Places To Be

Alone is a sad place to be. Alone is singular and harsh and solitary. 
When you spend six years of your life with someone, you take pride in the “we”. Your friends don’t struggle to get to know your significant other. They don’t have to decide if they like him for you, because he’s grandfathered in. No one questions it. It’s an easy place to be. 

When you date someone from ages 14-20, you teach the other person how to treat you. Except, when you’re 14, its not exactly how you hope things will be when you’re 20. It’s basic and bossy and simple. When you’re 20, everything is complex and multi-faceted and you have approximately 328 things to juggle in life and its the time where you answer all of the big questions like Who do I want to be? And who do I want to love? And how do I want to spend the time in my life? And the truth is you’re just getting started. Life gets busier and I know now that I desire to have a busy life with someone else. 

I didn’t want to end things with The First One. He was my whole life. He knew how to hold my hand and he knew my sibling’s birthdays and his niece called me “Aunt” and I knew his mom was abusive growing up. He knew me, until he began to hate me and tell me half truths. He lied to me about failing out of college. Then lied to me about the requirements to get back in. He lied to me about why he couldn’t keep a job. He lied about how fast he could run a 40. Like that was something that mattered?! But the point is, he continued to lie over and over and over. Most importantly, he lied to me about truly caring for me. He had no desire to live a brave life-to try new things, to fail and to continue to keep going-with me. He lied and said he didn’t put me on a pedestal. But he did. Then he began to throw rocks at me. He started telling me that he hated the way I dressed. That he disliked how I cut my hair short. He hated the things I liked. Anything I liked. He wasn’t proud of my success in school, internships, and finding jobs. He was resentful of my new friends. He hated that I moved forward while he floundered. 

I was alone before I was alone. That is a realization that I had years later. He didn’t begin to lie to me. He had lied to me all along. He had cheated on me his first semester of college and glazed over it as though it was nothing. He cut me down and told lies about me to his siblings. He told my best friend that he was in love with her. The First One never challenged me to be better or drove me mad with passion or figured out what books I liked and why I felt that they were metaphors for my life. He was a weight I carried while I worked to put myself through college. He was the guy that stood in the corner while I attempted to make new friends and come out of the shell I had created for myself in college. He was the man who embarrassed me with his inability to read people, so much so that I mothered him and consistently shushed him by pressing the heel of my hand into his knee. It turns out that I wasn’t there for him either.

I left when it became too unbearable. When the words he said cut me down more than they loved me. 

I am alone again. Except I have a best friend, a dog, a family, a post-college family, friends around the world, girls that I can cry with and laugh with and drink with until we’re silly and full of happiness that pushes up through your gut and makes every breath you take feel full. Friends that send you books that say things like this:

“Fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay. Leaving this man you’ve been with for six years won’t be easy, but you’ll be okay and so will he. The end of your relationship with him will likely also mark the end of an era of your life. In moving into this next era there are going to be things you lose and things you gain. Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.” 

— Cheryl Strayed

My new era began when The First One ended. And it’s definitely a much better place to be. 

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How Johnny-Five Cent Gave Me My Groove Back

Immediately following the end of mine and The First One’s relationship, I went on a long road trip with the BFF. I graduated college three weeks after I broke up with him. I started my first grown up job with benefits and everything a week after I graduated. Everything had changed.

Am I going to get back with him?
Will I ever get married?
How does one get asked on a date?
What’s it like to kiss someone else?

Do other people even find me attractive?

Dating someone for 6 years, all the way through highschool and college, really left me with doubts. Just plain uncertainty. Everything had changed.

Passing through the city of St. Louis on New Year’s Eve, we crashed at a friend’s house. They held a party. Lot’s of sweaters and queso and late 90’s/early 00’s pop music. BFF is always confident in new social situations. Outgoing, funny, and constantly dancing. Me? I get reserved. I stay off to the side and make observations. At this party though, I was still shell shocked. I didn’t care. I sat front and center and talked and laughed. A friend of a friend was there. His name was Johnny Nickelson. He was a “rapper”. He went by Johnny Five-Cent. No lie. He remade hit rap songs. I thought he was going to smile too much at me or gasp! holdmyhand.

Thank goodness he did not. The next day, as we moved on towards North Carolina, Jonny Five-Cent found me on Twitter and direct-messaged me.
“You need to come back to the STL and let me take you to dinner ;)”
“I will take you somewhere really nice! A girl as pretty as you deserves a nice place”
“I must warn you, one date with me and you’re gonna want more”
“I’m the guy every parent wishes their daughter would bring home ;)”
“Hey if I hit the big time you can be my date to my first red carpet event ;)”

So that is how a pretty uncool white-boy rapper called Johnny Five-Cent gifted me with a little much needed assurance. Luckily, I found the rest on my own.

If y’all ever see him make it big, just know that the hot lady on his arm at the VMA’s is me. I’ll gladly lose my anonymity to fulfill that date. It’ll at least make a good LeDistraire post.

Long Island Mortification

I ran in to him at the bar.
I ran in to him at the gym.
I ran in to him at the Japanese restaurant where they grill food and light things on fire and say lame racist jokes all right in front of you.

My best friend’s mom was in town and took my BFF and all of her friends to dinner. Our waiter rolls up as soon as her mom gets done saying “I told your dad the other day that I’m going to start talking to waiters more. To be nice!” Naturally, our waiter is him.

The flashbacks come quickly and they’re just as weird as they were the first time:

It’s the summer after The First One. I’m Tinder-ing my little heart out. BFF and I decide to go dancing on a rooftop bar with friends and the other stragglers still here in the summer in this college town. She sees one of her fellow ex-athlete friends. Their chemistry has always been a little suffocating to those sitting next to them. They get tipsy together and bump and grind in their own private bubble. I wing-woman it and dance with his friend. Luckily he is funny and a good dancer. It cancels out his looks, which are not nearly as hot as the July in Texas air. In that dizzy haze that you get when full of alcohol, love for your friends, and perfect summer nights, I give him my number and agree to a date.

The date is rough. I’m in a weak spot. I want attention and I receive it from him in these varying forms:
-Drinks at the requisite bar that each town has that’s name The Office or The Library or whatever else
-Dancing at a local country bar, but mostly just making out in the upstairs corner while people stare
-Watching Brown Sugar on his couch, while avoiding him after the 10 minutes it took me to realize that I didn’t actually want to spend any more time with him
-Being compared to a “refreshing” alcoholic drink. A long island iced tea to be exact because “You have many aspects compared to others that helps you see and enjoy life in many ways”…uhh? No.

Basically my friends just call him Long Island from The Rooftop Bar and die laughing at any possible chance they have to bring him up.

Back to reality, I sink as low as I can in to my seat while Long Island half winks at me, graciously doesn’t say he knows me, then very obviously points me out to all the rest of his coworkers. “Not bad man” says one guy when I glance over and read his lips.

Mortification. That’s what dating gets you. Lame pick up lines and mortification.

Not-Dating, Dating

Mr. Hard Body Security invited me over for dinner last night. I wore matching navy lacy undergarments that have a single thread of gold woven throughout. I also wore a maroon dress, but thats neither here nor there.

His apartment is clean, industrial, and sparse. He has neon beer signs which he swears were in his garage, but which now line the area on top of the kitchen cabinets. He swears they’re going to get put back in the garage as soon as he moves back in to a house. Mr. Hard Body Security opens the door and his mildly sweet cologne affronts my nose as I took in his medium wash straight leg jeans, forest green oxford shirt, and slightly scuffed, square-toed boots. His handsome face was set off by his dark wavy hair that he tamed with a touch of gel. Cheap gel, I found out later when I used his bathroom.

I don’t remember if he complimented me or not, but his smile indicated his visual appreciation. Mr. Hard Body Security makes excuses for dinner not being ready, “I haven’t used this oven since I moved in. I forgot I need to pre-heat it and all. I thought I had it timed perfectly.” I took in the table he had pulled out, complete with placemats and candles. He had the two types of red wine I had mentioned I liked out on the table, and the white chilling in the fridge. On the TV, he had (only semi) jokingly streamed the “Fireplace” channel from Netflix. As I recounted stores about my day, I noticed I was singing along to a Hozier song, humming along to miss Dolly, then as the song from the dance scene from The Perks of Being A Wallflower came on, I had a realization. I turned to him quickly, surprised, “You made me a playlist?!” I exclaimed before I could exhibit my usually much more controlled behavior. He slowly smiled at me, nodded once, and quickly pecked my forehead before my phone rang.

It was my sister. She’s always been good about cutting in whenever she’s not wanted. She asked me what I’m up to and I filled her in before letting her know to absolutely not tell mom. My mom had called earlier and asked what I was doing for dinner. I answered with a vague “Oh…just munching on…food…you know…” It’s not a lie if its by omission, right? My mother has no idea what Tinder is or what one would use it for or who I meet on there. Meeting at a bar is enough to make her furrow her brow and pray that I meet someone at a much more respectable establishment. So no. She doesn’t get to know.

He finished cooking, offers to make me a plate, grabbed me a glass of water along with my wine, and listened intently to every story I tell about my work day. He tells me that we should take a cooking class together. Then a dance class when he Google told him there are no cooking classes in our city. He mentioned that he got rid of Tinder. Already?! I thought to myself. “I already met the best girl on it.” Shit. 

We were supposed to watch The Notebook. The DVD I brought wouldn’t work, so we watched a scary movie. He absent mind-edly traced his hand the whole time along either my shoulder or around my knee. His arms were big and his cuddling was bigger. Eventually, I was pressed against his wall, kissed along my neck, then picked up and moved onto his bed. This is where the navy bra and panty set come in to play. He liked it. And just like earlier in the evening, he traced his fingers along my body; he paid attention to how and when I reacted to his touch. He was big and muscular and attentive. There is not an ounce of fat on him and his tan skin is smooth and warm.

Eventually, he rests on top of me while never letting his body fully relax on to mine. Mr. Hard Body Security looks at me, dips his head low so I can’t see his eyes, and spoke slowly, “I think…you’re perfect. You’re perfect.” I subsequently, freak out. I do and absolutely don’t enjoy being told that I am perfect at the same time. My response? “I’m not perfect. I have debt. Split ends. I’m hard on people when they disappoint me. My weight fluctuates…” I trail off to his laughter. “Are you trying to scare me off or get me to like you more? Because I do. I like you”. Then he kissed my left cheek, my right cheek, above my left eyebrow, and finally rested his lips above my right eyebrow and relaxed in to me.

I said nothing. He didn’t ask more of me. Which is good, because I don’t have much else to give.

My Middle Name

The Second One was (is) 5′ 11″, big blue eyes, cheekbones that cut sharply above his slightly red hued beard, and lips that were perfect, symmetrical pillows. He wooed me. He chased me. Quite literally…he chased me down in the church parking lot, one month after I thought he was going to do that exact thing. In that one month, I had continued to date Captain, broke it off; I made out hurried and high school style with my best friend’s boyfriend’s Abercrombie model-esque younger brother. Things had happened. I no longer cared if he asked me out or not.

Except I did. And he did. We went out on an art trail in our little city. He had printed off a map with locations and times and events. Most people just stop by the wineries then meander downtown. The Second One never meandered.

The Second One planned. He had plans to reinvent himself:
Step 1) Lose 80 pounds and transform his outward appearance. Check.
Step 2) Quit frat boy binge drinking and start going to church like he meant it. Get involved and portray his goodness to everyone. Check.
Step 3) Find a good Christian girl that does not judge his past and get her to fall in love….No surprise here, but this one also gets checked.

Step 4) Marry her and have a perfect house and possibly 2 kids (but only if they’re perfectly well behaved) and never have anything bad happen and have everyone validate him all of the time and never have to divulge any real parts of himself and never, ever, ever, delve in and connect to the grittiness that is another person.

That one didn’t get checked. At least not by me.

But that first date, we walked around according to his map. I soaked up the glances of jealousy from both men and women. I hung on every non-compliment he gave me. We went to a little bar with huge leather couches and sipped red wine until my cracked lips were stained. His lips didn’t stained. The Second One always reapplied his Burt’s Bees chapstick so as not to be imperfect. Buzzed, he opened up enough to make me want more. He was stable and good and grown up and handsome. Everything The First One was not. I hadn’t been in love in a long time. I fell fast and I fell hard.

Then it stopped. He stopped. He could give no more of himself and didn’t want to know any more about me. In the last week, he didn’t know my middle name. After months together. Does he ever even listen to me? Does he truly care?  were the only thoughts that could run through my brain.

He hasn’t talked to me in almost two months. Then a G-chat today:
“I was searching for art classes to help me build up my portfolio to apply to the architecture department next June and I saw that the [local arts center] offers pottery throwing classes. I remember that you wanted to take a class on that.”

You remembered? You listened to me? And you tell me now? Please don’t. Please stop. It hurts to fall in love with someone who can’t give of themselves to you. I don’t want to know that you know any part of me. I want to forget that there were reasons I fell in love with you. 

Dolly Parton & Ouija Boards

“You have a record player? How does it work? I’ve never listened to one before.”- Mr. Hard Body Security last Sunday night when he first walked in to my house.
I turned it on and started playing the Dolly Parton album that was already loaded onto the turnstile. He wanted to know if they still made modern records. I showed him the new Aloe Blacc album and The Perks of Being a Wallflower album.

“I love that movie!”, so on it went. He opened a beer and played with my dog. I sipped on a cider and tried to figure out what on earth we could do besides sit on the couch and pretend to watch television while mostly trying to not jump on top of him.

“Do you have any games?”, Mr. Hard Body Security inquired. The only game that was not buried underneath the pile of crap I still have yet to put away from the spare bedroom was a Ouija board. He was game.

“I’ve done this before. I got you.” He assured me as he stood in my bedroom holding the glow-in-the-dark board up to my ceiling light. I stood there in amazement and awe at how completely fine he seems to do something as mildly embarrassing as calling on spirits with someone with whom he’d gone on 1 1/2 dates. Okay, so the awe mostly comes from the definition his shoulders show when he holds something above his head. I turn off the lights so only the glow from the living room shines down the hallway. We position ourselves cross-legged on my bed with the board between us.

“Alright…you can’t laugh. This is serious business.” He whispers with a twinkle in his eye. He grabs my hands in his, then decides better, and directs me to ever so gently place my pointer fingers on the triangular piece. He does it so delicately and precisely. Intentional and honest and oh my goodness he makes me do a double take. I have a thing for hands. Strong ones that know how to touch you to make you feel all of the feels.

“Spirits!” he calls out loudly while I die laughing.
“Hey now! You can’t laugh. You said you wouldn’t” Mr. Hard Body Security smirks. He calls out the spirits again. Prompting them to use our bodies to deliver any unsaid message they would like to convey. My body convulsed mildly with my laughter, and I could feel him looking at me and smiling. The Ouija board never moved.

We ended up laying next to each other, just talking. He tells me he likes me. I laugh. I’m not ready to feel any real feelings towards anyone. But the way he was so confident, his silliness, his unabashed way of being himself…it’s charming.

I’m not going to overthink the good. As the songstress of ours from earlier in this post once said “My weaknesses have always been food and men-in that order”- Dolly. I’ll keep it as simple as that.