Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Admitting You're In Love Has To Begin Somewhere

"I'm hungry," he confessed when he saw her looking at the few slices of the least-expensive white not the most nutritious bread he could find and a half-empty jar of bean dip.

They went out to eat, her treat.

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

He was living in a live 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. He 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 they first met, before his motel days, he 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.

They had been dating for about a month when she stopped by to check in on him. He was sick. Sick enough that he did not even want to get off the couch; so unusual for him. This guy would never just lie on the couch just because he could. Never.

His roommates were gone for the day, good - they're not here, so she took care of him. Put a pillow under his head. Made him tea and toast - good stuff when you don't feel like eating. Which he didn't. Eat. He was feverish. She wiped his brow with a cool cloth. He slept. He woke. He dozed some more.

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

Another time, a few weeks or so later, they were sitting in the backyard, a small square of cement surrounded by a wood-slated fence, when he began pacing back and forth. She 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," she honestly answered.

"Oh, this is 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 her he was sorry, that he shouldn't be asking. "No problem," she said. And she meant it. She knew he really did need the help. She pulled a twenty out of her purse and passed it to him. He just hugged her, not sure what to say. That evening, she's sure, a bond tightened. A bond they were already developing between them.

It was several months later when she saw the bread and beans in the motel room. By this point she knew how hard it'd been for him, trying to prosper. She had been there with him, when things began to look bleak. The same evening she brought him the chicken noodle soup they 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 them. To talk. To get to know each other. They just talked and walked through the what they thought of as a lovely hotel.

This particular night, a mid-December night, they had been talking about the most likely going to happen possibility of his return to his homeland. He just wasn't seeing a future for himself in the states, particularly expensive to live California. As they were talking, and walking so slowly, a what are we going to do? walk, they found themselves in a small room with tables and small write a note paper. She didn't think, she just wrote.

She handed the note to him, unembarrassed. He accepted it.

What she didn't realize was that right after he read her 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 she was the biggest part of that reason.

They embraced. He smiled at her. She smiled back. She sensed something had happened. Did he feel like she did? They had never talked about love before. He didn't say anything. He didn't need to. She knew, right then, that he loved her, too.

Love relationships all begin somewhere. Theirs began in Orange County. In 1984.