I have been in a healthy relationship for just over a year with a great guy after a not-so-great-guy from my previous relationship. He treats me like gold; he is everything I thought I wanted. So, why am I trying to ruin this? I read your story in your “Skinny Cowgirl ReciBEE” from last week about meeting Bazz after your divorce. How did you not screw up something good? What happened after you came down from the mountains in Montana and you went back to NY?
Self-Sabotage in San Fran
I want to hug you tight. And then slap you. In the most loving of ways, of course!
Define healthy relationship, please. Because if you’re beating the shit out of this lovely guy and he’s allowing it, then that isn’t so healthy either. I know this because I did it. Or tried to. But guess what? Bazz wasn’t having it. And that for me sealed the deal.
There is nothing sexier than dating a grown up. Nothing hotter than someone who wants you but wants their own peace and sanity more. Bazz knew what he wanted and respected himself enough that he wasn’t going to get pummeled in the process of offering his heart to me.
So there I was in that red convertible, winding my way out of the mountains of Montana, my cell phone buzzing with a week's worth of unregistered text messages from this new guy Bazza. “Missing you. How’s Montana? Don’t fall in love with any cowboys, ok? Counting down the minutes until you’re back.” My knees went weak. I was so excited to get back to NY to this guy who seemed to have no agenda other than pursuing me.
And then I fucked it up.
Again and again and again.
I wasn’t healed from my marriage. The scars hadn’t faded enough. Bazz was patient, but he was also hurt. Here he was offering me exactly what I said I had wanted and I would swat it away. I picked fights where there wasn’t a fight to be picked, I emotionally shut down, I would pull him close, then unexpectedly shove him away.
But in between the ugly moments of healing and finding my way back to the land of living post divorce, there were glimpses of what we could have together. There were late night marathon phone sessions that went until 4 am, long lingering Sunday brunches over blueberry pancakes and The NY Times at “Eli’s” up the block from my apartment where he would reach for just one finger, lift it from the paper and kiss it softly, his hazel eyes studying me. There were shared values, the ability to make each other laugh, a love for travel, a desire for children. So we worked at it. Hard.
Three months into our relationship Bazz took me to Rome for a long weekend. It should have been perfect. Our hotel was lovely, the food divine, the sun was shining for us, and then one night at what should have been an incredible dinner spent together, we fought instead. I don’t remember over what. Maybe Bazz does. But it was bad. A nothing argument that escalated quickly. It was too much, too soon; I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t handle this. I needed to get away from the table, wanted to be back in NY, back to my single life, back to being numb. Being single again at 30 in NYC after having been in a 12 year relationship was like an anesthesia drip. Bazz made me feel again and I hated him for it. So I bolted. Literally. Like a blonde lunatic I ran. Out of the restaurant, away from the hazel eyes that saw everything and yet somehow still had wanted me, I ran. In stilettos. I ran.
At some point I stopped running and realized I had to return to our hotel. There were no missed calls from Bazz on my cell, not a single missed text. Rome was quiet. I will never forget slipping the key card into that hotel room door and slowly opening it to find him sitting quietly on the end of our king sized bed, head in his hands, his cell phone abandoned next to him on the ocean of smooth, crisp, white Italian linens. It was over. I had killed it. In that moment I knew I was going to lose him. And in that moment I was swallowed whole by terror. This man who had for the past three days lovingly referred to me all through Rome as his “Principessa,” this man who was offering me everything that was missing in my first marriage was done. He had tried and I was too broken. And I saw that the light had been snuffed out in his eyes.
So I begged. Quite literally I begged. And I cried. Ugly heaving cries. And I dropped to my knees (no, not like that, though that definitely would have helped, duh Jule) and I made him look up at my red and swollen face and I told him that I was sorry. And I told him that I loved him. And I apologized for being broken. And I told him that I loved being his Principessa more than anything in this world. And then finally we slept.
When I woke rumpled and fully clothed from the night before, he was gone. Bazz needed to run, too. All through the winding streets of Rome still hot from the memory of summer, he ran. He was one month away from running the New York marathon and never had he needed to run more. When he returned, it was with a cappuccino in hand. An Italian olive branch. We were quiet that day. Careful with each other, but we were reborn. Some of the shine from the newness of our relationship had worn away, but as he ran a bubble bath in the giant clawfoot tub for us to share, it felt like a baptism as we sank into it together. I saw him differently on that last day in Rome together. I knew that I would do my best never to push him to the brink like that ever again. I knew that I never wanted to be the cause of his head dropped into his two loving hands, defeated. I loved him more now that he had said “enough.” I loved him more because he was soft enough to forgive and to see the shine that was still there peeking through.
We boarded the flight back to NY quietly holding hands. We slept much of the way, our heads touching, leaning into one another. When the car service reached my apartment I felt a flutter of panic. We were back and he would realize all over again that I was too broken to be good enough for him. That I had messed this up too terribly. Tears filled my eyes as I climbed out of the car and waited on the sidewalk for my bag to be pulled from the trunk and for him to dismiss me. The pavement blurred. I could feel my nose turning red as it does when I’m about to cry. Shit.
And then he was beside me. Both of our bags on the sidewalk next to him, his soft as butter brown loafers stood next to my scuffed up driving moccasins.
He gently took one of my fingers and lifted it to his lips. “Come on Principessa, grab your bag, we’ve got a life to start.” Up to my apartment we went, a life waiting to be shared in front of us that Sunday evening, over Chinese food and “Sex and The City.”