In 2005, I was going to college at the University of Louisville, majoring in History, chosen because I liked the research, I loved the writing, and I wanted to teach it at the University level. In November of that year, I had just turned twenty-three.
I had been modeling since 2001, though once I’d gotten older (and had moved to Louisville), I saw the amount of profit I was managing to get from it dramatically increase. Freelancing suited me better – I liked finding my own work. I liked negotiating and keeping records almost as much as I liked the performance aspect of it, and I found I had a proclivity toward it. Between school and the modeling, I was a very busy girl. And, professionally-speaking, I was happy… truth be told, in my professional life, I can’t recall ever being happier.
Relationship-wise, in the winter of 2005, I was living with a man I would later, in 2006, marry. This flashback is not about this relationship, but it does explain some of the choices I made, and so this is worth stating. He and I had been engaged. We had broken off the engagement when I discovered he was cheating. But, for a multitude of reasons I am not going to go into here, we were still living together. I was not happy, but it was a choice I’d made, and I could not see any way out of it for the time being – he was all too happy to take the money I made modeling and spend it on poker while, in the privacy of the house, yelling at me for doing what I loved to do (the school and the modeling – he agreed with and supported neither).
Still, I’m not one to give up. And I’m not one to stop doing what I love just because it’s not going “exactly” the way I want it to. So I kept doing it. I didn’t get to keep the money, but I got to manage myself anyway, and that was worth something. He didn’t share my love for education, and books, and learning, but I got to be around people who did. Home wasn’t great, but the time I spent outside of home? It was spectacular.
Anyway, in 2005, on one of my modeling networking sites, I saw an ad posted by someone I did not know (which was rare, in those days, because having been around since 2001, I was familiar with pretty much everyone). He was advertising for models, writers, etc. for a magazine he was starting in Louisville. Now, I’d seen these before… most of them were scams, most of them weren’t legit, and most of them weren’t worth answering, but Finals were over for the semester and I was looking at a month’s worth of free time, and what else did I have going on except the occasional shoot… so I answered. And he replied. And not only could he write, but he asked if I could meet him at a coffee shop to discuss things.
I was still skeptical. A little. But after an email or two and after an exchange of phone numbers, I became less so. Still, the first time I met the guy, I brought my then-boyfriend with me. Mr. Ex didn’t say much. I can’t remember what we talked about when we met. Honestly it was a fairly standard discussion when it came to work. Lord Ormsby was friendly and personable, completely professional, and he knew what he was talking about (which helped). He was ridiculously attractive, too, but I was in a relationship. And even if I hadn’t been, even then, I didn’t shit where I ate (or didn’t eat… but you get the idea).
Anyway, long story short, over the next several months, we worked on the new magazine together. I became even busier than I had been before, once school had started back. Not only was I carrying a full semester of coursework, but I was also modeling AND working with the magazine. I can’t remember everything I did for it (2006 is a long-ass time ago when life happens to you), but I remember that there was an events calendar that required me to make a lot of phone calls. Lord Ormsby and I were on the phone a lot… we had to be. Project production doesn’t just “happen.”
It’s just that… the more we were on the phone, the harder I worked, the less time I had to spend with Mr. Ex. At first he understood, or pretended to. But, then, when I kept working and the checks weren’t coming in (because they didn’t come in until the project was completed – which is standard), he started asking questions. Why were we on the phone so much? What did we talk about? Why did I have to call him every afternoon, and why did those conversations that were supposed to be only about one thing last such a long time? Why was he inviting me to parties with him (forget that they were group events and others were going to be there too)?
And I answered those questions… truthfully, and honestly, or at least as honestly as I dared. It didn’t matter what I said. He would still get pissed and, at the end of the day, it was one more reason to fight. If I talked to Lord Ormsby excessively, it was because he was kind, he did not yell at me. He was fun and he made me laugh. Although we really never spent a lot of time in each other’s physical presence, we got to know each other. And yes, I DID think he was attractive, but, then, so did everyone else. I would never have acted on it then. I was engaged. And I do not cheat. Ever. Not even on a man who was cheating on me, and who gave me every reason to do so.
Regardless, though, the more I got yelled at, the more strained I became. When the magazine was complete, I had to break off ties with Lord Ormsby. I did not want to. But my wedding was coming up. I didn’t see any other option.
The wedding changed a lot. Now legally bound to the man that had, for several years, taken every penny I made, restrictions began to be placed on what I could and could not do. I could continue to go to school, but what work-study money I made went to that joint account that he watched like a hawk. Modeling was out of the question. Respectability was expected. All I had left was the amount of time I spent in the classroom and studying (and I made sure that was over half the day). My cell phone, once autonomously mine, now was shared with Mr. Ex, who kept a careful eye on all of my incoming and outgoing calls (but conveniently forgot to give me the password to the account so I could do the same for him). I couldn’t even call Lord Ormsby anymore…
I saw him only one final time after the wedding (and before the present day). In the fall of 2006, after the wedding was over and the honeymoon had been taken, as I was struggling to settle into a new “normal” where my days were filled with work-study and classes and my nights with cooking, cleaning, and dissatisfactory sex. He and a couple of girls were making their rounds around the common area where the students took their lunches, distributing copies of the magazine. I was standing in line at the Chick-Fil-A, getting lunch before my afternoon classes.
He did not see me. A part of me wanted to go to him, to talk to him, because I missed my friend. But I remained planted, stagnant, not even knowing what I would say if I had approached him. I wasn’t angry with him (though I think he thought I was), but I didn’t know how to explain what was happening without giving more details than I felt were appropriate to give. He, the magazine, all of my friends, the modeling, those things that had once defined me, those things that had made me happy, all of them now belonged to a life I was no longer permitted to live. I wasn’t happy in this new one, but I’d gone into it anyway, and I was determined to make the best of it. When Lord Ormsby left with the other girls, I sighed. Not out of relief, really, because I wasn’t relieved at all. It was a sigh of resignation; resignation that everything I had been – the last essence of who I was once – had disappeared out of the Student Center door. And I hadn’t even tried to approach it.
You would think this narrative would end there, wouldn’t you? If I were you, I would.
But it doesn’t. Not by a long shot. Oh, sure, we lost touch. He went on with his life. I went on with mine. Got divorced. Moved to Tampa. That stuff, if you’ve been following along, you know. But, then, last Christmas, seven or eight years after we had met in the coffee shop, I saw his name pop up on the “People You May Know” finder on Facebook via a mutual friend. On a whim, I sent him a Friend Request. He didn’t respond right away, and I forgot about it, to be honest, until he accepted it a couple of months later. I figured we’d leave it at that.
But, again, that’s not the way it happened.
Because in February of this year, my sister got engaged. I did not want to go (but, of course, I had to). And I figured I’d make an unpleasant situation a little more pleasant, so I posted something about going Ziplining in the MegaCaverns under Louisville. He “Liked” that status. We started chatting on Facebook again. One thing led to another, and we made plans to meet up when I got into town, maybe go to Kentucky Kingdom (Louisville’s amusement park), have a drink somewhere. I figured we’d do that, catch up, then go our separate ways and, again, that would be that.
But I was wrong. Oh fucking Lord Jesus Christ on a bike was I wrong. But sometimes being wrong? Sometimes being wrong is a million times better than being right.