Always a Ranger - Part 28
Grabbing the Bronze Ring
By Jeannine Trevizo
God, I hate packing.
I’ve spent the last three days doing it, and finally I’m down to the last box. As I look around my apartment, I wonder how I could have emptied it so fast. Perhaps I had pathetically too few things that I really wanted to keep and ship, or maybe I realized that I’m starting over in a way.
I’ve sold the furniture and have been sleeping on an air mattress. Selling the couch was probably the hardest. All I could see was Tommy and I sitting there, and him telling me that he still loved me after all the time that had passed. I loved that couch for the last year and a half because of that. I think I fell asleep on it more than I should have, and I made a point to sit on my side, even though he wasn’t there. Luckily the young woman who was starting off new in her first apartment didn’t mind the still slightly visible stains of mud and blood that Tommy left there.
And actually, I was happy to sell the bed. I never shared it with anyone… it was my ‘single’ bed. Now I know there’s a queen sized bed to share on the other side if the country waiting for me. And if the days and nights I’ve already spent in it is any indication, I’ll love every day, year, decade that we’ll have together in it.
The computer was donated to a non-profit yesterday, after I got a really good deal for my taxes next year. I cleaned all my personal stuff off it… I have to thank all the computer know-how I got from Billy’s for that. Still, it cuts off all my electronic contact. I had to send everyone an e-mail before I handed it over, letting them know that until I get to Reefside that I’m out of pocket, or whatever the term is.
I packed the kitchen appliances, dishes and silverware. I know Tommy has this stuff, but you can never have too many plates or glasses. I can imagine him right now, hunting through the cabinets, looking for one clean glass, because he hasn’t thought to do dishes for the last week while Mesogog and his cronies keep his mind on battles and teamwork.
Towels, linens, clothes… everything is packed.
So here it is, my life in boxes. Boxes that I’m sending to Reefside to Tommy and *our* house. At least it will ‘technically’ be ours once I get off the plane in Reefside. The shipping company is picking them all up on Wednesday, and with the ground delivery, which was the cheapest; they should arrive well after I’ve arrived in Greece. And that means they won’t be cluttering up the place too long before I can get there and start unpacking.
Before me sits the last box… it’s the one with the most valuable things I own, the ones that I would just cry if I lost. I’d take them to Athens with me, if I already didn’t have a suitcase and duffle bag full of clothes that I need to have for the next three weeks.
As I begin to put the items into the cardboard box one by one, I find myself reminiscing about days gone by and my future…
First to start to go in is my photo album from my younger years… in Angel Grove.
It makes a stop on my lap before it goes in the box and I open it to see candid pictures of my friends. I smile with regret as I note a snapshot of Trini pummeling Jason for something with Zack looking on. I miss her. She’d be so happy that Tommy and I are back together.
Another shows Tommy and I at the spring dance after he first asked me out. It’s a favorite of mine, and I can see in our body language the deep love that we have now just starting to appear.
I remember thinking that I’d like to get the picture framed and give him a copy, but I never seemed to get around to it. Maybe after I get to Reefside I can finally frame it, and we can put it on the nightstand… a reminder of how we got to where we are now.
I flip the page and find one of the group before Jason, Zack and Trini left for Switzerland. When they made that decision, I remember telling Tommy that I couldn’t bear it if he was to leave too. I think that was the first time I realized just how much a part of me he was.
How much a part of me he is.
And now we’re going to be together.
I have to admit, I’m still nervous about this. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since we were teenagers and loved one another without reservation. Now we’re adults, with responsibilities, bills and baggage.
But I’ve made the decision finally. No more putting off making this work. We love each other, and I don’t think I know how to be without him anymore.
Turning back to the book, I find a photo of Adam, Rocky and Tommy at a local martial arts competition. I have to say that Adam, Aisha and Rocky filled the void Jason, Trini and Zack left well. Hell, Aisha and I are as close as sisters. Close like Trini and I were…
There are days I really wish both of them were here; Aisha closer to me and Trini still alive.
A shot of me at a regional meet on the floor exercise reminds me of two things, one a memory that still aches and the other a future promise…
The memory is that of how I ended up on this path, and alone for so much of it. There are days, even now that I hate myself for letting my mom, Coach Schmidt and the team convince me to go to Florida. I threw away my responsibility to be a ranger, be a good friend, be my love’s companion when I accepted Coach Schmidt’s offer. And now, on the eve of leaving for the Olympics, as a coach and not an athlete, I question my decision again.
I lost so much by going. I lost all the years I could have with Tommy, hurt both of us and estranged the friendship we had to begin with before we fell in love.
Well, if I’m really honest, I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him at first sight, but it was deepened by the months of friendship, tempered by being teammates.
I let my fears and my emotions get the better of me, and I made a mistake. One both of us paid for until we talked after Trini’s funeral.
Now we have a future… one that, if everything goes right will include a teaching job when I get to Reefside. I have yet to hear back about the instructor position at Reefside’s Gymnastics Academy. Although once the games are over, I wouldn’t be surprised if my resume gets a closer look. Depending on how the team does, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have a few offers before I leave Greece. But it won’t matter. I’m not going anywhere that isn’t a simple hour commute from Reefside.
I made the decision this time to make our relationship my first priority, when for the last two and a half years, it’s been our jobs that came first. I’m willing to do whatever I have to, take whatever job I can get to support my choice. So if I don’t get this job, I’ll find something else. And of course, after I show up in Reefside I’ll have an easier time of job hunting.
My photo album stops right about the time I got to Florida. I remember a few months after I sent Tommy the letter and Chris and I were dating I packed it away and started a new one for my new life. Unfortunately I never really filled it much. While I’ve had work friends, I never had friends that weren’t from Angel Grove… I saw Aisha, Trini and Jason more often than I went out for a night on the town with the women coaches I worked with.
All in all, my life without Tommy has been empty in so many ways. Why the hell would I not be willing to drop everything and go to him?
A framed photo of the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team that I just got two days ago reminds me of the reason.
These girls are so damned good. They have their whole lives ahead of them, and they have the chance to win an Olympic medal. And I have the responsibility and honor of helping them get there.
In the grand scheme of things, what I do for them is so much more important than what I do for myself.
That was what Tommy meant when he insisted I come back to Boston. He knew that I could stay there and we’d be happy. But I would have missed the chance to be there for them. To see them succeed where I failed.
And in doing so, I succeed with them.
I can’t help the silent laughter that fills my mind. There are times when I think I know Tommy better than he does, yet in fact, it is he who knows me better than I know myself.
Next I spy a medal from competing at a regional meet in Angel Grove. The first prize overall. I remember working hard for it. It was right before Zordon offered us the first ranger powers. I was so overwhelmed by the award, the ‘gold’ medal I’d been awarded for my skill.
Yet I ended up turning away from those kinds of meets to make more time for school, Tommy, my friends and being a ranger.
And I never regretted it.
But now I’m ready to make another transition in my life. I made one when I became a ranger. I made another when I chose to try and win a gold medal in the Pan Global games. Now I’m making the biggest choice of my life… I’m going after a different type of metal – the brass ring.
Although in my case, maybe it should be the bronze…
But the truth is that *this* is everything I have always wanted. Olympics dreams and Pan Global trials were just fantasies, fairy tales that a girl tells herself in the lines of being a brave nurse helping sick people and being a police officer and stopping bad guys. Real life is working in a fast food restaurant, being a secretary or a gymnastics coach.
Real life does also have rewards, and I’m getting mine when I step into Tommy’s arms and know I never have to leave them again. That will be the true prize.
Being with the one man whom I have always loved and always will love.
I decide that it’s time to focus on the packing and less on the reminiscing and start to shovel things into the box: stuffed animals, certificates, trinkets and jewelry. All things that made me who I am today. Made me into the woman that Thomas James Oliver wants in his life. And I will always cherish these things for that alone.
As I put the lid on the box, I take the packing tape and seal it shut. Affixing the label, I stand and survey my life again… packed and ready to resume again in Reefside.
Where I belong.
To be continued…
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