Timing

These last couple of weeks, I have been flooded with a million little thoughts and words strewn together into pretty sentences and ideas that I wanted to write about and elaborate on. Naturally, with my super busy work schedule, I didn’t write any of them down and those fresh ideas might as well have never existed.

But one that kind of stuck with me was the idea of timing.

Looking back on the way my life has unfolded thus far, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence. One small decision I made when I was 20 blossomed into an experience that ended up shaping my entire life or a simple social media post in 2011 that lead to the downfall of a friendship or a relationship that otherwise would have been toxic. The way moments and memories slip between one another has created back to back experiences, pushing me forward from one milestone to the next when most days, I don’t even realize it. And more often than not, it’s unintentional. It’s looking back that I see the way simple moments have shaped entire experiences.

I have read so many theories about time. A social construct made up by the human race to keep everyone in check. A number on a clock that really doesn’t contain any numerical value, yet we base our days on it. But realistically, if we (at least my generation) were stuck in the wild, dependent on the rising and setting of the sun, we would be lost. Both in time and probably within our surroundings as well. And don’t even get me started on deja vu.

But this post isn’t necessarily supposed to be directed at actual, literal, defined time. More the way our choices and actions fold into one another to create this little thing we call life.

I guess I could take you back through those monumental moments, those pivotal moments, that lead me to where I am today. The way that those moments unfolded and the choices I had that eventually lead me to right now. I guess this is where deja vu comes into play.

Deja vu is one of those things that truly fascinates me. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everyone but for me, when I experience deja vu, I not only recognize the moment I am in, but I can very clearly remember what is supposed to happen next. What happened next in whatever time or moment I had already experienced. Yet, the opposite happens. And after the moment passes, I can explain what I saw or what I remembered from the previous memory.

My favorite theory surrounding deja vu is the idea that we are experiencing a parallel universe. A universe that runs directly in line with our current one where we are making different choices that eventually unfold into an entirely other universe. Each choice we make in our current life has the possibility to branch into another life in another universe. If you believe in that, then realistically, there are an infinite amount of parallel universes, alternate universes, depicting what we could be. But we are present in this one.

A secondary theory is the idea of deja vu being a memory. A memory of a past life, which in turn, is indicative of our life being on the right path. So if you experience deja vu a lot, I guess you can assume you’re doing something right.

And lastly, and the most logical, it’s simply an overlapping of memories from a previous day or a similar situation that have morphed into a present memory that tricks you into thinking it has already happened. A situation that feels weirdly familiar when it shouldn’t feel familiar at all because it hasn’t happened.

I’m not sure if deja vu and timing even relate to one another but obviously, without time, deja vu wouldn’t exist. But without deja vu, timing wouldn’t be affected.

And then we have the “luck” factor. I feel like this post is turning into a giant math problem, like the ones they give you in statistics.

Find the dependent and independent variables that are equal to time with the given factors. X x Y = TIME. 

But in terms of luck, when it comes to actual, big life decisions (moving into my own place, my current job, my travels) things have all kind of just fallen into place without me need to look for an apartment or apply to jobs or spend x amount of money on travel because I knew people in foreign places. I think that’s crucial to understanding timing; luck and coincidence have a lot do with it.

Which, in turn, could stem into a discussion about karma. Which, from the way I have come to understand it, our karma in our current life is either a reward or a punishment for how we lived our previous lives. I’ve also come to believe the way we die is karma for how we lived our past lives.

Kind of freaky when you get into a head space like the one I’m currently in; kind of going back and forth questioning your entire reality and the meaning of your life from an existential standpoint. Questioning your fate. Wondering if our lives are a product of the effort we put in and the choices we make or if our lives are predetermined from the day we are conceived. I probably sound like a crazy person right about now, if you have made it this far.

Let me circle back to the topic at hand: timing (time management)

I have genuinely heard so many people say the phrase, “our timing sucks” in an attempt to blame their misfortune on timing. As a way to end a relationship because “we both work too much, the timing just wasn’t good.” I’ll be the first to tell you this is a bullshit excuse. If you want to be with someone, if you want to spend time with someone, if you want to make something work, timing doesn’t matter because, unlike most things, you can make the time if you really want to. You can stay up an extra 10 minutes to call your significant other. You can go into work earlier to make it home for date night. You can take a five minute bathroom break to text someone back or let them know you’re thinking of them. You can get gas the night before and skip 15 minutes of your down time so you don’t have to get up 15 minutes earlier to do it in the morning.

I guess what I’m getting at is that blaming your misfortune or lack of interest on timing is a poor excuse when we all know if we really want something, we can manage our time to have it.

Let me circle back again: timing (coincidental timing)

I read something the other day about a man spilling coffee on his shirt and needing to run back inside to change, a woman’s dog taking too long to go to the bathroom in the morning and she was late for work, a man whose new shoes gave him such bad blisters he had to stop at a convenience store to buy  band-aids. All of them were supposed to be in the World Trade Center when the planes struck. All of them survived for what we might consider minor inconveniences. All of them survived because of timing.

It’s an interesting concept to think about and I have caught myself wondering so many times, “Why is this person driving so slow,” or “Why can’t I find my car keys?” All to finally leave the house and get stuck in traffic caused by a car accident. And I wonder, “Could that have been me if I knew where my keys were?”

Maybe I have conditioned myself this way because I believe in everything happening for a reason or maybe it’s just the optimist in me. I’m not sure but every single time I face a minor set back, I tell myself, “this is happening for a reason.” And I might not know what that reason is in that exact moment, but it often becomes apparent to me by the end of the day. The only time it doesn’t become obvious to me is when I receive awful news that I can’t quite wrap my head around for a few months. But looking back, it’s always there.

The way timing works, the way coincidences work, the way life works. If I think too hard about it, I’ll get lost in a tailspin in my own head questioning the entire universe. But for now, timing or luck or fate or karma, whatever you want to call it, has been on my side and continues to guide me in what I can only hope is the right direction.

I guess I really just wanted to put timing into perspective for myself, and hopefully for some others who may feel lost or not understand the way things have been working for them lately. There’s no rhyme or reason to this post, which is very unlike me, but I like to believe in signs, too. And maybe some of you reading this have been looking for a sign. Maybe some of you reading this have been looking for a reason or a reminder. I don’t know why I was compelled to write this today, or why it went in the direction of fate and karma but I like to believe the timing was right and it was written for a reason.

Take it as you will and use it as you can.

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Out Part 3: Telling My Family

 

IF YOU MISSED THE FIRST PART OF THIS MINI SERIES, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE. 

IF YOU MISSED THE SECOND PART OF THIS MINI SERIES, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE.

It’s kind of ironic how parents can predict things before we have any inclination whatsoever.

I know I’m not the only one who has been in a relationship where you make the mistake of telling your parents too much. This trust we have in our parents, to them, seems almost like an invitation for their input and skepticism.

Soon you’re hearing, “Is David* still selling drugs to high schoolers? I really hope you’re done buying that stuff from him.” or “Did Tom* unfollow that girl on Instagram whose pictures he kept liking?” and “From what you told me, it sounds like Kyle* has some serious issues. Run.”

*Names have not been changed to protect the identities of ex-boyfriends

Next, they’re giving you advice about how he’ll probably get a girl pregnant before he can start his life and that the two of you are so toxic you’ll end up ruining each other’s ideas of love forever.

All of a sudden, you’re 23 and you look back and realize, holy shit my mother was right.

Except, when I told my step-dad I was interested in this girl as more than a friend he told my mom he always thought I would end up gay.*

*I do not identify as a specific sexual orientation

I don’t know how parents are able to predict this kind of stuff, but this was news to me. Because up until the very second I kissed this girl, I had no idea how I felt about women.

Telling My Family

Before we jump into the terribly awkward, self-humiliation that is my true coming out story, I want to preface this by saying I am so incredibly thankful to have the friends and family that I do. Daily, they have continued to make this process as easy as I could have hoped it would be, and how I hope it can be for everyone.

The first night Jillian came over to hangout with me, I told my mom a “friend” from school who I had recently re-connected with was on the Cape for Christmas (we hungout for the first time December 22) and neither of us had anything to do so she was coming over to make a gingerbread house with me.

This wasn’t a total lie, we did make a gingerbread house, but she definitely wasn’t a friend from school. In fact, I had no proof she was even a real person at this point so I kind of just invited a stranger to my house based on a few days of text exchanges and a cute picture of her online.

Thankfully she wasn’t a serial killer.

My parents weren’t home when she got to my house because, unlike me, they actually have lives. We set up the gingerbread kit, starting pasting chunks of icing onto a cardboard house and every so often (probably every 10 minutes), I checked the window to see if lights were coming up the drive.

I’m not a very good liar, especially when it comes to myself. I like to be truthful with my parents and get their advice on things but this whole “thing” was so new and so unexplored that I honestly didn’t know what to say. So I lied.

When they finally got home, they asked her the standard questions. Did you go to Roger Williams, too? Where on Cape are you staying? What was you major?

Thankfully, being the paranoid freak I am, we had gone over all of these questions except she didn’t go to Roger and her family wasn’t staying on the Cape and although she said she majored in business, she actually didn’t go to college at all. Now we were both lying.

This would all come out on my moms birthday few days later but until then, we had passed the friendship test and went to the basement to watch a movie.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I had someone over that I was interested in, I would invite them to the basement to watch a movie. My parents definitely caught on to this and there were only so many times during this “Christmas break” that I could invite this girl over my house to watch movies in my basement before it got weird.

And weird it got because one day, my mom was driving home and the words spewed out like vomit.

“Hey mom, yeah Jillian’s here again yeah she’s gay and I might be too and I don’t want you to be weird about it when you get home so just act normal, OK? See you in bit. Bye,” and I hung up.

She later told me that the pure shock of this sentence alone made her almost drive off the road. Not because she wasn’t accepting of me but simply because I had dated guys my entire life and not once did I mention any sort of possible interest in women.

I had decided to hold off a bit longer to tell my step-dad but the morning of my moms birthday (December 29), as Jillian parked her car at the end of my driveway and walked towards the house in stilettos and a black dress, I blurted it out.

“Jillian’s gay,” I said as I stood in the newly remodeled kitchen, leaning over my phone with my elbows perched on the island. I didn’t even glance up.

“OK,” he said back.

“I might be, too.” My face was now buried in my phone, Jillian was almost at the door and my moms coffee just about spewed out of her mouth.

“Ok and?” he said. He kind of chuckled and went back to drinking his coffee.

At this point, Jillian was walking up the front steps, hand in a fist, ready to knock.

“I thought you were going to wait to tell him?” my mom said as the knock echoed through the living room.

For whatever reason, I had invited Jillian to a play with my family and me in Boston. Little did I know, when I texted her and asked her, she paced through the kitchen coming up with all of the reasons why she shouldn’t go before texting me back an hour later saying yes.

Now, we stood side-by-side in the kitchen, the abrupt announcement lingering in the air. Oblivious to what had taken place seconds earlier, Jillian gave my mom a bottle of red wine and wished her a happy birthday. We filed into the car, shipped up to Boston and up until the day I asked her to be my girlfriend a couple of months later (February 22), it wasn’t brought up once.

Not because they didn’t care or because they didn’t approve but because as long as I was happy, it didn’t matter who I was with. So I guess, in a way, they didn’t care that I was seeing a girl. I had fantasized about the scrutiny I would get from family members, concerned glances in my direction as I paraded her around family functions, snide comments as we wafted past.

But it didn’t happen. The conversation didn’t come. The concerns weren’t voiced. The questions weren’t asked. Instead, I was flooded with congratulations as we made our relationship “Facebook official,” comments from relatives excited to meet her, likes from past friends and family members I hadn’t seen in years. All writing the same thing; you look so happy. 

I was relieved. Still, it would take me some time to tell my dad.

The first time my dad met Jillian was on New Year’s Eve. We stopped by the house before our first “public” night out together. I introduced her to my dad the same way I introduced her to my mom; an old friend from Roger that was on Cape for the holidays.

Once it was made “official” online, I knew I had to tell my dad. I didn’t want him finding out from someone else, so I made plans to have lunch with him the following day.

We have a really good relationship but we’ve never talked about relationships. Since I lived with my mom, she was always the one that saw my significant other the most and was forced to get to know them. My dad would be introduced eventually and they’d make small talk, always cordial with one another, mostly around holidays or family events.

I was more scared to have the conversation with my dad than I was with my mom. Again, not because I feared judgment but these weren’t exactly the conversations we were used to having. Unlike my mom, my dad doesn’t have much of an opinion on who I date. He is very passive with mine and my sister’s life choices and rather than telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, he lets us figure it out on our own.

Sitting across from him, I could feel the anxiety creeping up into my throat as I forced down my food. With every bite, I hoped I would be able to swallow my unease.

He was picking away at his sandwich when I decided to start the conversation.

“Do you remember that girl you met on New Year’s?” I asked him. I took a sip of my drink and waited for him to look up at me.

“Yeah,” he said in a drawn out voice.

“Well, her and I are kind of dating,” I said. The words trailed off at the end as he finally looked up at me.

He paused for a few seconds as I choked back an awkward laugh.

“Like lesbians?” he asked me. He sat back in his seat a bit more and had a funny look on his face. That look you get as a child when you know you did something wrong, like poop in the litter box, but your parents are laughing too hard to punish you.

That was the look.

“I guess,” I said as I sipped at the empty ice at the bottom of my cup. “But I’m not gay. I just really like her.”

I was waiting for a reaction but nothing came.

He just adjusted his glasses, picked up his phone and leaned back into the booth. He mumbled something about it being a phase and how most women go through them. I didn’t want to correct him or argue with him so I let it go.

It wasn’t brought up again. I asked a few times if he wanted to talk about it but he always said there was nothing to say. I was happy, so he was happy. Simple.

Simple. 

I would wonder about the simplicity of coming out for months. How could it be so simple, so passive, for me to announce I liked women, but so brutalized and condemned for so many others?

I had hyped up the idea of being gay. I had given it it’s own place in my head where it could live and wonder. It’s own secret garden. I planted flowers in my mind and watered them with my thoughts. Fuel to flourish and a place to feel safe. Confidence to speak and courage to accept. To accept myself. They would sprout from my ears, petals falling from my eye lids and like a mid-summer rain, I’d open my mouth to catch them on my tongue. I’d swallow them whole until I was almost bursting. Full. Whole. Ready to show the world what I had so preciously built. And in the center of it all;

us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Out Part 2: How I Knew and Dating Women

If you missed the first part of this mini series, you can check it out here. 

So how did I know? How does anyone know what they like?

The answer is simple: try it.

Looking back, part of me wishes I had just swallowed my pride and the little bit of humility I had left and explored the thoughts of my adolescent mind. Honestly, it would have been so much easier had I come out when I was 13 or 14. Then, everyone would already know when I got to high school. Girls that maybe thought they were gay or thought they were curious would probably talk to me, maybe I’d have a few girlfriends here and there. I would be the girl that I eventually became jealous of; the girl who was confident and fluid in her sexuality.

Then I’d go to college, probably date a few more girls, be asked to do a bunch of threesomes,* and find the love of my life. Simple.

*If you don’t know this already, guys are obsessed with hooking up with two gay girls – we are not your entertainment; we never have been and we never will be.*

But instead, here I was at 23-years-old, straight (lol) out of my college experimental years where I didn’t experiment, trying to find girls to talk to. Do you know how difficult it is to jump into the gay dating scene when you have absolutely no experience and have never even flirted with a girl before?

It goes a little something like, “Hi, I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing but I think I might like girls and I don’t know if I want to kiss you or just play with you hair but would you like to talk to me for two months before I make up my mind?” In the meantime, they fall in love with you because girls are the most emotional creatures on the planet and then you’re just doomed.

I felt like I was jumping head first into that scene in Shark Boy and Lava Girl where they’re just passing through the Land of Milk and Cookies. The girls were the cookies, I was the ridiculously out of place girl with flames coming out of her head.

If you don’t get this reference, you’re too young to be reading my blog. Or too old.

How I Knew

I had asked a few of my friends who were bi/gay/lesbian/pan, “How did you know?” and they all said the same thing. You’ll just know. 

And I’d just respond, “What does that even mean?”

And they’d say, “Just download tinder, find a cute girl and hangout with her and for Christ’s sake Jamie, stop thinking about it.”

So I did. But getting a girls attention is so much harder than getting a guys attention. When I had dating profiles before, I would post cute pictures of me out with my friends, pictures from the gym, pictures of me holding fish.

If there is one thing I have learned from social media, women hate when men post pictures of themselves holding fish. Was it the same with other women?

I wasn’t trying to impress men here so I limited it to one fish picture (which I used as my last picture), a bunch of selfies without other girls because I didn’t want these new girls thinking I was posting pictures with past girls, and a picture of me in the gym because let’s be real, if I was a guy, I’d be a Brad. We all know this.

brad

Honestly, the worst part about this whole dating app experience was coming up with a bio.

“Curious!” You’re on a women’s dating app, obviously you’re curious. 

“Hi! Not sure what I’m looking for but maybe you’ll be it ;)” I would throw up if I read something like that in someone else’s bio. No. 

“I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing here.” Genius. Absolutely perfect. This is it. You’re ready. 

I was not ready.

The first few girls I matched with immediately asked me to have threesomes with them and their boyfriends. I was warned about this.

A few other girls said they had hotel rooms downtown and I should come over. This terrified me.

One girl invited me to a sex battle and when I asked what that was she told me to google it. Don’t google it.

And then there was her.

Our conversation started simple. Me saying her dog was cute (trying to break the ice), her responding that her dog was dead (the ice was not broken, it was shattered).

We chatted for a few days, exchanged numbers and truth be told, I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Honestly, I didn’t even intend to hangout with her. I was just trying to get into the mindset of talking to a girl as more than a friend because love stories don’t happen when two people meet on tinder. Nothing usually happens when two people meet on tinder. Except maybe herpes.

But our conversations were easy. They flowed. One topic to the next, I started to look forward to the moments I could lose myself in our exchanges. I started to look forward to the moments I could lose myself in her.

A few days later, I invited her over. All I remember from that night was watching Bird Box. The days went on. Talk of my anxiety here, a dab of her depression there, a sprinkle of self-reflection topped with the whopping secret that, holy shit, I like girls. 

I invited her over again and this time, she kissed me during Harry Potter. It was like my brain had re-wired in this exact moment. It was like everything I had envisioned a relationship to be was gone. It was like everything that never made sense in my life suddenly blossomed into this gay awakening.

They’re not kidding when they told me I’d just know. That it would just feel right. 

The “married to a man with two kids and a dog” scenario had vanished. It was replaced with gentle thoughts of holding her hand before bed, simply admiring her femininity and knowing that I possessed it too, tender kisses on a park bench in the middle of a city, painting our first crappy apartment, walking barefoot across the beach in white dresses.

OK, maybe I was moving too fast. Take a step back, try to get her bra undone or something before you start picturing your romantic, gay future together. You could hate it for all you know.

Although I didn’t know it then, she would redefine love for me and I for her. She would teach me what it felt like to be truly and selflessly loved. She would teach me to be fearless and unapologetic of my feelings. She would help me come out as me. And I would fall in love with her in the process.

But telling my family, sharing this huge secret I had been carrying around for so long, was the scariest and most relieving moment of my life.

(Coming SoonPart 3: Telling My Family)

 

Coming Out Part 1: When I Knew I Liked Girls

At the end of the day, we as humans just want to be accepted as ourselves. This goes for all nationalities, all races, all religions, all sexualities, all genders. We just want acceptance. 

I don’t see myself as an influencer but as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I do feel a sense of responsibility to be open and honest about my story in hopes that it’ll inspire others to do the same. Being yourself is a scary thing in general but being yourself knowing that there are people who will hate you for your sexuality is an even scarier thing.

I have to keep reminding myself; this is my blog, these are my words, this is my story to share. Opinions and judgments can’t take that away from me. 

Since I came out, I have had a lot of people reach out to me with so many questions. When did you know? How did you know? Are you a lesbian? But you’ve dated guys your whole life, are you sure?

I decided today; this is such a big part of my life – I want to share it. And this is why I write.

To inspire, to influence, to hope that my words resonate with those who have gone through/are going through something similar, to be recognized as an ally for those who are still confused or afraid, to be someone’s safety net if they can’t talk to their friends or family.

When Did I Know

This is a really hard question for me to answer. When I reflect back on my life, from the time I was 12 until right now, there are moments that stand out to me. Looking at them from my current age and perspective, I can recognize that I was confused and having thoughts about girls but at the time, I had no idea. I just remembered being embarrassed and avoiding eye contact when I felt like that. But I didn’t know until I was 23.

And it’s not that I waited until I was 23 to come out because I had known my whole life, I genuinely did not let myself have these thoughts and I think I suppressed them for almost 10 years but they started to resurface and push through when I got to college and at that point, I just knew. All the signs were there and it all started to make sense why everything that felt wrong, was wrong.

There is one specific moment I remember from when I was 13 and had I listened to my gut instead of pushing down these thoughts I deemed “unnatural,” I probably would have come out a lot sooner.

So this specific moment, I had had my first kiss with a boy that summer, probably a few weeks before. Looking back, he was super feminine. As was almost every single guy I dated. Anyways, I went back to work at the family business after camp where I made $13 an hour so you know I was balling without a budget when I turned 14 that fall.

There was this new girl working there when I got back and I immediately took a liking to her. I thought she was so pretty and I would follow her around work while she told me what to do. She had such a positive energy and I just admired her so much and wanted to be her friend. I think she was 19 at the time, so six years older than me. 

Being the supportive employees that we were, we went to see her perform in a play. I don’t remember the name of the play or what her character was, I just remember she had on a white dress and had to kiss a boy at the end of a scene. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her but at the same time, I felt like all eyes were on me while my eyes were on her, which wasn’t the case, but either way, I was humiliated and embarrassed and having kissed a boy, I knew what kissing felt like and the second she kissed the boy from the play, I wanted to be him. Red flag number one.

I remember wondering why? Why was I having these thoughts, she’s a girl, why would I want to kiss a girl? At the time, I had no idea what bi or gay or lesbian meant so I swallowed my humiliation and continued to follow her around work until she went back to college. Pretty sure I cried when she left and I never saw her again until this memory resurfaced and I found her on Instagram. She’s married now and they are a beautiful couple and she looks exactly how I remember.

Flash forward to high school, I remember having so many memories of the guys I brought home and my parents always asked me if they were gay. I think I gravitated towards feminine men because I subconsciously knew I liked women but society told me to be straight, so I was straight. Plus, all of my friends in high school joked about there being “the one” in the group (meaning the gay girl) and they always joked about it being me.

*Disclaimer: I do not identify or refer to myself as gay, bi, lesbian or pan. I do not know and will not force myself into a label until I am sure.*

College is probably where I took an interest in girls but never acted on it. I had a boyfriend for three years and the whole thing felt wrong. Physically and emotionally, we just didn’t click. Little did I know, I wouldn’t click with any guy after him either. Give me all the red flags. I was a walking closet at this point, but I still refused to believe it or act on it.

Most women experiment in college and although I was too scared of what people would think or how my friends and family would react, I had a lot of bisexual friends and so I’d ask questions. The same ones I get asked by a lot of you. How did you know. When did you know. Were you scared. Do you still like guys. Almost as if I was doing some investigation work for my closeted self. All the while being absolutely in awe of these girls who were so confident in themselves and their sexuality. And I was jealous of their freedom and their fluidity.

At this point, something in my life wasn’t working. I knew it, my parents knew it, the guys I was with during this time knew it, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it was because I liked girls. In my mind, I hadn’t met the right guy yet. That’s what all straight guys tell pretty gay girls though, you just haven’t met the right guy yet.

Wrong.

There was no right guy. Still, I went on a lot of dates, met a lot of men, did a lot of things I ultimately regretted because even though this one didn’t feel right, maybe the next one would and on we went until I was really depressed and unhappy with myself.

You know that feeling when you walk into a store and you love how all the clothes look so you pick them out, drape them over your arm and head to the dressing room? You try on different shirts, different pants, different jackets but none of them look good on you. Your shoulders might be a little too muscular or maybe your butts too big for the jeans and the jacket doesn’t work well with your height and by the end of the day, you’re disgusted in yourself and all the clothes you tried on.

That was me. But with men.

And that’s when I realized; maybe it wasn’t something that was wrong with them, maybe it was something that was wrong with me. 

After graduating college, I only really dated one guy and I used “dated” loosely because we only got together a couple of times. When things with him didn’t work out, I gave up. I stopped giving guys the time of day, I put all my focus into my friendships and my work and accepted a job (working for Rob as the majority of you know).

In my mind, I didn’t have time for men and I believed that what was meant to be, would be so I put my dating life on the back burner and threw my energy into my career. For roughly five months, I traveled cross-country and internationally on this journey and it was one of the greatest experiences of self reflection and understanding I have had. Being one with nature will really do that to you.

It wasn’t through this journey that I discovered I liked girls, it was actually after when I had come home. It was one specific moment when I had the realization that I really didn’t want to date men anymore. In fact, I was so disgusted by the idea of seeing another man naked that even the thought of being with a guy made me cringe.

I won’t ever share with you publicly what this exact moment was (if you’re my friend, you probably know) but it went a something along the lines of “it just isn’t right” and “I promise it’s not you.”

I falsely assumed, having given up guys and dating in general for almost three months, I was just going through it. I don’t know what “it” was in this scenario but I had assumed I’d be back on my game when I got home and ready to try dating again.

I was ready to try dating again, but not with men. I kind of woke up with the thought one December morning, while this poor guy was still laying beside me, that I was curious.

I had yet to figure out what curious meant but I had begun to see women in a new way.

(Coming SoonComing Out Part 2: How I Knew I Liked Girls)

 

Debate: Gaffing Fish & Catch and Release

Wow, it has been an unfortunate amount of time since I have been able to sit down and write. Even now, I am at my office waiting for my boss to get out of a meeting and the desk I normally sit as it occupied by our accountant so I am sitting on the steps, computer in lap, feet on the magazines in front of me.

Truth be told, I have been in such a transitional period of my life between moving into a new house, spending time focused on my relationship (which is still relatively new) and working two jobs which literally occupies my attention seven days a week.

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently working for Hogy Lure Company which is a lure manufacturing company based out of Falmouth, Mass. where I recently moved to. On top of that, I still mate for my dad on the Columbia where we run sportfishing charters out of Rock Harbor, located in Orleans, Massachusetts. This I have been doing for six seasons now.

You know you’re getting too old for a job when the new generation of mates are between 13/14-years old. This will be my last summer with him, which is both sad and exciting at the same time. I might work weekends depending on what I’m doing for work a year from now. I hope to be with the same company (Hogy) as I truly enjoy my co-workers and the work that I do.

So, let’s jump into it.

There has always been controversy surrounding the tactics and methods of those within the fishing community, long before I became apart of it. Keep in mind that these following thoughts stem from my short 7-8 years of experience both as a first mate and now through my involvement with Hogy Lures and Salty Cape. I have noticed two common discussions arise through our social media posts on all accounts (Hogy, Salty and Columbia):

  1. Gaffing a fish vs. Netting a fish
  2. Catch and release vs. Keeping fish

And of course, there’s the unfortunate individuals who feel the need to message me directly about my practices and techniques, as if being a jerk in my DM’s is going to either change or influence how I work.

Let me be very, very blunt with you for a minute; messaging someone privately about something you disagree with, especially when you attack them because they do it differently than you, is rude. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion but when you cross the line from a friendly discussion into personally attacking an individual or a business platform because you don’t like how they operate… No.

Gaffing a Fish vs. Netting a Fish

Before we get into this discussion, GAFFING A FISH IN MASSACHUSETTS IS LEGAL IF IT IS 28-INCHES+ AND YOU DO NOT ALREADY HAVE YOUR LIMIT OF ONE FISH PER PERSON. I do not know the laws and regulations of other states, but this is something I frequently hear when our business and our ethics are questioned. I can not speak for the rest of the states, but since we are located in Massachusetts and fish in Massachusetts waters, this is relevant to your knowledge.

That’s it. That should be the end of the discussion but regardless of the law, there are some people who still try to force their use of a net on you, as if their opinions are stronger than the laws put in play by policy holders, law makers and scientists.

I understand why people choose to use a net and I see no problem with it. But I also see no problem with using a gaff and let me explain why:

For starters, these are my personal opinions based on knowledge I have already obtained via personal experience.

When I am recreational fishing (going out for fun, enjoying the sport) I don’t use either a net or a gaff. I use my hands, unhook the fish, maybe snap a picture and release it as quickly as possible.

If I am choosing to use a net, which I have done countless times when fishing with Rob, it is for safety purposes both of the fish and to prevent myself from falling into the water while reaching for the fish.

When I use a gaff, and this is important, there are a few things you need to understand.  The first being, I work on a charter boat – for those of you that don’t know, charter fishing is both different from recreational fishing (for fun, for sport) and commercial fishing (to sell to markets). When charter fishing, Coast Guard allows up to six individuals to board the boat, plus the captain and the mate (8 overall). We are allowed to keep up to one fish per person, meaning we are LEGALLY allowed to have eight fish on the boat that are 28-inches or larger. The people who charter fishing boats like ours are fishing to keep, meaning they want fish to bring home to their families and their friends, to have for dinner, to make into a fish chowder, to freeze for a couple of months down the road. Whatever the reason may be, they want to bring fish home.

In this scenario, I always ask the groups when the board the boat, “Do you guys want fish to bring home?” And if they say yes, we fish to bring home. This is where the gaff comes into play – let me ask you, why wouldn’t you gaff a fish if you were planning on bringing it home and eating it? The gaff serves a variety of purposes – the most important being that it makes sure we get the fish in the boat. Since most people want to bring fish home, it does not matter if the fish is injured during the gaffing process because it is going to die either way. THAT BEING SAID, WE DO NOT GAFF FISH THAT WE ARE NOT BRINGING HOME. Even if the fish is legal, I will lift it over the back of the boat, unhook it and release it properly.

That’s all I have to say about gaffing. My final note being, before you judge someone and attack someone on their personal tactics, methods and techniques, PLEASE familiarize yourself with the states laws and regulations before taking time out of your day to approach someone for simply abiding by state laws. If you are going to attack someone because you disagree with this, your energy is probably best spent emailing those who put these laws into play in the first place.

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with either method. Whether you choose to gaff a fish or net a fish, make sure you are doing it responsibly and in the best interest of the fish. Simply, if you are not keeping the fish, do not gaff it. If you are keeping the fish, be sure that it is 28-inches+.

Catch and Release vs. Keeping Fish

There are laws put in place for a reason. And I can assure you, those of us who charter fish, recreational fish and commercial fish abide by them. Let’s run down the laws really quickly.

Recreational Fishing: One fish per person, 28-inches+. Cannot charter paying customers without a license, cannot sell fish without a license. You must apply and test for these licenses.

Charter Fishing: One fish per person on the boat, 28-inches+. Must have a license to charter paying customers. You must test for this license. Commercial license not required. If you have a commercial license and are also a charter fishing captain, it is illegal to catch commercial fish with the intent to sell on a paid charter.

Commercial Fishing: 15 fish per boat, 34-inches+. You must have a license to sell these fish. You must apply for this license. You are limited to 25lbs. per day. Monday and Thursday are the designated commercial fishing days.

These are the laws, put into play by law makers and policy holders. Why someone would try to argue the law based on their personal opinion is beyond me, but to each their own.

I have had countless messages from individuals messaging me, again verbally attacking me for what our family business does. They say things like, “you’re killing all the fish,” and “you’re the reason there’s no bass in Cape Cod Bay.” I even had someone go as far as saying “How dare you kill fish in my waters.”

Buddy, the ocean doesn’t belong to you. He then went on to argue that the “shore fishing isn’t what it used to be” while proceeding to tell me that “fishing from a boat isn’t real fishing.” That’s a joke if I’ve ever heard one.

Let’s jump right into it then. Simply put, these specific laws are put into play by scientists and analysts who have studied the migratory patterns of striped bass from their spawning season, through their spring run into their fall run and back into estuaries, streams, rivers, etc. to spawn again. Do people honestly think that these regulations would be allowed if these fish were endangered?

It’s one thing if it’s your personal opinion to catch and release, good for you, I suppose you think you are morally and ethically better than those who do not, but that doesn’t make us wrong because again, we follow the laws put into play by those who are actually educated on the subject.

Your experience on the water does not make you an expert.

Your personal opinions do not make you an expert.

Your personal practices do not make you an expert.

Honestly, if you haven’t studied and analyzed the increase/decrease of the striper population in both New England and the Cape Cod area in specific, you are not an expert.

This doesn’t make me an expert either.

But what I can tell you based on keeping up with these studies is that the striper population has increased greatly from the 1980’s and is being maintained, while increasing, well into our current era.  I can tell you that there are more schools of schoolie-sized fish in Cape Cod Bay than there have been in years. I can also tell you that the Great White Shark population probably has a lot to do with the scarcity of legal-sized fish in the area.

And adding to that, those of you that take the time to actually argue tooth and nail with me about us killing fish and ruining the population, I hope you realize that the fish are migrating, and Cape Cod Bay is just a stop on their list. Not seeing a lot of decent sized fish in the bay? That’s because they are moving north, as animals often do when they migrate. They have almost entirely moved out of the bay and should be showing up in Maine any day now if they haven’t already. That doesn’t mean they are extinct or endangered or that we are killing them, it simply means they have moved out of the area.

Again, I reiterate, if you are going to argue the logistics of the laws with anyone, it should be with a letter or an email to the law makers and policy holders. We abide by the STATE LAWS and I know some people think their opinions are more important than the laws, but they’re not.

Practice your catch and release, use your nets, have your opinions but please, respect local businesses and trust that we are simply following the rules and doing our jobs. You don’t agree with it? That’s on you. But being disrespectful and rude because of your own presumptions and disagreements simply won’t solve anything. If anything, it’ll create enemies and annoyances towards your fellow fisherman.

Links for Reference:

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/recreational-saltwater-fishing-regulations

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-striped-bass

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/commercial-finfish-regulations

https://www.dragonflysportfishing.com/state-federal-catch-limit/

https://www.onthewater.com/massachusetts-enacts-striped-bass-conservation-regulations

 

 

 

 

 

Myth Busting

The one thing that I hate most about being in the “public eye” (to a very minimal degree) is that I am constantly facing scrutiny and criticism. I often feel like I could solve global warming or impeach Trump and individuals would still have negative things to say about it.

There have been many comments towards me since I left Field Trips. Comments that I have let slide or just ignored because a response didn’t feel warranted. But the more time I spend away from social media, the more assumptions are made. I’ve been very quiet about what’s been it the works for me, yet I am still being questioned about my “relationship” with my former boss and even the “real” reason I left Field Trips, down to people questioning my identity.

So let’s set the record straight on this myth busting edition of “Jamie Is Really Mad.”

  1. “They’re definitely secretly dating!” “That’s the only reason he brought her on the show, so he can f*** her.” “She’s just eye candy to increase his following.” — It genuinely saddens me that the majority of people who commented on my internship/job/whatever it was automatically assumed that we were dating or I was there for some ulterior motive. I understand the assumptions, don’t get me wrong. A young, good-looking, 23-year-old moves into an RV with her boss after knowing him for only a couple of days and the imagination runs wild for those of you who don’t know me. I’ve heard the raunchiest, most disgusting things coming from some people and I can’t help but wonder, how would your mother feel if she knew you were categorizing me based off of your predetermined assumptions about a man and a woman living together? How would your wife or your child feel if you made the same assumptions about their platonic relationships with men? I bet they’d be pretty hurt and offended. So what makes me any different? I’m not allowed to speak up because I’m representing a business and have to control my responses? It’s safe to say I’m pretty happy I’m no longer falling into the category of sleeping with my boss or just being a part of Field Trips because I’m nice to look at. That being said, many of you have used the term “break up” in response to me leaving. To break up with someone, you have to be in an intimate relationship with them, at least because that’s what I’m assuming the majority of people thought. I know, here I am talking about not making assumptions and I’m assuming your thought processes. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a break up with a friend or a family member and many people would probably argue that’s what they meant but we all know it’s not.
  2. “She was really pissed about leaving.” — You guys. Come on. This one is actually funny to me because do you HONESTLY think I would take the time to write such kind things about Rob in my last blog post if I was angry about leaving? If I was angry, I probably would have A. Not even acknowledged it on any social media platforms, B. Deleted him off of all of my social media C. Unfollowed him on social media or D. Pretended I never worked for Field Trips in the first place. I really thought I was clear with y’all about the reason behind all of this. I didn’t need to take time out of my day to satisfy everyone’s curiosity if I didn’t feel genuinely humbled and appreciative of the experience I was given. There is absolutely no animosity between either of us and we still remain good friends. If you don’t believe me, feel free to stalk both of our social medias to notice we do still follow each other and we like/comment/support each other’s posts and what not.
  3. “I heard Nattie up North is why they split.” “She’s working for him now.” “Nattie got more attention in Panama.” — I am not one to ever get jealous of another person’s success, talent or relationship (unless it involves questioning loyalty or trust). I had the privilege of meeting Natalie in Panama after following her on social media for quite some time. She quickly became someone I aspired to be like and somewhat of a celebrity in my eyes. And just like Rob, she is the type of person who is super authentic, down to earth, real in what she does and passionate about fishing. I can only speak for myself but, as far as I am concerned, Natalie had nothing to do with my end on Field Trips. When Rob and I spoke on the phone about my internship coming to an end, he had told me this was something he had decided BEFORE Panama. I’m not sure the truth behind that as Panama was tough for both of us, but Rob has never given me any reason not to trust him, therefore I believe him when he says that. And even if Natalie was going to co-host and begin working with Rob, I would be excited for them! I think they would make a great team together. But she never came up in our discussion about me leaving the show and she appeared in the Panama episodes so much because she was there to fish at Los Buzos, she’s a bit of a YouTube celebrity herself and because she caught some killer fish.
  4. “She’s playing for the other team now.” — This one really got under my skin. For a variety of reasons. None of which is anyone’s business but because we have some homophobes in the house, I guess it’s time to address it. This all goes back to assuming Rob and I were dating in the first place, which I didn’t mind, but to go out of your way to boldly state that I am “playing for the other team” is absolutely not OK and will not be tolerated by me. That being said, if you have a problem with me having a girlfriend, I suggest you unfollow me REAL quick. My personal life and my sexual preference is absolutely no one’s business and not something I appreciate anyone talking about. By all means, if you want to assume I’m sleeping with my boss, that’s all on you. You’ll look like the fool at the end of the day. But to make comments on my sexuality, just because I left the show, AS IF THAT’S THE REASON I LEFT THE SHOW, is disgusting to me. And I really, really mean it when I say, if you don’t support me for ME  (gay, straight, bi, queer, a spaghetti strainer, an airplane, a donkey), take that energy elsewhere because it has no place here. And I am very happy with my girlfriend and very comfortable with my sexuality. Most of the people saying that are probably just mad they don’t have a chance with me, let’s be real. *mic drop*

With all of that being said, I am really excited to share some of the stuff I have coming up. But because none of it is set in stone yet, I have been staying quiet about what’s going on behind the scenes. I do have a really cool trip planned in August of 2019 which I am beyond excited to talk about but I want to wait a little longer until we have everything fine tuned. And of course, I don’t want to announce it months in advance and have it fall through. But it’s going to be worth the wait, I promise.

The future is always going to be a mystery. But between my last post in the beginning of February and this post, at the end of February, I feel like things are starting to fall into place a little bit and I should be able to make some announcements soon about what’s going on and where my future is headed.

I appreciate all the love and support and I really hate using this platform to talk about negative things but I can’t just sit back and let these things be said without acknowledging them or defending myself. Remember to be kind, think about what you say and be aware that everyone is fighting some sort of battle that you know nothing about.

Thank you,
– J

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Field Trips

Per my last post, I know I have left a lot of you with unanswered questions to my unanswered thoughts. Rob and I originally had agreed to wait until he was back from his trip to Australia to announce the new development to Field Trips but after our recent conversation, he said he would be OK with me discussing it.

As many of you have asked and guessed, Rob and I have amicably decided to split ways. Although it definitely saddens me to no longer be a part of Field Trips, I know at the end of the day that this is best for both of us.

Nothing specific happened to spark this decision. I spoke in past posts about our difference in work ethics and how, although we operate differently, it works well. But, the more time we worked together, the more different our motivations had become. I found myself feeling really lost and unmotivated and of course, I can’t speak for him, but I’m sure he sensed that my demeanor was beginning to change.

I do think Panama is where I realized it the most. My time there was truthfully so eye-opening and although I was left with a lot of frustration and confusion, I really had the time of my life in the moments that I felt I could be myself. From the gorgeous sunrises on the black sand beaches, to the abundance of fresh fruit and fresh fish that we were blessed with, down to the people from all walks of life that I was lucky enough to meet and share this experience with, Panama was a trip I will never forget.

I spoke briefly about what took place while I was there and I tried to keep it as vague as possible because I don’t want to talk badly about anyone or anything, but at the end of the day, it’s not the business. It’s not the company. It’s not any one person. Nothing specific happened to make me feel the way that I felt. It was a lot of little things combined that made me feel as though I really didn’t belong there.

But all of that aside, I met the most amazing groups of people. My first week there was for the Kayak Fishing World Championship where we had guys from all over the world (The United States, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Costa Rica). Talk about a rowdy group of men. I am so used to the rambunctious personalities of competitive men so it was almost comforting to be surrounded by these guys every day.

The stories, the memories, the personalities, the knowledge — I wouldn’t trade any of it. All of them were so kind and humble, so encouraging and welcoming, so knowledgeable and skilled in their own tricks and trades. I can only hope I made the positive impact on them that they made on me.

As for my second week there, we had people from the United States, Canada and Ireland. I can not speak more highly of this group of people. It was definitely a different dynamic from the first group as many of these guys (both men and women) weren’t nearly as experienced as the guys we had the week before. But they all knew what they were doing and more importantly, they all knew how to fish. Even the other Jamie, who had never been in a kayak before, kicked ass out on the water battling swells and strong fish.

The guys from Ireland were some of the funniest people I’ve met. But forget it when they start drinking. It’s nearly impossible to understand them. I asked myself so many times, are they speaking English right now? But the beer kept pouring and the conversation kept flowing.

As for Rob and me, I don’t think I could say anything bad about him if I tried. I’m definitely sad my time on the road has come to an end and if I had the chance to do it over, I know what I would change. But thankfully, I am young and will have the opportunity to start over in another career where I will carry his advice and knowledge with me.

To take a chance on a complete stranger, like he did with me, is not something a normal person would do. But Rob is far from normal (in the best ways) and I was really lucky to have him as a boss and a roommate and can absolutely call him one of my life-long friends. Sure, we had our disagreements here and there and we both had issues with one another at certain times. But he gave me a chance when I needed one the most. He made my dreams of travelling come true and fed my passion for fishing.

I remember many of our conversations, most of them leaning towards the passion to change people’s lives and I can honestly say, Rob changed mine. I leave the RV with nothing but gratitude and respect for Rob.

I had visions of us taking over the world and one day having our own TV show about our travels and fishing adventures, but nothing ever goes as planned. And that’s OK. When one door closes, another door opens. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me. This internship gave me a taste of the possibilities I can make out of my life and even though I’m not much of a self-starter, I know I have a lot to offer to another business/employer.

Moral of my time on the road: You have the power to make the life you have always dreamed of having. Take a chance on yourself and others will take the chance with you, too. Believe in yourself, challenge yourself, push yourself. The outcome may not be what you thought, but you will learn so much on the journey. And the journey is the most important part; not the destination.

I don’t know my destination, but what fun is life if you do?

Unanswered Thoughts

The more time I spend away from my pen and paper (in this case, my computer and my keyboard) the more scattered and lost my thoughts become.

I took a class in high school at a local college on writing and one of the first exercises we did at the beginning of the course was writing for two minutes straight. The first thoughts that popped into our head. The most random of thoughts. The rules: our pens couldn’t leave the paper and we couldn’t pause to think. No thinking, just writing.

I think I’m going to begin this post the same way we began our classes. Don’t think, just write.

Go.

There are so many things I have in my head. So many things I want to write about but I don’t even know where to start. I’m babysitting the puppy this week. She is the sweetest little thing but she is so vocal. Constantly barks and cries when you’re not paying attention to her but the biggest snuggle monster. I want a puppy of my own one day. I have my dog now but he is a family dog, he isn’t MY dog. But before I can even think about getting a puppy, I have to think about moving out and to think about moving out, I have to think about a more stable income. Things I want to talk about but things I won’t be able to say for another couple of weeks. Panama came and went. That was an experience, one I’ll probably write about in the coming weeks as well. Or maybe today. Who knows. 

I’m sure after getting through my jumbled mess of thoughts, you have a lot of questions. What am I not able to write about yet? Well, I guess you have to wait and see. As for Panama, it was good and bad in a lot of ways. I left feeling very unwelcome and maybe that was something I brought on myself but I have a feeling it was something else entirely. And that all came to light in the following days after returning home.

I remember telling my mom a couple of days in, even if I was invited to go back to Los Buzos, I don’t think I would go. It’s hard for me to write negative things about a person or a business that has done so much for me, especially when I was there out of someone else’s pocket but man, I have never felt so out of place in my entire life. And that’s no ones fault but the dynamic was weird and as the first group left and the second group arrived, it became worse for me.

I’m not the only one who felt it. There were members of the second group who felt the same way about the situation but I ended up taking the brunt of it because A) I am a female and B) I wasn’t paying to be there. So I faced a lot of skepticism, a lot of sexism and just a lot of belittling my entire time there. I really felt like I had no place being there. I often found myself wondering out loud, what the f*ck am I here for?

That being said, those who paid were treated as they should have been. Those who did not pay (me) were not treated so great by individuals who I will not name.

One night I remember specifically, I ended up separating myself from the group and sitting down to write. I’ll share it, I guess. I would like to share more of my authentic writing like this, but I fear judgement.

January 15, 2019 at 8:47 p.m. (Pizza Night Week Two): I wish I could pinpoint exactly how I feel. It’s like the words don’t want to flow from my mouth that is always so fluid in the worst moments. I can’t seem to relate to those I am surrounded by but maybe it’s who I choose to surround myself with, as if I have a choice in most situations. I stare at my reflection and although I recognize myself, I don’t recognize who I have become. I feel like I’m constantly waiting for something to change but am I making conscious choices to change it? As if i know what IT is.

Loneliness sneaks up on me at the strangest times, when I’m surrounded by like-minded people with common interests, rooms filled with strangers that pay no mind to me. Why am I here. I long for recognition and appreciation and I pick apart my flaws when others around me have what I lack. A fluidity, an acceptance, a recognition, a light. I fear mine is dark. I fear no one will understand the depths of my mind in the way that I long to be understood. I fear no one will see me for what I contain, rather than for what I lack. 

I am surrounded by empty voices, voids of people speaking and breaking the muffled silence I am caught up in. Bits of their conversations slip into my head and I jump from voice to voice, clinging to something I can connect with. But I am stuck in the silence. My own silence that I have created. The words won’t form on my bland palette. I choke on my silence, I choke on my breath. I wish I could spit it out onto the plate in front of me. The voices fade once more and I am lost again with the stars above. Floating through my mind like satellites in space, waiting to discover my light. 

[Cue panic attack]

I don’t have much to say about that. Much like Forrest Gump when he finished a story and effortlessly glided into the next one. I finish one train of thought and effortlessly fall into an abyss of similar thoughts that have no place in my head. But they’re there anyways. Regardless, I needed this loneliness to discover the clarity I have been seeking. I needed to panic and write and isolate myself in order to see the dynamic of the situation as clearly as I see it now.

I have never belonged. And maybe most look at that as a weakness, but I have chosen to see it as a strength. Maybe because I have no choice but maybe because it makes me unique. When I am in a group of people, listening to them discuss their days and their experiences, I am often struck with the feeling that no one is being authentic with their words and I zone out. I mentally remove myself from the situation and let my mind wonder to places they don’t often go because I am rarely alone.

And sure, it pains me more often than not to feel like I’m not understood but I don’t feel as though anyone has truly tried to understand me. I’m not even sure I understand myself most days but it’s moments like these, moments like those, that I begin to see myself even more. Even if none of my words make sense in the moment they’re being thought, they often make sense later after I’ve had time to reflect.

This blog has no agenda. This blog has no theme. Much like my life and my thoughts. If we did the same thing every day with the same mentality, there would be no growth. And I find that growth often stems from the most uncomfortable or painful situations. Not saying Panama was either of those adjectives, but it definitely was a place where I was not comfortable and felt more like I was being tolerated rather than accepted.

That’s not a feeling I ever wish to feel again, which is why my removal from certain situations has been warranted, accepted and even appreciated as it now gives me time to focus on myself and my own future rather than someone else’s.

More to come soon.

 

 

Dating on the Road

Caution: Parents and family members of mine are advised to stop reading here.

Seriously, Mom and Dad – do us both a favor, let’s not make holidays awkward – don’t read this one. (If you choose to keep reading, pretend you didn’t).

When I took this job and was told I would be living in an RV full-time with my only source of consistent human interaction being my boss, my first thought was, “How am I going to meet guys on the road?”

You know what I really mean though. It’s like air; it’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.

Simply put, it hasn’t happened. Nor do I see it happening in the near future.

Establishing, and maintaining, any sort of relationship on the road, let alone a brand new one, is not easy. Sure, I could go on dates but it would go a little something like this.

Hypothesis: I can totally meet someone on the road. It might be through a crappy dating website like Bumble or Tinder but I can do it.

Introduction – Hello, my name is Jamie. I travel cross-country living in an RV full-time with my male boss who is eight years older than me. But we’re not dating or hooking up. I probably won’t end up hanging out with you and I definitely won’t date you, but tell me I’m pretty and that you like animals and maybe we can figure something out.

We agree to go on a “date.” Date used as a loose term because to me, it’s really just a waste of my time but I’ll humor you, stranger.

Tell me everything I need to know about you to convince me to go home with you.

If I don’t feel uncomfortable or creeped out, pretend we’ve known each other for more than 35 minutes so I don’t feel as bad about my future decisions.

Contemplate scenario of being raped or murdered. Yeah, I used the R word. It’s a pretty common thought every time women leave their homes and more so when they date. Poor men though, being thought of as potential rapists. How sad. Don’t get too close, my thoughts might ruin your reputation.

Conclusion: go home with said stranger that could rape/murder me (unlikely scenario) or go home to my bed (likely scenario).

Parents, if you have read this far, don’t worry – said scenario has not happened because realistically, I don’t have time to date. Why? Because what are the odds that I am going to take three hours out of my day to meet someone that I probably have no future with when I could be doing something productive? Slim to none. We’ll go with none.

Now, on top of all of the awkward swiping though dating apps and settling on someone that you could possible see yourself making out with, I have to ask Rob to borrow the truck. Tell him that I have a “date” and scramble around the trailer getting ready.

I’ll let you in on a secret – getting ready for a date, when you don’t have a blow dryer or a pair of heels, is time consuming and definitely not worth it. Total waste of make-up, too.

So, say said date happens. You borrow your bosses truck, request an evening off, and drive down to a random bar, in a random town, in a state that you’ve never been to before, to meet up with a random stranger you met online.

Guess what I found at the end of this magical, happy, love rainbow?

A guy in an ugly Christmas sweater that ordered meatloaf and made me split the bill with him.

Magical.

Said date lasted no more than two hours, after I had worked 14 hours of strenuous and time consuming filming.

I trudged home through the mountains and was asleep before 10. Before 10, on a night that I had a date, on a Saturday and before my parents were even home. My parents are in a time zone an hour ahead of me.

What does that say about dating on the road?

Unless I think you might be my husband, it’s not happening.

As Ariana Grande once said,

thanku next

 

Music City U.S.A.

Part of the reason Rob hired me was to help him differentiate between work and play, so he says. His work ethic is admirable and I hope one day to have the same ambition and motivation to sit for 16 hours at a time and grind out an edit or finish a project in one go. But finding a middle ground between work and fun is just as important as meeting deadlines and producing content.

We have been balancing the two quite well between hiking through state parks and trying to immerse ourselves in the truest parts of each state we visit. The part of New York we stayed in, for example, is well-known for it’s wine trails. Naturally, we had to visit a winery (that was actually four wineries in one) and try their unique flavors. And I may have gotten a bit drunk by the end of the whole thing. Check that out. 

Growing up horseback riding and being as obsessed with animals as I am, we had to go riding in Kentucky. It wasn’t even a question. The leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful and I hadn’t been on a horse in at least two months.

Tennessee meant Nashville.

I’ve dreamt of going to Nashville since I discovered what the city was all about. I grew up listening to country music with my dad in the backseat of the jeep, flying down back roads on crisp, summer days. Memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. He introduced me to my love for music in many ways and although I can’t sing, I’ll always belt out those tunes in the car.

Of course, being the naïve five-year-old that I was, I assumed every single country music star lived in Nashville. I pictured flat landscapes, Taylor Swift strumming her guitar on the sidewalks, backlit bars on every single street corner, cowboy boots and ass-less chaps. Any stereotypical scene from an old Western film; you name it, I pictured it.

And I wanted to see it.

I always thought it would be with my mom or dad, never while traveling cross-country living in an RV full-time with a stranger. I keep using that line but realistically, Rob is anything but a stranger at this point and truthfully, I don’t think I would want to travel the country with anyone else doing anything different than what I am doing right now. (Right now I’m on an airplane flying to Chicago to catch my connecting flight to Boston for Thanksgiving – but you get the idea).

Nashville was absolutely nothing like I expected. We got to the city and instead of seeing those Western bars and saloons I had pictured, we were greeted by towering skyscrapers. Although, there were a lot of people walking around in cowboy hats and cowboy boots. No ass-less chaps, though. You can understand my disappointment, I’m sure.

Our first stop of the day was at the Country Music Hall of Fame which was also nothing like I had expected. Three floors full of names and pictures of musicians I had never heard of who helped shape what country music is today. They’d probably roll over in their graves if they heard the pop-style, modernized country that we’re listening to nowadays.

Our second stop was a little more exhilarating. Being the terrible influence that I am, Rob and I went to get tattoos. His first and my eighth (sorry Mom). Rob has this weird thing where if you explain things in too much scientific detail, he gets really nauseous so he wouldn’t let me explain the process of tattooing beforehand. He kind of went in blind but thankfully, my tattoo artist started before his so he was able to watch my reaction and get used to the sounds of the instruments and sights of the needles.

To end our five/six hours in the city, we went out on the strip. I don’t actually know what you call it but that’s what they would call it in Vegas and that’s exactly what it felt like.

Nashvegas.

We came to a traffic light on Broadway, which is the main street in downtown Nashville, and to our left and right as far as the eye could see, there were lit up signs for bars with recognizable names like Margaritaville and Jason Aldean’s. We were hesitant to settle on the first bar we stumbled across but excited to see the nightlife of the city since neither of us have gone out in a while. About two and a half months for me and roughly the same for Rob, that I know of.

It felt like there was so much to see and even if we spent the whole night there, we wouldn’t have seen it all.

Every single bar had live music streaming from it’s windows from rock, to country to pop. We stopped at the second or third bar we found and ended up having such a fun night. The band was incredible, sang newer country music and involved the crowd throughout their entire performance. They played classic songs as well as old classics and everyone was dancing around the stage and buying the band shots.

They also had this amazing fiddler player. I have heard people play the fiddle before but never the way she did. The Devil Went Down to Georgia is one of the most iconic songs known for its fiddling and she played it brilliantly. If we could have watched her play all night, we probably would have stayed and listened to her until they kicked us out. I had the chills the whole time she was on stage.

We drove back late but the exhaustion was well worth it for the night we had. I really hope to get back one day for a long weekend or something similar. Probably will end up having my bachelorette party there if I ever get married. Rob will definitely be invited to that girls night.

That’s the most amazing thing about this little journey – crossing off cities and statues of places I’ve longed to see since I learned there was more to the world than Cape Cod. I imagine it was like finding out the world wasn’t flat.

So much to explore, so much to do and see and I know there are more little adventures and places waiting for me to find them and fall in love with them.