high school sweetheart too. They were planning to get married too. But their relationship came to a messy end as well, that left Robin with a set of scars that were similar to mine. Being part friend, part therapist, Robin would not allow me to sidestep my issues. I was able to deceive my closer friends into avoiding talks about my faded relationship, I'd give them two worded answers that turned the conversation into a different discussion. Chats with Robin were different, she forced me to talk about it. My emotions, my pain, she didn't settle for surface answers. Sometimes I didn't know if it was her interest in consoling or her sympathizing with my situation. Either way, allowing her to explore my brokenness felt like the only real healing I was able to get during those times.

As she continued to dwell deeper into my state of depression, she allowed me into her own. It had been a really difficult last couple of years for her, and I could tell by our first brief conversations how jaded she had become. With each conversation, Robin allowed me deeper into her internal conflict. I found comfort in providing security for someone again. Always looking for a way to be heroic, it felt like I found a purpose in helping Robin. Despite being in a relationship with her boyfriend James, Robin was critical about the whole idea of romance and love. She once believed in those things; fairy tales, princesses, happily ever afters but since lost faith in those ideals. Even though my own romantic life was in ruin, believing in those ideals still gave me hope for better days and it bothered me how weary she had became. It began innocent enough, I thought I was pursuing a noble cause. To have a young lady believe in love again, sounded like a job for a wandering r┼Źnin. In the beginning it was just to get the ideal of love and romance back, I had no real plans to add myself to the equation. But with every little inadequacy of her relationship, I was there standing tall with a shoulder to cry on. Slight handled I kept offering her the alternative. There wasn't enough romance in the relationship? Well if it was me, I'd shower you with roses and chocolates every day. He isn't caring enough for you? All I ever do is care.

Our nightly chats would carry on harmlessly. I told myself that it was purely platonic. I was still carrying the weight the of my past relationship and she was still dealing with hers. We just found a certain comfort talking to each other. Although we talked most nights, we hardly spent time together. Hoping to change that, I invited her to go out to lunch with me. We randomly drove around until we finally found ourselves at a Buffalo Brothers Pizza & Wings. It was nice, nice to be out with someone who I cared about. While we were enjoying our time out together, I received a call from Ryan, urging me to meet up with him and Adam at Adventure Landing. I had a good time playing some miniature golf and hanging out with my friends. The classic picture of Adam assisting with Ryan swing was taken at that time. I was happy, I was out with people I cared about, doing things that were making me happy. I was happy to be spending time with Robin. On the way back, I invited her back to my dorm to watch a movie. I was able to sneak her up to my dorm room, having your two best friends as RA's had its advantages. With Rat Race on the television, and us sitting together on my couch, I made a bold move. I placed my head on her lap, seamlessly she placed her hand on my head and started stroking my hair. We were cuddling, I was just ecstatic that someone had let me that close again. The aspect that I was missing the most from my prior relationship was feeling that intimacy with someone. My world was torn apart for the past couple of months but in those moments, I was at peace, I was whole. We cuddled and enjoyed the movie, very innocent, very relaxing, very peaceful. Something I'd longed for quite a while. At the end of the movie, we heard a knock at the door. Instinctively, we bolted for two different directions. I went for the door as Robin hurried towards the window..... we were on the second story, next to our parking lot, jumping wasn't a option. As I reached the door, it swung opened with Ryan standing in shock. When you live in dorms, the act of knocking is sufficient enough.... no need to wait for a response. In the worse looking of situations, all I could think of is "its not what it looks like." I figured that phrase was reserved for adulteresses and the unfaithful. After getting over his shock, Ryan laughed then assumed the worse. I plea my case for its innocence but it looked the worse.

So despite my emotional conflicts, I started to develop feelings for Robin. Our bond kept becoming stronger as the days passed. I always felt bad about what I did to James during this time. He was an acquaintance of mine, he was one of the guys and we spent time together before I met Robin. Whether me and James were friends, I was in clear violation of bro code with my pursuits and it has always disappointed me that I would've done that. But as the story played out, James would have his vengeance and then some.

I'd had finally given up hope on my old relationship, and constantly running to Robin for emotional support. By spring break, my feelings for her were concrete and now all there was left for me to do was to patiently wait for her relationship to dissipate. Which would come with a little assistance from me. One night late online I told her about a dream I had, I don't remember what it was, just something about us being together. Apparently that finally tipped the scales in my favor and when we returned from spring break, she ended her relationship. One day soon afterwards, we were spending tine with Jenny Sweet and her then boyfriend Jeff, we were at the Rembly Center since it wasn't open house and we weren't allowed in their dorm. When Jeff became ill, Jenny took him back to his house, leaving me and Robin alone on the couch. Cuddling together on the couch, I looked at her and with hesitation asked "what would you do if I kissed you right now..." she laughed at me and responded "I'd throw you across the room." We laughed and then kissed. It was a pleasant rest of the evening.

The start of the relationship was a whirlwind. There was no sense of taking things slowly. We began everything head first with every ounce of emotion we could harvest from the moment. I'd start abusing my friendship with Ryan and Adam, who were RA's of my dorm, by sneaking Robin up as many nights as I could. Even putting my roommate at risk. I didn't care, I was actually happy. I was recklessly falling for someone who I felt saved me from my despair, it was a hopeless romantic's wet dream. I was having tunnel vision, I didn't quite care about anyone else. At least thats what I thought. Despite my intense anger, I couldn't stop caring about Karen. She once posted a blog entry that said something along the lines of "Its called tact, you could use some." In response I posted some apologetic lyrics, to which Robin became furious. It was hard enough for me to know that I had one female angry at me but to know that there were two made my head spin. I started to realize that things were not going to be simple as I hoped it would be. Through the difficult circumstances, we were able to share some very sweet moments. I can never forgot how many things went wrong the night of Spring Formal. Me and Adam attempted to cook for our ladies, but we were 2 hours late with the meal, we didn't fully cook our potatoes, and then I stained my dress shirt with an iron. Robin smiled through it, found it endearing and we had ourselves an excellent night. Quickly, too quickly, we started to talk about the possibility of forever. We would watch romantic movies like Pretty Woman, and compare it to our relationship. We saved each other, we thought, so it just made sense get married. We imagined this majestic mountaintop wedding, right before dawn as the sun settled. All of this was going way to fast, but I didn't question, I jogged it along. In retrospect, it was probably all my ideas. Leaving for that summer was difficult. I had the opportunity that summer to go overseas to Asia, so I wrote her everyday. Once I returned to America, it was almost magical to see her. I wanted that feeling to last forever.

Then I came back to North Carolina for school. Coming back to Campbell, I couldn't get over this emptiness I felt as I realized that I had no attachments to my old life. For the past 4 years of my life, what mattered the most to me was the Alliance, wrestling and my relationship with Karen. My drive to competitively wrestle had all but died out, Mike and Tiff were in Philly living a completely different life that felt so detached from mine, I hadn't spoken, seen, heard from Karen in months, and my hatred for Jose continued to smolder. This emptiness gripped me, and for the life of me I could not shake it. My relationship with Robin didn't provide comfort. Within the first couple of months of school, questions and doubt began to surface in our relationship. Standing my ground, I told her that if she wasn't into the relationship 100%, that we should go our separate ways. After a discussion, we separated. I remember sitting in my bed confident of the decision we had made. Then.......fucking Dashboard Confessional. "This Brilliant Dance," "Screaming Infidelities," began to fill the silent air. With Chris Carrabba lyrics pulsating my ears and alone in my dark apartment bedroom I began to break down. Sitting there all I could think of my failures in my relationships, that the failures with these two women were a reflection of myself. Sobbing in my room, I felt pathetic and completely alone. It wasn't too long before me and Robin were together again. But the precedent was set for our relationship. Soon after our reunion we yet again separated. Around this time we were in constant conflict. At times I would be just a little too goofy, say to much about a joke, or belittle her too playfully. She would get enraged by what I felt were the most mundane things or read too deeply into something I said. With all the external and internal conflict in my life, I started to isolate my friends, mainly my roommates. It was suppose to be an amazing year, me, Ryan, Adam and Kenny in the same apartment but with their new found party scene and my relationship problems we saw less of each other while tension between us became apparent. I'd admit, I was less than a desirable roommate at times. I never brought up my relationship problems with anyone because I was so embarrassed that they were happening. I was Elliot Acosta, relationships were suppose to work for me, I was the knight in shining armor, dammit.

I started to notice Robin hanging out with James again. Trying to make up for past sins, I attempted to not be the jeasolus type. Not worry, not question. I left her apartment early one evening to get some sleep for this new church I was fond of, Vintage 21. Waking up, I called her to see if you wanted to come and she denied it. After that incident, her and James were being very friendly. They would get to close, their stares would linger. Sometime during my lifetime, I figured that the worse thing that could ever happen to me would be being betrayed. It was my absolute fear that people that I'd love would break the trust I have in them. I confronted Robin about her relationships with James. She confirmed the worse, that she had cheated on me. I was so shocked. I was so angry. I was so broken. I was so...... so...... so..... surprisingly numb. I had the initial shock of pain but it all just faded away. This was the point where I just completely gave up on myself. I didn't care about myself anymore. My emotions were gone, I was a shell. Me and Robin separated just off of principle. My embarrassment reached incredible hights. I didn't even hint to problems to my friends. Not they needed that information, they all could tell we were in turmoil. There I was, with two relationships that I aimed towards forever that completely crashed and burned. All I could think of was the problem was me. That I was a failure in love. Then the thought of trying to do it all over again, meeting a person, courting a person, trusting a person, the thought of starting from scratch again took any strength I had left in myself. I just didn't care anymore. Me and Robin eventually got back together, but everything broken. When I came back from winter break, we were yet again on the brink of destruction. I went over to her suite expecting it to be over. But once I got there, she looked at me and asked, "Can you still look at me and see forever?"........ I automatically thought, "no." It was as if I was holding a shotgun, ready to put old yeller down. Our relationship was sick and it would only end up hurting the both of us. But I couldn't pull the trigger. That night I figured it would take an act of God to split us up.
Despite our crappiness, I will always give Robin credit for the things she did do. She had the ability to be amazingly romantic and cute. Making sure I had a real Easter or planning my birthday celebration, event to event, right down to the volcano cake. She would be the tissue for many of my tears, specially when my Lola died. Also was comforting after my first dog Abby passed away. My emotions were so amplied that when Robin told me she didn't feel like going to the State Fair, I started to cry. I was completely messed up. Robin wasn't the most emotionally stable either. We would constantly fight. Every week bought a new battle, for some of the most trivial things possible.

As summer approached my attention and care for our relationship was fading. More often then not I would tell her that I was heading to bed and then just play World of Warcraft for hours. Robin started to ask if we should take another break. Eventually one night I told her that we couldn't take another break. Its done or we continue.... and so, it was done. As I sat on my brothers' driveway I figured a rush of sadness would overtake me. But nothing came. Not one emotion, I was emotionally comatose. A couple more phone calls between us the following days confirmed that we were finally over. Everything that I was put through those past couple years has left my emotions exhausted.

We were try to keep a casual and friendly relationship afterwards but the longer I had to stew about what transpired between the two of us the more upset I'd get. Looking back now, as disappointed as I am for being a dick to Robin at times, I needed to stay upset at her. Sometimes even the most forgiving person needs to stay angry. Robin seemed to be less than impressed with the person I was becoming the following year, at least she would not be impressed when I'd arrive at her apartment drunk to pick up Jenny to go clubbing. Once during our senior year, I had to use her and Jenny's oven. After a little bit of bickering between me and Robin, I decided just to go over and use the oven, no questions asked. When I arrived she was getting ready to go. In and out of her bathroom, leaving the door open, music streaming from her computer. Her typical country music played until eventually it hit to The Get Up Kids "I'll Catch You." In my honest opinion, the most romantic song ever created by man. I remember introducing her to the world of indie rock and emo. Maybe she just didn't bother to delete it, maybe didn't know it was still on her computer, or maybe she thought it was a beautiful song, maybe representing a nice time in her life. I smiled to myself and thought of the days we weren't in conflict and we were sweet with each other. I remembered there was more to Robin than the person who cheated on me and hurt me and more importantly, I was more than this
testosterone driven
wannabe manwhore I was becoming. In the end of the year, in the midst of my new found relationship problems, I reached out to Robin and we had a great chat about things. The day me and Sara began our relationship, I actually went over to Robin's to borrow a vacuum. We sat on her couch and shared our current dilemmas with each other. It was nice as she gave me encouragement for my future endeavors.

I don't talk to Robin these days. She is off married. I hope she has found that person that could rescue her in the ways I tried for her. I hope that person is receiving the Robin that I fell in love with, the sweet one, the caring one. I hope she is happy. It amazes me that you can be that connected to someone and now know as much about them as the other 6,706,993,152 strangers on this earth.

I don't regret it. I've said, written, mentioned, a lot of things discussing my relationship with Robin. And I can say that I don't regret it. I wish things went differently and I wish that I was smarter about how I went about things but when you break something down, if often rebuilds stronger. Thats what I imagined God had sent out for me. I still bless that broken road. I still blessed to have Sara waiting on the other side.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Holly Hox, Forgets Me Nots"

What happens to the insecure kid when he has nothing to be insecure about?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chapter 3: "So Impossible"

Do you like dreaming of things so impossible? Or only the practical? Or ever the wild? Or are you waiting through all your bad bad days just to end them with someone you care about?

It was sophomore year of high school. I was talking to Mike while we were at his locker when Jen Buggica arrived. A few weeks prior while at Mike's lockers, he jokingly whispered to me "check it out, this chick totally wants me," as Jen walked up to her locker conveniently located next to his, equipped with a shy smile and batting eyes. While we were participating in our typical post-period chats a short, skinny framed, white girl started to talk with Jen. With her hair pulled back tight and speaking a million words a second, I was not anywhere close to impressed with her looks or personality. Her name was Karen Burns, and she would be the first female I'd fall in love with.

Being extensions to our best friends' locker awkwardness enabled us to begin our own friendship. Karen intrigued me, she was the completely opposite of myself. From our families to our personalities, we were as drastically different as our appearances. She would become one of the wrestling team's groupies (at least that's what I called them) and we would spend increasing amount of time together. Without realizing it we were becoming good friends. Eventually like a vine to a fence, everything about her grew on me. Her insane drive, her smile, her taste in music, even the way she would argue with me. We'd spend what felt like hours on her front porch just talking the night away until her mom decided it was time for her to come inside. As summer came so did my feelings for her. One day I built up enough nerve to tell her my feelings. After some indecision, I was told that she was too afraid to lose the friendship. Despite the rejection we were able to continue a friendship.

Junior year came along and our friendship was put on the back burner. We were still friends but the bond that we once shared didn't have the same strength. My feelings for her were calmed by the pursuit of other women. Our relationship kept this casualness until a church event at a local youth group. It was called the J&P Rally (John and Paul), and being a regular attendant of the youth group I was planning on attending. By this point I've technically ended my relationship with my ex-girlfriend but we still were having these affectionate moments. My feelings for her were fleeting but rather than face it, I tried to avoid being alone with her. So when she asked me to drive her to the J&P rally I was panicked. Afraid being placed in a situation where we might of had to talk about our relationship I figured that I could bring someone else to negate any such conversation. Lucky, I was able to con Karen to be that barrier. There was no motivation other than selfishness that I invited Karen to accompany us to the rally that night, but she would play the biggest part of that night. So in my sheer brilliance I decided that I would bring my ex home first, despite Karen's house being on the way. I wasn't expecting what followed, I just figured it wouldn't give me an awkward drive home alone with my ex. But after I dropped Karen off, it was like old times again. On her porch, just talking about what was an eventful night. Eventually the conversation turned to a topic to where Karen felt it necessary to say something along the lines, "I missed out on you Elliot." My heart sparked with emotions and confusion, what exactly were you suppose to say to that? Scenes of romantic heroes started to flood my thoughts, I figured this was it.... this was my moment to be that guy. The conversation hit a pause and I laughed to myself. After being ask what I was laughing at I responded that I had a thought, upon further questioning I finally admitted that I thought of what it would be like to kiss her. Karen smiled, claiming she was thinking the same thing. Indecisiveness followed, both of us trying to figure out if it was a good idea. Finally, with a sudden jolt of gusto as she was in mid sentence, I leaned in and kissed her. Insecure if that was I good idea, I looked at her for a reaction. Her face gave me all the answer I would need. Karen always had a pretty tough exterior. Years of self reliance and mind numbing work ethic had made her a pretty tough person, seemingly incapable of vulnerability. But in that moment, with her whole face smiling, from her eyes to her mouth, she was completely disarmed. We sat there smiling at each other, making small talk until I left to go home. I thought that was it, that was our one solitary moment in time to explore anything other than a friendship. That the friend zone had been established and borders would not be cross.

Even though a romantic relationship didn't immediately follow that night's events it did revamp our friendship. During the time we were reconnecting, I could feel my affection for her grow again. I figured it was just foolishness on the part of my emotions, we were already friends and there was nothing that could change that. But this time around things started to feel different. Moments together would linger, our eyes would connect, we'd get close as I told her good night. I was completely consumed with emotions of affection, friendship, romance but most of all confusion. All these emotions kept swirling for weeks until it finally reached it's apex. It was late, watching movies at a friend's house. I figured that it was time for me to head home but before I ventured home I drove past Karen's house to see if I could catch her coming home from work. As I passed by her empty driveway I was disappointed, only to be surprised by her truck turning the corner of her street. When she got out of her car she was still in her McDonald's uniform. She smelt like grease and looked exhausted, I thought she was cute nonetheless. We started talking and I could feel myself shivering, some from the temperate change but mostly because I was nervous. We chatted for a little bit, then I embraced her to begin to say goodnight. During the embrace I asked her, "are we ever going to happen?" She responded with, "yes, because I want it to happen." Suddenly she kissed me. I was completely floored, it felt like my heart exploded. After a couple more minutes of talking and kissing I left, screaming "woohoo" loud enough for it to echo through the neighborhood.

Neither of us knew what was suppose to happen after that night's event. It certainly wasn't a seamless transition to a romantic relationship. I recommend to anyone to become friends first before they start a relationship, but I will tell you this, there is a period of transitional awkwardness. I remember waiting for her after class and not knowing if I should hold her hand. With the awkwardness growing and other outside influences, it seemed like our relationship wasn't going to make it. Finally one day, I told her that we needed to talk. We were outside on the bed of her truck as I told her that I was in this relationship for the long haul. That we had too good of a thing to give up, and I will see it until it completely ends. The talk appeared to have its effects because we turned into a finely tuned relationship machine. It was different than other relationships that I previously been in. I already knew I cared for Karen, I loved her as my friend which made it easily and quickly able for me to fall in love with her. For a hopeless romantic, such as myself, I was so excited about all the prospects of being in love. Mixed tapes, flowers, waking up early to greet her at work. All the things I wanted to do for someone, I finally got to do. It was pretty incredible.

Me and Karen grew closer, and we started to rely more on the other one. We both became the constant, the security, for the other. Specially during what turned out to be a very drama filled senior year, the moments we weren't together were very few. So few in fact that the thought of being apart for 4 years seemed unbearable. Shockingly early in our relationship, I created what I've since dubbed "The Plan." For a 17 year old kid who experienced love for the first time in his life "The Plan" sounded surprisingly simple and easy to do. I mean, love conquers all.. right? "The Plan" entailed that no matter what school we went to, we'd stay together, get married after graduation, start working, and then I would support her through law school. Yes, the credo of many of high school relationships. During most of my HS career I never considered going anywhere but New England for college. I always wanted to go back to New England since I moved away when I was ten. It was the last place I felt at home. I even e-mailed the wrestling coaches from a couple of Northeastern schools. None that I heard back from.... bastards. I don't remember how it came up, but sometime during our senior year Karen started to look into Duke University. At first it was more as a pipe dream than an actual possibility. She almost didn't even apply until encouraged to do so. Around the same time, I heard of a wrestler that I respected, Jordan Henning, getting signed to Campbell University wrestling team. I started to research the school, the prospect of a small Christian university in the middle of nowhere for some reason seemed alluring. Eventually we both received our acceptance letters and decided we were going to head to NC together.

We were filled with so much optimism about our move to North Carolina. For me, it felt like we were running away together, starting a new life, finally finding that alluding sense of home. I think back on it now and its kind of funny how arrogant we were. Two 18 year old kids, taking off 700 miles from all they knew, in two very different places, thinking they would be able to stay together. One trait of mine that constantly grew until it reached its apex during college was my insecurity. I've always been a pretty insecure guy, doubting if I am good enough, if what I do is good enough, constantly needing reassurance and praise. This combined with a bout of paranoia started to really hamper our relationship. Embarrassingly I would call continuously, sometimes up to 10 times in a row, hoping for her to pick up. I started adding "don't forget about me" to our good night routine. Karen would become distant and just seemed down right annoyed with me most of the time. Not our whole time we were together in college was filled with conflict. I think we made a pretty admirable run. We shared some sweet moments. I was still confident in our relationship, so confident in fact that I even went to look at rings once. Yet the inevitable kept creeping closer. My first years at Campbell I also became quite the legalist. I got pretty caught up in the world of the BSU's and the Campus Crusades. We would fight and argue and I would always feel like I was trying to uphold some kind of righteousness. I did a lot of condemning of her actions, words, etc. She would get offended, argue back to me, just making a mess of the whole situation. Most of our problems we would blame on the situation and our conversation constantly turned back to "Once we are married...." thinking it would be the fix. Heading towards new years our sophomore year, I knew we had serious problems. I was pretty damn determined to stick things out because I was so dedicated to "The Plan" and all the promises I made that those became more important than our relationship and what it turned into.

One evening during our winter break, I got violently ill with food poisoning. I remember trying to drive back to Orlando but not even being able to make it 5 miles before I had to pull over and puke my guts out. That night I had to spend the night on my old friend Jose's couch. The next morning, having pass the illness, I met Karen at a Chick-Fil-A. Our conversation turned to where I responded jokingly with something along the lines of "You don't like me anymore." The mood of the situation immediately changed, Karen gotten quiet and then asked why I said that. Sensing that things gotten serious, I told her because thats how I felt. We continued to talk, and eventually it was decided to take a break. As I drove back to Orlando, I fought back tears telling myself it was for the best and we'd get back together. The next few weeks in Florida was a whirlwind of drama which left me emotionally limping back to NC. Back in NC, me and Karen grew more distant every day. In my arrogance, I thought after couple of weeks of my absence, of what I felt was my amazing boyfriending abilities, Karen would come running back to me. Yet things just kept getting worse between us. I made a last ditch effort to get things back together Valentine Day, I surprised her with a visit and a hand written letter. She seemed really happy to see me that day, but that would actually be the last time I would see her for almost a year. I spent most of that night on Caitlin Monjeau's dorm room floor, questioning what I was doing there.

Then came the night everything changed. It felt like a typical night. Despite the break, Karen and I were still talking on the phone, typically telling each other good night. It was late and I was trying to call her to tell her goodnight. After a couple of calls and voicemails that when unanswered, I tried to go to bed. Not able to get to sleep, I went to my computer to waste time on the internet. I found her logged into AIM. When I IM'd her, I asked her what was going on and why she hasn't called. She responded that I was too emotional and that she didn't want to talk to me. My body was shocked with hurt, I was completely crushed. But a new emotion was raging through my body. I was angry. Throughout the whole break process, I was depressed. I was filled with sadness and despair. But once I saw those words across my screen, I was finally angry. Just the sudden cut of communication, I felt like I deserved better than that. That moment I felt that if she didn't want to talk to me, fine then screw her. I had written a letter a week prior, similar to our talk on her truck bed at the start of our relationship, urging us to work through this, that we worked so hard for the relationship we had and we couldn't let that go. I took the letter and ripped it into pieces and flung it into the trash. I went to bed that night in tears of rage and despair, knowing we'd never be the same again.

The weeks went on and in my broken state, I found myself in a new relationship. I actually figured I was doing Karen a favor by getting out of her hair once and for all. I assumed she would be happy that I found someone else. In the state of mind that I was in, I actually was surprised if she even cared at all. The night that I started my new relationship, I received a call from Karen. She was upset and hurt. Back then I didn't understand it at all. All I could think was how I figured this is exactly what she wanted. After we talked that night, I knew with certainty that we were finally over.

It took almost a year until I saw Karen again. The night before I couldn't sleep. Admittedly I was pretty nervous. "What if I go there and all my feelings come back?" I wondered. Karen played meeting up as this casual event, but for me, I had to do it to make sure my feelings were exhausted. During my insomniac state, I started looking at all the old notes she had written me. While looking over the old love letters and drawings, I decided that I couldn't keep those things. There was an old couple book that I brought for one of our anniversaries, where you write down little fun facts about the relationship. I pulled it out and started to fill everything out. Anniversary dates, pet names, a section for old notes. It was therapeutic to me. I felt as if there was no closure between me and Karen but as I finished each page of the book I felt like I was finally finishing our story. After the completion of the book, I decided to give it to Karen the following evening. The meeting went pretty normally. I didn't have an urge to try to win her back, so I figured the night was a success. Until I tried to give her the book. She took it as a gesture of affection to which she started to panic. I tried to explain what the gesture meant, but I don't think I even knew what it meant. Looking back, I think I just wanted her to remember. Karen is one of those individuals that can look forward towards tomorrow without any memory of yesterday. Its just how she always handled things, bulldoze forward, never look back. And to me, it felt like she completely forgotten everything and honestly it hurt me. It meant a lot for me for her to be able to look back fondly on the time we spent together because I did. I figured the book would of reminded her. That event left things between us awkward. But our lives continued to progress and we were able to patch things up.

Me and Karen maintain a pretty good friendship, specially compared to many other ex's standards. Its almost like amnesia. You see the person and there is that hint of familiarity. You can feel that you knew this person once but you can't place it, just sparks from a lighter with no fuel. You hear of the past, but you can't place yourself there. Its told like stories from a book. You don't own those memories anymore. This entry itself has been aided by the endless documentary of my life via blogs.

When I was growing up as this low-esteemed awkward chubby kid, it was impossible for me to fathomed what it was like to love and to be loved. I always figured I was always going to be the kid who would be left wanting, love unrequited. Then the impossible happened. It help me transform into the man I am today. When I think back about my teenage years, I can't help but to think of my time with Karen. I grew up in that relationship, not only chronologically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually. This relationship help forged me into the man that would be blessed enough to marry Sara. The journey that brought me to a different state, that took me 4 years, that saw me through anniversaries, holidays, graduations, woe and triumphs, was the same journey that led me directly to my future wife, led me to Sara.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Soundtrack to the year that was 2009

2009 was a highlight year. The multitude of things that I experienced this year is another reminder of God's blessings in my life. From the Hurricanes playoff run, seeing my family, traveling, and of course getting engaged, this year has had so many amazing moments. Its my pleasure to share my 2009 in song.

1. Eisley - "Come Clean"
and let's give it a try, let's keep it for truth, why do you wanna fall to pieces?
There was once a time in my musical taste when I plain just didn't enjoy bands with female lead singers. Somewhere around my transition to more folk music is where I found my affection for female leads. I first heard Eisley when I was listening to the Two Tongues album and I was captivated with Sheri Dupree's voice. I find it beautiful and soothing, and it would exactly what I needed during my downtime at work.

2. Explosions in the Sky - "Welcome, Ghost"
I've always been a reflective person. I've always enjoy the pursue of thinking. That reason is why I first created a blog, just a notebook for my random thought. But as I would start typing entries I would have incomplete thoughts. When I would type them out my entries sounded like sentences that came from the middle of a conversation. Unable to craft a good beginning or end, most of my entries would go unpublished. Finally, I decided to start this blog and no matter how uncoordinated my thoughts may be I would publish them anyways. This song sparked my first entry about memories.

3. Company - "Being Alive"
don't be afraid it won't be perfect, the only thing to be afraid of really is that it won't be.
I asked a friend of mine one day if she would recommend some musicals to listen to. Company would be part of that list. Its an interesting internal conversation when you are preparing to ask someone to join you in this journey of life. Specially when you come from a broken family. I wanted to concretely arrive at a decision, not be driven by emotion, or haste, or convenience. Everytime I felt I arrived at the eventual answer, I forced myself to ask the question again. And even when I looked at the questions with the most pessimistic point of view, this song answered a lot of those question.

4. AC Newman - "Prophets"
i was the silent partner for once, my heart was split into two sections, here is my heart and here is my song, there are too many prophets here.
One of the more endearing parts of How I Met Your Mother is their soundtrack. They always seem to find the right music to fit the mood of the scene. And when Ted was on top of the roof, ready to jump across to the other side and this song came on it was perfect. It was the worse year of Ted's life but because of the result finding his wife made it worth it. Made it "the best year" of his life. It made me think about my own journey. 05-06 I would say were some of the most trying years of my life. I lost my grandparents, I lost my first dog, I was in a bad relationship, I lost my own sense of self, I felt completely lost. But dammit, it was worth that hurt to lead me to Sara.

5. Neil Diamond - "Sweet Caroline"
touching me, touching you, sweet caroline, good times never seemed so good
It took me and Ryan a little time but we finally were able to attend a Hurricanes game sometime last year during the middle of the season. We were in the midst of a battle to make the playoffs. It started to engulf me, we would start heading to as many games as possible for the Canes. We finally made the playsoffs and they were some of the most exciting sport months of my life. The community really were starting to rally behind the team. I remember the scene clearly, it was game 7 against Boston, me and Ryan were at the Carolina Ale House, Scott Walker scores the winning goal in OT, then pandemonium happened at the Ale House. Dishes were being shattered on the ground, strangers were hugging and screaming at each other, "wooo" was being echoed through out the restaurant. It was a magical scene. At the end night of the night, they played Sweet Caroline and this 6'5" dude with Canes jersey put his arms around mine and Ryan's shoulders and in unison with the rest of the restaurant belted out the chorus. It was pretty damn glorious.

6. Tilly and the Wall - "Pictures of Houses"
will i ever wake from this dream to untie all the ships sailing away from me? it will be beautiful
Its weird to me that culture teaches you to completely forget everything about the past. We are such a present conscience society, we like to forget who we were, where we come from, who we've loved or befriended. We like to act like we've never had amazing moments before the present. I think those moments are still beautiful, regardless of my position in life. If you think just about those moments, isolated by itself, not thinking about events that transpired before or after, I believe you'll find these truly beautiful moments in your history. And its not to long for those moments back, its an acknowledgement amazing things in your life had happen. Acknowledgement that you'll never have that moment back but for that specific moment in time, it was a beautiful moment.

7. Pearl Jam - "Elderly Woman in a Small Town Behind a Counter"
hearts and thoughts they fade.... fade away......
I was listening to some mid 90's music one day because I was getting so sick of the pop music that was filling last decade's airwaves. Its was almost as if I forgotten that Pearl Jam made such a simple song. The song is about an old woman that never left her small town when a old flame walks through the door who has moved on from the town. Typically one would imagine that this woman should've taken some chances in her life and left the town. But when I heard the song, I started to wonder who said her life would be any better if she left her town. I believe in taking chances, even in the face of danger, I'd like to think I am a chance taker. But who to say that its any better? I came interested in this idea of a guy who took every single chance in his life. One of those chances must of backfired I figured, one if not all of those time he went out on a limb he must of failed. Is that guy still happy he took the chances?

8. Noah and the Whale - "Do What You Do"
when love comes a calling don't forget the tune and do what you do
There are a ton of anxieties when you are preparing to propose to someone. Specially someone like me, who has been in serious relationships before, you feel like maybe you are walking on eerily familiar ground. And then there's the popular pessimistic view in regards to marriage. Most people like to ignore these anxieties and continue on with the proposal. I wanted to make sure I considered it all. I didn't want to ignore that fact that I was scared. I didn't want to ignore the fact that my parents are divorced, or that I know people currently going through the process. I needed to explore these anxieties and these emotions. I happened to find Noah and the Whale on 88.1 and started to explore more of their music. Mindlessly listening to their record, I hit this song. I found a complete sense of comfort and peace. No more questioning was needed. I was ready to propose.

9. Sufjan Stevens - "You Are the Rake"
i never felt so safe, a line i once told her, warm resting place, her arms on my shoulders
This is my song of the year. Every time I hear it I think of so many things but with one subject... Sara. I imagine the dance we shared in the Japanese garden at Maymount park. I imagine the dance we will share on our wedding day, whispering the lyrics to her as the rest of the world fades away. I imagine 50 years down the line, dancing with her with wrinkled skin, telling her still that she is my rock. She is my safety and the place I feel at home. I fall monumently short of being a great man, but I with Sara by my side I strive for it everyday. With Sara by my side, I could become that great man, that great husband, that great father. As long as she is by my side.

10. Michael Buble - "That's All"
if you are wondering what i am asking in return dear, you'll be glad to know my demands are small, say its me that you adore for now and forevermore, that's all
People ask me time from time about the being engaged or the wedding, how I am feeling about it or just looking for a general reaction from me. Some individuals have the pessimistic questioning, "you're getting married?!" All this has left me giving pretty muted responses, typically when I am ask I kind of just shrug my shoulders and give some kind of generic response. But if anyone wanted to know how I really felt about getting married, I would tell them how freakin excited I am. I'd tell you how humbling this experience is because of the gigantic importance of this event, not only to me and Sara but our families. I am amazed that I am going to have my best friend has my partner in life. How excited I am to start a family, to become the Acostas. That every time I see Sara, I think of how in a couple of months she'll be my wife and how absolutely amazing that is. That I don't quite understand how God could bless me with such a wonderful person.

11. Stars - "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"
i'm not sorry i met you, i'm not sorry its over, i'm not sorry there's nothing to save
I first got really into this song because I find it to be a really beautiful song. I just enjoy the melodies and lyrics, I found it to be a very well composed song. But listening to it for the 80th time straight made me think about my past relationships. Were those moments just passing time? How did those relationships effect mine and Sara's? Am I still angry at anything that happened? What were the mistakes that I made during those relationship? Considering these questions is a big reason I decided to type down the stories of my past. I always had these random beliefs and thoughts of what was my past, but typing out the stories gave me a true scene of that time and place.

12. Next To Normal - "Why Stay?/A Promise"
a promise a man says forever, a man says i'll never regret or let you, the promise that i made to stay and stay true
I am not naive enough to believe that marriage will always be full of sunshine and farts. I know that there will be times of difficulties. I know that there will even be moments that Sara or me will feel like ending it. In those difficult moments I will always stay true to my vows that I pronounced in front of God, my family and friends. That during those dark moments that there is a man and woman who loves each other beyond doubt or troubles. That in those times, I will passionately seek out my wife and pursue her endlessly.

13. Iron and Wine - "As Naked As We Came"
if i leave before you darling, don't you waste me in the ground
I can't help but to find peace in this song. I close my eyes while listening to this song and its like I can feel the world around me spinning. To me, its one of those songs that freezes time, and in these frozen moments you can appreciate life. I think this song illustrates my transformation into a indie folk acoustic guitar loving hippie.

14. Manchester Orchestra - "The River"
God i am sorry, i was wrong again, take me to the river, and let me see again
Ever have a song that wrecks you? A song that goes to the center of your core and shakes you? The River wrecks my soul. Its beautifully honest about my own journey in faith. I cry out for God just enough for comfort, for strength, for forgiveness, only to completely abandon Him the moment I feel sufficient. I passionately cry out for God's mercy and grace despite how I waiver for I know that He is the only one that can provide. One of my favorite quotes from the lead singer he said that how his life is, always wanting more, never being satisfied, but constantly being bless with something he didn't deserve. That is me in a nutshell.