I was twenty-eight and miserable. He was thirty-five and had his shit together–and he was on the phone. It had been years since I last spoke to him. I cupped my hand over the mouthpiece and leaned over to my roommate,
“He says he’s moving to Chicago…want’s to take me out to dinner…hey, free dinner…”
The guy I used to rent a room from was moving to Chicago. Instead of having a big blowout party to say goodbye, he went through his phone book and took his friends out to dinner one by one so he could actually say goodbye. I never considered myself one of his friends. He was cool, handsome, had a nice body and was successful. I was…I was me. Dorktastic.
I never had any attraction to Ray when I lived with him. In my opinion, he was way out of my league. I just put any thought of the two of us together out of my mind. Now, here he was two years later asking me out to dinner. I’m not one to turn down a free meal.
We went to a place called Cobalt. Ray ordered Cadillac Margaritas. They were strong. Halfway through my second one, I was examining Ray’s handsome face while he was talking to me. I suddenly got a flutter in my stomach. I was surprised at my sudden attraction. I was also feeling really loose from the booze.
The next morning, I woke up in his bed. So much for courting.
He was still dealing with the sale of his house and getting other things in order so he was going to be around for a couple of months. At that time, I was desperate for a relationship to the point of driving people away. They could smell it on me. Even the most eligible suitor is going to recoil at the notion of someone who is desperate.
The situation was perfect, we could have a “play” relationship for a few months and then he’d go away. I was going into it knowing that there was an expiration date. No fuss, no muss, just some great sex with a hot man that I already knew. Hell, we had already lived together.
Ray and I play dated for a short time and then, one frosty morning, he drove away. Having no expectation of seeing him again, I stood there and waved as his car disappeared down the street.
A few days later, he called to let me know he made it to Chicago. A short time after that he flew out to see me. Then he flew me to Chicago to see him. Before I knew it, I was engaged in a long distance relationship. This went on for a year.
During one particular time while arranging a visit to LA, Ray kept changing the dates and postponing because things were busy at work. This long distance thing was starting to wear thin. We both knew I would never leave LA. I had just got to the point in film production where I was employed way more than unemployed and the band I was in was playing clubs on the Sunset Strip and we had some minor record label interest. Things were starting to happen for me.
Ray called to tell me that he was going to have to cancel this trip but he was ready to set something up for next month. I told him that I didn’t want to do the distance thing anymore and politely broke his heart over the phone. He agreed that this was getting difficult. During the entire time we dated long distance, he never once brought up me moving to Chicago because he knew I wouldn’t.
A few weeks passed by. Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel any sort of sadness. Hey, I went into this knowing there was a termination date. It was not going to last. I was OK with it…but I sure did miss him.
One night, I was hanging out with a friend when the phone rang. It was Ray. He sounded a bit tipsy–he was drunk actually. He said, “I love you. Please move to Chicago” and I said “I’ll think about it”.
The next day, I went to see my friend George. George has degrees in psychology, biology and theology. He was also a Native American and kind of like my spiritual guide. I told him that I had to make this big decision and that I wasn’t sure how to do it. I felt that I was doing everything the right way. George quickly informed me that making a decision was the wrong way. He told me to let it sit and the “for sure” answer would come to me in an instant. I told my roommate (who was also the lead singer of the band) about this.
A while later at band practice, our guitar player stopped short right in the middle of a song and told me to turn down my keyboards. The nano-second those words were leaving his mouth, I was engulfed by a tsunami of clarity.
I hate our guitar player! I hate LA! I hate the film business!! There’s a totally hot man in a new exciting town waiting for me to move and I’m standing here being told to turn it down!!!!
I shot a look to our lead singer. The smile melted off his face as he simply said “Oh shit! You’re leaving.”
And that I did. I left it all. My hometown, my career, my band my friends and family. Left it in a cloud of dust and I never once looked back. It was the best thing ever. Ray and I started a new life together in Chicago and then here in Arizona all from a dinner that happened fifteen years ago today.
Happy fifteenth anniversary Raymond. I love you more than ever.