13: The Better World Movement
by Angel Rodriguez
My life had really come together. Once
we came up with the idea for our “Peace On Earth Arts Center” it was like I could
see it clearly in my mind, and I knew each step that we’d have to take to make
it become a reality. I’d talk it over with
Merle and he’d get that look in his eye, like he really got what I was seeing.
He really did encourage me and inspire me to shine.
I felt really good about myself wearing dozens of different hats as the
idea progressed towards reality. And then
when the students began arriving, it was invigorating being around so much energy,
and helping it to thrive. I don’t mind
saying I was an excellent hostess and muse and listener and advisor.
Not to mention doing all the behind the scenes budgeting and organizing.
just a few short months we really had something wonderful going on, and we had
plenty of money left to do a whole lot more.
We decided to go the whole nine yards and agreed that the Peace On Earth
Arts Center would publish, market and distribute the books, music and movies that
the students were creating. All of the
artists that participated would be paid a competitive royalty, and the University
for Peace would also receive a percentage. It was a win-win all around.
Merle and I were such a great team and we did pretty much everything together. I could see a change in him and I was happy
that he really seemed to be happy. It’s
funny, we were so content with how things were going, and where we were, that
I don’t think the past ever came up. We
actually didn’t know anything at all about each other’s pasts, but we felt like
we really knew each other, and what we had together just seemed so right. The truth is I was so busy and so content that
I never stopped to think at all about how I felt about Merle. That is until Maya showed up.
There’s no denying that I was jealous.
Really jealous. It was obvious that
they’d shared something very special, once upon a time. And that’s when I realized that I really cared
felt two feet tall around Maya. I felt
small and insignificant beside her, this blind, mystical powerful woman. And she was closer to Merle’s age, too. Of course I was much too young for him to feel
that way about me. I was very quiet and small in the background
as they reminisced about old times, and talked about bringing the old team together.
They were amazed that they hadn’t heard about each other’s efforts over
the past few months. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
I’d known about Artie’s Peace Center and the One Day In Peace campaign
they’d been waging, almost from the beginning.
But I hadn’t said anything to Merle, and I’d purposely avoided posting
any of our information in the circles they had formed.
I knew it would never be the same, once they met up again.
And it wasn’t. Later that week they
all flew down -- King Arthur and his lovely Jesse-Guinevere, and Jimmy, the Boy
Wonder. Truth is, they were a nice enough
bunch, but Merle and I really had something wonderful before, and when they showed
up it seemed to disappear.
The way he and Arthur laughed and joked; and it even seemed he’d known
the kid and the blonde forever. In fact,
he kept going on with each of them about how familiar they seemed.
The WonderKid just smiled every time, and didn’t say anything, but I could
tell that there was something mischievous in his eyes.
And with Miss Gold, Merle kept bringing up how much she reminded him of
someone who had been very special in his life.
It was just all so darn mysterious. Was
he hitting on her? She was young enough
to be his daughter! But then, she was almost
exactly my age. The longer they all stayed,
the more demoralized and withdrawn I became. I could barely make it through the endless strategy
meetings we had, let alone the meals we shared together.
agreed to unite our efforts and to form an umbrella for it all - the BETTER WORLD
MOVEMENT, which would encompass it all -- the Peace On Earth Arts Center and publishing/distribution
outreach, the Peace Centers and the One Day In Peace Campaign, and a loose network
of all of the organizations and projects all around the world that were striving
for a better world. I should have felt proud that Merle had convinced
them to call it the BetterWorld Movement. That was my description. But I couldn’t feel anything.
“Aren’t there a whole bunch of networks out there that want to be THE umbrella
for all the networks,” I sullenly pointed out.
I certainly wasn’t making a very good first impression on anyone. Even Merle’s incessant ranting and raving about
what a wonderful job I’d done, and how wonderful I was, wasn’t going to help bolster
the way they must have perceived me.
They agreed that there was a lot of umbrella- syndrome going on in the
world, and it might turn some organizations off, but it was the best way to describe
the invisible movement that’s going on in the world.
We wouldn’t create any official new organization called the BETTER WORLD
MOVEMENT but we’d try to refer to our efforts under that umbrella -- for the media.
Maybe, just maybe, they’d eventually pay attention if all the wonderful
efforts for a better world seemed to be happening under a common banner.
I muttered to myself and kept quiet.
Then two days later they all left. We
kept in daily communications, coordinating our efforts, but they basically did
their thing and we did ours. Once they
were gone, Merle was the same wonderful way with me as he had been before. He didn’t seem to be at all bothered that Maya
was back in Peru and he was stuck with me here. That’s when I realized that he did care deeply
for her, as a close and forever friend. But
when he looked into my eyes, I knew that he cared for me in a different way.
In exactly the way that Maya and the others had helped me to realize I
cared about him.
That first day after they left, I felt my confidence returning and I decided
to take the bull by the horns. I packed
us a picnic dinner and at the end of our afternoon meeting I took Merle by the
hand and said, “We need to talk.”
That evening our relationship reached a whole new level of understanding
and intimacy as we discussed what was on our minds, and realized that we were
in love with each other.
For the first time in my life, a romantic relationship felt exactly right. It was a natural progression of the intimacy
we’d already shared in our working and living and dreaming together.
an instant, all the jealousy and fear of inadequacy was gone. I suddenly knew without a doubt that I’d be
able to work with Artie and Maya and Jesse and Jimmy and all of the wonderful
people we’d meet without worrying that these new relationships would diminish
our relationship together. Sure they’d
change it, but we’d always have an inseparable bond.
Fortunately, first impressions aren’t always the only chance we get. The next few weeks working together with everyone
else was amazing. We still had almost nine
months to bring about One Day In Peace, and things were moving along by leaps
and bounds -- at least tiny ones. That is until Merle got that phone call from
Jimmy, and we dropped everything and caught the next plane for New Jersey.
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