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Day 27: A light in the dark

This is a story from the same timeline as yesterday. It’s about how a perfect night with a perfect man appeared out of nowhere amid the sea of disarray that was my life in January of 2004.

Yesterday I shared the story of how I untactfully left my fiancé at the turn of the 2004 new year and how that lead to some unpredictable living arrangements. I had to live in my small massage office for a few months, which meant I had to hide that I was living in my massage office as the building had office hours that didn’t intend on people staying the night. That meant there was no refrigerator, kitchen, or private bathroom in my living arrangement because the space was used as an upstairs storage office for a large apartment complex at the Canyons Ski Resort. But thankfully my father managed the apartments, so he got creative in helping me find space, and suggested I go look at a storage room and see if I wanted to repurpose it as an office. It sounded like a wonderful opportunity. So summer of 2002 I brought the space to life by painting it, adding some shelves, some nice pictures, a plant, a pull out couch, a coffee table and a massage table. I put a sign on the outside of thr door with my name and I officially had my own daytime massage office.

Downstairs there was an outdoor pool, an indoor jacuzzi, a men and women’s locker room/bathroom, that each had 2 stalls. The entrance lobby had a desk where someone from the management company sat from 8am to 8pm. And seeing as how I was not supposed to be there outside of the office hours, I made sure to park a street away at night, and I kept my coming and going before 8am or after 8pm, so that I wouldn’t alert the property manager of my late night presence. The manager Blake would pull late nights there himself in his office every so often, which was downstairs and on the far corner of the building, near the entrance. I could see whether he was there at night according to whether I saw his lights on from the street. He lived in a nearby apartment, so he could walk over, and when he was there very late, I knew he was either drinking or doing lines of cocaine, so I came and went very quietly and didn’t turn on any lights. I used the light from my cell phone to light my path. During this time I ate a lot of breakfast bars, granola bars and other things that didn’t require refrigeration and I ate dinner out a lot by myself, mainly at Starbucks in the morning and the Mexican restaurant, Chubasco next door to the spa at night. Life felt very simple for me during that time. Wake up early, get to the gym (mainly so I could shower) get to the spa, get food throughout the day, and get into my pull out sofa bed without being discovered. Our town was small so it felt like everyone knew what I had done to John just a few weeks prior and why we weren’t on good terms. So I’d often be hanging my head a little wearing my knit hat when I’d be out eating dinner by myself. It felt like a lonely world; I didn’t realize how much I’d wrapped my social life and friends around my fiancée, but once we disconnected, I saw how many mutual friends we had and how sometimes people wouldn’t look me in the eye when I saw them. I had little to look forward to and found most of my joy perusing my new distraction of Match.com when I’d arrive at the spa in the morning. I had little to no experience being in solitude without television, so it often felt like my silence was yelling at me. I clung to little joys, such as the barista at Starbucks knowing my name and order before I said it, or the bartender at the local bar wanting to have a conversation with me other than just my drink order when I went out for a drink alone. On one of my many evenings at the Mexican restaurant, I felt a strong presence beside me and I heard a beautiful voice say, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing eating dinner by herself?” I looked up from my normal dinner of a burrito and lemonade to find an absolutely gorgeous man, maybe late 20’s, with shaggy brown hair and bright green eyes standing over me holding his plate of food. “Can I join you?” I was so startled by both how handsome he was, and how forward he was, and I replied, “Of course.” His name was Mike and we chatted over our dinners for about 45 minutes about life and passion, about my spa and about how he was a singer, songwriter and a personal trainer. We lost track of time, and suddenly Mike looked at his watch and quickly began to clean up his dinner and told me he was playing that night on Main Street, and was about to be late for set up. I apologized for keeping him, but he smiled and said he enjoyed talking with me. I watched him have a conversation with himself, after which he came a little closer towards me, and invited me to his show that night up at Bistro 412. He said he would put my name at the door so I could get in for free.

Wow, what an incredible offer. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. I smiled and nodded that I’d come and he said he’d save me a booth seat if I wanted. Yes, I wanted. As he was almost out the door, he turned and asked my favorite drink and I told him an Amaretto Sour. I raced back to my office-home, which was still open because it was before 8pm, and I changed clothes and freshened up in order to not look like the girl living out of her truck and office. When I arrived to Bistro 412, there was a bouncer with a clip board sitting inside the door. I smiled when I entered, gave him my name saying I might be on a list, and sure enough I saw Harriet M scribbled underneath the printed names. This was happening. I walked the narrow hallway towards the steep staircase that lead up to the bar, and as I rounded the corner I heard a voice that sounded like a mixture of Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, and those were the musicians he said he covered a lot of songs for, so it felt like the real thing. The bar was crowded when I arrived but I saw an open booth towards the front and I wondered if it was for me. Somehow the crowd naturally parted enough for Mike to look right at me while he was singing, and I saw him smile and nod towards the empty booth, indicating it was for me. I could feel the envious glare of a few women around me who saw our unspoken communication but I didn’t let it get to me as I navigated the crowd to the empty booth seat. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was at a bar in my hometown listening to a gorgeous singer and I had what felt like his complete attention. I was beginning to forget what felt like the small Hell I’d been living in.

A bartender came over and placed a napkin down, and said, “I assume you’re Harriet? Are you having an Amaretto Sour? It’s on the house.” And I smiled and nodded in disbelief that he’d pre-ordered my favorite drink; I was in love.

Mike sang for close to 2 more hours and continuously gave me dreamy gazes. The night came to a close and we stayed cuddled together for another hour in the booth. As the bar was about to close I heard something insane come out of my mouth. “Would you like to come over?” It was almost 1am and I wasn’t ready to leave him and I don’t think he wanted the night to end either. He agreed and something seemed totally normal about me inviting a guy I’d just met over to my office that I was sleeping in that had no private facilities. He told me he’d follow me and I drove right to my office, parked in front and walked with him up the front steps unlocking the front door and going in like it wasn’t a big deal that this was clearly a public building.

I began to kiss him at the door before he could ask me why we were going inside a condo clubhouse office and we stumbled upstairs and into my office/home and kissed for what felt like hours. It was long enough to where we fell asleep kissing and wrapped around each other. I woke up to pounding on my office door, and it was daylight, and I knew I’d just been busted by the HOA manager. There was no way I could play this off; he’d found a few pieces of clothing strewn on the stairway, as well as my toothbrush and toothpaste in the bathroom. I’d gotten sloppy with my crash pad thanks to the Amaretto Sours I’d consumed at the bar and the handsome singer lying on the pull out couch next to me. Whoops. Luckily I still had my clothes on from the night before because all we did was kiss, so I opened my office door to face Blake, and made something up about working late, hoping he wouldn't look over my shoulder at the male body on the couch. “I know you’ve been sleeping here and that’s gotta stop now.” Damn it, he knew? “I’m sorry Blake, I want it to stop too which is why I’m looking for a place, so thank you.” And I closed the door and went back to my romantic musical rendezvous and was met with a confused stare. “You own a day spa but you live in this little room?” Mike was confused and rightfully so. “Well yes and yes, but it’s because I’m in between living situations right now because I left my fiance a few weeks ago and haven’t found a place yet.” I could feel Mike backing away physically and energetically from me as he got up and grabbed his coat. “Thanks for a fun night, it was nice to meet you Harriet. Seems you’ve got a lot going on so I'm going to go.” And he was gone. No phone number, no “hey let’s do this again” sometime, nothing. He had gotten out of there as fast as he could. In our light hearted dinner conversation the night before I remembered that he’d told me he was also a personal trainer up at a gym about 10 minutes away; so a few days later, when I was looking particularly put together, I made a bold move and stopped by the gym where he worked to say hello. I waited nervously at the front desk as they went to get Mike, and by the look on his face when he rounded the corner and saw me, I could tell that just stopping by to say hello was the wrong move. He sort of smiled, but put his arm around me as he was walking to keep us moving, and I realized he was escorting me back outside. Once outside he said he was working and couldn't visit, but he also told me that he’d felt really strange about what happened between us a few nights before because he was Mormon and clearly I wasn’t. So he said he couldn’t see me again, but wished me the best. And with that, Mike sent me on my way and I didn’t see him again for about 4 years. When I bumped into him again he was at a bar with his non Mormon girlfriend, who I knew. She was the manager of a competing spa and she had perfect skin, so I hated her. I gave Mike a half shoulder hug, shook hands with his girlfriend, and did my best to enjoy my night seeing them in my peripheral vision. I heard they got married a few years later, had 2 kids but had gotten a divorce. Life was apparently a bit crazy for Mike as well. What I took from that experience was that even in the darkness that was my life at that time, I still managed to find pockets of light, like a handsome man hitting on me at a restaurant, inviting me out, and serenading me in a crowded bar. That night it was all about me and nothing else mattered. I wanted more feelings like that because now I knew they existed. Namaste

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