It was the second Tuesday in December and like many other days, the Christmas feeling during this time was way up in the air throughout the city. The hustle and bustle of lights, action and food was roaring from overbooked tables at white tablecloth restaurants to exhausted mixologists, and tired valet drivers. But this didn’t stop Isabella from making sure that her most anticipated year-end party of one hundred and nine adoring friends and acquaintances as guests would be the talk of the town, once again.
All her life Isabella just wanted to be in the crowd. She craved the social status, adored being in the limelight and always held a cocktail in her hand at busy weekends. She owned a mobile device from the age of four and had never put one down to rest since that day. Her mother, Judy, dreaded the day she gave her that gift and shook her head in dismay over the years as she watched Isabella grapple and adore technology that finally led her to chase her dreams. Isabella loved organizing events, planning weddings, and gathering people together at her fabulously run parties. Judy was amazed at what her daughter could do and how honestly beautiful she was, but always wondered why Isabella could never hold a steady relationship with all the men she had dated.
Isabella was a twenty-nine-year-old, had dark brown hair that fell to her back shoulders effortlessly and wondrous hazel grey eyes that always gave away that sexy yet adorning look. She wasn’t that tall but stood at five feet ten inches tall and always pulled off her height more with her favorite pair of Jimmy Choo’s. She had freckles on her cheeks and one tiny mole right by her nose. She hated that black mole but because her mother always reminded her that it represented fame, she proudly wore it in her life. She wore clothes that spoke her language and she loved to be fierce yet elegant, and it connected her to the rich and flamboyant lifestyle. Judy tried to remind her to tone down her loudness and try to settle for a more subtle but chic regime, but Isabella would always tell her mother, “don’t worry mama, this is my life, and I will live it with vigor for as long as I can.”
At the age of twenty-four, Isabella opened her own wedding company called, ‘Live Your Dreams’ right in downtown Manhattan. Right after graduating from Parsons School of Design in the summer of ’88 she decided to continue her studies at Fordham University before making her mark into the business world. Her father, James, helped finance the set-up of her company for the first year till she was able to run it on her own. She loved designing and knew that with her experience in fashion, and continuous passion to organize events, she would make a good wedding planner, and so her life had begun excitedly right before her eyes.
Steadily she built her customer base that started mostly from her high-profile college friends to her father and mother’s acquaintances. But gradually she began to slowly build a stable line of her own clientele and started to market her own designer wedding dresses that drew quite a liking from celebrities near and far. Isabella hired the best crew, the best people who had the experience and were willing to work long hours and at weekends. She demanded a lot from everyone, but everyone knew she paid well. The vibes she generated were always thrilling and she made everyone feel energized. But only one thing that she continuously failed to hold on to were the men that came into her life.
Jeremy was her first love when she turned seventeen. She adored him for his patience but disliked his displeasure for parties, so she eventually left him silently when she attended Parsons. It was in New York that she did more dating and men loved her charm, and her energy easily roped them into her world of continuous vim. Isabella met Tim, a thirty-two-year-old divorcee at a friend’s wedding dinner. They immediately hit it off like a couple who had known each other for years. Tim gave her direction and advice and while she loved him for that, she soon ran into boredom with his maturity and less life for fun. She wanted to run out onto the street and dance in the rain, she wanted to sleep at six in the morning on Saturdays, and just not do anything on Sundays, but she could not do this with Tim. But, with Bassam it was different.
Bassam was a handsome Qatari man, son of a wealthy Sheikh whom she met while on holiday in Paris. She loved his passion for pleasure, and she adored how he spent his wealth on her. The weekends spent over in Milan to Berlin and London allowed her to capture life and everything that she had dreamed of, but she soon felt loneliness slide between the cracks. Six months into their relationship, she found out that Bassam had gone on a private trip to Shanghai with a famous model. But that was her life. She loved it, however, over the years she slowly began to understand what her mother had always told her.
One busy Saturday night just before her party, as she walked alone along Little Italy in Cleveland Heights, she heard a voice from afar shout out her name. She stopped and looked through the crowded street of people only to wonder if that could be her long-time college friend, Carlos. He made his way up to her and hugged her right away, giving her one strong kiss on her right cheek and another kiss on her left cheek. They hit it off right from the start and were happy to see each other after all these years and cheerfully settled themselves down at a cute little Italian place, Mia Bella. They spent the entire night reminiscing about their college days and about their life. Carlos was a charming man, thirty-six years old, had a short haircut that shaped his unshaven face handsomely and always gave away his slender built and height of six foot two by wearing Ralph Laurent outfits. He never married and moved to San Diego to work in his father’s law firm right after graduating from Fordham. Isabella always loved him for his honesty and how he cared for her like a sister. She was the only child in her family, so she always appreciated Carlos being there for her when she needed a big brother. Silently, he didn’t quite feel the same way for her, but fell in love with her a long time ago. Seeing her tonight rekindled his passion.
Carlos spent the night telling her about his life and the travels he did over the last few years specifically to Bombay, to Dubai and to Tokyo where he set-up his global law firms. Isabella was intrigued about his life and all that he had done. She allowed him to entertain her that night, silently vowing to herself that she would never talk to him about her failed relationships. He mesmerized her with his stories of grandeur to some love connections with women from other countries, and how the divorce of his parents had stirred up his family quite a bit over the years. But when he finally asked her, “so may I ask if you have met anyone attractive in your lifetime?”, Isabella immediately stood up and excused herself to go to the restroom.
The evening continued well into the night and when the restaurant had to close at midnight, Carlos offered to drive Isabella back to her hotel. She truly enjoyed his company that night and his friendship meant the world to her. She watched him from her side eye view as he drove her back to the Ritz-Carlton, and realized he was a very handsome man, kind and loving and she could trust him. At that moment she just wanted to hold him close to her heart and could not understand how she could have missed out on dating him years back. As he drove up to the entrance of the hotel, she softly offered him to come up to her suite for a night cap, and not surprisingly, he accepted her kind offer.
They continued to spend the next morning together, in bed catching up on life and getting to know each other again. Carlos kept insisting on knowing about Isabella’s past till she eventually gave in. She told him most of it, well almost all, but she decided to keep one special fling to herself, for now. Somehow, she just wanted to tell him about Bassam, perhaps because she needed to let him know that she too had dated a wealthy man and still had her charm. But as she was talking about Bassam, her eyes began to water and suddenly, she jumped out of bed and walked right into the bathroom. She starred herself at the mirror and saw a different woman that day. Her hair untied and all over the place, her make-up had worn off and some of the eyeliner had scarred the corners of her eyes, there was no lipstick left and she noticed a downward line at the corner of her mouth. She wondered if she had aged or if the hotel lighting was just so good for her to see all her imperfections. It was at this very moment that she realized she was done with all the drama, the dressing up to perfection and the expected radiance. She felt normal this morning being with Carlos and it felt good. Carlos walked up to her and turned her around to face him closely. “You are absolutely beautiful so why are you crying Bella?” He always called her Bella and she really loved him for this, and he gently wiped away her tears.
“Some good news is all we need” she said to him, and she smiled.
“Well let’s go out for a walk. There’s a lovely café just around the corner where we can soak in some sunshine while having a good cup of coffee, so shall we?” he asked.
“Sure. But will you attend my Christmas party next week? It will be good fun and you’ll meet lots of people there.”
“I thought you’d never ask” he said and moved forward to give her a kiss.
“Wait before we go to that café, you must let me finish my story before we leave. You need to know it all”, and she pushed him a little away from her. “I didn’t tell you the truth. But he left me, it was Bassam who left me, I didn’t walk out. He just woke up one morning, got dressed, packed his bags, and stood right in front of me with no emotion. He told me he loved me the night before and just suddenly, he changed that morning. I begged him not to leave me and said we could make it work but he just stood there emotionless. He wanted to go, he looked ready to go so I had to let him go. It was no point fighting for his heart if he didn’t want mine. I mean I just lost all connection with him that morning. He picked up his bags and walked to the door and turned around to look at me. I was crying and just sat there stupidly on the floor begging him for one more chance and all he said to me was I’m never going out with you again.”