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.