Home The Hard Way
Cole Herron-Smith

It has been a saying of mine if I was to write a story of my life it would sell great but no one would believe a word of it. Not to say I am more exceptional than the next person but just that bad choices had at one time limited my life and assigned me to repeat infractions that had already occurred.

My earliest memory as a child was falling asleep and my daddy lifting me and carrying me up the stairs to my bed and tucking me in. To me this was what love was and, in my relationships, I expected the outcome to be the same. I would love the woman with all I had to give and in return she would give back what she took. As simplistic as it sounds, the hell that you must face when your lover has another agenda is terrifying at best (or at worst). You could lose everything you have--even your sense of reason and knowing when to let go.

I, being very sheltered and having no clue of the ardor people faced everyday, was unaware that love may not be returned.

A pivotal moment for me was the summer of 2002. I had everything a girl could want with a lover (Gina), two homes. I was also hosting business/networking parties to further my lover's career. It was not always easy for us as it had been that year. Before, I had to work long hours to pay for her tuition and keep the rent up in the one bedroom hovel we called home. She started working but when it began to interfere with her schooling, I insisted she quit her job.

Gina finished her last year of school and, although we agreed it was my turn to further my education, I remained focused on her. Business was a tough market and if you did not know anyone with pull you would not go very far. I knew it was important to meet and greet with others and networking could make a big difference in your position.

At one of the parties we had hosted that summer, she was offered a supervisory position overseeing disaster recovery, extensive travel, and a healthy salary. After working for the company for only three months her name was recognized by the higher ups that attending the very parties we hosted from our home. I loved to think she was achieving her dreams; her happiness is all I could have wished for. She knew her happiness is what I lived for.

When she came to me as my lover, Gina was all but that. She had no job or family. She had been adopted as a newborn and, as an adult, disowned for being a lesbian. I felt compassion for her. I had never gone through losing my life because of who I was, so I tried to make each day better than the first--she had been hurt so much. I promised her that, anywhere she wanted to go, I would be there whether it was a success or failure. I never once thought she would be the chapter in my life so anguished that I would rethink my whole outlook on life and how I responded to others.

After Gina’s new job took her to Guam, our contact was a phone call every night and talking during the day. I continued to work so I would not be bored in spite of her suggestion that I take it easy for awhile. I started up a savings account and bought us a new home in Grand Prairie, Texas near Arlington. The price was good and the area was perfect for us and the children she promised we would have later.

She moved to Miami, Florida after the hurricanes hit and was given a full moving expense to relocate to the area for nine months or more. The phone calls became strange; she began begging me to come to be there with her. I told her that I could not just up and quit my job to move there. I had to take time off first. After we discussed me visiting her, I moved into the new home in Grand Prairie--just before New Years 2003.

One night I was watching television, and I must have dozed off when a knock came at the door. It was after four in the morning and I was almost reluctant to answer. I heard the voice of my lover, opened the door and dived into her arms. I called in to work that day and we spent the whole day laughing and just talking.

Before her final day home, she told me that she needed me and that "no" was not an option and it had to be me coming with her and staying with her now or never. It was not like her to issue an ultimatum when there was no real need for urgency or even to say that our relationship was on the line.

"Are you in some kind of trouble?" I stammered.

"No Mama," she began to explain. Mama was a term of endearment Gina used to express the way I loved her and how I impacted her life. "I met someone and I am starting to feel things I should not. I have to be with you before I get weak. We have not slept together, but she kissed me and I liked it. I had to see you in person to let you know what is going on. This has been going on for six months and it gets harder to be without you everyday."

As strange as it sounds, I understood and quit my job to go be with her in a land unfamiliar. I was not afraid.

The landscape was so beautiful. I am from a small town in Purdue, Oklahoma and have never seen this side of the world or knew it could be so splendidly vast. I was taken by everything that was all new and different. "I will never forget this moment." I told her.

How was I to know where these travels would take me? All I knew was I was with Gina and the whole world disappeared when she was near.

I got settled in and started making my home there. I would get bored and walk about the beach and collect shells and smooth pebbles. I had obligations to fulfill, so I could not stay out long. I washed and ironed before 9am, so I would have time to cook a meal before Gina got home for lunch. Dinner was always done before five. She would get home at seven sometimes, so I would just keep it warm until she got there.

I had a routine a way of doing things and she was given the best I had. I was so blind I never saw it coming: the day four months after my arrival when she sat me down and told me that my presence was not enough. It was too late; she had fallen for the other woman and feelings were not going away like she thought.

I was mortified and disgusted at how three years was gone in just these spoken words. "How dare you take something so ugly and sugar coat it with making it seem like there was no other way!" I blurted. I was seething inside. I could not believe she would allow me to cook her meals, draw her bath, and revel in letting me love her and not return the love and devotion I gave to her.

"Mama, I am truly sorry," she whimpered and hung her head.” I never thought there would be anyone but you; somehow she just got to me. I have already today paid the rent up for six months on the house in Texas and will give you monthly stipend until you find a job and for a car. I called the airlines and will buy you a ticket when we get there. If you need some cash now, I will go to the safe and get you whatever you need. Just please understand."

How dare this woman think I was for sale? NO price is worth all I invested in tears and triumph so that she could be in the position she was in. How dare she think for a price I would go away?

My world was crumbling. I was losing my definition of what love was, my thoughts of what love should be started to change. One should never look to others to find their niche in life; it should come from within. People's affections wane and but we live within our own flesh and can love ourselves better than anyone else ever could. I realized this much, much too late. I was too far away from home to run and so much in love with her all I wanted to do was stay.

Many other words followed, but the only sound I heard was the voice in my head telling me to run. I needed to escape. I took flight out of the house and to the streets. I sat down by the ocean and violently cried. It was as if she never cared or as if my love never meant a thing to her. Just tossing me off and with the right price, I was her pawn to do as she wished and disappear.

I slept there on the beach and surprisingly no one came to move me along or bothered me in anyway. When I went back to the place that I knew as my home, Gina was there waiting for me. In place of my clothes were the clothes of another. "Are those hers?" I asked. I held my head high. This must be my moment of grace and I shall not give in and show my pain.

Gina did a quick nod and came and put her arms about me and began to cry. "I am so sorry Mama" She moaned." I just could not help myself." I touched her face and started for the door. She was so nonchalant sending me to the airport and never said another word. That was it.

I sat in that damn house in Texas and everyday all the memories came in a rush--the places we made love, the things we used to do. The money came as Gina had promised and I used it to salvage my dignity. I moved back to my hometown and for two years I shunned love and people that were interested in it. I began sabotaging situations that could have led to anything more than friends. When I met people, it never took more than one date to predetermine that she would hurt me too. I would change my number or tell them not to call me again. I was rude to some and a mystery others--even to myself.

With my last stipend check, I bought a computer. I thought I would try chatting one evening and I met Pnutt. She was a single stud from somewhere in Texas near Arkansas. The first time we chatted things were light and she urged a conversation and I gave her my number. I had never done anything like that before ever, but there was something about this stud I liked. We talked on the phone for an hour. How could two people who never met have so much to say?

After the initial conversation, we carried on just talking on the phone for a year and she became my best friend even though I had never seen her in person. The chats we had somehow enraptured me and swept me to a place I had not been in a long time. She crept into my heart from the back door and has lived there ever since. We finally met and to date it has been two years, three months, five weeks and the seconds are still ticking away.

We went on to meet in person and fell in love. Now married, Pnutt to this day is still my friend. Isn't that almost like an oxymoron the saying "after all these years we are still friends"?

Had I not learned from my true love what love should not be, I might have fallen in spite of myself for another and missed the chance to be in Pnutt's arms. So strong and unmatched by anything Gina had ever given me--it is almost impossible to believe. We are cohesive and respectful of each other.

Gina once told me she would write bad checks to see me happy. I often think of how proud she would be to see me now when my new beau and I walk hand in hand to the store or the morning kisses we share before work. It’s a joy being with someone who appreciates the light in my eyes and never once takes things for granted. We have no issues beyond who should have the remote control--on this we never agree. Compared to the trials all others must face, we have it made.

Without Gina I could never be in this moment so alive and so sweet everyday. I am thankful she sent me home the hard way.

Copyright © 2004. Used with author's permission.

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