Summer of 1994- Jake
Before you begin reading about our lives, I want you to know that you’re going to have your heart broken. You’re going to hate me for most of this, and you might realize you don’t like most of the people in this story. Maybe you can relate to me, maybe you think I’m a complete jerk. But what I can tell you is that this story is as true as the sun rising in the east. It’s the brutally honest truth about what really happens when two people try to fall in love but everything around them works to pull them apart. This is the story about a couple who fell in love, but love wasn’t enough. Not on my end of it at least. I’ll let Hayley tell you her side of it too.
Let me start back at the part that stands out to me the most. When I look back to the moment in my life where I can recall being the happiest version of myself, this is the year I recall. I don’t mean to insinuate that I’m not happy now, because I do love my life. But surely you’ve looked back at your life and remembered how being 22 felt and thought that was fun, and I was really happy then. That’s what I’m referring to.
It was the summer of 1994. It was a crazy year in America. Let me help refresh your memory. Bill Clinton was our president. Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by some one hired by Tonya Harding’s ex husband. Earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados raged across the country over a span of months destroying thousands of lives. Major league baseball cancelled their season for the first time due to player’s strikes. And who can forget the infamous OJ Simpson events. I’m sure you can recall seeing the white Ford Bronco fleeing the cops down a California highway. All of this happened in one year. But one national tragedy that stood out the most for me was Kurt Cobain’s death.
Hayley and I had flown to Chicago for the Lollapalooza music festival. Nirvana was supposed to headline the festival but had to pull out at the last second when Kurt Cobain was found dead of an apparent suicide. Being a huge Nirvana fan I was pretty upset, along with the rest of the world. I had bought the tickets only to see Nirvana play and was about to give them to a friend when Hayley convinced me that we should still go.
It was her first time on a plane and she had a death grip on my hand during takeoff and landing. I held onto her the entire flight. I mention this because she wasn’t the touchy feely type in public. She was strong and independent and it felt good to be her hero, even if only for a couple of hours.
My relationship with her would be the most memorable relationship of my life. I don’t know if I knew it then, but I did know what we had wasn’t something a guy in his early twenties would normally find. None of my guy friends were in relationships like this. Hell, I wasn’t even sure my parents had a relationship like this and to me they were the epitome of a what a good relationship looked like.
I want to emphasize that I did not care what anyone else thought of her. I don’t want you to think I’m saying this because she wasn’t beautiful because she absolutely was. But she was more than that. Hayley was wild and confident, and I was a boring rich kid. She was the complete contrast of me. Every girl in Florida had blonde hair but not Hayley. She stood out among them with thick, long, dark brown hair. It was dark brown not black. I remember the way the sun brought out the reddish streaks, and you could only see them when the sun was shining on her head.
She was an incredible woman, and I don’t just mean her looks. I had to have her. I wanted her by my side every where I went. I had to be in her life. Her energy radiated and spread like a virus to everyone around her. She was spontaneous, modest, unknowingly intimidating and she had a heart the size of Texas. She was the fire that burned through my veins. To be with her made me a better person. That was all I wanted. To be with her, for her to be with me, for us to be together.
I continued watching her sleep, sprawled under white sheets as she laid on her right side. Her skin was tan and soft. Her long brown hair laid strewn across the white pillows. If ever angels had landed on earth I swore she was one.
I stroked the hair by her ear and she slowly stirred. She wore only the white sheet. I reached over on the night stand and quietly called down to the kitchen for room service.
“One of everything please. And a pot of coffee. Thanks.” I hung up the phone quietly.
I reached for my Polaroid and snapped a picture the same way I had every morning since we had gotten there.
“Are you going to wake me up this way every morning for the rest of our lives?” She whispered without opening her eyes.
“That depends.” I slipped the picture in the drawer and returned the camera to the night stand. “Depends if you plan on staying with me forever.” I slid closer to her pulling the sheet up higher to cover my waist.
She smiled softly and stretched her arms out wide, followed by a long yawn.
“I guess only time can answer that question,” I said as she turned to look at the alarm clock.
“I can’t believe I slept this long. Why didn’t you wake me?”
“There was no reason to.” She started to exit the sheets. “Where are you going?” I asked.
“I need to see what they have for food in this place. I am so hungry, and I definitely need coffee before we talk anymore about the future. Where’s the room service menu?”
“Well you can just come right back to bed. I’ve got plenty of food coming. I already called down.” I lifted the sheet back up signaling for her to return to my side.
“You are a Godsend.” She said as she returned to the bed. She straddled my waist and wrapped the sheets around her shoulders. “What are we going to do today?” She asked.
“I was thinking, since we are in Chicago, maybe we should do some sightseeing.” I squeezed her thighs on either side of me.
“That’s a wonderful idea.” She rolled onto her back into the bed. “How did we end up here? You came out of nowhere.” She rolled her head side to side.
“Don’t go getting cold feet on me now. It’s just Chicago.”
She scoffed, “Just Chicago? I’ve never even left the island until now.” She was referring to the small beach island off of Florida where we met. It was her home and my family’s vacation town. I tried to hide my astonishment but I did a poor job.
“I tried telling you,” she continued to say, “my father is rich now, but he wasn’t when my parents were together. We didn’t have much, and we definitely didn’t travel anywhere. He left us with nothing.”
She spoke with such honesty. She wasn’t embarrassed about her past or who she was, one of my favorite qualities about her. She never used it against me that I was rich and she came from so little.
Hayley didn’t need me. She was strong and confident all on her own. I know I keep saying how confident she was, but that’s because it’s one of her most attractive qualities.
I was sure I needed her more than the air in my lungs. I didn’t know what I was missing until the day I met her. She woke me up when I didn’t realize I had been sleeping.
I had done everything my parents wanted for 22 years of my life, but everything was about to change. I had everything I would ever need in this life and I was determined to give that life to Hayley. Of all the girls I had ever met, she was the only one who truly deserved this.