The Lonely Hearts Club
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Nate shook his head. "I should've known better than to get involved with you. What can I say? I was bored, and it was much easier to give in to your fantasy than to fight it. And, I will admit, you do have that cute little suburban thing going for you. I just never thought you'd turn out to be nothing but a tease."
I felt sick. Tears started to streak down my face,
"Oh, come on." Nate sat down and put his arm around me. "Just yell at me some more and you'll feel better. Then we can move on."
I shook myself free and ran upstairs.
Away from Nate.
Away from the lies.
Away from it all.
But I couldn't run away. He was living in our house for two more weeks. Every morning I had to get up and face him. Watch him leave the house, knowing he was probably going out with her. Knowing that he had to look elsewhere because I wasn't good enough for him. He would never see me "that way,"
Every day I was reminded of what a failure I was. How what I'd wanted for years had ended up hurting me more than I could imagine.
My older sister Rita was the only one in my family that I told, and I swore her to secrecy. I knew this would hurt our parents' longest, deepest friendship, and it didn't seem fair for Nate to destroy that, too. Plus, I was embarrassed, I couldn't bear to let my parents find out how stupid I was.
Rita tried to comfort me. She even threatened Nate's life if he came within ten feet of me. But even a hundred feet would've been too close.
"Penny, its going to be okay," Rita promised as she wrapped her arms around me. "We all run into a few speed bumps along the way."
I didn't run into a speed bump. I ran into a brick wall.
And I never wanted to feel that pain again.
I FELT LOST. I NEEDED TO hide away. Escape.
There was only one thing I could do to ease the pain. I turned to the only four guys who'd never let me down. The only four guys who'd never broken my heart, who'd never disappointed me,
John, Paul, George, and Ringo,
Anybody who has ever clung to a song like a musical life raft will understand. Or put on a song to bring out an emotion or a memory. Or had a soundtrack playing in their head to drown out a conversation or a scene.
As soon as I got back to my room, devastated by Nate's rejection, I turned up the volume so loud on my stereo that my bed began to shake. The Beatles had always been my security blanket. They were a part of my life before I even existed. In fact, if it wasn't for the Beatles, I would've never been born.
My parents met at a makeshift shrine in a Chicago park the night John Lennon was shot. Both were lifelong Beatles fanatics, and later on they felt they had no choice but to name their three daughters after Beatles songs: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Lovely Rita," and "Penny Lane."
Of course, my older sisters were lucky enough to get normal middle names, but my parents gave me the full Lennon/McCartney treatment: Penny Lane. I was even born on February 7 -- the anniversary of the Beatles arriving in the United States for the first time. I didn't believe it was a coincidence. I wouldn't have put it past my mother to have refused to push just so I could be born on that day.
Most of our family vacations were spent in Liverpool, England. Every Christmas card we ever sent had us re-creating various Beatles album covers. Truth be told, I should have bated the Beatles, That should've been my rebellion. But instead, the Beatles became part of me. Whether I was happy or sad, I was comforted by their words, their music.
Now, I tried to drown out Nate's words with a blast of "Help!" While I did, I reached for my journal. The leather-bound book felt heavy in my hands, the years of emotion inside weighing it down. I opened it up and scanned the entries, most of them filled with Beatles lyrics. To anybody else, it would seem like nonsensical associations, but to me, the lyrics meant so much more than their words. Snapshots of my life: the good, the bad, and the boy-related.
So much heartache. I started to scan my past relationships.
Dan Walker, senior and, according to Tracy, a "major hottie." We dated for four months at the beginning of sophomore year. Things started out decent enough -- if your definition of decent was going to the movies and then for pizza every Friday night with every other couple in town. Eventually, Dan started to mistake me for this character in the movie Almost Famous, also named Penny Lane, She was a glorified groupie, so Dan got it in his thick head that if he played "Stairway to Heaven" on the guitar, I would give it up. I quickly learned: Looks does not a decent guitar player make. Once Dan realized my pants were staying on, he changed his tune.
Then there was Derek Simpson, who I was pretty sure only dated me because he thought my pharmacist mother could get him drugs.
Darren McWilliams wasn't much better. We started dating right before this summer's Nate-craziness set in. He seemed like a sweet guy, until he started hanging out with Laura Jaworski, who happened to be a good friend of mine. He ended up double booking us for the same day. Little did he realize we would compare our calendars.
Dan, Derek, and Darren -- and that was only sophomore year. I was cheated on, lied to, and used. The lesson I'd learned? To stay away from guys whose first name began with the letter D, since they were all the Devil.
Maybe Nate's real name was Dante the Destroyer of Dreams. Because he was ten times worse than the three Ds combined.
I put the journal down. I was mad at Nate, yes. But mostly I was furious with myself. Why did I let myself do it? What did I get out of any of these relationships besides a broken heart? I was smarter than that, I should've known better.