When I was eight years old, my family took a trip to Myrtle Beach. I hated the beach. I hated the sand. I hated the water. I hated the ocean.
The ocean always looked so cold and lonesome and the waves looked like drooling monsters waiting to swallow me up and drag me into the deep dark bowels of oblivion. There were no mountains…not even hills…just endless water as far as I could see and I refused to go anywhere near it. When my brother and sister teased me and accused me of being a scaredy cat, I stuck my tongue out at them and call them bucketheads.
On the last day of our trip, mom, dad, my brother and my sister were jumping waves and yelling for me to join them. Being hard-headed, I steadfastly refused as usual and started pouting. Nobody could pout better than I could. I folded my arms and started kicking the sand as I walked. With every kick, I was covering myself in those detestable grains of nuisance, which made me pout even more.
Suddenly, my foot hit something. I sat down and started digging. It didn’t take long before I uncovered the culprit. I found a bottle. It had scrapes and scratches but I could see something inside. About that time, dad walked up and said “what have you got there?”
I wrapped my arms around it as if I was afraid he was going to take it from me and said “I found this.” Dad said “let’s have a look.” He said “this bottle looks like as if it’s been on quite a journey.” I asked him if I could keep it. He laughed and said “well, finders keepers but I think we’ll have to break it to see what’s inside.”
I don’t know why but I jerked it out of his hand and said “no. It’s mine.”
Mom walked over and said “what have you found?” I said “I found a bottle and it’s mine. Dad said I could keep it.” She looked at it and said “do you want to break it open and see what’s inside?” Again, my answer was a firm “no.”
When we got back home, I put my bottle on a shelf in my room, next to all of my dolls. But later that night, I began to worry. I had always wondered if my dolls came to life at night and if they did, I didn’t want them to knock my bottle off the shelf and break it so I moved it to my bedside table.
It stayed there throughout my childhood. When I was getting my things together for college, my bottle was packed with everything else. Mom said “are you sure you want to take that with you?” I said “it’s my bottle.” She smiled and said, “well, I guess you need to take something from your younger days, as a remembrance.”
During my four years in college, different friends came and went and at any given point, invariably one of them would ask about my bottle. They wanted to know why I had never been curious enough to break it open. “Don’t you want to know what the note says?” they asked. “Maybe it’s a letter to a long-lost love.”
“A last letter should never be opened,” I said. When they asked why, my answer was “because if you never open it, there will always be one more.”
I admit that sometimes I was tempted. But when I held my bottle in my hands, it seemed to hold a sadness and I was afraid that if I opened it, I would let that sadness out.
Four years later, my college days were over and I was anxious to start my new, independent life. Right away, I found a job in Telecommunications, which was ironic given the fact that when I got my first cell phone, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn the darned thing on. But the saying “you’ve come far, Pilgrim,” certainly applied to me. I could troubleshoot a problem that most of my supervisors couldn’t.
Every day after work, I would spend time at the local Starbucks. I always ordered the same thing, a Venti decaf Mocha. Starbucks was the perfect place to meet people because everybody who was anybody in that small town spent time there.
Guys would flirt with me and I would flirt back but I had no intentions of getting tied down. I had already set my sights on climbing the corporate ladder. The upper echelon traveled all over the world and I wanted a piece of that pie.
Then one day…he walked in.
To be continued________________