A Risky Return

I paced the floor anxiously.  I stood up, sat down, stood up, sat back down.  I let out a disgruntled moan.

The time had come.  My cousin and his wife would be returning from their trip in only a couple short days and I needed to make a decision on where I would go next.
My mother and I were meeting in Bali in a month’s time, so it seemed silly to begin a new job and settle down in a new place, only to have to pick up and leave soon after.
I didn’t want to stay where I was so I considered travelling for the month, but was seriously low on funds.  I tried to find a temporary job doing farm work or fruit picking, but did not receive a single response.
The only option that really appealed to me was returning to the surf town.  I reasoned that I could get my old job back, have a few couches here and there to crash on, and that it was necessary because I really truly missed my friends and needed them in my life.  All that was true, but maybe the real subconscious reason for my decision was that I wanted to see Nick, even though my heart started pounding and my skin started sweating anytime I thought about seeing him.  It had been nearly a month since his announcement and I had yet to respond.  I knew that seeing him would be inevitable, so I decided to try and be the bigger person and call a truce.
My fingers trembled when I dialled his number.  After an eternity he finally answered, I took a deep breath and firmly spoke my peace.
“I’m trying to be happy for you, because I know that this is all you’ve ever wanted,” I told him.
“That’s not true -” he interjected.
“Do NOT interrupt me.  I’m speaking now,” I spat and he shut right up.  “Anyway, I’m coming back to town and I know we have all the same friends and I know I’ll have to see you so I wanted to tell you that I don’t hate you and that we’re cool, but in no way can I ever be your friend.”
He said he understood and thanked me for my call.  I hung up the phone and got to work planning my return.
Oh dear God, what have I done?

I had changed and so had the town.  It was noisier and more chaotic than I had ever remembered, chalked full of all the visiting summer vacationers. I felt reborn and vowed that this time around I would be the most social version of myself and say yes to every experience offered to me.

I met up with Kyle and the two of us walked the beach.  Of course, the second person we ran into was Nick…  He and Kyle chit chatted, while I stood off to the side.
“Nice to see you,” Nick smiled at me, “Otis is in the truck if you want to say hi.”
I spent the rest of their conversation cuddling Otis, who had become a full-grown dog in my absence.
After finally escaping the awkwardness that felt like it lasted a lifetime, I received apologies from both guys for putting me in such a situation.  I told them both not to walk on eggshells around me and that I was fine, but the minute I walked into Kennedy’s house I began drinking heavily…

That night we celebrated my return with an epic chicken dinner cooked by Jill, followed by lots of wine and joints and cigarettes, followed still by a quick ride into town where we would proceed to dance the night away.  I met up with heaps of friends including one in particular who had messaged me earlier in the day named Fred.

… A little backstory on Fred: He and I met shortly after I first moved to town.  Jill and I were sitting on the beach and a group of guys walked by and called out ‘cheers!’ to us while simultaneously tipping their beer bottles in our direction.  They were cute, friendly and drinking so we decided to join them.  They were a group of local street artists and I hit it off particularly well with Fred.  We all ended up getting loose at the bar.  Fred and I snuck out the back to smoke a joint and laugh about our same stupid sense of humour.
“You’re really cool, we should be best friends.  No, seriously, we should be best friends,” he insisted.
After that, we chatted back and forth and he ended up meeting me at the drum circle.  He insisted I come to the bar to have a drink and dance with him. It was getting late and I had work in the morning so I told him I was heading home.  He leaned in to kiss me.  In all my stoned glory, I dodged his smooch and yelled out, “Did you just try to kiss me?!”
“Um, yeah that was my intention…”
I was all too aware of some of his chick friends standing out of his line of vision and filming the entire scene on their phones.  I felt so incredibly awkward, truthfully, I was attracted to Fred in a lot of ways and I was curious to kiss him, but I had just started dating Nick and didn’t want to betray him.  Instead of explaining any of these things, I just turned around and ran out of the bar.  After that, Fred and I were less friendly, but we’d still chat here and there, I’d run into him every so often and we’d have a drink together…

But this time, dancing at the same bar where he first made a move, I didn’t turn away when he leaned in to kiss me.
When everyone began parting ways and heading home for the night, Fred turned to me and asked me to spend the night with him.  Back at his house, drunk and turned on by the prospect of a new partner, I threw him down on his bed and attacked him with all the prowess and seduction within me.
He was tender and attentive, thumbing my nipples and kissing my breasts.  When he took off his pants my jaw dropped at his size, the largest I’ve ever had without a doubt.  He fucked kind of fast, which was slightly painful, but I managed to slow down the tempo.


I woke up, naked and sprawled across his bed.  My mouth was dry and I was disoriented, but something had woken me up.  It was an older man standing in the open doorway, we made eye contact before he slammed the door shut in embarrassment.  I had a sudden flashback of stumbling into a grandiose house, chalked full of expensive looking art pieces.  And then it hit me: Fred lived at home.  Fred lived at home and we had just spent the entire night having loud, boisterous sex.  I was mortified.  Even more so when I had to get up and be introduced to Fred’s dad and even more so when he had to drive Fred and I into town because apparently we had cabbed into the middle of butt-fuck no where and Fred had lost his license earlier in the month due to a DUI.

Once in town, we went to part ways.  He asked what my plans were for the night and I told him about a show I was meant to go to.  Not even an hour later he messaged me saying he had gotten a spare ticket and would see me there.  I couldn’t help but grin.
“Be careful,” all my friends warned, “He obviously likes you a lot.”

My friends had ditched the show and I hadn’t seen Fred anywhere.  I was just about to leave myself when there he was, leaning against the front door frame, chatting to one of the ticket girls.  When I saw him, he looked embarrassed as he pulled me close to him,
“I was just trying to guess where this girl is from.  I thought Germany, but my friend thought Russia so I had to come over and find out,” he explained nervously.
I just laughed and brushed it off, happy that I had finally run into him.  We spent the rest of the night dancing, drinking vodka and making out against the bar.  When he took me home I told him how uncomfortable I felt meeting his dad.
“My dad really likes you, I’m glad you met him.  I don’t bring girls home very often, and I want you to get to know my family because I want you to be around a lot.”
I blushed.  My friends were right, he obviously did like me… a lot.

Fred asked to see me the following night, but I told him I needed a night to myself.  He expressed his disappointment, but asked me if he could cook me dinner at the beach on a following night.  I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of such a romantic date, but felt sideswiped when he mentioned that a couple of his friends would be joining us.  Ashamed that I had misread the situation, I desperately texted Jill and begged her to join us.
Once we were all sitting and I was desperately trying to relax, who should walk over, but Max and Brandon and Kyle and bevy of the rest of Nick and my shared friend group.  I knew they were also planning a barbecue but thought they had chosen another spot.  To my horror, they decided to join us and I let out a huge sigh of relief that Nick was not amongst them.
Long story short, we all got stinking drunk and Fred and I disappeared back to my tent, but ended up just passing out on top of each other.

I woke up covered in sweat and with a vicious hangover, I rolled over and groaned with the pain.  Fred awoke and suggested we treat ourselves to a lazy hungover day at my campground.  We smoked weed and swam in the pool, smoked more weed and got breakfast, smoked even more weed and had sex and then smoked a little more while hanging out in the jungle.  We finally left the grounds to catch sunset and smash a pizza on the beach.  We parted ways and promised to get together soon to watch a movie, but after that day things changed drastically.

Fred stopped responding to my messages, whenever I’d see him out he’d make an excuse to leave, yet he would tell me how beautiful I was and kiss me in public, but then I’d hear stories about him leaving with other women.  I confided in my friend Reese and she insisted none of it was true.
“I know Fred really well, he’s not the kind of guy who picks up random girls at the bar.  He’s a sensitive artist type.  Trust me, he’s a good one.”
Maybe so, but it seemed he had moved on from me and I wondered desperately what had changed.

On Aussie Day, high on M and feeling alone, I made the mistake of calling him up and telling him I wanted to see him.
“I’m fucked up,” he admitted, “I want to see you too, but I don’t know if I can make it back into town, you could come here though.”
“Why don’t you text me the address and I’ll try to get a lift,” I suggested.
“Yes, that would be awesome.  I’ll text you right now, I really hope I get to see you.”
I never received a message and I spent the next day wallowing in my hangover and hating myself for being such a fool.

A couple days later, I saw him out, but walked away before he could notice me.  Sitting down on the patio with my friends, I tried not to notice him leave with a skinny brunette.
When Reese arrived and I told her, she was in disbelief and disappeared to get the scoop from one of Fred’s friends.
“Okay babe,” she said upon returning, “this is going to hurt really badly, but it’s better for you to know so you can move on.  That girl he left with is his girlfriend, apparently they’ve been dating for a while.”
“And on top of that, supposedly he fucks a new girl every week.  I’m so sorry, he had us all fooled.”
Double ouch.

I tried to be strong and laugh it off like I didn’t care, but I fell apart.  All the Nick issues I’d buried inside came bubbling to the surface.  I told everyone I didn’t want a boyfriend, but I’d used Fred to distract myself and to replace that giant gaping, Nick-shaped hole in my life.  I cried, a lot.  I could not stop.  I left the bar and went home where I cried myself to sleep.

At 7 am I staggered into work hungover, sleep deprived and depressed.  My co-worker and I smoked a joint before starting on our cleaning duties and the weed helped numb me.  In fact, all I’d been doing since I’d returned was drinking, smoking weed and using hard drugs and the chemicals were reeking havoc with my emotions.  On top of it all, after finishing my shift, I received an angry phone call from my dad, accusing me of being a shitty daughter.
“You’re right,” I admitted, “My life is an absolute mess right now, but I’m going to try harder.”
I wanted to go back to sleep, but my tent was too hot so instead I met some friends at the beach.  The moment I got out of the water I made eye contact with a smiling Fred, walking towards me, blissfully unaware of the revelation I’d just received.
I panicked.  I had no idea what I wanted to say to him.  So I did what I do best and quickly ran away from the beach.

That evening, I was still too terrified to face him, but instead constructed a long text message.  I knew it was the cowards way out, but I didn’t want to see him and I had to get some things off my chest for my own sake.
I just told him that I thought we were friends and he really disappointed me by being like every other Aussie guy.  I explained that I never wanted a relationship, but would have appreciated honesty and a bit of respect.
He apologised for being distant and blamed it on his upcoming move, before asking me to hangout the next day.
My response?
“The reason I’m saying these things is not because of you being distant.  We live in a small town, and I’m not an idiot.”

I didn’t expect a response and wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get one.  I seriously questioned my judge of character, took a deep breath and tried to make the most of my remaining days in town, thankful that I had Bali to escape to.



September is for Self Sabotage

Damn, I want a cigarette is all I can think right now.  As I begin to write this, I still haven’t fully processed just what the fuck has happened.

The other night there was a party at my friends’ house so my co-worker convinced me to check it out with him when we finally finished work.  Of course, I walked in the door and an extremely inebriated Dan was the first person I saw.  Of course, he hugged me and started acting all flirty while reminiscing on our past encounters.  I excused myself to do a lap, but somehow ended up talking to Dan again.  At one point, my brother literally stepped in between the two of us and started talking to me and now I realize why… because he saw something in my eyes and was doing his best to put a stop to it.  Because in that moment I really hoped something would happen between Dan and I.  If it were ever to happen again, it would be right now I rationalized, I’m drunk, he’s drunk, we’re vibing.

As I stepped outside to enjoy a smoke, he followed me and began mooching off me, as is his way.
“Seriously, you’ve smoked half of every pack I’ve ever bought, you really need to buy me a pack!  And pick up a pack for yourself since obviously you’re a smoker too.”
“I’m not a smoker anymore,” he retorted, “I smoke maybe a cigarette a week.  It’s only when I’m drunk.  Or when I’m around other people smoking.”
“I think it’s only around me because you take advantage of my good nature,” I responded, but still, I shared all of my last few cigarettes with him.
Later on, I was sitting with him on the front steps and went inside the house to use the bathroom, when I came out he was gone.  Biked home; didn’t even say goodbye.  I wasn’t all the surprised, but it still hurt, a lot.  I like the expression “heavy hearted” cause that’s exactly what it felt like: my heart had sunk to the bottom of my stomach.  Why was I doing this to myself?  Why was I letting him into my life and just throwing myself in his line of fire?  I just kept giving and giving and he kept taking and taking.  I couldn’t even stand up for myself.  Hadn’t I learned anything?

When my friend offered me a little bit of mushrooms, I gladly took them.  It was, after all, officially September, we all had reason to celebrate the end of summer.  The mushies hit me hard and I spent the remainder of the night getting followed around by one of the roommates 20-year-old brother who was visiting from out of town.  I began to seriously contemplate going for it, he may have been young but he was totally beautiful.
“Don’t forget about the staff party tomorrow,” my co-worker called as he left.
“I won’t! I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Hey, I got invited to that thing,” the 20-year-old chimed in, “My brother’s girlfriend works there.”
The two of us then decided it would be a brilliant idea to try and stay up all night and show up absolutely wrecked to a daytime party full of families with young children.  By 5 am we were passed out spooning on the futon.  Again, I seriously considered taking it further, it was, after all, September and I had lasted the whole summer like I set out to.  But he seemed so nervous and when I considered the fact that he would tell his brother, who would tell his girlfriend, who would tell everyone at work, who would tell everyone else including Dan, I decided against it, but thought that even saints deserved a good cuddle sesh.
The draught continues I thought, but I was so very wrong...

In the morning it was pissing rain, so I got a ride with my bike and we all stopped for breakfast sandwiches.  The guys were discussing getting stoned on the couch and watching movies all day and I felt incredibly jealous.  I didn’t want to spend my only day off at this event; I didn’t want to ride into town, go on a boat, and be out in the rain surrounded by families and happy couples; I didn’t want to socialize and make small talk with my relatively new co-workers.  I. Just. Didn’t. Want. To.  I wanted to take a hungover day for myself and I wanted to start by having a nap.  My co-workers texted trying to convince me to come, but I relented.  I (wrongfully) assumed that I wouldn’t be missed at the 100+ event.  To this day, I’m not sure what it was that changed.  I had every intention to go to this thing up until that moment.  Maybe it was my own insecurities or just plain laziness, but what I did that day was very entertaining indeed…

“John? John?”  I heard my roommates name being shouted down the hall.
I stuck my head out my open door to see his best friend Jess.
“John went to the staff party with Carlie,” I told him, “How’re you doing?  Long time no see.”
He began to tell me about how he was going through some hard times and feeling rather depressed about his recent breakup.  I climbed back in my bed and invited him to sit down in my room. I listened to him talk and tried to offer advice and encouraging words and then gave him a huge hug.
“Would it be strange if we cuddled?” he asked me.
“I was actually kind of thinking the same thing.”
We started spooning and at one point in our cuddle session he began sort of massaging me.
Okay where is this going?
Then his hand grazed my braless breasts and I gasped, he continued to massage around them while playing with the waist of my pj pants.
I should probably stop this… but maybe not just yet
He continued to explore and I didn’t stop it, it just felt too good.
It wasn’t long before we were both naked and I was digging around in my dresser in search for condoms.  The two of us got down and dirty and the weirdest part was that not once in our entire encounter did we kiss.  There was no intimacy involved whatsoever, just straight animalistic sex and it was pretty hot.  I came twice and we both collapsed on the bed.
“How the fuck did this happen?” I gasped.
“I have no idea,” he replied.
And with that we both passed out, still cuddling unit I woke up again at 4 in the afternoon.
I had a missed call, voicemail and text from my manager saying that they’d all like to see me present at the staff party.
Shit I thought.  I looked over at a naked Jess, shit shit shit!

We started talking, trying to comprehend what had taken place between us.
“I always thought you were hot,” he admitted, “and thought about asking you on a date.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I thought you were seeing someone at the time.”
“I guess I was,” i said, thinking back on how I was smitten with Dan when I first met Jess and then he had gotten a girlfriend shortly after.  I’d always thought Jess was cute, but thought nothing more of it since he was John’s best friend.  He was also close with my girlfriend Sally and I had encouraged her to go for him when he became newly single, but she always saw him in the friendship light.
As if reading my thoughts, he said, “You know, Sally’s going through some stuff right now too.  She and I are good friends and we’ve only ever been friends, but I don’t know if she can handle this… maybe we shouldn’t tell her.”
“You know her better than me.  If that’s how you feel…” I had no problem keeping our indiscretion quiet, but the first person I thought of telling was her.
“So, I think you’re really cool and I’m not seeing anyone right now at all, so I think…”
“I’m leaving soon,” I told him, “I wanna keep things casual, but I would like to spend some time with you, get to know you, just take it day by day you know?”
“Yeah okay, sounds good.  Maybe we could hang out tonight?  After I have dinner at Sally’s?  I gotta go teach a surf lesson now.”
We exchanged numbers, hugged, but still, not a single kiss, not even a peck.

That night, after texting back and forth, he came over when everyone else was asleep and we threw down again like we had earlier and passed out in each others arms.  Having the satisfaction of sex and the warmth of a man next to me was incredible.

I woke up in the morning to my roommate texting me, asking if I was ready to go for breakfast.  I groaned and texted her back that I needed 20 minutes, then started laughing because obviously she knew not to enter my bedroom.
“I gotta go have breakfast,” I groggily informed him.
“I’m supposed to be having breakfast with my boss in a little bit,” he yawned.
I got ready, but he stayed in bed, “I’m just gonna sleep a little bit longer.”
I hugged him and told him I’d talk to him later.  When I returned home from breakfast, a part of me hoped he would still be in my bed, but he was gone.  I lay in bed all day and thought about the situation over and over again.  I lamented going to work in fear that everyone was mad at me and that I’d get fired for not attending.
Why didn’t I just go to my staff party?  Then none of this would have happened.  I would never have fucked Jess and my life would still be boring but uncomplicated.
Yet I didn’t regret any of my actions, in fact, given the chance I’d do it all over again.  What I really felt guilty about was my lack of remorse.  I knew I should regret getting involved with someone so mentally and emotionally unstable, it was just asking for trouble.  But I believe we both just really needed it, we sort of helped each other.

That night at work, everyone asked why I wasn’t at the party, but no one seemed mad.  I couldn’t very well admit I was busy getting laid all afternoon, so I made up a bevy of excuses: I was tired, under the weather, not feeling it, etc.
When I left, I had a text from Jess.  I wanted to see him, so I texted him back asking him about his day.  No response.  One day later and still nothing.  Finally he texted me to say he was going to the mainland for a week for work.  I asked him when he was leaving, he informed me that he was already gone.  That was the last I heard from him.

Now I’m really starting to trip out.  Do I continue this messed up relationship with him?  Do I tell my roommate John?  Would he even care?  Do I tell Sally?  If she found out would she be mad?  Or just mad that I kept it from her?  What the hell do I do?!?!  I guess I wait the week out and try to sort out my thoughts.

Apparently the theme for September is self-sabotage starting right off the bat and turning my whole world upside-down.  Shit.


The Draught

As I write this, it has been 2 months.  2 months since I’ve slept with a guy, kissed a guy, had any romantic interactions with a guy.  Zip, zero, not even a flirtatious smile from across a crowded room.  Nothing.  It’s a good thing, this is what I wanted after all, but to not even meet one interesting guy and to constantly be thinking of he-who-shall-not-be-named, (and wondering if he ever thinks about me) it’s a huge bummer.

Lately, I have been really wanting to hookup with a random.  Just find a sexy tourist, throw down with him and never see him again.  No drama, no bullshit.  But the chances of meeting this hot fictional man seems slim.  Mind you, I haven’t gotten out of my comfort zone and gone out in an attempt to meet him, but a part of me sighs, “Why bother?  I’ve lasted this long, what’s the rest of the summer?”

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the fact that I am full of excuses.  The first reason I can think of to not do something, I take it.  Even when I am completely single I still find myself not making time to reach my goals.  Now that I am working a second job I feel that I have extra incentive for bailing on my school work and my writing.  Oh, I’m just so tired, I deserve to chill out, relax and get super drunk and high.
I feel like I’ve been pretty good lately.  I’ve been good at not thinking about him.  I know it’s stupid and not worth my time, but my mind can’t help but wander.  Luckily I’ve been so busy at work I don’t even have a spare second to allow my mind to wander.  Even on my days off I’m too busy running around doing errands, but its times like these: the off moments like right now when my mind really dwells on it.
Stupid, I know.  I hate myself for it, but how can you just turn off your feelings?  Real or imagined.  When I fall, I fall hard and it’s difficult for me to differentiate between sex and love.  Once I have had sex with a guy, I feel an emotional attachment to him.
I just need time, once enough time has passed I can turn back and say, “What the hell was I thinking?” but I’m not there yet.  I just need to focus on working towards my travel plans so I can visit a new world, with new people, food and experiences.  Where I live is so magical and beautiful and yet it’s so limited.  Those that make this their home have nowhere to expand or grow, they’re stuck exactly where they are.  But for me, this is just a launching point to a whole series of new adventures.  If I were to date someone here, I would have even more incentive to fuck off from my responsibilities. My roommate started dating someone and I haven’t seen her in weeks.  She texted me once to ask what kind of birth control I was on and if she could borrow some.  I faintly remember those days… the days when you start a new relationship and all you can see is each other, everything else, everyone else is out of focus.  Those magical, whimsical first few weeks before everything starts to go to shit.  Perhaps I’m just bitter because I’m not getting laid and have ZERO prospects.  It’s funny, because right now I don’t even want sex, but my libido cones in waves.  There will be days when all I can do is fantasize about getting thrown down onto a bed, but right now I can’t even recall what it’s like to have sex and I don’t even care. Ughhh… The draught continues…


The Hippy Flip

Bloggers Note:  I do not condone the use of drugs, but I personally find they are incredible tools for self discovery.  Please keep any judgement to yourself.

I’d been having the greatest time of my life, but I was really missing my closest girlfriends.  So when Suki and her boyfriend Paul came up for an impromptu visit, I was over the moon.  The three of us went into town and met up with my two favourite girlfriends here, Violet and Kennedy.  We all sat on a patio pounding back margaritas and discussing various options on how to spend our night.  I mentioned that Paul had brought an endless supply of MDMA.  Violet squealed that she had just received a huge amount of mushrooms, “We HAVE to hippy flip you guys!  Tonight is THE NIGHT!” (Hippy flipping is combining MDMA and mushrooms to get the ecstasy of the M with the visual stimulant of the mush.)
Suki and Paul looked hesitant, I was totally on board.  A bunch of us headed to my house and began barbecuing and drinking.  As it got later we all took the M and started feeling its effects immediately.  We decided to cab to staff accom so we might have a fire on the beach.  Once down at the fire with our huge group of co-workers, Paul and Violet started handing out party favours freely and before long there was 15 or so of us waiting for the effects of the combination to hit us.  And boy, did they ever hit us hard!  We were all cuddling and holding each other around the fire while intermittently running and splashing in the ocean waves.  The sand was rippled with water and the orange crescent moon reflected off the smooth surface, bouncing and dancing with every step we took.  The phosphoresce glowed in the crashing white wash.  Violet, Kennedy and I held each other closely as the water lapped at our ankles.
“Can you believe this is our life?” Violet whispered.  “We get to live here and see this every day.”
We held hands while spinning in circles while screaming, “I love my life!”
Throughout the night I would stare up at the sky, arms raised above my headed and opened towards the heavens and would let out the heaviest sigh.  There was so much beauty, I couldn’t handle it.  I felt overwhelmed by my own insignificance.  I could see every constellation in the sky, the animals jumped out from every direction.  The stars were all webbed, linking together like the ceiling of a circus tent and all the light in the sky, all the energy seemed to be focused on the cluster of stars directly above us.  My mind cried over and over again, “This is for you.  This is all for you.”  Looking up at the night sky I knew, that something big, something great was coming for me.  I didn’t know what and I didn’t know when, but I could feel it in my soul.  As the sun started rising, we all began coming down and began our trecks back to our respective beds.  After a 2 hour nap, we were all back on my patio, sprawled across blankets, still tripping over the swaying tree tops and watching eagles and falcons circulate overhead.  We smoked doobies and drank beer in the hopes of evening out.  I had spent the entire night enthralled with feelings of love and friendship for all of those around me, but now that the fun was over I craved a cuddle session with a beautiful man named Dan.  I texted him, he responded, I fell asleep, we didn’t meet up.  The next day I felt better but still a bit “off.”  I set to work baking a cake for my roommates birthday when I realized I had no milk.  I sauntered down the road to my brothers house to borrow a cup, but with no one home and nothing in view except almond milk, I went next door to ask Dan.  He greeted me with a  huge hug, gave me the milk and asked if I wanted to hangout.
“I’ll come by around 10” he said.
“You better text first, I might be in bed,” I responded.
The man showed up within 10 minutes.
After amazing cake and amazing sex I finally felt like things were starting to go my way, like I was in control of our relationship for once and that I could handle being just friends with benefits.  I went to bed late, but feeling fantastic.

When I woke up the next morning my attitude had done a 180.  I was sick.  Really sick.  Like, can’t-get-out-of-bed sick and totally miserable.  I cried out loud when I thought about my half-marathon in a mere 2 days, I couldn’t believe that after all my training I may not even be able to run it.  I wanted to be babied and considered texting Dan (after all, I’d been so nice to him when he was sick, didn’t he owe me the same?) but my pride wouldn’t let me.  I didn’t need him, I had plenty of doting friends.  Kennedy brought me a joint and some munchies in the hopes of cheering me up.

My race day arrived and I felt miserable while running the course.  The entire time my mind kept returning to Dan.  Could I be okay with only a physical relationship?  Could I handle him sleeping with other women?  Could I do without the emotional support?  Did he even care about me at all?  I made up my mind that the true test would be if Dan texted me to say “Good luck” or “Hey, how’d the race go?” I had been talking about it for weeks, if he remember then maybe he really did care.  The race day came and went and nothing.  I felt disappointed but not entirely surprised.  My disappointment turned to anger and humiliation and all night long my idle mind thought up various terrible scenarios in which he was using me.  I began overanalyzing everything he’d ever said and done and coming to the most negative conclusions.  The next morning, before I headed home, I walked out onto the black jagged rocks and meditated to the sound of crashing waves.  When my eyes opened, most of my anger had dissipated and I knew what I had to do.  I needed to swear off men…


I Don’t Need a Man

I need a man!
That was the mantra circulating in my brain when I first arrived.  Maybe not so clearly, maybe not in so many words, but subconsciously, over and over again, “I need a man, I need a man, I need a man!”
I wanted so badly to believe that true love would find me here.  That I would finally feel certainty in a relationship and that everything else would just fall into place.  My first few days in staff accom, I scouted out every potential suitor, but no one came close to meeting my criteria.  I considered settling just to have someone who was bound to me, someone to show me the ropes rather than me having to stake out my own space.  The psychics words rang constantly in my ears.  It’s spring, where is he!?  I wondered, exasperated.  I went to every party, every social event hoping he would be there, but no one I met held my interest, yet still I felt like there was someone out there, trying to find me.

After one particularly vexing day I went out to my favourite thinking spot: a small island attached to a nearby beach whose twisted trails lead to a perfect vantage point atop a rocky bluff, overlooking nothing but sparkling sea and crashing whitewash.  There I sat and meditated, surrounding myself with positivity and love.  I chanelled adoration from friends, family, people I hadn’t even met yet.  I told myself that I needed nothing in this world and was already so blessed.  As I wandered back home I felt content, like nothing could hurt me and that only good things could happen.  That very night I met Dan.

I had planned to meet up with my brother and attend a Cinco di Mayo party in our neighbourhood, but I was considering bailing.  I was just about to text him and say that I wouldn’t be making it, but at that moment he texted me, urging me to stop by for some pre-drinks.  I decided that I needed to venture out of my comfort zone and meet some new people and told myself that only good things could come from saying “Yes!” to life.  I grabbed a bottle of wine, a poncho and headed down the road.
“Come in!” my brother shouted when I knocked. I walked through the door and he was sitting with two guys I’d never seen before.  One was blonde, one was brunette, both were cute.  I was introduced to the brunette as Dan, my brother’s neighbour, and thought nothing more of it.
As the night grew hazier and more people began to arrive, Dan made a tasteless joke that launched us into a ridiculous discussion.  The two of us were laughing hysterically, deep in our own conversation and ignoring everyone else. Eventually we all headed to the party and I lost sight of him.  I was feeling pretty awkward and out of place, Dan had resurfaced but was in the midst of what looked like an intense conversation with a good-looking girl.  I was just about to leave and start walking home when he struck up another conversation with me.
“Man, I really wanna smoke some weed right now.”
“Me too,” I responded, “I was just thinking about walking to my house and rolling a joint.”
So he joined me and the two of us sat in my room rolling doobies and laughing over some obscure joke.
When we got back to the party everyone had cleared out.
“Shit, I still really wanna some this joint,” I muttered.
“We could go to my house,” he suggested. “Maybe watch a movie?”

At his house we perched awkwardly at either end of the couch.
What am I thinking, coming to this strange man’s house? I wondered
“I should get going, it’s getting late,” I started up.
“I’ll walk you,” he insisted.  “Don’t want you to get snatched up by a cougar.”
At my door, I felt overwhelmed by nerves.  I was scared he would try to kiss me and I barely even knew him.
“You’re really cool,” I began “let’s hangout sometime.”
We exchanged numbers.  Still nervous, I leaned in and gave him a hug.  His strong body engulfed mine, it was one of the most sensual hugs I’ve ever received.
I climbed into bed, grinning from ear to ear, heart pounding.

A full day passed and I didn’t hear from him.
I had just convinced myself that I’d imagined the entire encounter when my phone lit up with a text from him.  We bantered back and forth and he asked me if I wanted to hangout and blaze again.  I was nervous to see him as I was having trouble recalling what he looked like and I prayed my beer goggles weren’t too thick.  When he showed up, I breathed a sigh of relief: tall, muscular, tanned and bearded with piercing blue eyes and a winning smile.  Stoned shenanigans and movie watching followed and once again he walked me home, but this time we leaned into each other and locked lips.  It felt slightly forced and awkward and I retreated into my house feeling disappointed, but hopeful.  We made plans for a sober beach day, aka “a real date.”

When I showed up at his house he opened the door and immediately stated, “I have some bad news.”
Uh oh.
“I just got back from the doctor’s and I have tonsillitis.  I’ll be contagious for the next 48 hours, soooo I can’t kiss you.  No matter what.”
We still had our beach day, but he began to look under the weather so we cut it short.  I offered to bring him some tylenol from my house and stopped to buy him ice cream.  The store only had Haagen-dazs and I forked up the $15 for a pint.  He expressed his delight when I dropped it off, but all the way home I felt bad, really bad, incredibly low.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been played for a fool.  I enjoy doing nice things for other people, but this time it felt wrong, like he didn’t deserve my kindness and I wasn’t sure why.  I was slightly relieved when he sent me a huge thank you text message, but still something didn’t quite feel right.

I asked around about him, but could dig up no dirt.  Everyone I talked to simply said he was a good guy.
He texted me to say he was feeling way better and wanted to take me out for lunch.  We spent hours talking about anything and everything and barely touched our food.  By the end of the day we were in my bed making out and it didn’t feel wrong at all.  When he took off his shirt to reveal his Greek God-like body, I practically drooled at the sight.  We finally came up for air; it was 9 pm and I was late for a party.  We made plans for the following night and I hurried to staff accom in my makeshift toga, lips red and swollen from the night’s activities.  At the party, a few friends I’d seen while out on my date complimented me on what a beautiful pair we made.  I felt giddy.  Could this really be it?  Could it really be that easy?  Of course, it wasn’t…
The next night we slept together and I stayed over at his house.  The sex was outstanding and although I was disappointed by some *ahem* short-comings, the man more than made up for it.  I left early for work and fantasized about him all day.  Little did I know that would be the first and only time I would sleep in his bed.

We met up again the next day and spent the entire afternoon lying out on his deck, soaking up the sun and smoking weed.  We went out for food and then indulged in some afternoon delight.  After we finished, he went for a surf, I went home and didn’t see him again for 5 days.  In those days we texted back and forth, he invited me to some concert, but I opted out.  I was dying to see him again, but tried to remain patient and aloof.  When I finally did see him, things weren’t quite right… He immediately began talking about the concert, “You should have been there to protect me,” he began.  “This annoying girl latched onto me and wouldn’t go away.  Then she made me ride home with her, then she got locked out of her house and begged to crash at my house.  I set her up on the couch and she just kept trying to get with me, it was so annoying!”
Ummm… What?! Are you telling me this because you’re being honest or because you fucked some chick and you think it might get back to me?  Either option left me feeling uneasy.
Post-coitus, he asked if I wanted to go out for a smoke.
After we did, he put on his shoes, quickly kissed me, said “I’ll be in touch” and left. I’LL BE IN TOUCH?!  WTF IS GOING ON?!?!? And so began my descent into over-analytical chaos as I tried (unsuccessfully) to decipher his actions and words.

The next morning I felt like an absolute asshole.  I ran for 2 and 1/2 hours to try and clear my head, but it didn’t help.  I bitched on the phone to my girlfriends who suggested I chill the fuck out.  I drank an entire bottle of wine and cried.
That night marked the beginning of my internal battle.  Was Dan the greatest person I’d ever met or was he the worst?  Could I keep up a sexual relationship with nothing more or did I need the emotional support as well?  Was I crazy about him or just plain crazy?  I avoided the “where is this going?” conversation because I didn’t want to know the answer.  If he wanted a relationship, I wasn’t ready and if he wanted no strings attached, well, that hurt just as badly.  I encouraged myself to stop overthinking it and take it day by day until I could at least sort out my own feelings.

On one particularly sunny day we walked down to the beach.  On the way he turned to me and started, “So, you’re roommate has been talking to some of the girls at work” (as my new roommate worked at the some resort as Dan) “and she told them that you and I are seeing each other.”
“Umm… okay?”
“I just don’t want them knowing my business, they get so nosey especially when it comes to who I’m dating.”
“Umm… sorry?”
“It’s not your fault, it’s hers.”
He sounded thoroughly annoyed and I was too shocked to know how to respond.  This wasn’t the first time he’d mentioned keeping things discreet, this is a small town after all and he is a “local” or more local than my seasonal self.  After the conversation, I couldn’t get his words out of my head.  Why would he try to hide me?  Why would he be ashamed?  When we got back to my house he declined sex because he was “too tired.”  I felt the sting of rejection.  Later, he texted me to apologize, but the damage was done.

The next day when I woke up I felt mad, irrationally angry and just all round pissed off.  I wanted to punch him in the face.  I agonized over the situation all day.  When my mom got into town that afternoon to visit, I rehashed the issue to her over several glasses of wine.
“I don’t know what to do, he’s just soooo beautiful,” I whined.
“Listen to me,” my mom slurred, “Good looking guys are the BIGGEST assholes, you’re better off without him.”
“Yeah you’re right,” I admitted, but that didn’t stop me from booty-calling him the second I got home.

On the day of my half-marathon I resolved to let fate make my decision for me.  I’d talked non-stop over the past couple weeks about my upcoming race, if Dan texted or called at any point during the day to say “Good luck!” or “How’d it go?” that meant he genuinely cared.  The day came and went and nothing; radio silence.  I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised.  That’s when I realized something substantial.  Ever since I’d gotten out of my relationship I’d been falling into my old habit of replacing self-love with self-depricating relationships.  Rather than following my dreams and reaching my goals, I’d sought out relationships and pushed everything else aside.  It was the easy way out.  I wasn’t trying to find my own happiness, I was looking for someone, anyone to give it to me.  In barely 6 months I’d dated 4 different men!  It was as if I was swinging from vine to vine, not quite letting go of the last man until the next one was in my grasp.  I knew I had to let not only Dan go, but needed to shift my focus away from dating.  I had made up my mind and I stopped responding to his texts of “What’s up good looking? ;)”  But still, I felt the mature thing was to talk to him about the situation, let him know that I could only be his friend now.  He had left his toque at my house and I texted him to say I wanted to meet up and return it, he thanked me and asked if I wanted to hangout and blaze.  I decided that would be a good time to say my peace.  We sat out on my deck smoking, my heart was pounding as I tried to decide how to begin, but he got the ball rolling.

“I wanted to talk to you about us,” he began.  “Lately I don’t feel like we’ve been connecting the same way.”
My heart pounded faster.
“This has been feeling like its headed towards a relationship and that’s not something I want, I just got out of a relationship and I’m not ready for a new one.” I felt shocked and slightly rejected.  I didn’t know how to adjust my perfectly thought out speech.  A million things rushed through my head, but all I said was: “I don’t want a relationship either.  I think you’re a really cool person and I think it would be best if you and I were just friends.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but actual friends who hangout.  You’re a rad girl, we always have fun.”
I nodded in agreement, “Actual friends, who hangout.”
“Give me a a hug.” I didn’t want to hug him, it felt wrong when he wrapped his arms around me.  I held on a little too long.  After our talk I longed to be alone with my thoughts but he hung around for another hour before finally leaving.  “Keep in touch” we both promised. Finally alone, I felt relieved albeit slightly melancholy.  I knew I’d made the right decision and I knew things would be okay.  I began to reflect on our short-lived time together and realized something else.  Never had he given me any indication that he wanted to date me.  It was ME who had sought him out at the party and actively pursued him.  It was ME who had suggested hanging out and it was ME who made the first cuddle moves on our various movie nights.  Never had he shown any indication that he wanted to be more than friends, I was the one pressuring him.  I put so much pressure on myself and the situation, I wanted so badly to believe that this was it, that I had found the “one” that I convinced myself it was true.  What was simply a casual interaction I made out to be some grand love affair.  And really, when it came down to it, what did I really like about him anyway?  The fact that he was tall and muscular?  The fact we liked the same stupid TV shows and had a similar sense of humour?  That was where our connection ended.  Everything else I had created in my head. I felt proud that I had escaped the clutch of such self-depricating behaviour and had recognized things for what they were.  I felt proud that I had been mature and ended things instead of clinging on and causing drama.  I realized that I had come a long way from the girl I once was. I resolved to focus on only myself and let everything else fall into place.


The Aftermath

I had gotten my bearings together and decided once and for all that I needed to end things and go back home.  The only problem was I couldn’t do it that day.  I couldn’t even do it the next day.  Our schedules were so different and he was working late both nights.  I would have to wait almost 3 days before telling him that it was over.  In those 3 days I had no ideas how to behave.  After all, I still lived with roommates (his close friends) so I felt that I had to go on pretending everything was okay, less they catch onto my sentiments before I had a chance to discuss them with him.  Putting on the charade made me sick.  

The night of my big announcement I sat in the train station, bawling my eyes out while on the phone to my mother, terrified not only of talking to him but of telling my new roommates that I would be splitting on the lease while simultaneously shattering their friend’s heart.  I cried and cried into my phone.  My mom offered to use her air miles to fly me back, but I had already decided to make the drive back with my car filled with my clothing and personal belongings.  I begged my mom to fly out and make the drive with me to which she gladly agreed.

When I sat down to talk to him I felt as if I might projectile vomit.  He was shocked at first, definitely a little in denial and then immediately demanded that I go upstairs to tell the roomies, perhaps thinking it would scare me into changing my mind.  When I sat down and told them, they were in shock, but understanding and compassionate, telling me that they realized what a hard decision it must have been for me and assuring him that they would lower the rent or find a solution to help him through the transition.  The two of us retreated downstairs and tried to talk it out, but he was so stunned that I left him alone with his thoughts.  Soon enough the shock turned to anger.  He stormed in and demanded to know how I could be okay with throwing 5 years down the drain.  He accused me of wasting his time and throwing him head first into financial ruin.  I tried to make him understand why I felt that way I did, but the truth is, I didn’t really understand it myself.  Although there were always some doubts in my mind it was as if after that night at the Drake concert, someone had flicked a switch and suddenly I just knew it wasn’t right.  I tried to talk him down and his rage subsided to sorrow and the tears began to flow freely down his face.  We climbed into our bed to escape the cold of the basement and talked all night.  Finally, he understood what I needed to do and why.  
“In a way, I’m so proud of you for being brave and independent and I’m so excited for this new chapter of your life,” he explained, his voice strained with emotion.  “I just wish I could come with you.”
I told him I needed to retreat to the spare bedroom to sleep and that I would find somewhere else to stay for the remainder of the week.
“Noooo,” he wailed in desperation, “Please stay here, at least for tonight!”
I was too drained to hurt him more by saying no and so I stayed although neither of us slept and I would not return to spend another night in the house.


The next day I slept in to avoid seeing my roommates and put in my notice at work.  Desperate to avoid the house I texted a friend who I had recently reconnected with and briefly summarized the situation, begging her to join me in a girls night out.  She asked me to meet her at a well known downtown bar and then preceded to tell me she was running late as I stood outside, desperately inhaling my cigarette.  Shit.  It was too cold to stay outside in the -40 weather, so I begrudgingly entered the beer hall.  The place was packed to the gills with suave-looking business people noisily networking while enjoying happy hour.  I made my way through them in my hoodie, with my greasy, unwashed hair thrown haphazardly into a bun, no makeup, lips raw and bleeding from crying and eyes swollen and red.  I took the only available seat directly at the bar and threw my many winter layers onto a pile in the floor.  I had never felt so ugly and out of place in my life.  But that all changed not 5 minutes later when a group of guys next to me bought me a shot of tequila (they could clearly see I needed it).  Now I usually don’t drink tequila, but I was too damn cold and depressed to pass it up.  Finally my friend arrived (looking gorgeous and put together, of course) and we got to talking.  The drinks from attractive business men kept coming and by the end of the night we were dancing completely alone and my confidence had skyrocketed and in that moment I knew, I’m going to be okay.  She dragged me into her husband’s car and insisted I spend the night at their house.  In fact, she insisted I spend the week with them in, something I will always be grateful for.  Without their kindness and generosity I don’t know how I would have made it through my last week in town.


The next day I arrived back at the house while he was still at work and I immediately set to work boxing up my things.  Even though I chose to only bring my personal items and rid myself of more than half my clothes, I realized that I still wouldn’t be able to fit much into my tiny hatch back.  I lamented the loss of my old textbooks and beloved novels as I struggled to decide what to bring and what to leave.  I fell into hysterics while pawing through my box of Christmas decorations, choosing to save a single ornament: a hand-blown glass ball that a friend had made for me the previous year.  I couldn’t believe that not even two weeks ago I had dragged the box out of storage with plans of decorating and celebrating with my man.  I called my brother for moral support.
“They’re just things,” he insisted, “You own them, but they end up owning you.”
“Isn’t that from Fight Club?”
I tried not to be materialistic, but I felt sunk when I thought about leaving behind my pillow top Queen size bed and brand new bedroom furniture, but what could I do?  My new room at my mom’s house would barely fit an air mattress and I didn’t have the money to move the furniture much less store it.  When he returned home he seemed genuinely shocked to see me nearly packed up.  He told me I had to phone his brother and brother’s fiancé and tell them why I would not be participating in their wedding, he also insisted I break the news to his parents.  When I refused, he forcefully insisted.
“NO!” I bellowed, “YOU don’t get to tell ME what to do anymore! That’s the whole point of all this!”
Instead I had to listen while he called them up.  
I left my stuff in a pile and retreated to my friend’s house with a week’s worth of clothing in tow.


When I returned to load up my car before leaving to meet my mom at the airport, he met me at the door and helped my bring my stuff outside.  His one roommate and best friend wouldn’t even look me in the eyes.  To both of our amazement we managed to fit it all and when I slammed the trunk closed, he turned to me and said, “I just want you to know, I’m not mad at you and I support your decision.  You’re the love of my life and if you ever decide you want to come back, you’ll always be welcome.”
Tears streamed down my face and I whispered, “I never wanted to hurt you.”
He kissed me quickly and softly on the lips.
“Sorry.  I just had to do that.”


Off to a bad start

My mom and I left first thing in the morning to begin our treacherous drive.  To my shock and horror, my mom had no intention of driving any of the 12 hours it would take to get back to the West Coast, saying “You know I don’t drive in snow.”
All night I’d been fretting about the road conditions and even considered going through the states, but my mom kept assuring me it would be fine.  Of course she was!  She wasn’t going to be driving!  
I drove white-knuckled through the icy pass and breathed a sigh of relief when we finally stopped for gas.
“Can you drive for a bit?” I begged.  “The roads are clear here.  Unless… you’re not comfortable.”
My mom confidently announced that it was time for her to get over her fear and that she could and WOULD drive.  I prepped her on what to do if the car started sliding: hold the wheel straight and gently tap the brake.  I made her promise that she would pull over and let me drive if ever she felt nervous.  We passed through some sketchy areas, but my mom kept her cool like a pro.  When we reached a stretch that had a thin dusting of snow, my mom got cocky and careless.  Suddenly she screamed out, “WHAT DO I DO?!” as my car slowly started drifting across the lane.  
“Hold the wheel straight, tap the breaks,” I encouraged calmly.  “HOLD THE WHEEL STRAIGHT.”
“I don’t know what that means,” she wailed as she wildly cranked the wheel from side to side.  There was seriously 5 solid minutes in which she could have corrected, but instead we crossed into the other lane and hit a barricade.  Hard.  
“I am so sorry,” she moaned.
I burst into tears.  I knew in my gut that this would happen.  I hated myself for asking her to drive, I hated my luck, I hated my mom for crashing my car, and then immediately hated myself for even thinking such a thing about the woman who was doing all this for me.
“It’s okay,” she insisted, “let’s get out and take a look.”
I wailed even harder when I looked at my car, the front was completely a skewed.  I could’t even get the hood open to see if the engine was okay.  But the airbags hadn’t gone off and it was still running.  I lumbered into the front seat and insisted we continue on, much to my mother’s protests.  
“Don’t you want to stop and collect your bearings?” she asked.
“No!” Tears continues to stream down my face and I drove.  The conditions became so bad that I was literally driving on a sheet of ice.  I drove 40 clicks under the speed limit while a multitude of vehicles followed closely behind.  “I can’t do this!” I would wail every so often as cars whizzed past me, yelling obscenities.  Then the snow began falling in large chunks and we retired to the next town, checking into a cheap motel then immediately walking to the closest pub where I downed caesars and deep fried pickles and tried to forget my troubles.


The next day the roads were bare and we set off, soon meeting falling rain and high winds.  Yet, the grey, gloomy conditions filled me with joy.  It didn’t matter, because I knew I was home.


Where it Went Wrong

It’s not my intention to dwell on the past, point fingers or play to blame game, but I must acknowledge that one does not just end a 5 year relationship due to some harmless flirting at a Drake concert.
The problem existed because of how I felt about myself when I was with him.  My self esteem dropped to an all time low and I couldn’t make even a simple decision without worrying what he would think. This is not to say he was making an effort to control me, he’s stubborn by nature and I believe he began to disagree with me just because he could, even on the most superficial and frivolous of topics.  If I said it was black, it had to be white.  And it was never enough for me to admit to defeat, oh no, I’d have to be repeatedly disproved until I begged for the conversation to be dropped.
Even when choosing an outfit, he would eye me up and down and scoff, “You’re wearing that?”
“What’s wrong with is?”
“You look like you’re 12 years old, I hate that dress, where did you even buy it?  Why can’t you dress more like <insert celebrity fashionista here>?”
I was criticized about everything from the way I did dishes to how I spent my free time.  No matter how much I did, I was still told I was unproductive, in the most passive-aggressive manner of course.  I was sick of constantly feeling guilty for trying to live my own life.  I already did everything for this man and was made to feel that it was never enough, that I was never enough. Again, my intention is not to rip my ex to shreds, truthfully he‘s sweet and loving, kind and fun and for some crazy reason he thinks the world of me.  Trust me when I say that I have nothing but love and respect for him and believe he has no malicious intent.
He is who he is: a type-A, slightly neurotic, super stubborn Taurus.
I am who I am: a hyper-sensitive, even more neurotic, self sabotaging Cancer.
Our personalities just clashed.
I think a lot of his behaviour stemmed from low self-esteem.  Perhaps he felt I was too good for him and thought belittling me would raise his stock.  He had a tendency to surround himself with beautiful, trendy and generally “cool” individuals while disregarding all others as “losers or “weird” (NOTE: I proudly proclaim myself to be a weirdo and would not want it any other way).  When he was around these so called friends, he tried to impress them to the point where he bent over backwards at their requests.  If a disagreement were to occur between myself and one of his friends he would ALWAYS side with the friend, regardless of the argument.  He refused to see things from my perspective or to listen to my concerns and feelings, so eventually I stopped trying to express them.  I stopped fighting in an effort to avoid arguments and somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself.  I felt that as long as things continued the way they were, there would always be this looming sadness in me, that I would never quite feel complete.  I wanted more than anything to find myself again, and until it hit me: maybe I had never known myself at all…