1981-The summer of 1981, I see Ted a lot. We have so much fun at his parents lake house and being with his friends. We go on a few weekend trips and one day find ourselves as close as two people can be. We are watching a waterski tournament. The day is sunny and hot. Colored skiers are flying by me in pyramids, on one ski and two. The show is exciting and as I look into Ted’s eyes, I think, “I love him. I can do this.”
“See Sheri,” mom says one night. “Ted is the perfect guy for you.”
Fall comes. I return to college, Ted to his school 3 hours away. I know I will not see him until the holidays. We begin writing weekly letters. We are in love? One day there is a knock on my dormitory door.
I open the door and there stands, Mr. Kiss me all over my body smile, Zak.
“Sheri, I’m back in town playing semi-pro football. Wanna play?!!!” he says with a grin.
All school year
In Zaks arms
I feel free
In Teds arms
I feel security
The question running
Through my mind
Was do I keep the
Or the black and white photo?
As summer of 1982 approaches Zak and I are again hitched at the hip, laughing and loving. I know it is time to say goodbye. I have made plans with Ted over the holidays to spend two weeks with him this summer at his parents lake house.
“Zak, I am transferring to an out of state school.”
“What? Why? Sheri, what we have is good.”
“I know that Zak, but my mom wants me to marry Ted, so he and I are moving. I am so sorry.”
I begin to cry. I know deep in my heart that Ted is the right choice. I know I cannot be happy breaking my mother’s heart. I love Zak and this hurts. I must consider my mother, I must never forget my promise to never let her down. I turn my back on Zak and decide to live the rest of my life with Ted.
I am lying to myself
This I know
But I cannot disappoint
I must let Zak go
Life is not about
Life is not about
It’s about being safe
Staying in line
And following orders…
I remember the golden hands I rubbed as a child. I take Zak’s hands between mine, kiss them and then rub them while I say, “Zak, I love you. You are all my colors. I can see myself reflected back each time I gaze at you. I know this hurts, I know you don’t understand, but I ask you to accept that this is the path I must walk down.”
Zak says, “I’m not giving up on us, “ as I turn and walk away.
2010-Studio-”Family Reunion” hangs above my door in my home. It is the reminder that I am never alone. I have my husband and children who all hold my heart. Five pool blue fish nearly blend in to the azul background. Silky, thin streams of indigo swim side to side. Baby pink top fins and lips mix with the banana yellow face and lower fins which illicit that they are all of one tribe-one clan. Small in size this 8” x 6” artist wrapped frame announces itself to me every day.
1982-After Ted’s best friends wedding, Ted and I leave for California. His car hauling my car-both cars packed to the gills. The drive goes smoothly until we reach New Mexico. We check in to a hotel, have dinner and are relaxing poolside drinking a beer when Ted begins.
“Sheri, I can’t move to California with you. It’s too far from home. I want to live closer to my mom and dad. I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it.”
Who I pick
Through his tears
He needs his mom
I am sure
His black and white base
Can be colored with my love
How can I be so wrong?
I BEGIN TO CRY.
We arrive in California a few days later. Ted stays for a few days and then drives home. We continue long distance phone conversations and write letters.
I DO NOT CONTACT ZAK.
By Christmas I am so lonely and sad that I move home. Ted asks me to marry him over a quiet dinner in a small restaurant in his hometown. It is the first Christmas I am ever away from my mother.
I SAY YES.
My mother is ecstatic. Ted’s mom is not. His best friend says, “You can do better.” Are we doomed from the start? I search and search for a new palette to call home. I call on Mr. Hawksbill to take me deeper in to the caribbean waters of my youth. I take trips back to Bishops Park and skipp along the sidewalk hand in hand with my memories. I walk to the old grey house which is now painted bright red and ugly. I sit on the porch and cry for my mothers love to heal me.
SOMETHING DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT.
1983 brought excitement of being a bride with lots of planning, showers and laughs. Mid January I get a letter from Zak. He will be in town for one day, will I see him?
The day I am to see Zak is cold and cloudy. I drive to the bus station and pick him up. I bring him to my parents home. We sit on the sofa sharing our life stories. He’s been living in Colorado. He is coming home to live and teach.
Will I come with him?
He knows I am engaged to be married this August. He knows he is asking a lot. His face is warm, his words honest. His hands are now holding mine. We end up in a bubble bath with champagne. As we dress to get in the car for his bus trip home we are very quiet.
“Sheri, you were something today. You were so relaxed. You are different and I love it. Think about what I have asked?”
I nod my head. I cannot speak. We kiss one last time and I watch him walk away.
Oh God, oh God I think to myself. I love him so much, but I love Ted too? I do not know what to do.
I WAS LOST IN MY OWN CORNER OF SELF DOUBT.
My heart beating wildly
The true me needing to get out
But I lock it inside
Because it’s not time to play
I want mom to smile
If just for a while.
2010-Studio-I step back and gaze at this tiny canvas. Paint covers my hands and I have smudges upon my cheek in various shades of blue. Blue has always been my comfort color. I can wrap myself in it and feel the calm hug of God.
Family. How do we choose those we love, or do they choose us? Why has it been difficult for me to feel safe at home, loved-unconditionally? Why do we hurt those we love the most?
My family is complete. My painting stares back at me. I carefully add the black edges of protection and smile.