Web Site: Christopher D. Erickson
A man going through a midlife crisis questions a decision he made about a love in his life.
When Charles Ender turned forty his life didn’t feel right. In fact, the not-right feeling was so strong he was haunted by the queston of whether he’d made the proper choices in his life. He knew that since reaching forty he was more quick-tempered than usual, and just this morning he’d had an argument with his wife, Maria, that was strong enough to make her take the kids and leave to give the two of them a break.
Before the soon-to-come phone call that would change things for Charles he was sitting with his head in his hands recalling how he’d chosen to drop out of college to pursue his own music business.
In the twenty years that he ran his music store Charles never became impressively wealthy but he did make enough to support Maria and the children and provide them a modest home in an inner city suburb. The reason Charles decided to start his own business instead of continuing with college was because of a high school love that had broken his heart. Andrea Hamach had been his true love throughout high school and part of college. When she dumped him for another man it devastated Charles. The other man had everything-money and time to spend on Andrea. Charles wanted that but didn’t have it.
The anger and pain made him decide that he needed to do something other than college which was why he quit school and got a business loan to start a music store. After his first year he thought hard of pursuing Andrea to win her back. However, the year came and went without Charles following through on that plan because he was too busy trying to make his business work. Soon, Andrea moved on and out of town with her new husband-the guy she dumped Charles for. Now as he sat in his dining room Charles wondered if he had made the right decision in dedicating his time to his business instead of reclaiming Andrea’s heart. Lately, he often asked himself, “What if I had stayed in school and developed a career instead of getting wrapped up in a music store that stopped me from pursuing Andrea?”
As he continued reflecting on the past Charles was startled by the ringing of the phone. At first he expected the caller would be his wife asking him if it is okay for her to come home. He checks the caller ID. It’s a name that he has never seen before. Figuring that the caller might be a friend of his wife’s he answers it, “hello?”
“Charlie?” For some reason the caller recognizes Charles’ voice, “Charlie Ender?”
“Yes. This is Charlie Ender.”
“Charlie, don’t you know who this is?”
“The voice sounds familiar but I’m afraid that I can’t place it,” Charles ponders for a second to try and figure out who this might be. “I’m sorry. I don’t know who you are.”
“I’m Andrea Jensen.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know any Andrea Jensen.”
“Maybe you’ll remember me by my maiden name-Andrea Hamach.”
It worked, “oh, hi, how are you?” Charles curiously inquires.
“Fine, how are you doing?”
“So, what’re you doing these days?”
“Not much really. I have my own business. I run a music store.”
“Wow, I’ll bet you’re really successful at it.”
“I make enough to get by. How about you? What are you doing these days?”
“I’m working at the Army base here in town. I work in the housing department. I make sure all of the soldiers that are there have rooms.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yeah. It’s okay. I’m basically there for the insurance and benefits,” Andrea changed the direction of the conversation. “Are you married? Do you have any kids yet?”
“Yes to both questions. I have a little boy who’s eight and a girl who’s two. And you?”
“I have two also. A girl who’s six and a boy who’s three.”
“Yeah, they keep me busy.”
“Mine do too,” Charles realizes that he has really nothing to talk about with Andrea, “That’s all that’s going on with my life right now. Pretty dull, huh, anything exciting happening with you?”
“No, not really,” There is a pause as both Andrea and Charles search for something to keep the conversation going.
Charles decides to end the phone call as he sees his wife pull into the driveway, “Listen Andy, I’m afraid I have to go.”
“Oh, okay. Call me sometime. I’d really like to catch up with what’s going on with you.”
When Charles hangs up the phone a smile comes to Charles’ face as he thinks about the call. Charles was amazed that his first thought was not about how much he missed Andrea but rather how he hadn’t recognized her voice. Charles was also relieved that no old feelings of pain or sadness arose when he talked to her. The biggest thing that made Charles happy was the fact that he had nothing personal to share with Andrea. There seemed to be no reason to have any deep discussion with her. Andrea had become an acquaintance, nothing more. With this new fact Charles understands going on with his life after the breakup was the right thing for him to do. Everything is the way it should be.
Charles’ thoughts were interrupted by his wife’s voice as she entered the room with their two kids, “Hello,” she said. “Are you okay now?”
Charles smiles at his wife, “Yeah, I’m fine, and everything is okay.”
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