I saw him standing on the far right of the London Underground Metro Train. He looked resistant, hesitant and nervous as he carried his heavy leather bags. The bags had tiny cute travelling stickers, which made me feel warm. They were souvenir stickers from France, South Africa, Egypt, India and a few others. I thought to myself, “Wow, Tom seems like quite the traveller.” Tom was never the “travelling type“ for all I knew about him. Shivers ran down my spine as I saw with my very own eyes about how he has changed so much over the years.
To give you some background, I attended middle school with Tom in Washington DC, back in 1984. Now, I’m about 22 years old. ( quite the adult, hm?). He had long, wavy brown hair like the popular actors in action movies. He wore shirts, mostly white and blue, that were tucked into his old pants. He told me that he always borrowed his older brother’s hand me downs, but didn’t seem like he cared about it, anyways. So, why would I care?
I didn’t care much for him, either. I mean, I had my own life, family, friends, clubs, school, etc. I was too interested in my academic life than my “social” life as most folks say. In my time, there was no use of going to school if you couldn’t score well, obviously. And, my parents were strict as well, too strict to be honest. They didn’t let me hang out with friends, go to the movies, eat candy for breakfast ( probably an over exaggeration, nah, even normal parents wouldn’t allow this), play video games and stuff. They were pretty odd than the rest of the world because all they did was stuff their noses in books all day long. But, hey, they’re still my dear parents.
My life turned around on one faithful day. My parents were getting divorced, and I was in so much shock. I mean, they weren’t the picture perfect couple, bu they did live happily... right? Or was I BLIND the entire time? Well, what ever the answer was to that question, they still got divorced. Nevertheless, what can a 12 year old do to change a soon to be divorced parents’ minds? NOTHING. I’m not a horrible, lazy and worthless child ( to answer your questions), I did try my all to find out the reason for their divorce. But, you know what? They gave me the holy grail answer that you CANNOT fight against. It’s like a coping mechanism against kids.
”Anna, you don’t need to worry or know about any of this. It’s none of your business,” said Dad.
“ But, what? IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!“ replied Mom sternly.
”Why?” I fought back like a dummy.
They both said, “ BECAUSE WE SAID SO.”
I knew there was no point of fighting back after they said these words. Gosh, they act like a group of lions against me. They sure do scare me sometimes.
Now, do you get me? Good. So, back to the ”life changing moment”. It wasn’t definitely the divorce which was the turning point in my life, if you thought it was. I am a pretty independent kid even without my parents at home, so, I wasn’t deeply affected by it.
I never understood the point of being sick. Why would you get sick if your immune cells are fighting back? Weird. I did get sick, for the first time ( Unbelievable, right?) and I had to stop going to school for about 2 weeks. Yeah, it was pretty hard on me. With my dad moving out all of a sudden ( I chose my mom’s side), the high school entrance exams coming up, friends and other pressures really hit me hard. Plus, I was sick too! I caught a pretty bad flu and fever, with a headache on the side ( what a jolly ride!). This is the part when Tom came to the rescue. All in the sake of helping me, he brought all the handouts and homework sheets home, tutored me when I couldn’t understand, and stayed beside me for an additional couple of hours because I felt bored.
I felt emotions when I sensed Tom was near me. I knew that kind of feelings cannot be achieved through my mom, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles or any of the people whom I know. He gave me the kind of courage to pull through and become a better person. When I realised and observed the kind of determination that he had towards helping me to feel better, it just made my day. It gave me the push I needed all along.
I knew that what my closest friends wouldn’t even do, Tom would. I needed him at all costs to part of my life. Whether it was a best friend, or a classmate who was just around, or even a wavy haired kid. I sure did grow close to him. But, it all changed when we had to pick different universities to attend. All this time, during high school and middle school, we were together, like a strong team. One never let down the other; they were there for each other, always. His mom was born in Tokyo, Japan and his dad in California, U.S.A. He moved here to Washington because of a job offer that his dad got.
Tom went to school in Tokyo for his higher education, and I went to school abroad in London. It was always my dream destination, and I couldn’t possibly sacrifice my goal, let alone a dream, simply for Tom. I didn’t want to regret not schooling in the British empire. Fast forward to six years later, which was in the London Underground Train station, I saw a brown wavy haired young lad. He wore a blue striped shirt with cuffs, and a brown pair of pants. He wore circle shaped spectacles and a digital wristwatch on his right arm. Thats when it hit me... IT WAS TOM!!! I hadn’t seen him in years! “Let me go say hi,” I thought to myself. As I was approaching him, he turned back and answered a phone call. He said, “ Hey, Honey! Thanks for checking on me! I’ll bring a bunch of sweets home for the kids!”
Oh. He- i-is married, huh. Wi-ith children. Wow.
Looked like he had another partner, now. I mean, he didn’t have time for me anymore. Not for a middle school friend, anyways.
As I walking back to the bench I was sitting on earlier, I could only think of one thing: “Time sure does move by fast. It feels like yesterday was when we were in middle school. I never even tried to contact Tom again. What a horrible person I am, indeed. Why did I run away from life, from time, from myself, and from Tom?”