Chronicles Of The Battles Of My Mind—Be Good And You'll Be Lonesome.

I remember it still, as if it happened yesterday. I was sitting on that cold concrete balcony at that old house in the twenty-first street. I sat there thinking, meditating, but most importantly, I sat there carrying a broken heart. I was only thirteen at the time, but I felt it. I felt the pain…strongly! I was aware of the circumstances; I was completely engulfed in that undesirable feeling. That afternoon, after classes were over for the day, I decided to take a short-cut home, because I was in a hurry. And through that new pathway that life had already cemented for me, I saw her; beautiful as always, a complete dream to wish upon.

I always thought of Norma as the light of me eyes. Her shy soft-voiced demeanor melted my will every time! She had the most beautiful smile God could have ever designed for a person. We had known each other for over three years now, and I always thought of her as “my girl”. Her deep black hair and light skin made complete sense to me…she was my all! But, that afternoon, her smile was different, and I felt her energy gravitating away from me. As I hurried my way back home via that narrow dirt road, I saw her kissing another guy. She was in the arms of another, and she seemed happy. I did not know what to do or what to say for that matter.

I could have thought of a million things to say! Things I could have easily expressed to her, to him! But, the reality of my childhood began with the fact that I had always been of small constitution, and to pick a fight with that stranger, certainly meant instant death. To be honest, I feared what to say…so I decided to just walk away. I hid behind some small bushes near the right side of the path, and slowly low crawled myself out of sight…forever.

That day, sitting on that balcony, I fought against the yelling of Pedro and Angel who were playing baseball, and had decided to draft me to play against all odds! I was losing my focus with the amount of cars driving by, and although many things were threatening my self-control, Norma commanded everything within me, I was fixated in what I had seen, and I was trying to process how much hurt it had produced in me…at that tender age.

It is true; I could have said many things that day on that particular moment, but something strange happened to me during those few hours I sat there. My attention to detail began to shift from me to her. And, that shift of focus began to question me: What if she does not love you that way anymore Ralph? What will you do if she no longer feels for you? ...are you going to make her? Will you seriously consider interfering in her happiness just to satisfy your own personal emotional ego? This situation was indeed not a fair one to me, but something had to be done.

I remember speaking to my dad about Norma countless of times, and the big grin this will produce in his face. He surely enjoyed listening to my heart take off in flight every time the sound of Norma was the main subject. I remember vividly that summer afternoon, while working on our backyard deck, he told me these words full of wisdom: “remember always, that your mom is a woman, your sister is a woman. Think of how you would have felt if someone had done them wrong, if someone would have dared to hurt them…if I would have hurt them! It does not matter who your company is at the end, but what it is important is how you treat them, how you live your life for them! It takes anybody to have many women, but it takes a man to stick by only one.”

Those words eventually became the backbone of my sentimental story. Those words shaped forever in time, the person I am today. And, when it comes to an emotional approach and how I see women, it has become a standard I have not been able to ignore. Although I have known the wisdom behind my father’s words all of my life, I sometimes wonder how much does it really matter. Do they mean anything to anyone whatsoever?

It is easy to assume that the reason why I have been alone for so long is because of what I learned from my dad, and because of how much level of respect and seriousness I find formal relationships to hold. The search for an adventure is simple. It takes only minutes to warm a cold bed, but what about the eternal claim of the heart? What about those hidden and painful heartbeats who wish for an end of the imaginary and the birth of the eternal?

I never approached Norma about what I saw that day. I never made that a subject during any of our later conversations. Instead, I did the reasonable, I did what was right: I let her be happy. It did not take long for me to witness her embrace with her new boyfriend, sitting in the same spots we sat in that school, and how much larger her smile had gotten. It hurts to remember how my loss became her gain. It hurts to understand that the sacrifice of my loneliness reshaped the contours of her heart.
Norma and I became really good and close friends until our college years, when adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it separated us. I never heard from her again, besides some stories that she had moved to the states, and that she was a very happy mother of three. I don’t even have a picture of her…only the mental one.

Today, for some reason, I have become that kid sitting on that balcony again. I see those vehicles of pain passing by in so many quantities, and how much less of a shelter the twenty-first street has become. Which is really the measure of a man? Where do we find the reward for the unanswered pain, and the fairness of those who get to win with the loss of others? Where is that damn imaginary line that separates all? Where?

Mark Twain has always been one of my favorite thinkers and authors for a very long, long time. During one of his trips aboard his steam boat in the Mississippi River he wrote this:
Be good, and you will always be lonesome.” How right was he! I find that line to be the story of my life…literally! Through the deepest vision of who I see in my future company, and the respect that I uphold in my way to achieve that closeness, I see how less it is seen and understood. The vision of that delicate approach and reverence towards the space in between two, becoming one, is no longer there.

I feel, wholeheartedly, that feelings
are no longer in fashion. The rules of etiquette and sentimental common sense slowly but surely disappear. He, who dreams, wastes his time. He, who wishes, dies waiting. That hopeful window that once opened for a man like me no longer exists. Today, the risk is worth more than the security, and good hearts are left to fly on their own; men like me die writing in a sheet of paper what they would have loved to live!

It is a biblical truth that one must learn to lose in order to win, and that perhaps, that is the measure in which I will be taped. If that is the case, then let it be! I suppose that Norma’s smile was worth the pain, and worth all of the rejections that came after her. If that is the case in question for me, than all else is irrelevant.

After taking serious consideration of my thoughts that afternoon on that balcony at Twenty-First Street, I had made up my mind. For the love of Norma, and whoever may end up in my arms in the future, I finally agreed to get up play some baseball with Pedro and Angel. I slowly turned around and saw where I sat for those long hours, and walked towards the street smiling, becoming whom I continue to be to this day: Ralph, the good, and the lonesome.


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