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I had left off with Mark, my ex-fiance and high school sweetheart. The story was rather morbid, possibly leading you, the reader, to believe that our relationship was all bad. It really wasn't. He had some redeeming qualities and we had a lot of good times. So before I dive into the Part Two and start telling you about Blake, I want to share some positive qualities about Mark.
Mark had a caring side. It didn't always show, or even come at the right times, but he did show up on one particular occasion when I needed him most. I was twenty-one and working at a Pet Resort — a really fancy doggie daycare — and I had a terrible accident. I was bitten in the face by a dog. It was a full grown male Shar-Pei. You know the ones with all the wrinkles? They're cute... normally. To this day, I refuse to go near the breed. Coincidentally, I happen to be allergic. Imagine that?
I'll give the shortened version of the dog bite: He was a new dog that had high separation anxiety of which we were not told. In his cage, he was hurting himself by pushing his blanket into the corner with his nose. I brought him to the vet side of our establishment to have the doctor look at him and figure out where we were going to put this poor dog for a whole weekend! Since I had been gone from the Resort for some time, my assistant manager came looking for me. I told her what was going on and she told me to, "get a piece of paper towel to get some of the blood off his nose." Mind you, that was not my job. I was not a vet tech or a vet and had no business treating a dog in any sort of medical way. But at the time, I didn't see the harm in her request so I followed through. When I approached the dog, I was standing just behind him to his left. He knew I was there but didn't want me to touch him. My A.M. didn't have hold of the leash and the dog jumped up backward and bit me in the face. You know that little bit of skin and cartilage between your nostrils? It's called the nasal septum. That was hanging from my face by threads of skin. I had a terrible cut on my lower lip and multiple punctures on my face. My A.M. called my mom and told her what hospital the ambulance was taking me to, as well as "I think she's okay, but there is blood everywhere." Not a good thing to say to a mother after, "She got bit in the face." I received nine stitches: six in my nose and three in my lower lip. I will say, the stitches hurt more than the initial bite. The doctor had to close the door because I was screaming so much.
I was given Vicodin for the pain, of which I popped a pill every four hours. I'm normally not one for pain pills, but the pain was excruciating and I didn't want to feel a thing. I had gotten bit the day before Mark was supposed to come visit. This was one of the times he came on his own accord. He'd taken a week off work to visit, which was a lot for him to miss. But it had taken just under two weeks for me to completely heal and be able to return to work. Mark had called his job and told them he had to stay another week to take care of me, which he did splendidly! He drove me to all my doctor's appointments and took care of me at my house. Given that I was on pain-killers for so long, I honestly don't remember a lot of the two weeks. But Mark stayed with me and helped me through a really rough time in my life.
Mark could have been a great guy! We had all kinds of stories and inside jokes. We loved to play board games! We would go to the store and pick out a new one every so often. We enjoyed spending time with each other and made each other laugh. Sadly, it wasn't consistent enough to last.
BLAKE — My rebel stage
The day after I broke up with Mark, a good friend of mine since middle school had been broken up with by his long-term girlfriend and was severely distraught. Alex had been dating the girl for two years and he told me he'd planned to marry her! I wasn't all that fond of her, but I only cared that he was happy. Being one of my best friends, I couldn't leave him alone in his time of need. And I suddenly had all the free time in the world! I stayed with Alex all week. We hung out at his place and I ran errands with him — really, I just didn't want him to be alone.
The following Sunday after church I decided I was going to see Alex at work. He worked at the music store called SamAsh as a salesman. While I was there, I met one of his co-workers, Blake. He was charming from the moment he saw me. I fell for him when he played "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas on the keyboard on the showroom floor. At the time, it was one of my favorite songs. I was hooked! Little did I know he was older than me. MUCH older. I was twenty-one and he was forty-two! Let me tell you, he didn't look forty-two. In discovering his age, I put anything romantic out of my mind. He could be a good friend. That was it.
Because of the age difference, I didn't think anything romantic would happen between Blake and I. He was a nice guy who I thought looked really good for his age. That was it. But Blake thought differently. I don't remember how the ball got rolling and led to our first date. But nothing ever turned into a "relationship." We were never "official" so to speak. The whole relationship was purely physical. We went on two dates that I can remember, our first and last. Other than that, it was all physical meet-ups.
I remember little of our first date. We went to the Starbucks near my house and talked for a long while. I don't remember exactly what we talked about. First date things I suppose? Likes and dislikes. Hopes, dreams, aspirations. Blake didn't have many aspirations. He worked at SamAsh as a salesman, he was forty-two, smoked weed on a daily basis, and wasn't really looking to go anywhere higher in the company. When he was younger he was in a band, but that didn't go anywhere. He had started a little two-person band with himself and this other lady. She would sing and he would play the piano. He said that was going decently well at the time but he wanted it to go farther and possibly make it his career. Other than that, he was where he was going to be. He lived with his ex-fiance and her husband, which I found really odd and awkward. He said that it didn't bother him and they all got along fine. The last thing I remember was us next to my car saying goodbye. He leaned in to kiss me and stopped just before he got to my lips, holding the position, waiting for me to make the final move. I kissed him and we made out in front of my car, in broad daylight in the middle of a parking lot! I had become a rebel!
I no longer gave a crap about what other people thought. I didn't care that he was way older than me and had nothing going for him. I wasn't going to marry the dude. I was just having fun. I needed fun. I needed a rebound. Blake was it.
Our relationship was strictly physical as I stated earlier. However, there were a lot of intellectual things that he taught me about myself. This single fact is the greatest thank you I can give Blake. He taught me more about myself and how one is supposed to act in relationships in our short two-month fling than I had ever thought possible!
When I was with Mark, I had to be his mother, repeating myself a million times, asking him to do things time and time again with no result, and things of that nature. Blake showed me that relationships aren't supposed to be like that. He told me, "When I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. You don't have to ask me ten times." He would tell me I didn't have to check in on him all the time and that I shouldn't expect him to tell me every little thing he was doing at every part of the day. After all, we weren't even dating. Blake opened my eyes to what an Adult Relationship looked like. At least a little. He was harsh at times and sometimes downright rude. But I was willing to learn. One of the biggest things he taught me was patience — to be patient with the person I was with, and to not freak out over things. He taught me to be calmer and more relaxed. In those two months, I grew as a young woman.
I learned things about myself, things I want in a relationship and things I won't tolerate. I learned that I love to cuddle! That physical affection is important to me. I would find out later in life that it was my "love language" and something that was essential for me in a healthy relationship. I learned that I like it when a man takes charge in a relationship and makes the decisions. I had been making them all for five years. But I wasn't supposed to be.
During the time Blake and I were... whatever we were, I was doing the whole Online Dating thing. Not something I would recommend, by the way. But I had few other choices. I worked at an aftercare that was all women and went to school. But it's hard to find someone in college unless you really put yourself out there. So, I was left to the world wide web of wankers.
The last date Blake and I went on was a lunch date at a new restaurant next to SamAsh. I don't remember the name of the place but the food was subpar. Blake had worked in the food industry and was none too nice to the waiter. I don't like people who are impatient with servers unless there is a good, solid reason. In my opinion, Blake had no good reasons other than, "I know how this should be done and I could do it better!" Our last date was not one of his better moments. At the end of the meal, he asked me if I could drive him to the grocery store the next day because his truck was in the shop. I agreed.
When we finished lunch and he was back at work, I got a text from one of the guys I had talked to online, Damion. He and I had talked through the website a couple different times and the conversations were normally hours long. It had been a week since I'd heard from him so I was surprised to see his text. He asked me if I was doing anything later and if I wanted to go to the mall with him to help him pick out new pants? He said that he'd been doing a lot of working out and he didn't fit into his old clothes but he wanted a woman's opinion. I found it an odd invitation but a friendly one none the less.
I texted Damion that I would be delighted to be his stylist. After all, Blake and I weren't "attached" or any other label/definition. In fact, the couple of times I did ask him, "What are we doing? What are we? What is this?" he never had a straight answer. He was always saying, "Why do we have to put a label on it?" followed by him telling me that he was just waiting for the day I met some hot guy at school who would sweep me off my feet. He was a rather negative person when it came to himself. It got pathetic after a while. Oh, that was another thing I learned about myself. I like labels. I like knowing what something is. I don't like ambiguity in any kind of relationship. Labels help create boundaries and rules, things that are and are not acceptable. Well, since there were none of those with Blake, I went to stylize Damion.
What happened after that? Well, that will have to trickle into Part Three where I tell you all about Damion and my friend from high school, Catherine. Remember her? She's going to play a big part later.
What can we learn from my experience with Blake? The first thing I will say, it was a bad idea. In a long line of bad ideas, this was at the beginning of the line. I'm not proud of myself for the time I was "with" Blake. But I am glad I was able to take something away from it.
If you learn nothing from this portion of the story, take this away — Make every experience a learning one. Keep your eyes, ears, feelings, and opinions open. Be accepting of change and growth in yourself. Especially as a young adult, we have no idea what we want in a relationship or what to expect. Don't get ideas into your head and stick to them like a stubborn horse. Allow your thoughts to be swayed a little, tested. Ask yourself, "Is this something that I stand for, or is this something I was TOLD to stand for?" Not everything other people tell you is a good idea. Not every good idea you think you have is a good one either. Life is a growing experience and relationships are no exception! If anything, they are the most important.