it was new year’s eve 1992. i was 22 and running away from my life, en route to washington dc from iowa city, ia. i went to my parent’s house in illinois for christmas. my younger–very straight & conservative–sister suggested we go out to a bar in the nearby college town of normal. i think she was trying to impress us that she could be cool. it was a grunge bar (before grunge was really even a thing) with a purple mohawked & tattooed bartender and all the hip college kids as clientele.
i woke up the morning before we went there with one thought in my head, “today you are going to meet the man you are going to marry.”
it was a strong thought. this had happened to me before–and come true. the strong waking premonition. so i did not doubt it.
at the bar, the gallery, i was amazed at the number of hot guys. i had bad luck dating in iowa city, everyone thought i was a lesbian–and i had plenty of those opportunities…but very few straight ones. and all terrible in their own ways. so i felt i had stumbled upon an oasis in my romantic desert.
of the sea of hot guys, i was informed by one of the bartenders that her good friend thought i was cute. he was–sadly–the least attractive of the boys there…not at all my type. large & hairy. but due to my premonition, i thought, what the hell. let’s see what happens. so i started dating him. started having feelings for him. scrapped my plans to move to dc & (with the help of the tattooed bartender) found a job & a place to live in normal.
then the mountain man dumped me.
in retrospect, i think i was just the person he needed to feel confident enough to go after the woman he really wanted to be with. and, his having me doting on him, gave him that attractiveness credit with the would-be girlfriend. all of a sudden, because he was my boyfriend, he was a guy worth looking twice at. i was a tool. they are happily married now. i never got a thank you card for that…oh well.
i spiraled as someone with low self-esteem is bound to do once rejected. i dated & flirted & messed around…a lot. seriously, so many cute guys! there were parties where all these hot people would sit around & play “spin the bottle.” i had so much fun that i can never tell my kids about.
there was this one bouncer at the gallery. okay. stop. erase your mental image of “bouncer.” at this bar, the biggest & most threatening bouncer employed there was a woman. none of the bouncers could have probably bounced. mostly they just checked id. and in the case of the 6 foot woman bouncer–deep throat kissed everyone who came through the door. ah…the early nineties….
so there was a bouncer who when i first saw him he was cleaning his brand new belly button piercing behind the bar. (it later got infected and was impressively pus-filled enough that the piecing was abandoned.) i had also just gotten my belly button pierced–so i was like, “hey, me too.”
here’s the thing though. this boy was so incredibly good-looking that my mind literally did not entertain thoughts of him for even a second. he was quickly filed in the “out of my league” category. also. he was in one of those epic romances that everyone references when they are talking about perfect couples. it was always him “&amy.” they were a fixed point in time.
and i was a paradox.
but we became fast friends. fun friends. he was great to goof off with. funny. so funny. i can remember my face hurting from laughing when i was with him. and so laid back. i would find him at parties (there was always a party. seriously. weekend parties. after-hour parties. so many parties!) and we would have long conversations about everything & nothing.
then one day i was at his going away party. he was moving to montana. and he was gone. my life went on. i continued living a strange life full of drama & dating.
then one day he was back.
i was walking down the street, and there he was. he told me that he just got back into town, and from that point we were inseparable.
he later told me that he moved to montana to get away from his girlfriend–it didn’t work.
he also told me
that he came back
because he had a dream about me.
i continued to resist it as a romance…especially since he seemed unable to break up with his girlfriend. but we were the best of friends. we plotted ways to make money. we went on crazy road trips. we even became roommates.
i would lay in his arms every night…you know, as his roommate, and feel like i was home. he made everything okay.
we eventually did date.
and break up.
and get back together.
and get engaged (with tattoos!)
and move to an all girl college together.
and move to austin, texas together.
i fucked it up. as hard and terribly as i could. i mean, it’s like i put effort into fucking it up. i destroyed our relationship. i destroyed everything.
and i have spent the past 20 years trying to forget him and get past him (when i’m not missing him & imagining what would have been).
but i can’t forget him. i remember him better than i remember what i ate yesterday. he is etched in my brain…my heart…scattered across my soul.
i no longer believe i am able to forget him. or that i am meant to forget him.
back then & still today, i believe he is my split-apart.
the other half of me.