Finding the "Last"
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, t keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The Last by Wong Fu Productions
I've recently discovered a channel on YouTube that produces short stories about life, relationships, love, amongst other related topics. They're really well made. The clip in this entry is called "The Last." You can view it as background knowledge for this blog entry, if you wish.
As children, we all want to feel accepted by our peers. We want friends! Go to any neighborhood park and you'll see children of all backgrounds, especially in Hawaii, playing happily together, while parents watch and observe. Sometimes parents befriend other parents, finding acceptance themselves!
At some point, we develop feelings of being attracted to others. Often, we're too young to fully know what we're experiencing, but this is the sprouting of the seed called "love!" I believe everyone has this seed within them. Some seeds are rooted in soil that allows for better growth, some receive more water to be nurtured, while others might not receive as much attention or the seed could be in the shadows. In order to grow, seeds require light! This could be seen as being able to love freely.
Children telling their parents, "I love you!" or expressing love towards grandparents, to demonstrating love towards pets. All of these little steps are required if we're to love as fully and as openly as we can.
Growing up in Hawaii, in a Japanese-American family, expressing emotion openly was not something that was common. Sure, my parents would tell my sisters and I they loved us (mom more so than dad) and my grandparents would say they loved us. But anything beyond that was tempered, bottled up and kept closed.
So, the whole concept of loving someone other than family members was a very foreign concept...to me, at least. However, you start developing feelings of attraction, maybe this would be referred to as a "crush."
I remember going to the after school program at Easter Seals of Hawaii as a elementary school aged kid. Each week, a student from a high school would visit to help out with activities and to interact with children - I'll call her "Mary" just in case she's reading this and doesn't want her name on some silly blog. I have no idea why I took a liking to Mary, but I did. I looked forward to her visits and I don't really remember what we did, but I know I was happy! I can't recall the details, but my family and I attended her high school graduation....life went on.
While in the fifth grade, I had two good friends, Leo and Travis. They accepted me for who I was and we'd do fun things like trade baseball cards or Garbage Pail Kids cards. It felt great to have common interests and to just have friends! Other students knew who I was; it's hard not to notice a kid, who uses a motorized wheelchair and communicates through a letter board, coming into your class each day for most of the day. As my time in fifth grade went on, I noticed a girl, who happened to be the most popular girl in the school, who I'll refer to as "Katie," in case she's reading this and doesn't want to be identified, too. I liked Katie and would just feel happy if we just sat by each other in class!
Sixth grade came around and Katie was still in my class. By this time, Leo and Travis, along with my teacher, Mrs. O (I can't recall her full last name; growing old isn't fun!), knew that I was attracted to Katie. My friends encouraged me to ask Katie out in a note. What did that even mean?! Ask a girl out?! Such a foreign concept, perhaps even up to this day. But, I succumbed to peer pressure and wrote a note. I can't remember what I said, but I know my note was written in chicken-scratch! I might have signed it, "Love, Brian" which seemed standard for any note!
I held the note in my possession for a day or two, until my friends told me to just give it to her. So, during lunch, I had this piece of paper, folded into a square, and had someone give it to Katie. Surely, I couldn't be so bold, as to give the note directly! The note was in Katie's hands!
She read it and came over to tell me, "I'll write back to you." Was this a good or bad thing?! To this day, I have no idea since she never wrote back to me; neither did she bring up my note ever again the rest of the school year. I believe I gave it to her towards the end of the school year - it took me that long to gain the confidence to actually share my feelings.
I did not go to the feeder school that many of my peers went to. I attended school in Kailua. So, the "crush" on Katie was officially "crushed;" social media had not even been thought of at that time, so I couldn't "friend" her or "like" her status updates.
I had great friends in intermediate school. I met one of my best friends there, Dan. We're still really good friends to this day! In intermediate school, I became "popular," though I'm not exactly sure how. For May Day festivities, we had a global "court," which meant students represented different countries, based on ethnicity. So, I ran to be Mr. Japan! I was Mr. Japan for our May Day; largely due to the fact I was the only male to run for that role! But, it was neat to put on a sash that said "Mr. Japan." I can't recall who "Ms. Japan" was but I did need to "dress up," which meant wearing long pants to school that day.
My high school years were spent hanging out with my "home boys" - Brent, Dan, and Ed. We had other friends, but this was the nucleus of my circle. There were cliques, obviously, and we just minded our own business, seeking refuge behind the girls' locker room.
I believe Brent was liked by a group of girls, as he was part of Junior ROTC. So, sometimes we would get to sit by them, as we studied or hurried to complete a homework assignment.
Towards the end of my high school journey, I found myself liking a girl, I'll call her "Jane" (in case she reads this blog and doesn't want her name revealed) and, as part of the Gifted and Talented (GT) history class, we were issued one of the first computers with a modem to allow for e-mail and chatting!
So, Jane and I started chatting after finishing homework nightly. Our chats were FUN and we would converse through words for HOURS! I would go to bed after 2:00AM on many nights! And in classes, we'd smile at each other. And, yes, we'd chat again that same night. It was fun.
When prom season rolled around, I was absolutely clueless! I couldn't express feelings of attraction to anyone, let alone a girl! So, I did not attend any proms; looking back, I regret not experiencing a prom, as it is so unique to our high school days.
College days as an undergraduate were some of my most awkwardly social years. I attended classes and left immediately after my last class. I didn't really make friends, which I was fine with.
In a Family Resources (FAMR) class, I had a notetaker who took notes for me, and also acted as my "voice," as I was communicating with just pen and paper. I had no communication device, so she would verbalize what I wrote for class discussions. I'll refer to her as "Jenny." Over the course of the semester, we would get to know each other, mainly by default, as we saw each other regularly. We became friends and communicated outside of school, just like any college students do.
Jenny was an education major, while I was still discovering what I wanted to do in life. Over time, we became closer and we'd call each other at night, just to share how our day went. It was fun just to share the good, and some of the bad, of what life brought us.
Valentine's day, which either you LOVE or hate with a passion, was approaching and I thought, "maybe Jenny is the one!" In our school paper, the KaLeo, they advertised valentine's day notes; you could post a note for maybe $5. I am completely clueless when it comes to this sort of stuff, romantic gestures or expressing feelings! But, I thought, "if I don't try, I'll never know!" So, I bought an ad, a short one and wrote something witty (or at least I thought it was) and submitted it into the Ka Leo, paid my fee and waited. Waited for Valentine's Day to roll around!
By this stage in college, Jenny was to begin student teaching on the west side of Oahu, commuting each morning from the dorms at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. So, she would leave around 6:00AM to make it to school by 7:30AM. I bought flowers or some other mushy item that was valentine's day-like; yes, I sold out to commercialism! I also knew Jenny probably didn't pick up a KaLeo each morning.....so how was I to ensure that she would read this wonderful ad I created, which would change the course of our lives?!
I was dropped off my by mom early, as she worked in town, so getting to campus before 6:00AM didn't seem like a big deal. I called Jenny and told her I had a little gift for her in celebration the start of her student teaching; we arranged to meet before she drove out to the west side of Oahu.
I got to campus...luckily they distribute copies of KaLeo into the newspaper stand really early! I picked up a few copies. I had a post-it note and wrote, "Check out page 3, I think you'll find it interesting!" I quickly attached it to the KaLeo, on p age 3, CIRCLED the ad, too, for good measure. Jenny met be around 5:50AM and was shocked to see me with a flowers, a balloon, and a copy of KaLeo. She said, "thank you, you really didn't need to do this! I have this card for you, sorry it's nothing big!" I was happy just to get a card!
So, she left and I went to class, confident that I'd have the best call, ever, later that night. I got home and worked on homework. I ate dinner and thought Jenny would call. But, alas, she didn't. So, I called her dorm, "Is Jenny there?"
"Oh, Jenny is out for the night, but I'll tell her you called," her roommate said. Another factor to keep in mind is at this point in life I used the Relay Operating System, so I would type into a keyboard-like device, which was connected to the phone; an operator would verbalize what I said to the other party, and in turn, the operator would type back whatever was said by the other party. Though not ideal, this worked well.
I didn't really think anything of Jenny being out for the night, she could have been celebrating her first day as a student teacher!
The next night comes around, still no call. No e-mail, nothing! Again, at this point cell phones weren't part of our bodies, as they are now. So, I waited. After the third night, I called...I was terrible at waiting! I got to talk with Jenny! She thanked me for the gifts and said she appreciated the ad.....BUT! Oh boy, here comes bad news, I could sense it!
"But, I just started seeing someone. Sorry, Brian, if I wasn't, I'd totally go out with you!" Jenny said.
How does one recover from that? You don't, but you learn to do more background research before diving into something crazy, like expressing feelings for someone! However, we remained friends for years. My mom liked Jenny, and would always ask how she was. I saw her graduate and met her boyfriend, who was really nice. I ran into them later at some store and Jenny said she was engaged to the same guy. I was happy for her, really!
I wasn't flat out rejected, but the outcome still wasn't something I was happy with. I WAS happy for Jenny and I'm sure she's doing really well. I haven't remained in contact, though.....life goes on.
My last expression of strong feelings came after about a year and a half of being interested in someone. I'll refer to her as "Carla," as I'm pretty sure it would be weird to have her name on this blog entry that might be the longest post, ever! I met Carla in SPED 480, when I was a teaching assistant with my mentor and friend, Dr. Jim Skouge. I'd help her with activities and we were close in age, as she was pursuing a degree while teaching. So, after the semester ended, we'd hang out and do what any college-aged students do - go to movies, go find cheap drinks, attend concerts. Carla had a boyfriend, but there was drama that she didn't really want.
So, she broke it off. We were still friends, and we'd often do things with one of our good mutual friends, Steven. Steven was awesome and would make me take breaks from studying; I think we all need such a friend in life to maintain balance.
In any case, I arranged to go to dinner with Carla and brought a gift! It was probably the stupidest gift one could give someone you're interested in. It was a small cactus! And I had it in a paper bag...I had Carla reach in the bag to take it out; no idea why!
"Ouch! What is this?!" Carla said, as she put her hand in the bag.
I explained it was a cactus, which was really obvious by then! But, I explained that cacti required little maintenance, and because she was so busy, I thought she might enjoy this plant! It was NOT a smooth operation at all.
But over dinner, I learned that someone was flying in to see Carla....someone she was kind of interested in. Could this really be happening again?! I waited over a year to ask her to dinner, making sure she was not seeing anyone!
Long story short, things did not work out with that person. But, things did work out with someone else.
During another dinner at Duke's, in Waikiki, Carla asked what I thought of "Billy," who was a former boyfriend, but they broke up, but were trying to work things out. I explained I couldn't really answer that question and I'd explain why at another time.
So, one night after being out with friends, Carla drove me home in our family's accessible van. And I totally dragged the conversation, which was my explanation of why I had no opinion of Billy, out for the entire ride. It was only until we got to my street that I explained that I liked her, a LOT.
I knew she was not expecting this, as she said, "Oh Bri, we'll talk soon!" And off she went. A few days later, I get an instant message from Carla. "We need to talk."
"Okay, what's up?"
"Why did you tell me NOW?! You could have told me way earlier! I'm not happy with you." she replied.
By this point, my mind was just racing, thinking great I just messed up a perfectly good friendship! I was NOT happy with myself, too. But I knew I couldn't lose the friendship, for it was too great to let crumble. How do you repair a damaged relationship? You admit fault and apologize, which is what I did.
To this day, Carla remains one of my very good friends. Things did work out with Billy, but their lives grew apart. I know I'll be friends with Carla forever; I'm happy with that!
I can't really say I've loved any girl, but I've liked some. Perhaps with the hope that "I like you" would turn into "I love you" over time. Call me old school or old fashioned, I view love as a special word. You can't through that four-letter word around like it's just water. Love requires something deep, a connection and feeling for and with someone that you'd be willing to go beyond your comfort zone to fall in love, being open to rejection, being open to being loved back, being hurt, being held, and any other things that come with love.
The video at the top of this entry shares a very poignant message of the greatest gifts that we have while living include the ability to give, receive, and even lose love. We have only THIS life, and what we do with it is certainly up to us, but if we don't attempt to love or be loved, we could waste the most precious aspect of living!
So Mary, Katie, Jenny, and Carla - thank you for allowing me to experience "falling in love;" I realize it didn't work as I hoped, but each experience provided a lesson that I'll hopefully bring into a future relationship.
I am thinking I'll end up with someone who is in the field of education, a teacher, perhaps. I LOVE teaching and with that comes certain sacrifices that only fellow teachers can truly comprehend or "get." However, I won't be so myopic in my thinking and not be open to appreciating someone who is in a completely different career path! You never know where an opportunity TO love will arise.
Starting a family is something I also look forward to. Having a kid, or kids, and all responsibilities that come with such a grand commitment would be fun. When you're able to share this with someone you love, life would be that much more complete. And, yes, Zeus would definitely need to "approve" of whoever I fall in love with!
Because this entry was composed over the span of two days, I found another video on YouTube that really hammers home the idea that ALL beings want to be loved and want to give love. "Ol Boy" was a dog found abandoned, but rescued. He was in bad shape, but all he wanted was to be loved. He also wanted to love others back, despite having unthinkable things happen to him. [You can watch it below]
Ol Boy Has Dying Wish Come True - To be Loved
I don't know how many more years God has planned for me here on this earth, no one really knows, believers or not! But I do know that I must be brave enough TO love and to be more open to the idea of BEING loved. The next relationship, I'm fairly certain, will be my first AND my last. [Again, this will make sense after you watch the video at the start of this entry.]; at least that is my hope, but I trust that God has a plan for me that is far greater than I can envision, if I remain obedient and faithful to His word.
Love never fails.
Until next time....