38 | Letting Go and Forgiveness
The one thing I’ve learned recently, courtesy the dramatic events of my life, is that letting go and forgiveness go side by side. And forgiveness is a two way process. Today, I’m planning on forgiving myself for the mistakes I made as well as take a step towards being forgiven by the people who I wronged. And I am also going to leave behind all the past memories, the hurt, the pain and offer forgiveness, not for the sake of others but for the sanity of mine.
I texted Veronica yesterday to meet me at Gracy’s Diner tonight at 6:00 pm. And I don’t know why I feel like I have threatened her by adding the necessary ‘alone’ in the text that succeeded my prior wish to see her and have a little chat. I had a feeling that she’d either bring Sean or her younger brother Kaden but what I wanted to talk to her about was not something I’d like to discuss in presence of anybody. It was too personal to be violated.
She didn’t text back, neither agreeing, nor denying but I had every plan to get ready and go and wait for her for as long as I can before my curfew.
Thinking that, I groan when I see it’s already nearing 5:30 pm and I have yet to get ready, change from these pajamas into something more like what Leah Carmen is expected to.
No, hold on. Why should I fulfill other’s expectations? The others who won’t give two flying fuck’s if I die by drowning in my tears. Taking a deep breath, I nod to myself. I won’t have to prove anything to anyone. I won’t let a repeat of the consequences of my prideful intentions hurt me anymore. Look where it got me the last time I did so. I was too proud to accept that I was hurting and I hurt the one guy who let me lean on him, no questions asked, why? So I could prove that I wasn’t hurting anymore which was complete bullshit.
So no, I won’t do things to prove anything to anyone anymore. I’ll live the way I feel happy in, the way I don’t hurt people who matter the most to me. The way I won’t hurt myself even more.
Which is why I found myself shredding off the pajama shorts for a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie over my pajama camisole. Tying my hair in a bun and donning my sneakers, I raced downstairs with my phone in hand. “Mom, I’m heading out for a while!” I call out.
“Leah? Where to, honey? The cafe?” She asks, peeking her head out of her office down the hallway.
A pain grabs my heart and twists it as I offer a tight lipped smile and shake my head. “Nah, just some fresh air. Get things off my chest.” I walk to her and hug her tight, mostly for a little strength that I’ll be needing for the next confrontation I’m about to have the second time this week. “I’ll most probably will be so don’t wait up for me for dinner, yeah?”
She gives me a skeptical look and smile slightly, kissing her cheeks. “Mom, I’m fine. And I have a feeling that probably I’ll be more than fine after today so don’t worry, okay?”
She still gives me an unsure look but nods hesitantly. “Okay. But call me if anything goes wrong, yeah?”
I nod and turn around, heading out. That’s the best thing about my parents, they guide me through life, tell me the difference between right and wrong but they let me live and learn from my life and mistakes. They never force things on me and that’s the best trait I could ever ask for in a parent.
I decide to walk to the diner, one because I had grown used to the solace of walking and two, because my bike was still at the cafe. After the silent goodbye between me and Axel last Sunday, I didn’t have the courage to go back to the diner to retrieve my bike or face him. But one thing that I was sure of was that it fucking hurt when he walked away and I won’t let this goodbye be a permanent thing between us.
Wrapping my arms around myself, music blasting in my ears through the headphones, I continued my trek to the diner that was the usual hang out place for me and Ron- Veronica when we were close. Since it was right in the middle of our houses, our mothers allowed us to go there alone when we didn’t have permission for sleepovers. But even though they said that we could go alone, Veronica and I had often caught them lurking around, keeping an eye on us for our own safety. We never revealed that we knew this, it was our own inside joke.
Smiling softly at the memories, I go back in time when it was alright, when it was more than alright. If I think about it now, I think things stopped being just alright ever since Sean entered the scene. Even when he wasn’t there with me physically for the first few months after that cruise holiday, he was still always on my mind and even when I was with my then best friend, I wasn’t completely with her.
I know it’s wrong to put all the blame on him. If I tried, I know I could have saved the most precious friendship I ever knew, once. But I didn’t. Instead, I took the opportunity to let my whole me consumed by him, Sean, who didn’t think twice before spitting me out when all of me, my heart and soul was sucked away and I was nothing to him anymore. I think that if I had had a chance with Veronica, if I had taken steps to preserve what we had, I don’t think she would have hurt me as bad as she did after we drifted apart.
But who knows, maybe she still would have.
Sighing and shaking away those what if thoughts, I realize that I’ve reached where I wanted to. I look into my phone and almost panic when I see that I’m four minutes late. I don’t know if she’s already inside, waiting or if she came and left when she didn’t see me. Then I remind myself that I’m only four minutes late.
A deep breath later, I was pushing the door to the diner inside and letting myself in, smiling at the still vivid memory of this place. It’s still the same, after all those years. I look around to spot a familiar mane of dark brown locks but I see none. She’s not here yet and I’m not even sure if she would.
I make my way to an empty table in the corner of the diner, away from prying ears who might listen to what we talk about, also the table that we usually occupied - Veronica and I.
Yes, Veronica. Not Ronnie anymore but Veronica. It is already late now, that I realized that she isn’t my Ronnie anymore - she isn’t the girl who I used to know, she isn’t the girl who once used to be my best friend, my sister from another mother, my almost soulmate. She’s just Veronica now, just another girl who goes to my school, the girl who I only know the name of and the girl who my ex-boyfriend cheated on me with, the girl who is his girlfriend now. She’s just a person I once knew.
“Leah? It’s been so long!” Derek, a guy from Derek’s batch who has been working here at Gracy’s for as long as I’ve been coming here, exclaims when he sees me. “Goodness, girlie, where have you been?”
I chuckle when he jumps on his spot he’s standing at beside my table. “Hey Derek. It’s been long, I’ve just been hanging out at other places more.”
He narrows his eyes at me. “And you forgot about your old man?”
I widen my eyes in mock horror and place my hands on my heart. “Never!”
He gives me an amused smile and I grin back too. “Well, your loss. You never got to know my hot and sexy boyfriend who just proposed to me this Valentine’s Day.” He says arrogantly.
Proudly gay Derek has been out of the closet since he was thirteen and his mother was ecstatic to have a gay son, being the LGBT rights activist and all. He was even loved and appreciated by everyone at school, mostly because of his humor, but mainly because of how he tortured our Principal who is strongly homophobic. It was the funniest thing ever.
“Oh my Lord, that’s so amazing, Congrats Derek!” I say, jumping from my seat and tackling him in a hug.
He laughs and wraps one arm around me, the other one carrying an empty cup he was probably taking back to the kitchen. “Thanks, kid. But you gotta be my bridesmaid. It’s a June wedding.”
I laugh and pull back. “You bet.”
“I’ll get you your usual coffee and sandwich?” He asks when I sit back down.
“No, thanks, Der. I’ll just take some tea.” I say, smiling lightly. I am too addicted to a certain someone’s coffee to even try another.
“That’s it?” He asks, raising a brow.
I nod. “Yeah, I’m waiting for someone anyway. So maybe I’ll order the.”
He gives me a sly, all knowing smile. “Your boyfriend?” He asks wiggling his brows.
I laugh and dismiss his suggestion with a wave. “No.”
“Right.” He rolls his eyes. “I forgot that you already have a girlfriend.” He jokes, indicating to Veronica. I know he was aware how often we visited Gracy’s and usually, he’s serve us.
I press my lips together to not let him see my frown and nod slightly. He just grins, not noticing my change of mood and disappears into the kitchen, letting me lose in my thoughts which are basically my best memories with Veronica, most of them in this very own diner.
Every time the door opened, my eyes would jump that way but the person I am waiting for hasn’t arrived yet. My tea is already consumed, cup taken away for cleaning but still no sign. I don’t know how long it is, but it doesn’t feel like it. Derek has once or twice asked me if I wanted anything else but that was it. I wasn’t disturbed and I was mostly occupied with my thoughts and the songs.
My eyes were drawn to the wooden table in front of me and I stared at nothing except that table like a weirdo and I wasn’t paying attention to anything around me. That is, until blue jean legs stopped right in front of my table.
“Can I sit here?” I voice speaks above me and my breath is caught in my throat.