Always a Ranger - Part 2

The Price For Dreaming

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

Everyone said follow your dream. If you donít, youíll regret it your entire life. Of course, they donít tell you that in doing so, youíll lose everything good you ever had before that.

 

So thatís how I, Kimberly Hart ended up here, walking into my apartment in Boston. Iím an assistant coach training the balance beam gymnasts for the 2004 Olympic games. Because I followed a dream to become a Pan Global medallist, and tossed away my friends, my responsibilities and my one true love so I could come this close to that dream, only to end up being a clichť.

 

Those who can do, those who canít teach.

 

I drop my gear bag as I walk into my living room and think about heading straight for the shower and then to bed. My life sucks that much, and I really donít want to do the things I should, like eat and check in with my friends and family. But I end up changing my mind as I walk to the fridge and pull out an apple and a bottle of water as I make my way to the phone.

 

No messages. I sigh and start to remind myself how I got myself into this pathetic, lonely state. Oh yeah, dreaming about being a gymnast. What did that get me again?

 

Not much. I made the alternate list for my best event, balance beam. But did I actually compete? Nope. I handed water to my friends on the team, patted their back when their scores came up and supported them through the whole thing. So what I have to show for the disasters of that time, of thinking Iíd fallen for someone new and breaking the heart of the only man Iíve ever truly loved was a chance to teach gymnastics to other kids once I got my degree from Florida State.

 

I flop down on the couch as I bite into the apple and allow my memory to wash over me. Youíd think Iíd have gotten over this, but I havenít. Itís hard to let it go on days like today. I really just wanted to get up on that beam and show these twelve to sixteen year old girls just what the hell they should be doing. But that part of my life is over. Itís been over for a while, ever since I made the decision to teach rather than do. Right around the time that I found out exactly what my dream had cost me.

 

I had been given the job offer for the head coaching position at State when I got the call from Jason that Trini had died in a car accident. I was shocked, I was in pain and I couldnít believe after everything that sheíd survived as a ranger that a drunk driver would be the cause for me flying to San Francisco to be reunited with my friends to grieve at her grave.

 

It was there after all this time, all the pain, that I set eyes on Tommy Oliver again. The man I loved, or after realizing the huge mistake I had made by thinking Iíd fallen for someone else and writing him that Ďdear johní letter, the man I still loved for the first time in years. It was a big shock. He wasnít the same as I remembered him. Yet, in the ways that were important, he was still the same.

 

Somehow I ended up standing next to him during the graveside service and his arm found its way across my shoulders, I leaned into his side, and the years and mistakes disappearedÖ

 

I sigh as I get up from the couch in my basic apartment and try to not think of my once and future love. He was supposed to call me after getting the position at Reefside, but no message. Iím starting to think that his memory is slipping again, but then I turn back to the small kitchen table where I see the wilting remains of the dozen pink roses he sent for my birthday.

 

I toss the apple core in the trash and make the decision to finally toss the flowers too. I really have been putting it off because they were from him, and the last thing I want to do is toss away his gift. As the dried petals and stems go in the trash, I continue to think about that first meeting and the decisions we came to after the funeral.

 

We talked a bit, clearing the air right after the service. I didnít say the words I really wanted to say. After so much time had passed, I didnít really think ĎI never stopped loving you, letís run off together!í really was appropriate. We promised to stay in touch, do the letter and e-mail thing, a phone call here and there.

 

Which weíve done. Itís been great. Weíve talked about our friends, our lives and the past. But weíve always stayed away from the big L word. That has been the unwritten, unspoken rule. For I think we both knew if it came up, we wouldnít be able to keep up the pretense of separate lives, being friends and all that.

 

I was getting used to all that, until last year.

 

I get the offer of a lifetime, assistant coach for beam for the Olympic team in the middle of another personal crisisÖ that being a new reunion with my love, who has gotten himself into a PhD program and had his work blow up along with an entire island. I really did think heíd lost his mind when he showed up on my doorstep without a call or letter to let me know he was coming. Of course, the fact that he looked like heíd gone ten rounds with a pack of putties without his powers didnít speak highly of what heíd been through.

 

As I head out of the kitchen, I glance at my couch as I remember the turning point in our renewed friendship on that fateful day.

 

It was on that very sofa that after heíd revealed what heíd been up to, and what had happened that everything changed again. I had my hand on his arm, he was sitting close to me, and I canít say who leaned into who first, but we ended up kissing for the first time in over five years. And all I could think of was that I had been an idiot to ever leave those lips, hands, eyes, etc. You know what I mean.

 

The next thing we knew, the word comes out of our lips. The L word. And I ended up telling him I never really loved the guy I left him for, and he tells me he never really fell out of love with me.

 

So there we were, realizing we love each other, but so engrained in our new lives that we canít figure out how to fit the other into it. How to make the sacrifices that are required to be together. So we donít. In the end, I watched him walk out the door to go back to the program, and I turned and called up the Olympic committee to accept my coaching position.

 

Which brings me back to reality and the now of my empty apartment. I turn to sit at my simple desk and turn on the cheap computer I bought a few years ago. Itís not much, but itís enough to keep my resume updated and to keep in touch with friends.

 

With a few keystrokes Iím on the Internet and checking to see whatís news since I left the apartment at 5am this morning. Then, I get that favorite message in the world Ė Iíve got e-mail. Quickly I open my web mail and see the inbox. My heart thuds in my chest as I see Tommyís e-mail address attached to the message. Without a secondís hesitation, I click it open and start to read.

 

It only takes a similar amount of time for my hands to start shaking and my skin to go cold. RangersÖ the legacy has been passed on. And my love has become the person who had to make the decision to change the lives of three teenagers, just like his and mine were by something higher than ourselves.

 

I remember when I gave my powers up to Kat, thinking my duty would be fulfilled by someone else, and I could pursue my dreams like a normal person. But the truth was I never had those days leave my thoughts once.

 

Once a ranger, always a ranger.

 

And to know Tommyís history, to have him thrust that responsibility on othersÖ

 

I finish reading the letter and find myself just wanting to get on a plane and be by my loveís side through all this. Besides, at this point I would willingly trade my cold twin bed for a queen size mattress warmed by the sexiest professor Iíve ever met.

 

But I have a commitment here. I canít just up and leave the girls. I think thatís part of what Zordon saw in me, in all of us when we were selected to be rangers. The dedication to the task. I failed to fulfill that once, when I ran off to Florida, and I paid the price. Now, I have to make sure I see this obligation through, even if I would like to let my heart lead me this once.

 

So I settle for giving him what he asked for. An answer.

 

[Hey handsome,

 

So, I guess being the authority figure for sixteen year olds is a new thing, huh? Lucky for the girls youíre easy on the eyes. Iím sure youíll settle in quickly. Just think of what Ms. Applebee would have done, and do the opposite.

 

Okay, I know, Iím stalling. I got through the first couple of paragraphs and I froze. There are new power rangers, and you helped turn them into rangers. Is that what I read?

 

Tommy, you and I both know that if you had been given the choice to be the green ranger, you could have said no. But it didnít happen. What is that quote, ďSome are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.Ē We both know that the last is what happened to almost every ranger we have known. And we have dealt with it the best we could.

 

You canít let the guilt over changing their lives eat at you. You did what had to do. Today, with the rangers and with the dino-tyrano drone thingies you were working on during your doctorial studies. They will be okay. With you there for them, how could they not?

 

Just be careful, alright? I know you. The fact that youíre not the leader is probably driving you crazy. Let me guess, you were with them in a fight and put yourself in front. Them with the powers, you with none, and you making the smart-ass remarks about the bad guys making a mistake about taking you on. You are not a ranger anymore handsome. Although, if for my next birthday you want to show up in white spandex, Iíll make an exception and call you the White Ranger for a couple of hours while we find out how easy or hard it is to peel spandex off skin isÖ

 

But I digress. Just remember that we all had to learn the ropes on our own. Zordon didnít show up and protect us. If these three kids are half the rangers you make them out to be, even close to the rangers they remind you of, then theyíll learn quick and do just as well as we always seemed to.

 

Oh, and I miss you too.

 

I got the flowers. Thank you, they were beautiful. I hated the fact that they ended up wilting and I had to throw them away. Maybe next time you can send me something more durable. By the way, Iím in the market for a new stuffed animal, hint hint.

 

Of course, these days youíd probably send me a stuffed dinosaur, wouldnít you?

 

Anyway, Just remember what it was like to be in their shoes, and give them the benefit of your knowledge. If anyone can relate to what theyíre going through itís you.

 

The teamís training here is going really well, except today I had a lot of problems explaining the back flip and twist maneuver that is part of the advanced routine. Youíd think that as Olympic athletes they could grasp the concept, but itís been a fight for some reason.

 

Maybe Iím being too demanding. Or a bit bitter, since I was doing this before they were in kindergarten.

 

What Iím really saying here is that no matter how much I love you and miss you and would love to trade in my twin sized bed for half of the queen sized one that is in your house, I made a commitment to this, and I need to see it through. All I have to do is get them to Greece and then itís all up in the air. I can look for a new position anywhere with the experience Iíll have gotten.

 

Maybe you can send me some pictures of Reefside. Let me decide if I like the place. Then weíll see about new teaching opportunities.

 

Take care of yourself. I know the motto is Ďonce a ranger, always a ranger,í but youíre treading on dangerous ground, and I donít want to lose you before we can make things right again.

 

Iíll talk to you soon.

 

Love,

Kim]

 

I stare at the screen and wonder if I have said the right things. In regards to the rangers, whatís going on with his situation there, and with our relationship. Did I say too little, or too much? Was I clear in making sure he wasnít feeling guilty? Did he know I would be by his side if I could?

 

Shrugging, I decide to let my first draft speak for me and hit send. Shutting off the computer, Iím tempted to pick up the phone and just call him, but stop myself just short. Iíll let him read the e-mail first, and follow up tomorrow or the next day. I donít want to seem too eager here.

 

Besides, I need to get some sleep for tomorrowís session.

 

With that decision made, I head to my bed and pull off the work clothes and find an old pink nightie that I had bought right after I moved to Florida, thinking that maybe Tommy and I could find a way to make it work, even long distance. Instead it had become a reminder of everything that had gone wrong with my dream, and I had shoved it back into my drawer. Now though, it symbolizes something else. Hope.

 

I put it on with thoughts of another power team, the future, and of my other dream. A life with Dr. Tommy Oliver.

 

And Iíve got hope in my heart again that I think I can finally have one dream, probably the most important one still come true.

 

-End-

 

tbc

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