warning...this post is a bit long...it's worth it, I promise
The year was 1989. I hadn't been divorced a a full year yet. And I was a cynic. I married the wrong guy, and we were too young...a story for a different day I was out with my girlfriends, who drug me out of the house on pain of death, and we were up to no good. Decked out in our short skirts, too-high heels and Bad Attitudes, we were a force to be reckoned with, so we thought. We were out to see and be seen. And we were. A voice yelled, "Hey, come party with us!"
My best girlfriend hit me on the arm and said, "Turn the car around! Go find him!" I wasn't so sure. But, it was Saturday night, my car was freshly washed and I was cruising Main Street, why not? When you grow up in a smallish town there isn't anything else to do at night except cruise Main. All the clubs were 20 miles away. Besides, with an army base nearby, this was the place to meet new people. A singles bar on wheels. And, if you had chemistry, there was always Lyon's, the coffee shop down the street. Or Denny's, for a mug o' coffee. I was going to have fun if it killed me.
I was wilder in those days. So I took the challenge to find the orangeish Chevy Nova the guy who had taken an interest in us was riding in. I hadn't gotten a good look at him, but my friends had, and they were happy. And I am sure he had friends, because, don't they always? Besides, I was the cruise director for this particular adventure. I couldn't let my friends down.
We spent most of the night trying to find them again, and just when we were about to give up, we spotted the Nova, a bit ahead of us. I stepped on the gas and my friend leaned out the window. "Park over THERE, " she yelled, as she gestured behind a strip mall. Our cars pulled over and my heart was thudding wildly. I wanted to go home. But hey, we were a group, and nothing happens in a group. I decided to put on a brave face for my friends. If I was lucky, this might actually be fun.
There were three of them, including the driver. And three of us, how convenient. We stood there and talked.The driver Rob, said less than than the others. I learned he was from Michigan, stationed at the nearby army base. He proved to be a really nice guy. One I wouldn't mind getting to know. My friend had found her guy. We all decided to get some coffee at the coffee shop down the street. It would be quieter, and since it was November, it would be warmer!
My girlfriends and I had an understanding. No one went off with any guy alone, ever. We stayed in a group, it was wiser. So we all piled back into our cars and met up again at Lyons. Over coffee, I learned he liked Monty Python. We shared the same taste in music. We both were passionate about social justice. We both hated superficial people and situations. We both ran deep. I decided I wouldn't mind seeing him again.
And I did. He became a good friend. For whatever reason, we never made a love connection, at least on my end. I found out much later that Rob had feelings for me. I never realized that, for whatever reason. That elusive "thing" just wasn't there for me, though. It should have been, he was everything anyone could ever want. We went out a lot. As friends, since we enjoyed one another's company. And he said he had a friend he wanted me to meet. This friend was funny, and a nice guy to be around. He proved to be everything Rob said he was.
The three of us became fast friends. We went to movies together. We went to Tequlia Tasters at El Torito together. We drank beer and talked to the sea lions on Wharf #2 together. I loved them both, they were my stars. The guys that I counted on, through thick and thin. I dated other men, but kept my friends. We would get together at least twice a week. (Back then, I went out almost every night, I was young and stupid). It might seem strange, that I hung out with two men, but at the time, it was just....right. There was nothing weird about it, and if other people thought there was, well, I never knew it.
When one was in the field, (that's where army guys get dressed up in uniform and war paint and run around and pretend to shoot one another) I would go out with the other one. It was completely platonic, and never felt awkward. I expanded my friends, and included them as well. They were a fixture.
We had some great times. We attended The Rocky Horror Picture Show together. Denny's at 3 a.m. Sleeping on a friend's floor. Running on the beach at dawn. Driving to San Jose to an alternative club. I felt more alive that year than probably ever.
At the time, I was madly in love with a man that was very bad for me, Sean. He was smooth. He said the right things. And he was a liar. And yet, I just kept coming back for more. His mind games nearly killed me. But that's a story for a different day.
Rob got out of the army and prepared to make his way back to Michigan. That's when my other friend, approached Rob about dating me. I was oblivious to this. Rob dented his car over it, rather than hit our friend. I found this out much later, I never knew about any of this behind-the-scenes drama.
I had a friend, Maile, who thought she wanted to date our mutual friend. And I felt a pang of jealousy. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to go out with him romantically, but he was mine, and I didn't want to share him. About that time, I started looking at him differently. But just for a moment. You see, I couldn't afford it.
I believed that friends are friends forever and guys were a dime a dozen. I didn't want to risk my friendship by dating. I made a decision to take him out of the running, if he was ever there in the first place. We were friends. Best friends. I could call and cry to him about Sean and the way he was treating me, and my friend just listened. He didn't judge. He would say, "Let's go get something to eat, " and take my mind off of the situation. He became indispensable to me.
One night, Sean played one mind game too many, and I was done. (or maybe he was done with me) I was broken and bleeding, and just done. Rather than sit around the apartment and become suicidal, my friends dragged me out for ice cream. Just what a broken heart wants: company and ice cream.? No, it was the furthest thing from my mind. But I went.
At some point, a song came on the radio there in the ice cream parlor (and I know this sounds so childish and dramatic) but I burst into tears and ran out of the restaurant. What do you expect? I was in my early twenties! My friend followed me. He tried to talk to me, but I didn't want to hear it. I was done. Done with men, done with love. I ranted about how I wouldn't ever trust again. And that's when he said,
"Don't give up, because you never know..the person who loves you might be right beside you."
And I was so wrapped up in my pain, and my drama that I l didn't get what he was saying. I guess you have to hit me in the head with a brick. But, he was easy to hang out with, so I did. We started spending time together, more and more. And at some point, I admit, I made a decision that he would be my Rebound Guy. Only after he promised that whatever happened, we would stay friends. That came first. I figured we would be short-lived, because rebound relationships almost always are. But I never got antsy, never felt it was time to move on. This should end, I told myself, no commitments. The thing is? He wasn't asking for one. And I was comfortable.
You know when you watch those talk shows where the friend reveals a secret love to another friend? What happens? They always say, "I don't think of you in that way!" You know what? We are the success story.
I don't know how love happens. I have heard others say that they just "knew." For me, it wasn't that simple. He knew not to push. I would have run. I dated who I wanted, when I wanted, and he stood by me. It probably sounds like he was a pushover but he really wasn't. He was a very strong man and apparently he was very sure of himself. He knew I had to heal. At some point, I told him I didn't need to date anyone else, he was enough. I knew I was done for. I loved him truly, deeply and in a way I had never loved before. It was right. We knew one another. He was my best friend.
Three months later, we were married. (I asked him, for the record)
And that's how I met my husband; I was dating his best friend. That was 19 years ago. He is still my best friend. And I love him more now than I did then.
Happy Anniversary, J. I miss you. Hurry home.
T, who really is an incurable romantic