My Grandchildren – The Twins
Valentine’s Day is just a couple days away now. So I thought it would be a good time to reflect what love was and is and, has it ever effected your life’s decisions?
You know the old saying, love is blind.
Maybe they’re right.
Let me tell you a little story that forever changed my life.
THE PAST – LOVERS LANE
When I graduated from VSS (Vernon Senior Secondary High School) way back in 1975, my goal at the time, was to be an art teacher and possibly write science-fiction novels.
Surprisingly, throughout my high school years and even earlier then that, my original career choice steered towards architectural design. My uncle was a successful architect and loving his lifestyle, I was hooked.
Or so I thought.
Entering the eleventh grade, it was all planned in a logical systematic format. Get the grades and keep studying architecture design, including historical accounts of famous architects, such as Frank Loyd Wright. Make sure my drafting and design classes were the standard “A” performances and keep continuing down the path of a great career choice. Nothing would sway me, right?
My life took another turn, when I became starstruck by a beautiful teenaged girl. Little did I realize at the time, the phrase, ‘love is blind’ would truly lead me into a path of self destruction. I met Christine (not her really name) during Math class, the first semester of Grade 11. She could see I was indeed having trouble understanding the fundamentals of Trigonometry, as I laboured over the frustrating new terms of algebra, during our study class, in the library. She quickly sat down in front of me; clearly a extroverted personality!
Looking up, I was immediately spell-bounded by her striking beauty, thinking she must of accidentally thought of me as someone else.
She smiled and said,”Whatcha doing?”
Confused by her actions, I said,” Working on this lovely trig problem,” pausing for a split second, my next words were more accurate,” um…you sure you have the right person?”
Christine nodded, still grinning. She waved back her long hazelnut brown hair and leaned in closer, making me even more nervous then before. Face to face, she whispered,” You know you’re doing the equations all wrong.”
With my blank stare, she continued,” But don’t worry, I can help.”
Flabbergasted, I said,”You want to help me…why ?!”
She nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders and said,” I don’t know…maybe because your cute.”
My mouth must of dropped a mile, as blood instantly rushed to my head, blushing like the waves of hell.* Then, just like that, she kissed me on the lips. I was pleasantly shocked; speechless, to say the least. If I remember correctly, my mouth was about to say something, when she placed her fingers on my lips and said,” Listen, I’m really good at math…by the way, would you like to be my boyfriend?”
Fumbling for words I just nodded, totally agreeing with her, thinking this was the best day of my life. It’s like hitting the jackpot, when everything seems to line up perfectly. With that, she closed my books and said,” Com’n! Let’s do this later…lets take a break.” Christine grabbed my hand, and I was easily led away, thinking all of this time, surely this must be, but a dream.
Better term may have been, hook, line and sinker.
By the end of Grade 11 we were going steady and already planning our life together. I know, too fast. But at the time, it made perfect sense. Love has no pride, limits or labels. Your emotions are far from logic, as if a wizard cleverly placed you in a spell. Our plans were to go to UBC (University of British Columbia), get my degree in architectural design, hers as a Chartered Accountant and live happily ever after.
So I thought.
Summer holidays came sooner then anticipated, maybe because my days were filled with love. School was actually bearable. But now summer was in full swing. Oh, the wonderful summers in the Okanagan, if only you knew. The Okanagan Valley would best be described as a glorious heavenly oasis with blossoming fruit trees, warm lakes filled with an assortment of water sports and vineyards featuring award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. A population growth three times its size from the winter months, attracting tourists across the world, including the want-to-be’s celebrity beauties sunbathing in skimpy bikinis along its countless shores of sandy beaches, as if they were sprinkled with flakes of gold.
To me, it’s heaven on earth.
One summer day, I went to Christine’s home unannounced. Her mom gave me a warm welcome and told me she was on the phone. I peeked into the kitchen to see her quickly hang up the phone, as if caught her in a trap. Giving her a hug and kiss, I asked who was on the phone, she replied,” Oh…it’s nothing important. How was your day?”
To this day, I should have known the tall-tale signs of a red flag, but instead I said,” Fine. Work was crazy, but other then that, ok.”
It was then Christine said,” Listen, I have some terrible news.”
My heart sank when I heard those words. She escorted me into the living room and we both sat on the couch. I was expecting the worse, even though at the time, my mind was totally blank. She began to cry, tears streaming down her cheeks. Immediately, like a knight in shining armor, I came to her rescue and said,” Don’t worry, whatever it is, we can work it out. As a matter of fact, I’m certain of it!”
It was the first time I saw her cry and it just broke my heart.
As any man can contest, we men are pretty much lost of what to do, when a woman starts to cry. The only thing I could think of, was to reach over for a tissue, handing it to her. Her tearful puppy eyes got the best of me. She wiped her tears and said,” My parents just bought a new business in Summerland, and we must move by the end of the month.”
I thought, ok. So?
I tried to console her by saying,” Seriously, it’s really not that far from Vernon to Summerland. It must be 100 kilometres, tops! I’m sure to visit you as often as I can.” But underneath I knew the statics, the horror stories of how short, long-distant relationships really do turn out in the end.
Let’s just say, most don’t turn out well. But that didn’t deter my efforts in making it work.
The day finally came, Christine and her family moved to Summerland. Asking my parents if I could borrow the company truck, pleading to them, it may be the last time I see her. Of course, stretching the truth, somewhat, my parents finally agreed. We took the long ride along the winding road of highway 97, in the comfort of my parents vehicle. Christine snuggled up close, erasing any doubts I had previously about long distance relationships.
An hour and a half later, we arrived in the small pleasant town of Summerland, B.C. Driving up to the driveway of their new home seemed more like the death sentence, then the welcome wagon. Turning off the engine, Christine snuggled even closer then before, and began balling like a baby.
My heart just sank.
After an hour inside the cab I encouraged her to go for a walk and see this little town. She agreed. Holding hands and embracing the moment we walked to a fruit stand at the end of the highway. Peaches were in season, so I bought us a couple. Heading back to her new home we talked about how much fun UBC and our lives will be together. It was then she mentioned we should begin saving our monies together. I agreed. Christine asked me how much I had saved this past year. Well, I thought about it for a second, and said $800. She said,” Prefect! I’m going to get a job here too, most probably at the pizza parlour here. I’ve heard their looking for someone to make pizzas.”
She then continued,” Hey, how about you placing your $800 into my account and I’ll make sure to look after it. The more monies, the better payout in interest.”
Look at her, I thought.
Amused by her calculations, like a future Chartered Accountant, with those horn rimmed glasses, made my fantasies come true. Trusting her with all my heart, I said,”Sure. Why not? We could double our savings, working together, towards our future goal.” It made prefect sense to me at the time. After all, I loved her.
What could possibly go wrong?
The following months went as planned. I religiously made trips back and forth while racking up long distant charges to more than $50 per month. My parents didn’t mind, as long as I paid them back. My last year of high school came to be a chore, with my mind constantly on Christine. Not being able to share our experiences together took a toll on my studies. Every weekend I was in Summerland, still planning our future together, until everything came crashing down on one cloudy day in May.
I know the day and month very well, because it was close to my birthday. Exactly one week away until May 30 1975.
What better way to celebrate my birthday, then having my girlfriend sleep over the weekend at our home in Vernon. Of course I had to do a lot of convincing to ensure my parents we wouldn’t be sleeping together and she could stay in one of our rooms overlooking the terrace. Actually I remember pleading and begging, until finally they agreed. Ecstatic, I quickly phoned my lovely Christine to make arrangements.
I said,” Hey Christine! Guess what ? My parents agreed. You can stay over!” My excitement was quickly clouded with a strange response.
She said,”Oh yeah.”
Waiting for her excitement, I heard nothing but complete silence. Confused, I was about to question it, when in the background, I could hear the dreadful sound of someone snickering. It was the unmistakable sound of another man.
I was shocked!
Quickly demanding who was there, Christine just responded by saying,” You know what ? We had a good run, but it’s time to call it quits.”
Boom! Just like that, my heart was crushed.
Those words felt like poison to me. This certainly couldn’t be the same girl I’ve known the past year?! Could it ?
Didn’t know exactly what to say that moment, but one thing was for sure, I was deeply hurt. At first, like a madman, I pleaded for her to reconsider, until hearing the continuous laughter in the background. Outrageously furious, my anger got the best of me. Demanding, who the hell was that so called &@$$@% and why would you do this to me. It was an awful experience, and most probably is, as old as mankind itself.
Breaking up is so hard to do.
But then after a couple of days of sulking, it finally donned on me, my monies were locked away in her own private account. Getting parental advice, it wasn’t long before they got a hold of Christine’s parents and they learned the truth. Apparently, she did this to her last boyfriend and the boyfriend before that. After much negotiations, I went to Summerland to pick up the monies at her dad’s hardware business. One last attempt to get my love back, I asked her dad what went wrong, and it was then he said those words I remember to this very day,”Son, it was too fast. Christine isn’t ready to settle down. My goodness, she’s only 18 years old. What were you thinking?”
I shrugged and said with tears running down my face, ” I don’t know…maybe I thought I was in love?”
Christine’s dad shook his head, “Listen… I know it’s hard to understand right now, but in time, you’ll understand.”
I nodded and left, my head held low, saddened by the past events.
THE PRESENT REALITY
It will be the experience to remember the rest of my life. To this very day, I can’t trust a single soul without me going through all the facts, as if I’m some kind of lawyer.
And as far as Christine goes?
I did meet her again. Ten years ago, as a matter of fact. Still as sweet as ever, but her life was still in turmoil, not really changing over the years. Interesting though, her career as a Charter Accountant, did become a reality.
As for me, breaking up destroyed my plans to become an architect.
I just didn’t have the will power anymore. So after two years of Design and Applied Arts, at Okanagan College, I made a drastic career change. In haste, I decided to apply my studies towards an art teacher instead of that famous architect, I had envisioned so many times before.
Thinking that was that, but it wasn’t, was it ?
After the next semester, I switched back to pursuing a career as a drafting technologist, through Cariboo College (now renamed, Thompson Rivers University) in Kamloops, B.C., graduating with flying colours.
My English and writing classes were still of value; writing has always been my way to express my feelings and tell stories, be it fiction or non-fiction. Publishing my dreams and reality is a way to secure my immortality, cheating time and space along the cosmic voyage of infinity.
But one thing for certain, love is truly blind.
What did I learn along the way? Trust is the most valuable asset and should never be taken lightly. Once trust is lost, it’s lost forever. And so, by chance, if you do find the right person, and they turn out to be your soul mate, hang on and never let go, because you’ll never be blessed like that ever again. And for god sakes, hang on to each other’s trust as if it was your very last breathe.
So, after reading my story, I’ll ask the question again,”Has love ever changed your life?”
I hope on this Valentine’s Day you will find your true love and live happily ever after.
By Bari Demers – screenwriter
*”Blush’d like the waves of hell” —Lord Byron
Bellagio, Las Vegas Photo Credit: Bari Demers