MAKING THE right choice is not always easy; sometimes it takes more out of you than you have to give. It isolates and depresses your conscience, tearing away at your soul. In many cases, the obvious choice seems comforting and far more appealing, but it’s not always satisfying. But when you make the hardest choice you’ll ever have to make in your life because of love, time slowly heals your wounds.
I never made a decision of my own; decisions were always made for me. My parents picked the schools I attended, the clothes I wore, the car I drove and the friends I kept. They even told me what I liked and didn’t like. The way I spoke was even determined by them. Slangs were to never be part of my vocabulary, and when in company of their friends, my English was to never be simple but that of a scholar. I had to use words like ‘nonentity’ when referring to an unimportant thing, ‘vespertine’ when I wanted to speak about the ‘evening’, and ‘ėclaircissement’ was mentioned whenever I was explaining something (they thought) obscure.
Mrs. Edna that lived down the street was referred to as ‘non compos mentis’ instead of crazy, and ‘cacoethes loquendi’ was used to describe Mrs. Edwards, my next door neighbour’s bad habit for compulsive talking. My own way of speaking was not my own; my voice was not my own. Both having to grow up in poverty, my parents ensured I was afforded all the opportunities and guilty pleasures that they lucked out on. But I felt as though they lived their wishful teenage life through mine; as if it was my body, but their life. They were forcing a life on me that had windows of opportunities, yes, but not one once of completion and satisfaction for me.
But having to hear how lucky I was from my friends to live the life that many can only dream of, I never complained. I hid my sadness behind the smiles I gave, or rather the smiles I was always told to wear on my face. It would seem utterly ungrateful if I rebelled, but for every day that passed, I felt more stifled underneath their insisted control of me.
I couldn’t wait to grow up, because I thought that maturity would mean freedom. I pictured myself falling in love with ‘Prince Charming’ and running away with him to live happily ever after. But that was to only remain a dream. My parents had already had in mind who they wanted me to marry.
His name was Roger Mayers, and he was the son of one of my dad’s wealthy business colleagues. My dad said he possessed all the qualities that a good husband should have, and a good wife would want. I was not even awarded the choice of whom to love. My mother said I should be thankful for Roger, because there were many girls that wished to be in my shoes to have such a man.
But I would have traded those shoes in an instant, had the choice been mine. Being with Roger was just an image to uphold for my parents and the friends they mingled with. A kiss from Roger never gave me warmth; his touches were never comforting; his embraces never meant anything to me. I was never happy or in love with him. Love was decided for me.
I was incomplete. But leaving Roger would mean shaming my parents. Though I would have given anything to live one moment of my own life, breaking the picture of ‘true love’ that my parents painted about Roger and me to their friends would come as a devastating blow to them, and I just couldn’t hurt them that much.
But I needed to start living instead of only existing; I needed a release. That’s how I met Rick. He was the mechanic at the auto shop that serviced my car one afternoon. Though he was untidy and smelled of gas, he had an infectious smile that caught my attention. He was mannerly with a hint of manliness, humble with a taste of ferociousness. He was everything that my parents would not choose for me; a total opposite to Roger. Rick was ten times more passionate and open than Roger, and he gave me the adrenaline I so desperately craved. In ways that Roger bored me, Rick pleasured me. He made me laugh, something Roger never accomplished. In Rick, I found freedom and the life I wanted to live; I found love.
But I would have to keep that love a secret; my parents would never recover from the scandal of their prized daughter having an affair with a man “of such low stature.” So Rick became the forbidden fruit that I hungrily enjoyed. In bed with Roger, I imagined Rick. In every way possible, Rick proved to be more of a man than Roger did. Roger was the uptight bourgeois type, while Rick was more a free-spirited man who loved and appreciated the simple things in life.
I didn’t need money from Rick, nor was I ashamed to be with him. Rick provided me with the things money can’t buy… like love, affection and care. Everything I got from Roger seemed like it came with a price tag. Roger was always so conservative, never willing to make a mistake; everything he did had to be flawless, always being executed with pure precision and sophisticated detail. Even the way he spoke had to be flawless, no room for error.
Roger was always neatly dressed, with shirt buttoned to his neck and tucked smoothly into his pants. Whenever he wore a tie, a blazer jacket would always accompany the attire. I didn’t admire his looks at all. Yes, he was handsome, but the rugged look more appealed to me. I would see Rick in a jeans and grease-stained t-shirt with sweat running down his face and I wouldn’t be able to resist him. Roger was a manager as his workplace, so most of the work he did was by ordering someone over the phone, while on the other hand, Rick worked with his hands. I would visit him some afternoons just to watch him work, and it pleased me how he appeared so comfortable and confident doing his job.
Intimacy with Roger was always confined to the bedroom, but with Rick, it was anywhere we felt like it. I loved the adventure and risks we took in our romance; it added to the excitement we both sought from each other. It was reckless, but yet satisfying. Rick provided what Roger didn’t, but Roger and his accomplishments were what my parents wanted.
Of course, the choice of having an affair wasn’t easy, neither does it warrant praise. Roger obviously can provide more than Rick can in terms of financial wealth, but the desire that burned inside me was never about money. I did what I did out of love; love for Rick, and love for myself. Rick knew of my marriage to Roger, but also knew how utterly miserable I was, so he never made a fuss about it. He also knew that a divorce from Roger was out of the question, as my parents would never allow it, just as they would never accept him in my life, much less our family. So I was allowed to have both spoils: Roger to satisfy my parents, and Rick to satisfy me. Life couldn’t be sweeter.