A year in the life

Here we go. A 365-Day adventure in which I relay the highlights of my previous year on earth. I’ve only had twenty-eight of them, by the way, give or take a couple of months.

October 2015- October 2016

#1 My commitment to fitness:

So, to impress a boy, whom we’ll call E, I decided that this year was going to be the year I whip my body into shape. That way, I can leave Mr. Impossible with a lingering view of perfection and make a graceful exit. Thanks to a tip from a former friend of mine who happened to be a forty + bikini competitor, I got in touch with Coach J.

My first consultation with J, I couldn’t decide if she was a trani or a natural-born woman who happened to have all of the qualities of an extremely intimidating man. She was also a proud lesbian. Nonetheless, she turned my unimpressive physique into something “workable.” She charged $60 a session, which was after an extremely generous teacher discount. She went as far as she could with me considering I refused to become one of those only-white-fish-eating girls. Must be the Italian in me.

Her biggest mistake was letting me have the day off dieting for Thanksgiving. I went ham on some homemade mini pumpkin pies baked by yours truly. I thought I’d be healthier with the smaller portions- turns out I ate about ten per sitting after months of shrinking my already pretty narrow frame. I kept working out but my heart wasn’t in it after that. And neither was hers. She had so many more important clients that were representing her in competitions.

On the plus side, Coach J really opened my eyes to the metaphysics of it all. I never realized the emotions behind a healthy body. She would have all of her girls meet on the weekends and we’d do brunch at the Breakers, each time sharing our struggles in dieting and exercising, and for the first time I realized there was power in sharing- in having a work out family.

I stopped going around my 27th Birthday. January 12th. I was nice and petite for my work Christmas party and already made a stellar impression on Mr. Impossible in my Express sparkling halter cut dress- size extra small.

After Coach J, I took an impromptu Spring Break trip to New York, my roots. My bestie Stephanie rekindled my interest in fitness. She was living proof of the results that come with hard work and exercise- she was almost disturbingly small. She and her eccentric trainer talked me into “Intermittent Fasting.” I tried it for a month or two while I took on the service of Coach K, a colleague of mine.

Coach K was a former NFL Player, and everything to fit the image. He brought the “boot camp” style to our workouts. We ran along cornfields, did weights in the high school weight room, and he introduced me to Tabata and the T25. I was seeing results until my naturally muscular frame caught up with me, eventually causing me to gain ten pounds of instead of lose. It took a while to get over that one.

K was less professional but also charged about half the price of Coach J. All the while, I started cardio kickboxing at a gym called U-Krave. The group fitness trainer/owner was amazing. Totally upbeat, encouraging, full of energy- basically my opposite. I was noticing a distinct change in my legs and ass (an area that most definitely needed growth). In addition, I noticed that my chronic depression had been almost completely alleviated once I made the decision to seriously work out. I had some energy too.

Randa, the owner of U-Krave, is extremely inspiring. She has blessed my life by showing me the beauty and creativity that goes into a physical workout. She is so passionate about what she does and she somehow makes each experience at the gym unique and fun. There’s times she partners us up and we play games. It’s like being a kid in gym class all over again, except, this time, there’s no one there to make fun of you when you bust your ass.

Thanks to my fitness experience, this year, I am able to finally have the spirit, mind, body connection.

#2 My Full Cycle feelings for E:

Ever have an inexplicable chemical infatuation for somebody? It had been that way for years with E- and it didn’t help matters that we worked together. So every single day I was forced to be in the presence of man who effortlessly got under my skin, boiled my blood, made my heart break rhythm.

For a while, I lied to myself saying that it all had to do with the way we left off. Four years prior, after our fling, I never came clean about my feelings. Instead, I called things off after I felt him pull away and went running back to my ex. Ever since, he’s carried a certain animosity towards me- something that I used to think was justified.

Well this year was the game changer. This year was the time to finally let it out of the bag. Confession time: I Still Have Feelings For You.

It happened on the night of September 25th. I attended a retirement party. I made it a point to look my best, on the off chance that E would be in attendance. But E was the kind of guy who wouldn’t be caught dead at a work function, who rolled his eyes at all the beginning of the year staff ice breakers, whose sadistic punishment would be a night out on the town.

It didn’t help that he was late. By the time he walked in, I was with my colleagues but alone, the only one under thirty. I was praying for a glass of wine in front of me- something I could get lost in. In walks Mr. Impossible. Bald head shining. Dressed in light, happy colors- a complete contrast to his mood and the attire of everyone else.

My heart stopped.

Tonight was the night. It had to be the night. I just wanted to get him to the side for one minute. Tonight would have to be the night I tell him.

The text conversation went something like:

Me-Can I come over?

(like any guy would say no…)

E- I can’t go out.

Me- I know that.

E- Okay.

And it took me three hours of sitting on his couch, pretending to have an interest in late night west-coast college football, before he hinted at what we were really doing.

After I gave him the confession, I remember being the guy and saying something like “no, wait, I can do better than that…”

His response? Nada. He had previously asked if I was sleeping over and I said no. I had a 5k Marathon the next morning I had every intention of racing. But his ultimate response was not to say a fucking thing about whether I was ridiculous for harboring feelings after all these years. I even apologized to him about how I handled things.

We entered radio silence until Valentine’s Day when he lost the Super Bowl bet we made and had to attend a Sunday church service. He would have burst into flames.

By radio silence — let me clarify. He said nothing. Nothing substantial. Nothing worthy of a thirty-five-year-old man. What he did do, years ago, was tell the entire custodial staff about our little affair because they certainly had a lot to say to me in the months passing. It’s funny how it didn’t come out(to me) until then. Right after I had praised him for being so discreet.

So Valentine’s Day- the night when every girl is at her most vulnerable- E was right there allowing me to come on by. I regretted not kissing him the last time in September.

It was a kiss worthy of the six-month gap. It felt so amazing and passionate. We stood up for at least twenty minutes, or so it felt. And it didn’t feel awkward or weird. I guess that’s just how it is when you have chemistry. Who knows? Maybe it was just like that for me.

I didn’t sleep with him. That previous November marked my anniversary of making a conscious decision to uphold my Christian faith. Wait till marriage. My pastor did it with his wife. His honeymoon was far from “business as usual.”

I’m sure that left E riled. Who knows? I’ve long given up on the ability to read that man’s emotions or lack of.

I wont lie. I got pretty torn up that I’d be leaving him for good. We wouldn’t see each other every day. That sexual tension would be gone, and it filled somewhat of a lonely void for me. He wouldn’t be there to tease me or say things like “dang girl, the things that come out of your mouth!” or tell me I’m stupid for thinking that roosters crow louder in the springtime because they’re more ready to mate.

I was sad to leave my work family. They were the only family consistently in my life for the last four years. My roommate/bestie was leaving me too. I was a hot mess. I had no business getting shit faced at the end-of-the-year work party.

By then I had already known that E had been sleeping with a former friend of mine. Someone I introduced to him. Someone who had big tits and blonde hair and a 20 inch waist. Someone I used to confide in. Someone who embodied betrayal.

Still, I fell right into the abyss. He got me all jealous talking to every girl who could stand him. A complete contrast to the Memorial Day Pool Party we attended the previous weekend. It was during that party that some dude latched on to me, and E was the one seemingly jealous.

How did he manage to get such pretty girls? Maybe I wasn’t the only one who had that inexplicable attraction to a short bald guy with man boobs.

When Big Boobs, former female friend, showed up this time, I nearly lost my mind.

I had already been crying. The only thing left to do was to suck up my tears and go shot for shot with the clan. She left eventually. And somehow, Satan had it so that it was just me and E. Perfect. I asked him for a ride.

He had to, HAD TO know how drunk I was.

I should have, SHOULD HAVE never gotten in that car- let alone left it. With him. Into my empty apartment. Onto my sectional couch. And when I was too drunk to get up from there, Mr. Five-Foot-Eight somehow managed to carry my heavy muscular frame up two flights of steps. Did I mention that earlier that night I ran into a physic who told me that my soul mate was in the area? When I asked her to point to him, she couldn’t.

I woke up the next morning, alone, with the physic’s business card on the floor of my bedroom. It said “Soul Mate Readings $5”

And, I kid you not and swear on the souls of my future unborn children, there was a $5 bill on the floor that must have been his because it wasn’t mine.

Nonetheless, Mr. Wonderful didn’t answer any of my texts after that awful rendezvous. He successfully played me one last time.

I cant verbalize the way that man hurt me. What hurts the most is that after four years of knowing him, seeing him daily inside and outside of work, I thought we had reached a certain level of respect. I thought that even if he didn’t want me, never felt a single thing, he at least respected me as a human being. He knew I meant no harm. I was just a silly girl infatuated with him. I mean, he had a daughter. Didn’t he have sympathy? Didn’t anything pull at him to dignify me with a fucking response?

So all those feelings wrapped up my experience with E. Wonderful, horrible, ugly feelings. Colorful, beautiful maggots, let out of tin can… exploding in an amateur pyrotechnics show.

At least they’re there; and out of me.

#3 My awesome experience in God’s house

So here I am, well into June, running my sweaty ass on a treadmill at the local Planet Fitness. As if the heavens themselves open up, to my direct left is an attractive man pumping iron with a shirt on that says “Lifechurch.” It was like a mirage. All this time I had been asking God- but WHY, WHY cant I have a gym partner? Why do I have to be the only female in the pews standing alone on Sundays? Here it was- the answer to my prayers- a two for one.

I battled with myself for quite sometime, but in the end, the Rebel almost always wins. So on I marched, with sweat pooling at my upper lip and eyelids, straight up to Mr. Buff.

Me: Do you go to Lifechurch?

Him: Yes

Me: So do I.

Him: Really, for how long?

Me: Two years.

Him: Me too.

Me: How old are you?

Him: 28

Me: Me too.

And after that he invited me to a Bible study that night, which I didn’t attend until the following week. I wasn’t sure I would see him because he had mentioned something about doing a mission trip in Australia, but I was hopeful. He was there. We talked for hours. We saw each other again. And then he made a bizarre exit. He even accused me as being the temptation prior to his big mission trip.

“Why would God give me a woman right before I am supposed to leave?” he asked.

But, the important thing is that I learned what it’s like to have a spiritual connection. None of my exes were devout Jesus followers, and this guy was legit. I wouldn’t have to twist his arm to go to church with me on Sundays. He enjoyed it. I knew, from that point on, I couldn’t settle for anything less.

Another benefit of Mr. Buff was that he helped rekindle my passion for Christianity. I attended a Bible study, and though it wasn’t for me, I started to purchase Christian novels and listen to the Bible in the mornings before work. Christ had become more anchored into my life. So much so, that I started attending Saturday services at another church. I even began a journal in which I originally addressed to him but conveniently left the greeting “Dear John”… because it could be to anybody even “John Doe.” It’s for the man God wants me to be with someday.

For months I planned on what I would say/do if Mr. Buff ever made his way back to the States. Just how would I react to seeing him randomly in church again?

When it happened, I was shocked. A part of me wanted to leave and run back to my car in the parking lot for solace. I thought about running to the back seat and getting the Dear John Journal to give to him.

Instead, I prayed. I asked God to give me the power and the strength to know what to do. I asked God to help me focus on the message. And, somehow, in that moment with my heart and mind racing, I heard a whisper. It said, verbatim:

“Aren’t you tired of trying?”

I had heard that voice before. When I was eleven years old my best friend was killed and the same voice spoke to me the last time I saw her. It said, verbatim:

“Jess, she’s your best friend, give her a real hug.” And I did. Because that voice was so authoritative and calm and unique.

The same thing applied this time. I agreed. I WAS, I AM, tired of trying. And in that wonderful moment, in the house of the Lord, a gigantic weight was lifted. I cried over all of the time and energy and emotion I wasted trying to “get” guys. How completely useless! God was asking me: Aren’t You Tired? What he was really telling me is that enough is enough. It’s time to surrender. I cant control this outcome. I need to put all my faith in him.

So glory came as I brushed past John in that church lobby. We exchanged a look, a couple of meaningless words, but nothing to write home about. Again, I wont pretend to even know his deal. The important thing is the lesson I learned. Never again will I try to “impress.” Never again will I try to “get.” From now on, I put all of my faith in the Lord.

#4 Traveling to NOLA and NASHVILLE

If ever a girl needed a getaway. This road trip was going to be my last “hoorah” before I bit the bullet and moved in with mommy to save some money and finally become financially independent. My whole life was about to change.

Might I mention that even as a teenager, the city of New Orleans had the better of me. I volunteered during the Katrina days and fell in love with it. I wrote my best short story after my experiences there. The streets haunted me. The jazz bands played directly to my soul. It was infective and I couldn’t wait to make it back.

So it’s no surprise the very first night resulted in a Gumbo, Jambalaya, Rice trio, two hand grenades, a shark attack, and countless bud-lights. I found myself dancing and in the grasps of both a bachelor and bachelorette party. And the already-married-and-bored guy is the one that gravitated to me.

I am 100%, hands down, ashamed of my actions. Thank God what happens in NOLA stays in NOLA, because I actually kissed this married man. The sad thing is that a part of me did it because I felt safe. Because, since he was married, he could protect me from all the single guys that were ready to tear the streets up. I knew I would never sleep with him so, in a drunken state, I thought “better me than some girl who would.” Nonetheless it was 100% wrong and 100% stupid. (And I had just made this whole speech about how much I respected marriage.)

But I love NOLA. There’s something dangerous and addictive and toxic about it. It’s too intense and raw and painful for anyone as sensitive and artsy as me. It would eat me alive.

After that, I wasn’t expecting much from Nashville, the next stop. But to see Broadway lit up like that on a Monday night was spectacular. The city was just the right amount of crowded and vacant. I was hooked from the very first dive bar, with the very first biker band, with the very first draft beer, and the very first Eric Church cover:

“I, I’ve been gone, I’ve been gone too long, singin’ my songs on the road, another town, one more show, and I’m coming home- don’t give a damn what these keys are for; I’m gonna knock down that front door….”

Is it possible for a girl to cum her pants?

Because if that wasn’t bad enough, the very next day, after staying an arm’s length away from the Tennessee Titans Nissan Stadium, we made it to the Johnny Cash museum and in front of other live musicians that put Thomas Rhett to shame. My roommate and I stayed for the entire four hour set. We requested song after song and they were all too willing. We must have tipped $50 before they finished up. Christian girl or not, I would have dropped my panties right there. I have zero resistance for that kind of thing. I mean putting that much feeling into songs? Doing them better than the artists? All with the most excruciating accent and twang to the voice? It just fucking killed me. These guys were learning songs on the spot and absolutely slaying it. How are they not discovered? How are they not famous?

The one guy, Jared, the better one of the duo, said he had only been doing music for eight years and he was well into his thirties. I couldn’t believe it. I regret not buying his album. He was out of the ball park talented.

And, it was in that moment, that I felt something. I need to be here. Why should I deny myself the pleasure and joy of having music and talent so accessible? Why should I ever be apart from it ever again? Even if I end up with an open guitar case and singing for dollars on a stoop, it would be worth it. I would ENJOY it. I could do it for fun.

Everything was so refreshing. The Tennessee air, the hills, the rooftops. All of the people were out-of-town and semi-interesting.

Nashville ruined me. It reminded me of the passion in my heart. It rekindled my spirit. It made me feel alive. I forgot what it was like to travel. I forgot the importance. I thought I’d seen it all.

Nashville, wink wink, until we meet again. ;)

Thanks for a Record Year!