Weeks passed by me by like minutes. Every second that I could spare, and even the moments that I couldn’t, was spent with Laura. She never slept in her own room anymore sharing mine and my bed. Outside of bed we continued to find parts of ourselves to share. It was amazing to find someone who understood me as she did. I helped her with her English grades and her loneliness and she in turn helped me grow as a man and show me a world I never knew existed. Everything slipped away from me. All that mattered was her and doing whatever it would take to make her happy. As I traded my grasp on reality for the chance to be with her, my grades slipped and my bank account suffered ever feeling the need to impress her. But none of that mattered. I soon realized that I had never been truly happy before that time.
This was the greatest time of my life. Laura and I went to the nicest restaurants dressed in the new fashions I came to love and the jewellery I bought her. We travelled to beaches and interesting cities when school was on break. We visited museums and landmarks, we had adventures that the man I used to be had never cared about but now found myself aching to explore, as long as she was at my side. We soon realized that we were too old to be living in dorms and needed a place we could call our own. A furnished apartment two blocks away from the school in a bohemian district took her breath away when we first saw it. At another time, in my old life, the price tag would have taken my breath away but now I knew that I deserved this. I deserved to live in a place that reflects the man I wanted to be and would be the first home for us, me and the woman I knew I was destined to be with for the rest of my life. As the next year of school began, we moved into our new home. The day we moved in, I felt my heart sink into my stomach as we passed a mailbox that shared both of our names, somehow seeing that made it all real. Our first night together in that perfect 2 bedroom apartment was one I will never remember. Over Pad Thai, Mango ice cream and a bottle of her favourite red wine, we toasted our lives together. Slipping into the bedroom, we celebrated again. As she fell asleep that night, Laura once again whispered to me, this time saying “I know I love you.” I replied in turn and fell asleep perfectly satisfied.
There was no defining moment where my perfect life began to fall apart but looking back I realize that I should have seen the signs. Deeply in love, in my haze of bliss, I did not see the bills from the credit card my parents gave me pilling up. The notices I received from the school warning me of my pending academic expulsion, due to my plummeting grades, were overlooked as their importance became null in comparison to what I had. When my alienated friends, with whom I almost never saw, warned me that I was being foolish and that I had to refocus on what was important, I pushed them further away. They alluded to the idea that Laura was the cause of my debts, failing grades and hermit like existence. No wonder I never spoke to them again. It was infuriating that they masked their intrusive advice by telling me that they were only looking out for me, they just wanted me to be happy. How dare they? I knew what made me happy. My new life made me happier than the complacent fool I was could have ever dreamed I could be. Laura was simply showing me the finer things in life and showing me my potential.
With no more distractions from my so called friends and the inevitable end to my academic career, I realized that it was time to get a job and start living as an adult. My dream of teaching came to an end but was easily replaced with career aspirations that would afford the lifestyle I had become accustomed. To my frustration, a university dropout was not a highly desirable candidate. Living on my remaining tuition savings, the credit cards I obtained and the last few dollars on my parent’s card, I struggled to keep Laura and I afloat. The little money she had only covered her tuitions and books. It would have been much easier if she was talking to her parents and we could have reached out for help but I understood that we could not. For the first time in my life I knew what it was like to hate your parents. The calls I made home, previously on a weekly basis had turned into monthly calls, then even less. My parents and I stopped speaking ourselves not long after they found out that I was kicked out of school and they saw the unpaid bills that I neglected. I wanted them to meet Laura. The plan was to bring her home that Christmas, but after they refused to send my money to pay they rent which was sorely past due, I cut them out of my life completely. I had a new family. That was all I needed.
Only in retrospect do I see clearly. Reminding myself of these events has opened my eyes to so much, but in truth, I regret nothing. I suppose it is true that Laura pushed me to live above my means and guided me into a profitable career. I know now that she was the reason for so much of what has happened but I still can’t blame her. The facts are simple, she opened the door but when I saw the amazement and wonder on the other side, I was the one who took the fate filled steps through. In the end, even if I could blame everything on her, I would not. I loved her. I still do. How could I not? She was my saviour. No matter what trials came, what oceans had to be crossed and what happened in the end, my love for her never flickered, even when I wish it had.
Keeping Laura in the dark, of our financial worries and my stress in finding a career path that would be acceptable, became my primary concern. I took odd jobs serving coffee, delivering packages and waiting tables to balance our debts as much as I could. The constant letters warning legal action and eviction were not my driving force, as I suppose they should have been, but it was my new desire to make a mark on this world and to make her happy. If nothing else has been made clear to me now, I see my obsession with her happiness. The mundane tasks that barley paid the bills were unsurprisingly unfulfilling. Not only were our vacations and date nights becoming fewer and farther between but the daily nagging I heard from my consciousness, reminding me that my life was a waste, began to take its toll. I needed a solution. Still, through it all, Laura stayed by my side and encouraged me. Each night after a slaving day of work, at some points having worked 2 or 3 jobs, she was there. I would come home, we would eat takeout in our glorious apartment and she would sit with me and listen to my frustrations. Though I kept many of my true worries a secret, knowing that she was there soothed me and made it possible to get out of bed the next morning. No career, prospects or money seemed to be irrelevant in those moments. She would always end the night with a kiss, words of encouragement that the next day would be better and the words that made it all worthwhile, “I love you.”
One evening, after a day of mind numbing labour, my path in life would be changed again by my idol of perfection. During a typical day of study, Laura chanced upon some literature which she brought home for me to study, an opportunity for a person like me use his potential. Teaching had always been the vocation that I believed I was called to but having cast that aside and not knowing how to make my mark, this new prospect of being a stock broker seemed ideal. Similar hours to those she kept in school, the potential to make millions of dollars and best of all, a short, inexpensive course was all the education I needed. I could see the looks on my jealous family and friends faces as I would drive my fantastic car with my beautiful love beside me to their small, pathetic houses. I would not have to tell them that they were wrong about everything because their envy would be a testament to my success and their misconceptions. Wearing a suit every day, cocktails with my colleagues who would join me in a toast to the greatness we all exuded. Like a sign from god, the pamphlet Laura brought home that day showed me the way. The way to live the dream I first had the day she came into my life and a way to never disappoint her; my single greatest fear.
The next morning I awoke with a renewed lust for life. I eagerly went to register for the mandatory course that would jumpstart my future, paid the required fees, money that should have gone towards the back rent I owed, and went home to make a fantastic meal so that Laura and I could celebrate. We dined and shared wine, we laughed and made love for hours. I had not felt that invigorated in a long time. When a person’s hope is lost, everything seems to lose its taste and colour, but not now, things smelt sweeter than ever. Neglecting everything in my life once more, except of course for Laura, I began the month long studies required. With ease I passed the securities tests, the ethics components and all of the other elements taught. The studies came so easily to me it seemed clear that I had found my destiny. Upon completion, I was quickly offered a job within a fairly large firm with grand promises of money, opportunity to advance and prestige. This could not have come at a better time. I was utterly relived that on the day I received my first pay check, I arrived home before Laura and was able to remove the eviction notice that was taped to the door. I was able to pay enough of the back rent to appease the landlord and she never did find out how close to the bottom we were, another opportunity to disappointment her avoided.
As we often did, we celebrated my first pay and my future. The celebration coincided with Laura receiving her final grades for the year which deserved their own occasion. She finished top of her class across all of her courses. Though it would have been justified for her to monopolize the conversation boosting of her achievement, she spent the whole evening asking me about work, telling me that her success was my doing and asking me if I was happy. I was. Laura made me feel as if I was the only person who in the world. Knowing that this woman loved me the same way I loved her was the greatest feeling I could imagine. I tried to explain that to her but I could never truly find the words. We told each other of our mutual love constantly but somehow it did not seem enough. “I love you” has been said so many times in movies, television and greeting cards that I feared that when I said them to her that the words would not express what I felt. I remember wishing that I could invent a new word that would better help her understand.
Back on the road I had set out to follow since the day Laura and I met, I came across a few bumps that slowed me down. The great opportunity in the firm, and the money that was to come with it, was taking much longer than I had envisioned. I suppose I was like so many other people my age, expecting an easy ride to the top and to be handed a future on a silver platter. I blame Sesame Street for making everyone think they are special. No one is really all that special. Everyone was fighting to get ahead but some nagging sense of morality kept me from stepping on my co-workers in hopes that hard work alone would elevate me. I knew that I would have to work my way up from a lowly stock broker to a powerful executive, but I soon came to realize that the money was not coming in fast enough. It was enough to fake the lifestyle we wanted but not enough to get out of debt and keep that way. Besides, did I not deserve more? My envy of other’s success was beginning to eclipse the joys in my life just as my pride and jealousy had before but my own self-pity soon took backstage.
I have heard many people talk about a premonition or bad feeling they once had that proved to be true. A nightmare they woke up from and later that day they found out that they were getting laid-off. No such insight was mine to have. Just like every other major event in my life, it all started with a normal day and like every time before, I did not see the full scope of impacts that the moment would have.
Returning from work, experiencing the self-loathing I had once again become accustomed to, I consoled myself in the fact that I would be at Laura’s side soon. I arrived home to an open door and sight of Laura, lying on the couch sobbing. I had not seen her like this in year. Truthfully, I had not seen her expressing this type of pain since the fate filled day when we met. Oblivious to the cause, I approached her, put my arms around her and, as she had so many times, asked her what was wrong. Laura did not look up. She hid her face in the pillow upon recognizing my presence. Her tears slowly subsided and she caught he breath long enough to break the news. Her parents had died. A long time friend had called her that evening to tell her of the horrible car crash that took her parents life. Even though I knew Laura resented them for everything they had done, she was heartbroken. It dawned on me that I had still never met her parents and that now I supposed that I never would. I wondered what type of people they must have been to create the perfect daughter they had. I kept my questions to myself. I did not know how to console her and my mind raced trying to find the perfect words to make her smile, but nothing came. I wondered if I would react like this if my parents died. Laura, after a solid hour of tears, finally lifted her head revelling the outline of her face on the tear soaked pillow. As it turned out, her parents had decided not to have a funeral believing that it would only sadden her and their acquaintances. Apparently they did not believe in outwardly expressing emotion, explaining a lot about Laura.
It was clear over the coming days that not having a funeral caused Laura more pain much against the hopes of her parents. Laura became a shell of what she was. She did not leave the house, we did not go out for our usual nights on the town and she barely wanted to talk to me. As I kept silent about my own concerns, which seemed insignificant in comparison, I wondered if she would ever recover. She was ashamed that she did not reach out to her parents and make amends before they died. Her heartbreak soon became my own. I wanted to make her happy again but selfishly, I needed the ray of sunshine that she had always provided. I needed my Laura back.