"You came to see me...," I trailed off, frowning. "For what?"
He colored slightly at this, taking a quick look at his shoes before looking back up at me. "I wanted to know if there's anything you needed."
For whatever reason, it's always been easier for me to deal with people when they've said something rude, or ugly. It doesn't get to me. But, give me one person genuinely concerned, who cares, and it can break my heart open in places that I never knew existed. This time was no different. There's just something about someone caring about you. When it's for no reason, no reason in the world that someone decides to invest their emotions in you, the simple fact of them seeing something worthy in you, well, sometimes it's just enough to fill the broken place inside you.
I instantly felt my eyes brimming with tears. I looked away, willing my stupid eyes to stop. Instead, I felt one spill over my cheek. Angrily, I wiped it away, and looked back up at him. Somehow managed to look into those eyes, that were greengreengreen and looking at me with a measure of concern.
"I... I don't really know," he said, biting his lips. "I just saw you yesterday, and I wondered how someone like you could be here. You just seem....like you could have anything you want, and you're here."
"I never expected to end up here." As soon as I said that, I felt the tears choking me, blinding me, and I ended up running away from him. Away from him, and toward my room.
As soon as I got inside, I remember crying so hard I couldn't breathe. My hurts crowded in. I thought of my roommate bringing all my clothes, my car, everything I owned and having that conversation with me, the one that went something like "Hey, Sal, glad you're okay. Your car and all your stuff is here. I hope things work out with you, okthxbye"
I cried and cried and cried. And just to change things up, I cried some more.
One thing that emotional exhaustion has in its favor, is that I got a great nights sleep. No dreams.
When I woke up, I was starving. I ended up eating breakfast, and then going back to sleep immediately after.
Sometime later that afternoon, one of the orderlies woke me up with a grin. "Hey, Sal, you got something at the front desk."
I blearily walked out of my room, thinking he meant medication, or maybe a handgun so this time I could finish the job.
Instead, there were a bouquet of pink roses, and they were mine.
The card, right? Because there's always a card. "Sal, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to be such an insensitive bastard. I meant what I said, about you needing anything. I'd like to talk to you. Here's my number. Cole"
He wanted to come visit me, so I said okay. Our first visit wasn't awkward at all. I guess when you meet a girl in a mental hospital, it kind of takes the guesswork out of where her greatest faults lie.
I asked him once why he decided to visit me, but he just shook his head. He told me that he'd tell me, but it could wait.
It got to where I depended on him. In the next week or so, I even looked forward to his visits. He wanted to know things about me, personal things, and the strangest part of it was that I didn't mind telling him.
I opened up to him, because he had no preconceived notions about me. He didn't know who I was supposed to be. He didn't know about all the people I'd let down. He didn't know how much I had failed.
To Cole, I was a clean slate. What he saw in me, I have no idea. I don't know what stood out about me, what made him take a chance on me, but I just remember looking into the ocean of his eyes, and losing myself.
Losing myself in his friendship, his kindness, his quiet acceptance was like coming home. And home is where you can lay your heart, and know that it's okay. So I did.
I'd been in here for almost two weeks, and I'd forgotten that my birthday was today. Let me tell you, there are definitely better ways to spend birthdays.
Cole didn't show up at the usual time for our visit. Usually, he was waiting on me. Tonight, he wasn't there.
And he wasn't there.
An hour later, he still wasn't there.
I finally got up to walk away, thinking that just as I got up to walk away, he'd be there. I even kept looking over my shoulder as I walked away. Still no Cole.
I walked slowly back to my room, feeling my eyes start to fill up with hot tears. Why was I being so ridiculous? He never promised that he'd come every single day. It was selfish of me to assume that I was the only person in his life.
I rationalized all this, but it didn't stop the tears.
I lay in my bed, and I must've fallen asleep, because the next thing I remember is one of the orderlies shaking me. Telling me I had a visitor.
I got up slowly, feeling hopeful, but not wanting to be too hopeful. I walked slowly to the visiting area. I saw Cole, and he absolutely took my breath away. He was standing there, wearing a suit, the lights soft in his hair, his eyes looking greener than ever. When I saw him smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling up, I was in his arms before I even knew it. I crushed him to me, feeling my eyes fill up again, this time with happiness. He'd come for me. He hadn't forgotten.
He hugged me back tightly, whispered to me, "Happy birthday, beautiful. I'm sorry I was late. Hey, Sal, don't cry." He pulled back from me, wiping the tears out from under my eyes gently. As soon as he'd finished this, he handed me a small gift box. I looked up at him, laughed, and tore into it. It was a diamond and pearl pendant. It was absolutely beautiful. Almost as beautiful as those green eyes when they looked into mine.
While we sat there, he said "I didn't know what you wanted for your birthday, so I guessed. I wanted to get you whatever you wanted, no matter what it was, because you deserve it, Sal. You deserve to have whatever you want."
I looked at him, and said "Whatever I want?" He nodded. So, I took a deep breath, held it, and when I was able to breathe again, I said to him, "Will you kiss me?"
He was there to pick me up when it was time for me to leave those walls. I remember feeling a little scared, and a lot uncertain, but I was ready to move on.
One of the girls I'd worked with heard about what happened with my friends, and she asked me if I'd like to room with her. I said yes, and part of me knew that things were going to be okay.
Cole drove me to my new place, and Tia (new roommate) was on her way out with her boyfriend. She gave me the keys to the house, a list of phone numbers, and hugged me goodbye.
After we unloaded my stuff, I just sat on the couch. I'd forgotten how fast life moved.
Cole sat next to me, holding my hand in both of his. I remember asking him to stay, and that was pretty much it for us. After that, he was mine, and I was his, and that was just the way it was.
You get me
When nobody understands
You come and take the chance, baby
You get me
You look inside my wild mind
Never knowing what you'll find
And still you want me all the time
Yeah, you do
Yeah, you get me
I'd come home from work, and he'd be in the kitchen, making dinner, arguing with Tia about something, and as soon as I walked in the door, he'd drop what he was doing, pick me up, and kiss me. When I say that he kissed me, he kissed me like we'd been apart for days, instead of eight hours. I can still remember being flushed and breathless and loved.
One night, I talked Tia and Cole into watching a movie that I loved. It was called Stella, and it had Bette Midler in it. Just something about that movie that always got me right in the heart. There was this one part, where the guy Bette's dating asks her what she wants, and offhandedly, she tells him "A roomful of balloons." When that part came on, I remember telling Tia, "This makes me want a roomful of balloons. How could you ever be sad in a roomful of balloons? It'd be impossible." Cole and Tia looked at each other, and started laughing. Tia reached over to hug me, and she said, "Sal, that's why you're you."
Tia and her boyfriend decided to try skiing one weekend, so Cole and I had our house for one whole weekend, uninterrupted.
We ended up laying on the couch, arms and legs all tangled together, watching Scrooged. Cole told me that his grampa loved that movie. When he said that, I hugged him tight. I know just how much his grampa meant to him. Had, in fact, raised him.
I think that's what made Cole so different from everyone, the fact that he had been raised by his grandparents. They had instilled those important qualities in him that seem to be forgotten, or misplaced by most people.
His grandparents were two of the most amazing people in all the world. They had made Cole into the man he was. They were responsible for the man I loved.
Cole whispered into my hair, "You know what? I used to dread Christmas, mostly because they're gone now. But we have each other now. As much as I miss them, I know they would've loved you."
I could go on about him all day in that same train of thought, but he really was amazing. I've never come across another person even remotely like him. If he could help someone, he'd do it. If he could fix something, he'd fix it. He was so genuinely good, it amazed me. He was good, simply because he saw no other way to be. He was smart, and beautiful, and he cared. He cared about people, and helped anyone he could, strangers or not.
He was the way most people are at their absolute best, except he was that way all the time. Being around him just made me want to be the best person I could possibly be. He inspired me, he made life into something to be treasured, appreciated. When you have someone like that in your life, even spending an hour away from them seems like too long. He was my finest hour. He brought out things in me that I never knew were there.
I remember waking up Sunday morning, and Cole wasn't next to me. I could smell coffee, and pancakes, so I grinned into my pillow, got my ass out of bed, and walked into the kitchen.
As soon as I got to the doorway, I saw that the living room was filled with balloons. When I saw them, all bunched together, I couldn't help myself. I ran through the balloons, laughing, chasing some out of the ceiling fan, throwing them out of the way.
When I finally got tired of playing in the balloons, I saw Cole leaning against the doorway, smiling, "I guess it's true. You really can't be sad in a roomful of balloons," he laughed.
He continued on, saying, "One thing grampa told me when I was younger, that always stuck with me, was this: he said 'Cole, when you meet the woman you'll love for the rest of your life, you just know. It was that way with me and your gramma, although I had no idea how onery she was then. It wouldn't have stopped me, though. When you know, you just know."
"Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning. It doesn't mean anything unless it's with you, Sal."
And that's how he asked me. In that roomful of balloons, coffee in one hand, ring in the other. We'd only been together three months, but his grampa was right. When you know, you just know.
Can the ocean keep from rushin' to the shore? It's just impossible
If I had you, could I ever want for more? It's just impossible
And tomorrow, shouldya ask me for the world, somehow I'd get it
I would sell my very soul and not regret it
For to live without your love--It's just impossible