Read A Life More Complete Online

Authors: Nikki Young

A Life More Complete

 
 
 

A Life More Complete

 
 

By Nikki Young

Dedication:

For my boys. Follow your dreams and
love with all your heart. I love you both.

Copyright © 2013 by Nikki Young

All rights reserved. This book may
not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission from the author. Please do not participate in or encourage
the piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. All
characters and storylines are the property of the author and your support and respect
is appreciated. The characters and events portrayed in this book are
fictitious. Any similarities to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental
and not intended by the author.

Table of Contents

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Prologue
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Chapter 1
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Chapter 2
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Chapter 3
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Chapter 4
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Chapter 5
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Chapter 6
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Chapter 7
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Chapter 8
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Chapter 9
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Chapter 10
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Chapter 11
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Chapter 12
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Chapter 13
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Chapter 14
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Chapter 15
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Chapter 16
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Chapter 17
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Chapter 18
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Chapter 19
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Chapter 20
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Chapter 21
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Chapter 22
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Chapter 23
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Chapter 24
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Chapter 25
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Chapter 26
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Chapter 27
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Chapter 28
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Chapter 29
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Chapter 30
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Chapter 31
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Chapter 32
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Chapter 33
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Chapter 34
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Chapter 35
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Chapter 36
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Chapter 37
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Chapter 38
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Chapter 39
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Chapter 40
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Chapter 41
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Chapter 42
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Epilogue
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---Prologue---
 
 

Family. Everyone knows what is said
about families. Blood is thicker than water, love makes a family, we start and
end with family; you get my point. Not all families fit this bill, not all
families are created equal, yet Chinese proverbs, celebrities, kings and
queens, and literary heroes all feel the need to opine us with their wisdom
that if you just try a bit harder, love a little more, or give a damn, that it
will change everything. It always comes back to family. In my case it always
came back to “How can I get away from my family?”

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago,
upper-middle class, nice cars, well-groomed homes, smiles and sprinklers, green
manicured lawns and streetlights that basked the tree-lined streets at dusk. I
know what you’re thinking—another rich kid, sob story about not being
appreciated or loved. Blah, blah, blah. But to set the record straight, I didn’t
grow up wealthy. No private jets, no summers in the Hamptons, no BMW on my
sixteenth birthday. My family was just the regular basic money. I got a car at
sixteen, yes, but it was a 1979 VW Cabriolet, a hand-me-down bought from my
neighbor, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from
his grandma. It was old and smelled like a wet dog and when you turned the
headlights on the radio turned off. Not that I’m complaining. It was more for
the convenience it provided my mother than it was about the prestige of getting
a car at sixteen. My mother never struggled financially—emotionally was a
whole other story.

Which brings me to my mother. I give
her credit. She left her husband, my father, an emotionally and physically
abusive alcoholic drug addict when I was eight. She took my two sisters and me
in the dead of night and ran. Cowardly, but that was all she knew, and when I
ran at age eighteen, I did it because it was the only coping mechanism I had
been taught. Run from your problems, from your past, from your life, and maybe
you’ll get lucky and it won’t follow you. (Unfortunately, my father had
followed like a freaking bloodhound, so instead of running my mother married a
cop.
That’ll teach him to come around
again
.) She ran our household like she did everything else in her life
after my father. She ran it like a business venture, heartless and with very little
emotional attachment, just in case it didn’t work out. My mother, very successful
in everything she did (her first and second marriages excepted, of course),
failed at being a parent. Miserably I might add. I’ve heard it’s hard to raise
girls. My mother wouldn’t know. We raised ourselves, made dinners, packed
lunches, taught ourselves how to use tampons using the little insert in the
box. She was passive-aggressive, black and white, no gray, a heartless woman with
little respect for her children, who in turn had little respect for her. When
she wasn’t working she was still working. When she wasn’t out expanding her
company she was expanding it from the comfort of her home office. In the days
before cell phones, email and the Internet, my mother grew a booming insurance
company from word of mouth and numerous phone calls, all to the chagrin of her
children.

Of course we reaped the benefits of a
financially stable life, but there’s more to it than that. It comes back to the
quotes about love and family. There was none of that and to be honest, I’m not
sure what I would’ve done with it anyway. So accustomed to being alone I don’t
know what I would’ve done if my mother had hugged me or told me she loved me. She
had become a broken-down, lifeless robot workaholic and if there was one thing
I learned from her it was run. So that’s what I did.

Family—sometimes they’re your
biggest enemy, your worst supporter, your biggest killjoy; mine were all those
things and more. As a society, we are programmed to believe that all mothers
love their children unconditionally, even when they do a poor job parenting,
even when they are drug addicts or abandon their babies in dumpsters. Maybe it’s
the American dream to believe that people are never innately bad or that inside
everyone there is good—whatever it is, it’s a falsehood. It’s just like
what is said about family: sometimes it doesn’t apply to everyone. Even with
all that is said, I still had a ray of hope that clouded my pessimistic
viewpoint on the subject, along with love and marriage. I hoped that someday I
would fall in love, marry, and get that official redo that I felt I was so
aptly owed.

I left Naperville, Illinois,
on August 8, 1996 and haven’t spoken to my mother since. But there will come a
time in my life when I believe she will be the only person who will understand
my choices.

---Chapter
1---
 
 

It’s been exactly ten years to the
day since I left home. I roll over and groan at my alarm as it does its steady
stream of ear-piercing beeps. Five fifteen, my usual wake-up call. Rolling to a
sitting position at the edge of the bed, I pull on my running shorts and a tank
top. I fumble with my laces and eventually slide my feet into what I know as
home—my running shoes. Running is an addiction that I can’t overcome, and
as far as addictions go, I guess it isn’t so bad.

Eight miles, my morning routine, and
without it my day will be shot. Running keeps my OCD at bay and curbs my
insomnia. Today is a Tuesday and added to my morning run is my beach yoga
class.

I step out of my condo into the cool
morning air that is only created in California. I live in the Sand section of
Manhattan Beach, my condo, a total steal when I bought it six years ago, but a
total dump, too. I breathe in the smell of salt as I long to feel the pavement
pounding against my feet. I love the summer, the long, extended bursts of
lasting sunlight, but as August impedes the sunlight recedes, leaving too early
and appearing too late. I have an irrational fear of the dark. The kind of fear
that grips you and makes your heart feel like it may explode out of your chest.
It’s like watching a horror movie. I picture serial killers lurking, along with
mask-wearing lunatics and gun-wielding psychopaths hiding in the darkness. Like
I said, irrational. My outdoor runs will end due to this fear somewhere near
October. Yet, today I know the sun will rise at 6:01am. I have to know this or
else the fear will take over. I set off on my usual route down to the beach,
taking Moonstone to Ocean and Ocean to 42
nd
Street, 42
nd
to the beach, then just slightly east of the pier for yoga, knowing that by the
time I hit the sand the sun will begin to rise. The route is fully memorized.

The date floats around in my head as
I eliminate my first mile: Tuesday, August 8, 2006. I left potholes for
sinkholes, construction for gridlock, tornadoes for earthquakes; most would
think it a lateral move. I walked away from a lake for an ocean, snow for
sunshine, quietly explosive dysfunction for comfortably unfamiliar calm. Running
allows me to reflect on my life and the choices I have made. I know without a
doubt that I have no regrets. But I also steal a few minutes to recall all the
memories of my former life that I still long for and desire in my moments of
weakness. Deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. The oppressive extreme
humidity and heat of a Midwest summer, something most would grow to hate. Not
me—I loved it, I craved it. It was like being hugged by a warm, wet
blanket every time you left your house. Summer thunderstorms and heat
lightning, something my mother feared, forcing me to love it unconditionally.
My undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field imposed upon me by my
grandfather. We spent countless summers together pressed against strangers in
the bleachers, eating peanuts and drinking lemon shake-ups. The sun burning
down on us so intensely it actually blistered my shoulders once.

I shake my head to clear my thoughts.
I press my feet firmly into the ground and my quads begin to burn as they
always do around mile four. When I left home, this is what I envisioned and my
dream had focused into a reality. And although successful, it’s difficult to be
truly happy with where I ended up. The irony isn’t lost on me. I’m following a path
closely related to my mother and it scares the shit out of me. I’m not
surprised. Built from the same DNA, alike in so many ways, too many to outrun. I
knew it would find me, like a long-lost puppy. My youthful idealism out the
window, shriveled like a dead flower. I settled, sold myself short, all in the
name of money. Yet money means freedom and freedom means work and work is what
I do.

The sky is beginning to brighten up
and welcome the day by fading from a deep blue to a pink as the sun makes an
appearance. I can’t help but take it in and enjoy the loss of the night. My
feet hit the sand hard, almost knocking me down, but I steady myself and adjust
to the change in surface. I scan the vast ocean, taking in the early morning
surfers but looking for one in particular. Then I spot him and as always, a
smile spreads across my face. Bennett Torres.

I met Ben a few weeks after I moved
into my Manhattan Beach condo six years ago. On my morning run, his adorable
Boxer, Roxy, followed me for two miles. I ignored the dog under the pretense
that this was this slick surfer dickhead’s way to pick up women on the beach. Yet,
I heard the panic in his voice as he called for his dog. Glancing over my
shoulder, I could see him running the length of the beach the opposite
direction we were heading, calling her name and whistling as his voice became
more and more riddled with fear and anxiety. I stopped my run, I turned to the
dog, I said her name, and she did that adorable head tilt that all dogs do and
I caved.

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