“You cannot find love; true love finds you. If you look for love you will find confusion and affliction; there is no right place to look for love.”
I am seventeen. I am sitting in the Tea-Garden of a sporting club somewhere in California with some of my girlfriends, a couple of dudes from my Water Polo team and their girlfriends. Sarah walks in with her little brother. She is sixteen. She is five foot four, fair, with long straight black hair and big black divine eyes that I could still see through her round pink shades. Do you remember when these shades were in fashion? It is love at first sight. She is an angel. She is elegantly dressed, but a bit on the conservative side. I ask one of my girlfriends to befriend her and bring her to a Water Polo match. “That was not easy,” my girlfriend complains later—my girlfriends and I never lied; we trusted each other; we were tight.
When I see Sarah in the stands before the game, rather than just dropping into the pool like other players, I walk slowly at first—in my tough rubber Speedo—towards the pool then speed up, reach the edge running and do a perfect splash-less flying-fish dive, emerge from the water, fling my head/long hair back—this gets a lot of ahs and oohs from the women in the stands—look straight at her for a second, as in, this is for you. During the game I play like the devil, show off like a peacock, and score three goals, one of them is a backhand on the fly. After the game my girlfriend introduces us, I ask Sarah to go sailing, and she says yes. She spoke perfect English, the Queen’s. There is one problem. Sarah is not allowed to go anywhere without her thirteen year old brother, but my girlfriends take care of him. He takes one look at their racks and he agrees to stay ashore, while I take his sister out in the ocean.
I take Sarah out in a “Flying Dutchman,” which is a two/three-sail fiber glass fast sail boat. I teach her a few sailing tricks and make her laugh. I play skipper, she plays crew. I teach her how to look for the direction of the wind by watching the waves. Sarah is so cute, funny, full of life and painfully innocent. She is innately shy, but in her heavenly eyes I can see an honorable coyness that commands surrender. I cannot hide my joyful admiration for her; I can see what my eyes are saying in her face; I die of love many times. Halfway through the date, she asks if she can sit closer. I say yes. She leans over, she says she likes my dimples and my laugh; she kisses me on the cheek and laughs heartily when I turn red. Yes, this little angel makes the man, the myth, the legend blush. Before I die I will touch my face and feel Sarah’s kiss one last time.
Sarah is a foreigner. Her family is very conservative, so she has to sneak out or make excuses to leave the house and see me. Her little brother also helps; he is in boob heaven having a good time. In fact, my girlfriends accept him as a young new member of the gang; they take him everywhere they go. Meanwhile, Sarah and I fall deeper in love. She asks me to take her virginity as a token of her everlasting love; I refuse.
When did I turn from a legendary playboy to a helpless aching heart? When did I stop listening to William (my dick)? Sarah’s love transformed me into a most chivalrous knight. She is my queen and I shall protect her with my life. Her happiness is my goal. Nothing else matters. She is my life; she is my wife; she is my love.
I ask Sarah to marry me, but she says it is impossible. Her father and older brother will never approve. Even if they do, we will have to get authorization/permission from a higher authority in her homeland. Yes, Sarah is not her real name. Meanwhile, Sarah and I meet whenever we can and go home with tears in our eyes. Even worse, Sarah must leave California in a month.
My mother—an exceptionally elegant art professor and a renowned Bridge champion of French Catholic descent—soon finds out the cause of my misery. She almost has a heart attack when she finds out Sarah’s religion and nationality, but she understands because she already loves Sarah. “My god, son, she is lovely. She is so sweet, it’s disgusting,” said my mother of Sarah when they first met. Mother decides to pay Sarah’s mother a visit. Sarah’s mother explains that she would be honored by such a match, but regrets that it is not up to her. Mother and I realize that we need the big guns, the big dog. My father is an intellectual of the highest order; he comes from a wealthy family. He is perceived as a supercilious snob by the rich and as Jesus by the poor. My father knows Sarah and admires her. Sarah’s background does not faze my father, but he is infuriated by the fact that those “lowly, backward, ignorant, racial slur, racial slur, racial slur, mother...,” are not counting their blessings for having his prince as a suitor. Finally, father pulls some strings, calls in favors and unexpectedly gets a “superior” approval for the marriage under certain conditions to which father and I agreed. Sarah’s father pays us a visit and the wedding date is set.
Sarah travels to Europe with her father to buy the wedding dress and to receive her grandmother’s blessings. Sarah has an accident and Sarah dies—no foul play, we checked later. Sarah’s mother tells my mother the news. My mother asks Sarah’s mother not to tell anyone including her son so I won’t find out. My mother tells my father. Now, everyone knows except me. Almost a week passes before my mother tells me. I sit all day staring at nothing. I don’t cry, but tears run down my face. I go everywhere Sarah and I went and sit where she used to sit. I see her face everywhere. I am in a most cherished grief.
My parents, thinking that drastic measures need to be taken, and that shock and awe treatment is what I need, assign me to my uncle, arguably the greatest playboy of all time. My serious, level-four instruction on night life, drinking and clubbing starts. The first time I yield to my uncle and accept a dance invitation from a beautiful girl, I imagine I am holding Sarah and try to hide my tears. Sarah’s ghost hangs around for five years and then leaves. Now I see Sarah only when I smile.
With no goodbyes my Sarah dies
Though shot my heart cupid’s free
Whom do I see when God denies
His mercy for this heart and me?
Too shy to cry was I but fly
Did I to skies of tears above
Those who worship wonder why
He can die who’s not in love
In memory of Sarah