Her name is not Lena but that’s what I’ll call her. She’s my age maybe a bit older. She has blue strands of hair, but her natural caramel is growing through her scalp and you can see it clearly. She has misty blue eyes, the kind that’ll capture your attention in the middle of a crowd. Lena isn’t the only child, she has two older siblings, a Russian blue cat and two Betta fish that died because no one fed them.
I met Lena in high school, during gym class. We both had one thing in common: our hatred for working our muscles off for a class that wouldn’t even be averaged in our GPA. I leaned more towards the chemistry side, while she leaned toward the arts.
“It’s when I hold that pencil- I transport into this other dimension.” That’s what she told me when I asked her about her favorite subject. I never had the chance to tell her that I felt the same way, except my pencil, didn’t create images or sketches, it created words with raw emotions.
Out of all the people, I remembered Lena because we both were socially awkward to the point where each of us would find a bench and sit in the corner, so no one would notice us. We were the outcasts, in a world that wanted to be an outcast.
I’m writing about Lena because I have no idea where she is. She could be reading my blog from Argentina or maybe she’s pursuing her dream of becoming another Picasso. Either way, she’s carved her mark in my mind, or maybe I carved it myself because I liked her.
I remember Lena not because she was the only girl who was willing to be my partner during basketball practice, but because she had a story of her own that she was afraid to tell, and I was eager to hear. A story that still disperses in my mind, like waves on a shore.
Her parents got married because her grandfather was ill and was about to die. So, he decided to get his daughter married to the son of a farmer. Things at first were going pretty well, then the economy dipped, and the married couple moved to America- to make all ends meet. Lena’s siblings were born in Argentina and she was born in the states.
Her mother worked as a waitress and her father worked in a garage. Her father was a good man and her mother was a humble woman. But according to Lena, they never got along with each other. They both had their own issues, their own insecurities, their own flaws but they would always come at each other’s throats, trying to prove each other wrong. They were like two magnets that were somehow joined but always opposed each other.
“Their fights start as arguments on the smallest things, but then they escalate to the point where the whole neighborhood can hear them,” Lena told me once when I sat next to her in gym class. Her eyes were puffy, and her cheeks were swollen from all the crying. “Sometimes it seems as if they love each other, but then it looks like they can’t stand each other. If I take a side I feel guilty because sometimes they both seem right and sometimes they both seem wrong.”
Listening to Lena wasn’t something new. I had heard stories before of parents fighting. Physically hurting each other. Emotionally scarring one another. The effect on the children would cause riots in the families and like a domino, one fall would lead to another.
“I wish they could just get a divorce.” This sentence of Lena was what caught me off guard. I gawked at her, like a small child, with my mouth hanging open.
Why would she say that?
Maybe she was mad. Maybe she wasn’t thinking properly. Maybe – just maybe she was being an insensate little teenager because her hormones were all over the place. I tried to convince her. I gave her false hope because that’s what friends do. They make you believe that the monsters you’re fighting aren’t real.
But later on, when things got worse, when Lena would cry in the locker room and when she eventually disappeared I realized that maybe she was right. That maybe divorce was so tabooed and so frowned upon that I let my hatred of it consume me into believing that it was a bad thing. I’m not vouching for divorce. But when every option runs out, when every boat drowns its better to part ways than to be the reason for someone else’s sinking. Her parents needed space. They needed to let each other go because holding on was hurting them and in return, they were hurting each other, and Lena was the one suffering.
The effect on Lena was horrible. She stopped talking to me, became a ghost and disappeared beneath the evils of bad company. It felt as if she pulled down her barriers to make herself strong, but in that process, she broke her spirit. She broke something human in her.
Her parents would never understand. Maybe because they were fighting their own battles that her wars seemed insignificant. Maybe they never saw the world through her eyes. Or maybe they just didn’t care.
Love has the ability to heal, but sometimes against odd circumstances, it can also be the cause for pain. Maybe her parents were in that state where they were fearful of letting go just as fearful as they were of holding on. I’m not saying divorce is a good thing, but I’ve seen way too many people around me suffer in agony because they were afraid of the label of divorce. They’ve lived their entire lives in silence because suffering is better than being a divorcee.