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It felt like an eternity that I was standing outside those airport doors, waiting for Bryan to walk through them. The door opened and as our eyes met the smile that was painted on his face spoke volumes to me and put my heart at ease. Once he reached where I was standing, he dropped his duffel bag and enveloped me in the warmest hug I had ever felt. Every ounce of anxiety that I had been feeling had been replaced by the fluttery butterfly feeling I felt when Bryan was near me. It had been months since we had seen each other but it felt almost as if we had never been apart.
We spent the weekend at this artsy bed and breakfast in Pasadena, it was fantastic. There were no interruptions or distractions, just us… talking about our future and all that entails. For the first time, Bryan openly talked to me about his feelings and the pain that he had endured from his previous relationship. He attempted to explain why he had been allowing that pain to inhibit him from jumping head first into a relationship with me. Hearing his confessions gave me the ability to understand that pushing him away was the right decision. Regardless of all the pain and hurt it may have caused for me, it was the only way that he could come to this conclusion on his own, free of guilt or pressure from me.
In our time apart, apparently Bryan had a catharsis of sorts. He explained that despite his best efforts to not feel anymore, he was in love with me. He told me that he knew he didn’t deserve to be loved back after everything that he had put me through but he would spend the rest of his life trying to earn my love. I had waited so long to hear those words. I have to admit, the tone of the words was a bit off-putting but I knew he was really trying to express his emotions which he was not all that great at doing. I appreciated the honestly and trust it took for him to open up to me like that.
As far as our future was concerned, the logistics would need to be worked out but he told me that he would be moving back to CA so that our son could have a fighting chance. I said to Bryan, “Why have you never even asked if I would move to the East Coast?” He replied, “Would you do that?” I smiled and said, ” I would do just about anything if it meant that we could be together.” We discussed what all of that meant for us. I knew my family would be pissed but at that point, I needed to do what was best for our son. Having a father in his life was the best case scenario for all of us. It was a huge leap of faith but I was willing to give it a shot. In the meantime, Bryan would be coming back for a visit for his birthday and hopefully be here for the birth of our son.
Up until Bryan came to visit, I had planned on naming our son Lucas Christian. I loved the name and had already purchased a few things with “Lucas” on them. During his visit, Bryan told me that the name was not going to fly and we needed to come to a compromise on a name. There is no easy or kind way to say this but Bryan’s name choices were horrible. We decided to visit Barnes and Noble to look through some name books and come up with something we could both agree on. After almost 2 hours, I was beginning to think that our son may come home with out a name. I was exhausted and frustrated. I sat back in the chair and looked straight ahead of me and on this end cap there was a book written by Quentin P. Taylor. I said, “what about Quentin Taylor”? Bryan responded, “I love it” and our son finally had a name.
The weekend ended way too soon. As we said our “good-byes”, Bryan rubbed my enormous tummy and said, “take care of our son, I’ll see you in a few weeks.” He kissed me and walked into the airport. The weekend had given me this glimmer of hope and it had been exactly what I needed, when I needed it… but I was still sad to watch him leave. I listened to Norah Jones the entire drive home and cried. Both from the sadness of being alone but also because of the joy I felt over possibilities.
I hate to admit this but after Bryan’s departure from my life, way too much of my time was spent crying. I was heartbroken, alone and angry. This was supposed to be one of the happiest times in my life but there was this deep, dark cloud over me. I hated how consumed my thoughts were by him. I needed a switch to shut off and erase every memory I had of him in my life…but I didn’t have one.
At my December ultrasound, I was told I was going to have a son. He was growing well, everything looked healthy and he seemed to be very happy. They were able to snap a few shots of this boy, (a “thumb’s up” and a precious silhouette of his left foot) which helped to remind me that despite all of my feelings, I was not alone. My blood pressure was elevated but I had lost 40lbs and the doctor was very impressed with my progress despite the tough road I had traveled. I was told my due date was May 6th… of course it was, that is Bryan’s birthday… it was silly for me to expect anything else.
I spent every evening at my parents house. I would go over there for dinner and stay until just before bedtime. Being around my family seemed to help keep my mind off of things. I did my best to avoid as many uncomfortable conversations about Bryan as possible. There were still some that would come up and they usually led to my parents telling me that I needed to seek legal advice to draft paperwork to block Bryan from having any rights to our son. I would placate them and tell them that I was trying my best but I just could not bring myself to think about that even being a possibility.
It was the nights that were horrible. I would walk into my little house, so quiet and empty and that is when the reality would hit me. Bryan was not coming back. He was not going to knock on my door and tell me how much he loved me. He was not going to be there to watch my tummy grow or go to my doctor appointments with me to check on the progress of our little man. Chances were really good that he had already moved on with his life and I was just some distant memory of this horrible mistake he had made at a dark time in his life. I think that is what hurt the most… we were a mistake.
On New Year’s Eve, I was working the closing shift by myself. It was quiet in the store and the perfect time to get some things accomplished. The phone rang and I answered it. To my surprise, Bryan was on the other end wishing me a Happy New Year. It was so great to hear his voice but almost annoying how bright his mood seemed to be. Here I was, miserable and dying a little bit on the inside and he called me and sounded as if he didn’t have a care in the world. The conversation was as light and general as possible. Most of our time on the phone together was him talking about his new store and how he had enrolled at PBU, focusing on Organizational Leadership. While I was happy for the progress he had made, I was devastated at how simple it seemed for him to move on.
That devastation led me to say something that I regret, even to this day…
Me: “I found out what I am having…do you want to know?”
Bryan: “If you want to tell me.”
Me: “It’s a boy”
Me: “I have spoken with an attorney and I think it is best for you to sign over your rights to the baby.”
Bryan: “what ever you think is best.”
Me: “I think that is best.”
Me: “I will have him draft up the paperwork. I will send it for you to sign and send back.”
Me: *through the tears* “Happy New Year, Bryan”
Bryan: “You too”
I sat and stared at the phone for what felt like an hour. I knew that I had just lied to him about contacting an attorney. Why did that not seem to hurt him? Why won’t he fight for me… for us? Why are we not worth it to him? How can he be so callous? What now? I put away the deposit and turned off the lights. I walked the 6 blocks home that night and gave up trying to wipe the tears from my face but instead, just let them fall.
From that point on, our conversations happened via text messages. That was both a blessing and a curse because 1) the tone of the conversations were always open for interpretation and 2) I was way more comfortable being mean and cold via text message so that my voice would not give away my real feelings. I was noticing that the text messages were coming more and more frequently and they were almost always initiated by him. It was nice… but confusing.
In the beginning of March, Bryan told me that he was going to be coming to CA for my birthday. He had been doing a lot of thinking and he wanted to talk to me about some things. I tried my best not to read too far into what he had been thinking about. I am not going to lie, of course the thought of him riding up on a great white horse to save the day was in the back of my mind. However, I refused to let that be too prominent in my mind because I did not want to set myself up to be let down again.
The morning Bryan was to arrive, I felt ill. I mean really ill. I was so nervous, the anticipation was burning in my chest. My swollen belly gave me the appearance of having swallowed a basketball, which only added to my anxiety. I just knew that when he caught a glimpse of me, he was going to run again. I needed to be prepared for that. There were about a thousand different scenarios I felt I needed to be ready for… none of which I really was.
…but not in a cool way.
I mean, honestly. You must appreciate what I mean when I say I was frustrated and felt like it could not get any worse. This person who I felt a strong connection with cooks me dinner for Valentine’s Day and then follows it up with a song he wrote called “Love Sucks Ass”. What the actual fuck? Insult to injury, he told me that this precious screen play he was writing about the love of his life and how that love came to be, had the perfect part in it just for me… I could be the rude waitress. Really? Are you kidding me? Kiss my ass. Is that rude waitress enough for you?
I had not been feeling really well for a few days. Run down, crabby, achy… it was rough. I thought that maybe the late nights, shitty eating habits and general stress of my life and situation had finally gotten to me. Imagine my surprise when I find out that my life was not my own anymore… I was pregnant. I was scared but not about the baby, more about how Bryan was going to react. Was he going to freak out and refuse to have anything to do with me? Was he going to leave? Was he going to be angry? There were so many possibilities but I knew that him being happy about my pregnancy was not one of them.
I did not choose the best way of telling Bryan about my pregnancy. I waited until a night he was out with his brother and probably too inebriated to receive that level of information. Though I had already had low expectations, what followed was far worse than anything I was expecting. “My life is over”, “my family is going to disown me”, “I do not want to bring a child into this world”. It was horrible and I felt completely alone.
In the weeks after that, my heartbreak over this blessing I had been given, turned to complete anguish. I woke up one morning and was rushed to the ER. After an ultrasound and some blood tests I was told that a cyst had burst, causing an infection. It was likely that I was having a miscarriage. Further blood tests in the following days showed that to be the case. I was given a DNC, some birth control patches and sent on my way. Somehow the grief that I was feeling was overshadowed by the complete relief that I saw in Bryan’s eyes. It was devastating but a reality and I think it was at that point that I became numb to all of the feelings inside of me… good or bad, it didn’t matter anymore. Nothing really did.
Bryan had been spending a lot of time with me which caused a strain in his friendship with his roommates. Bryan needed a place to live and I just happened to have one, so he moved in with me. Admittedly, it wasn’t much but it was mine and I had worked hard for it. I always felt like Bryan shit on that minor accomplishment of mine which only helped to fuel my already low self-esteem. To me, it was just a reminder that I would never be anything but second (maybe even third) best to him. I did not understand how someone who had broken him so badly could still be better than anything that I had to offer.
A lot happened in the month (or so) that he lived with me. Tires were slashed, death threats were made… it was an uncomfortable situation for both of us. One weekend, Bryan told me that he had to meet his ex to sign some IRS paperwork and he would be back the following day. I thought nothing of it at the time but looking back, I should have been suspicious that he did not invite me to go along with him. You know, make it a night away from the stress. That night, I called him multiple times and no answer. Text him, no response. I knew. I knew what was going on. I knew where I stood. I knew that I was nothing more than a place to live and someone to occupy some time. I had known it from the beginning and was so pissed off at myself for allowing someone to have THAT much power over me. He was not emotionally available and I knew it. I was expecting him to change, to wake up one morning and finally realize that I was enough. When would I learn?
And then I got sick…
But like a sick where I could not keep anything down. I knew that the patches had some side effects and that nausea may be one of them but this was ridiculous. I remember going to a district meeting with 2 other managers and going to the grocery store to buy some grapes… because I needed to eat something, why not grapes. It was horrible, I had to ask the driver to pull over in Moorpark so I could hurf. I was miserable. Bryan was not very understanding. I then broke out in this horrible rash…everywhere. Prilosec was not helping my tummy issues and Benadryl was not even making a dent on my irritated skin. I needed off of this patch and on something else. So, I went to the doctor. This is the conversation that took place that day:
Me: “Seriously, I can not eat anything and I feel like I have poison ivy all over my body…but like ALL OVER MY BODY!”
Dr.: “Let me see. Wow, it really is all over your body.”
Me: “Did you think I was kidding? You have to change this birth control because the patch thing is not working for me”
Dr.: “You’re right when you say that it isn’t working because you’re pregnant”
Me: “WHAT?!? I am on the birth control patch!”
Dr.: “Well, the patch is less effective if you weigh over 150lbs.”
Me: “I would have needed like 7 patches! That is something that you probably should have told me before, don’t you think?”
Dr.: “Nothing is 100%”
Me: “This can not be happening”
After the initial shock wore off, it turned to complete panic. “What in the hell am I going to do?” That was all I could keep thinking. I knew that one thing was for sure, I was not going to tell Bryan. I took about 2 weeks and really weighed all of my options. I knew that this was not what Bryan wanted… but I really did. It was then that I determined that the best thing for all of us was for me to break all ties with Bryan. Pushing him away would give me the fighting chance to make this work and it would save my heart from being broken again. I knew that emotionally, he was not able to be supportive of the situation. If I kicked him out of my house, he would have no choice but to move back to the East Coast and be out of my… our… lives forever.
So, that is exactly what I did. I told him that he needed to find another place to live. He did not understand why. I must have looked like a completely psychotic asshole but to me, that was better than being the heartbroken fool. It was one of the hardest things I had done. Not talking to him every day was torture. Not being able to see him, misery. Not being able to hug him or kiss him, despite all of my best efforts, it shattered my soul.
Bryan was the first to call me. I was surprised but relieved. It had been a really long month for me. I was still miserably sick and had dropped about 25 lbs. He told me that he wanted to get together for dinner, he wanted to talk to me about something. My heart immediately jumped, thinking “he has finally come to his senses”. I was wrong. That night at dinner, he commented on how great I looked. I was so pissed he would say that to me. 1) I had been so fucking sick 2) flattering me should not have changed anything… but it did. Bryan told me that his transfer had been approved and he would be making the cross-country drive back home around Thanksgiving. And there it was.
I was happy for Bryan. As I said before, he is brilliant. He was going to go back to school, find something that he was passionate about and get his life back on track. I knew it was for the best. I knew that this is how it was supposed to be. I knew that he was finally going to be able to be content with his life, be near his family and maybe even his marriage would somehow fall back into place and he would be with his true love. I was happy for Bryan and the great things happening in his life but none of it included me…us.
My mother was extremely supportive the day that I told her that I was pregnant. I called her at work, a crying mess and she said, “take a deep breath, stop crying and we will talk about this at dinner tonight”. We did. My mom tried to process everything over our meal and remained very calm with the help of a couple of margaritas. She assured me that though this was not the best case scenario, everything was going to be okay. I needed that… I needed her. We had a very strained relationship in my teen years and through the poor decisions of my early 20’s but she was supportive at a time when I felt completely alone and overwhelmingly scared. She encouraged me to share the news with Bryan before he left because he deserved to know.
I didn’t tell him though. There was no way that I was going to trap him. I was not going to spend my life with someone who was with me out of obligation. I could do this by myself and I fully intended to. The night before Bryan left, he asked if we could have dinner and say our “good-byes”. I agreed because deep down, I was in complete agony at the thought of living my life with out him. I am and always have been a very strong woman, I knew I could do this but I didn’t really want to.
At dinner, my mother’s words ran through my head over and over. “he doesn’t deserve to be a dad…but he has the right to know he is going to be one”. I had this lump growing in my throat which was making it increasingly more difficult just to carry on regular conversation with him. I could see his excitement about this new chapter in his life. I saw this light in his eye that I had never seen before. Despite all of that light and joy he had I knew I had to tell him.
He was so angry, understandably so. He said things like “what do you expect me to do?”, “I have nothing left here.”, “I am leaving tomorrow!”. I sat and listened to him process this news that I had just thrown at him. I knew that he must be so torn. I knew that the good person inside of him was trying to figure out how he was going to move forward from this with out being a complete asshole. He had been set up to fail and I knew this. “You are going to go back to New Jersey, go back to school and be happy again. That is what you have to do.”
I placed my head on his chest that night and waited for his breathing to change, indicating that he was asleep, before I allowed the tears to come. I am not really sure why I was crying. I had created this mess. Why did I tell him? Why didn’t I just go along with the plan? It would have been so much easier for all of us. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I spent most of the night trying to absorb as much of him as I possibly could. Memorizing his features…the curve of his nose, the little crease between his eyebrows. I wondered if this baby would remind me of him every time I looked at him/her. Instantly, I had hoped so because I knew that these final few hours would be my last with Bryan. I reminded myself that this was what was right.
There were very few words between us in the morning. Bryan drove into the parking lot in front of my store and put his van in park. He looked at me and said, “are you sure you are going to be okay?”. I forced a smile and responded, “we are going to be just fine.” I got out of the van and walked into my store, locking the door behind me. I didn’t dare turn around and watch him drive out of my life because if I had, surely my heart would have stopped beating.
No, this is not THAT story. It is probably not even remotely as interesting as THAT story. We are often asked “how did you two meet?”… here it is in written form. You’re welcome.
When I was 19, I thought I knew everything. I mean really, who didn’t think that they knew everything at 19? I made the brilliant decision to marry someone that I did not know. As you can probably guess, that didn’t end well for me. I am not going to go into all the gory details of my 1st marriage in this post because really, it is not going to add to your understanding of how/why Bryan and I came to be. Plus, that period of my life makes me feel like a gigantic asshole. It’s best we leave that for another post.
As time went on, I was a CNA at a retirement facility and worked overnights but started working for a video store as a second job (basically for the free movie rentals). I quickly worked my way up to management and was given my own store in Simi Valley, CA. Holy shit, did I have my work cut out for me, this store was a complete mess. I don’t think that there was an employee that was not stealing from the store and no one actually did anything they were supposed to do. I fired everyone and worked open to close every day of the week, by myself. It was exhausting and put a huge strain on my already failing marriage.
Thankfully, I was able to hire a staff of people who I felt were philosophically aligned with the vision I had for the store… which is a nice way of saying it was the “Empire Records” of the video store world. It was fucking fantastic. When I had the right support in place, the store basically ran itself but I was never home because it was just too fun to be at work. For as awesome as it was, there was still a piece missing in our store… I needed to find a second in command. Now, I knew that this was going to be a difficult task as we had a very eclectic family of sorts happening but someone needed to be in charge and be responsible. Quite frankly, I was tired of being that person.
While reviewing applications for potential candidates for my “ass manager”, I came across someone who was so overly qualified, I thought that maybe it was a joke. I mean seriously, college graduate, scored really well on the “psychological” exam, previous employers included churches…which could be an issue.(side note: those tests are a complete joke…you either answer “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree” on all of the questions and you’re in) This guy was applying for a cashier job when he clearly was more qualified for my job than I was. What gives? Despite my reservations, I called and set up an interview.
On that day, I ran to the bank about 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the interview. While at the stop light next to the parking area, I notice a guy getting out of a green van. As he was walking across the parking lot, he reached back for a handful of pants to pull the wedgie from his ass. It was at that point that I KNEW this was the guy I was going to interview and he was going to want to shake my hand… with the same hand that he used to pick his ass. Sweet.
After the interview was over, and I thoroughly sanitized my hands, I contacted my boss to set up a second interview for Bryan. I am not sure what it was about him but I knew that he was the right fit for our “family”. How ironic that seems now. Rather than just interviewing with my boss, he was interviewed at a district meeting in front of 12 other managers. He was amazing. His answers were honest and genuine. I had multiple managers turn to me and ask if I could clone him for their stores.
Obviously, he was hired and sent for training in the Camarillo store. I contacted the manager there multiple times and she had told me that while he seemed nice, he was not much of a talker. I was immediately worried because in my store, that wouldn’t fly. I warned my “kids” (the people that worked for me) that this new person was a bit straight-laced and that they needed to take it easy, cut back on the swearing, be on their best behavior… you get the picture.
After about a week or so, I noticed that Bryan seemed to be fitting right in. He was easy to talk to, the “kids” all seemed to enjoy working with him and he was really not as “dogmatic” as I thought he was going to be. He even sported the name tag I made for him that read: “Bryan… Ass Director”. I was pleasantly surprised that things were being accomplished during shifts and it was still fun to go to work every day. I actually found myself looking forward to seeing his green van sitting in it’s usual spot when I rounded the corner to the parking lot.
Bryan and I immediately realized we had a connection in our failing marriages and often found solace in one-upping each other with our “war” stories. Let’s face it, Bryan is a catch. He is brilliant, funny, considerate, passionate… but he was also broken. I knew this from the beginning. Funny thing is, I think it was part of the attraction for me. I have always been attracted to people I could “fix” which somehow abetted in distracting me from my own brokenness.
I am not sure when things changed from friendship to more in my eyes. I have never been able to pinpoint the exact moment, probably because there wasn’t just one moment. Things were fun and light. I appreciated his company and conversation so much that he began to morph into this staple of my life. Very soon after that Bryan was the last thing I would think about before I fell asleep and the first thing on my mind when I woke up. There was ultimately this sadness that surrounded our “friendship” because I knew that he did not feel the same about me.
I can not pretend to know what Bryan was thinking at that time. That is his story to tell. I can only tell you my feelings and perspective… and that it sucked. I was miserable. I mean sure, it was fun. We would go places together, do cool stuff, have great experiences but I had feelings…feelings that he was not capable of reciprocating. To be honest, that was a fucking awful, painful truth for me. I knew that our “relationship” had no future. For me, things could not have gotten any worse. Until they did…
…and that is a story for a different blog post.
It’s April 15th… and fucking snowing outside.
It kind of feels like Karma and Mother Nature decided to have a party and shit all over me.
That is two swear words in the first two sentences. That’s a pretty good start, right?