“Life is not always a bed of roses”….. “Despite our best laid plans, things always happen to throw our lives into a tailspin”…… “It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all”. These and many more thoughts raced through Stephanie’s mind as she lay on her bed wondering her next course of action.
Five years ago, in New York City, Stephanie was dating a tall, handsome and laid back guy called Josh. Stephanie was 22 years old—vivacious, bubbly and eager to experience more of life. She was attractive by NYC standards; she had an amazing sense of fashion. She was also very kind and generous especially to people in need. She was one of those people who loved to be the life of a party.
It was therefore very odd how she got romantically involved with Josh. One day she was walking through the aisle of a grocery store when she saw this tall, handsome but passive man approaching in the opposite direction. Their eyes met briefly and they continued past each other till they got to the end of the aisle. As they tried to turn the corner, they stole glances at each other again and their eyes locked again. Obviously, there was some physical attraction between them. They started walking to different parts of the store. Unfortunately the fire had been lit. Josh fumbled around for a crate of eggs and a gallon of milk. After a while, he started tracing his way to Stephanie’s direction. At last he came very close to her and pretended to be examining the different cereal boxes sitting on the shelves. This, he did, as he sought an opening line.
Josh, 26 years old, was a very laid back and self-effacing character. Despite his imposing physical attributes—his height and his looks—he was the sort of old-fashioned gentleman one might read about in books. Josh was from a little town in Indiana and had just come on a visit to his sister in the Big City. This explains why he still had what one might sneeringly call his small-town values. Unlike the alpha males that run around in the big cities who seemingly have no problems talking to and wooing women, Josh was rather respectful of ladies to the point of shyness. If it were just about a show of brute strength, Josh would easily prevail but when it came to the issue of women, he was still one to open doors for a woman, help a lady carry heavy groceries to her car or just address a girl as “ma’am” until they were on a first name basis. Stephanie was the exact behavioral opposite.
Stephanie must have sensed Josh’s quandary. After what seemed like an eternity of suspense, Stephanie turned around and faced him.
“You are not from around here, right?” She asked curiously.
“No ma’am. How could you tell when I have not even said anything yet?” he asked.
“Well, I know this neighborhood very well. Besides, something about you is different. My name is Stephanie” She replied
“Thanks. The name’s Josh. I am just visiting my sister from Indiana” Josh volunteered.
“Oh my God. I am from Indiana as well! I have been here in NYC for a long time though. Someday I’ll be back . What a coincidence!” She exclaimed.
From there, they chatted animatedly till they paid for their groceries and left the store. They eventually hooked up and began to see each other. There was something about the earnestness with which these two souls pursued their relationship for the three weeks that Josh stayed in NYC. They seemed to complement each other perfectly. It was with a bit of sadness that Stephanie eventually had to say goodbye to Josh when he left for home. They promised to keep in touch with each other.
After 2 months of their long distance relationship, Stephanie began to show signs of frustration. She was no longer just content with the long and passionate phone calls they shared, or the countless hours they spent together on the internet messenger. She yearned for his touch; she wanted to go out on dinner dates or to the theatre or to concerts with her boyfriend by her side. She wanted to show him off to her friends; she wanted to have all the ‘fun’ people usually have in serious committed relationships.
When she expressed her angst to Josh, he suggested that she could move back to Indiana so that they can be together. Stephanie was devastated by what she considered to be Josh’s reckless answer because she had expected that Josh would try to abandon his life to come and be with her in New York. Besides, Stephanie never wanted to leave NYC for a number of reasons; chief amongst which was the active dating scene. She wanted to have a full social life and to keep her options open because of the vast number of potential love interests in a big city like New York. She was completing her studies in Business Administration as well, and what better city than New York was there for her to seek employment in?
So she went ahead and broke up with Josh and forgot all about him. Years passed—Five years to be exact.
In five years, Stephanie had grown a lot wiser. She got a great job after school and was financially buoyant. Her romantic life was however in shambles. To make matters worse, her company started downsizing because the economy had gotten very bad. She was offered a position with slightly less pay at the company’s Indiana office or given the option of tendering her quit notice. Many of her colleagues were not so fortunate as they were unceremoniously let go. After long deliberations, she decided to continue working for the company at their Indiana office. In no time at all, Stephanie left behind the beautiful city she had grown to love (and now to hate) and moved back to her hometown.
At this point it is necessary to recount all the woes that Stephanie suffered at the hands of the smooth city slickers she dated in New York. She was fatally attracted to the dashing, smooth-talking alpha males that were simply out for an adventure. She loved the posh cars, the free flowing drinks, the dancing and grooving in swanky clubs, the endless parties—all the unmistakable attributes of the New York night scene. She was a social butterfly. Nevertheless she was never truly lucky with men, love or relationships.
One by one, she dumped or was dumped by the men she met. One was dumped for deceiving her into his bed when he already had a wife, a girlfriend and a child; another dumped her for another gorgeous St Lucian who might have been a model of some sort; another still dumped her because he claimed she was just too bossy; she dumped yet another when she discovered that the guy was bisexual; she dumped another man whom she called a witless workaholic; and on and on and on. In the end, she became very disillusioned about men in general and began to seriously question whether she was ever meant to find true love.
It was with her sad history of failed relationships that she came back to Indiana to start another chapter of her life. She remembered Josh and the careless, mean manner with which she broke off their relationship five years ago. She wondered what Josh might be like now and whether he was seeing someone now. To say that Stephanie seriously regretted the way she treated Josh is to say it lightly. In five years, and having dated as many men as she did, she had come to regret bitterly her unwise choice. If she could turn back the hands of time, she would never have treated Josh the way she did. For many weeks since she came back to Indiana, she tossed and turned around on her bed each night restlessly wondering what she should do.
At long last, she did some private investigations and discovered that Josh was still in Indiana and very much single. She even managed to get his phone number. On many nights, she would pick up the phone to give him a surprise call: her courage would fail her and she would drop the receiver.
Stephanie was still attractive. If anything, she had more to offer a man now. She had her gorgeous looks, a great career, rare and uncommon street smarts, a radiant personality and above all, humility and modesty which come from having experienced the harsh and painful lashings of Life’s lessons. She was no longer the thrill-seeking 22 year old of yesteryears. But she was still very indecisive concerning her past flame. What should she do? Should she call him? If yes, what would she say when she calls him? Should she send him an email telling him that she is now closer to him? Should she just pop up at his house to see whether he’d be excited that she was back in town? Or maybe show up at his workplace thus being a welcome distraction in an otherwise busy and stressful work day? Should she just count her losses and move on? Should she just call him, monitor his vocal inflections on the phone and possibly save herself the embarrassment of an awkward physical meeting if he sounded like he was still bitter over the past? What on earth should she do?
“Life is not always a bed of roses” she mused once again.