Sunday, March 27, 2011

Very Short Stories: Water Drinker

I was in love with my boss, David, from my first day teaching at New River Academy. Although 15 years apart, David and I made each other very happy. At the time, we were both consumed by the philosophy of positive thinking. This concept that you could make something happen just by thinking about it very hard seemed like magic to me. It suddenly felt as if life had no limits.  Dave and I spent endless hours walking together down back roads and on the banks of rivers, discussing energy and intention and performing little 'tests' to the universe. It's amazing how many of those tests came true. Then again, I was 24, had my dream job in Chile, and was totally in love. Of course I thought anything was possible. 

Almost a year after I'd touched down in Chile for the first time, the school went to paddle the Rio Achibueno, a difficult river outside of Pucon. It was a brand new run for us, but because I happened to have a friend visiting from the US, I didn't bring my boat. Instead, my friend and I spent the day exploring the hills and footbridges and swimming in the eddies. We only spent half the day there, and we never went back. About two weeks after that, the semester was over and I flew home with the students for winter break. 

By that point, I was exhausted from a year on the road, and my migraines were becoming unbearable. I decided to leave that dream job, say goodbye to my teaching position, and find a new job in the US.  This meant, of course, leaving David. David was the owner of the school, owned beautiful property in Chile that he was busy turning into a hostel, and was planning on living there year round. He offered me all the makings of an incredible life, but I just couldn't see myself settling down as a 24 year old- especially in South America.

The break up was hard on both of us, but harder on him. After all, I was the one who had left. And while I missed him very much, I somehow decided that it would be better if we didn't talk much. We'd lived within four feet of one another for a year, and now I practically shut him off. I didn't return his phone calls and barely responded to his emails. I wanted to talk with him. But I was certain in my decision to stay in the US, and I figured it would cause him more pain the long run to drag things on. I was only trying to do what was the right thing, but in hindsight, I don't think it was.

David ran the high school, a gap year program, and the hostel. He was a very intense person with regards to his work; sometimes it seemed like he was trying to work himself to death. He would forget to eat, consumed endless amounts of coffee, and never drank enough water.  On top of this, he would compete on the river with the 17 year old paddling hot shots who attended the school. He often complained of having headaches and feeling bad. A huge part of my role as his girlfriend was simply taking care of him. I was constantly chiding him to eat,  coaxing him to go to sleep at the end of the day, and making sure he was drinking water. Taking care of him was as familiar to me as anything. 

One night, a week after I arrived home, I couldn't sleep. I lay in bed feeling miserable, missing David, agonizing about leaving the school and the world I loved so much. It was almost his birthday. I knew he was hurting, and that I was the reason. All I could ask for him at that moment was that he take good care of himself. It's impossible to start to feel better about anything when you're not healthy. So I sat there and asked the universe (I was 24, I talked to the universe back then) to give give him plenty of water that day. I pictured him drinking water, not coffee, not his favorite rum and coke,  but glasses and glasses and water. It was such a little thing, but I knew it could make some difference. 

The very next day, I felt a little better about everything, and I actually talked with Dave over Skype. He sounded happy, and was excited to tell me about a funny thing that had happened. Earlier that day, he'd been leading a group of kayakers down the Rio Achibueno. They were about to put on the river when a man from the group ran up to Dave with something in his hands. The man had walked up the bank, upriver of the put in, to change into his gear. There, almost hidden under the blackberry thickets, was a waterbottle with the vivid red, white and blue New River Academy sticker on it.  He brought it back to David and said. "Look, it's your logo! Maybe this water bottle belongs to someone you know." 

Dave took the bottle and turned it in his hands. On the back was another sticker: the green outline of Vermont with a heart inside of it. It was my water bottle, which apparently I'd forgotten on the riverbank that day at the Achibueno, many weeks before. I hadn't even realized it was gone. 

Dave told me he opened the bottle and drank down the whole thing. Then he said, "I explained to the man how it was your bottle. I said, Melina's looking out for me. She wanted me to have this, and wants me to drink a lot of water today."

I couldn't find the words to explain to him how right he was.


Jax said...

Love your story, Keep your positive thoughts flowing.

Bethany and Will said...

This is awesome Lina :-) Love you!