Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof February 1, 2015


    I look out and see the carnival across the parking lot. The Ferris wheel seems to shine.
   “Ferris wheel first?” I ask.
   “Sure,” he answers as we get out of the car.
    I take Dan’s hand as we walk, and he smiles at me. Maybe if I had been honest with him from the start about my feelings and about how I expected to be treated, we could have been this happy all along.
   After walking around and playing a few games, we decide to go eat. We don’t have reservations, but we go to the steak place by the mall. We have a short wait, so we sit outside watching all of the people walk by.
   “What are you thinking about?”
   “I don’t know. Just what a great night this has been.”
    “It has been, but it’s not over yet.”
    When they call our names, we head to our table. I tell him about the play and how much Ava loves being in it. He says that he will definitely come to see it.
   “I wonder if Ashley will?”
    “I don’t know. She is pretty messed up over Ethan,” he says as he shakes his head.
   “What do you mean?”
   “She didn’t tell you? When she went there Tuesday to surprise him, he was out with another girl.”
   “Oh my gosh. Poor Ashley.”
   “I mean all I hear is what my mom says so I don’t know exactly what happened. I just know that she is crying a lot. I can’t believe that you didn’t know.”
   “Well we aren’t as close as we use to be,” I mumble. I want to add because you wanted me to spend all of my free time with you once we started going out, but that’s not really fair. I should have told him that I was going to spend time with Ashley no matter how mad he got.
   “Huh,” he says.
     I say, “I’ll call her tomorrow,” and I try to enjoy our anniversary dinner.
    After we split dessert, we get in his truck. He won’t tell me where we are going, but as we get close to the peninsula, I guess that we are going to the beach.
    “I know that you love sunsets, but I wasn’t sure if we would be done with dinner in time.”
   I lean in and give him a kiss.
   “Want to exchange gifts before we walk over to watch it set?” I ask.
    Dan hands me the box that is in the back seat. It looks like jewelry. As I open it, I see that I am right. It is a beautiful charm bracelet with one charm of a red heart on it.
    “It’s perfect Dan. I love it.”
    I hand him my card and he thanks me as he looks at the gift card for a movie theater. I feel bad all of the sudden that I did not think of something sweet like the charm bracelet that he bought me. His birthday is tomorrow so I decide that I will buy him something else in addition to the t-shirt that I already bought him.
   We get out and walk to the beach. Dan always has a blanket in the trunk, so we bring it down and sit on it as the sun disappears into the lake.
    While the sun sets into the horizon, I think to myself that this is a new start for us. This year will be better. Maybe I will stay at the community college one more year. I really do love Dan.
   As we drive back from the beach, Dan asks, “So now what? I planned the carnival, dinner and sunset but hadn’t thought of anything after that. Want to go to a movie or back to your house?”
    “Let’s go to the baseball field,” I say shyly. In all the months that we have went there, I have never once suggested it.
    Dan gets a huge smile on his face and responds, ”If that’s what you want.”
   When we park, we move to the back of the truck, and I start kissing Dan right away. I reach up and run my hand through his hair. It feels so soft. I lean in and kiss his ear as I say, “I love you. Happy anniversary.”
   “Oh Harper. You are driving me crazy.”
   This makes me more brave as I reach down and undo his pants.
   “Do you have a condom?” I ask knowing that he always does.
   “How about I do all the work for once?” I whisper as I climb on top and push my dress up.
    As I look Dan in the eyes, I feel like this is truly the first time we have ever made love. I mean we have had sex often and in different positions, but usually I just want him to be done. Today, as I move back and forth and kiss him, I feel different sensations than I usually do. I think that this must be what people write about when they describe making love.     
  When Dan finishes, he lies still beneath me and asks hesitantly, “Was it good for you?” which he has never asked me before.
   He has such hope in his eyes that I am happy that I can honestly say to him, “Yes Dan.”
Maybe this truly is a new beginning for us.
   When he drops me off at home later, I kiss him with all of my heart and say, “This was a great anniversary.”
  “It was. Night Harper.”
   As I lie in bed reliving the evening, I pick up my phone and text Dan.

I love you. Happy Anniversary again.

    I wake up Sunday morning and decide to go for a run before church and rehearsals. Before I start though, I text Ashley.

I miss you Ashley. Call me please.

   I don’t want to say that I know about Ethan so I hope that she calls me back. As I pick up the pace once I have warned up, I feel so free. It is early in the day, so the air is not too hot yet. I run about two miles then head home to change for church. Jake never goes with us but my parents and sisters are getting ready. I shower then have a quick bagel before we are on our way.
   “Did you have a nice date, Harper?” my mom asks on the way to church.
   “We did.”
   “We saw you guys holding hands at the carnival,” Sara says.
    “Why didn’t you say hi if you saw us?” I ask her.
    “I don’t know. You looked busy,” she says with a laugh.
   My dad changes the subject by asking, “So how is the set coming along?”
   “Great”, says Sara, “It’s almost done.”
   “It better be. We have full rehearsals on the stage in less than three weeks!” chimes in Ava.
   “It’ll be ready,” I say like an expert, from being involved in the theater last year.
   After church, I still have no response from Ashley so I text her again.

Let’s get together tonight after rehearsals? I am done at 6:00.

I also text Dan

I am at rehearsals. Have fun at work. Love u.

    I know that he works all day and evening since he had off yesterday for our anniversary. He is a manager of the pizza place now so he works a lot on the weekends.
   After rehearsals, I drop Ava and Sara off at home and head to Ashley’s since she still never responded to my text. I ring her doorbell five times before she finally answers.
   “Did you get my texts?” I ask her.
   “Yeah. Sorry, but I don’t feel well,” she mumbles.
    “Want to go for a walk or can I come in?”
   She steps to the side as she says, “Sure.”
   We go to her room and after much prodding she finally tells me about Ethan. She tells me that since she knows how happy Dan and I are and that I was mad that she wouldn’t try out for the play, she was afraid to tell me. I don’t know how she could possibly think that I wouldn’t care. I explain that we have been friends for a long time and even if I were mad, I would always want her to come to me. Even though Dan has never cheated on me, I tell her that things are not always as perfect as they seem. Without telling too many details and criticizing her brother, I tell her that every relationship needs to work through issues. She doesn’t think that her and Ethan will ever get back together since he seems to have a new girlfriend already.
  “When you are ready to date again, there will be some wonderful guy waiting for you,” I tell her.
   “You really think so Harper?” she asks hopefully.
   “Yes. Now let’s go get some ice cream.”
   While she washes her face, brushes her hair and changes clothes, I call my mom to ask if I can keep using her car. She says that she doesn’t need it for work and seems happy that I am spending time with Ashley. When Ashley is ready, we head out.
   We have so much fun laughing and catching back up, the evening flies by. I don’t tell her about looking at transferring to a new college, but I have plenty to talk about with the play and telling her about Ava and Sara.
   When we pull into her driveway, I see that Dan is home from work. I want this evening to be about us, so I tell her that my mom wanted me in early with the car so I say bye. We make plans for later in the week. I am not sure of Dan’s work schedule, but with work and the play, I don’t have that much free time to see her.
   “I had so much fun hanging out, Ashley,” I tell her as she gets out of the car.
   “Me too Harper. See you Wednesday evening for a movie.”
   As I drive home I reflect on what a great week this has been. Not that I am glad that Ethan hurt her, but it was nice to reconnect with her. Things with Dan are going well; I love being part of the play; life is great.
   I call Dan when I get home and tell him how much fun Ashley and I had. I tell him about my plans to see a movie with her on Wednesday. Luckily, he is working so he seems happy that I will be with her.
  “Maybe you can help her snap out of it,” he says.
  I am not sure that a person can snap out of a broken heart but I just say, “Yeah.”
  “Well I love you. I am going to bed soon.”
   “Night Harper. Love you too.”
   I toss and turn for thirty minutes then decide to go downstairs. I hear the TV and decide to go watch a little with whomever is still up. I see that it is Jake, so I say hi as I sit down on the couch.
    “What do you want?” Jake scowls.
   “Just couldn’t sleep,” I tell him.
   “Fine, but no talking,” he says, “I am watching a movie.”
   “Okay,” I reply and start watching too.
   After about five minutes he says, “I don’t understand you girls.”
    I have no idea what he is talking about so I just sit there. Suddenly, he is going on and on about a fight that he had with his girlfriend Kristy and how all she does is complain.
   “I never tell her she is pretty. I never do anything that she wants to do. I never talk to her. All I want to do is work on my car and watch TV,” on and on he goes.
   I listen and every once in awhile I say, “Uh huh.”
   Finally he asks me, “So what do I do?”
   After thinking how funny it is that he is asking me, of all people, for relationship advice I say, “Tell her she looks pretty. Do stuff that she wants to do. Talk to her and show her that you do care about her.”
Jake is silent for a few minutes then says, “Fine, but no more talking. I am watching a movie.”
  I don’t even say another word and just get up and go back to my room. This day has been crazy, I think as I pull back the covers and climb into my bed.
  


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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof January 31, 2015


   Today is Saturday and our anniversary, we both took off work to go out. I wonder what Ashley is doing and if she remembers that it is Dan’s and my anniversary. We have talked a little this summer, but between working and going to visit Ethan, she hasn’t tried to spend much time with me. I am wearing a blue and white stripped dress and sandals even though I normally dress pretty casual since I am not sure if we will go out to eat before or after the carnival. I made sure to wear all of the jewelry that Dan has bought me too. I hear my mom say goodbye and hang up the phone as I walk down the stairs.
  “Oh, Harper. You look so pretty tonight,” she states as she looks at me.
  “Thanks Mom. I’m not sure what we are doing. It’s our anniversary,“ I explain.
  “Wow. One year? I can still remember your father and my one-year anniversary. We were married soon after,” she remembers but then adds, “But people married younger back then.”
  Even though it wasn’t that long ago, I agree with her. I am not even remotely ready to get married and settle down.
    Just as I sit down to watch TV with Sara, I get a text that Dan is here. I tell Sara and my mom bye as I walk out to Dan’s truck. I have his card in my purse with a gift card for the movie theater to give to him for our anniversary, but as we sit in the car, I see a wrapped box in the back seat.
   I smile at Dan as he says,” You look great Harper.”
   “You do too Dan,” and I mean it. He actually has on khaki colored pants with what looks like a new black shirt.
   “So carnival first?”
   “Sure.”
   As we head to the mall parking lot for the carnival, I think back to that first date a year ago and remember how sweet he was. I think about how great things have been since I talked with him at the beach and told him things needed to change. I was so afraid to tell him when he hurt my feelings or if I didn’t want to do something because of his temper, but ever since that talk, we have not fought once. For the first few weeks I was worried that the changes were temporary and that he would soon get mad at everything again, but it seems to be sticking, although it hasn’t been that long yet. Maybe all I needed to do was be honest to help him change his behavior. I should have done this eleven months ago when the fighting started. This new calm Dan gives me strength to try to understand him, so I ask,” Why did you ask me out last year?”
   “I don’t know really. One time when you and Ashley were at our house after graduation, I heard you laughing. You walked in the kitchen and your hair was a mess and you were all sweaty from something you guys were doing, but you just looked so beautiful and so happy.”
   I had never really heard him talk like that before so I just stared at him.
   “Don’t look at me like that. Why did you go out with me?”
    I’m not sure what to say so I tell him the truth, “I didn’t know how to say no.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I mean, I always thought you were cute, but you are Ashley’s brother and Jake’s best friend. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to date, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings by saying no.”
   “Huh,” he mumbles, so I continue.
   “I didn’t think that you would like me anyway so I figured it would just be one date.”
   “But I did like you Harper. I always have.”
   “I didn’t know that. I mean I like to read and hang out with Ashley, or at least did. And you, I don’t know, always seemed to do wild things. I figured that I would be boring to you.”
    “You have never been boring,” he whispers as he stares out the window. I want to ask him more and understand what he thinks about, but I can sense a shift in him as he says, “We’re here.”
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof January 30, 2015


Now

July 2012
 
   Everything has been calm with Dan and I after our talk. He is being sweet and attentive so much lately that I am not sure if I know him. I am feeling so much more like my old self that I have such hope for the future. The play rehearsals are going great. I am really enjoying being part of the make up crew. We practice various styles of make up and although I don’t think there will be much need for it in Grease, I am pretty good at the old age face. It is sort of like painting a picture, only on a person’s face. I need to think of shadows and details just like when I paint a picture. I suppose that I would still prefer to express myself through words or art, but I am learning so much being part of the play. I still wish that Ashley had done this with me, but I have made some new friends, and I absolutely love spending this time with Ava and Sara. It is surprising how you can think that you know the people in your family, yet when you see them out of that context and see them interacting with others, they are different. Even though I always thought of Ava as shy, she just glows on that stage. It is almost like she was born to be an actress. She has thanked me over and over because she says that if I weren’t involved in the theatre program, she never would have had the courage to try out.
    As I get dressed to go out for our one-year anniversary, I can hardly believe that it has only been a year since our first date at the carnival, but at the same time, I cannot believe how fast a year has flown by.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof January 29, 2015


They all feign shock again when I tell them that Dan has never even smoked or drank in front of me either. I don’t tell them that I can smell the cigarettes on him all of the time and that I even suspected the odor of beer a few times when he came over late. As we discussed the type of men that we want to marry some day, I ponder whether Dan has any of the qualities that I desire in a man. He is really cute and he was so sweet on our first date, I tell myself. I think that he could be smart if he applied himself too.
    We finally fall asleep when the sun starts to come up. As my lids get heavy and start to close, I breathe aloud, “Best birthday ever!”
   The next day, everyone gets up around noon and heads home. I decide that I better tell Dan about sneaking out in case someone mentions it, so I text Dan and ask him if he wants to come over.
     I never get the chance to tell him about sneaking out because he gets mad right away when he sees that I am not wearing the ring that he got me for my birthday.
    “Where’s the ring that I bought you?” he says angrily.
   “In my bedroom.”
   “Don’t you like it?”
    “I love it.”
    “Then why don’t you have it on?”
   I try to explain that I am tired from the sleepover and just forgot to put it on. He takes that to mean that I forgot about him and that I don’t care about him. After reassuring him over and over that I do care about him and even going upstairs to put it on, I just do not have the energy to fight anymore. A weight is pushing down on me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me. I finally get him calmed down after repeatedly reassuring him that I love him. I decide to wait to tell him later about sneaking out and about running into Will.
    I wake up on Monday thinking about Dan and our fight, and then I remember that Ashley leaves for college in a couple of days. She can move into her dorm the weekend before classes start, but since her parent’s restaurant is the busiest on the weekend, they are paying a little more to move her in early. I wish that I could talk to her about our fight, but it would be weird since he is her brother. At the same time, I wonder what I am going to do without her help to get through my first real boyfriend?


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