Michael opened his eyes slowly, looking around and trying to reacclimatize himself.
The large bed in which he found himself was dwarfed in this grand room. Silk covered the walls, beautiful moldings lined the ceiling and beautiful artwork like nothing he had ever seen adorned the walls.
The strong afternoon sun assaulted his senses, bursting into the room through the partially closed drapes. It forced him to squint in an effort to protect his eyes, and he held his hand up to block the rays like a shield deflecting incoming arrows.
The drapes, he could see, were opulent: appropriate in the bedchamber of royalty. Not that he actually knew what a royal bedchamber would look like, but he assumed this would be it.
The majority of the room was soft earth tones of taupe, muted sea-green with bursts of vivid colors for contrast. The furniture was classic country French he would later come to know, and despite the overall elegance of the room it had a very casual comfort to it.
Only fourteen, Michael had never before been exposed to such grandeur. He had been raised in Manchester, England in a blue-collar neighborhood. His dad Sam was a shoemaker, with a shop that had been passed down from generation to generation through the centuries.
Walking through the front door of Sam’s shop was like walking through time; to a place, a style, a commitment to excellence, long since forgotten in this new modern world. And yet, this outdated, slow and structured life provided his father with a sense of fulfillment and happiness that most in the bustling masses would never know – they were in too much of a hurry.
His mom was a seamstress, though he sensed her work days were more a sense of duty than joy. The joy in her life seemed to be derived from Michael, his father, and the modest home-life they all shared.
He lived a relatively nondescript life in a nondescript place, where he passed the time dreaming of the day he could set out on his own; leaving the grey skies of England behind him as he made his mark on the world.
Michael was a good student, smart and attentive to his studies. He was a fast learner; so much so that he often left things to the last moment, confident in the knowledge that he could complete whatever task lay before him with better-than-average results. His mind was fast and sharp, making him the talented Chess player he was. But he was also a boy that loved sports. And when he wasn’t working as an apprentice in his father’s shop, he ditched his studies to read about American football.
So while his father would become upset with him sidestepping his studies, he would also be just as furious that he was pursuing an interest of an American sport, and not playing Cricket as a respectable young English lad should. And though his father knew that Michael – for reasons he couldn’t fathom – loved Football, he never knew of Michael’s secret fantasy-quest to leave England, travel to New York to try out for the New York Jets.
Michael had watched and memorized reruns of the famous 1969 Championships, when Joe Namath and the underdog Jets beat the seemingly unbeatable Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. Michael felt connected to the underdog Jets, but any team would do, as long as he didn’t have to mend shoes for a living: he would get to New York come hell or high water!
Despite his greater aspirations however, he never ditched his obligations to his father — or the shop — like he often did with his studies. When he was scheduled to work he’d always enter with a big happy grin on his face. The last time, was four years ago.
He now yearned to go back, to once again step through the door and see the pride on his dad’s face as he’d enter; as bearer of a family’s legacy. But like everything else in his life that was now just an empty dream. Now, he was alone in a world of strangers.
As he lay upon the bed in his unfamiliar surroundings, missing his parents more than he could say, longing for the simple life they shared together. He had a pang of guilt for ever wanting to leave them.