My 20's sucked. They were tumultuous, I was unsteady, and I made some pretty bad choices. By the time I was 29, I was ready to be 30. I saw 30 as a new beginning. I'd be out of a horrible decade and I knew things would be completely different. While some people feel like their lives are over at 30, I felt like my life was just beginning.
I couldn't wait for my Dirty Thirty. I usually celebrate my birthday for a whole month, but when I turned 30, I decided I was going to celebrate for a whole year (and I did). I was out dancing at the stroke of midnight when I turned 30; I had a party with my family on the day of my birthday; my co-workers took me to lunch that week and I also planned on having a party with my friends. It was shaping up to be a great celebration.
The night before the party, my friend DG and I went to our spot - the Moonlight Lounge. Our friend was the DJ that night and the place was packed. Wall-to-wall people. We made our way to the DJ table and chatted with our friend for a bit. I could feel someone staring at me so I turned and I saw a very tall guy looking at me. I stuck out my hand and introduced myself - something I never do (people don't believe me, but I'm actually quite shy). His name was Tommy*, and it turns out we had a mutual friend, N. I wandered off toward the bar and suddenly he was by my side, buying me a drink. I must have looked pretty surprised because then he said,
"I've seen you before on N's MySpace. I think you're beautiful." Wow. I had never really been approached that way - and when I looked up into his eyes, I swear time stopped and all of a sudden, it was just him and me - that crowded bar was empty and all I could hear was the beating of my heart. I must have been holding my breath because I suddenly had to come up for air, time started again, the music was playing and the crowd was back. My friend, N., saw the looks on our faces and just laughed and danced off, leaving us to chat.
I felt like I had been hit by a lightening bolt. I have been hit by the lightening bolt very few times in my life. If you've never been hit, you don't know what you're missing.
Tommy grew up in Albuquerque but had moved out of state. He was driving through and stopped in Albuquerque to see N. and her boyfriend but was leaving early the next day. We clicked immediately - we both felt like we had known each other our whole lives. We talked the whole night away, both at the bar and afterward at N's house. He told me that he was going through a divorce and every bell and whistle started going off inside my head - if someone is barely going through a break-up or divorce, then jumping into a relationship is the least healthy thing that can happen... but in that moment, I didn't care. Finally, around four in the morning, he walked me to my car and said that he wished he had more time, and that circumstances were different. He also said that although his marriage was over, he was still married, and so he wasn't going to try anything. We hugged, I got in my car and I drove away, cursing the heavens for what felt like a cruel joke.
Tommy called me the next morning and told me he was staying an extra night and was going to go to my party. I was so excited. That night, most of my friends were there, I was having a blast, and when he arrived, we were inseparable. I didn't care that he was leaving the next day, I didn't care that he was going through something as big as a divorce. I was just happy to see him. We said goodbye when he left the next day and I felt so sad because I was pretty sure I was never going to see him again, even though he said he wanted to move back.
We spoke one more time when he was already home, and that's when he told me that he and his wife were working things out. I was sick over him for a month. I felt heartbroken and cheated - I felt like it wasn't fair that I met a great guy only to have him taken away. I went on a Patsy Cline bender - every sad song she wrote, particularly She's Got You was played on repeat; I cried every time I saw a sad movie -or a funny one, or a violent one, and romantic movies were out of the question. I was, in a word, pathetic. I chuckled as I typed that word because two and a half years later, I can laugh about it.
They say that every person who comes into our lives is there for a reason, and what I have finally realized is that Tommy came into my life to show me that there are decent, honest men out there, but I also learned that I was capable of making pretty stupid choices. He could have lied, or made the move or just been a jerk. He could have had me as a girl on the side, called me in the middle of the night or when he was on the road, or emailed me secretly. He could have done all of those things and I may have let him... no, I would have. Like I said, I was pretty dumb in my 20's and old habits die hard. Had Tommy been shady, I may have gone along with it. Instead, he did the right thing by being honest and forced me to look at situations differently. Once you know that good is out there, it's hard to go back to shit.
We all have different reasons for putting up with shit. Some would say "low self-esteem" (a term I hate) or "low self-worth" are to blame, but I think that until we realize the good that is out in the world, we just accept what is given to us. I wish I could say that immediately after Tommy I completely turned around and made all the big changes that I needed to make, but I still made some dumb mistakes, hence the strike, but I also learned some big lessons, and that's all we can hope for - that we learn and make better choices the next time around.
I'm not sure what Tommy's situation is these days - I know he's still married and I hope he's happy - he really deserves to be.
Next time: Busted!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the good guys.
**I know you were expecting some crazy, sordid story about my Dirty Thirty. Really? My sisters read this blog, people! Come on!
*** Special thanks to my good friend Nikki J. who wrote the description of the blog, which now exists under the title...