A Newark Love Story Part 2

by Ralph J. Chin


A Newark Love Story
Part 2

The Breakup…Life goes on

After Woodstock we kept on dating and having fun. North Newark was like one big party to us because there was always something going on somewhere with some one that we knew! But sometimes we just hung out with close friends or just by ourselves playing cards or watching TV. It truly was the best of times for me because I had a beautiful girlfriend, my music and some good friends, what more could you ask for?

Then, after years of being loyal and very loving to me, Denise started to grow distant. I tried on more than one occasion to find out what was going wrong with us but to no avail. When she was with me, we were fine and then finally one day she brought my world down on me and told me that she wanted to break up.

I remember I was heartbroken at the prospect of losing her love. I couldn’t believe that she would leave me but after numerous encounters afterwards in which she expressed no love for me, I knew that I was alone. No words can convey the pain I felt in this period of my life. I truly believe that I cried for at least a week over this lost and it was probably much longer. We were young, yes, and the love that we shared was most likely not going to last forever but I never wanted to face the day when I had to say goodbye. After all, Denise was the one that showed me what love was all about in the first place. I never wanted to admit that it could end and when it did, it was a sad day for me. My heart ached so badly that I was physically ill a lot of times. I swore that I would keep her love in my heart and cherish our memories forever. She set the standard of what I looked for in a woman but sadly, after years of looking, I can tell you that I never found all those qualities in any one woman again. And so as time passed, I let her go in my heart and got on with my life. I came to accept that she was gone and I would never see her again. This sad chapter in my life was finally closed after many months of mourning.

I continued on with my musical interests. I wrote songs about my pain and the love that I lost. I tried to express myself like never before and played my guitar with all the emotion that I was feeling. I continued to see groups like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin up close and in concert. I went to the Fillmore East in New York City when it was in its heyday and have seen dozens of rock bands in person. My musical goal was always the same. To find musicians that were as serious about their music as I was but sadly, this never happened.

I dated other women and there was even one from North Newark that I dated for a couple of years. She lived on Summer Avenue which was a couple of miles from where Denise lived but it didn’t work out and I never blamed anyone except myself. I wanted so much to recapture that feeling of love that I had with Denise and believed that I was subconsciously dooming any new relationship before it even began. I would see some of Denise’s qualities in a new woman but then got an entirely different person! As much as I told myself that this person was not Denise, I still expected her to act and love me just like Denise did. Even if you were on my side of the fence, I would call this attitude of mine a problem.

After playing in a band for a while, even my love for the music was being slowly drained away by the constant problems with my equipment. I finally decided that enough was enough and took some electronic courses to learn how to fix the problems myself. I saved the money that would have gone to the repairs and gave myself a goal at the same time. At this time in my life I needed just that, a goal.

I enrolled in some night courses at Newark College of Engineering on High Street in downtown Newark. The electronics education I received from that school was focused on electronic theory, related math and a lab to get some real hands on practical experience. Most of my teachers were working engineers from the surrounding area and while they made some extra cash, I gained a lot of knowledge by just talking to them. This knowledge eventually blossomed into a whole career by itself. It led me further away from my music in one aspect and closer to it in another aspect. When I finished with these classes, I managed to get a job as an electronics technician repairing the new portable handheld calculators that were all the rage at that time. I worked a few years in this field until I was offered a job as a maintenance and operations technician at Bendix Field Engineering Corporation based on my electronics education. The location was a NASA space tracking station in Kokee Park on the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii! I mean Wow! This was definitely a big break for me! It was bitter cold winter in New Jersey and accepting an all expense paid trip to Hawaii didn’t seem to be that hard of a decision. My current band was breaking up due to personality conflicts and there was no girl in my life at that time, just a couple of friends that were girls! By New Years day of 1975, I was laying in the sands of Poipu Beach on the island of Kauai, Hawaii enjoying the sunshine and forgetting all about the heartaches of the past and the cold winters in New Jersey.

My experience in the islands was totally devoid of any rock music but there were a lot of other interesting things about the islands that made me stay two more years after my contract was satisfied. Because of my Asian heritage I was allowed to see the real Hawaiian people because no one noticed that I was from New Jersey until I opened my mouth to speak. They had a distinct accent that I didn’t try to duplicate and I would constantly get strange looks from the locals who assumed that I was also a local except for when I spoke!

The beauty of the islands was unsurpassed. Nowhere else that I have ever been could hope to match it. Some of the beaches were pristine and the volcanic mountains made it almost other worldly. All in all, I spent four years on Kauai and by then, I was more than ready to say goodbye to that paradise. I started to make plans and finally headed to Brooksville, Florida where my retired grandparents lived. But I didn’t stay in Brooksville and managed to land a job in nearby Orlando within a couple of weeks. I eventually managed to coax my parents into moving down to Florida for their retirement, leaving my sister to freeze in the cold winters of Boonton, New Jersey.

I never heard from Denise while I was living in Hawaii because she probably didn’t know anything about my good fortune. There was no internet back them and cell phones were still a dream and a half away. I knew she didn’t call Verona Avenue home anymore and the last I had heard was that she had gotten an apartment with her lifelong girlfriend, Crystal. When I was alone at night in Kauai, I would drive down to Poipu beach and stare out into the ocean from the beach in the early evenings. I would often think about Denise. Many times I couldn’t help but shed some tears when I did that. I would wonder where she was or what she was doing. Was she happy? Did she ever fall in love again? It hurt to even think about those times but most of all, I wished her well. The days I spent with her and her group of friends in North Newark were rapidly turning into the best times of my life despite my present life status on an island of Hawaii!

And so Orlando, Florida came into my life. After spending the past four years of my life in the weather paradise of the world, I just couldn’t go back into the cold northeast now could I??! Only in Florida, I felt that it was time to settle down and have a family. After a few affairs, I got trapped into a shotgun marriage that produced my two daughters. Though I knew that their Mother never loved me, I tried to make the best of a bad situation and dedicated myself to my children whom I loved more than life itself. I remember thinking that if something ever happened to either of them and they needed something from me in order to live, I would have gladly given up my life for them. It was pure joy watching them grow up and as the years went by, I fell more and more in love with them. I felt that I was blessed. I read to them, played with them and took them to all the theme parks that Florida had to offer. I was a dedicated father and tried my best to always be there when they needed me. I bought them their toys, their clothes, their favorite foods and watched their videos with them…over and over again!!! I tried with all my soul to savor every moment with them and then, in an eye blink, they were gone to build a life of their own. I began missing them almost immediately and I guess I always will.

Meanwhile my unloving wife of 30 years was steadily draining me of my money and getting very tired of her whole charade. How could I stop the bleeding and end the suffering? It had been going on for years and we’ve had numerous fights about money and other things but every solution that I came up with she held me in check with the kids. I knew she would take them from me if I ever dared to do anything drastic. My love for them had become her ace up the sleeve and I was powerless. Because of my hearing loss she controlled the phones and because I usually worked late, she also controlled the mail. Little did I know that she had opened numerous joint credit cards that I didn’t know about and defaulted on all of them, the creditors were after us for over twenty thousands of dollars but I had no idea what was going on!

In the midst of all this hidden chaos my sister told me about a website that dealt with Newark, New Jersey called Newark Memories. People were writing short essays about their lives as they grew up in Newark. My sister knew I was a story writer from long ago and urged me to write something about our childhood years in Newark and so I did. When I submitted my first essay I never expecting anything to come of it but as the weeks went by, I kept getting more and more responses from people that knew me or knew of the things I was writing about. It was fascinating. I met the person via email that owned my parents house before my family moved in, a former schoolmate wrote to me about how he now owns that house and rents it out, a forgotten playground enemy that I punched in the face who has long since forgiven me for that incident and many other people who knew my family or were familiar with the family restaurant that was called Ming’s.

And then it happened. I was surfing the net one day and decided to check out the Newark Memories site. It was then that I saw a familiar name attached to an article about North Newark. I stared at it in wonder and I think my heart skipped a beat. Could it be? I immediately opened the file and read it. Her style was fluid and conveyed her unique sense of humor that only people close to her would know. It was my long lost love, Denise! Even I knew there was only one family of Russian descent living on Verona Avenue in North Newark. I was stunned!

For two days I pondered whether or not I should get in contact with her and in the end, I simply had to find out if she was happy. The years had past so quickly now that I thought about it and I wrote her a short email asking her if she remembered me, the guy who took her to Woodstock. The next day she answered my email and said that yes, indeed, she remembered me well and had been trying to get in contact with me for weeks! Denise and I were both shocked that we found each other again after 40 years! We communicated constantly by email and brought each other up to date about each others life during all this time apart. It was amazing how similar our lives were. It was as if we were still connected by an invisible force that we knew nothing about. The depth of which our lives coincided was beyond belief and almost eerie. The common thread was, of course, our childhoods in Newark. That was tighter bond than we could ever imagine.

She also married someone that was not truly in love with her. She had two girls by him before she realized it was a mistake but she tried to be a good wife and was damn sure she was an excellent mother to her children. She loved her children dearly and focused on her girls just as I did with mine. Her oldest was born a month before my oldest daughter and our youngest daughters had the most effect on us both since they are both very special people to us. With our kids now out on their own, we found out just how incompatible our mates were with us. Neither of us was happy and it was very eerie how similar each of our mates was to each other. We both had married the wrong type of person! Denise and I found that we still could talk for hours as we went over all the old times in detail. It turns out that my memories were a lot more detailed than hers but on some things we were in complete agreement with each other. Some of our friends from those early days have past away but some of our closest friends were still alive and still good friends! I was always amazed at Denise’s ability to maintain close, long term friendships.

As it came to past, I was the first to get a divorce and then waited not so patiently for Denise to decide what she was going to do. I was still sorting out my financial situation that my ex-wife had left me when Denise informed me of her decision. She, too, would get a divorce and would join me as soon as she could! It was beyond belief! Then, after much conversation, we finally decided to meet each other in Newark, New Jersey where it all started. We would come full circle and start our love anew after so many years apart. We both knew in our hearts that this was the way it was meant to be and our biggest mistake was letting each other go all those years ago.

I took a flight out of Orlando and because of a cancellation with the connecting flight from Charlotte to Newark; I was left stranded and waiting for standby flights that didn’t pan out. I didn’t give up though; I went from airline to airline for anything that went to Newark and finally arrived at Newark airport tired and aggravated at 1am in the morning. I was walking towards a car that I thought was Denise’s when she called me on my cell phone and told me to turn around; I was walking away from her. I hung up my cell phone and turned around to see Denise standing by her car smiling at me. Long brown hair just like I remembered her and with a sweet smile that took my heart away once again. I walked quickly towards her, feeling the excitement building in me. The air had a little crisp coldness to it that was carried on a slight breeze as I increased my pace. When I was close enough, I dropped my bags on the ground and went quickly into her waiting arms. I kissed her with all the passion that my love could muster… and she kissed me back just as passionately. We hugged each other for minutes that seemed like seconds as if we were reassuring ourselves that this was real, that this was at long last love…….once again!

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