And that was the end of (the old) me.
It began at a bus stop in desertville, California. I had a backpack full of music and a suitcase half filled with books. New Mexico was my destination and my past; left in the dust void of a forgettable city. As the heavy burden of tires rolled on, I didn’t think to look back once. I was 25 and jobless once upon a time, useless, without any room to find myself. It was at that moment I had finally found all the room in the world.
I boarded this dirty, stuffy sub on wheels, filled with awkward strangers, and began my 20 hour journey; hopefully towards something better. I was ready for change, ready to fall in love with the idea of being an unknown and meeting someone just like myself. Ready to try a new approach to life, leaving the old me behind. I was finally over Juan, over the stress my family gifted me with, and ready to take on anything.
After 20 hours of sleepless, back aching anxiety, I finally arrived in this slow thriving town on a cold November morning. I was thrilled at the snow falling lightly and the cool air on my skin. This was something I wasn’t used to back home and already, life seemed promising. That was until the moment we arrived at my fathers’. My father who had already been here half his life had arrived in his fading blue ’57 Chevy to pick me up. It was an uncomfortable yet gratifying moment, looking at him as I walked toward the truck. We hugged briefly and I filled him in on the long and boring ride while he threw my luggage into the truck. I thought about the last time I had seen my dad. I had been about 10 or 11 years old. It felt like a long time ago.
When we arrived home I was less than thrilled at the accommodations in front of me. Dying of old age and looking like a terribly re-bandaged wound, sat my father’s trailer; a two bedroom without any taste. Maybe I should’ve asked for the brochure before my life changing decision. I didn’t need much so the smaller bedroom worked for the time being. My dad made breakfast and we sat around getting to know more about the other. The snow stopped falling soon afterward.
After two months of bus rides and failed searches, I finally found a job at the nearest Applebee’s as a hostess. Nothing great, but it was a job and no one knew me, or the person I had once been and I liked knowing that. I was hired along with this guy named Miles. He was average looking, but isn’t average the best after all? I mean he was real and there was nothing that hair gel or better looking clothes could have done to change that. I liked him from the start; in his jeans and white T-shirt. He was interesting and that was enough.
After three months I was promoted as a server which meant more money and a better shot at moving out of my dad’s. I began hanging out with Miles every now and then. The poor guy had two jobs and went to the University. How he made time for me, for anything, I’ll never know. We hung out at bars mostly because that was really the only thing to do in this town. With it’s motto being “The land of enchantment” it was no wonder the locals called it “The land of Entrapment” as you could tell by the patrons who hung out at these local dives.
Every time we hung out, we drank while talking about everything; everything except relationships. It was more about music and my writing, and what he was going to school for. I enjoyed his critique when it came to my poetry. He was raw and honest and that was all I wanted. Right from the beginning he made it clear he wasn’t looking for a relationship or a “girlfriend” and just wanted to focus on school. At the same time, I was falling for him and I hated that I couldn’t say anything for fear of losing what we had, whatever “this” was.
A year later I was promoted to Bartender and life was good; finally. I had Miles to hang out with, (although he no longer worked at the restaurant), people from work to go dancing with, and not a care in the world. Living at my dad’s wasn’t so bad either as long as I was out of the house and busy.
Things between Miles and I, that was another story. Our meetings were sporadic and it was difficult not being around him as much. And then summer came upon us and with it a hot and dry day, and I was invited over for a swim. I was excited to see him again. Afterwards, we hung out in his apartment, me in one of his long sleeve sweaters while my clothes hung out to dry, and he in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt; how I always liked him. It was the first time I had seen his apartment and I was impressed from the start. He was so clean and organized, and he even had curtains hanging in his kitchen. We sat in the dark and listened to jazz while getting a little high, all the while I was just enjoying the moment between us. We didn’t talk much but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time. I laid on his sofa while he sat on the floor at the foot of it. At that moment I knew I could learn to be just friends because I enjoyed myself around him. There was no sadness, no anxiety, just good vibes from this friendship. I had decided then and there to put my feelings for him on the back burner until he was ready. I didn’t want to ruin this good thing. Soon afterward, he turned on the lights, brought out a sketchbook, and asked if he could draw me. I agreed immediately. I repositioned myself back on his sofa, relaxed, and let him go to work. After a few minutes of drawing he asked me to remove his sweater I was wearing. I wasn’t wearing anything underneath but I didn’t hesitate. I felt comfortable with him and he knew by now I wasn’t a size 4 but it didn’t seem to matter. There was this relaxing silence between us and the quiet beats of jazz surrounding the room. I was in my pleasure zone and I felt totally sexy even though I was far from model status. Perhaps being high had something to do with it. I loved the way he took me in as his pencil went to work. I think about this moment and I realize how much it resembles a scene from a movie, but it didn’t feel that way one bit. In fact, it was new and a first for me; to have someone admire me by taking all of my flaws and turning them into something beautiful.
He stopped after several minutes went by and slowly crawled over to me. What happened next threw my “just friends” plan out the window, and it was anything but short of amazing. The four play was so new and erotic as the darkness swallowed us in. I was in shock at the fact that he was touching me. The sex itself was a job in itself and I was completely drained afterward. Talk about a workout. (I didn’t have time to analyze it, due to other feelings felt in that moment which stopped me from thinking at all.) Afterward we laid there, in each others arms and made small talk until sleep slurred our speech and we couldn’t hold on any longer. I left after breakfast which he prepared in the morning. No kiss goodbye, no hug, just a goodbye and I’ll see you later. Inside I was beginning to ache for change between us. We never spoke about it nor did we change anything between us. At least he didn’t. I, on the other hand, was dying inside.
We had a few more occasions that ended in passionate one night stands, but I still couldn’t get up the nerve to tell him how I felt. Until that was, I found out he was moving back to Texas. Could I make him stay if I confessed how I felt? Would he want to stay? Or better still, would he ask me to go with him? I knew for sure that I couldn’t tell him anything for fear of screwing that up too. How could I make it sound meaningful? I decided to write him a 5 page letter, the only thing I was good at doing.
He called me a week later to talk. The butterflies were rough that day.
I put on my most flattering dress and headed over. We agreed that we would cook dinner at his place and hang out. So we ate, listened to music, and made small talk. I figured he wasn’t going to bring it up but of course I was wrong. All he wanted in the end was to hear it from me. He wanted me to come from behind my safety net and tell him how I felt. In the end I had become a complete failure. I couldn’t bring myself to confess my feelings to him. I was a complete chicken, not wanting to ruin the last moment we had. Besides, it was all there, on paper and wasn’t that enough? I didn’t want to ruin the most beautiful words I had written. It got worse when he surprised me that his plans had changed and he was now leaving for Texas in a week.
I was speechless and crushed. I was so stupid in the end, at least I’d like to think so. Would he have stayed if I had expressed myself to him? Was that really all it took? I’ll never know. As the last night before his departure arrived, we shared a dinner (prepared by me), had a last “fling” that night and I walked silently out the door in the early morning. The night was romantic and every touch was so gentle from him. Maybe it was his way of saying, “Here’s one more chance. Take it.”, only to fail him in the end. I felt betrayed by my own weakness as I walked away. I wanted to believe that it finally meant something; the sex and all, but who was I really kidding? If he had felt the same way I don’t think leaving would’ve been on his mind. If it had meant anything, he would’ve told me he had felt something as well. I got into my car and drove away in tears. And sadly, that was the end of Miles. They’ll never be another like him.
Half a year later and in my own apartment (finally), a new guy entered my life. I was working the bar and a couple of guys walked in and took a seat. I made small talk and went about my routine. Vince (I found out later), was the only one who made eye contact when I spoke to them, I noticed this right away. I found myself smiling a bit more than necessary. When they called it a night he walked back in and asked me out. I said yes right away.
On our first date, I made the mistake of bringing him home. I hate to admit it but I was lonely and he was a good kisser. We had a wonderful night; dinner and afterwards, movies at my place. I tried to set up one of my coworkers with his friend but it just wasn’t happening and I couldn’t wait for them to leave anyway.
The moment between us was romantic, slow, and dreamy like and Miles was slowly drifting away with every kiss from Vince’s lips. The darkness swallowed us in, heightening each touch. All the while I couldn’t help wondering why most people have sex in the dark. What else am I hiding besides my imperfections? Is it the silly faces I’ll make deep in the moment, or am I afraid of looking intensely into the eyes of truth, knowing it’s way too soon to be doing this? Afterwards, I slept like a rock and he left in the morning. I think I finally got out of bed after 2 in the afternoon, satisfied, no less.
By the second week we were a couple. He would sneak in through my unlocked window while I slept, crawl into bed and wake me up in the most wonderful of ways. By the fourth week he was saying, “I love you.” It was uncomfortable at first because not only was it too soon, but because Miles was still there, in the cracks of my damaged heart. I still missed him so.
In the end, I decided that fast was the best decision. I would get over Miles while Vince and I would enjoy life. My job was expanding, doing everything from Bartending to training the front house staff. Life was great. I had no complaints. Vince, on the other hand, was another story.
By our fourth month we were living together in his new home. His parents were against it, his parents were against me, mostly because I was three years older. It seemed great at first. We came home to each other, I cooked when we didn’t go out to eat, and the sex was fantastic. Bathroom floors, living room floor, kitchen counters, role-playing, dirty movie night, and great foreplay. It was fun and exciting. All the while our relationship was slowly failing.
His personality did a 360. He became easily jealous; hanging out where I worked to make sure no one was trying to “pick me up.” He accused me of cheating with my coworkers at least once a week. These were the same people we had over the house for parties, or hung out with at bars. The same guys he was buddy-buddy with in the beginning of our relationship. He began to yell a lot and throwing things against the wall became a weekly routine.
In the beginning I thought communication and patience was all it took to turn it around. I tried so hard to make it work because failing again just wasn’t an option. EventualIy I stopped inviting the same people over, we went out alone from then on, and the violent attitude ceased for a while. The calm, however, didn’t last long when one day our neighbor came by and confided to me that Vincent had asked her out a couple of times. She said she declined every time but thought I should know. At first I didn’t believe her “confession.” She lived alone and probably thought she could introduce more friction between Vincent and I since I was sure she could hear every argument we previously had. It didn’t take long to catch him in the act though. Soon after, while upstairs working on my writing, I heard his conversation with her, clear as day. It was then that I knew it was finally time to leave.
The begging lasted the whole time I packed. I didn’t have much to pack though; mostly clothes and my music, some books and not much more. As I got into my car the begging turned to spite and I could hear “whore” and “bitch” as I drove away. That was the end of Vince. It was back to my dad’s and I wasn’t happy with failure number 2. I had high hopes for turning my life around, for starting over and changing the parts of me I didn’t like. Why was this so hard to accomplish? I was beginning to think “failure” was my middle name.
At the beginning of the new year I started a new job at a restaurant that was opening up. I still lived at my dads’ but it didn’t matter. My dad and I were getting along much better. Perhaps he took pity on my failure of a relationship or just me in general. We began hanging out on the weekends; walking around the swap-meet or fishing on one of the reservation’s lakes. We didn’t talk much but sometimes it wasn’t necessary. It was nice enough to get back what I had lost as a kid the day he walked out of our lives for good. I needed a parent, and since my mother wasn’t around it had to be dad.
My new job was going well, back to being a server and new people. I just wanted to be single and drama free, so I wasn’t looking for a guy or interesting people to hang out with. The job was all that mattered an in four months I became the Assistant Manager/Trainer. After a slew of “please come back” phone calls and unexpected visits, Vince was finally behind me. I asked myself what was the issue with the three-year difference between us? I suppose in this case nothing but immaturity. In the background, I still missed Miles. He was becoming my “Juan” all over again.
Being an Assistant Manager meant closing the restaurant with the kitchen staff. They were cool guys; full of that “guy” humor and they had good taste in music. Every now and then I would help out and get them out of there faster. I didn’t mind getting a little dirty if it meant getting home quicker and taking a shower. One of the guys that quickly impressed me was Dylan. He was the ever so witty charmer for sure. I liked his personality from the start and soon a friendship ensued.
Nights after work consisted of his house, other coworkers, music, and drinking. It was finally coming together. Life was easy and stress free. Even Miles was slowly becoming a thing of the past. On cold clear nights, Dylan and I would drive out to the woods, to places I had never seen and hang out looking at stars, or get spooked by the darkness surrounding us. I loved being around him because I never had to “doll up.” If I was filling in as a server, we’d hang out afterwards and I didn’t have to run home and change. I didn’t have to reapply make up or fix my awkward hair. It was comfortable and I was fine, for once. He even had a cute nickname for me; “Q.” it was a friendship I had long sought after, never once realizing that something this great never lasts long.
While out one night, under the stars and talking like usual, Dylan, in his spontaneous way, leaned over and kissed me. At first it was awkward, thank God for the darkness. I wasn’t interested in him that way, but after thinking about the way I felt with Miles, I figured I couldn’t let Dylan down. I was just glad we had become friends first because jumping into bed with another guy wasn’t part of the plan. When he kissed me again, I kissed back and after a few moments it felt almost real.
It was like that for a month, mostly because I still clung to our friendship, but eventually I gave in and we had sex one night after work. We hung out in his hot tub, and the making out mixed with the drinks we ingested made the mood all the more steamy. The four play was amazing. It went on for so long. I felt like the center of his universe as if I was the only thing on his mind. The sex itself, well, let’s just say I understood his enjoyment with four play. I couldn’t complain though since I wasn’t too excited about sex to begin with.
Soon after, we were both offered a job training other restaurants in the US and we took it, no questions asked. I myself, was ready to move on from New Mexico and try something new. I wanted to leave that part of my life behind, for good.
We shared a room during the job and most of the time we were too tired to have sex which didn’t bother me in the least. The bad news was that we were with each other 24/7 and I was easily becoming bored. A couple of months later, and I don’t know how, I confirmed my pregnancy. Dylan was ecstatic, I was kind of as well, mostly because being a mom seemed a new adventure and I figured it was a good time. We were making good money and saving it wouldn’t be a problem. We continued working as usual; a six-day stretch with our only day off being the flight to our next destination.
The hardest part was buying new clothes. I didn’t expand too much in the first three and half months, but I didn’t fit in any of my clothes either. My face was a little fuller as well. The whole all glowing and beautiful when pregnant like most women say was definitely a joke. You’re just fat and only going to get fatter. It all went downhill at the three and half mark. That’s when the pains began.
I was running the front of the house during their mock opening and it was during the lunch rush when the cramping started. It was the same feeling that my menstrual cramps gave me; severe. I knew immediately that something was wrong. I confirmed the realization after visiting the ‘ladies’ room. I had starting to bleed.
Because Dylan was swamped in the kitchen with his staff, one of my training coworkers dropped me off at the nearest hospital. I waited alone, for what seemed a long time in the waiting room . I think it was two hours later when I was called in. The Nurses did their tests, gave me a shot of something to take the pain away, and conducted an ultra sound. I never want a catheter again. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. In the end, I was informed that I had miscarried. They told me what was in store for me, what to expect, and to get plenty of rest. Why is “plenty of rest” always the solution? To me it’s just time to sulk and wallow in ones failures. I took it anyway.
I waited to be picked up from the hospital, the whole time feeling dirty and picked over as though everyone knew what had happened to me. The worst part was having to go back to work because it was the dinner rush and our hotel wasn’t close by. I sat at the bar the whole time, feeling miserable and dirty. I wanted a shower in the worst way. Dylan still didn’t know what was going on.
When we got to the hotel, I explained what happened. There was silence from his end. It would’ve been uncomfortable had I any energy left to care, but at that moment I just wanted to shower and sleep. I didn’t work the rest of the week and it was actually nice being left alone, under the covers and crying most of the day. When Dylan would come back from work, I’d either be asleep or in the bathtub. We didn’t talk much and maybe we were both too tired to talk about anything. Maybe he didn’t know what to say. Maybe he was angry that I had failed at carrying his child. I was too miserable to care one way or the other.
Reality soon set in and I eventually fell back into my work schedule, never mentioning anything about my experience or my feelings to anyone, not even family. I kept myself busy enough to exhaust myself and fall straight into bed. I was repulsed by the thought of Dylan wanting to touch me. We didn’t kiss anymore, and sex was definitely out of the question. We were falling apart and there was nothing we could do about it.
Our job lasted another six months and then it was all over. We were still together but distant for sure. We decided to move to another state and work for one of the owners of the restaurants. I became their Trainer and server, Dylan became their Kitchen Manager. I worked double shifts while he worked his all day normal shift. On our days off we would catch a movie or drive and explore new territory. We were always silent, the only sound was the wind and the music. He was usually on his computer most of the time and my head was in a book or working on my writing. We were a silent couple, I was still hurting from my failed attempt at pregnancy, Dylan was quiet for his own reasons. We didn’t talk about “us” anymore.
In the end, I decided to buy a one way ticket back home to California. I didn’t want my dad to see another failed choice I had made and no one back home knew anything about what I had been through. This seemed liked the right thing to do at the time. I had tried and failed and knew there was nowhere else to turn.
Dylan and I stopped talking after that. I spent the next week picking and choosing what to take back with me, crying whenever he wasn’t around. We ate separately, we slept in different rooms. I could see the anger in his face but he never said a word. I left his ring on the dresser and closed this chapter of my life forever.
The drive to the airport was full of anxiety. I just wanted to be away from him, from everything we had been through. At the same time, I was so sad that we didn’t talk about what had happened. I hated that he didn’t care enough to get his feelings (if he had any) out. I hated myself for not trying to tell him how I had felt through it all. When he stopped at the unloading passenger zone, I grabbed my suitcases, gave him a quick hug, and said goodbye. The tears were stinging terribly from my running mascara, and I think I saw his eyes a bit watery too. At least I like to think so. After our hug he quickly walked to the car and drove off. That was the end of Dylan. Of my life on the road. I was headed back to the place I needed to be away from. I had failed miserably at life on the road, in New Mexico, and at home. I had failed at being someone different. I had failed miserably at trying to find something new, something different. With head down and tail between my legs, I headed towards the plane. But I didn’t stay that way for long.
While sitting on the plane, waiting for take off, I had my epiphany. I will always be “me,” and that should be a good thing, right? Happiness shouldn’t have to consist of a successful relationship or a relationship at all. I think the realization of this time away from home brought me to my senses. It was never about “changing” me at all but merely accepting me for who I would always be. A relationship doesn’t make me a better person just as an unsuccessful one doesn’t make me a failure. This slow journey of self discovery was becoming an eye opener, no matter how cliché it sounded. I would not return home a failure but instead, a bit more wiser, independent, and loving of myself. It was always about accepting me and not accepting how this world defined how a woman should be. I have a lot to look forward to when I return home.