I figured it was about time I told the story of how Jay and I met and how we found our own special version of bliss. As a matter of fact, it is quite a story. It is one of those that can make you wonder about chance meetings, soulmates and the choices we make every day. You see, Jay and I did not just get just one chance, we got a second one – and that is truly amazing.
After taking the long way around, in March 2004 I finally did what I had known I should have done in 2001 – I moved to Atlanta. I got in touch with an employment agency and came up to Atlanta to interview. I apparently did well in the interview and testing as the agency had two prospective employers to send me to the next day. Both were law firms. I interviewed for a position with some firm that handled bankruptcy law in the Cobb Galleria Center. I lost out on that one because, even though I had 8 years legal experience overall, I did not have any bankruptcy experience and the other candidate had 2 years in that area. The second law firm was a foreclosure firm in Roswell, just off the 400. The attorney and I hit it off. He was a Duke graduate from Boston who had come South. He liked the South and he seemed to like my southerness. The next day I was offered the job.
As luck would have it, there was an apartment complex just down the street from the firm and I rented an apartment there. It was a nice little place. I got a second floor apartment over looking the woods behind the complex and all of the windows were on that side of the apartment. It looked like I lived in a tree house. For the first time, I had a place that was truly my own. I was psyched. Greta was going to stay in Dothan and finish up school, so I had the place to myself from March to May. I was in heaven. I settled in to my new job and then started taking the lay of the land.
There was a nice upscale restaurant and bar about a mile down the road called Aqua Blue. It had a sushi bar and a really nice menu and wine list. On Thursday nights there was a band. The crowd was a bit older than me, but that was fine. I started going there a couple of times a week. There was another place I liked even better. It was Harp Irish Pub and that was about a mile away from my apartment as well. It had pretty good food, good clientele and pool tables in the back – my kind of place. On the weekends there was usually live music – at least a guitar player and maybe a band. Harp was owned by an Irish family and I would go there on the weekends. I was not comfortable going down into Atlanta alone and I did not have any friends as of yet, but I could get myself home alone from either place with no problem.
Having just come out of a bad relationship, I was happy to be single and enjoy the attention of the guys I met. I was careful, but I had fun. In the spring of 2004 I was at my best. I had been told it was a bad idea for me to come to Atlanta – it was hard to make it up here, I was told. My feelings had been hurt by the lack of confidence the people who voiced this had in me, but I did not say anything. I just came up here and did what I did (cue the Laverne and Shirley theme song). Now, all of this is not to say I was doing everything just right, but I was making it and I was proud of myself for it. Sure, I was lonely and there were plenty of nights I sat at home alone with a glass of wine, but if I got too down about it I would head out to AB or Harp and pass the time. That was what I was doing on April 30, 2004.
That night, like all the others, I came into Harp alone, got a Coors Light and sat not far from the stage. I always like to dance and am never far from the dance floor when there is a band. This particular night there was just a guitarist playing and singing. I enjoyed listening and got up to dance when he played something I really liked. I was enjoying my anonymity. I did not have to worry about what anyone thought – I knew no one there, or even in town really (as no one I worked with went to either AB or Harp), so after coming out of Dothan, I loved it. I could say what I wanted, do what I wanted and answer to no one. It was divine.
The guitarist took a break and I sat down on the stool by the wall and glanced around the room. On my first cursory pass, I noticed a guy over in booth by the door – dark hair, yellow visor, with a group of people but didn’t seem attached – and he seemed to be looking right at me and smiling. I did not slow my glance, though, and took a sip of my beer. A few seconds later, I looked over again. He was still there and still looking, the only thing that changed was his smile – it was bigger… and it was a really nice smile. This time I did not look away. I held his gaze for a second and allowed a little smile of my own before I looked away. I figured I would see what he did with that. I intentionally kept from looking back over in his direction – no need to over do it. I didn’t have to wait long. He came up and introduced himself as Jay, asked what I was doing here all alone and invited me back to the table to meet his friends. He was tall, good looking and really did have a great smile. We talked and drank and got closer and flirtier as the night went on. The attraction was obvious. Later, after coming back from the ladies’ room, I came up to the table to find that my seat had been taken. Without missing a beat (and obviously without taking a second to think about it), I sat down in the first available spot – which happened to be on Jay’s knee. We enjoyed the rest of the evening together.
Jay called me after that night and we began to see each other fairly often. He wrote a blog at the time and gave me the web address telling me he had written a little story about our meeting. He called it a Vicarious Blend of Fiction and Truth, and I enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed reading the other stories he wrote – he was good writer. We saw each other weekly, even though he lived in Marietta – sometimes on my side of town and sometimes on his; sometimes we would go out and sometimes we would just stay in. One night Jay came over and brought groceries (and even one of his pans, in case I did not have what he needed to cook with) and cooked me dinner – another time he cooked for me at his place. We would drink wine, listen to music and talk until all hours. I was having a blast with him. He was an Auburn graduate from just outside of Montgomery. We had being an Alabamian and an Auburn fan in common, in addition to a slew of other things. I asked him to explain exactly what he did for a living, so he went out to his car and brought in his portfolio. We lay on my bed drinking wine and he showed me his work – and I loved seeing how much pride he took in it. He was talented and you could tell that he loved what he did.
Over the next few months we had fun. Oh, so much fun. And somewhere during that time I began to notice that I was thinking about him more and more. I had been instantly attracted to him and the attraction steadily grew. When I saw his name on my caller ID, I got butterflies. The time seemed to go so very slowly in between our dates, yet the dates themselves seemed to fly by. I thought about him – a lot. I was careful. I measured my answers to his questions and invitations. I made myself be nonchalant – bordering on aloof – but I was anything but that in reality. I read his blog and was happy when I could tell he mentioned me or referred to things about our time together. But I could also tell he kept me at arms length, which should have been just fine with me, but the more I saw him, the more I wanted to see him. Jay had just come out of a two year relationship which had ended badly. The girl really had done a number on him, and it was no surprise he was quite gun-shy. I was a rebound – and you don’t fall for rebounds. That should have been fine because he was a rebound for me as well, but there was something here beyond that, I knew it. We could be good together – really good. Our personalities, our interests – everything just clicked. When I saw that, I could not ignore it, and I knew I was falling hard. It was getting to be a very slippery slope.
We had been seeing each other for a while when Greta moved up from Dothan. She would spend time at her dad’s, who also lived in Atlanta, and that was when I would see Jay. There was never any question of him meeting her. With the exception of that first night, I never met any of his friends. When he went places with them, I was never invited, but we spent time together one-on-one. If he was seeing anyone else during that time, I never knew about it, but I did go out on the occasional date here and there. It was nice to get out and I was taken to some nice restaurants and clubs, but I would have rather stayed in with Jay than been out on any of those dates. I figured going out with others would keep me from getting too wrapped up with Jay, anyway. I mentioned to him that I had dates here and there. I was not hiding anything from him, and I really wanted him to stop me, to be honest, but he didn’t, of course. Once when I said something about having a date, he replied that he had one too – with twins. Smart ass. I did not find that funny, but I kept my jealousy and disappointment to myself.
There was one guy that I met during this time who continued to call. I had met him at Aqua Blue on a Tuesday. He got my number and was persistent, I will give him that. Between him and Jay, however, my choice was obvious. I wanted Jay. Unfortunately, it was becoming very clear that this was not anything more than fun to Jay, nor did he want it to be any more than that. I knew we had a lot in common. I knew we liked the same things, including each other. I also knew I was falling in love with him – and that was a very bad thing. Jay was smart, he was funny, he was thrilling…and he was distant. He was 4 years younger than me, I had an 11 year old daughter, and Jay’s biggest relationship accomplishment to date was dating someone for two years and meeting her parents. I was a single mom. Jay did not mind being a part of my life – the segmented part outside of all the other stuff that made up my life. As much as I wanted him, I did not know if I had the ability to fall in love with him and then wait to see if he returned my feelings. Maybe he would – one day – but more than likely I would find out that he was not interested in anything serious with me and by the time I found that out, I would be very badly hurt – and I had no intention of having my heart broken.
While we were seeing each other, Jay turned 29. I got him an engraved silver money clip and made him my mother’s cream cheese pound cake. He came over that night and stayed for dinner, but begged off of staying any later. I was disappointed but blew it off. I packed up the pound cake for him and he went on his merry way that evening. After that, I started to come to the inevitable conclusion that this was just not going to work. During this same time, I started having issues with Greta, and those began to get worse and worse. I was slipping but I could not confide in Jay. He was an escape, not a confidant, and I had the sinking certainty that if I tried to change that he would be very upfront about not wanting to get involved in the stickiness that made up a single mother’s situation. And could I really blame him for that? He had never dated anyone with kids. I was not ready to expose him to an 11 year old girl as his first foray into dating single mothers. I was sure he would run screaming for the hills in seconds.
One night I finally screwed up the courage and asked him. The answer was exactly what I knew it would be. He was having fun. This was great, but he was not ready to get into anything serious with anyone, not even me. No great shock there. I hid my disappointment, but that was the beginning of the end. We lasted a while longer, but one night when I went over to his house, I knew it would have to be the last time. I could not do it anymore. I did not say anything and the evening went just like every other one we had. And I savored it. A few days later, I sent him and email saying that, because of issues with Greta and other such difficulties, I was going to have to put things on hold for a while. There was just too much going on and I didn’t think he would want to be involved with me during all of it. I got the answer I thought I would get – he understood and I was welcome to call him when things settled down.
Over the next several months I got emails from Jay here and there. Nothing ground-breaking or game-changing, but it was nice to know I crossed his mind on occasion – yet he never called. I don’t think he wrote much on his blog anymore. I do remember once he sent me a picture of a nice shiny blue motorcycle. It seemed to be an invitation and we flirted a bit via email, but he never came out and asked so I never had to turn him down. I got more involved with the other guy and began seeing him steadily. It was fine. It wasn’t near what I enjoyed with Jay, but it was alright. Steady, predictable, normal, boring, but I did not expect, or want, anything more. One day I emailed Jay telling him I was moving to Houston. I am sure he was surprised, but he wished me luck. However, there was one night before I moved that I did call Jay. I had made sure it was a night when Greta was home to alleviate any possibility of my being able to go see him. He asked me to come over. I told him I couldn’t. I said goodbye and never talked to him again. I could not completely let go, however. I did print out and keep almost all of his stories and I kept a scrap of paper that had a bit of a poem he’d written on it. I tucked it away in a silver case where I had some other stuff – the card from the first flowers a guy ever sent me my freshman year of high school, another card from flowers sent to me by my high school boyfriend on my 16th birthday. I have a bit of a sentimental streak and I added Jay’s stories and poem to the small collection.
Over the next five years life changed dramatically for me. I got married. I moved back to Texas for the second time in my life. I had a baby boy. And my marriage fell apart. During all this time, while I did not forget about Jay, I never had any contact with him. He was in the past and there was no changing that. Of course, I always knew how to reach him. Jay was a web designer and you can always find him online, but I never made any attempt to contact him. He would cross my mind, but only as a very pleasant memory.
By September of 2009 I found myself once again single and in an apartment in Roswell, Ga. I had moved back in January of 2009, but it was not the same as when I had moved to Atlanta in 2004. For one thing, jobs were few and far between. My husband and I were as separated as we could be while still living under the same roof. We had moved back to Atlanta from Houston with the understanding that I would stay with him while I found a job then I would move into my own place and we would finalize the divorce. I had heard of people being too broke to divorce before, but I never thought I would be one of them. Our living situation was toxic at best. I stayed on a twin bed in Ezra’s nursery, going to bed only after Ezra was asleep. All of my furniture and personal belongings were in storage, waiting for me to move into my own place. Finding a job was my biggest problem. I could barely find temp work. It took from February to June for me to find any work, and when I did it was part time at AmericasMart downtown. I worked Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from mid-June to August before I was finally hired full time.
In September my brother moved up to Atlanta and he and I rented an apartment together in Roswell. We moved in over Labor Day when Ezra and his dad went on a trip to Kentucky to visit family. As luck would have it, this apartment was only about 2 miles from the apartment I’d had in 2004. My brother was going through his own difficulties and, while we tried to keep each other company, I was alone a good deal of the time. Ezra stayed with his dad part of the time and Greta was full force 17. She was not dealing well with the move back from Texas and Ezra was adjusting to daycare, as I had been a stay-at-home-mom up until our move back to Atlanta. The first three quarters of 2009 had been hell. The last quarter was going to make up for all of that, however, I just did not know it at the time.
To this day I cannot tell you why I did what I did. There really is no explanation. I suppose there was something about coming back to my old stomping grounds that triggered it. It had not taken me long to visit Aqua Blue and Harp. I was back home and I was finally content – again. I had everything that I had given up back. One night in late October, after several glasses of wine, I did something I never would have imagined I would do. I sent an email. It was only one question, “How have you been?” I hit send, got up from my computer, took a shower and went to bed. The next morning when I came into work I had a reply. It had only taken Jay twenty minutes to respond.
We exchanged a few emails. I told him I was back and he told me he was still right where he had been in 2004. He was sick and had to go, but asked if we could talk more later. I, of course, said yes. A few days later he called asking me to meet him on a Tuesday night at Five Seasons Brewery in Sandy Springs, a midpoint between our places. I got the same old butterflies seeing his name on my caller ID again. I don’t have much of a recollection of the conversation, except for a couple of things. In our earlier email exchange he had said I had just “poof. up and disappeared… can’t say I blame you.” Well, that certainly needed clarification. When asked, he said he had told me he was not ready for anything more than what we had at the time and that he didn’t blame me for leaving after that – and that he had regretted it. Ah, sweet music to my ears.
I filled a friend at work in on the situation, and I am sure she thought I had lost my mind. That Tuesday was the AMC Board of Directors meeting, assuring that I had to dress in my corporate best. I would have anyway. Traffic was horrible, but I found the place early enough that I was able to go to the Target in the adjacent shopping center and purchase a new lipstick and a couple of other things to freshen up with. I fussed over myself like I hadn’t in, well, over 5 years. When I walked in, I saw him sitting at a table in the bar. He stood up and came over and gave me a hug. The smile was still the same… and so was the attraction. We talked and laughed for about three hours before he had to go. He showed me he still had and used the money clip I’d given him – and when he walked me to my car I showed him I still had the poem he had written tucked in the little silver case in my purse. True to form, Jay still loved his work and had some to finish that night. We made plans to go out on Halloween, just four days later. I floated, rather than drove, home and we texted well into the night. Something we would continue to do for several months to come.
I don’t think I have ever anticipated a date more – not even when I was a teenager. I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was Halloween 2009. He came over at 7p to get me. We had some wine before we left my apartment. From that moment on we picked up where we had left off more than five years before. We had a blast and the date wound up lasting 20 hours from the time he came to my place until the time he dropped me off. I asked if I would see him again and he promised me I would. He had asked me out again within a couple of hours of getting back home. With the exception of the 2009 holidays, I don’t think we have missed a weekend of seeing each other since that night.
There were plenty of blanks to fill in over the next several weeks. He had to find out about my marriage, kids and divorce and I found out about his three year relationship during the same time. We would talk on the phone well into the night catching up. It didn’t take long for him to get the details of what happened in 2004 out of me. Jay is certainly not dense, so he pretty much had it figured out, although I had managed to keep the fact that I had fallen in love with him a secret – not that I kept that secret very long this time. I made one thing clear to him from the beginning. I had not gone out in Atlanta looking to date just whoever, I had gotten in touch with him… and I had no plans or ideas as to where this was going or what this would turn into. It was his dance. I second-guessed things over the next few months. I worried about the kid issue, I worried about his family’s opinions, among other things. But in the end it did not matter. The relationship was exclusive from the get-go and both of us, having lost each other before, were not going to do anything to let go of each other again.
I could go into all the details of our dates and professions of love. I could tell you about him taking me on a fantastic trip to New Orleans for French Quarter Fest in April 2010 for my birthday. I could tell you the sweet details of how our relationship has developed that make me smile as I type this. I could recount the letters, emails and texts we exchanged hashing out the details of our new relationship. I could tell you about meeting each other’s families and a dozen other special things that have happened, but I have gone into enough detail already. And if you are reading this blog, you already know how this turned out… at least so far. We are perfectly matched. He and I are not exactly the same by any means, but we are similar in temperament and ideals. We can think alike in amazing ways, yet have different takes on the same sides of the same issues. Best of all, we have a very similar sense of humor and we love each other. I knew we clicked, and although I will never hold his not seeing it against him, I have greatly enjoyed the immense satisfaction of knowing I was right.
As I write this, Jay and I have been living together for 10 months. We will be married April 30, 2011 – exactly 7 years to the day of our initial meeting at Harp. Our baby is due on October 26, 2011 – exactly 2 years to the day of that meeting at Five Seasons Brewery in 2009. I think everything is aligned and agreeable this time ‘round for us, don’t you?