Down With The Sickness
Can you feel that?
I have been keeping secrets again.
This one is different though. It’s bizarre. It’s backwards, and magical, and weird, and serendipitous, and odd. Really very odd.
It is fate.
This secret is proof enough that there is a higher being.
A higher being, with a larger plan, telling your story…
On Saturday, July 16, at 4:24 a.m., I received a Facebook message from Auntie Crystal: “Hope your sound is off so my early morning messages don’t wake you! I feel like I haven’t checked on you in a bit. How are you? Do you need anything? Are you eating?”
You’re probably wondering about the third degree.
Well, it had only been a couple weeks since my last trip out to Charleston. You know, the trip to be with Nana while she was in the hospital.
About that last minute flight to the East Coast. The flight alone set me back, ohh, just somewhere between 950 dollars and… my first born son.
To say, “I was struggling,” would have been the understatement of the summer.
Financially, I was getting my ass kicked. I was living off of Ramen, protein bars, and the free coffee at work. I can remember going downstairs to grab something from the grocery store one night and thinking, “Wait. I’m eating Pizza Rolls and those fucking dogs are eating some bullshit grain-free, gluten-free, $5.00-a-GD-pound sack of gourmet kibble? What. tha. actual hell.”
So, naturally, when I received my aunt’s message I smiled to myself and responded with: “I’m good! The dogs keep me busy and I’m excited about moving home. Everything that went on with Nana a few weeks ago really put things into perspective again. I think it made me let go of anything else I might have been holding onto that would bring me down. Thank you for checking on me. And yes, I’m eating. Hahaha.”
For the love of God, I can be so ornery. And stubborn. And hard-headed. And independent. Sometimes, I even get on my own nerves with all of this, “I do my-seff” bullshit. Like, seriously, Chelsea. Get the fuck over yourself. Why couldn’t you have just said, “Dude. I’m poor. And fucking hungry, yo. Can a sista maybs get a gift card to the Red Lobster?”
But I didn’t.
Because I’m an asshole.
I sent the liar, lying-face message, got dressed and then Uber’d over to Hillcrest. I was volunteering. For Pride.
Ironically, I was in the Pride Parade that day.
Anywho, after the parade, I check my phone. These were my messages:
- Auntie C: You need money or anything? I know that flight home was unexpected.
- Auntie C: Btw… I just found you a boyfriend.
- Auntie C: I got his digits for you!!
First things first, why she sent all of that stuff to me in a Facebook message? I’m not sure. But sweet Jesus, am I glad she did! It was so freakin’ easy to find! Literally, the last message on our thread in Messenger. Secondly, I really should have prefaced this story with…
I had just spent an entire week holed up in a hospital room with my mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle (who, by the way, is almost just as bad [if not worse] than the women in my family) – a.k.a. the most fucked up episode of the Bachelorette you could ever imagine. Any man that walked into my Nana’s room got a full pat-down. The criteria went as follows:
- Spoke English at least 12% of the time
- Wasn’t wearing a ring (that day)
- Didn’t totally smell of fecal matter
*Bonus points: Claimed to watch Fox News, of course.
If at least one of the above criteria was met (or the man was breathing), the Publisher’s Clearing House man would pop out from behind my Nana’s heart monitor and shout, “Congratufuckinglations, sir! You’ve just won yourself a new(-ish) baby momma!” It was all super fun and very situation appropriate. There were balloons, a check, miniature ponies….
Aww, look at you chuckling to yourself.
You really think I’m making this up, don’t you?
No, assholes. No, I’m not making this shit up! This is my real, true life. I’m a victim. Hell, half the men (and let’s be real here, a lot of the women, as well…) at Trident Medical Center are victims too. I mean, thanks a lot for thinking I’ve “got it better than that” but I don’t. These people – these family people of mine – are lunatics. Actually, while I’m thinking about it, I’d like to take a minute to formally apologize to a tech named Matt on behalf of my fool-ass family.
If you’re out there reading this right now, I just want you to know that I was sure to make my family members delete any photos taken with their mobile devices without your consent. Also, you didn’t have to lie to my Momma about why you “left” the Citadel. On your day off, my aunt was doing a “routine background check” and one of the other nurses ratted you out for fighting. Anyhow, good luck with nursing school, buddy. Not gonna lie, ya really dodged a bullet here.
Whatever. Back to my original story:
- MC: Money wise, I’m fine right now… I got my 1/2 year bonus this week so that worked out perfect. Thanks for making sure though :). [… maybe if I ignore it, it will just go away…]
- Auntie C: [sends photo of rando and my cousin’s now fiancée]
- MC: [… if you ignore the children, they just act worse…] Oh lord! Is he tall?
- MC: Put him next to Brandon…
- MC: And why is he just giving his information out to random drunken lunatics!
- Auntie C: He is kinda tall. I asked him for his info. Told him I had the perfect woman for him.
After that last message, the topic was dropped.
And then, one day two weeks later, I was on the phone with Auntie Crystal while driving home from work. “So, are you ever going to text that boy, or what?” “What the hell,” I yelled, “No. No, I’m not going to text some random ass guy you met while you were out drunk!” We bantered back and forth. She probably called me a pussy. She probably told me that I was a vagina for not texting a guy. For not just texting a man that I had never met. A man who lived on the other side of the country. A man I would probably never see in my life.
“It’s just a text,” she said, “what do you have to lose. You know what? I most likely don’t even have his number anymore. Let me go check.”
I listened as she rummaged around in her purse. “And besides, what kind of person just gives out their information to a crazy, drunken woman at a bar? Some woman who “allegedly” has a “niece” in “California” that is “supposedly” moving back to Charleston in December (air quotes à la Joey and The One Where Emma Cries). This is silly…” She cut me off, “Oh. shit.” “Oh gah. Let me guess. His name is Tyler.”
“Nope! Nope! There’s an “a”! It’s Taaaaayler!”
“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
“I’m adding him on Facebook right now!”
Shortly there after, I received a friend request and a message.
For months, we talked thousands of miles apart.
We sent hundreds of text messages and stayed up on the phone for hours. I told him everything. We talked about life, friends, family, and work. I cried to him about the twins, laid out my past, explained why I was in California, and told him my reasons for moving back. He was the first person I called when work told me I could keep my job. I was the first person he called when his niece was born.
He came with me everywhere. When I went to SeaWorld, I sent him pictures of dolphins, and sea lions, and flamingos, and penguins. When I went hiking, I sent him photo proof that I was still alive. Even when I spent days just laying in bed with the dogs, he got those pictures too. And he did the same for me. I received pictures of weddings, and sunsets, and sunrises, and golf courses, and elaborately cooked meals.
Somewhere along the way the miles stopped mattering.
Sure, it was weird. But what was weirder was how much we had in common, how well we got along, and just how good we were together. We told no one about our little love affair. It was a secret we chose to keep until we knew it was something more than just late night talks and sweet text messages.
Even though both of us knew it would become something more…
When we met, he hugged me tight, picked me up off the ground and kissed me hard.
There weren’t butterflies. I wasn’t nervous, or giddy, or awkward.
Everything was just – normal.
He made me dinner. A very good dinner. We talked, ate, watched How I Met Your Mother, and then he fell asleep.
At first, I was a little disappointed. I had expected fireworks. I had expected flashes of light, and explosions, and back-up dancers, and pops of glitter, and maybe even a coupla Part of Your World style waves, ya know. But, nope. Just normal. It was just your run-of-the-mill cross-country pen pal meet-up.
So, that’s when it occurred to me – that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks…
As he snored – the same snore I listened to many times over the phone – a tear fell down my cheek.
This was the normal I had went all the way to California hoping to find.
Tayler and I may not be soulmates. We may not last more than a few months. He might get tired of my shit – or my dogs – and kick my ass to the curb quicker than I can get this bastard posted to all the socials. But he is good to me. He is so. damn. good. to me. And we work. We work so well together. Both of us admit to the mistakes we have made in the past with other people. Presently, both of us are consciously making an effort to avoid making those very same mistakes with each other. We are open, and honest, and silly, and generous, and kind, and loving. We have rules too.
- He always has to kiss and hug me “Hello.” (When this rule was made he said, “I thought I already did that?”)
- He always has to kiss me “Goodnight.” (When this rule was made he said, “Wait. I thought I already did that too?” “Well, obviously, you had to have been doing something right to have landed yourself a girlfriend [eyerolls].”)
- No name calling. (That’s more of a rule for me…)
- We are always on the same team. Always.
- The Whitney Houston Rule. (I asked him what rules he wanted to add. He said, “I will always love you.” Then he proceeded to break out into song.)
- Rotates. Kinda like the seasonal beers on tap at the bar. For instance, yesterday, it was “You can’t hang up on me just because I throw out one little ‘your mom’ joke.”
Our life is good.
It is unconventional but oh so very normal.
It is my two dogs and the two of us rolling around in his room for days on end. It is him cleaning my parents kitchen and cooking my brother multiple chickens for dinner. It is me cleaning his room and writing him love notes. It is trips to Marshall’s, and Walmart, and Target. It is him driving 3.5 hours at midnight on Christmas Day to come stay with me in BFE Bethlehem, North Carolina. It is forehead kisses and hand-holding. It is him taking care of Bubba’s drunk ass (literally) when I’m too sick to deal. It is him taking care of my drunk ass (bahaha-ha.). It is me putting up with him watching television until 3:00 a.m. on that 50-fucking-inch television he insisted on putting at the foot of the bed. I know, I know. It’s me buying “that 50-fucking-inch television.”
It is everything I have ever wanted and never knew I needed.
It is the sweetest sort of serendipity I could have ever stumbled upon.
When people ask how we met, I laugh…
According to Auntie Crystal, she was chatting up a bartender at the Firefly distillery on Wadmalaw Island. One thing lead to another and she asked, “So, are you single?” “Maybe,” the bartender responded with a coy smile. “You’re a douchebag,” and over to the next bar she went. After chattin’ up the new bartender for a bit, she used the same line on him, “Are you single?”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
“Well, you just hit the jackpot.”
Later, my aunt would tell me that the second bartender reminded her of her husband – my uncle. He was sweet.
“I could tell he was genuine.”
Nearly six months later, I call that second bartender my boyfriend.
We’re disgusting. 🙂