California was everything. Quality time with my best friend. Breakfast and a workout on the beach. Spotted whales like not even two-hundred feet from the shore. No kidding! There were some little kids in the water, and I mean, they were right there! (Those unplanned moments of awe are like sweet winks from God.)
We spent a little time downtown, in Echo Park (which is where I’d live –OMG), and had brunch one morning on Melrose.
California love is a no-brainer, but it was a Vegas road-trip that recharged me to 100%.
At some point during our drive (which was way too long, because we didn’t leave when we said we would…), Dee Dee (bestie) played a song for me that would become my personal anthem. “Oh, girl! You need to hear this! This song is so you right now,” she was super certain.
She was so right.
“Ring Off’. Beyonce. She’s singing an open letter to her mother. Telling her how proud she is of her for surviving the fall of her marriage. The tempo is upbeat, tho. It’s totally inspiring.
I imagined my daughter one day saying the same words to me:
“After all your tears. After all that pain’s all clear, Mama.
After all them years, we can start all over again, Mama.
Now it all makes sense. Letting go is never the end, Mama.
We can love again. This is where freedom begins, Mama.”
Crying now. Listening now. Those lyrics still have the same effect on me.
But hearing it for the first time, and thinking that my daughter would be proud of her mommy for taking the high road, for putting myself first. For surviving… Oh, it only made things that much clearer.
On the desert road to Vegas, I dusted myself off for good.
#restart in full effect.
And it was that very first night in Vegas that I literally danced the night away with Cortez (I’ll call him that. He was definitely classic).
It reads like a movie script. Swear. No hyperbole.
PS: This is an unedited excerpt from my manuscript, so… #sneakpeak time:
He was closer now.
I caught a few glimpses through the rhythm of the lights. I was tucked away in a corner, coolly bobbing my head to the music and sipping a sweet drink.
I thought for sure he must be the guy I’d noticed earlier in the night. He had been standing across the room then. His features couldn’t be made out then or now, but there was definitely something distinct about him. He easily stood out in a crowd of plenty well put together people.
I looked back in his direction, and he was facing me now from only a few feet away. It was too dark to make eye contact, but I took him in during the moments the pulsing lights allowed. His silhouette was tall and lean. Standing there he looked important. Hands in his pockets and feet apart just so… there was a relaxed confidence in his shoulders. Was this happening?
I purposefully kept my gaze on him. Recognizing it as a welcome sign, he reached out a hand towards me and invited me to join him. Sipping my drink, I returned a seductive finger and smile. Then I beckoned him my way instead.
He came over, and finally I could take him in completely. Between sips and over tilted glasses there were eyes of approval from my girls. He was fine. Plainly put.
And that smile? Done deal.
He danced me back to life that night. Under bright, flashing lights, and in the midst of all those people we disappeared together. Got lost together. Let go together.
The whole night he lit me up with his electric smile. The whole night he watched me as I released all the anxiety about my future. All the questions:
I had been secretly questioning myself, wondering why my husband wouldn’t fight for me: Was I desirable? Beautiful? Did I have life flowing out of me? Could I hold someone’s attention? Was I fun? Interesting? Sexy? Cool? Was I good enough?
I had been unsure.
And all night he made me feel like there was no reason to question any part of my life. I let my curls dance through his fingers, and just like my hair I was wild and free.
(-can’t go into too much detail here, because what happens in Vegas stays there.)
To say that I needed to experience Cortez would be an understatement.
-Time is of the essence, and I know now that we both needed that night. We both needed to lose ourselves in a moment of uninhibitedness. We met for such good reason. Funny how life goes.
Wait. I’m so not making this up! And in my writer’s mind, I was taking in the whole scene like a script as it happened. I was playing the lead actress in a movie about my life, which is how I often think of my life. As a best-selling story. It makes things more interesting.
Makes 'em more enJOYable.
I think I must've left my ring in Vegas, because from that night I began to come all the way alive... again.