Blog Archives

It’s true: You really can’t go home again.

Indianapolis.

Last week, I took a trip home to Indiana to visit some old friends and family. It had been 18 months since I’ve been back, and I was really looking forward to it.

I had three big things on my to-do list during my six-day trip: 1. Honor my friend Cheryl by participating in a Crohn’s Walk with my mom, 2. Get answers for a romantic relationship in-question, and 3. Visit my friend and her son.

Item #1 happened basically as planned, although there seems to always be secrecy and planning that happens behind my back and then – SURPRISE! – I arrive and it’s not what I thought it would be. Whatever.

Item #2 is a toughie. You see, I have had a little bit of a crush on this person for, well, half of my life. I am really lucky to call him my friend, first, but I know things were starting to inch toward the gray area and I needed to know where we were headed.

Long-distance relationships are difficult, and I have no intentions of getting involved in one unless there was a clear means to an end. One thing I wanted to know was if he planned on staying in Indiana forever.

If so, that would be something I’d have to seriously consider: would I move back to give this thing a chance? I’m happy to report we talked about this right away. I’m not-so-happy to report that his answer was yes, he’ll be staying in Indiana foreevvverrrrrr. Ouch.

Now let me say this, I’m definitely not married to the idea of staying in Austin, Texas forever. In fact, I’m already considering my next move. But I know I’m not equipped to move back to Indiana. I haven’t done all I need to do!

There were other wrenches thrown into the mix as the week progressed – things that showed me, clearly, a romantic future is just not in the cards for me and this guy. I don’t want to say much more than that; I do hope he’ll still be my friend for years to come.

It’s sad, in fact I’m still pretty bummed out about it, but I’m glad I saw things for myself and got the answers I needed before we traveled too far down the rabbit hole.

If you’ve been reading around these parts for awhile, you know that I’m kinda (ok, really) bad at dating. I have a history of ignoring red flags and getting myself stuck in some sticky situations. So, even though this didn’t end in love this time, I have to say I’m really proud of myself for standing up and not just “going with it” when I know something doesn’t align with my values. I know what I want for myself, and I’d much rather be single than try and force something that isn’t right.

So, it’s a bittersweet win.

Now, item #3 just plain didn’t happen for reasons I’m not really sure of.

I’ll say that as much as it pains me to admit it, sometimes people just grow apart, no matter how long or deep a history they have. And maybe that has happened here.

Regardless, my heart is still hurt, and I have been on the mend (read: sleeping way too much) since my return. Loss, of any sort, isn’t easy.

Aside from those things, I spent some quality time with another friend – we got some good laughs, drank delicious wine, and we endured some interesting challenges along the way.

We joined up with some old friends from high school and I laughed until my cheeks hurt over inside jokes that possibly only we think are funny. We went to see Guster and Dispatch in concert, and there were literally fireflies dancing above us, and it was the Indiana I’ve romanticized since my departure 14 summers ago.

As I always say, Indiana will always (!) hold a special place in my heart – I went through a lot of things growing up there. But when I boarded my plan to Texas last Thursday morning, every ounce of me knew that things just weren’t quite the same. Even if Texas isn’t my forever home, I know Indiana isn’t.

I spent 12 years in Louisiana, and although it didn’t necessarily feel like “home”, I accomplished so much there, and it really shaped who I’ve become. Texas, well, hard work got me here, and it gave me a fresh start. It’s an opportunity that I still sort of can’t believe I have.

So, cheers to old friends, but also, to looking ahead, wherever that may be.

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Indiana: A story of what could be?

The road to Indiana.

Howdy! I had every intention of posting yesterday, but life took over – okay, more like work took over, and I was up until the wee hours this morning finishing things, and packing for my trip to Indiana tomorrow.

I planned this trip months ago, so I could participate in my second “Take Steps for Crohn’s”, which I am still looking forward to, but the trip has also transformed into something else.

It may come as no surprise that I have some pretty strong feelings for a guy in Indiana. It’s not someone new, in fact, he’s been a part of my life for years – but we’ve really been on a roller coaster.

Without going too much into it, I will say that we’ve managed to be there for each other through some very tough times, especially as of late. I’ve had a tiny crush on him since I was 15, and have been fairly honest about my feelings over the years – him, too, even though he hasn’t always felt the same way.

Recently, he quietly admitted he had feelings, too – something I never, ever thought I’d hear him say. And that’s just it: it’s the first time I’ve liked someone so much, I’d accept it if he didn’t like me. I’d rather have his friendship than nothing, and I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me.

Strong words, I know.

And that’s the other part of this entire thing: I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve never liked someone who was quite so nice to me; never been able to actually talk to someone on the phone (especially about nerdy stuff, like politics and food); never had any sort of relationship that didn’t involve around sex, talking about sex, or planning for sex. It’s refreshing.

But, it’s also scary AF. What exactly is going on here? I can’t answer that right now. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer it after this trip, either.

Because if you’ve been here before, you and I both know how this ends (read this, this, this, this, and this, and this, for examples). I’ve done this. Of course, this is someone different – biologically, and in many different ways. But it has ended poorly for me before. I’m bracing myself to get on that plane next week with a broken heart, and no need for a phone.

A long time ago, I concluded I like Indiana boys because they are familiar, and because, well, I live 19 hours away and don’t really have to subject myself to the intimacy that would happen in a real, face-to-face relationship.

But what if the distance was eliminated? I always say I have stayed in the South to benefit my career. I’ve banked on the story I’ve told myself that I will always be single. But what if I put something, or someone, else first this time? What would my life be like?

There is a huge part of me that already knows the answer. My life would probably be filled with a lot more love, and a little less stress. I might actually get the thing I’ve always wanted: love. A partner.

All of that just scares me. I don’t know if I’m ready, but on the other hand, how can I NOT be ready?

I don’t want to bank everything on this trip, but I am hoping it will show me a little taste of what my story could have been; what it could be, if I choose that path, instead of the one I’m on now.

We’ll see!

PS. The blog will be sparse next week as I’ll be vacationing and mind-questing 🙂 Promise I’ll be back.

Join my team!

I’m taking steps to honor my angel, Cheryl, in Austin and in Indiana.

Hello! As many of you may have read, I lost a dear family friend in February to Crohn’s disease. I wasn’t able to make it home for her funeral in Indiana, so I am Taking Steps in Austin to not only honor her memory, but to raise money and awareness that will hopefully lead to a cure for this terrible illness.

If you live in the Austin area, I could REALLY use some teammates! I’m happy to walk alone, but would love the support, along with the opportunity to make it a fun-filled day for a walk. If you’re able, please join my team by clicking here.

If you’re not in the Austin area, but happen to live in the Indianpolis area, I will be Taking Steps in Indianapolis on Sunday, June 25. Please mark your calendars, and stay tuned for the link to sign up for my team – I would LOVE to see some old friends and their families out in Indy, marching for a cure.

Here is just a snippet of some words I wrote to describe my relationship with my friend, Cheryl:

Cheryl was a ray of light in the darkness – she always found a way to laugh at pretty much any situation, which is a trait I’ve always admired. I can recall so many fun times with Cheryl and her daughter, Sarah – times I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I know Cheryl meant so much to my mom, and to her family. To me, Cheryl was South Carolina sweet grass. She took her daughter and I on a rode trip one summer, from the middle of Indiana to the shores of South Carolina, where we stayed, for what seemed like a month.

It was my first time really discovering a new culture – we went to the market, bought handmade jewelry, tried homemade ice cream, walked cobblestone streets leading to plantation homes, and chased crabs in the sands of Folly Beach. It was heaven.

You can read my entire post about Cheryl, here.

And so, Texas friends – I hope to see you on my team for May 20, and Indiana friends, keep your eyes peeled, but I’ll be there, ready to rumble on June 25.

In advance, thank you always for the support.

BBC: ’99: Stories of the Game’.

I feel like every single day this week kicked my behind – it was the holiday, the chilly weather, and yeah, I just wanted to stay in bed! At least it’s Friday, because I’ve got huge plans to sleep in this weekend and make tortellini soup. How cool am I?

Basically, it’s the perfect season to read a book about HOCKEY. And that’s exactly what Blanche’s Book Club did, as we just finished “99:Stories of the Game” by Wayne Gretsky.

I was really excited when I saw this book on the shelf in the library, because it was just released in November! I snatched it right up and got to reading. Here’s the official description from Amazon:

From minor-hockey phenomenon to Hall of Fame sensation, Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record books, his accomplishments becoming the stuff of legend. Dubbed “The Great One,” he is considered by many to be the greatest hockey player who ever lived. No one has seen more of the game than he has—but he has never discussed in depth just what it was he saw.

For the first time, Gretzky discusses candidly what the game looks like to him and introduces us to the people who inspired and motivated him: mentors, teammates, rivals, the famous and the lesser known. Weaving together lives and moments from an extraordinary career, he reflects on the players who inflamed his imagination when he was a kid, the way he himself figured in the dreams of so many who came after; takes us onto the ice and into the dressing rooms to meet the friends who stood by him and the rivals who spurred him to greater heights; shows us some of the famous moments in hockey history through the eyes of someone who regularly made that history.

Warm, direct, and revelatory, it is a book that gives us number 99, the man and the player, like never before.

As the description says, this isn’t really a book about Gretsky, but moreso a book about the game of hockey and its history. It’s loaded with interesting tidbits – about how long players went before even considering to play while wearing helmets, how the size of the rink affects the game, and how the league was formed.

Of course, there is plenty of information about Gretsky’s story; I had no idea his first professional team was in Indianapolis (Hooooosiers!), and that he spent lots of time practicing on a frozen river, learning to play while dodging frozen sticks and uneven ice… and he often wore skates that were many sizes too small, just for a certain edge in the game.

What I love about sports stories is that they’re really inspirational. There’s lots of hard work; tough stories, and often hard-fought victories. And while coaches and players can often move us with their voices, sports writing is another craft.

I will not say this book is phenomenally written, because it isn’t. But the stories are really interesting and worth the read – perhaps if you’re into audio books, it’s available in that format (check it out, here). Besides, who better to explain the history and the best moments of the game than Gretsky himself?

If you’re a hockey fan, or even just a sports fan, this is definitely a book you’re going to want to check out. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “One True Loves” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Read it with us by following me on social media @OrangeJulius7 and chatting!

Have a great, great weekend everyone, and I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

Hand-Picked: The good ‘ole days…

Hello out there! I’m on vacation this week – that’s right, a REAL vacation without my computer, and complete with my toes in the sand, frozen mojitos, and the company of some of my best friends. However, there’s no way I’d leave my favorite readers hanging!

I’m really excited to share a special series with you this week, “Hand-Picked”, because it’s exactly that: hand-picked memories in the form of photos (actual ones that were developed), notes, ticket-stubs, and other random findings I’ve kept over the course of my life thus far.

These are mementos I store in decorative boxes on shelves in my coat closet, and at times, I pull them down and spend hours looking through them, and remembering some of the best times in my life. What’s below are real, original things from my life, my home, and they have not been edited. They are not presented in any particular order, as I’m not that organized. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do, and perhaps you’ll start to travel down your own memorable past.

So young!

So young!

This picture is from the summer between my graduation from high school and me leaving Indiana for Baton Rouge. It was 2003, as you can clearly see from my Tiffany’s heart pendant necklace. This was my boyfriend at the time, and if I’ve ever had to say there was one that got away, I’d venture to say it was him.

I’ve written many a blog post about him; he was smart, athletic, and a family-man, and damn, doesn’t he look cute? He still lives in Indiana, and his married with children. I haven’t spoken to him since 2003 (I saw him that winter, but we didn’t speak), but I sure hope he’s doing well. It was the best summer of my life.

Handwritten thoughts.

Handwritten thoughts.

In 2008, I’d just graduated from college. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered EXACTLY what this handwritten piece of awesomeness is, but I do know that my friend at the time, Mollye, had set me up on a date with a guy, it didn’t work out, and then she dated him, and we got into a pretty big fight. So, it’s probably about that.

Abercrombie life.

Abercrombie life.

For a few years in college, I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch. At the time, of course I hated it, but in all honesty, I met some awesome people there, and we had a lot of fun. We also got to wear overpriced flip-flops to work, and use a Polaroid camera for whatever we wanted – and clearly, we took great pride in our denim walls. Nothing turns me on more than a pair of distressed denim. No, seriously.

I'm so lame.

I’m so lame.

I dated this guy, Austin, in college, and as you can see, he was graduating (and moved from Baton Rouge to Dallas). I was practicing what I wanted to write in his card, and I’m not sure HOW I started calling him “Prada”, but I did and I got him a pair of Prada sunglasses for graduation. We sort of tried the long-distance thing for a little bit, but obviously that didn’t work out for several reasons. He is now married with children, and as far as I know, he still lives in Dallas.

A rather embarrassing tradition...

A rather embarrassing tradition…

I’m not sure how this got started, but whenever I went out and got drunk, I would attempt to write “20 Things I Did Tonight” – probably so I could recall them the next day, or 10 years later, like I am right now. I have stacks of papers like these, and some of them even have wristbands and random bumper stickers attached – you know it’s a good night when there’s physical evidence. This list is… interesting, and I am not sure what “Blue Hurricane” is, but it sounds disgusting!

High school graduation.

High school graduation.

This is a card a classmate wrote to me for our high school graduation. I thought it was so sweet, and written on such professional cardstock, that I kept it. He is still kind, successful, and probably still writes sweet things on thick paper for the people in his life.

Nothing says love like a mixed CD.

Nothing says love like a mixed CD.

The man I loved was moving to New Orleans, and it was ultimately the road to our demise – minus the fact that he was a lying, cheating, asshole. But, I made him a mixed CD anyway, and I think I made a copy for myself because it was so good. I mean who can resist a little David Gray?

Seriously... it's funny now, right?

Seriously… it’s funny now, right?

Yes, you read correctly, my dorm room was infested with termites, as kindly informed to me via this note, from my new roommate, Michelle. It was my freshman year, and I’d just moved in with Michelle, and I came home from studying one night and found this taped to our door. The story was pretty traumatic for Michelle, and LSU actually didn’t have a dorm room for us, so we stayed in a hotel for a few days, which was pretty nice if you ask me…

 

The top secret notebook!

The top secret notebook!

In 8th grade, I kept notebooks with my girlfriends (lots of girls did this) – instead of writing and folding notes back and forth we sent a notebook back and forth. This was in 1998, and I really like how it says on the front “Do not open or ELSE!!” I’ve read the contents of this notebooks and am actually quite surprised that Leslie was my friend – the letters I write to her are pretty lame, and I’m often complaining about homework (imagine that) and attempting to write in French (we shared French class). Also, 90% of the notes are written in highlighter, or sparkly gel ink – God love the 90s!

I hope you enjoyed day one of “Hand-Picked”! Please come back tomorrow for an entirely new batch of memories – the good, the bad, and… the old!

Dancing, auditions, & the feels.

Open dance auditions for the 82nd Academy Awards.

Open dance auditions for the 82nd Academy Awards.

Two Sundays ago, I went to “Dance to Breathe”, which was described as Austin’s Choreographer’s Ball benefitting The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The show, which featured a performance from each of Austin’s dance studios –  note: Austin has a lot of dance studios – was about two hours long, and made me realize that I’ve been taking classes at one of the best studios in town.

A few months before that night, I’d auditioned for the finale piece of “Dance to Breathe”. It was my first audition ever – outside of trying out for dance team when I was in middle and high school – and the dance was VERY difficult. There were about 40 people crammed into a room made for probably 15, all of us trying our damnedest to “Get in formation” with the style of Beyonce.

When it was my turn to perform what we’d just learned, I basically just froze. I think I did about two moves, and just tried to keep things moving. I knew I wouldn’t get chosen (and I didn’t), and I was okay with that.

The thing is, I’ve never had “real” dance training. I learned general jazz technique at a class held at a gym when I was in 6th grade. My 8th grade dance team experience was more of a pom/cheer moment. Once I got to high school, our dance team performances were held at a dance studio, and we did practice leaps and proper turns between learning new routines.

My freshman year of high school, I was put on the dance team as an alternate, meaning, I had no secure spot on the team; I would only perform if someone was sick or injured. But, I attended a UDA dance camp that summer with a few other girls from the team. We learned some of the most difficult dances I’d ever seen.

We were low-budget, but our coach recorded our practices, and we critiqued ourselves, late into the night, perfecting these new routines to compete with, and eventually perform during basketball half times. My hard work earned me a permanent place on the court that year.

Despite dancing my way through high school, I didn’t perform or practice at all until I moved to Austin. When I was searching for a studio, the thing I liked about this one in particular, was they let anyone who wanted to (and who was willing to pay a fee) perform on stage twice a year in a showcase.

Count me in! I became a member, attend at least three classes a week, and performed at my first showcase in February. I loved it!

And the thing is, I’ve always dreamed of being able to perform, whether it be as a professional halftime dancer or in theatre, knowing that at some point, my body probably wouldn’t be able to sustain a career on that path. Even now, today as I type this, I’m recovering from a neck injury I got last week during a hip-hop class – I’m getting old, guys!

So much to say that I wasn’t upset when I didn’t make the cut for “Dance to Breathe” – dancing isn’t something that comes natural to me. I know I have to work at it, and often, I have to work more at moves that others can pick up in a second.

The host of “Dance to Breathe” was a well-known choreographer named Willdabeast. Here’s the scoop on him, according to his website:

Orignally from Indiana, Will “WilldaBeast” Adams moved to LA to pursue his dance career. Dancing for artists such as Usher, T-Pain, The Black Eyed Peas, Jason Derulo, Zendaya, 5th Harmony, Demi Lovato, GLEE, X-Factor, Nissan, MTV, Butterfinger, and Madonna he found a love for choreography. This allowed him to choreograph for artists including T-Pain, DJ Tiësto, GRL, Erika Jayne, ABDC, So You Think You Can Dance, and Nike.

In 2013, Willdabeast created the dance company immaBEAST and dropped the first official video “Dope”. Since then, immaBEAST has become one of the leading brands, companies, and influences in the hip hop dance world.

During the show, they showed his reel – snippets from the work he’s done – and my jaw was on the floor. And then, when he said he was from INDIANA?!?!! Whaaat?! So cool.

At the end of the show, he said that it was his first time in Austin and he’d never seen a dance community be as supportive as we were to one another – cheering for everyone as they performed on stage. “You don’t get that in LA,” he said.

I thought about my dance studio and how we really do encourage each other to WERK IT. When we’d performed in the showcase, the owner of the studio got on stage and explained to the crowd that everyone was welcome at her studio; it was a place to be accepted. The showcase was the result of that; anyone could get on stage, and we’d practiced our asses off to not look like fools – I’d spent hours in my kitchen, using a broom handle in lieu of a cane, to practice our group routine to “Pony”.

Last weekend, the studio held auditions for their next showcase – their first ever summer performance, and as far as I know, their first time requiring auditions.

I signed up to audition for two pieces; for two of the classes I take each week. I got a good night’s sleep the night before, I put on a little makeup (had to go with the sparkle eyeliner), and went to the audition.

And… it was TOUGH. I think I sweated more during the 30-minute audition than I have in an hour of class. My first audition was in stilettos to Beyonce’s “Freak-’em Dress”. We performed the dance several times, and again if our numbers were called. Mine was; so I went again, as the studio owner stood in front of me with a clipboard.

As we stood there, near-30 of us, in a number-order line as she looked us up and down, then back at the clipboard, I thought again about what she’d said on that stage months before – that everyone could get on stage.

Apparently not anymore.

The thing about auditions is that; they’re grueling, stressful, and oftentimes a giant disappointment – it is, as they say, the nature of the biz. Some people say that auditioning is just something, in itself, that you’ve got to get good at in order to make the cut.

In just these three auditions I’ve had, I’ll say there’s definitely an art to it – technically you’re being judged from the moment you walk in, and I had one choreographer tell me they’ll eliminate you if you dance when he says “listen”. Fair enough. Others have told me to nail the first and last move, or to rock the freestyle part, or to just get really great at facial expressions. It’s a science.

After my back-to-back auditions on Sunday, I was exhausted. I didn’t think I really had a shot at making the cut – although I was proud of myself for not just freezing and standing there like a jackass.

But I went home, and the news of the tragedy in Orlando started to sink in. A club; where people were dancing. Dancing is supposed to be a universal language; the one that breaks the barriers and brings us together. And I know the attack wasn’t against dancing, but it hurts my soul.

To soothe it, I ate cheap ice cream bars and watched approximately nine hours of “Dexter”.

Yesterday morning, my empty email inbox confirmed what I thought – no showcase for me. Sure, I was disappointed. And I bet I will be for a little while. There’s a big chance that my body isn’t cut out for the auditions and performances like it was when I was 16.

But why does it have to be the same people that win over and over? When are they really going to just let us be free; and let us all dance?

You got exactly what you asked for.

Runnin' out of pages in your passport.

Runnin’ out of pages in your passport.

Every other Friday, I take an alternate route home from the office. It’s a few miles west of where I live, toward a place Texans call Hill Country. And it is beautiful. The road overlooks dozens of homes made of stucco, usually sitting under a colorful sunset.

If you’re new here, you should know that sunsets are one of my favorite things about living. Ever. But as I took my alternate route Friday, there was no sunset. This was probably partly due to the time change, and partly due to the thunderstorm rolling in, putting dark clouds over those tiled-roofs.

As disappointed as I was to have missed the sunset this time, it paired decently with my mood. Last week was ROUGH. The chances are likely, you probably saw that last week, I published a 5-part series based on my most-recent dating experience.

One thing about having a blog like The Bitter Lemon is that I get to write about the everyday happenings of my life, sometimes it’s simple things, like my alternate route home in order to swing by the laundromat. Other times, it’s a steamy, sexy story that ends in great disappointment.

But the other part of publishing real life stories is that, often, people react to those stories. And last week? People reacted in a way that I have never experienced. And while I have no interest in dragging out the drama any longer; I feel like it sort of can’t be ignored. This shit was crazy.

On Sunday night, before the blog series even published, I talked extensively about it to my mom. I always get a little nervous when things like this publish, because frankly, it’s embarrassing to tell the world that yes, I fell for an asshole once again, I slept with him, and I got sad about it.

However, I feel like that’s a way of coping for me. It’s a way to deal with what’s happened, and make some sort of sense of out my sadness. And so, the words I’d thought of for months, finally published on Monday around 1 am.

Literally.

Literally.

By 9:30 am, I already had a text message from the subject of these blog posts:

“Holly, I know your job is write and you’re great at it. And this may make things worse, but if your goal is to embarrass and cause problems for me with your articles, then it’s working, and I probably should’ve seen it coming based on how badly I hurt you. Anyone that reads your posts knows that’s me, based on the way that’s written you’re going to smash me on there. Please know my intent wasn’t to have it go the way it did. I know you don’t believe me, but it really wasn’t. It’s probably way too late, is there anything that can happen here for you to not just obliterate me? I clearly really hurt you and you’re definitely going to really hurt me with this series. I’m sorry (was before your post today and am now).”

Let’s unpack the facts here:

  • My job is not to write; it’s my calling, my life’s mission, my way of life
  • My goal was not to embarrass anyone or cause problems for anyone
  • Not everyone that read my posts knew it was him
  • Intentions lead to actions and actions lead to reactions
  • Nothing can happen here, there, or anywhere

The interesting thing that’s important to note here, is that part 1 of the series says nothing negative about anyone. It’s simply background information about me, where I grew up, and how I met this person. So, he was shitting his pants before the party got started.

Secondly, a lot of the content of the posts talks about how much I LIKED this guy, talks about how hot I thought he was, how much I was attracted to him… am I that hideous of a person that having people know he hooked up with me is worth a Trumpertantrum? Please, child.

I did not reply to this text message because I didn’t want to open up that can of worms – this person is the type of person that will never take no for an answer.

About an hour later, he sent his PR team of 1 over to my Facebook inbox. It was a girl I went to high school with, and she told me she saw both sides of the story, but this guy was just SO upset, and she didn’t want to see anyone else get more hurt. And then she sprinkled in that he was thinking of suing me for defamation of character.

Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. This post had been published for about 10 hours and I was already being threatened.

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • This girl does not know me
  • The blog post, or the situation, had nothing to do with her
  • She didn’t know the end of the story
  • Defamation of character is the legal term for harming someone’s reputation by making false statements
  • The things I said actually happened; I know, because I lived them
Bye Felicia.

Bye Felicia.

So, then I really did get into it with the guy. I told him to stop having his PR team threaten me, and that our attorneys could talk if he really felt like that was the best way to end everything. He begged to talk to me so maybe we could work things out; he said ‘everyone’ knew it was him in the blog, and the fact that I said it was a “5-part series” really bothered him (still not understanding this).

I asked him what he was so afraid of and he said he was afraid his mom would see it (he’s 31, BTW). He also told me that “everyone” was taking it to heart and that what people think DOES matter (not to me). I stopped responding because I don’t like talking to idiots.

The next morning, part 2 was published around 1 am. By lunch, he’d already sent me another long ass text, and called my best friend at work to see if she could stop me (I’m so evil). His text read: “I know this won’t matter but I have heard from my boss today Holly. It got to both of them on social media. Both articles. Too many personal descriptive details to not know that you’re talking about me. I’m being asked to go into the administration offices when we return from break. Please don’t publish anymore this is putting my career in question. You said yesterday you just want it to be over. Please Holly, my boss said people have been let go over less. This is my whole livelihood here. Please don’t do this. My mom called crying today because of what someone at work said to her about me.”

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • He’s right, he doesn’t matter
  • He did not hear from his boss
  • It did not get to his boss on social media
  • Neither of the articles got to his boss
  • Not everyone knew who I was talking about
  • He is not a celebrity
  • His mom did not call him crying
  • No one at work said anything to his mom about him

This guy spent his entire day building on this story. He offered three times to show me the email his boss sent him, and backed down three times saying he had to respect the boss’ privacy. So, I looked up the boss’ email address and phone number, and told him there was no need for privacy. He still refused. I called him. He still refused. Finally, he agreed to show me the email, with the names covered.

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • It was not a real email
  • He wrote the email
  • It was full of typos and misspellings
  • The email address domains were incorrect
  • It was in “edit” mode, within his “Work in progress” folder
  • There was no signature
  • He is full of shit
  • He spent his spring break making up lies and crying

When posts 3 (password is drake), 4, and 5 were published, he said nothing. Because what other lie was he going to make up? Was he going to say that he was losing custody of his dog because of my blog? That he’d grown fatally ill because of it? It was truly the pity party of the century. It’s also really sad that someone that pathetic works in the education system.

Sure, I’ve gotten reactions from people pissed off about things I’ve written. The last guy I dated got an entire book written about him (How I Fell: Love, Lies, & Cocktails), and he told me my blog ruined his life. Really? Did my blog grow a body and walk itself to his place of business and put him at gunpoint to steal money from the register for three years before ultimately getting fired? Nope. No, it didn’t. Because if it, then I wouldn’t have to go to work everyday.

Forever.

Forever.

So, I’m pretty over people saying my blog does things that it, in fact, cannot do. My blog has not ruined anyone’s life. My blog did not make up a story about this guy and tell the world. He did things that he shouldn’t have, and those things were now being outlined for him to see. When he slept with me, and stopped talking to me, he knew it would be easy to never talk to me again. Until the truth was laid out, in black and white.

And in the end, nothing happened to him. He didn’t get in trouble. He didn’t have to answer to his mommy. He didn’t lose his job. And I’m fine with all of that. Because, it is not my responsibility to punish people for their wrongs. I believe the universe does a fine job of that on its own.

It’s one thing to learn that a guy you like is a douche. But it’s another thing to learn that he’s a complete psychopath and a pathological liar.

When I’m left to pick up the pieces of my relationship messes, I always try and figure out something I learned so it won’t be a complete waste of time. In all honesty, I keep learning the same lessons repeatedly, but I’ve learned a lot about red flags and gut instincts. If things seem off, they are, no matter how much glitter is clouding my view.

I learned more about just how complicated relationships can be. I learned that no matter how successful, smart, or nice someone seems – the truth eventually reveals itself. I also learned that not all women are interested in sticking up for other women. I later found out that the little PR team? She was the one responsible for suggesting he sue me. And while it was a stupid idea that never would have seen it’s day in court, it disgusts me that she jumped to his side without knowing what I went through. What if I was about to reveal in post #4 that he hit me? Sexually assaulted me? Disrespected me? And she’d rather have a dishonest prick on her side than that of a brave, honest woman.

Part of it is sad, and the other part? It’s so high school.

 

You should just be yourself, right now you’re someone else.

And I know when that hotline bling...

And I know when that hotline bling…

The following was written based on memories (many of which involve vodka). Names have been changed to protect the author. Catch up on parts one, twothree, and four here.  

Eric’s message was loaded, and it upset me so much, it was difficult to unpack. But let’s do it, right here:

  1. I was not jumping to any conclusions, I just said that I thought I deserved a real apology, given that we’d known each other for half our lives, and given that I was indeed human, with real feelings.
  2. The last time I called him, he didn’t answer it, so why would keep calling? Also, is it my responsibility to call anyone and everyone that I haven’t heard from to just see what they’re up to? No.
  3. What he’s “ been going through lately” – while I would never wish any ill upon him, whatever he’d been going through (which he never told me) that day, or that week, was no excuse for how he treated me… IN JANUARY. So, come correct.
  4. Saying you’ve cut off everyone, not just me, is not a compliment. It is also a choice. And it’s also rude. If you’re in a position to cut everyone off, it’s time to seek counseling, and as a therapy patient myself, I say that as truth, not as an insult.

He told me later he’d cut everyone off just to focus on work. Again, that’s a choice. If you’re surrounded by good friends, who are trying to pull you up, don’t ignore their efforts. I’m a firm believer in focusing on work when things go to shit; but eventually, everything will catch up, and you’ve got to deal with the matters at hand.

In a different text, he said one additional thing that pissed me off more than anything else.

He said, “Putting all of the blame on me isn’t warranted. You didn’t exactly try to keep it going, either.”

If he wanted to play the blame game, fine. Put all of the blame on me. I do not give a flying fuck who is to blame. The fact is, it ended in a way that I felt was disrespectful, and I wanted an apology.

And no, I didn’t try to keep it going, because there’s no way to keep something going when nothing is happening. I can’t keep texting someone who doesn’t reply; keep calling someone who doesn’t answer; or keep caring about someone who acts as if they hate me.

For once in my dating life, I was trying to end it before my heart went black. I did not want to hate this person, but I felt like this was a person I’d never known.

All of his text messages were built to put the blame on me, and try to make me feel bad for something I did – when I did nothing. If there’s one red flag I can see from the shore, it’s manipulation, and that is not a game I’m willing to play.

I’ve had a lifetime of manipulation from the men in my life, and I am done with it. It’s broken my spirit, and is the culprit for why I get myself in these situations in the first place. If Eric is right, if all of this is my fault, then sure, I shouldn’t have listened when he said I wasn’t a rebound.

I should have taken him more seriously during the “Bathroom floor” conversation. And perhaps I should have hid in the bathroom when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I very well may have dug my way into this hole, but I was also going to see my way out.

The timing of the blowup wasn’t lost on me – it was just past the 6 month-mark of us talking. Scientifically, a person can hide his true self for 3-6 months, before his real colors start to show.

Last week, I had an astrological reading. According to my chart, something in my stars had shifted around the start of March.

“Did you get in a fight with someone you’re dating?” she asked.

“Uh, yeah, this guy I was talking to,” I said.

“Well, that’s just someone you’ve got to thank for showing you who they are upfront,” she said. “You only wasted a few months and not years.”

…And I know when that hotline bling, it can only mean one thing…

Ever since I left the city, you & me, we just don’t get along.

I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…

The following was written based on memories (many of which involve vodka). Names have been changed to protect the author. Catch up on parts one, two, and three here

I left Indiana a few days later around 6 am. It was Eric’s birthday, and I’d left him a note on his nightstand wishing him a great day. I missed him already. I tried to text him between flights, but he wasn’t too talkative.

I looked up flight prices so I could get back to Indiana and see him soon; but my mention of that didn’t warrant a great response from him. I got home to my apartment, and was glad to see my kitty, but felt lonelier than ever.

The truth is, I’d played this game before. It was not the first time I’d gone to Indiana to see a boy, and it definitely wasn’t the first time I was getting the cold shoulder after having sex with a guy. It was actually becoming more common than not.

After a few days of it just being awkward with Eric, I made attempts to clear the air. I asked him if he felt different with our friendship.

“Of course I feel different,” he said. “But I’m trying to find a way to show you I’m interested without it being anything serious.”

I told him that we should just agree that it won’t be anything serious. We lived far apart, and he was getting over a divorce and I had just moved to a new city. But I did want to keep that door open, so maybe something could happen between us in the future.

Things between us seemed back to normal for a few days, but eventually they fell back into, what I call the “Ice Age”, where a guy is just icing me out. We went about a week without talking, and we hadn’t talked on the phone since before I made the trip.

I was upset, and having trouble thinking about anything else, so I finally texted him on a Friday night. He was in Chicago, so I felt like an idiot for bothering him, and vowed to just let him have his weekend with his friends.

But the next day, he texted me asking if we were going to start talking again or what was going on?

I tried to explain my side in the nicest way possible, and tell him that I felt like ever since I’d gotten back, he’d gone cold, and I didn’t know why or how that happened. Was I bad in bed? Did I say something offensive?

He explained that no, I was not bad in bed or offensive, it was just him, and he genuinely apologized. “I’ve never really been single and I’m just really bad at this,” he said. “I want to get back to normal.”

“Normal” to me meant we were back to texting each other often, but my text that night went with no reply. I was up until around 3, and still never heard from him. Even when I awoke the next morning around 9, still nothing. It wasn’t like him, and I started to panic.

“Eric, is everything okay?” I texted him.

He replied an hour or so later.

“Yeah, just trying to leave the city,” he said. “Was out until 7 am.”

And my gears were grinding. Out until 7 am, but he couldn’t text me? Okay. Takes two to tango here. I told him he was shady, but whatever, do what you please.

“hahahaha” he replied.

I didn’t understand what the fuck was so funny.

“So I don’t have to answer to you but I’m shady?” he said.

You got it, mother fucker. I didn’t know what his problem was. Was he trying to prove to me that yes, he was single, and he could do whatever he wanted? I didn’t appreciate him acting that way toward me. Was he trying to make me jealous of him? Of girls he was with?

I stopped replying to his texts and got on with my day. I wasn’t going to bother with that train I couldn’t control.

Later that night, he called me.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said. I was determined to stop caring. Easy breezy cool girl, right here.

“Okay, well you didn’t reply my text,” he said.

“Well, you never reply to mine,” I said. “I was busy.”

Oh, how the tables have turned. Pulling out the same lines he used on me. Our chat was over quickly.

You make me feel like I did you wrong.

What I now refer to as the “Chicago Conversation”, bothered me more than I can properly explain. The truth was, I really didn’t care if he was out with other girls, or hooked up. But I did care that he was trying to flaunt it in my face. He was trying to make me feel bad about myself, and that is a feeling I’ve felt from men for my entire life.

For the next week, I cried myself to sleep multiple times. I needed some resolve. I already know I’m bad about seeing the red flags and running from them; but I thought I picked a good guy this time. But that is what I thought every time. And every time, it ended like a Taylor Swift song.

I got to thinking about control and how it affects our dating lives. There were things we all tried to control in relationships – who has the power; who cares less or more – we were trying to control the uncontrollable.

As simple as this idea sounds, I finally got it: dating was out of my control. It didn’t matter how nice I was, how thin I was, how pretty I looked, how much beer I could guzzle, or how funny I was, a guy was going to either like me and treat me right, or he wasn’t.

This idea, alone, made me feel so much better. It took the pressure off. Okay, so it didn’t workout with Eric, handsome Eric who I thought had potential for something serious, but it was no big deal. He wasn’t the one for me. If he texted me, great, if not, great. Chalk it up to a fun weekend, and just be done with it.

But my new outlook didn’t bode well with Eric. I had finally stopped chasing him, and he noticed. About a week later, I heard a statistic on the radio that said the #1 reason men will dump a woman is because they don’t listen.

This shocked me, so I texted Eric, and asked him if it was true. He said it was.

“We’re selfish, so all we want is a girl who’s going to listen to everything we say and act like it’s the coolest thing ever,” he said.

While I agreed with him on the selfish front, I’d just assumed men were not concerned with whether a women listened or not.

But, what a man wants was no longer a concern of mine. I was without a care, I’d gotten a new haircut to reflect my carefree ways, and I was feeling good. I’d spent years listening to and being interested in every detail of men’s lives, and it had resulted in too many notches on the bedpost and a bitter attitude. Fuck it.

From that point forward, my interactions with Eric were so negative. It was just constant saltiness; like we were gearing up for our next go ‘round in the ring. It made me sad. I knew, and I know, that neither of us wanted to be the people we were being.

I was heading to Baton Rouge a week later, and Eric sent me a sharp text message about me being MIA. I was already kind of over the bickering.

“Are you mad at me?” I asked him.

He said no, but if that was true, what was with the attitude? I decided to just call him and hash this out. Let’s be adults. He ignored my call, and texted me that he was “at a bar. Can’t talk. What’s up?”

I wasn’t going to resolve this over text. I also wasn’t going to deal with these games. Fucking step outside the bar and answer the phone, asshole. But, I didn’t reply. I left my phone in my car, and was on with my weekend.

As the weekend came to a close, he was quick to tell me he was going back to Chicago. Riddle me this: why bring up something that is obviously a sensitive subject? We were back to ground zero, with him trying to prove to me he could do whatever he wanted, and he was going to, and then he would toss the used condom in my face.

And with that, I had to hang my white flag. I was not going to participate in negative energy any longer.

With that, I deleted him from all of my social media channels. And yes, I know this appears like a lame move on my part (he asked me if I was 12 years old, for doing this). But, it was creeping me out that we weren’t talking, yet he was watching my SnapChat feed. I was grasping at straws to try and gain some sense of control in a situation that had gone so wrong.

We went about three weeks without talking, when I reached out to him, and told him I’d been meaning to talk to him, but I just didn’t know what to say.

“I have no explanation for why things fell off,” he said. “They just did. It’s probably because I don’t know how to be single, and who knows if I’m ready for anything. All terrible reasons and I’m sorry if they affected you.”

While I did appreciate him trying to explain his side, and it was nice to know I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t like his backhanded apology.

Of course I was affected. I was heartbroken. I understood that he didn’t mean to hurt me on purpose, but that’s what happened and I felt like I deserved a real apology. When I told him this, the world pretty much blew up.

“I wish instead of sending me these messages and jumping to conclusions, you would call me and see what I’ve been going through lately. I had no intention of being this way to you and yes we did get close. I have pretty much cut off everyone, unfortunately, not just you.”

Please return tomorrow for the final installment of this five-part series, complete with red flag alerts and Drake lyrics. 

Protected: Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor…

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Implementing the Zack Morris TIME-OUT!

Sup, preppies! Look, it’s almost midnight on Tuesday night, and I really haven’t done anything I needed to do today, because these last 48 hours have been… unexpected.

I don’t even know where to begin, but I’m going to try and spit something out that will explain a little bit of this madness. In the recent past, I published some blogs about a guy, we’ll call him… Mr. Belding (I love “Saved By The Bell”), this was a guy I liked a lot. In a nutshell, he didn’t like me back. It’s the classic love story.

But, as soon as I published these posts, Mr. Belding got really pissed off. At me. And he told me that his mom was upset, and that everyone in the United States was upset (exaggerating because this will be used against me, I am certain), and he also said that many of my readers were texting him pictures and screenshots and messages, OH MY.

He also got Tori, remember her, the biker chick that was kind of on the show for the Fall Dance episode and then faded away, yes, her, Tori was trying to swoop in and save Mr. Belding from the evil, ME (can I be Lisa?). So she was telling him to sue me, and maybe they can get together and talk shit about me and sip wine, and he’ll touch her hair, and they’ll laugh about how awful I am, and they can skip off in the sunset (and a cliff) together.

So, I’ve been dealing with children for two days. But, Mr. Belding also told me that he was going to lose his job over what I said. So, he’s sent me probably around 50 messages asking me to not continue with my series.

So, let me explain a little further here.

Growing up, my father was a journalist for the city paper where I grew up. And I am proud to say that my dad was (and probably still is) a great writer. My dad also had guts when it came to his work. If he wrote something even a TAD controversial, our house phone (that’s how old I am) would be blowing off the hook – people were pissed off about things he said. But my dad never backed down.

And I am really thankful I saw that from a young age. When I grew up a little, and got to high school, I was really lucky to have a journalism teacher who also encouraged us to exercise that right to free speech. We were one of the only high schools in the state of Indiana that didn’t have to have our principal, or any administrator, proofread it before it went to print.

If you’re not a creative, this may all sound like a load of shit. But, asking me to not write, not blog, not publish something, feels like a complete, and total violation. It’s like cutting off my air supply. It’s like getting rid of THE MAX.

I’ve had this blog for more than 5 years. There have been many people that love it, and some people that don’t. And, as I’ve said many times here, that’s the risk you take when you put yourself out there. But, I’ve also learned that the biggest risks sometimes come with the biggest reward.

The reward? Getting messages from men and women around the world, telling me they can relate to my stories. And that is what my blog is about: taking the ugly, embarrassing stuff we deal with on a day-to-day basis, and giving it some sort of resolve. At the very least, this little Bitter Lemon community can know that they are not alone when it comes to the frustrating struggles of relationships.

While I have built this school, this Bayside High, to be a place of honesty and truth (and it will remain that), I also don’t want it to be a place that would cause someone to lose his job. Do I think he really would lose his job? Absolutely, 100 percent not. But what if I am wrong?

Ultimately, the fate of Mr. Belding is no concern of mine. I think the truth hurts, unless you’re a good person, and he’s harassing me out of that fear.

But at the very least, I know that I also don’t want to get another three days worth of threats and bullshit sent to my phone. If you’ve ever had a crush on anyone like Mr. Belding, you know that he is never going to admit any wrongdoing, so it’s the song that never ends.

And he very well may read this and analyze every single word and bitch about them all. But that is what the “Block” button is for on my phone.

I feel like a real lame ass for kind of letting Mr. Belding win a little bit here. So let’s even things out. If he’s Bayside and I’m Valley, let’s put ants in the Bayside Tiger’s pants.

I am going to publish the final three parts of my story. One part on Wednesday, one Thursday, and one on Friday, as planned. And I am going to put a password protection on them. And I’m also going to tell you that the password is in all lowercase letters. And that its rhymes with “rake”. And it starts with a d. A lowercase d. And its the same name as the person who sings “Hotline Bling”.

So, there. If you want to read, I welcome you to do so. If not, that is your right as well.

In any case, there have been so many of you reading this week, and I thank you for that. I do hope that my choice to offer up a slight hurdle to get to the content won’t make me look like too much of a wimp. I hate that the bad guy won here, but he still has to live with his wrongs. Even if he doesn’t care.

Ever since I left the city, you got a reputation for yourself now.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

The following was written based on memories (and I’ve had drinks since then). Names have been changed to protect the author. Catch up on part one here

In college, I kept in touch with Eric. I had a tendency of drunk dialing him after late nights at Fred’s bar, and he would answer, also drunk. At times, he’d pass the phone to his roommate (who I also imagined to be attractive), and we would drunkenly talk until Eric returned on the line.

Not soon after, the evil Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world to his college-exclusive social network, Facebook. It was then I got to see what everyone in high school had been up to, and what they were currently doing; no matter how real or fake it was.

At one point or another, Eric and I were talking a lot – whether it was by cell phone or AOL Instant Messenger – we were going to pick up right where we left off. I was graduating that December, and I was planning to fly home to Indiana for the holidays just a few days later.

Eric offered to pick me up from the airport and bring me to his apartment for the night. I agreed. I hadn’t seen him maybe but once since high school – we had some catching up to do.

My plane landed in Indy, and as I walked toward the baggage claim, I saw so many people running toward someone waiting, there were hugs and kisses, and I was just there, alone. But as I rode down the escalator, there was Eric. He was wearing a black pea coat, and he looked just as handsome as I remembered.

I smiled, picked up my pace, and gave him a giant hug. Once we got to his apartment, we took shots of Jagermeister, and went upstairs to his room. It didn’t take long for things to fall into place. We’d hooked up many times before, though not had sex, but I was ready to DO this.

Naked, on top of him, it was looking like it was about to happen. But, then, it just didn’t. We fell asleep, and a few hours later, he woke me up by way of putting his #%*! between my $&/?. Up to that point, it was one of the most intense sexual experiences I’d had. But we still didn’t do the deed.

The next morning, he drove me to my mom’s house in Greenwood. We said our goodbyes, and that was the last time I saw him for several years.

After the holidays, I went back to Louisiana, where I moved into my first apartment. I really did like Eric – he was a teacher and a basketball coach – he had this sense of small town stability that was sexy to me. I don’t necessarily know how we clicked, but we did. He was sweet, and he always made me feel attractive.

But clearly, distance wasn’t on our side, and we both sort of agreed that it just probably wasn’t our time. I had no hard feelings. I was bartending, and doing freelance writing jobs while I looked for a 9-5 job. Eventually, I started dating someone, and quickly fell in love. Eric was off my radar.

Thanks to Facebook, I could see that Eric was in a relationship, too, and per usual, it looked pretty serious. He was dating someone from home, she was his sister’s friend, which was kind of weird in an after-school-sitcom sort of way. I didn’t know her, but had heard of her though mutual friends.

Regardless, it wasn’t my business. Although I thought of him randomly over the years, I tried not to pay too much attention when he eventually got engaged, married, and moved states away with his wife. From what I could tell, most of my classmates were falling into a similar pattern – because that is what you do when you get older; you get married, get a house, and start a family.

Years passed, and I didn’t talk to Eric. I still had no hard feelings toward him, but it was clear our paths were done crossing.

Until they did, last summer.

I blame SnapChat, because this is how we reconnected. I snapped a selfie as I was heading into work. I had been let go of my 7-year salaried job, and was back to job hunting while working 60 hours a week of retail to make ends meet.

“You look great!” he replied to the snap.

It was random, but okay.

I replied back with another selfie that read, “Thanks!”

He sent back a selfie saying, “You’re welcome!”

In the quick time the snapped selfie was alive, I analyzed what I could. He appeared to be in casual clothes, it was at night, and he was on a couch or in a recliner of some sort. He still looked as handsome as ever.

But… where was his wife? Taking a selfie is kind of obvious, so surely she wasn’t sitting there snapping selfies in front of her, right?

I tried not to think too much of it, and went to sleep.

Over the next few weeks, we communicated via SnapChat off and on; nothing serious. But one night, I had a dream with him in it. He was running toward me, wearing a white medical jacket, and once he ran up to me, he asked me if I was going to watch “the big game”. I remember thinking, no, probably not, but I told him I would. He said something else I can’t remember, smiled, and ran off.

I told him about it the next day on SnapChat. He replied via text, “We could just text,” he said. Truthfully, I didn’t even know we still had each other’s numbers.

We texted some, but the more we talked, the more I was wondering about his wife. Where was she during all of this?

Admittedly, I’ve had some experiences with married men in my past. I’m not proud of them, and it’s not something I’m aiming to continue to do, as it never ends well, and of course, it’s just not right and it’s not who I want to be.

So, I asked one of my girlfriends from 7th grade about it.

I explained that Eric had been texting me, but what about his wife?

“There haven’t been any pictures of them together on Facebook in a while,” she said. “I don’t think they are together.”

What?

I figured Eric would tell me if he felt it was necessary. And he did. However, that story is his and not mine to tell. I’ll just say that I felt terrible for him.

His divorce was pending paperwork, and he’d moved back to our hometown, as he’d gotten a job in the same place we’d first crossed paths – that gigantic school.

I couldn’t believe it! Things were oddly coming full circle; I was sad for his divorce, but I was happy for his new job opportunity. He’s one of those people that was made to be a leader, plus he looked really great in a suit.

We talked for months, mostly by text, but sometimes on the phone. It was mostly just friendly chatter, but it certainly was nice to talk to someone at the end of the day. He was open with me about the pain of his divorce, and I was struggling to find a full-time job.

But eventually, I did get a job, and he talked me through my move to Texas, and texted me good luck on my first day at my new job.

During my first two weeks in Texas, my apartment wasn’t ready, so I was living in an Extended Stay off I-35. I was living out of a suitcase, eating frozen dinners, and watching homemade marathons of Gossip Girl from the hotel bed. One night, Eric Facetimed me.

He had a creative project at work he needed help with. I was happy to help, although he later said his coworkers didn’t go for my ideas.

One night, I was driving home from work and I called him. He answered, on speaker phone.

“I’m in the car with Aaron,” he said.

Aaron went to high school with us.

“I’m about to drop him off in Taylorsville,” he said. “Can I call you back then?”

“Yeah, of course,” I said.

When he called me back, I had to ask the obvious.

“Was Aaron like, uh, why is Holly Phillips calling you right now?” I asked.

“Yeah, I told him I we were talking,” he said, nonchalantly.

I supposed we were talking, but I didn’t think he thought of it that way. I was used to crushing on guys that wanted very little to do with me.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He said it was great, because we’ve always had something,” he said.

He had a point.

It was October, and I wanted to make it a point to get to Indiana sometime soon to see Eric. I wanted to see if there really still was something there between us.

For a few weeks, we got to talking every day. We talked on the phone a lot, and sometimes had Facetime dates on Friday nights; we would have drinks while on the phone, and it nearly felt like we were really in the same room.

Toward the end of the month, he was acting distant |red flag|. He’d been talking about how he was just “so busy” at work planning and preparing for a fundraising lock-in at the school. If there’s one way to piss me off, it’s to tell me you’re too busy.

I’ve always been someone juggling several things at once, in fact, if I don’t have enough things on my plate, then I don’t know what to do with myself. I am of the school of thought that telling someone you’re too busy for them is just a copout way of blowing them off.

So, I took the hint he was tossing my way, and we stopped talking. I was upset, naturally I assumed he was seeing someone else, and I wrote about it in my weekly column (in Dig magazine, on stands in Baton Rouge, Louisiana).

From my perspective, he was attempting to blow me off by continually telling me how busy he was. I told him I could “take a hint.” So, I put my phone on silent and tried my damnedest to remove him from my brain (read: I went shopping).

But here’s the thing. This guy is really nice. He’s successful, attractive, loves kids and animals, and he even calls me sometimes — really, it’s overwhelming how all-around hot he is.

He offered up an invitation to a pity party in the form of, “I was up all night, got up early on a Saturday to work, and my ankles are swollen, so I guess you can be mad at that.” |red flag|

Great way #2 to piss me off: feel sorry for yourself and pull me down with you. But, after a few weeks of not talking, I fell for it, and called him.

My crush and I were in a little bit of a stand-off after I tried to explain myself to him. I wanted an apology and he wasn’t going to give it. There were tumbleweeds and rusted spurs, until I called him and we agreed it was a miscommunication.

But if I’m being totally honest, I can’t shake it. I feel like whatever fire was between us, has fizzled, because I did the ultimate thing you’re not supposed to do — I acted crazy. I’m no longer that fantastical pony with glittery hair (#goals). I’m just another crazy one, flailing her arms for attention.

My best friend was coming to visit me for Thanksgiving. The night before her arrival, I was frantically cleaning my apartment, when my cat discovered a mouse in the bathroom.

The mouse was clearly after me, so I ran as fast as I could, screaming bloody murder, to reach the highest point in the apartment: the back of my couch.

I called Eric, and as soon as he answered, I screamed, “THERE’S A MOUSE IN MY APARTMENT!!!”

“What? Go get traps, I’m at the bowling alley, I’ll call you later,” he said.

I did as I was told, and by the time I got home to set the traps, he walked me through it on the phone. It sounds silly, I know, but the guy had completely turned my world around. Do you ever notice that? How one person can make even the worst things seem okay.

I was really starting to love getting his texts each night before I fell asleep that said, “Goodnight babe” and he always had an equally sweet text in the morning. We were texting all day, every day, and would Facetime almost every night.

But, I hadn’t forgotten the fact that he was fresh off a tough divorce. Was he just replacing the feelings he had for his ex with me? Were we two miserable sacks just looking for company? I expressed my concerns to him, adding the fact that as many times as we’d tried to make this work before, it hadn’t. There had to be some sort of reason it never worked for us; would I be his rebound again?

“Not this time,” he said. “Just let me be good to you.”

Please return tomorrow for part three of this five-part series, complete with red flag alerts and Drake lyrics. 

You used to call me on my cell phone…

Zaharako's soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

Zaharako’s soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

The following was written based on memories (and I’ve had drinks since then). Names have been changed to protect the author.

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana. If I had to guess, Columbus is a lot like any other suburban town in middle America: it’s mostly white, pretty safe, fashion trends come late, and teenagers are itching to leave.

At least, that’s how I felt. I remember visiting the middle school for my district – it wasn’t the same school any of my 6th grade classmates were going to, and at orientation, the place appeared gigantic. How would I be able to make it to any of my classes on time? I wondered.

But my 7th grade year, getting to my classes on time was the least of my worries. I knew no one, classes were difficult, and I felt like everyone was instantly popular, except me (I was still wearing Limited Too, while everyone else was in Abercrombie).

In an effort to make friends, I tried out for the school’s dance team, The Spirettes. I had no real dance experience aside from a single jazz class I took at a local gym. However, I felt like my audition was decent enough, dance-wise. But I’m fairly certain I didn’t smile. I didn’t make the team, and I was devastated.

However, things started looking up toward the end of 7th grade. I was making friends – some of whom are still my friends today. When 8th grade came around, I was much more prepared. I also tried out for The Spirettes again, and after slathering Vaseline on my teeth and glittering my face – I made it! Oddly enough, I don’t remember performing a single time; though I do remember after-school practices (our coach was a Colts cheerleader and I thought she was so cool).

As the year came to a close, all of the 8th graders were gearing up for high school – most of us were simply migrating to the giant brick building across the street.

Going into high school was really intimidating. Middle school was cliquey, but damn, high school was bitchy. There were so many groups of students who’d grown up together in different schools, and now we were all in the same sea. It was a nightmare. But I had my few friends I’d known since 6th grade (dare I say it? This was pre- #Squad) and I was generally content.

Of course, I always wished I was more popular – I used to imagine what it was like to be “in” and I figured their lives were so easy and fun. But, don’t worry, I’ve watched enough teen angst flicks and rom-coms to know that’s not true (Enter: Drive Me Crazy).

I joined the school dance team, The Pepsteppers (and no, I’m not sure what’s up with the cutesy names), in 9th grade and I was obsessed with it. I truly loved dancing, and even though I was always nervous as shit before performing at halftime of the boys’ basketball games, I enjoyed it.

I was also on the school newspaper staff – because of course I was – and was learning to express myself in all kinds of new ways. This was probably what set the stage for my life to come; in good ways and bad.

I recall having crushes on boys from a young age, and it probably comes as no surprise that even then, I chased after what I wanted, never learning when it ended terribly.

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the first time I met Eric. I’d say it probably had something to do with the fact that he was on the basketball team and I danced at halftime. I met a lot of basketball players that way.

Our practice areas were near each other and we did have some of the same classes. And boy, he was cute. He was tall, fit, and had this curly blond hair that was cut short and kept neat.

He was always off-limits – a total serial monogamist, even at 15. He was sweet, funny, and good at basketball: the high school recipe for success.

As months passed, we talked more. Our friends were friends, so we crossed paths outside of school. We became friends easily – he had an amazing sense of humor and a contagious laugh. It was no wonder he was always in a serious relationship. In fact, that is probably another factor that made him even more desirable.

Late night when you need my love…

Of course, there were a few times he was single, or as I’d like to say, between girlfriends. In those weeks (I can’t imagine he’d be single for a month’s time), we would flirt. Hard.

Thinking back, it was probably pretty innocent flirting, but in high school – shit was a big deal. At first, it was on MSN Messenger, because cell phones were still really new, plus MSN was WHERE IT WAS AT, at the end of the day.

Picture it: dial-up internet connection, immediately trying to sign in to MSN, watching those two little icons swirling around each other, and then your contacts list populating, hoping your crush would be online – but you wouldn’t dare talk to him, at least not first, but you’d sit there, perhaps not talking to anyone, debating, should you say “hey”?

It was a nightly battle. But I’d trade a decent piece of jewelry to go back and read some of those conversations I had via MSN.

My close girlfriends knew how much I liked Eric. They were there when I was trying to craft the perfect message to send to him, or when we got digital cameras, what picture should I send him?

And then, before I knew it, he’d already jumped in a serious relationship |red flag| with someone new. Someone that wasn’t me.

Have you seen or read “Paper Towns”? It’s the story of a high school senior, Quentin, who’s kind of a nerd and unpopular, but he lives next door to the coolest girl ever, Margo Roth Spiegelman. They have one fluke night together – driving around their town (very much like Columbus) causing debauchery before dancing near the top of a high-rise.

Quentin loved every bit of Margo – her choice of nail polish, her random sense of style, and even her ability to disappear, wrecking havoc on those she left behind. But Quentin loved Margo the way he imagined her, and as we all eventually learn, nothing is how you imagine it.

I felt the same way about Eric. Only in this story, I’m Quentin, and he’s Margo.

My friends and I found an odd joy in driving through town, whether on a mission for Taco Bell (fuel for late-night video game sessions) or simply just to drive (okay, and an excuse to blare Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” album, you know that shit was fire).

Admittedly, we’d always wonder what other students did that we didn’t know about. At 16, when I had my first boyfriend, I found out: they hung out in finished basements while their moms baked cookies above them. We weren’t missing out.

I’m not sure how it happened, but Eric and I found ourselves single at the same time. His recent breakup was all over school. But, he was quick to ask me on a date for the following weekend.

I joined him and his friend for lunch at Eric’s house – this was nothing new; he lived near school and for us, it meant a quick, free lunch.

“So, what are you going to do about Ashley?” his friend asked him.

“I figure I can just go on a date with someone else…” he said |red flag|.

“Sure, you could do that,” his friend said.

“I asked Holly,” he said, pointing at me. I shrugged.

I don’t know how, but I remember exactly what I was wearing that day: a white scoop neck tee (probably from Express), and this tight, turquoise skirt that had Hawaiian flowers on it. I know it was from Delia’s. I thought I was Britney Spears.

I feel like what I’m about to say makes it appear that I’m placing blame, but it’s also a vital factor if you’re interested in understanding my head space then, and now. As I stood in Eric’s parents’ kitchen, it had been less than a year since my parent’s divorced and my dad moved away. He was also about to get married.

My dad was easily the iron fist, and it was at about this point in my life, when I probably could have used someone to stand at the front door, arms crossed, foot tapping, when boys came to pick me up. Because they did, and I was not rejecting any form of male attention.

So, that weekend, Eric picked me up, and we played Putt-Putt. I think we may have had dinner, too, but I can’t recall. I just remember being certain I was going to kick his ass at Putt-Putt, because my dad and I played a lot when I was a kid. But, Eric won (I think by a lot), even though you’re supposed to let the girl win, right? He was competitive, but he was nice about it.

He drove me home, walked me to my front step, and he kissed me. I had to stand on my tip-toes, but it was an insanely sparkly kiss. I’d dreamt of it, and it was finally happening.

But within the next week, Ashley, Eric’s ex, came back around, and he called me on my purple cordless phone, to tell me that even though he had fun with me, he loved Ashley. Total devastation. But, I understood.

When he and Ashley broke up for the second time, for good, I ended up back at his parents’ house. Only this time, it was late, and we crept into the basement. With the lights off, we made out, and there was lots of over-the-clothes friction happening. It was steamy, in an awkward, high school way.

But without fail, Eric started dating someone new, someone who wasn’t me, just like always. And I was jealous.

They dated for, what seemed like, forever, and before I knew it, our senior year summer was over, and I was packing my car to move to Louisiana.

Please return tomorrow for part two of this five-part series, complete with red flag alerts and Drake lyrics. 

Pic of the Week.

Traveling hooommmme!

Traveling hooommmme!

I really don’t have any great pictures that represent my travels this weekend – it’s very likely that I was having such a good time, I didn’t pick up my phone. But I traveled north and visited some friends from high school, and got to meet my best friend’s baby (cutest baby ever, seriously). It was a rather quick trip, but a much-needed one.

Truthfully, I planned the trip for a few reasons: 1., I really wanted to meet my friend’s baby. I was able to come in town in the spring for her baby shower, but wasn’t able to make it back when he was born, due to my awkward employment situation. I’ve just recently been able to get my finances together to travel. 2. Because of my job, I now have paid vacation days, and with the holiday, there was a built-in day-off that I thought I would take advantage of. And 3., I have tried my best not to mention it, but there’s someone I have a pretty big crush on back home. Until this weekend, I hadn’t seen this guy in 8 years.

If you’re new to these parts, I’ll admit that I’ve got a bit of a weak spot for Indiana guys. I don’t know if it’s a familiarity thing, or just something about the way they are, but I easily fall for their charm, I guess.

Of course, that whole distance thing really sucks. It’s not like it’s a few hours, it’s like a day-drive, or a half-day of flying. It would take planning and a lot of will power to make something like that work.

Personally, I think the distance has its advantages. But it definitely makes for a different relationship dynamic (not saying that we are in a relationship). Let’s be real: I’m probably only good for the casual stuff.

Okay, that’s a lie. I just don’t think he’s into me quite as much as I’m into him (but he was a complete gentleman over the weekend), and I’ll spend the next two weeks convincing myself that I’m good being single for another decade… or two, in order to avoid getting attached and heartbroken.

If I’m being REAL honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve traveled home to see someone I liked. In college, I went back to visit my then-boyfriend. We had a great few days together, and when he took me to my mom’s house at the end of my trip, it was the last time I ever saw him.

He pretty much faded me out instead of formally breaking up with me, but he said something about how the distance was just too difficult. And, like I said, I am aware that it sucks, but I’m also a die-hard romantic. I’d do just about anything to be with someone I cared about; even if it meant taking the plunge and moving, or whatever was on the table.

I want that kind of love so bad, that I’d hate to throw away something good just because we live in different places. Is that part of the whole fate thing? Am I destined to fall in love with a Texan just because that’s where I live? It’s all overwhelming to me.

A trip home is always an interesting one; it brings back a lot of good memories, and it makes me think a lot about how far I’ve come. Right now, I’m at the complete will of my job and career. That’s why I live where I live. In a few years, I could probably live wherever and do what I do.

But for now, I’m still a Singleton in Texas.

Cross-country dating.

Skype date.

Skype date.

The first guy I fell in love with lived in Indiana. I lived here, in Baton Rouge. It was a 14-hour car ride between us, or two connecting flights.

We fell in love one summer, when I was home in Indiana. When the summer was drawing to a close, for me, there was no question whether or not we would stay together despite the distance.

Sure, I knew it was going to be difficult not seeing each other on a regular basis (this was pre-Skype), but I also knew that we were both focused on school (him more than me) and work (me more than him), and maintaining a social life.

I went back to Baton Rouge in August, and had already booked a flight to see him in October. We just had to make it two months. But in that short time, there were lots of things we missed out on together: concerts, dinners, parties… hell, I started to just wish I could go to Target with him on a Tuesday night.

His family, and I would also assume his friends, weren’t too keen on the idea of him being in a long distance relationship. And I suppose, why would they? There were girls everywhere — we were in college.

When I flew back to see him, my first flight was delayed, and I missed my connection. I cried to the airport employees: I HAD to see my boyfriend THAT day!!

There were no flights to Indiana that night. So, I hopped on a plane to Ohio, where my mom picked me up, and my boyfriend met us halfway. My luggage was still on the other flight, so I was stuck for the night with my makeup bag (I had to apply it right before we landed to ensure I looked fresh).

While our visit was pleasant and fun; I didn’t know his roommates, or many of his friends. Sure, I’d heard about them, but they didn’t know me either. And the entire time, we both just kept thinking of the inevitable: my flight back.

The morning I had to leave, was so quiet. We barely talked. And, if you’ve read this blog since its birth, you probably know that it was the last time I ever saw him. When my plane landed in Baton Rouge, he wouldn’t answer my calls.

Truth be told, I’ve always found a little bit of excitement in the idea of a long distance relationship. Think about it: you get to visit a new (or old) city while seeing your significant other; it’s like a vacation every time you see each other… you don’t get any spontaneous visits when you haven’t shaved and/or cleaned your place…

And I suppose that’s where the perks end. Because let’s be honest: traveling is expensive and timely. Anyone with a career and a life is probably not hoping to travel every weekend and essentially dating someone two days out of the week.

While it sounds glamorous if you’re Katy Perry (buuuut even she couldn’t make it work, i.e. Russell Brand), let’s consider the fact that a nice chuck of the relationship is just getting through normal life, the good (date nights, adventures, meeting the family) and the bad (chores, hardships, work stress).

Of course, there are situations that just call for long distance: probably most of these involve a career. But at some point, if the relationship is serious at least, one person in the pair is going to have to move for the other. Because… seeing people is important. And Skype, nor Facetime isn’t cutting it.

I’ve attempted many, many long distance relationships since the aforementioned — Dallas, Houston, New York, Indianapolis, Colorado… it’s a habit I’m trying to break. Perhaps there are certain types of people who are wired for the distance and I’m just not one of them.

Hours pass and she still counts the minutes that I am not there,

I swear I didn’t mean for it to feel like this, but every inch of me is bruised. 

—Jack’s Mannequin, Bruised