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.