“Both Sides”

Gabriela Helf

Last night, I met a man named James at my friend Colleen’s Memorial Day barbecue. As Colleen introduced us, she whispered in my ear, “Jane, I think he is the one for you.”

“Really?” I said sarcastically but with a smile.

Colleen had been trying to set me up with friends of hers for almost two years now, each time claiming that he “was the one for me.” However, after almost ten guys, fifteen failed dates and some pretty embarrassing moments, I had almost given up on ever finding a true love. But after James and I were introduced, we learned about each other and found that we were the perfect match. We loved sushi, hated cats, and agreed that a night of pizza and Saturday Night Live was the perfect date.

“How about it?” James asked me.

“What?”

“How about pizza and some Saturday Night Live next Saturday?” he asked me with a hopeful grin.

“Okay,” I answered happily.

So, the next Saturday, he came over to my house, we watched our favorite show and ate mushroom pizza. It was such a pleasant evening that we made plans to meet for a picnic at the park the next weekend. I was so happy. I finally believed that I had met “the one.” The next weekend, we picnicked at the park, and after our stomachs were too full of sushi, we lay on the grass looking at the clouds.

“They look like bows and flows of angel hair,” I said. “Or maybe ice cream castles in the air, or feather canyons everywhere,” I added.

“That’s true,” said James. “But they also block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone. There were so many things I could have done but those clouds got in my way. You have to look at clouds from both sides, Janie.” I had never thought about anything from both sides, especially not clouds and after James’s predicament, I felt like I didn’t know clouds at all.

Our romance continued all throughout the summer and went into the fall. Our dates included the fair, where we rode Ferris wheels, the lake where we danced under the moon and a few candlelit dinners in his apartment which I had moved in to.   Even though it was as if every fairy tale had come real, I knew all along that it was too good to be true. One evening as I was preparing dinner for the two of us, the phone rang. It was Colleen and she didn’t sound too happy. “What’s wrong Col?” I asked, worried.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this, Jane,” she said. “But I just saw James downtown, with another woman. They looked a little too comfortable with each other to be just friends.”

“What?” I asked, shocked.

“I’m sorry Jane,” she said and she hung up.

I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. James had never seemed like the type of person who would cheat on anyone, especially his girlfriend. He was so loving, caring and perfect and I really thought I had found “the one”. But as James once said, “You have to look at things from both sides.” And now I was looking at love from both sides, the romantic, fairy tale that James had swept me into; versus the fact that he didn’t really love me and it was just another unlucky romance. After all these years, I thought I would have learned something about love, but the truth is that I really don’t know love at all.   When James got home, I immediately confronted him about what I had heard from Colleen and he confessed.

“I’m sorry, Jane” he said sheepishly but I had had enough. I left James after that and moved in with Colleen. I pretended that I didn’t care about the breakup, but deep down I was still really hurt. My friends noticed my depression. They shook their heads and said I had changed. I was living life as I did before James, but I couldn’t forget the incident.

I was miserable, negative towards my other friends and the pit in my stomach kept growing until one day, Colleen asked me, “Is this how you want to live your life? Moping around and seeing things much worse than they actually are? You have to look at both sides of life Jane, or you’ll never be happy.”

Even though, I had been thinking about love and clouds from both sides, I never knew that I could look at life that way. But after Colleen said that, I began to remember the nice parts of life, the little things that had made life so good. Such as tears and fears and feeling proud or to say “I love you” right out loud. And I realized that just because I broke up with someone and I was upset about it, it didn’t mean that my life was over. I had experienced the good and the bad in love and life and I found that I really don’t know love or life at all.  But that’s okay, because I learned how to look from both sides now, from up and down and that will be useful when I face both sides of the love and life that is to come.

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