A Piece of Orange
It all began with a piece of orange. Every good love story begins in a simple way, whether it’s a piece of something being shared, a thought or opinion beng shared, or a story or good laugh that is being shared. I am not sure that I believe in love at first sight, but without that first sight or first sharing, love wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, not every good love story ends in a simple way, or with a happy ending, but if you know there was love, no matter how it ends, it was a love story.
Megan was sitting against the wall in the gym at college waiting to get assigned a racquetball court. It was lunchtime so she was eating an orange while waiting. A guy came along and sat next to her in line. After a while, he asked her if he could have a bit of her orange. He seemed awfully nice and he had a nice smile, so she was more than willing to give him a few pieces. Their first meeting didn’t amount to much more than that. They did talk about playing together one day because she needed a certain number of practice games to count toward her racquetball class.
They would pass now and then in the hallways at school and a couple of times they met at an old café on campus (which was famous for their cinnamon rolls). Megan thought he was good looking but she remembered that she also thought he had high water jeans and his clothes were a little too snug. He was tall and muscular, but the main thing Megan would always remember was in his smile. To this day she would swear his smile could charm the poison out of a rattlesnake.
Megan had gotten an Associates degree straight out of high school, but from there had gone into the Air Force for four years. She was now back in her home state living in a small house with her three year old daughter. Megan was recently divorced and was working full-time to support them. The G.I. Bill was paying for her school. She was attempting to finish up her Bachelors degree.
Kerry was actually working with on his second Bachelors degree. He had also attended college but had taken time off to work and earn money and get serious about school and career. He was about three years older than Megan. The more they talked, the more they found out how different their backgrounds were. He had never been married or had children and was an only child himself. Megan came from a family with seven siblings in a suburban area and Kerry came from the South side of a large city. He was raised mostly by his mother because his father had died while Kerry was pretty young. Both of Megan’s parents were still living and her mother was a stay-at-home mom
Within a couple of months, Megan and Kerry were pretty much a couple. Their first real date was to take Megan’s daughter, Mia, to see the movie, “ET”. They continued to be active by going on bike rides, hikes, and camping , as a threesome. They even took a vacation to California to attend a friend of Kerry’s wedding. They talked quite a lot but sometimes Megan thought she was doing all the talking and she wasn’t really getting below the surface with Kerry. He wasn’t much of a talker and he rarely talked about his past. Megan was a little concerned about their lack of communication, but she truly admired him and enjoyed being with him. It had only been a year since she split with Mia’s dad and while she wasn’t looking for anything permanent, she did enjoy having someone to keep her company. Kerry moved in with Megan and Mia. Things seemed to be going well, but at a dinner not long after that, Kerry announced to Megan that he had joined the Air National Guard This news upset Megan for several reasons, including feeling hurt at being left out in the decision-making. If only she could have seen that she would never be involved in his decision-making, but there was nothing she could do but accept it.
He asked her to marry him one night while they were in California. She agreed, but there should have been warning signs right away. She couldn’t get used to the way he kept to himself and didn’t seem to share with her the way she thought a couple should. Kerry went to basic training and they planned the wedding by mail while he was away. They married the weekend that he got back and had the weekend for an overnight honeymoon. They had a good wedding and invited a lot of friends and had a lot of fun. Then real life took over.
They both graduated college on the same day and had a little celebration. By that time, they had two-year-old son to deal with along with Mia. Because they started out their relationship with a child, they never really had the chance to get to know each other as individuals. That would have made things so much easier, and yet there were soe very romantc tmes squeezed in. They both went on with work and everyday life. Every day life was very different for the two of them. He went to work in a different town so there were times when their lives were very separate as were their work friends. He didn’t invite her to meet his friends or take part in any of their activities such as softball games. She worked full time but was much more family oriented than he was. Taking care of the house and the kids (there was a third child by the time their seventh anniversary came around) became her job and taking care of the cars and any house repairs became his job.
During the first few years together, they tried to have a nice dinner out every now and then, and they tried to take a trip together once a year. But little cracks in their relationship began to show up. They became more critical with how things were done by the other. Neither wanted to hurt the other and neither wanted to start the bickering or fighting, so many things were left alone and unsaid. They both got frustrated but didn’t know what to do about it. She turned to her work and family responsibilities and he turned to his work and outside friends. They probably both did it unconsciously but it was done just the same.
By the time Megan found a marriage counselor, she also found the cards and letters from Kerry’s girlfriend. It took a long time to get over the hurt and anger brought on by this enormous transgression of his, but a year later she was ready to move on and believed him when he swore he would never cheat on her again. They moved to a new house and both of them had new jobs. Unfortunately they still didn’t know how to communicate with each other and they grew further apart. When Kerry announced that he felt the only thing left for him to do was to leave, maybe she shouldn’t have been taken by surprise but she was. She spent many many nights crying herself to sleep but eventually she knew that she had to keep up her spirit for the sake of the kids and put work and the family ahead of her grief.
It was hard work being a single parent but after while, Megan realized that she had been doing most of it alone anyway. It was hard to make her paycheck stretch further, but Kerry had only been giving her a portion of his pay to support the family so it wasn’t as hard as she expected. She threw herself into work and was known as a very dedicated worker would get things done even when no one expected that it could be done. She became dedicated to the kids and their activities and let them join clubs, the school band, and many sports. She attended every activity and made sure they were all at each practice.
But in the back of her mind she never stopped loving Kerry and missing him and wondering what had gone wrong. She had used her influence to get him the job that he always wanted even after he left her. She had attempted to raise their kids the way she thought he wanted, she tried to pick his favorite meals and keep the house clean. She knew to stay out of his business, but it turns out that if she had only gotten into it things may have turned out much differently What more could she have done?
Hindsight it is such a wonderful thing to wish for. We could solve all of our problems if only we had hindsight. Megan thought she knew as much about Kerry as he would let anyone know. She didn’t realize how unapproachable she was or how inpatient and critical she had become. After more than 20 years together Megan learned of the affairs that Kerry had had. He remarried a year after the splt and seemed to grow even more angry and mean to her. It made Megan wonder if he had ever loved her. Was it guilt that made him act nasty to her or did he just want to forget that very difficult period of his life?
Megan never quit loving Kerry but she finally realized that their relationship had been more work than fun and more anger than love. She would never know if Kerry was happy now or not and it was hard for her to remember that it was not her place to find that out. All of the asking for details or looking back on things would never change what had been. The best she could do was accept the fact that it was never meant to be. She had simply loved the wrong man. This was the hardest lesson of all for her. But the one thing that she could take away for the rest of her life was that there had been love – she loved him with all of her heart and therefore their story was a love story and she could live with that.