The Many Loves of Eben07 – Part Two

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Outside of Christina, I didn’t date much in high school. It wasn’t that I couldn’t – I think I could have, but at that point it would have been hard. I’d tried to win her back so often, that it became an exercise in futility. I’d shown up junior year, in the prom tuxedo, Christina was single, and I tightly gripped the flowers and walked up to her in the parking lot – that was the last day I loved her. She looked at me – this manboy geekily smiling with his braces, slicked back hair, and a dozen droopy red roses – and shook her head.ManyLoves4

“You have to stop, Eben.”

My heart swallowed in on itself and pretty soon after that I looked toward a reset – I think the kids call it a rebound.

She didn’t manifest until my days at Yale. Freedom from the awkward phase occurred in that cocoon stage between high school and college. The braces came off, the zits went away, I found the haircut and glasses that suited my severely chin-lacking face, and I showed up to my first day at Yale looking and feeling pretty good.

Kathryn O’Nuef was in my general ed. speech class. Her first speech was an informative one about Soviet Propaganda Posters and I  listened eagerly. My hands folded under my chin as I watched her explain the nuances of making compelling propaganda in this incredibly sexy French accent. I asked her to coffee after class, and we talked for hours and hours: missing class, lunch, and just laughing.

I thought she was the most beautiful thing on Earth. She was a young actress, studying theater. We happened to be in the same dormitory – York-Crown – and became one of those It couples. People envied our Pictionary skills, how we’d dominate charades, and our showdown stare-offs during penny poker.

It was during one of those penny poker games that the stakes changed and I was swooped off into the world of secret societies. I was invited into one of the older societies on Yale’s campus (one which shall remain nameless) – I know now it had to be because of my family but then I was tricked into thinking it was because I was so damn cool.

Kat’s acting was taking off as I followed my shadowy path along the footsteps of my ancestors. I became jealous. Acting often leads to your girlfriend kissing guys on stage – and those same guys also tend to be really good looking and call up your girlfriend at stupid hours – interrupting movie time, screwing with dinner plans, or causing nonsense that makes you suspect things that aren’t actually going on behind your back.

It often led to tear-jerking fights, but it’s clear to me now that Kat was nothing but devoted to me. She adored me. I never really understood why – and I think that’s part of love. The person that truly loves you thinks more of you than you can possibly ever think of yourself.

ManyLoves3The hardest part of our relationship came at the end. Kat was one year older than I was, and as the curtain fell on her final performance for her study at Yale, she was presented with something too important to pass up.

As I made my way to the green room with flowers, she was talking with a man in a suit. They shook hands, and as he left he smiled at me with a knowing look that instilled in me a feeling of anger. I wasn’t sure why exactly why then – but as soon as I saw Kat pinching her nose with her arms folded I knew why – he had given her something that was driving her away.

I was thrilled for her, she’d be on a Paris stage, a dream she’d had since she was a little girl – something I would be damned if I was going to get in the way of. We spent the night talking about it. I didn’t know what I was going to do without her, and she didn’t know what she was going to do without me. And before we really figured it out, she and I were standing in the international terminal of JFK and hugging as her flight was boarding.

And then it became long distance.

It worked for awhile. I spent my Christmas & Spring Break in Paris – but in the summer the I.C.A. visited me and invited me to train to become an espionage janitor. They said they’d pull me out of school, and train me to become what I am now.

That’s what ended it. It was me – Kat said it could still work; I told her it wouldn’t. I don’t know that I wanted it to work even if it could. Anyway, I lost her that following summer.

So…many loves? I don’t think I’ve loved all that many times, I don’t think people should. Love is a strong word that I don’t take lightly – and true love is a rare, wondrous, painful, and beautiful thing that doesn’t always last forever, but stays with you always.