July 2007: Two months after the ending of my relationship with Black Luke, I was still deep in mourning for what we had lost. I poured out my feelings into a spiral-bound "journal" of sorts, where I wrote letters to him whenever I felt like I needed to talk to him or email him. It was helpful; as I have said, writing is cathartic for me, so I felt as though I was able to get out my feelings, and even if he never read it (though I still had hope that eventually would), I could work through things a little better than just lying on the floor in despair. That was my first realization that life would go on even after a loss that feels so huge: you can't just stop everything and fall apart, especially when there are children who depend on you. For the first few days, my mother had come over to help me with the kids, because I was so overcome with the loss of Black Luke that I literally couldn't speak. Overdramatic, certainly, but most things in my life tend to the dramatic. I'm working on it. At that point, though, all I knew was the enormity of my feelings. With time, though, it got a bit easier, so that by the time the end of June came around, I was functioning fairly well.
So when I heard that Black Luke's band was going to be playing at a local nightclub, I decided that I could handle seeing him, and planned a night out. I don't know what possessed me to go alone; I like to surround myself with people I know, and the fact that I decided not only to go out to a club I had never been to on my own, but to face a man I had huge feelings for and who had broken up with me, with no support or backup, strikes me now - looking back - as incredibly brave. That, or insane; I'm still not sure why I did that. Maybe I knew that if I talked to any of my friends about it, they would discourage me from going. All I was certain of at the time was that I had to see him and I wasn't about to let anyone talk me out of it.
I walked into the club fairly shaking with adrenaline. Black Luke was somewhere around, and I was going to see him. My eyes immediately scoped the room; there he was, up on stage with the band, getting set up. My heart beat a little faster knowing that he was there, and then, suddenly feeling very alone and vulnerable, I decided that I needed to find someone that I knew. A couple of Black Luke's friends, whom I had met during our relationship, were there, and we chatted for a few minutes, but they were clearly in their own group and perhaps feeling awkward about talking to me, so I wandered off and found the pool table, where four guys stood around playing. One of them had longish, curly dark hair, a bit like Black Luke's, and amazingly beautiful green eyes, and feeling a sudden surge of affinity toward him, I took a deep breath and walked closer.
"Hi!" I called out brightly to the four pool players. They looked up as I came near. "I'm Lisa, and I'm going to make friends with you now!"
To this day, I am still not sure how I did that. I got up the nerve to talk to perfect strangers, and say something so absolutely ridiculous, and I really didn't even care what they thought of me. I basically put myself right in the middle of their group, and somehow - probably largely due to the curly-haired guy and his instant acceptance of me - it worked. He came close with a big smile and said, "Well, if we're going to be friends, then we should hug it out!" He opened his arms, I walked into his hug, and that marked the beginning of my relationship with Stringer.
We chatted a lot during that concert, and I thought he was a nice guy. I was shocked to find out that he was only twenty-one; he was amazed to discover that I was thirty-two. My driver's license was demanded, procured, and passed around as an object of incredulity. By the end of the night, still vibrating with the intensity of the performance (Black Luke and his band did a great job), I felt we were fast friends. Stringer told me all about his plans to become a nurse, and further down the line, a nurse practitioner, and I complimented him on his career planning, saying that I wished I had known what I had wanted to do with my life when I was his age. I looked at him as a kid at that point, and when he asked if he could have a ride home (the friend he had come with had left for another party location), I agreed. We chatted all the way to his house.
When I pulled into his driveway and set the parking brake, he looked at me with a smile and thanked me. "You`re welcome," I said; "Anytime."
You know that moment when you first feel that shock of attraction to someone? That >pang< in your heart that makes your breath catch and your mind race with possibilities? I looked into Stringer's incredible eyes and felt it. Just like that. I could tell by the way that he was looking at me that he was feeling it as well; the pheromone level in the car rose instantly. He stuttered over a few words and gave me a shy smile before he got out of the car and closed the door. I sat there for a moment, stunned, and then shook my head. Oh, no, I thought to myself, you're not going there with a twenty-one-year-old.
|"I think I like you!"|
By the time I got home, he had already added me on Facebook. I stared at my screen with a stupid smile on my face, accepted his friend request, and then - ignoring the voice of reason inside my head that was trying to remind me I had already decided not to go there with a twenty-one-year-old! - sent him a message.
Lisa: You want to know something weird?
Lisa: When I dropped you off, I kind of felt like I wanted you to kiss me.
Stringer: lol that's not weird. I felt it, too. That's why I got all awkward.
I said, "lol", but my heart was racing and I knew I was definitely getting in deep already.
Stringer and I had our first "date" later that week, driving out to Elk Lake and trying out the paddle boating (it didn't work very well, but we enjoyed our attempts...and the ice cream we bought from the tumbledown snack shack nearby). I was the one who kept insisting on calling it a date, although I know he wasn't ready to call it that. Maybe part of me was trying to force away any residual thoughts of Black Luke, trying to move forward into a new relationship so that I could forget the last one. I do know that a huge part of was just excited about seeing what could possibly happen with Stringer, and although I always had that little niggle at the back of my mind that he was wayyy too young for me, I pushed forward. As our relationship developed, we both tried (on the outside, at least) to ignore the fact of our age difference; in fact, we vacillated between saying it didn't matter and saying that we couldn't be more than friends because of it. In the end, we decided that age shouldn't be a factor; we enjoyed each other's company so much and laughed so hard when we were together. He made me happy, and I wanted to be around him. I knew it probably wouldn't last, but I hoped that, somehow, it would.
...to be continued...