Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘boyfriend’

Whatever It Takes

Love Feld by Virginia Alanís.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61eBvpsjijLA high school sweetheart, who becomes as possessive as hell, a patriarchal Mexican father, and a prejudiced school counselor, can’t stop Laura Cano from following her dream to be a lawyer and gain independence. She also learns when, and how, to connect with family, and to appreciate all those who help her along the way. Love Field, by Virginia Alanís, gives readers’ insight into growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas, and if it isn’t told from her personal experience, reads like it is. Her parents, sisters, and grandmother, all sound familiar, comforting, and often controlling.

At age 17, Laura is looking forward to graduating from high school, and applying to college. Since she was young, she thought about being a lawyer to help others. Especially after she witnessed a tragic event from a next door neighbor’s abusive husband when she was a child. Lucky to get a job at a law office, with Vanessa Hamilton, and support from her Godmother, Toni, the narrator of this tale fights to find her way in spite of a father that believes women are only meant to be wives, and her newly married husband, Edward, who does not trust her and threatens to ruin everything.

If you (or someone you know) has ever been in a possessive, and/or abusive, relationship, what transpires between this young couple (Laura and Edward), may feel uncomfortably familiar. What first appears to be support, love, and care, slowly gets twisted and subverted, until Laura must make a choice and risk leaving the young man she once loved, without being harmed (or killed) in the process. She does everything she can legally, and gets help from her retired English teacher, Elisabeth, her mentor at work, Vanessa, and Godmother Toni.

This story encompasses a number of themes. What is family? How much does one owe family, and what parts do you leave behind? Are there any signs that someone will turn out to be abusive when you first meet, and if so, what are they? How does one safely escape from a violent, or threatening situation, without jeopardizing themselves or others? Is family history something that should be respected at all costs, or left behind when it becomes overbearing? If you like the recent memoir of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomeyer (My Beloved World), you’ll enjoy Love Field by Virginia Alanís.

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A Gradual Awakening

Kellcey by Kacey Kells51-mxCqbmHL
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Kellcey reads like the personal journal of a teenage girl, and is in fact, the true story of Kacey Kells. Ms. Kells writes this memoir in the first person and describes in detail her happy life as a teenager in Vancouver, Canada, her family, and friends. Later, she must confront family turmoil and an event that shatters her understanding of human nature, and a safe world.

If you want to get inside the head of your teen, and want an honest look at the feelings, thoughts, actions, and insecurities that may exist, read this book. It is frank, sincere, and has no filters about what should or shouldn’t be said. It was also written fairly recently, as the author is still in her early twenties, and close to the age range within which this story takes place.

There is not only a wonderful explanation for the ups and downs, and worries, of a teen, but also some insight into the differences between genders (expectations, biology, and emotions), and what it feels like when you have your first love, and someone says they want to be with you, and will love you forever. As times goes on, it also conveys some of the behavior to look for that may be warnings signs of the possibility of abuse.

Kacey begins to become aware of her boyfriend, Ben, and his friends, and changes in how they treat her at a party. “It is distressing to see how some people can change when they’re under the influence of drugs and alcohol! After the first euphoria, which corresponds to the release of all inhibitions, comes the metamorphose; however, instead of a lovely and innocent butterfly, this is a monster that pops up.”

At first, Kacey is ashamed to tell anyone about the abuse and rape she experienced at the party, and begins to withdraw, and feel completely alone. She trusts no one. Slowly, with lots of support, she tells her friend, her grandmother (Joanna), and her mother. After moving to London with her mother, she gets help, and inspiration, from a doctor, rape crisis center, counselor (Sybill), new friend (Jean), an Afghan war veteran (female), and her college drama class.

Kellcey provides a perspective on violence, and rape culture, which is often missing – the direct effects on a young woman, as experienced, and told, from her perspective. There are no sudden flashes of insight, or knowing all the right things to say, but a gradual awakening to how things are, what we do when something terrible happens, and how we can survive and make choices to love again. By writing her story, Ms. Kells has opened the door for further conversation and provided hope for survivors.

 

Meeting Her Parents

After going out for a year and a half and living together for four months, it was time to meet my wife’s parents. Her parents lived in Chicago and we lived in California. The day of reckoning had arrived.

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One day, as Audrey was talking on the phone with her mother (which she does every week for hours on end), her Mom told her that they were coming out to a convention in San Francisco and wondered if they could meet us for dinner. Audrey had replied, “Yes, we would love to.” and then informed me of it afterwords. I was reasonably shocked, but as ready as I’d ever be. She had told me a little about her parents and I’d talked to them on the phone, but had never met them in person.

I was nine years older than their daughter and already had three children from a previous marriage! Audrey had never been married, was only twenty-four and had grown up as an only child. And even though I had a Masters degree, at the time of our meeting I was working as a nursing assistant, which was as far away from their daughter’s previous boyfriend, who was going to medical school, as possible.

The meeting took place at what is now the Sheraton Hotel in downtown San Francisco. We met them in the lobby. I had on the one good suit I owned, that looked like something from the seventies and just as tacky. Audrey looked beautiful, as always. Her parents looked just like I had imagined, though her father wasn’t as tall as I’d expected. We exchanged formalities and went outside to get on the cable car and go down to Ghirardelli Square, where we went to a fancy Hungarian restaurant.

After being seated and making sure to follow everything they did, such as eating with the proper utensil and delicately sipping the wine, her father asked about the work I did and what I had done in the past. I tried to make health care, counseling and massage sound important and exciting, but I could tell it wasn’t going over real well. Then her mother asked about my kids. I gave her a glowing report and tried to convey how different that relationship had been, from the one her daughter and I had now embarked upon. Her anxiety and fears seemed to increase, despite my good intentions.

I must admit, if my only daughter was involved, at age twenty-four, with a man in his thirties who already had three children and worked as a nursing assistant, I would have had my doubts, concerns and clanging sirens of apprehension!

As we all stood on the trolley car, on the way back to the hotel, her father unexpectedly asked me where I lived. The one thing we hadn’t told them yet was that we were living together. Not sure what to say, I finally said, “I live real close.” Luckily, he didn’t ask where or how close. I’m not sure I could have pulled off another stretch of the truth.

As we were driving home that night Audrey said, “It will take time, but I think they like you. They’re just scared about my future, that’s all.”

“That’s all!” I exclaimed. “That’s quite a bit, your future.”

I admitted that in spite of all my preconceptions and notions about her parents, that I liked them as well.

Audrey and I have been married twenty-six years now and her mother and father (who has since passed away) are both close to our hearts and lives. They have loved all their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including the ones that didn’t come through their daughter and even accepted their American son-in-law, who never became a lawyer or physician and still only has one good suit.

Tomas and Annalise – Vier

From It’s About Time by Gabriel Constans.
A novel based on a true story.

Vier

Tomas glided out of the kitchen with a tray full of breakfast delights and placed it on my lap. He sat on the edge of the bed and brushed the hair out of my eyes.

“Wow!” I said, drooling. “What a feast!”

“‘Tis the least I could do for my fair maiden,” he replied, kneeling down to kiss my hand.

As I pulled him closer, almost knocking over the tray, he kissed me again. “Thank you,” I whispered in his ear.

He sat up slightly and asked, “Where were you while I was trudging through the kitchen castle, slaying the stove dragon for your breakfast?”

“Alas, I must confess, dear prince, I was thinking of when we first met. Remember?”

“Remember?” he started, “of course; how could I ever forget?” He looked at me with mock surprise. “You were like a genie coming to life, but instead of me rubbing your lamp, you rubbed mine.” His laughter warmed the room.

“It was my second day in Chicago,” I recalled. “I’d just met your parents the night before and was pretty exhausted from the flight. You came in the afternoon. We were in the living room when I heard you come in the front door and yell out for your mom and dad. Your parents hollered back, ‘We’re in here, son!’ We all stood up, except for Jens, who sarcastically introduced you as ‘My older, but dumber brother, Tomas.’ You looked at him, as if you’d heard it a hundred times. ‘Hi, nice to meet you,’ you said. You looked incredibly handsome in your dark suit and tie.” Tomas blushed.

“You had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen,” I recalled, staring into his sparkling pools. “They took me in like the deepest ocean. When you shook my hand, your grip felt strong and gentle. I trusted you without hesitation or regret. You’ve never broken that trust.”

He kissed me on the cheek as I continued the memory. “Jens said he had some business to take care of and asked if you’d show me around. I was delighted at the prospect, and you didn’t appear to be to put out either.”

“It was a pleasure, to say the least,” he smirked.

“You were intensely polite and had impeccable manners,” I continued. “You spoke to me with dignity and respect. I felt like you actually cared about what I was saying. you betrayed not a hint of condescension, belittlement or false modesty. And your German was excellent. I’d never heard an American speak so well.”

“It’s gotten a little rusty,” he admitted.

“After a few days of you ‘showing me around,’ I started wondering if I was living with the wrong man.” My mied feelings bubbled up in the retelling. “I was excited, bewildered and terrified. I remember telling myself to stop considering such crazy ideas. You were my boyfriend’s brother, for God’s sake, but the more I tried to stay away, the closer I got. It was like someone had put a chocolate sundae in front of me and said ‘Don’t touch!’ You were all I thought of, night and day. I’m not sure you knew what to make of me. You probably thought I was a slut or something.”

“No,” Tomas remembered. “I was confused all right, but not by you. What scared me was what I was feeling towards you. It was terrifyingly wonderful! I tried to forget about you by calling some old girlfriends in town.”

“You called a girlfriend?!” I kidded. “How could you?”

“They were useless.” He shook his head. “All attempts at releasing you from my heart were futile. I told myself Jens didn’t deserve you and I was right – but he was still my brother and you were his girl, so to speak. The clincher was the day before I left, when you pulled me into the bedroom, closed the door and kissed me with such passion and urgency I thought I’d ignite.”

“That wasn’t planned!” I laughed. “It happened before I could stop myself. You know me,” I said shyly. “Would you ever have expected me to be so bold?”

“Not then,” he exclaimed. “Now, yes!”

“Only with you.” I grabbed his robe and forced him closer. “You deserve this,” I exclaimed, as my arms wrapped him up and our lips collided.

After we’d caught our breath, I told him to look in the pocket of the suitcase.

“What for?” he asked.

“The letter.”

“What letter?”

“The one you sent me after we met,” I said. “I brought it with us.”

He found it, came back to bed and handed me the envelope.

“No, you read it.” I handed it back. “I want to hear it in your voice. Please?”

“It’s been a long time since I wrote this,” he said, as he looked it over. He lay down beside me and began.

“Dear Annalise. Your letter arrived last week and I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, trying to think of a way to respond. You seem to have a hidden talent for making a person feel special when he’s around you. There’s something I must confess before going any further: I played with you a little bit at first, in the hopes of making Jens jealous. It seems that he takes you for granted and that made me made. I hate to see anyone used as if they were a piece of furniture. Aside from that, I also believe he thinks no one else would ever have any interest in you. I never figured my plans would backfire and I would start falling in love with you. But I’m glad things turned out the way they did. This might change your feelings towards me, but I hope not.

When it comes to good-byes, they’ve always been rather hard for me, ‘besondous dieses mahl.’ I wanted to get closer, but then the tears really would have started to flow and for some strange reason – which I can’t quite figure out – I don’t like to see myself betraying such emotion. Seeing you go bothered me very much inside. It seems we’d only known each other such a short time and then we had to part. Time can be cruel when you’re given so little of it.

Sitting in this crummy little apartment that the Foreign Service provides can be rather dreary, but when I think of you, that makes it more bearable. I don’t remember when I began feeling the way I do. Perhaps it was when we shared that kiss. My feelings are something one can’t really pinpoint; they just seem to have developed beyond my control. Love Thomas.”

We sat in silence, holding hands and sighed. The memory of that meeting sunk deep into our bones.

Tomas finally turned, wondering, “Why did we let it slip away?”

“We didn’t let it slip away darling; it was taken,” I reminded him.

“I guess so,” he said softly.

“Jens didn’t trust me with anyone, “I recalled. “I don’t think, at that point, he consciously knew how much I was drawn to you, but unconsciously, he must have felt something. He’s such a jealous bastard!”

“Of course he felt it,” Tomas said. “How could he have missed it? Too bad we didn’t know what to do about it.”

“You mean,” I asked, “if I hadn’t been such a chicken and felt so guilty.”

“No,” Tomas quickly corrected. “I mean, if I hadn’t been such a coward, we could have been together like this years ago.”

Tomas looked down at the floor.

I lifted his head gently, my hand under his chin. “We don’t know what might have happened. We’re here now and I love you so much!”

His eyes watered, his chest heaved and he began to weep. I held him to my chest and felt his salt tears dampen my skin.

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