Sunday, August 26, 2007

Better to Have Loved and Lost: Part 2

The following is another story from the book I am writing. This is a similar story from the section on my folly's in love. These events actually proceeded those in Better to Have Loved and Lost Part 1.

Sheqitta: Take a Bow


I met Sheqitta during my 2nd year of college at Prairie View A&M University, about 1994. We were both Electrical Engineering majors taking some of the same classes such as calculus and chemistry. We met during a study session for Calculus I and became instant friends. Sheqitta was very beautiful, sweet, and friendly as well as someone who I felt very comfortable being around. She had that sweet southern disposition that could melt ice and she had the looks of a Nubian queen. She was definitely a knock out in all respects and I wanted to try and get close to her even though there were so many other guys that liked her. As time went on in the first few months that I knew her she seemed to have a concern about me, as I also was concerned about her.

When I was around her I felt like I was on cloud nine, because she represented the sweet kindness that I had always wanted in my life. She had a smile that was like sunrise on the beaches in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her voice was soft and pleasant like a breeze followed by rain through the deserts of the Sahara. It became a situation where I felt like I really wanted to know if it was possible to get to know her better. I was falling in love with her and life seemed real exciting at that time. She made me feel strong when I was weak and I could not stop thinking about her.

Changes

Then something changed in the relationship. Maybe it was because of my high expectations and lack of understanding of my true standing with Sheqitta, but there came a time when what seemed like a close relationship became distant friendship. It took place during the semester when she pledged a co-ed fraternity/sorority called the Wisconsin Sleepers. It was one of a few organizations on Prairie View’s campus that pledged both men and women together. This organization was known for pledging both men and women harder than any of the Historically Black Fraternity’s and Sorority’s. There was a saying on Prairie View’s campus that, “If you pledge Wisconsin Sleeper you will be tough enough to pledge anything.” During the pledge process Sheqitta’s time for study sessions decreased and eventually she did not have time to study with me at all.

Our friendship went from us calling each other and talking everyday to me calling her and never hearing back from her. Then it went to an even different extreme when she suddenly changed her major, and then I didn’t see her at all. I could never get in contact with her and I really began to wonder what happened. So after a bit of time I stopped calling her, but I could not get her out of my mind. I tried really hard to forget her, but I could not because I had invested so much time and emotion into the situation. Real strong feelings had been developing for her and in my heart and I felt like she was the one.

A few weeks went by and I thought I was somewhat over her, but I quickly found that I was fooling myself. One day I went to the campus lunch hall with my room-mate, Marx Thompson. We got our food and sat down and enjoyed our meals as we discussed this and that. All of a sudden Sheqitta sat down at the table behind Marx with some of her new friends. Now mind you I had prided myself on self-control and having a calm head, but at that moment I felt like I was loosing those skills. When she sat down she did not see me because her back was towards me. I leaned over the table and whispered to Marx in a shaky voice, “Its her. She is sitting right behind you.”

Marx knew about my feelings for Sheqitta, but at the time he did not know what I was talking about. I repeated to him in an even more frantic voice, “It’s the girl, you know, its her, she’s right behind you!” Marx looked at me with a big question mark on his face and said, “What are you talking about! It’s who!” My body began to shake, I could feel my temperature rising, and I had suddenly lost my appetite. I whispered to Marx, “If she turns around I am going run away.” At this point Marx had no idea what was wrong with me.

All of a sudden, Sheqqitta turned around and began to get up out of her chair. It was like her movements were in slow motion, yet my reaction was in full speed as I ran away from the table as fast as I could. As I ran, napkins from other tables were caught in my jet-stream and silverware from the salad bar went flying in the air. I ran as if I was being chased by dozens of basset hounds during a fox hunt. People moved out of the way as I zoomed past them as if I was going long like a wide receiver in football for a touchdown pass. Five minutes later I returned to the table to strange stares from Marx and a few other people at the table. By that time Sheqitta had left, and the smoke had cleared.

Trying to Face Reality

The semester ended and I was working in Dallas, TX as an intern at MCI. At the time I was living with my aunt and uncle and initially things seemed to be going okay, but I still had Sheqitta on my mind. I must admit that I had the love bug bad for her, and nothing was stopping it. Looking back it is almost comedic the level of the crush I had on her. Every night I would listen to depressing love songs that reminded me of her. My favorite songs of depression were “Take a Bow” by Madonna and “Creepin” by Stevie Wonder. Take a Bow was my song as I wondered why Sheqitta did not return my love for her.



Creepin’ was my song connected to the hope that somehow she would return and we would be in love.



It wasn’t until years later that I found out the Creepin was not even a sad love song at all, but that is neither here nor there, so back to the story.

I was so depressed by the situation that I would play those two songs over and over again. At the time I only had them on cassette so I would have to get up and rewind them and then go back to laying on the floor sulking in the dark. As I lay there every night I would look at the ceiling fan asking, “Why…..why did she leave the way she did?” The ceiling fan of course never gave an answer and I would sigh as I never found comfort for my soul.

She had my heart and for the first time in a long time my belief in my higher degree of logic was worthless. I played the court jester, or the sideshow buffoon very well, and I felt like an over educated side-show freak. Everyone come look upon a this hideous spectacle of a young man who thought so highly of himself....come see how low he has been brought so low. Now what of his petty thoughts of logic and such? Children may throw whatever they please at him.

In the back of my mind I wanted to believe that Shegitta would come back, and that somehow one day I would receive a call from her. She would tell me how much she missed me and cared about me. She would promise to stay with me as she held me close and that everything would be okay. It was my deepest desire just to hear her voice once more and to know she cared about me. Yet, I was fooling myself with this mindset and maybe somewhere I understood the reality that this would never happen.

When I am sleep at night baby,
I feel those moments of ecstasy.
When you sleep at night baby,
I wonder do I creep into your dreams.
Or could it be I sleep alone in my fantasy.
Stevie Wonder - Creepin

 

When It Rains, It Pours and then It Monsoons During a Sand Storm?

At the same time I was trying to get over Sheqitta I was also facing some health issues so I felt like I was being hit by a brick wall on one side and a concrete wall with spikes on the other. The condition began as a slight pain in my foot that eventually became infected in my leg and spread to the point where I was in pain because it was essentially like a number of open wounds. Over the counter medications did nothing and my foot swollen to the point where I could not fit my foot into my work shoes.

When I drove to work I did so without my shoe and when I arrived at the Richardson MCI office in North Dallas I would have to perform a ritual of preparing myself for the pain of putting on a shoe that no longer fit my swollen foot. I would then limp into work when no one was looking and when people saw me walking I would straighten up and hide the pain. I was a wreck at this time and my car was also breaking down as I had to travel on Dallas’s I-75 in the middle of summer during the height of the 1995 construction to expand it from two lanes to four. That summer was extremely hot and the air conditioning in my car had broken down.

It seemed like my health issues followed closely the emotions I was going through. As my health became bad it seemed like emotionally I was falling apart over how I felt about Sheqitta. I remember how it got to the point where I fell to my lowest point and I felt like I didn’t have the strength to deal with either situation. Light gave way to dark storm clouds. The fragrant smell of the summer flowers became the stench of rotting compost. The birds that once sung beautiful songs to wake me in the morning as I lay in the garden, became vultures and crows taunting waiting for me in the darkest woods to breath my last.

There was one night in particular where I was in so much physical pain that I could not sleep and I lay on the floor crying out in agony. The pain was searing, unrelenting, and unforgiving. My heartache was torturing and abrasive and I could not take it anymore. As I lay on the floor in the fetal position racked with physical pain I cried out to God, “God I can’t take the pain. What did I do? What did I do to deserve this? I have tried to do the right things, and I can’t take this pain.”

As I said these words not expecting anything in the way of an answer I sensed something that I cannot fully explain. It was as if my mind had left my body and began to travel to a different place. For a moment it was as if the physical pain was gone, and I was in a different place. I saw visions of people in hospitals burned beyond recognition living in higher degrees of pain than what I was experiencing. I saw people racked with full body pain where mine was all in my leg and I saw people who could not even move or have a life outside of a hospital bed and their pain.

My thoughts about my own situation began to change as my mind returned to my body and I thought about what I had just experienced or if I had even experienced it. It was then that I said, “Maybe it is better that I take what I currently have. Maybe it is better that I deal with my pain than the pain that others have. Maybe it is better that I take what I have because I have the strength to deal with it where another person may not have that strength.” These thoughts did not stop my pain, but eventually the pain eased enough for me to go back to sleep.

I Just Can’t Take It Anymore

After a few months of physical and emotional pain there was a day when I felt really hurt and desperate. It was then that I said a prayer in the privacy of my room, “I can’t take this anymore God! I just can’t take it anymore. She is never coming back. Why can’t I get over this girl?” There was no answer and I shrugged my shoulders and went about my sad and depressing way. I could see nothing further than my own pain and this hurt me personally as I could not remember what the better moments of my life were like.

A week went by after I had fallen to this lowest point and I came home to a country called “Depression” in a state called “Heartache” in small town called “Woe is me.” That night I sat down and randomly turned on the TV flipping through the multitude of channels. I sat there thinking about how low I had fallen and how bad I felt. As I flipped through the channels I got to a program called Kids in the Hall. The Kids in the Hall was a Canadian sketch comedy group, consisting of comedians Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson that was formed in 1984. It was also the name of the group's television show that ran from 1989 to 1994 on CBC, CBS, and HBO.

There was a particular episode on where there was a man in love with his toothbrush. The man woke up in the morning and began talking to his toothbrush as if it was a person. He spoke to the toothbrush about how he was love with it and even called it “Mr. Toothbrush.” He told “Mr. Toothbrush” that he loved it so much that he wanted to spend a day at the park with it. So he left his home and spent a fun filled day at the park with the toothbrush. The scene went on with him running through the park in slow motion hugging the toothbrush and kissing it. At one point, he threw the toothbrush out of a tree into the grass and he then jumped out of the tree near the toothbrush and began to kiss it and hug it even more. As he was doing these things everyone in the park looked at him as if he were insane.

As I was watching this I thought, “How weird and foolish. Why I am watching this?” So I began to take the remote control in my hand in order to change channels. Yet, something inside told me to keep watching just for a few more moments and that is when it happened. At the end of the comedy sketch the man lay in the grass and leaves with the toothbrush, and he said these words.

“Well Mr. Toothbrush we have had a good day together and you know I love you, but I have to let you go. I know it hurts but even though you really love something you sometimes have to let it go. If you let it go and it comes back to you then it will last forever, but if you let it go and doesn’t come back it wasn’t meant to be.”

As I heard these words the room became still and it was as if there was no other sound on the planet. The lights were dim and in the night sky only the moonlight shone through the windows. The trees did not rustle and the neighborhood was unusually quiet. It was then, in that quiet, that I felt as if a door to my heart had been opened and I could think clearly. Then it was as if a calm breeze came through the room and filled my soul and I heard an internal voice say in a whisper, “Let her go.”

At that moment all the emotions regarding Sheqitta were taken and placed in a bottle with a two-ton weight tied to it and thrown into the deepest depths of the ocean. It was then that I knew that God had heard my prayers and was telling me that I had the power to let her go. All those months of pain and depression could be released not by my own strength, but by allowing myself to opened up by a still and calm voice.

I stood up and took the remote in my hand in order to turn off the TV. I quietly stated my answer and said, “Okay I will let her go.” I then walked into my bedroom in order to rest and finally enjoy some peaceful sleep. The next morning I awoke to a new state of mind and a much needed mental freedom. My feelings for Sheqitta were no longer a force of sadness and depression because they now had been erased from my inner self and left behind. At that moment I became a new man and though I still had the health problem, I could at least reclaim some of my sanity.

Facing the Storm

One day when I was still in pain I was feeling a bit down about how no matter what my current doctor was doing things seemed to get worse. It got to the point where the doctor I was going to told me that he didn’t know what he could do for me. I felt hurt and alone because at that point I had no one to turn to. With all that I had experienced I just wanted to have my leg amputated because I was tired of the pain and the failure. When I came home I passed by my uncle and he must have seen how depressed I was feeling. My Uncle Melvin Mitchell was always a sound voice of reason for me and I have the highest respect for him. He told me that there was a local clinic nearby and I should go there. He stated that sometimes the big name doctors don’t always know what the doctors at the small time clinics know.

I reluctantly took his advice and went to the clinic. The clinic was in the middle of a bustling Hispanic neighborhood in Oak Cliff, Dallas and when I walked in the door the sounds of Spanish enveloped me. I sat there not understanding 99% of what I was hearing from everyone in the waiting room. The place was so crowded that they decided to put me in the children’s section of the clinic. At this point I was really embarrassed since I was now in a place with children running all over the place and essentially was being compared to a child.

When my time came I went into the doctors office I showed him my symptoms and how I was in so much pain. I also explained how I went to a doctor that could no longer help me. The doctor was a brash and outspoken elderly man. He immediately checked me out and said, “This here is no problem son. Back in the war we used to call this trench foot. Many of those fancy doctors don’t know the first thing about something like this. I experienced this in the war.” I never asked him what war he was talking about, but I was glad that finally someone knew what to do. He prescribed to me several medications that healed the condition with about two weeks. This amazed me because I had been going to the other doctor for more than two months and I was getting shots and medications that were not working. I also paid the first doctor several thousand dollars that ate up the money I had made on the internship.

From Weakness to Strength

About a month later my internship at MCI ended and it was time for me to return to Prairie View A&M University to begin my 3rd year. As I packed my belongings dozens of memories washed over me and as a new man I began to take pride in the progress that I had made. Before I left Dallas to face a four hour drive back to college I stood in front of my uncle and my aunt’s house to take one last moment to myself. I thought about the entire summer and all that had taken place and how in each of my troubles having faith and praying were like a stronghold and refuge for me. It was then that I quietly thanked God for hearing me and healing my heart as well as my health. I then took my keys from pocket and got into my car in order to move on and face life anew.

I only saw Sheqitta once after all of these events. It was only a chance meeting two years afterwards and for only a moment, but there was no animosity or anger. I was a different person and the feelings for her had faded. It is with that that I wished her well and I never saw her again. For so long I held onto the desire that she would be with me, but I had to learn a lesson about placing trust in places it was not to return from. I was shaped by this experience and every time I hear the song Creepin’ I remember that summer with all of its seasons of growth.

2 comments:

rivkayael said...

I've also been thinking a lot about the past these days of the 7 haftarot of consolation--and I'm getting more and more convinced that disappointments were just Hashem's way of sparing us from worse difficulties barring to where Hashem wanted us to be ultimately, in Israel, etc etc etc (hamevin yavin). It always is a long process, but I think we always come out of it a bit more ragged, but heaving a sigh of relief that "thank you God, you are faithful." I may blog about it in the next few days.

Ehav Ever said...

Greetings RivkaYael,

I agree with you on some level. In this situation though I don't see it as a disappointment related to an action on Hashem's part. For me this was simply a matter of me not having a clear vision of where my future was. Sometimes this can happen when you haven't really thought through your destiny, or where you don't have the ability at that time to see the forest from the woods.

I think that it is ultimately Hashem's intention that no one experience failure. Yet, due to our own and the decisions of others failures and disappointment happen. It is like in the Shma where Hashem promised a number of things predicated on the actions of Am Yisrael. In the Haftaroth of consolation they all are based on the reality that the past actions of Am Yisrael caused the initial pain, and Hashem had to deal with them on that level. Yet, after a period of time Hashem would cause us to return to Him and He would return to us.

The reality was with Shaqitta that I was not in the right place to find what was right for me. So after years of finding my way in the Midbar, and being trained for my current situation now I am ready to have what Hashem intended me to have. That is how I look at it.