Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chapter 7 - Oh The Internet

Every night out started with a trip to 'BCN. I'd meet my friends there and head out into the city on another wild adventure. I never knew where the night would take us, and I never cared. I always knew that regardless of where I ended up, that the adventure would be worth it. It was like each night was a choose your own adventure book. I felt like with each decision I made the page was being turned closer to my fate. Closer to finding the one I was meant to be with and closer to finding myself.

Heading out on that cool night I was so unsure of myself. I was "dating" but had no commitments. I liked it that way but longed for something more. Maybe it was that the guys weren't the right fit...maybe it was that I wasn't fitting in my skin these days. I still had no answers on why I was "put out to pasture" by my ex. It had been months and we'd not spoken, even once. It was no use worrying about it though, there was no reason to even talk to him anyway. It wouldn't have done me any good to hear his voice...especially since I was trying to forget I was engaged a few months back. I was trying to be someone else.

On this night I had an intense feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something larger than me was surrounding me like a warm thick blanket. Enveloping me in comfort and assurance. Maybe it was the light snow falling, maybe it was the cool air on my skin. I just knew that adventure was going to find me that night.

As my girlfriend and I picked our location, we headed over to the establishments next to the Pru. We picked a bar that we thought would have the "business" types as a crowd. Though we loved the rock star life we were leading, the idea of dating guys who were in the "business" was less appealing to me. I wished I could branch out, date out of my office some new people...truthfully it was always a wish, but the best relationships I had were always with co-workers until I met my husband. But that isn't going to happen for nearly 7 years from now.

I was high on the idea of meeting someone. As I sipped my drink I surveyed the room. I saw him from across the bar. Eyeing me as I sized him up. He looked older than me, maybe by a few years. He was tall, dark and clearly in some sort of business type field. After a little prodding from my friend we headed over to talk to him and his friends.

Our conversation lasted only 20 minutes as he and his friends were about to leave. They worked for a company downtown and had been across the street for a convention. No numbers were exchanged but I did my best to smile and flirt with him. Flirting gave me a sense of strength, a purpose even. Despite the fact that I was bruised inside, I put on the front that I truly was ready for anything. I felt like if my facade was bright no one would notice the lights inside were dimmed from sadness. It worked usually. But sometimes, when I was alone at home I'd let the dimmed lights in my soul control me. But not tonight. Tonight I was radiant. I was being the me I wanted to be...I was feeling daring, strong and in control...which led to my next move.

The next day I did something that led to the confidence I felt moving to CA, the confidence I had in me. I emailed the guy's general sales email on his company's website. I basically wrote an email saying that I had met him and that we talked at the bar. I enjoyed the conversation and wanted to try to see him again.

I don't remember the exact wording of the email but come Monday my email box was flooded with emails. Messages from girls at the company saying things like "way to go" and "wow, that's awesome! hope it works out!" I then realized that the mail I had sent was forwarded around the ENTIRE company. Apparently I was naive enough to think that it was only going to go to the sales department. And even that...really. I really thought it was OK to email someone's company asking for a date? In the time since this event took place I've definitely learned a thing or two about professionalism and would NEVER do something like that again, but at the time I thought it was the only way to go.

I am not sure what I was thinking honestly. But I got an email back from him and just 3 days later we met for dinner. After dinner I went to his house. We talked, he revealed that he had a child back home with his HS girlfriend and though they weren't together, he was going to visit them for a week and he was leaving the next day. Whether or not this was true or not, I'll never know, but because of that story, I never tried to call him again. He never tried to contact me either. For all I know he might have moved back home.

If anything I took from this experience a tremendous lesson. There was more to me than the break up of my engagement, there was more to me than just being complacent. I was able to take action if I wanted something and I was willing to take ownership of the things I wanted and didn't want. It was clear to me that I had to be who I was inside. I couldn't let my heart lights be dimmed because someone tried to turn them off. I needed to let the light and hope I had inside me shine as brightly as I could.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chapter 6 - How You Remind Me

In the months after our first official date the Radio Producer and I continued to see each other. I laugh now at how I really thought no one at the station knew we were together ALL the time...but honestly I know it was obvious now. It's interesting to me how in our youth we think we are being so sly, so secretive, when in reality it had to have been the most blatant relationship going at the station at the time! We were together a lot, even if I wouldn't let our "hanging out" be labeled.

I would visit him at his late night job at another radio station just so we could talk and hang out. It was there we would have some of the best conversations between his on-air breaks. I would go to his house for parties, we would go to the galleria or just hang out at the station. Each time we were together we grew closer, even if I pretended we didn't.

Our relationship continued to grow despite my reluctance to allow my heart to open up. For months, I kept my heart hidden away in a dark box that I kept surrounded by soft pillows. There was no way it was going to see the light of day, regardless of how I felt. I was not in a place where I could openly give it to anyone. And this pattern of closed heartedness was destined to last for nearly 7 years and managed to destroy each of the great loves in my life. This was merely the first casualty of my broken heart.

Looking back, I realize the day our relationship took a turn toward the inevitable. It was the day several of us went to see Nickelback. I agreed to take a friend of another co-worker's as my plus one. Though the intention was not to set it up as an "official" date, it certainly appeared as one to my radio producer boyfriend. A large group of us were at the show and while talking to my co-worker's friend, the radio producer I had been seeing got visibly upset. I tried to talk to him but it was no use.

In my memory I was not seeing anyone officially and he knew that. So I tried to justify that he had no right to be angry...but the fact is, he probably did have a right to be angry. I remember standing by the bar with my drink as Nickelback played "How You Remind Me" watching him walk by. The memory has stuck with me for years now. The look on his face of disappointment and the feeling in my heart of indignance.

I wanted to believe I was justified in my non-commital ways. I wanted to believe that I was ok as long as I didn't give anyone the key to the dark box my heart currently resided in. I wanted to believe that it didn't matter to me if that key got lost. But in the part of my heart that was still alive, looking out of the key hole did matter that I didn't lose the key...I just wasn't ready to use it.

I did end up "dating" my co-workers friend. We dated for a few months and that like the relationship before it and many others since that one had the same fate; they ended because I was broken. I had no idea that this was going to be the first of many heartbreaks. I thought I would get over that fateful night that my fiance left me to find his way in the world, but I didn't get over it. I didn't get over it for nearly 7 years.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chapter 5 - Not Average

In the months following the break up, I really had no idea where to turn. Talking about it was just too painful and required me reliving the experience over and over, and truthfully what was talking about it going to really accomplish? I mean, what's done is done and I knew then that talking wasn't going to change I buried it. I took the hurt and the pain and torment I felt in my heart and buried it deep inside. I pretended it never happened, that HE never happened and just tried to focus on the good things in my life. I had work. I had tons of new friends and a new life starting at 'BCN. I was going out, to concerts, to parties, to bars and clubs. I was doing tons of new things. I had my girlfriends from Norwich who were there for me.
Things were good and dwelling on the heartbreak of August was not going to help, so rather than cry, deal and heal...I just forgot about it, or told myself I did and that process of "forgetting" would ruin most of the real relationships I would have for the next 4 years, but I had no way of knowing that then. I thought I was doing what was best. And at the time it worked.
It was during this time of personal discovery that I met the first man who started to wake my heart up. He was also the first in the long string of men that I dated in my various workplaces. We met when I was doing work for the WBCN Patriots Rock Radio Network.
At first, we would see each other in the station on Saturdays and Sundays as he was producing some weekend programming. It began with stolen glances, smiles and light conversation, but quickly grew into this budding romance that took me completely by surprise. I would look forward to seeing him on the weekend. I would stay later than I needed to just so we could have conversations. I found myself trying to find reasons to go into the studio while he was working or into use the copy machine while he was in the copy room. Looking back at it now, it was the first time in my life that I was actively pursuing someone. I mean, at college I had crushes and would talk to guys, but really I didn't have to do much to get them to be interested. But in this case I wanted to make my interest known. That was new for me.
Once he took a job during the week, things began to accelerate more quickly between us. I'd see him everyday and the flirting got more intense and ultimately led to us hanging out outside of work and "dating," though it was hard for me to admit that we were really seeing each other.
I can see that buried broken heart thing made me unavailable, even if I didn't know it then. He was patient and kind to me and gave me chance after chance to be with him. Chances, that looking back, I don't think I deserved. In some ways, I was lost in my own personal grief. I buried that grief in my work, my friends and a lot of nights out that were full of drinking, dancing, and sleeping on the 'BCN couch.
Regardless of my somewhat wild girl behavior, I did want to give this new guy a chance. Part of me knew that he was worth knowing. Part of me wanted to move forward. Thanks to that part I agreed to go on a date with him. We had flirted, talked online and on the phone, and it was time to make it real.
We went to Not Your Average Joe's for dinner. All the tables were taken so we ate at the bar. It was nice, intimate and real. We talked, drank and laughed. He listened to me, I listened to him. It was the beginning of something new for me.
Since the break up, my interaction with men had been brief and meaningless - a dance at a nightclub or kissing in a dark corner of a bar, which inevitably led to the exchanging numbers though we knew we'd never speak again. Those interactions over the 4 months since my fiance left me had left me feeling empty. I had fun, don't get me wrong, but there was no substance behind it.
I knew this date was different, it was the start of something. I remember walking out of the restaurant after dinner thinking how wonderful it felt to be treated like I mattered, like who I was meant something to someone. We were walking down the hallway toward the door and he silently took my hand and led me toward the exit. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, my face flushed. It was nice to be admired. Nice to be seen by him. That night was the first time we kissed.
On a boat in New Hampshire, just a few months before, a Fred Savage look a-like had shown me that my heart could be open to possibility. This was the first time that I felt that possibility stir within me. It was time to move forward and with this kiss I was propelled toward something bigger than me. Something that was going to help my heart heal.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chapter 4 - Is that Fred Savage?

Just a few drinks and it will all feel better. That's the philosophy right? That's the thought process. The idea that if I have a few drinks, mix and mingle with other single people, and perhaps go dance on a crowded dance floor that I will forget my life for the moment. For that moment it will feel better, almost ideal even. So that is what I did.

After agonizing over the drive to New Hampshire, I got in the car. I drove the nearly 1 hour to my friend's house. I was greeted at her door by her mother, who rivals my mother in true coolness. The fact that I had called her home looking for her daughter at 1:30am the night before didn't bother her, she knew what I was going through. She heard the anguish in my voice and knew. She woke up her daughter, my best friend and gave her the phone. That phone call had led me through the darkness to this moment. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in August. I was a 21 year old woman who in less than just 24 hours had gone from somebody's something to absolutely no-one's anything, or so I thought at least and she knew I needed to find that distraction. She knew that a night out with give me a renewed sense of who I am, who I could be, and who deserved to know me...too bad I wasn't ready to accept that last one, not yet anyway.

My friend and I spent the afternoon talking about the situation, discussing it, dissecting it, analyzing it as only young women can do. Looking back at that day, I can't remember the specifics of our conversation, but I do guess we probably just spun our wheels. It was easier to talk about it with her, to let her in. We had been through a lot that last year at Norwich. We had talked about a lot, been through a lot and to have her really understand where I was coming from meant the world to me.

After the talking was over, we put on our "party pants" as I liked to call them, and headed out downtown. It was a warm night, the kind of night that you felt alive. There was a warm breeze blowing off of the land and as it met with the cooler air hanging over the ocean, it gave you goose bumps. The air around me caressed my skin with a sense of possibility. The feel of the night gave me hope, hope that no one could look at me and see the scar on my heart.

Just a few drinks I told myself. A few drinks and I would forget, I would feel better, I'd fade into the crowd. And after a few drinks I did forget, I did feel better. I felt this strange courage, a liquid induced courage I'd guess. It led my friend and I on an adventure late into the night. An adventure that changed my life.

We talked to a group of guys at the bar. Now, I can't for the life of me remember their names, their faces, or really anything about them, except that one of them looked strikingly like Fred Savage. Now not older sort of unattractive Fred Savage, but the younger, hopeful version of Fred Savage that all girls my age were naturally attracted to. I do believe that anyway, I remember him looking that way. I remember wanting to talk to him, believing that the hopefulness would rub onto me. That sense of hopeful romanticism I believed that Fred Savage embodied. That being said...we ended up on a boat, in Portsmouth Harbor, with Fred and his friends.

I don't think we were on the boat for much longer than an hour. We sat there, talked to Fred and his friends in the cool night. The bars had closed at this point so there wasn't much going on. It was late and the air was still. Fred and I sat looking out at the ocean. It was lit dimly as I remember, by the lights from the boats in the harbor and the half moon that hung over us in the clear night sky. Though I am sure Fred said something to me that was meant to be cool, calm and most likely somewhat implying his interest in me, I have no idea what he said. All I know is I let him kiss me. I let myself fall prey to that moment in the moonlight. I let my heart bleed and break as his lips touched mine.

I felt weird being so close to someone other than the man who a little over 24 hours ago had left me sitting on my parents front porch. It was awfully hard to kiss Fred Savage back, but I did. I had too. If I didn't, it was like I was admitting I was broken, and even though I was broken, I had to push through.

In the depths of my soul, I knew that my heart was going to have to heal on it's own. The same way I knew he was going to end it, I knew that the man who broke my heart was not going to come back and fix it. I knew I had to move on. I was going to have to cancel the reception hall order, return my wedding dress and essentially become a better more independent version of myself.

That night on the boat with Fred Savage changed me. I saw possibility in his hopeful eyes. I felt the future in his kiss and I knew when I got off of that boat that I was going forward into a moonlit future of unlimited opportunities. Opportunities that were going to lead me on an adventure that I had never imagined possible.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chapter 3 - Drive Away

Just turn the key, turn the key and drive I told myself. I was sitting in my car in my parents driveway. It was just about 11am. I knew that I needed to go. I needed to get myself out of my life for a while. I needed a distraction, a distraction that Portsmouth was surely going to provide.

After all that had happened just a few short hours ago, I needed to leave. I knew that I had to go, but I was so afraid to leave. What if he calls? He said he'd call when he got home...and he HAS to be home by now. What if I miss the call and he wants to get back together and I'm off galivanting around Portsmouth with my friend? I was so torn on what to do. I just sat there. Hands on the steering wheel, looking straight ahead at my parents fence. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in August too. One of those days where you just feel good because the weather is nice. I should feel good I kept trying to convince myself. I should just go. But instead I got out of the car and went back into the house.

I picked up the phone and called her again. My college roommate, my best friend, she was the one person who knew what had happened the night before...and luckily for me she was one of the only people I knew who at that point could really get how I felt. Though she was never engaged to her former boyfriend, he had similarly just decided to hit the road one day too, so she got it. And after my call last night, she definitely knew that I wasn't really ok with what had happened.

"I can't do it. What if he calls?" I asked, in a nervous voice as soon as she answered the phone. I knew I had to go, but I was so torn...honestly I did not want to miss that call, I didn't want to miss out on the chance to hear his voice again, to know that he was ok and was thinking about me...that he still cared...that he wanted to know how I was doing.

"Umm...ok, let's think about this," she responded. Always rational and cool, my friend had a way of calming me down. "If you stay home today, and sit at your parent's house are you going to be ok? You are going to wait for a call and if it doesn't come, and you don't hear from him today you are seriously going to be more upset than you are now."

"Oh, I know," I responded. "But if I miss the call and I'm not here won't he think I don't care and I don't want to get back together with him and then it could be all over. I know he still loves me, how do you just shut that off - we were engaged for God's sake!"

"Yeah you were engaged," my friend stated. "But honestly Jenn, it is over. For right now, it's done. Would you want to be with someone who would just leave you in the middle of the night with some lame ass explanation?"

"No, I guess I wouldn't," I said in response. I knew she was right. She was so right that I had to go up to her house. "Besides, if he does call it's probably better I'm not home. That way he can wonder where I am."

"Exactly," she agreed. Now she knew she had me starting to believe I should get in the car and drive up to her house. "So stop making excuses, stop worrying that he will call, and get your ass in the car and get up here, Portsmouth is waiting."

"Ok, you are right." I picked up my keys off of the table in the kitchen where I was sitting. I held them in my hand for a moment. I could feel the weight of them weighing on my heart. It was weird but at that moment I knew that I was about to take a HUGE step forward in my life.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chapter Two - A Bathroom Stall

He didn't email me back. I knew something was up. It wasn't like my fiance to just ignore my emails during the workday. I mean, sometimes he had meetings, but usually he would get back to me, or just tell me he had a meeting and that he'd be unable to respond...but on that day I had a pit in my stomach...I knew by the next day, my life would be different, I knew I'd be single.

I don't know how I knew that he was going to break up with me that night, but I just knew that was why he didn't write back. Maybe he knew that in just a few short hours he'd be coming to my parents' house to tell me the news and just could not bare to exchange pleasantries with me over email...or maybe he just was too much of chicken to email me, I don't know...and I never will know, because in just a few short hours I would see him for the very last time.

It was late August, just a few months ago I had started at 'BCN, I had hid my engagement ring - I mean, if I was feeling these waves of doubt clearly he was too - I mean we both had to be going down these unique paths of self-discovery and change. We had just graduated from college, we lived 5 hours apart - it would make sense that we both would have doubts...but it was comfortable, safe, and when we were together we had an amazing time. When we were together I never ONCE questioned our love for each other - or our dedication to the relationship, but maybe when we were apart we both felt like there was more out we both could move on and be there was more out there than just this.

It was about 11:15am when I got up from my computer. I went into the bathroom, my eyes started to well up with tears. Seriously, if I had ever had a moment...this was it. It was that moment when I started to break. I had never broken like this, and I wouldn't break like this again for nearly 5 years. This time I was losing it, feeling parts of my world break off and fall apart - disintegrating around me.

My tears started to really flow as I silently sobbed, my head in my hands, as Fuel's Hemmorage played over the airwaves. I felt it in my heart. Today was the day. I managed to clean myself up and head back to my desk. No one really knew what was going on. I acted like I was excited that he was coming up to my house that night. We were planning on going up to Maine and spending the weekend away - a chance to reconnect, spend time away from our families and friends, and just be together...that was the plan at least.

It was midnight before he got to my house. My overnight bag was packed. My parents were in bed. As I opened the front door he burst in. I tried to hug him but he didn't hug me back. His arms were limp around my waist. His face was stern, his words were cold.

"I don't want to get married," he said plainly. Almost as though he'd rehearsed it over and over in the car.
"OK," I started to respond. "We can put off the wedding, it's fine -" I started to continue as he cut me off.
"No, I don't love you and I don't want to get married," he said. It was like a million little knives being stuck into my heart.
"Oh," I said.

We went into my parent's kitchen. I hopped up on the counter and sat there. He stood across the room...afraid to get any closer than that. I was afraid to move, I started to ask him questions about what was going on, why he felt this way, and his answer was that he simply didn't love me and didn't want to get married.

I know that I held it together. I had a conversation with him. He stayed for about an hour. As he was about to leave we both were crying. We hugged and he said he would call me when he got home the next day. It was like I was living in a movie...a movie with a horrible ending.

We were trying to get through this awkward conversation. What do you say to the man who just gave up on you? Just took your heart and broke it in your parent's kitchen? I gave him back his engagement ring and walked him to the door. We went out on the steps and I sat he drove away, his Black Durango turning the corner to leave my parents street - I sobbed...I lost it. Started to become hysterical really.

It was now about 1:30am. I went into my parents room. It was only dimly lit by the soft glow of the TV. They were both sound asleep as I stood over their bed contemplating my next move. I didn't want to wake them, but I had no idea what else to do. So there in the middle of the night, I woke them with my tears...with my sobs of pain and grief. I began to feel the reality of what had just happened sink into my skin and surround me like a coat of thorns. Pricking and cutting my skin.

My mom sat up with me for a while. I cried, she tried to console and asked what had happened. I could barely answer her, I didn't really know what had happened or even why. I finally exhausted myself and lay in my bed. I was tired, confused and lost. I needed to tell someone, someone who would understand and be able to commesurate on my I picked up the phone and dialed her number.

Chapter One - Over My Head

It was a hazy, hot, and humid day at the end of July. We were sitting in my car in the parking lot behind the building. We were headed to Dunkin Donuts' to pick up coffee for some of our co-workers. It was the first time, since I had started working there anyway, that I admitted to myself that maybe I was in over my head....and I don't mean professionally.

My job was great. It was the kind of job every college graduate dreams of. I was actually using my degree in the field I studied - Communications. I spent my days making sure commercials were in the station to be put on the air. I was working at the legendary WBCN in Boston. I was only 21 years old at that time and I knew this was the beginning of a fantastic future. I felt very gratified professionally and very capable of doing my was personally, in my love life actually that I was starting to sink.

The sinking feeling in my heart didn't happen gradually, or at least looking back now, I don't think it did. If you had asked me how certain I was about my love life, up to that point, even a moment before I got in that car, I would have said with unwaivering certainty that I knew where I was headed. I knew that my life would always involve him. I would have bet money on it; until I got in that car.

"I love warm days like this," I stated. Clearly a little nervous, not sure what to say, or how to proceed. so I stated the obvious, who doesn't like warm days in Massachusetts?
"Me too," he replied. "Nothing like an ice coffee run on a hot summer day.""Yeah," I agreed. "Glad we're on the list!" I said with a laugh.

The list was a huge joke at work. The cool people were on the "list" meaning they'd get coffee when someone went on a run, and I was one of the people on the list. And today it was my turn to go get the coffees, and he had agreed to help me.

In the month I had been working at BCN I had met so many new people. I loved working and would spend a lot of hours there. The relationships I had with people seemed to grow and develop quickly. Part of that was because we worked hard, but when work was done we'd go out and get drinks or go to a concert. We were never just "co-workers," we all quickly became friends. And now, it was one of those friendships that was going to get me into trouble.

The truth was, I was engaged. I had a fiance who I loved, who I wanted to be with forever, or at least up until this moment I wanted to believe that we were meant to be together. But in that car, I felt attracted to someone else, and I finally admitted it to myself. I smiled, I flirted and most importantly, I did the one thing that it took years for me to admit to myself - I hid my ring.

It's true. I'm not proud of it, in fact, I think it is truly dispicable to HIDE your engagement ring by keeping your left hand out of sight...but it's true. I HID my hand. I kept it out of view as much as I could. Maybe I did that so that I would be able to keep the shreds of doubt from creeping up into the forefront of my mind, maybe I did it so that I could feel what it would be like to be 21 and available to possibility. I really am not 100% sure why I did it, but in hindesight I think I did it to be free. I think in the deepest regions of my heart I knew something wasn't right between my fiance and I. Not that my feelings in any way justify my actions. I shouldn't have hidden my ring, but I did.

Now, it's not like he didn't know I was engaged. I am sure he knew. I am pretty sure that all my new work friends knew that I had a fiance in New Jersey. I had never hidden that from anyone, but in my car that day he went along with it. He smiled and flirted and I smiled and flirted back. when we got back to the station we lingered in the car for a few moments. Just long enough for him to smile at me and my heart to flutter. I liked the attention he was giving me. I liked being the object of attention. And it was that attention that was going to lead me into trouble just a few months later.

In all honesty, nothing ever happened between he and I, on that day or any day. It was his attention that served as the catalyst for several of the great romances in my life. I see now that hiding my ring was admitting that I wanted more, more than my fiance was giving me at least. I got that more, but it was never from the guy in the car that warm summer day. I ended up getting so much more out of my life because of that day in the car. This event let to changes beyond my grasp. The events of the next few months would prove that.