Choices we do

Choices Affiliation CHOICES The debilitating sun unbendingly shed light onto the basketball patio where varsity players are practicing. Nearby, daffodils are dancing and yielding fresh scent to give joy to a disconsolate heart. Students rush by to the near buildings of the school, walking hastily to make it to their classes while I sit complacently at one of the benches, waiting for the sun to come down. It was right at this place that I met him. A memory so fresh of the innocent smile gladdens me, and I could see that, whenever I visit this place and see the young men playing. The bench where we used to sit had been broken, reminding me of the years that passed and the time difference between now and when I first felt love.
I was in senior high school when Fitsum and I first met. he was playing basketball while I was studying at the bench. During their practice session, the ball went over the fence and hit my shoulder. Though I wasn’t hurt, I got irritated. When I turned my face towards the player who would retrieve the ball, I made sure he knew I wasn’t OK. However, when our eyes met, the anger flushed out promptly. There was this “sorry” expression in his eyes for having hurt me and I looked away to in dismissal of him as he apologized. After the game, Firsum approached me at the bench and apologized yet again.
He asked unending questions when I tried avoiding him. He was very amiable and claimed to know some of my friends. He even said he has been to our place and knew a lot of my neighbors which, of course, I didn’t believe. One couldn’t be that friendly and popular in the same breath, I thought. We ended up eating at a pizza parlor next to the school. He was very handsome and many girls looked at him and tried to call for his attention but he never paid interest in them.
It’s been seven months since we first met. Days flew by without my knowledge because we were apparently so in love. Fitsum seemed to be the ideal man, the best I could ever have. During graduation day Fitsum was neatly dressed, as he waved at me enthusiastically, holding his diploma certificate award. He introduced me to his parents on the day of graduation. They shared the charismatic smile that Fitsum had on the first day we met. They were a lovely couple. Mom had known Fitsum all along as he usually hanged out at our house every weekend. However, like other love stories, we needed to put an end to a chapter in order to continue with life. Graduation day marked the day of our parting but we promised to communicate as often as we could.
Fitsum took up Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The distance between us was never an issue because we always found time to communicate. My friends knew him well as he always escorted me in school activities. Fitsum, as they said, was an ideal guy. I felt proud whenever I heard this comment. Fitsum was still a varsity player in college. Every girl in school adored him and it sometimes felt awkward for me to see girls flirting with him while he tried to get rid of them.
The first two years of college life was quite simple. Adjustments were necessary but they were all part of life. Fitsum continued to be popular in his school while I got busy with my studies. Taking up major subjects was quite taxing. As days went by, I felt there was a growing distance between us. Fitsum seemed to be the same but things around us had changed. He became extremely popular, till there came a time when I got tired of his popularity and so avoided watching his games. I could feel the pressure as girls peered at me when they saw us together, so I would see him after the game and that was how we celebrated. Things got more complicated as he wanted me to watch all his games, saying I was a source of inspiration. I made alibis every now and then, which made him feel like I was not interested in what he did. He reacted the same way towards me by never showing up when I invited him to our school activities. I ran for the council’s Vice President and won without his presence. My friends asked why they did not see Fitsum anymore and I told them he was too busy with his games. Deep inside, I was hurting and could feel the end of our relationship.
It’s now two weeks since the elections and I have not seen Fitsum. I missed him so much but did not know what to do. Alas, I decided to come to his game only to learn that he had an injury. I took strength to visit him at home the next morning only to find out that they were moving to Ethiopia. To my surprise, he did not want to inform me because he said he did not want to break my heart. I was flustered and felt it was unfair for him not to tell me about his plans so I broke up with him immediately.
Fitsum tried to contact me several times. He also sent me mail which I never responded to. In fact, I didn’t read two of his letters. I put them straight to the bin after realizing they were from him. I was deeply hurt by what he did but after some time, I realized I still loved him. Rocky, a mutual friend said he’d already got a new girlfriend. Picking up the pieces of my heart, I tried befriending other guys and going out with some but his memories always struck me whenever I went to places similar to where we’d been to. Everything, even the street lights reminded me of him. It was very difficult to move on because the pain was unbearably too deep. I cried every night for him but was so afraid to confront my feelings. Later, after two years, I sent him a birthday card but there was no reply. I did it again in the next year and in the succeeding years but still there was no reply. I was stuck with him for almost six years and maybe until now.
“Mom, are you OK?” I heard Kirsten as he held my arm. “Yes darling. Just remembered something. Shall we go now?” I replied still feeling flustered.
I walked with him towards the gate, still remembering the steps to the nearest pizza parlor where Fitsum and I ate the first time we dated. Kirsten, my son, didn’t have any clue on what I was thinking at that time. Strange feelings filled me and I didn’t know how long I could live with them but I knew I had to make the right choices this time around.