I walked into a dive bar. The kind of bar you almost wish didn’t exist. But then I found my old friend from high school sitting at the bar. This is what happens when you never leave your hometown, a hometown with very few options. I sat down and bought myself a drink. Small talk surely ensued.
To let you know how unlikely an event this is, I live in one of most unoriginal towns in the Mid-West. There are SIX franchise restaurants specializing in chicken sandwiches of all things. When people ask me about my hometown, I tell them the description my daughter once gave - it is full of churches, mattress warehouses, bars, and sub shops. Compounding the problem is that it is in the rust belt. It was once a great place to raise a family, with it's union jobs and proximity to the park system known as the Emerald Necklace. Now factories within walking distance rot and rust in front of your eyes, with no plans for gentrifying the area.
But I digress. The strangest thing happened. I was really attracted to this guy from high school. He was in a very popular cover band in the area, but a landscaper by day - I'm a teacher with a very subdued appearance at the time, with a drinking problem I might add. I was also in my forties, separated from a toxic husband.
At some point I knew he wasn’t going home alone that night. He sat there with a gleam in his bright blue eyes; I had never even noticed his eyes before. His skin was bronze from his job in the sun, never ruddy, just golden. His work shirt was a bright orange tank top with the sleeves cut off. This combination did two things - make his blue eyes a brilliant color, and show off his muscular, sinewy arms. He was indisputably sexy in every way. Did I mention how easy he is to talk too? And very learned as well. Later I would find out that we shared a love of reading. Finding this in your home town, in a dive bar, in your forties...this was quite a change of events. There was one problem though. I was not legally divorced, just separated.
My home life was in shambles. My husband only talked to me on a need to know basis, and we were only having sex about three times a year. I was incredibly turned on by my old friend, even more so when we talked. I’m not sure what we talked about, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. As it turns out though, we would have wait until the pandemic some eight years later to connect as more than friends. I might add, during this time, I got sober. It turns out he liked the sober me much better than the girl who sits around at dive bars.
We picked up where we left off. Although the relationship started slowly, as we started off as friends, it quickly grew. I enjoyed his charismatic smile: my eyes are blue as well with dusty red freckles on my face. We look adorable together. We even had matching Halloween costumes this year.
Here comes problem number two. Our lifestyles are extremely different. Think of the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. If you are unaware of this movie, I highly recommend it. It is an unlikely love story where Goldie Hawn finds the man of her dreams in Kurt Russell. I live an incredibly blessed, wealthy life, not as much as in the movie, but you get the point. He lives like Kurt Russell did in the movie. He is financially secure - he has his own house and his own car, apparently another rarity in this town. Problem is, when you’re like Goldie Hawn, you get a lot of gold diggers sniffing around. If there was one thing he is not, it is a gold digger.
Here’s an interesting turn of events, I rather came to enjoy the way he lived and the people he hung out with. These are good, honest, hard-working people where losing a five dollar bill will completely ruin their day. But my purse is worth more than their car. Add in the rest of the outfit, especially the jewelry and I could pay their rent for a year. I was proud of my unique style, but the poverty I was surrounded by was disturbing to say the least. The people weren’t stuck up, designer labels meant nothing, and they all supported my recovery (I’m now two years sober).
My authentic self needs very little money at all as it turns out. One of the most romantic nights that he and I spent together was a reenactment from a scene in the movie WALL-E. We sat in his living room listening to an cassette tapes on his Boom Box from the 80's. He was actually in the band that was playing on the Boom Box, this way he could actually serenade me when my favorite song comes on. There is nothing more romantic than being serenaded too. And it didn't cost a damn penny.
Meanwhile, gray hairs are overtaking my whole head, I'm now 52. He suggested that I just grow old gracefully - he has. Let the gray hair come in, cancel the Botox, cancel the plastic surgery. Sell the purses, donate to charity and just be my authentic self. As you might've guessed, it takes very little to make him happy. What you see is what you get. He still doesn't believe in silly things, like diamond rings, but fingers crosses that will change. A promise ring would surely do, until we say I do.
So I sit, contemplating our future and I wonder where does it go from here? Will we say I do? I am at peace with whatever happens and just living in the moment for now. There is a peaceful feeling in finding abundance in an ordinary life. I don't need to be rich or famous, like I used to dream of. I truly just need to stay sober for my authentic self to shine through; and as it turns out, people like my authentic self better than the vodka drinking, red head with the Gucci Bag. And I like myself better too.
About the Creator
I am an aspiring writer currently writing a book on the Sober Revolution we are in the midst of, a book about essays that will change the way you think, and a novel about a serial killer. I am also working on a book of poetry.