I haven’t ever written about what happened Spring of 2007 because it was a very confusing and messy time in both business and romance. Though they’re related, I’ll leave the business upheavals that were happening in my life to another discussion, and will keep this about love. So this next story is about two things I did looking for love: I broke several hearts (including my own) and changed myself in hopes of getting the approval of someone else. Yeah, as I said, messy times. There are three parts to this story, the goodbye, the hello & the heartbreak, but I might just get to the goodbye & hello for today.
It was March 2007 and things weren’t good between Jeremy and I and they hadn’t been for a while. Jeremy is who I shared about on day 16. He’s the guy I flew to NY for a Match.com first date that turned into him moving in with me in Utah a few weeks later. I’d started some personal development during our relationship in which I was keeping a journal of my feelings and experiences, I had a daily gratitude list and I spent time cutting out pictures and words from magazines that I wanted to see and feel more of in my life. But Jeremy and I’s relationship and lifestyle just didn’t reflect the words and pictures I was putting up; not even close. Over the course of our 18 months together we’d both changed, but in very different ways that seemed to make us feel incongruent with one another.
Jeremy wasn’t thriving in Utah; he’d come from the small athlete pond of Durango, Colorado where he knew everyone and he was sort of a big deal, to being just another pro racer in Utah, among a sea of athletes who also have day jobs and support their family. Jeremy’s day job was his cycling, but it wasn’t making him any money, so he’d turned to mortgages, an industry that was volatile and on the verge of collapse. So needless to say we had a lot of external stresses on our relationship that let us know our union had run its course. We talked pretty openly about this reality and though it was sad, knowing we started out so strong, we handled the unraveling of “us” with a lot more compassion and care than I’d handled previous separations. And because finding housing in Park City can be challenging, I told him we could stay living together for as long as we both needed, but we’d be in separate bed rooms while we both found other arrangements. I was grateful we were finally making use of the extra bedroom we’d had for several months.
The previous summer we’d moved from the apartment I shared with my dad’s office into the basement of a mansion that overlooked a sewer treatment facility, which was funny to me until it wasn’t anymore. Jeremy and I were both hoping a change in scenery & location would energize our relationship, but instead our move made our relationship more stressful because the apartment was twice as expensive and Jeremy's mortgage work wasn’t yielding any results financially. We had also gotten a puppy together in the Fall, also thinking she could add some life and connection to us, but that hadn’t worked either. It was becoming more evident that just as it did with my fiancé John, something in me had shifted with regards to Jeremy, meaning I didn’t feel any energy or attraction towards him at all anymore, and it made us both sad to realize that. My energy towards Jeremy felt out of my control, almost like I was being guided away from him, and I realized why very soon.
It was April Fools weekend 2007 and it was Jeremy and I’s third weekend of being broken up but still living together in separate rooms. And for anyone who’s ever done a separation in this manner, you probably know it’s hard and awkward and seldom ends well for either party. I didn’t understand the shift that had happened in me so I couldn't explain it; how I’d gone from being very into Jeremy the year before, to feeling repelled by him and any attempts he made to pull me back just made me distance myself more. So when Jeremy told me he’s be going to Durango that first weekend of April for a bike race, I was ecstatic. It was my first weekend being single and solo, meaning no ex boyfriend around. This called for a celebration, so some girlfriends and I planned a ladies night out, where we opted to eat mushrooms and attend an 80’s Prom party out at a popular bar in Park City. I chose to go as “Jem” a rock n roll singer from the 80’s mainly because I had a red leather dress and knee length red boots that worked perfectly, but I needed a wig and additional accessories to make it perfect. There was no costume store in Park City, so I googled where to go in Salt Lake City, and found “Riff’s Exchange”, just a 20 min drive from my house. I didn’t know the store, but I recognized the neighborhood as being near Barnes & Noble, so I hopped into my Pathfinder to go see what sort of fun 80’s accessories I could add to my red leather dress and black boots.
My mind was doing circles as I drove down the canyon to the costume shop and a conversation kept arising in my head.
“Was it me?”
“Was I unable to love a nice guy?”
“Was I too caught up in money and the fact that I was supporting Jeremy and he hadn’t made any money?”
As I grew closer to the city I began to reflect on a recent book I’d read called The Alchemist and how life was a journey of love and self discovery and not to love and self discovery. That was a big concept to digest, and this thing with Jeremy had certainly been a journey of self discovery that's for sure. And I wondered what would be next for me.
No sooner had I posed that question to my soul did I get a response right before my eyes. I’d been looking diligently for the costume shop because I’d reached the neighborhood where Google said it was located and my eyes locked on a very handsome man walking on the sidewalk. He was wearing a white long sleeved shirt and white linen pants, and had a chiseled jaw and wavy light brown hair. I felt like he was glowing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, which obviously wasn’t safe because I was driving. So I quickly pulled my truck off the road at the next opportunity and jumped out to hopefully find him. A bit stalker-like, yes, but I was enjoying the lightness of this fresh energy. He wasn’t on the sidewalk anymore so I knew he’d gone into a store, but which one? I slowly walked past each store’s window and gazed in, hoping not to give away my mission. And then I saw him; he was just a few feet from me in a store window trying on sunglasses and when I entered the store, I realized it was the costume shop I’d been looking for. This man in white had literally guided me there. Although I wanted to immediately go over to him and ask him everything, I noticed that I got shy, so instead I went to the counter and asked if I could try on a blue wig I saw on the shelf behind the counter. When I put the wig on I felt my body begin to tremble as I sensed him coming towards me.
“That wig looks great on you, it brings out your eyes”.
Whoa. He had looked at me long enough to notice my eyes?! I somehow managed to get a complete sentence out of my mouth.
“Thanks, I’m going to an 80’s costume party tonight and I’m going to be Jem, a singer from the 80’s, so I thought this was perfect.” I sure sounded confident in my blue wig.
“No way! I’m going to that party tonight too, is it the one at Club Suede?”
“Wow small world, my name is Devon, nice to meet you. But I gotta go, I’m in a rush to get to work up in Park City, so maybe I'll see you there. I’ll look for the wig.” And as quickly as he appeared, Devon was gone, and I was left standing at the counter heart racing wearing a blue wig that I now had to buy, since he’d be looking for it. But he didn’t even get my name, but I got his. And I found myself wishing I knew where he worked. Yes, a little stalker-ish.
Several hours later I was at my friend Christie’s house putting on our costumes and I couldn’t get Devon out of my head, which was tough because I was getting text messages from Jeremy saying how much he’d been thinking about me, us, our future and how being away from me had given him a lot to think about and he was ready to be the kind of man I wanted. Crap. A little late Jeremy.
Now my mind was full of a stranger who I’d only known for 5, maybe 6 minutes, so I ignored Jeremy’s messages, which began to come in more frequently and get more aggressive in asking where I was and why I wasn’t responding. As I said, I’d made the choice to drink and take mushrooms that night, so I was in no place to talk, so when I got the message that he’d decided to come home early with the intention of working it out with me, I panicked and didn’t know what to do. I knew Jeremy wasn’t my future, but I also didn’t know what kind of guy would be my future.
I was scared, I was lonely and I was the most confused I’d ever felt, because here was a nice smart guy who was a complete gentleman, who had a great heart, came from a great family, was very handsome, but I’d blocked him because money wasn’t his primary focus. I’d been taught money is where men’s value comes from and this belief was wrecking my relationship. I hated seeing this side of me, that I wanted a guy who could support me, but I also knew we weren’t right for other reasons I couldn’t articulate yet. On the one hand, this decision felt superficial, but on the other hand, there was a knowingness in my body that I felt on a cellular level that was telling me Jeremy wasn’t my match. But how do you explain this logically to someone who’s in love with you? You don’t. So instead I ran. From him and from myself, and I turned off my phone and didn’t look at it again for the rest of the night.
I did my best to pretend like Jeremy didn’t exist that night, and I dressed to impress in my red leather dress, black boots and blue wig. I looked damn good and I found myself hoping that Devon would get to see me, although I had no idea if he was even single, which was funny, because I was the worst single person ever since I lived with my ex and probably had a full inbox of voicemails from him. As the night drew on and my alcohol and mushrooms kicked in, I forgot about Devon and Jeremy and I laughed, danced and shook my blue wig and hips adorned in tight red leather. I just let the music take me away and I danced harder than I’d danced in years. As the clock struck 11pm, I was sweaty, hot, and needed to pee, but I could hardly see straight due to my mushroom and alcohol high. But when I turned around on the dance floor amid the crowd to find the bathroom and somehow get myself there, I practically fell into him. There was Devon right in front of me and I was against his chest and could smell him.
“Blue wig girl! It’s you!” he shouted, with a tone that told me he remembered me, and he was definitely drunk or perhaps high, but I didn’t care. I balanced myself and looked him straight in the eye with a big smile and slowly selected my words, “Hi Devon, I would absolutely love to talk with you right now but I’m high as a kite on mushrooms.” And I laughed.
“No way, me too!” He said.
What are the odds? And with that knowledge that we were both surfing a similar high together, we locked arms and hearts and I heard him graze my ear with his scruffy cheek as he spoke directly into my ear, “Let’s go outside and get some fresh air and talk”.
Umm, yes to that. But I still needed to pee.
“Yes, but lets hit the bathroom first” and without replying in words, he took my hand and somehow parted the dance floor crowd and guided me to the bathroom. He put his hand on my lower back and told me he’d be waiting for me outside the bathroom door. I loved him. Or I loved this complete care and attention he was gifting me. I felt a softness in my chest and a comfort and ease with him, as though we’d known each other for years. When I came out of the restroom Devon took my hand and we headed out to the back door of the bar and onto the outdoor patio, where we sat huddled together around a fire pit until long past the bar’s last call. The bar was closing up for the evening and it felt like Devon and I were glued together, so when he asked if I wanted to go with him up to Alta ski resort to hang out while he ran a ski demo starting in a few hours, it was an easy yes for me.
The high from my mushrooms had passed but I still felt high around Devon. This feeling was far beyond anything I’d ever experienced, even with Jeremy at the beginning at the bike race. Was this love? I was about to go find out and things moved fast from there. Devon guided me down the stairs of the bar to his Gold Jeep Cherokee. And that’s where I saw & fell in love with Devon’s dog Thor; an enormous Alaskan Malamute, who was crammed into the space between the front seat and the steering wheel. I watched Devon love on Thor and direct him into the back so we could get into the car. Devon had to be at Alta Ski Resort in 3 hours and I needed to run home and change into snow clothes. So at 3:30am he drove me home where I saw Jeremy’s car in the driveway. My heart sank and I felt a pain in my stomach. He’d come home in the middle of the night because I never answered my phone or responded to him. Shit.
I quietly opened the door to our house, and Zona dog came to greet me. Luckily I kept all my ski gear, as in skis, poles, boots jacket and ski pants all in one place in the garage so that was easy and quiet to get. What wasn’t going to be easy was entering my house as Jem the 80’s rockstar, grabbing clothes and leaving as Harriet who was way up shit creek with what was unfolding and just wanted to disappear into Devon’s car and never answer her phone again. I wanted Jeremy to magically disappear, but he was asleep in the guest bedroom. I don’t know how we would have reacted had he woken up. Would he be happy I was alive since I hadn’t answered my phone? Would he be confused as to why I was wearing a blue wig and a red leather dress? Would he still want to plead his case about why we should be together given all he’d just seen? It was a bold move to go inside, but I did it. I grabbed pants, a sweatshirt, a hat and my Ugg boots, and took the blue wig off but put it in my pocket. I kissed Zona dog, closed the door and saw that my footprints in the snow would give away my being there. This was it. I was ending one thing and starting a new life right in that moment, there was no going back.
I left Jeremy there in bed and drove away with Devon. It’s awful to think about that now, to see how hard that must have been for Jeremy putting all the pieces together. But at the time I didn’t think of him at all, I was in survival mode.
I spent the next week at Devon’s house, entangling our lives and did my best to answer as few questions from Jeremy over txt and email as possible. But he knew I was staying somewhere and that something was different and that we were definitely over. A few days later Jeremy moved his stuff to a friend’s house and disappeared to Puerto Rico for a few weeks to race. I read his blog for weeks after we broke up. And I watched him gracefully handle the public announcement that we’d broken up, and that he’d be moving back to Colorado, and I watched myself get torn apart in the comment section. I should have stopped reading. But I saw he met a girl at the airport soon after, and they did some traveling together and connected. I say that because he announced on his blog he was going to be a father and they were eloping. So I wasn’t the only one who moved quickly. I never saw Jeremy again.
Jeremy and I released our life and home together after that night, and Zona dog came with me. I felt numb and high at the same time because I was heartbroken I’d just hurt a man I really liked and respected, but I was blinded by all the new high whirlwind energy with Devon.
I said it was a messy time. As in a few days after Devon and I met, a moving company arrived at Jeremy and my basement apartment overlooking the shit factory, and they moved all my possessions from that house into Devon and I’s cute little old town apartment in Park City, where we had just signed a year lease together. So just like that, Zona and I moved in with Devon and Thor, and a new life began.
More on this development tomorrow.