Have I ever told you that I’m a big fan of Nicholas Sparks' books?
Okay, so I just finished reading one of his novels titled The Last Song. It took me a month to read the first half and took me just two days to read the second half. I find his books start out very slow and don’t pick up any steam until the second half. And, then, voila, things get quite interesting and emotional. And, inevitably, I find myself crying because someone always dies in his novels, you see. Even though I know that the dying person is going to die, I’d be like, please don’t let him or her die. I’d be praying for miracles, along with the other character(s) in the novel. I’d be praying that the author would prove me wrong in my expectation and, for once, let the dying person live. How crazy is that, huh? It’s just a novel after all. I have to laugh at myself sometimes.
By the way, there’s a movie made from it, but I didn’t get to see it. I don’t think it did too well in the theaters, though. But, I sure cried a river when I was reading the last quarter of the book. I’m such a sucker for novels and movies that make me cry or laugh like that. That’s probably why I always wanted to write sad or happy stories.
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, was a gorgeous day here in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Even though I had just gotten off work in the morning from working the night shift, I couldn’t allow myself to go to sleep and let another beautiful day slip by. Hubby was at work. I asked my niece (who had worked the shift with me) if she would go sightseeing with me. She said she had to go to sleep. She’s been sleep deprived. I asked friends who were not at work. They all had things to do. I would normally ask my daughter to do things with me when she happens to be off, but her husband was off also. They’re newlyweds and have conflicting work schedules so, when both of them are off at the same time, it’s a real treat for both of them…which was why I didn’t even bother asking her.
A little voice inside told me, You don’t have to depend on other people to accomplish what you want to do. Just do it. That was exactly what I did. I packed some snacks and some bottled water. I packed my laptop in case I decided to do some writing wherever I was going. At 9 a.m., I got into my car, made a bee-line to a nearby ATM, and then got on I-80 west, not knowing where I was going. All I knew was that I had to go somewhere, away from town, where I could enjoy nature and the glorious day.
First, I thought of going to Crystal Lake or Granite Reservoir to relax while I write my novel, or to Vedauwoo to do some hiking. That’s only a 35 minute drive from town. Then I remembered my bad experience with a stranger in Vedauwoo three years ago. I axed the thought immediately. I then redirected my car’s path south on I-25. I called my husband. “Hon, it’s a beautiful day and I felt like I’ve been cooped up all year long, I’m going out for a drive.” There was silence. Then he said, “Okay, keep in touch.” His voice was flat and controlled. Even though we’ve done a couple of weekend trips outside of Cheyenne during the winter months, it was not enough for my adventurous, spontaneous, and restless spirit. Also, the weather on those days was not anything like yesterday’s—warm and sunny.
There I was going almost 80 miles an hour on the interstate and at the same time brainstorming where to go. I thought of going to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. It’s too far, I told myself. Besides, I dreaded going through the Denver traffic. I’d be late for a 5 p.m. dinner with some friends back in Cheyenne. I was getting close to Fort Collins, Colorado. Think fast, I told myself. I decided to go to Loveland and park my car by the lake there, underneath some tall oak trees. The lake is neither desolate nor isolated. There’s no reason for me to be scared. It would be a nice place to write.
I passed the first exit to Fort Collins and immediately got hung up in bumper-to-bumper one-lane traffic that crawled along foot by foot. Oh, how I wished I’d taken that first exit. Too late. I had to suffer along with the rest of the crazies who decided to be on the road yesterday. I wonder if they had the same intention as me.
There was road construction everywhere. It was already 10 a.m. Instead of enjoying myself with nature somewhere, away from civilization, I was stuck in the middle of highway traffic with suburban noises, activities, and sights. I had to change my destination yet again. So, I got off at the next Fort Collins exit. I could have taken College Avenue and headed south to Loveland. Instead, I drove past College Avenue and drove all the way to the end of Prospect Road. I didn’t find anything exciting there…just housing subdivisions. I turned around until I hit a major road that runs north/south. I headed south. My bladder was very full; I had to go to the restroom with great urgency. Thank goodness, I came upon a gas station with a convenience store. My, oh, my, what a relief that was. I bought a small bag of chips. I didn’t really need it. It was just my way of thanking the establishment for saving me from my personal crisis. I asked the sales clerk if there are any scenic places to visit in the area.
“Absolutely,” she said with a smile. “Horsetooth Reservoir is just up on the mountain.” She pointed to the west. “Just turn right on that road there.” She pointed out the road to me. “There are places you can park and picnic. And lots of hiking and biking trails, too,” she added. I thanked her and followed her directions.
I drove a mile before the road zig-zags up to the top. When I reached the top, I looked down below. The view was magnificent. I drove further around the lake, stopping every so often to take some pictures and enjoy the view. The woman was right. The reservoir is beautiful. It’s also huge. It is much longer than it is wide. I couldn’t see where its length ends. The water was clear blue. So blue that it was hypnotizing.
The sun was already way up in the sky by the time I arrived there, but the temperature was still comfortable. There was a light breeze, just enough to move the air. For the most part, the sky was blue. Only a few clouds could be seen. I drove further still and came upon some vacation homes and a small marina.
It was the middle of the week, so most of the boats were tied up there. Only a handful of boats were racing across the water. A colorful sailboat was sailing on by, as well. I watched it until it disappeared from my sight. I had only driven a third of the way around the lake, but I wanted to have lunch with hubby.
I looked at the time on my dashboard. It showed 11:11 a.m. I called hubby and asked if he’d eaten lunch already. He hadn’t yet. I asked if he could wait until noon. He said he would and asked where I was. His voice was still flat and controlled. As usual, I miscalculated the time. I was 38 minutes late picking him up from work. But hubby was understanding.
I was inspired to write this post while I was making a comment on one of Lilly's blog posts.
I’m going to tell you of the Love that made me the happiest girl in the world. I was seventeen. He was twenty. I had been working at a “Sari-Sari” store for a month when he and his older friend came by. He paid for his purchases and we exchanged sheepish smiles. I thought he was very handsome. At the time, I didn’t know what he thought of me or what he was thinking when he smiled at me. I was sure he smiled at me out of politenes and not because he thought I was pretty. Besides, he probably had lots of gorgeous girlfriends already. But for me, it was “Ooh! La! La!”
Up to that point, I had never considered myself attractive at all. Otherwise, I would have had boyfriends left and right, you know? But I didn’t. Oh, wait; there was a man who pursued me when I was sixteen and he was 24. But that didn’t count because, every time he came to the house, mother was there supervising and we were separated by this huge dining room table. No holding hands and absolutely, no kissing! It was a good thing, because I was not attracted to him at all. Not even a little bit. I was just being polite to him because mother told me not to give him any reason to disrespect me or to harm me. The very next day of my high school graduation, I rode a bus with my oldest sister’s niece (on her husband’s side) to go to the city and live with my sister, who now lives here in Cheyenne. I was sixteen years old. I snuck out of town, without informing the man that I was leaving. I was so relieved to get away from him.
Okay, back to the young man. The next time he came by, he smiled again and my heart fluttered. I told myself that if he kept doing that I was going to fall in love with him for sure. Well, the smiles kept happening, but that was all that was happening between us. By then I was definitely falling in love with him. I sensed that he was a very shy person, as I was also.
One day, after paying for his purchases, he went outside ahead of his friend. His friend told me that “his friend” outside likes me a lot. Well, you probably know exactly what was happening to me by then. Yep, you’re right. My heart jumped for joy. I felt really flattered. My heart was singing from that point on and never stopped until our next meeting. Of course, I thought about him the entire time, as well.
The next time he came by, I was going to talk to him more when he came to pay for his purchases. As I was thinking that, a very attractive young woman of about nineteen came into the store. She got what she needed, paid for it, and then left. When my prince came to pay for his purchases, I was about to engage him in a conversation with me when he asked me if I knew the woman who just left…and if I knew her name? It was a good thing that I didn’t tell him the things I wanted say that day. I’m sure you can imagine exactly what I was feeling after that. Yep, you’re right again. Boy, was I crushed! My heart stopped singing that very instant; I cursed myself for being duped into thinking that he liked me, just because of what his friend had told me.
He still came to the store after that, and we still smiled at each other. However, those very smiles that made my heart sing were now making me hurt inside. I wished that he wouldn’t come anymore, for seeing him pained me too much.
I don’t recall what I said when he asked me if he could take me out to lunch on Saturday. All I remember was that we went out to lunch on Saturday. (I was eighteen years old, by this time, when he got around to asking me to go out on a date.) He played some music on the jukebox as we ate. I was very happy, but tried not to expect too much. I tried to temper my excitement because of what had taken place before. I wasn’t going to let myself get duped again. I enjoyed myself. I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way because, after that, I didn’t see him for a long time. So I thought, well, perhaps he found me dull and boring. I was probably not his type.
A month or so later, he came to the store, telling me that he just came back from Korea. He again asked me out for a date. I said “yes” and soon found myself hopelessly in love. We went steady and dated seriously for two months before he received orders to be reassigned back in the U.S. He tried to extend his stay in the Philippines, but his request was denied. We were both disappointed. We parted ways without making any promises to each other.
I was shocked when six months after he left, I received a letter from him, asking me to marry him. He even wrote my mother a letter, asking permission for my hand in marriage. Well, that boyfriend of mine has been my loving husband for thirty-two years now, and counting.
Love is a battlefield. It cuts like a knife. It burns like hell. It turns your life upside down. It makes the world go ‘round. But all in all, Love is a many splendored thing.
In order for Love to survive, Love needs love. Love needs affection and tenderness. It needs respect and patience. It needs commitment and devotion. It needs laughter. It needs sunshine and nurturing. It needs forgiveness. It needs to be expressed and shown—through words and through actions.
For those of you whose hearts are seeking, this I can impart with you: Love is worth the pain and struggles. Just nurture it so that, in the end, you reap the sweet fruits of your labor. Go ahead; take the risks until you find your soul mate. Cupid is just around the corner. Good luck and best wishes.