The New M.E. Generation

“I promise I won’t bite,” said he while I kept considering his offer and sporting a poker face. Hell, this is not the first time I’ve heard this and won’t be the last.

I was torn as to what to do. I thought that if I declined, I would get upset later for not giving myself the opportunity of exposing myself to situations even though I’ve had them before.

Then, if I do decide to give it the go ahead and the results are bad, question is, which of the two will I regret the most? Even if I decide to go, that doesn’t guarantee that the outcome will be good.

“Fine, wine it is,” replied I.

I followed him in my car and his apartment wasn’t that far. I parked outside the building as instructed. It was one of those locations in the area I remember seeing going up every time I drove to work.

My insecurities sort of started to get activated. It’s not bad where I currently live, but it is an older structure and not as fancy as this one.

The apartment itself was not that big, but nice. It had 2 rooms, kitchen, living area, and balcony. He had a male roommate and the place was definitely a college/bachelor pad. At least it was a place that was mainly clean and organized, good enough to feel confident of safely drinking some wine from a glass he had.

I sat down on the sofa, which had in front a massive TV. It was a little bit intimidating looking at it. Not even growing up at home was there ever one this size and forget about those in college; the rooms could only accommodate so much. People had to basically sit very close to be able to view the screen.

Even if I presently had the money to buy one, I wouldn’t. I don’t see the value of owning something like this and prefer investing the money in something else that has more of a long-term value.

It also made me think, how does this guy (or maybe his roommate) get the money to buy it? I started feeling out of place and thinking this guy and I were really in 2 different worlds that were becoming more distant by the minute.

What the heck was I expecting? Sorry, I’m not in college any more and I’m not winning this battle of the sexes any time soon.

“Hey, you want to sit in the balcony?” asked he.

Good idea, perhaps a neutral zone is the next best move.

We kept on chatting and eating the pizza. It certainly took me back to my college days when I didn’t have that much money and sometimes would split it with another guy when our budgets didn’t allow us to go outside of campus on a date.

No matter what day it was or what was happening, it always tasted good. It was one of those few moments that I would treat myself to something I liked.

It was nice that I was now being treated with something as simple as this and was still making me feel good.

That also made me remember the few guys I dated in college. Not everyone had a car, so the easiest thing to do was order a pizza for delivery.

Waiting for it to arrive was usually the ‘make or break’ moment because that’s the time you would talk about yourself and pretty much figure out what the guy was made of.

It was ironic that I was experiencing the same emotions over a food as I was doing tonight.

I believed we stayed for one more hour and decided to call it a night. We didn’t agree on anything happening next.

I thanked him for the evening during our walk back to the cars. He repeated the thing of walking in the inside of the sidewalk. But this time I took him by the arm and moved him to the outside.

“I was taught that guys should walk on the side that faces the street so they protect the woman,” said I to which he gave me a puzzled look for obviously not having any knowledge of this etiquette rule.

I really didn’t care if he liked it or not. I wasn’t doing it to be a show off or pretend I was better at him on certain life matters.

I did it because I wanted to determine if he was worth any more of my time once I got on my car and left.

He didn’t make any comment about what I said, so we kept walking as if nothing had happened.

We got to our cars, which for me signaled the end of the night.

“Thanks again, it was a lovely evening,” said I.

I didn’t say anything else. I was not making the same mistake as before of chasing guys or trying to define the situation immediately.

“Would you like to have a drink at my apartment? I’ve got wine,” said he.

Ok, that I wasn’t expecting. This made me remember of ‘want to hang out at my dorm room for a while?’

Oh boy, this question is as scary as a Halloween horror movie. Trick or treat?

“I think your friend will be fine,” said I. “It’s good that you care about him. What he needs, and pretty much everyone who serves, is our support. My opinion is that they give way too much for this country, but we don’t pay them back the way they deserve.

And in regards to them coming back ‘changed’, I’ve pretty much met every type of guy on the book. They all have some sort of lingering issue, so dealing with one from the military shouldn’t be that much different. I’ll give it a try if the situation presents itself.”

“It takes a lot of courage to do that,” said he.

“You can’t give up on the hope of finding a partner. What I’ve learned throughout the years is that you’ve got to look at people for what they really are from the beginning. We tend to judge them based on our reality and when they don’t turn out as expected, we reject them.

That’s the problem with us women. We’re expecting to hit it right from the start and then we’re breaking our heads questioning ourselves where did we go wrong, when we should have looked at what was standing in front of us and accept their way of being for what it is.

You can pretty much figure out someone quickly and determine of they’re worth any of your time and energy. If your gut feeling tells you no, it means it’s time to move on.

The secret is to know when to apply your intelligence and emotions accordingly in your favor.”

“So what do you think about me so far tonight?”

“I think you’ve been very transparent.”

“So nothing to be concerned about just yet?”

“No, nothing that raises a red flag. You’re also still young. You haven’t gone through some experience like I have that make you change your outlook on life. I’ve pretty much seen everything already. Nothing surprises me any more.”

“Well, I hope I don’t disappoint you,” said he.

I kept looking at him and everything seemed to start falling into place. At least he was trying to be polite.

“Hey, you want to eat something? How about a pizza? They have some on the menu.”

“Sounds good to me. Love pizza.”

He seemed glad to see that I had tastes like those of a guy. I may be older than him and may have changed on some things, but I’ll never give up on a good plate of food. Top that with remembering my college days, even a better taste to go for.

After sitting down and ordering a drink (a beer because I felt that would be more of a college level thing than wine which is more of an ‘adult’ choice), I decided to put aside the first few details of the night that had bothered me. I wasn’t expecting to be a totally awesome night, but at least one that I wouldn’t later regret.

This guy and I started a conversation and the most obvious topic for me to discuss was his experience with the dating site.

“I’m still trying to figure out why you got interested in me,” said I. “I’m sure there’s other women aiming to have a career like yours in what you’re studying. The school is pretty large overall, so the options are endless.”

“True, but, I’ve always tried to experience many things. I’ve never done only one thing throughout my life,” answered he. “For example, I did my undergrad in journalism and after graduation, I traveled abroad to get exposed to new people and cultures. I wanted to do that before getting totally dedicated to medicine.

Yes, there are girls who want the same goals as me, but they either want a commitment early on or don’t want to get involved at all. Right now I want neither. I’m just experiencing things, that’s all.”

When I heard the part about his travels abroad after college made me feel sad. I miss my college days, but I never had the money to travel for Spring Break or anywhere else after school.

I never really knew what I wanted to do during my first few years after graduating. Sometimes I feel I wasted those years, until deciding to do a Master’s degree. I had this great need to challenge myself and aspire to make something better of my life.

A few years later, and during my first job (in the field I was actually studying), it was when I met my ‘x’.

I know you will probably think, “and the rest is history”. It sure was, but when I look back, I remember achieving positive things, but tangled in-between with these bad memories.

Getting married was definitely a milestone, but the following years weren’t so great. The relationship was difficult and some situations were unbearable to sustain, and my career wasn’t that great either.

I did manage to graduate and achieve other personal things, which I make an effort to keep present for my positive wellbeing.

Then came the divorce and other years of rebuilding, of not knowing how I was going to survive on my own, of was I ever going to find another love in my life.

And there I was, sitting with guy number (what?) that I met online, wondering one thing: what number is he, or life in general, going to pull on me now?

I decided to take the situation further by going ‘live’ with ‘reconnect.’ He suggested talking via the computer, so I thought it was a great idea, even more talking to a fellow alumnus.

We didn’t know what to say to each other once we saw our faces on the screen. Oh, no, this face I surely don’t remember, but he surely did mine (sad…).

“Hey, you look great. In fact, pretty much as I remember you,” said he.

“Thanks, I appreciate it. I try to keep it up.” I told him about my ‘past life,’ but talking to him made me remember myself during those college days. I liked putting myself together as much as possible, something that I’ve continued even more when I became single.

More than making a fashion statement, I know I do it as a respect to myself; that I care about me and to show the world that I didn’t break down.

But I’m still trying to understand his recollection of me.

“I can’t really tell you what it was, but Raad was the envy of other guys for having you. Besides being cute, something about your personality made you attractive to men. Hey, if it wasn’t that I was in a relationship with someone else, I would have probably approached you the minute I learned that you and him were no longer together.”

Wow, those are revealing words to me. I don’t know what to call myself. It’s not cute or pretty (but certainly not ugly), and I wasn’t doing any chasing or considered myself drop-dead gorgeous.

I think what I have inside of me is certainly beautiful, which I hope has translated to the outside. Hmm, maybe that’s what it is. Maybe my inner beauty is the answer to my question, or not?

As I finished my conversation, I started remembering other moments when my so-called beauty came to play. Perhaps I will find some more clues on them?

Let the analyzing begin.

{November 15, 2008}   The Bostonian 11 – I’m back!

Annette and I parked on the lot next to the building where the apartment we lived in is located. I stand on the same spot I stood before I left school. The same spot where I promised myself I would be back.

‘I’m back. I’m finally back!’ I said to myself.

Most of the students have not yet arrived to campus, so unfortunately there’s no one inside.

We kept walking around the complex and found the other apartment Annette and I shared when we first met; no one’s inside either. This is where I first met Mark shortly before the Canada trip.

I then searched for my sophomore-year apartment that housed four people. The door’s open. There are people here, awesome!

I knocked on the door and shouted, “Hello…!”
I heard a guy respond, “Yeah?”
“I lived here many moons ago. Do you mind if I came in?” I asked.
“No problem, go ahead,” the guy said.

I ran up the stairs and came face to face with two guys. They looked at me as if I was an angel who had just descended from heaven. One had a face that read, ‘Thank You!’ as if his prayers had finally been answered.

“OMG! It looks exactly as I remember it!” I exclaimed. I took a good look at the kitchen and living room and felt once again the excitement of the new school year like in the past.

Do you mind if I go upstairs?” I then asked.

The guys are still in a daze. One of them finally snaps out of it. “Ah, sure…”

And off I went up the stairs. The bed, desk, and dresser are still there. The space looked smaller that what I remembered and the years of constant use of the furniture showed.

The bed that I slept in is empty; the fourth roommate has not yet arrived. I sat on it and looked out the window like I used to back then. Back when I lived days one at a time, back when I wondered what was out there for me when I left this place.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day. I closed my eyes and felt traveling back in time. For a brief moment I was again that sophomore college student who had no idea where she was headed, but knew would get there somehow.

I embraced the moment and that person. I realized she wasn’t gone; it just became dormant the minute I changed my way to please (him).

I then opened my eyes and found the inner peace I needed to go on, just like I did before.

Annette and I had more to see. We thanked the guys for their hospitality and as we are going down the stairs towards the door, a man who is one of their fathers is coming up. He looked at me like, ‘Where did you come from?’

“Did you see those guys’ faces when we were there?” I asked Annette after exiting the apartment.

She laughed out loud. “I must tell you that they were looking at you, and I will say this, after not seeing you for so many years, I think you look awesome!”

Annette and I walked everywhere, including past the building where the Halloween parties used to be held. I looked at the walkway from the last apartment we both shared that leads to it, and I got a flashback. I saw Mark, Annette and I walking all dressed up in our costumes, ready to party the night away.

The memory is playing back in my mind when I asked myself this: if I had the chance to go back in time to my college years and live it all over again, would I?

The last stop we made was at the school pond and sat on the boardwalk. We’re heading back to Boston afterwards. I looked around and took a picture in my mind of the whole place.

No, I can’t turn back time. The years that I spent here belong to that time and space and cannot be changed. I exhaled. I finally got the closure I needed for this period in my life.

So now, what about my current one?

Ever since the break-up occurred, I’ve been considering that perhaps it would be better for me to relocate somewhere else and start my life over. I have decided I will not. I will find the way to make it work.

It’s time to leave this place. It’s time for me to go back to ‘the city’ and live the life that I deserve.

I no longer feel scared about anything. I know I will definitely be fine.

{November 14, 2008}   The Bostonian 10 – Remember?

We returned to campus after lunch. Annette and I were to walk around campus on our own, so we had to say good-bye to Dr. S in front of his office building.

After all these years of waiting for a reunion and a quick lunch, it was once again time for me to depart. I mean, what are the chances that this reunion might happen again?

I hugged Dr. S the same way I did back when he hand me my diploma and started to cry. I’m as confused as on graduation day and scared what the future holds for me.

“Remember that I thanked you for believing in me?” I said to Dr. S. “That is something that has always stayed with me. You don’t how much that has inspired me.”

“I remember,” he said. “I’ve never forgotten it. I still have the picture of that moment somewhere in my office.”

“What’s going to happen to me?” I asked him.

Dr. S kissed my forehead. “I know exactly what you’re going through, and I assure you that you will come out of this just fine.”

I avoid saying good-bye and I’m having difficulty letting go. When you’re in college one is in a comfort zone you just don’t want to loose because the real world is hard to come by.

My marriage was the same; a fish bowl that I in part created to be safe and risk-free so life could flow uninterrupted. More than ending a relationship of many years, I didn’t want to let go of the security that had always guarded me. I was afraid of facing the real world again on my own, with no one there to hold my hand.

{November 13, 2008}   The Bostonian 9 – Road trip

I flew to Boston about a month later. Ross never contacted me again.

On the second day of my visit, Annette and I hit the road to Connecticut to visit our school. Dr. S was expecting me.

I have been contacting him on and off throughout the years, and he’s never been short of encouraging words. In other words, he has never stopped believing in me.

About two hours later in our road trip, we finally got to school and parked on the first spot we found.

We’re here! I’m as excited as the day I first stepped foot on campus. I took a good look at the place. I felt 18 again. I wanted to run across campus just like when I was late for class.

“Let’s go, he’s waiting for us,” I told Annette.

We arrived at Dr. S’s office and he’s on a meeting, so we sat in a waiting area for his return.

About 20 minutes later I see Dr. S walking down the hallway. Our eyes make contact and felt for a moment as if time has not gone by.

It’s him!! I got up from my seat and stroke a ‘how do I look?’ pose with a big smile on my face. I then ran up to him.

“Wow! Look at you!” says Dr. S. He has a face he quite can’t believe that I’m here standing in front of him.

We gave each other a warm hug. I closed my eyes and held back my tears. After all these years, my wish finally came true. I don’t remember the last time I felt this happy.

After the formal introductions, etc., we all then went to lunch.

Conversation during this time revolved around many things: Annette and I being roommates, our days as students, life. My divorce.

Dr. S understands what I’ve gone through. He got divorced once, but now is happily remarried. He knows all about it, he’s been there.

I’m looking at Dr. S and wonder what he is thinking or might be remembering about me.

The last day I saw him I was just a student waiting for life to start. Here I was now, all grown-up and divorced, waiting for life to give me a second chance to make it happen again.

It’s now been more than a decade since I left this place. How much of that then 21-year old Emma is still in me?

The next day I sent an email to my ex-roommate. “I have to tell you what happened to me last night. Call me.”

I met Annette during my junior year in college. I was rooming with this Latina girl who was a senior back then (the one who was dating Mark’s best friend the year we all traveled to Canada) on the same campus apartment.

Annette and I were the most opposite people on campus. But we connected in some unexplainable way. Ever since we graduated, she has never missed my birthdays and has managed to keep in touch with me throughout the years.

My wish to see my advisor was something I wanted to do ever since I left school. Back in those days I had no clue what I was to do with my life, and he (Dr. S) somehow ‘got me.’ He had endless patience and never lost faith in me.

I still remember when he hand me my diploma on graduation day. I shook his hand and hugged him. It was very emotional for me.

“Thanks for believing in me,” I said to him and started to cry. He patted me on my back when he hugged me while trying to hold back tears.

Mark attended my graduation and helped me move my things out of my college room a few hours later. Before I left, I took a last look at the building where I lived and vowed to be back one day.

Many years later I found myself again standing outside a residence that meant everything to me. I’m standing in front of what used to be my home. As part of the divorce, (what’s his name) and I agreed that it would not be sold, and that I would get the share of the property, but I had to move out.

This was the same house I had lived in since I arrived to ‘the city.’ The same place that (him) and I fixed together, were those parties were held. It is where I thought I would live for the rest of my life.

I have been forced to do something I did not want to do.

All my belongings are inside the moving truck, and the driver is waiting for me to lead the way to the apartment I have leased.

I stared at it one last time. ‘You took away all that mattered to me the most, and I will never forgive you for that. But, don’t worry, I’ll be back,’ I said to myself.

Yes, I meant this place and, more importantly, that I would get my life back in such a way he would regret leaving me.

These two events in my life couldn’t correlate even more. I was scared, confused, and facing the world on my own, with no idea of how to tackle whatever life was to throw at me.

et cetera