I had about $2000 in my bank account, a pile of bills and now…no job!

After calming from my panic attack, I drove to the beach, parked, walked over to a bar, ordered a double and found a palm tree to chill on. After taking in the magnitude of what I had just done, I dialed both my parents. Dad of course never worried, he thought I was indestructible, like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, (he actually said that) and figured I would be fine. Mom was cool, she always worried but I was 43 and she had grown used to me giving her gray hairs.

Throughout my life if when there was something I wanted to do, I typically made it happen. They weren’t always the best decisions but I was stubborn, had been on my own most of the time so no one was telling me what to do. I was either running from one boyfriend to a new zip code or following  another to a new state.  Often I would move for a job, or have no job at all, just an a photo of somewhere awesome I wanted to live. If there was too much thought put into it, I would talk myself out of it. That’s how I made it from growing up in Indiana before moving to Illinois, Georgia, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten and eventually seeing the world. Usually with only a few bucks in my pocket, a small truck full of stuff and a dumb idea.

See, at 43 everyone in yachting would have told me I was nuts if I had said I was quitting a perfectly good job to work on yachts. I new it too! As a Crew Agent, I learned all about how it works. Typically once the aspiring yachtie graduates college, they pack a bag and head for the nearest crewing agency to apply for work. The hierarchy is similar to the military, there are ranks and usually the higher you are on the food chain, the older you are.  Now that’s the norm for yachts with 4 or more crew, anywhere between 100 and 300 plus feet but the boats under a 100 feet ran things a bit differently and age was not a big deal.  Especially for me because I was in the best shape of my life and could run circles around some of those young girls.

As I was sipping my adult beverage and having a good cry, all of this occurred to me and it scared me to death. I immediately text the owner of the yacht I had just worked on but he  specifically told me not to quit my day job because there was no guarantee he could keep me busy. It was summer time in South Florida, the slowest time of the year for yacht charters and he was a private owner, didn’t use a broker. But of course, I didn’t listen so here I am, again, back to square one. Even though everything seemed hopeless at this point, I still felt relieved and so glad I left that job.

Let me start from the beginning…

I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring and snow falling in the winter. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports, building forts, burning bonfires and carving out trails in the woods.

Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV show’s like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always delicious.

Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of tree’s and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all!  But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!

Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school.  That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were older and had better things to do.

That was OK with me because there were lot’s of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns, the woods, motor bikes, forts, kick the can, ditch on bikes and TV tag.

childhood

The one thing we didn’t have was parental supervision when at mom’s during the week. I also had to figure out boys and dating on my own and that was disastrous, even to this day, I still can’t figure out how to have a successful relationship. And style?? Forget about it!! There wasn’t much money for designer clothes and even if there was I had no idea what to wear. My hair was awful, I wore super thick glasses because I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of my face, was not popular and an OK student. 9th grade most of the girls had hit puberty sporting their new boobs while I was flat as a board. I did experience my first love though, he was sweet, we dated the whole year and broke up by summer.

20180520_190409

I wasn’t sad anymore either about the breakup because out of no where my boobs grew, mom saved up and bought me contacts, my friend got a car and I had a job at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the boys were noticing me and it was AWESOME!!

10th grade was coming and it was scary because our Jr. High combines with the other Jr. High in the High School building. What if my friends didn’t have the same lunch hour or the older students were bullies??? I’ll tell you what, High School was not fun, I was bullied from day one and did nothing to deserve it….

 

Bullying was very real in 1987, I even tried to quit High School because of it!

Most of my wonder years were spent shooting guns, playing in the woods, building fires, and beating up boys, but dating boys, ew! I played with them, not kissed them. Around 14, in 9th grade, one of the pretty and popular girls invited me to her slumber party. Now you’ve seen the black and white Junior High photo of me in my last blog, I was not about to be nominated for the prettiest girl in class and I certainly had no sense of girly style or friends. Talk about nervous! Of course some of the hot football players decided to crash the party and that’s when I met my first love.

What he saw in me and my 3 inch think glasses and boy clothes, I have no idea, but I was so happy. He was shy, but played football so he hung with the cool kids. We dated all through the school year until he broke my heart for one of the hip girls. But within weeks, we were back together until summer, when I broke up with him after I woke up one morning with boobs and contacts. All of a sudden boys were noticing me and I liked it! Being single was short lived as I met another young man that summer from the rival high school with a convertible and muscles.

Now you may think bullying is a new thing, but you are very wrong. We started high school in our Sophomore year which was a combination of the 2 local Junior Highs. Since I had ditched the glasses for contacts, grew out my hair and found a sense of style and confidence, I was hardly recognizable. Within days, the cool girls in school made my life hell. They would push me down, knock the books out of my hands, corner me in the bathroom, threaten and yell terrible things at me and spread rumors to make everyone think I was the town slut! I was far from it and was happily dating my handsome man from the other high school. At one point, it was so bad, I refused to even show up, almost 2 weeks I think it was. The principal had to come to my house and make a deal to get me to come back. It never stopped and I spent many Saturdays in detention from getting in fights that I never started. It was always the girls from the rival Jr, High too, the same click, none of them liked me and to this day I have no idea why.

20180520_191643

But I persevered, made the dance squad, got a job, played on some sports teams and had a few good friends who knew the real me.  It was hard though, everyday as I walked the halls I never knew who was going to give me grief.  Why? I had a boyfriend, kept to myself, didn’t bother anyone, it wasn’t fare.

20180520_190437

I even got into body building at the school gym, was going to compete one day, wanted legs like Cory Everson. I was benching 145 pounds on the free weights.

20180520_191853

College, ugh, not sure I want to tell you about those years……

Back in my day, we didn’t have the internet to look up all of the fascinating things you can do in bed! Sex was a mystery only to be solved by trial and error and error and error. Some parents were good with that conversation and some avoided it all together. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I was clueless and would hear things like…..’tease’, ‘just the tip’ and ‘but I really, really like you’.

You might be blushing, because I know I am, but I would bet a
million dollars that most of the men reading this are thinking…..’haha, yep, worked for me’, and many of the women are thinking….’you fell for that too?’ lol

Now in High School, my experience with sex and drinking was very limited, but during my first year of college, I was like a circus lion who’d been set free. There were parties and boys everywhere! I didn’t have much money but that wasn’t an issue because we had Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, 750 ml of cheap deliciousness.

We all know (now) that being insecure and dating do not go well together. I will shamelessly admit that I was a bit of a stalker slash crazy person once I gave it up. To me, having sex meant we were a couple, even if I’d never heard from you again. For whatever reason, I was obsessed with trying to catch someone cheating. Enjoying the relationship was foreign to me and in 1991, cell phones were a rumor. When you wanted to get a hold of someone, you would call their house and leave a message on the answering machine. It worked like a tape recorder and I was a pro at figuring out the password. That was mild compared to being caught peeking into their bedroom window trying to catch him with another girl. I was a scraper too, fighting with my siblings and the bullies in high school turned me into a mean girl. Drinking only made it worse, always causing me to provoke violence.

Fortunately, my Sophomore year, I met a Junior from the private college down the road, which settled me down a bit. He had no idea who he was about to date. Drinking and fighting became a normal part of our relationship. It didn’t matter who was around, as soon as the alcohol kicked in, ‘Crazy Carrie’ would show up and cause a huge scene. But he continued to date me, even after he graduated and took a job in the next state.

The summer before my senior year, I turned 21 and qualified for an internship in Florida, a place I had only heard about. It was a dream job, one of the best summers of my life and I was determined to return. Heading back to Indiana and college was like leaving colorful, sunny OZ and living back in black and white Kansas. Plus, I had been kicked out of my sorority the semester before for entering a wet t-shirt contest on Spring Break. All of the sorority ‘friends’ I had made shunned me, so after a few weeks, with my tail between my legs, I moved back home to Merrillville and attended Indiana University NW. It wasn’t all bad though, my boyfriend was only an hours drive away and I had my childhood friends to hang around.  And then, out of the blue, my life in Indiana was about to change forever. The boyfriend was offered a job in Augusta Georgia and for whatever reason, he invited me to go. This was the first of many events in my life that would lead me to where I am now…….

 

I’m 22, broke and stuck in Augusta, Georgia….

There’s so much sadness right now, so thought maybe my story would make you smile a bit….happy reading!

When my college boyfriend asked me to move to Georgia, I didn’t bother looking the place up. The internet was still a couple of years from being common and I never paid attention in Geography class. To be honest, I was just happy to be getting out of Indiana.

In college, one of my many majors was Radio, TV & Film, so before heading South, I’d applied at a few of the local TV stations and scored a job with the morning news. Work began at 4 am, ended by 9, and the pay was awful. From there I would head to the local T.G.I Fridays and wait tables from 10 am to about 3. It seemed no matter how many hours I worked, there was never any money.

Augusta was a small military town and mainly consisted of lower end bars, chain restaurants and the famous ‘Masters’ golf course. I remember the OJ Simpson trial was always on TV at the restaurant, it was the talk of the town. There wasn’t much to love but I was having a great time and making friends was easy. The boyfriend and I weren’t getting along so he accepted a job in another state and I rented a one bedroom dump in the ghetto for $200 a month. The locks were broken, my only furniture was a mattress and after a while, the neighborhood gunshots became normal. The area I lived in was a huge step down from the place my college boyfriend and I lived and it was very similar to where I grew up. Not much opportunity to grow and it seemed your only choices were to get pregnant, waitress forever or get out! I was hopeless, broke and had no idea how to get out of Augusta, I just knew that I wasn’t going back home.

Then I met Bill, he was rich, handsome, married, 17 years older than me and lived in California. He traveled to Augusta quite often for business and had set his sights on me. Now let’s be clear about something, fooling around with a married man was not something I was proud of. Him and his associate happen to sit in my section at the restaurant and left me a $72 tip on an $18 lunch. I tried to give it back, but he insisted and invited my coworkers and I to dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town. We went, he worked his magic and so began our very long affair.

Bill was honest about everything. He told me he was happily married and that I wasn’t the only ‘side girl’ in his life. His wife was beautiful, fit and their sex life after 15 years was still better than ever. But Bill truly believed that it was impossible for a man to make love to only one women forever.  This obviously didn’t help me with my insecurities but for some reason, I was never jealous over him.

At first I felt a bit guilty for what I was doing, but he kept showing me a world I never knew existed, it felt as though I was in a movie! If you remember from my past blogs, I was a tomboy, never wore dresses or did my hair and certainly had never been to fancy, expensive places. Bill changed all of that! He helped me to get a great sales job with AT&T, taught me about wine and good food and would buy me clothes that girls wear, not boys. Eventually that job would be my ticket out of Georgia and into Orlando Florida, where everything was about to change.

It was 1995, I was in love, had a great job and then everything changed…

Now that I had a good job, Augusta was starting to grow on me.  I soon met a local boy named Tony who captured my heart. When I told my ‘Sugar Daddy’ in California that it was over, he wished me well, chuckled and said,’I’ll see you soon’. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but it was about to become very clear.

Knowing that there was no other way out of small town Georgia, Tony joined the Navy and was stationed in Orlando. I was going on 9 months with AT&T when they informed us of the layoffs. Luckily for me, there was an office in Orlando looking to hire a File Room Clerk for $400 a week…I was elated! Not only was it my ticket out of Augusta, but it was a way for Tony and I to be together.

The week before my big move, the famous ‘Masters’ golf tournament was taking place and one of the local bars needed a beer tub girl. The city was flooded with people from all over and in 3 days time, I made $2000 cash. In my 25 years, I had never seen that much money, and it was all mine. Everything was working out perfectly, except for 2 tiny issues, my DUI and my lease.

A month before accepting the job in Orlando, I had moved into a nicer place and signed a year lease with a girlfriend of mine. Now If you know me, you know that I am loyal, and when I give my word, I will do whatever it takes to keep it. So I promised I would pay my half until she found a replacement. Basically between the rent in Orlando and the rent in Georgia, half my pay was already spent. Not having any money was normal for me though and like always, I would figure it out, but the DUI and weekly mandatory visits with my probation officer…..well that was another story???

My 1988 Chevy Cavalier was packed, Travis the beagle was chillen in the front seat and I was on my way. The 3 bedroom apartment was already furnished and my new roommates were eagerly waiting my arrival. At the time, cell phones were fairly new, expensive and impossible to get. Tony would have to call my home phone from a payphone in order to talk and it had been a week or so since I’d heard from him. I was getting suspicious, but remember, I was also the crazy, psycho, jealous girl, so I was always suspicious.

Once I settled in, it was time begin the hunt. My boyfriend had no way of getting a hold of me so I went to the Navy base to track him down. It wasn’t easy getting past the guard gate, but with a few flips of the hair, some fake giggles and a lot of flirting…..I was in! After interrogating several of his Navy buddies, they informed me that he was at a super popular beach bar with some friends. I was feeling quite proud of my investigation that day and with a big smile and happy heart, I was off to surprise the man I loved, the man who swore to me that we would be together forever…

It was Cinderella’s fault I was so unhappy in my 20’s….

This was now the second time I decided to move across state lines for a boy. And this was the second time it failed. One day after moving to Orlando, I caught him at the beach with another women! Between my broken heart, paying double rent, student loans, credit card bills and endless bar tabs, I was a mess. If it wasn’t for the $1 menu at McDonald’s and the cheap hot dog vendors at 3 am, I would have starved. I was extremely unhealthy, drank too much and was out of control. The sad part was that compared to where I had just moved from, life was pretty good. Here I am, living in Orlando, newly single with a steady job and a fantastic apartment, but none of that mattered. I was 23, broke, alone and desperate to be in love.❤

Dating was like playing the lottery, the odds of winning were 1 in a million, but I kept playing anyway. 

Unfortunately my mom was always working, so there wasn’t much time to teach me about boys. But she did mention one thing that stuck with me, mom said, ‘Carrie, don’t ever feel that you have to get married or have children’. I don’t remember if I ever asked why and to be honest, it probably went in one ear and out the other, but looking back on it now, she was absolutely right.

I was obsessed with finding love and it’s all Cinderella’s fault. Her and all those silly fairy tale books we read as kids.

I thought happiness meant you had to have a man. On girls night out, it was hard to enjoy myself because all I ever wanted to do was find a man, get married and have his babies!!!!

I think if I had a daughter, she would be reading books on how to be her own boss, make money and travel the world. The ones that say to wait around for a Prince are sweet, but there needs to be variety.

Plus they painted a picture that seemed so easy to achieve. Society and family pressure didn’t help either. Up until the last few years, it was strange if you weren’t married by 25 and by 30, you were almost considered too old to marry. 

When I was young, it seemed instead of traveling the world, discovering themselves or dating a bit to see what kind of person was right for them, adults did as they were told. They married young, bought a house, had children and got a job. That was my plan too, but the keeper of my destiny had a different plan. 

And then, out of the blue, he called, my ‘older man, the one I swore off because he was already taken. The man who taught me about fine wines, girly clothes and elegant dinners. I knew it was wrong to talk to him, but when all you see are dark clouds and broken dreams, you do things you normally wouldn’t do, so I answered the phone…

 

Here I go again….from one bad decision to the next!

“I just wanted to remind everyone that I have no idea what I am doing, I’m not a writer, but I think everyone should document your life because one day, you may forget it. Thanks so much for reading!” #themidlifetravelerblog

I believe I was drowning my sorrows in a cocktail when the phone rang. It had been 8 months since our last encounter and there it was, his name shining brightly on the caller ID. My roommate shook her head as I jumped up and down with excitement before answering the phone. My ‘older man’ (M.B) was coming to town in a few weeks and wanted to know if I was single. “M.B” knew that if I had a boyfriend, we wouldn’t see each other, but today was his lucky day and for me, a life saver. It had been 2 months since I caught my boyfriend with someone else and I really needed some attention. Even though it was wrong to see him, I was young and stupid and he was the perfect man to bring me out of my funk.

First step, get fit! My body was at an all time low which didn’t help with my depression, so my roommate and I went on a mission to lose 10 pounds in 10 days. It was simple, just eat lots of diet pills and stay away from 3 am bar hot dogs and fast food. Our poor bodies, we put them through so much. This wasn’t the first or the last time I thought I could look like a super model in light speed without a proper diet or exercise. In high school I weighed 105 pounds, but didn’t drink alcohol and ate home cooked food. In college, Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and unlimited food credits in the cafeteria helped me to put on 35 pounds. At 5’5”, this wasn’t good and I’m guessing was a big reason I was always tired in class and slept a lot.

So began the process of starving myself and spending hours on the treadmill in my apartment’s fitness center. After a week the scale read 133, 7 pounds disappeared in 7 days…..whoo hoo, it was Friday so time to celebrate! Orlando’s fashion sense was pretty casual which was great because my closet was full of gym clothes, t-shirts, anything I could find with camouflage on it and lots of bad choices. Luckily “M.B” liked buying me sexy outfits and my friend was amazing with hair and makeup, so I was feeling HOT that night. For the first time in awhile, it felt good to be me and my confidence was at an all time high.

Weekend nights were always the same, drinks at our apartment, a strong roadie for the car ride, another shot once we parked and always the same bars. By this time, we knew which bartenders poured the strongest drinks and which Dj’s played the best music. As usual, I was on display portraying my best mating dance when the next ‘bad decision’ of my life took the bait.

He was hot, I mean HOT, the hottest guy I’d ever seen and he wanted me! We never said a word, for hours our bodies just moved in perfect harmony on that dance floor. When the lights came on, he placed his hand under my chin, lifted my head, gave me a kiss, tucked a piece of paper in my bra and said, ‘call me’. There I stood, jaw dropped, knees buckled and absolutely in love!

The next morning was chaos, I talked to everyone I knew trying to find out how long to wait before calling?? 3 days, a week, that very minute??? This guy wore expensive clothes, smelled good and definitely did well for himself. Being eager was a turn off but if I waited too long, he might forget who I was. “M.B” would be here in a week and since I already had something to look forward to; the decision was made to contact him after my other man left town.

That lasted all of about 40 minutes. I picked up the phone and started to dial, my roommate grabbed the handle from me and hung it up. This happened several times as she tried to talk some sense into me. But the butterflies in my tummy were out of control, I was a mess, waiting a week would be torture, so I poured a drink and made the call…

When “G” answered, everything froze, the clever lines and cute things I had practiced to say all morning just disappeared from memory, so I hung up! I can’t believe I hung up. Of course he had caller ID and of course he called me right back…

Mistakes were meant to be made…otherwise, how else would we learn what NOT to do??

The man of my dreams slipped me his number and what do I do, call him and hang up after he answers. My roommate and I were dying laughing, should we answer, not answer, change our number, what do we do??? He called right back which meant there was no time to come up with an excuse. So I picked up and told him my roommate had tripped over the phone and ripped it out of the wall. He must have believed me because 3 hours later, we were on our first date. The very next morning, I phoned ‘M.B’ in California and told him it was over for good!

This new guy was more my age, had a devilish smile, beautiful lips and eyes that looked right through my soul. It was obvious from the beginning that he was trouble and my heart was going to pay for this, but he was addicting. Even worse, this one knew exactly how to make me fall in love with him. He also made it very clear that he was single and not looking to commit, so as long as I understood ‘the rules’, we could see each other. It’s like he knew I was weak and preyed on my vulnerabilities, he truly was slime, but I loved him. I think our ‘relationship’ would be best described by the words in that that famous song, ‘I’m not in love’ by 10CC. I fell easily when I was young, love was my worst enemy and my greatest weakness.

‘G’ had me wrapped around his finger, he knew it and would only call when there were no other girls available. Cell phones were still quite new, expensive and really hard to get. Back then all you had was a caller ID box on your home phone. Most days I just waited for the phone to ring and would constantly pick up the receiver listening for a dial tone to make sure it worked. When he did call, I would come running, it was pathetic.

To make matters worse, ‘G’ lived about 5 minutes down the road, 5 minutes, do you know what that meant??? It meant that it was much more convenient for me to stalk him…..and I did, a lot!!! You might be asking yourself, how does one stalk??? Well I’ll tell you how, very carefully that’s how. His house was on the corner of the street, which made it perfect for drive by stalking, in my roommates car of course. One time, I noticed a new car out front, so I parked down the street, creeped up to his window, plastered my ear up against it and listened for about 30 minutes. I could hear everything! He had a girl in his room and they were having a great time, it killed me. The dumbest part was, he wasn’t mine, so what could I possibly gain from doing this?? What I did next was quite embarrassing, so not proud, but since I’m writing about my life, here it goes.

The night before I had been sleeping in that same room where this new girl was now and in my mind, there was no way she was going to take him from me. Madness took a hold of me, I had to break it up! With my hands shaking wildly and my heart beating through my chest, I knocked on the door!! His roommate answered and while he was annoyingly asking me what I wanted, I could hear it, the sound of sex coming from his bedroom. There I stood at the front door, paralyzed, like a fool, listening. Any self respecting person would have walked away and never returned, but not me, I stayed and just pretended like I could handle it. His roommate looked over towards the bedroom, looked at me and said, ‘well, you know ‘G’. Then the craziness began, I insisted that my ID had fallen out of my pocket in his room the night before and I needed it to go out that night. He refused to interrupt him, closed the door and turned out the lights.

What I did next was unforgivable. With my head hung low, I walked down the sidewalk towards her car and kicked the door as hard as I could. Why do women do that?? We find out our man is cheating and instead of leaving him, we try to beat up or make life miserable for the women. She had nothing to do with this, he was the jerk, not her.

The next morning he called and you can bet I didn’t jump to answer that day. He knew that big dent was from me and answering meant I had to own it and most likely, be dumped. His calls went unanswered for about a week before he tracked me down at my favorite bar. To my surprise, I was forgiven but warned that if there was anymore craziness, he would be done with me. For the next 8 months I was extra careful with my stalking, even managed to turn him down a few times for dates. But inside I was dying with anxiety, counting the minutes until we would hang out again.

My friends could see the effect he was having on me and decided to stage an intervention. I was insecure and this obviously lead to my insanity.

I would imagine its quite difficult for those of you who’ve never been jealous to comprehend my behavior. Maybe I can help you understand a bit. Imagine you are at an all you can eat buffet, you’re favorite one in town. You’ve had multiple plates of food and are so full that you have to unbutton your pants for comfort, but you go back for more anyway. You know it’s wrong, you tell yourself to stop eating, but the obsession is just too strong. Jealousy is the same, I knew I was being crazy, but I just couldn’t stop!

The intervention was a success, we all knew it was time to end it, but how? Simple, it was time to move again. Working for At&t had many benefits, but the best being their job database. All I had to do was find a new position in another city, apply and then off I go. Within days of filling out the application, I received a phone call from our new department in Tampa, they needed me in 2 weeks and I accepted!!

There was no way to describe the relief I felt, it was like a million pounds had just been lifted from my shoulders. Deep down I knew I wasn’t strong enough to just leave him, so commiting to this job was the answer and I couldn’t wait to tell him.

At first he didn’t believe me and rightfully so. During our courtship I conjured up lie after lie hoping to make him fall for me. Once I pretended to be pregnant long enough to get his attention again and then claimed I had a miscarriage. But this time it was real and the look on his face when he saw the packed boxes was priceless. And then he did the unimaginable, he asked me to be in a committed relationship!! With pride and confidence, I told him to take a hike! Tampa was my new obsession now and I couldn’t wait to start the next chapter of my life and oh what a chapter it was…

People can change…

When I started writing my story, the goal was to document my life before I forgot it. I’d never written anything substantial so there wasn’t much planning involved. Figured I would just type away and see what happens, never thinking about who I might hurt along the way or how this would affect my career. Up until my early 30’s, I was far from an angel so as I was writing it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea to leave most of the naughty details out, which brings me to the 5 years I spent in Tampa.

For those of you who have been following me, thank you and for those of you who are new, you’re in luck because this blog is going to catch you up on everything you’ve missed. But I would encourage new readers to go back and have a look at my posts so far, they’re pretty funny! Sorry M.L.T fans, I know you were waiting patiently for more juicy breakups and stories of me crashing and burning, but you’ll have to wait just one more episode.

Tampa was crazy, experimental, life changing, embarrassing, heart breaking, full of deception, fun, sad, dangerous, adventurous, nutty, sexy, unbelievable and loaded with mistakes, but most of all, it was the best and worst experience of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. All of the people involved would most likely want me to keep the details to myself, which is why it’s a tough story to write. But knowing a bit more about me and where I came from may help you to appreciate why those years had such an impact on my me and how they helped to mold me into the person I am today.

My parents divorced when I was 3 therefore the weekends were spent at Dad’s and with him being a Marine, the house was run military style. We behaved the majority of the time otherwise, we got the belt. Back in the day, parents were allowed to discipline their kids and although you may not agree, it put the fear of God in us knowing that a few lashes on the ass with a leather belt was the result of our disobedience. If it wasn’t for Dad, I may not have ever learned how to behave.

During the week we stayed with Mom which was a whole different ball game. She worked night’s which gave us the freedom to roam the streets and do what we wanted. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I know I was in all kinds of situations I shouldn’t have been and luckily was never caught or seriously hurt. Being unsupervised allowed me to make bad choices which were a great way to learn and earn my independence. It’s definitely what helped me to survive and make it on my own all these years.

If you knew me when I was young, you would never recognize the person I’ve become today and that is a wonderful thing because I was a selfish jerk, a mean drunk, not respectful to my mother, clueless, broke, out of control, unhealthy, lost, hopeless, jealous, insecure and made very bad decisions when it came to boys. The worst part was that in my mind, I was awesome! Did I have regrets……absolutely and once I snapped out of the mindset that the world revolved around me, it was time to make amends for my crimes, and that’s what I spent my 30’s doing.

Let’s begin with selfish! Sharing my toys with the other kids wasn’t the problem; it was more the type of selfish that involved not caring how my actions or reactions affected others. What I regret the most is how I treated my mom. She worked her ass off as a waitress/bartender in the worst part of town her entire life and I never appreciated it. Looking back it seems as though ‘entitlement’ was why I acted the way that way. ‘Carrie was special and should get whatever she wants, all the time’, PERIOD. Take food for instance, I hated onions and mom loved to put them in everything. Funny part is that I’m not sure I ever even tried one, just didn’t like the way they looked, smelled and assumed the texture was awful so if mom didn’t make a separate plate for me without them, there was hell to pay. Never mind the fact that she had 10 million other things to handle besides just making a living like laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, cooking, resting and worst of all, dealing with us kids fighting 24 hours a day. Oh and school, ugh, since she wouldn’t get home until 1 or 2 in the morning, mom would sleep in and count on us kids to get ourselves up and to school each day. That was a joke! At least one morning a week her slumber was disturbed by the sound of the phone ringing with the school on the other end asking where one of us was. And my tantrums, the tantrums were endless and over the most ridiculous things. There was door slamming, guilt trips, yelling, threats and worst of all, I truly believed I was the victim. Over the years I’ve come to love onions and all the other foods I hated as a kid and since have I’ve apologized to her many, many times for my actions.

Out of control, unhealthy, lost and hopeless can all be lumped into one category. Being insecure led to dating anyone who would give me the time of day and so pretty much 90% of the boys I dated were mistakes. He could be 25, living at home, selling drugs for a living and not have a car, but if he loved me, that was all that mattered. This stemmed from being brainwashed by Cinderella and all of her fairy tale friends into believing that all happy endings had to do with being saved by a man. The primary goal in my life was to find Prince Charming and have his babies. But in the end, all of those experiences helped me to date better in my 40’s, but at the time the pain and heartbreak were very real and with every failed relationship, I became more and more lost. Which of course could be remedied with tons of partying and even more bad decisions.

‘Career’ wise, I was all over the place. In high school there was McDonald’s, college and my early 20’s consisted of waitressing, sales, babysitting and various clerical jobs which in the end, were all beneficial with how I make money today. At 23 I scored a job with AT&T which is what allowed me to transfer from Georgia to Orlando to chase a boy and then from Orlando to Tampa in order to run away from a boy.

Which brings us to 1997 where at the young age of 25, I packed up everything and headed for Tampa to work in a brand new AT&T office!! I didn’t know anyone so a friend of mine from Orlando put me in touch with their friend who was a Police Officer. He agreed to meet me out my first weekend in town with his best friend and thank goodness because I was not yet the type of person confident enough to go anywhere by myself. It was that night that I would meet the first of many people who ignored the bad and gave the good in me a chance to shine…

Tampa was a huge upgrade from Orlando..

Up until this point I’d lived in Indiana, Illinois, Georgia and Orlando and getting my things from A to B was like a scene from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’. Moving trucks were always too expensive so I would grab a few good friends and their vehicles, load them up and head out. There would be crates strapped to hoods, items dangling out of windows, garbage bags full of clothes, boxes stuffed in no particular order and typically a few cocktails along the way. I know, I know, drinking and driving is bad and now that I’m a ‘grown up’ I would never, but when you’re 25 and at this time in my life, very dumb, it was normal.

Along the drive I dazed off into sort of a soul searching mode. There were definitely moments where I was proud of myself for getting out of Indiana and making it this far on my own, but those were overshadowed by the pathetic and embarrassing ones. With each new zip code I tended to leave a bit of the useless me behind in order to make room for the new and improved Carrie I was sure to be. This time the goal was to make better dating choices by not falling so fast and maybe just stay single for a while. I was unstable when it came to boys and knew it but for some reason there was no controlling my jealous, possessive and nutty behavior.

This was my first time in Tampa and it was a huge upgrade from Orlando. First you have water on both sides of the city where as Orlando was land locked. Beautiful Tampa Bay is lined with gorgeous homes that look like they belong to celebrities and millionaires and just 50 feet from my new studio apartment was the Gulf of Mexico. St. Petersburg and Clearwater beaches were just across the bridge and they are loaded with bars, shops, restaurants and hotels. It was a whole new beginning for me!

Once we arrived in Tampa, the plan was to unload and hit the bar scene to celebrate my freedom from the bad boyfriend and my new promotion and pay increase. Now by pay increase I mean enough money to maybe break even each month between the new rent payment, increasing credit card debt and bar tabs.

Our ridiculous caravan pulled in with music blaring and buzzes rolling, which was probably not the best first impression as we cruised by the rental office. All of the chaos attracted a few of my new neighbors who were quick to lend a helping hand!

By the time we unloaded, everyone was smashed and couldn’t wait to hit Ybor City. There you will find several blocks lined with bars, restaurants and clubs which was a good 15 to 20 minute drive from my place. This strip of paradise was soon to be my new hangout and a place where I would stupidly drive home hammered, not ever once considering the consequences. Now I’m not sure if you remember me mentioning a few blogs back about the DUI I received when living in Georgia? Well, I obviously didn’t either and that violation was soon to catch up with me.

Every weekend and some week nights you would find me slamming back shot after shot at the Green Iguana before climbing up on the bar at Bar Tampa to show off my sloppy dance moves. But we’ll come back to that part of the story, let’s get back to my new home.

It was only one room with a tiny kitchen and an even smaller bathroom but it was perfect. For a while I just had a mattress on the floor with a small love seat separating the space into 2 rooms. The sofa faced the Gulf and a tiny TV that I’d been lugging around with me for years. It’s mortifying to admit but I was a slob and having a dog that shed in my small space didn’t help either. I can’t imagine what people must have thought when they came over and what’s even sadder is that I had no idea what a pig I was.

This next part I’m not proud of and I wasn’t planning on mentioning it because my heart breaks just to think about it, but if you’re going to read about me, you need to hear the good and the bad. I was a horrible dog owner. Mr. Travis, my tough beagle mix would be left alone for hours, with no lights on, probably dirty water to drink and taking him for a walk was the last thing I wanted to do after stumbling home drunk at 4 am. Poor baby, I would give him like 5 minutes to do his business so I could pass out and then sleep in until noon. When I adopted him as a puppy in Georgia, like so many people, I didn’t realize the magnitude of what it took to have a pet. Growing up we had dogs and somehow, one of the 3 of us kids would either leave a door open or the dogs would rush past us and get out only to meet their fate in traffic on the main road. We didn’t treat them like family, more like possessions or a nuisance. Today I despise people who have animals and treat them the way I did, but I guess if you don’t know any better than how would you know you were doing anything wrong? Since that time I’ve become the most amazing animal lover, owner and advocate and even started a small company for a bit called Hippiekit. The goal was to bring awareness and charity to animal rescue and the environment. During those years I found homes for many dogs while also spending my free time volunteering with various shelters. Mr. Travis had it rough until the second half of his life, when I made everything right.

As for friends, I was lucky to have an awesome mate to party with. He was the person my friend from Orlando connected me with when I first arrived, we will call him Techie! This man was a far better person than I which is a big reason were just friends. He was kind, smart, responsible and motivated and I knew if tried to date it wouldn’t last and our friendship would end, which I couldn’t bear. We had so much fun together and having him in my life was super important. Techie wasn’t a big partier so after I was done making a fool of myself dancing on bars and falling over drunk, he was usually there to ward off the slimy guys I was sure to attract with my irresponsible behavior and make sure I made it home safe.

After about a year of finding myself and dating for fun, I met a wealthy guy named Darren. Prior to this the only person I dated with money was Mr. Big, but he was married, so after the novelty wore off, the guilt set in and I ended that affair.

Darren was a few years older than me, came with a ton of friends, fast cars and a 20 foot powerboat which we played on every weekend. This was my first introduction to life on the water and I loved it! This man would also open up my world to the drug party scene….and unfortunately, I loved that too…!