Admitting You’re in LOVE has to Begin Somewhere

love note 1984

“I’m hungry,” Rudy confessed when he saw me looking at the few slices of the least-expensive white not the most nutritious bread he could find and a half-empty can of bean dip.

We went out to eat, my treat.

The next day I brought him a bowl – well, a thermos full, really – of hot Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and some toasted, buttered bread.

Rudy was living in a by the day, week, or month motel room. Number 19. It was all he could afford. Ironically, the Vagabond was located just down the street from Disneyland – The Happiest Place On Earth. Rudy wasn’t feeling too happy during those days. Life was hard and trying to make ends meet wasn’t an easy task for a 21-year-old foreigner. He just wanted to be part of the American Dream.

Doesn’t everyone?

When we first met, before his motel days, Rudy was living with a group of buddies in a three-bedroom apartment. Life was fine. Partying like young guys do, just living it up. One day at a time.

We had been dating for about a month when I stopped by to check in on him because he’d mentioned he was feeling sick. Sick enough that he did not even want to get off the couch, which was so unusual for Rudy. This guy would never just lie on the couch just because he could. Never.

His roommates were gone for the day, which was good because I could take care of him. In a sappy girly way. I put a pillow under his head. Made him tea and toast – good stuff when you don’t feel like eating. Which Rudy didn’t. Eat. He was feverish. I wiped his brow with a cool cloth. He slept. He woke. He dozed some more.

What amazed me though was that when Rudy did wake after a short snooze he was determined to go to work. He needed the pay. Seriously. He would literally sit up. As straight as he could. Then he would struggle to stand. He couldn’t. He was too weak. I convinced him to relax. He needed time to recuperate. I even offered to call his job site, tell them he wasn’t feeling well. And after much convincing, he allowed me to call in his excuse for not showing up to the local Holiday Inn where he worked as a dishwasher, mostly, but helped the chef whenever he could.

Another time, a few weeks or so later, we were sitting on the patio, a small square of cement surrounded by a wood-slated fence, when Rudy began pacing back and forth. I figured something was up because his behavior was again! unusual. “I need to ask you something. I just don’t know how,” he stated rather bluntly, yet with concern. “Anything. Ask me anything,” I honestly answered.

“Oh, this is so hard. But I don’t know who else to ask. Well, I was just wondering if you had any money I could borrow. Just twenty bucks. I do not have a penny to my name…..” He tried to continue. Telling me he was sorry, that he shouldn’t be asking. “No problem,” I said. And I meant it. I knew he really did need the help. I pulled a twenty out of my purse and passed it to Rudy. He just hugged me, not sure what to say. That evening, I’m sure, a bond tightened. A bond we were already developing between us.

It was several months later, after the 20 bucks situation, when I saw the bread and beans in the motel room. By this point I knew how hard it’d been for Rudy, trying to prosper. I had been there with him, when things began to look bleak. The same evening I brought him the chicken noodle soup we decided to take a walk. A walk to the Anaheim Hilton. The hotel had become a place to stroll, to just find some kind of quietness for us. To talk. To get to know each other. We just talked and walked through the lovely hotel.

That particular night, a mid-December night, we had been talking about how most likely Rudy would need to return to his homeland. To Honduras. He just wasn’t seeing a future for himself in the states, particularly in expensive California. As we were talking, and walking very slowly, a what are we going to do? walk, we found ourselves in a small room with tables, note paper and pens. I didn’t think, I just wrote.

I handed the note to him, unembarrassed. Rudy accepted it.

What I didn’t realize was that right after he read my short love note his thoughts began to change. He now had a reason. A reason not to leave. A reason to keep trying, to make a life for himself. And I was the biggest part of that reason.

We embraced. Rudy smiled at me. I smiled back. I sensed something had happened. Did Rudy feel like I did? We had never talked about love before. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. I knew, right then, that he loved me, too.

Relationships all begin somewhere. Ours began in Orange County, CA. In 1984.

Born in the USA

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I was born in California. You would think that growing up as part of a large family that I would do anything for attention, anything to be noticed. I was the opposite. I was very shy. I was content to spend time alone, to read or participate in some other quiet activity. “She’s very quiet, doesn’t talk much. She needs to speak up more,” teacher after teacher would write in the comments section of my yearly report cards. Thankfully, my parents didn’t push me. They let me be. Let me be who I was. If quiet was my game, then quiet I would be. Yet, I knew how to have fun. Fun with fun people.

As I grew older, was old enough to hang with some of my brothers, I would do what the boys liked to do. I would crawl in the dirt, and make mud pies. I’d slither through the bricks piled up in the backyard, covered with a blanket and strategize some kind of plan, like secret agents, with my brothers and a few of their friends, in the fortress we built.

I would follow a brother to a neighbor’s house and help pour salt on some snails, watch them shrivel. So cool! Yet, somehow weird and mean.

One time one of my brother’s friend’s mom was going to take the boys to an area, a dirt-filled area near some train tracks. “Yay!” I cheered when they said I could tag along. The mission: to find as many trap-door spiders – trap and all – as we could. I loved the danger of it all! Boys are so much more fun than Barbie playing girls. At least, that’s what I thought.

When my younger brother and I would tag along with our older sister, our only sister – well, my only sister, anyway – to the grocery store, me and my bro’ would eat the grapes, and sometimes a piece of candy or two. Secretly, of course. My brother would ask grown up sis “Can I have this?” – whatever this was – but she’d say “No!” When I asked grown up sis, for my brother, secretly, of course, she’d say “Oh, sure. Get what you want.” In my adolescent opinion, probably not my brother’s, my only sister was cool.

After school one day, a neighbor boy wanted to dump ketchup all over his body and stick a cardboard knife in his pretend bloody chest. He wanted me to scream and point at him when a car drove by. I did. I did it again, and again until one car slowed down. Then I ran home. That same boy was later tricked by one of my older brothers. My big bro’ picked up a dead stiff as a hard-covered book cockroach from the ground and made it look like he tossed it into his mouth, then chewed it. Crunch. Crunch. My brother dared the neighbor boy to do it, eat an ugly bug. The boy did. Yuck! I laughed so hard.

The teenager down the street sewed together the cutest blue and white checked very young girl two-piece bathing suit. I thought that was pretty neat because I thought that teenage girl thought I was just a punk kid. The teen even took me to the local pool to try the suit out. I felt shy, for sure, yet very special. Oh, and the teen’s dad used to give me and a couple of my brothers chocolate chip cookies. He seemed to enjoy the days when we would knock on the door, whereby he would invite us in, have us sit at the kitchen table and give us tasty, tasty cookies with milk. He even asked, “How has your day been?” I liked how kind he was.

I got to eat vanilla ice cream in a pretty little dish, at a neighbors, a few doors down, because two of my brothers decided that jumping on the back of the ice cream truck would be a fun thing to do. They fell off when it turned a corner. My parents had to take them to the hospital, one for an abrasion, one for a head concussion. My brothers were always doing something crazy. That’s what I think.

One sunny summer day I went with my sister and some brothers to the beach. Huntington, I’m certain. The day was a good one, playing in the water and building sand castles. When we were ready to leave, ready to pack up the car – it was gone! The car, that is. The car had been stolen! I learned what hitch-hiking entailed that day. Kind of fun, I thought. Different people helping out a group of young kids.

On an August afternoon, during the annual Corn Festival, I felt tired. I was hot, too. Luckily, my dad had purchased a pretty little sun shade for me. A frilly-edged umbrella. I plopped myself down on the grass, under a big, big tree. I was wearing a homemade-turquoise-color-printed dress with red knee-highs. Little did I know that someone, a newspaper photographer, had taken my picture. I smiled when I saw my five-year-old-self in the paper, the local paper my dad was reading the following Monday.

I still live in the town I grew up in. I didn’t leave because I was afraid, afraid to take some chances – like some might say. No, I stayed because of the comfort stability provides. The stability I now offer my own family.

California holds my memories. California is my home.

#tb, 4th of July, 2012

american flag

Independence Day.
A day to celebrate our freedom.
And to lavish the day with reds, whites, and blues.
To come together, with family and friends, spending the day relaxing, chatting, and eating.

A tradition.

A tradition our family has always embraced, year after year. Rudy at the helm, taking charge, making sure the constant rhythm of music was vibrating throughout, adding to the festive environment, enhancing energy, and conversations. He especially made sure bellies were full with good home-cooked food, and plenty of drink.

Yester-Year, on a particular 4th of July, our family was missing that tradition.

And it felt ironic.

roberto july 4 2012

I did chat, eat, and drink with Roberto, and laughed loudly as he ran around the pool waving the American flag, before he had to head off to his afternoon shift in a non-American restaurant. Brad had spent the night with a friend, then had made plans to celebrate with said friend on that 4th day. And Liz, well, she was socializing, kicking back in London, preparing for her long flight home.

There I sat. Independently. In California.
And there Rudy sat. Independently. In Arkansas.
Each of us doing our own thing.
I was reading, writing, and lazily watching TV.
While he made himself a meal, and lounged on the couch, entertained by sports.

Independence Day.
Yester-Year.
Was.
A day to be independent.
To lavish the day with self.
To be alone.
To gather one’s thoughts. And listen as fireworks explode skyward.
A reminder of our county’s independence.
Independence of being free.

california weather = arkansas heat

brad AR 2012

today, on this stagnant CA day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

i was reminded of 2012

when brad and i took a walk, on a stagnant arkansas day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

when we were

red faced and sweating

trotting along, in plus 100 degrees, hiking up a trail, trudging down again

A boy.

brad at newport 2012

A boy.
Stood.
Looking out to sea.
Wondering.
If.
He’d ever go back in.
Into the water.

He wants to.
But.
He’s scared.
Because.
When he was younger.
The ocean tried to swallow him up.
When he was just playing.
Splashing in the waves.

That boy.
Was pulled under.
Tossed around.
Until finally.
He was spit back out.
By the teasing sea.

Since then.
The boy will not even allow.
The foaming waves.
To lap his toes.
Not at all.

Not yet.

the beach

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the beach

spiritual
calm, soothing, serene

the beach

warm sandy surf blending with cool ocean blue

the beach

fresh, salty air
pristine sun-soaked sky

the beach

mind, body, and soul
renewed

 

k.i.s.s.i.n.g.

man_womankissing
He drew her to him.
She hesitated for only a second.
Then followed his lead, pressing herself enticingly against him.

She raised her eyes, looked at him.
He gazed back at her.
As his fingers gently combed her hair.

Her eyes closed.
Felt his hand lift her chin, bringing her glossed lips up, touching his.
Warm breath drawing them closer.

She felt his tongue.
As it skillfully lured its way into her mouth.
Gliding over her silky smooth teeth.

She responded.
Invitingly.

He pressed against her.
His excitement rising, intensely.
She followed his rhythm with equal passion..

He grasped the sides of her face.
Firmly.
Fingers entwined in her wavy locks.

They kissed.
Seductively.
Heated.
Like there was no tomorrow.

Yet.

They wanted to savor the moment.
Savor each other.

So.

They began to slow down.
Touching lip to lip.
Tenderly.

As they fell in love once again.
With another kiss.

Another passionate kiss.

To last a lifetime.