October 21, 2006

How Do You Know?

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a powerful King. His was a land full of riches, but his pride and joy was the brightest jewel of the Crown. For the King had a son, whose good looks and bravery were only matched by his remarkable wits.

And then, the time came for the King to pass on his Crown and Kingdome, and they sent word to the Far Lands for every Princess in the Whole Wide World to come to the Palace for The Greatest Ball of all, where the Prince would chose his bride.

And thousands of Princesses jumped at the chance, as the fame of the Prince had reached very far. Beautiful, smart, educated, rich, all sorts of Princesses passed by in front of the Prince, in their best dresses, the brightest jewels, setting whole countries and their riches at his feet, yet his heart had not skipped a beat.

Night came, and exhausted, The Prince decided to walk out his disappointment along the paths of his palace’ rose garden. For in the old books in the old library he had read about ‘love’: the most noble of all the feelings, something magical he had never known before. And his noble soul was exhilarated that he would find this ‘love’ and make it his own.

And while he was walking along the red-rosed paths, he passed by the kitchens, where a simple, poorly dressed young woman was helping with the dishes And with the night breeze along came a trail of the Prince’s perfume – and the young woman lifted her eyes, in wonder. Her large, brown eyes opened wide, as they met the eyes of the Prince. And right then and there, the prince-heart stopped beating for a while, and the wind stopped blowing, and the stars stopped blinking, for that was a meeting of souls.

About a second or so later, the Prince came to his senses – and even laughed in his mind at the silly feeling that had dared to trouble his inner peace. Surely this ‘love’ business would prove far too troublesome than he had hoped, and such being the case, the Prince pondered whether in wasn’t far better to abandon his plan. As the important business of the Kingdome were at stake, he could not afford to let ‘love’ mess with his head.

And he hurried back to his quarters, hushing his heart away from the sweet memory of a pair of brown eyes that seemed to have stuck in there. He drank some fine wine, and ate some fancy dinner, and had the clowns and the magicians put on their best show to entertain him; read from his books, had his old deuce tell him his favorite bedtime story, had some more wine, and yet the hours of morning caught him wide awake.

The next morning came over him with a cold breeze when he opened his windows. And there, in the shadows of the old oak trees, a dark silhouette made his heart jump with joy, and troubled his mind with the promise of unwelcome distress.

First he jumped right out, and then hesitated. Gathered up all his strengths, pulled his hands into fists and walked right up to her. ‘Back to the kitchen! his common-sense shouted, yet when he finally spoke, his voice was trembling with desire and a soft, dazzling shiver made him all warm inside. And as the sun rose, a pair of young lovers walked deeper into the gardens, overtaken by the rose smell and their own heart-beats.

But as the new day was taking its rightful place, the Prince felt time was not on his side: the Whole World was waiting for him to make up his mind. Trapped between his duty to his country and the call of his own heart, the Prince was dangling in despair. What should he do? How would he know the best course of action?

And the young woman saw the pain he was going through and did not want to be the cause of it. So she told him, “Don’t worry. I’ll be here tomorrow night, and the night after tomorrow. You do what’s best for the Kingdome, I’ll always be here for you.”

“Listen, answered the Prince, thinking he saw some vague promise of light at the end of his troubles. If you wait for me here, in the garden, every day and every night for a 100 nights and days in a row, I’ll chose you as my bride.”

And so the days and the nights passed by, and the young woman hadn’t move an inch from her bench in the garden, overlooking the Prince’s window. Every now and then, he checked to see if she was still there; had her love for him fated away? Had her determination died out? Rain came down on her, and cold nights tried to frighten her away, but there she stood, firm in her belief, unshaken.

90 days and nights later, she was but a sheer trace of the beautiful, healthy young-woman she used to be. So many un-slept nights, the lack of food, and water, and the cold and the winds had taken a heavy tow over her body. Like a leaf the wind blew her around, but she gathered all her will to stand her ground. And the Prince watched from his window, amazed by her determination, wishing he could find that sort of sureness in his heart.

And the 99th night came, and the Prince spent it at his window, still wondering, still not quite sure what to do, what he wanted, looking at the now skinny, ill-looking woman shaking out in the cold; half impressed, half bemused by her stubbornness. She was hardly any prize at all, in her cheap cloths, over her bony, fragile, pale body, with her once bright brown eyes half closed – hardly a match to any of the rich, beautiful Princesses awaiting for him in the Throne Hall. Surely, she was no Queen material.

And as he was lost in his thoughts, with the first light of the 100th day, his eyes caught some surprising movement in the garden. Trembling with all her joints, the woman rose for the first time in almost 100 nights and days, and looked up at the Prince, tears wearing down her face, clouding up her eyes. He rushed to open his window and as he looked down, their eyes met once more. Only this time, not a single star moved in the sky.

And as the Prince stared in disbelief, the young woman turned around and walked away.

After a story in the Cinema Paradiso, a film by Giuseppe Tornatore

October 10, 2006

You’re Nobody ‘till Somebody Loves You

I met the most gorgeous man one evening; 38, never married, hasn’t had a steady girlfriend in ages. Terribly smart, perceptive; very polite; very funny too. Flirtatious to the bone. Shameless. With that boyish playfulness that I find so irresistible (until it turns to selfishness and irresponsibility.)

So what’s wrong with you? I ask him – half mocking him, half wandering. He looks straight into my eyes, hardly containing his delight. Hold on my heart, I think to myself. Was it a trap? Did I fell right in?
No, seriously, I recompose myself. If you’re so darn perfect, how come nobody wants you? How come you’re so alone?

I’m not, he says smiling. I’m with you.

Right, I gulp. Silly me.
He’s playing with me and he’s better at this game than I’ll ever be. I stumble. I feel my way in the dark. He’s enjoying himself. I should pull back. That twinkle in his eyes spells trouble – he’s a swindler, a playboy, the wrong kind of man for me to play with. Not again. What was I thinking?

Only … I wasn’t playing. I was honest (alright: and na├»ve) – and it took like forever to get him serious about it, into my territory. And a bottle of wine. And when he starts talking he stops looking me in the eyes.

He’s happy with his life – just the way it is. He loves his job, his dog, and the fact that ‘nobody tells him what to do’. He’s ‘the lord of his mansion’ – comes and goes as he pleases. No one to answer to. He’s free to enjoy his life to the fullest. Every moment of it. No regrets. No looking back. No complications.

I listen in silence. I know, by the hesitation in his voice, that it’s been a long time since he actually talked to someone. If ever. No games, no charades, just him. I get that a lot. I recognize it by the butterflies in my stomach.

Hours into the night, the story of his life pours out. Bits and pieces, like a puzzle coming together, to complete the image I was so curious about. Stories of loss, unfelt grief, of betrayal, of being let down, left behind, hurt, unloved. He says he’s fine, and I hear the words. Yet they tell a different story in my heart – one of such a terrible, hopeless sadness, of deeply buried emotions, unspoken fears. Lost Faith. A story of complete, self-imposed, self-protective loneliness. And even though it looks like he’s reaching out to me – he’s so far away that I can barely touch him.

By his way of life, the whole thing would’ve ended (gloriously) with sex, thus restoring the order of things - to make him safe - to get me back to my rightful place: that of a toy, a dolly he’s playing with for the night. I’m supposed to turn into a ‘complication’ by day-light. I get the point, only too well. But I don’t like playing Barbie.

And there’s no button to push to make me ‘happy’ again, after everything he’s told me. It weights heavily on my soul. I feel all the pain he’s ignoring. And I feel like crying. His un-cried tears; the ones that drawn his dreams into a puddle of repressed despair and anger.

But there’s no way I can make him see. He’s already made up his mind, and he has the perfect theory to back him up. The fit words to hide the pain, and the fear. And the brains to defend it ever again, against every argument I could think of.

And yes … I could've stayed. (I would've; I wanted to) I could've found a way to accept that tiny place in his life he’d prepared for me. But I know that, at best, he would pretend this never happened. He would never look me in the eyes again. All these… ‘things’ he’s told me - only to re-enforce The Fact that he’s Just Fine. He’d get even better at his game – to better show me that he doesn’t need me, or anything.

And the truth is … I don’t want to be needed. I don’t want to be ‘strong’ for you. I don’t want to pretend I don’t care. I don’t want anybody else’s tears – I’ve got my own. And I’ve got my own fears to struggle with, and my own faith to keep.

And if you are reading this – I hope you’ll forgive me for walking out like that. And there are no words in the world to reason our way around it. I know you think I’m very smart, but that’s not how I chose to live my life. Mine is the way of the heart. Since you have no respect for your own feelings – how could you respect mine?

To you it was just a game; but I was falling for it. And it’s not fair, you see. You can do this with anybody – you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
But I would.

A song by Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. "You're nobody 'till somebody loves you, so find yourself somebody to love!"

October 06, 2006

Catch Me When I Fall

Yes, yes! I know: Don’t. Look. Down.

Trapped. No way out. What do I do? What do I do? I can’t breath in here. My heart ... is like trying to beat its way out of my chest. I press my hands against it: calm down.

Calm. Down. Breath. Gently. Here-we-go. I can do this.
Sure I can. I know I can. One step at-a-time. Here-we-go. I can do this.

Oh God. Oh God. I don't know if I can do this. I don't think I can. Wait. Waait! I'm not sure. I’m not sure.

falling for - falling asleep - falling under - falling through- falling apart - falling away - falling in - faling off - falling out - falling behind - falling down - falling back

falling "1: suddenly losing an upright position; 2: decreasing in amount or degree; 3: becoming lower or less in degree or value; 4: coming down freely under the influence of gravity"
WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University