Tampa Changed Everything…

It’s tough to remember the exact date, but I’m thinking it was near the end of 1998, I was 26 and had been living in Tampa for about a year drinking my face off celebrating the fact that I lived in such an amazing place. It was a long way from my home in Indiana and a huge leap from Augusta, Georgia. The sun never stops shining there and having a brand new VW Convertible made everything even sweeter. The weekends would include hitting the beach, boating or even laying in bed all day watching movies on one of the few rainy days we had. Friends were hard to come by, at least real ones. I was lucky to have 2 or 3 that I could count on but it would have been nice to have more.

You know from my past stories that a few years back while living in Orlando, I had smoked marijuana once and tried ecstasy once, which were both really great experiences, but neither held my interest. Luckily for me, I had never been addicted to anything, and to this day, that still stands, but after spending one weekend in St. Petersburg experimenting with mind altering tablets, everything changed.

My boyfriend at the time wasn’t a millionaire, but he definitely had money and he loved to spoil me with it. So after he convinced me to try those funny little pills again one weekend while beached on a sandbar, I couldn’t get enough. To this day I often wonder why, after my first experience with them I had no interest. Either way, he had the money to buy them and I was a ton of fun on them.

Now, my bestie Techie wanted nothing to do with this new crowd I was hanging with and he often tried to pull me away from them, but I was sucked in and didn’t want out. My weekends were spent awake, going from one afterhour’s party to the next, barely eating and always having a blast. If you’ve never experienced this type of party scene, it’s awesome and you will meet the most interesting people. I would be lying if I said stay away and never try it because for me, the mind altering experiences seemed to open up parts of my brain that had been closed off my whole life.  I’m not telling you to go out and get stoned; I’m also not going to tell you that all drugs are all bad. Alcohol is much worse in my mind, but everyone does it and just because it’s legal, it’s ok. You have to make up your own mind about what you want to put into your body and how you handle it makes all the difference in the world. It’s tough so sit here and tell you about the bad things I’ve done in my life, really tough, and I’m sure some of you are going to judge me and that’s ok. Most of my bad choices have helped me and for that reason alone, I’m glad I made them.

After a few months, the boyfriend and I broke up but along the way I had met tons of cool people who knew how to get more and where the parties were. Eventually I dragged my bestie into all of this nonsense, but to this day, I believe the only reason he came along was because without the safety of having my ex boyfriend with me during the craziness, he needed to be there to protect me. To be honest, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times he ever seemed high. I swear he would carry around the same beer and just fill it with water pretending that he was participating.

During all of this, my job was going well with AT&T and they had just switched my shift from 11 to 7 so I could cover the West Coast. To me this meant that I could party even longer on Sunday nights…life was great but getting very expensive! By the time I cashed my check, it was already spent on bills, a ridiculous car payment, rent that was more than I could afford and now the infamous pills I loved so much. One by one, this small group of friends starting forming, we were like the cool kids in St. Elmo’s fire but the rated D version for ‘Druggie’s’.

1509 was the club where we would all meet; dance until they kicked us out and then the search for an afterhours spot would begin where we could continue to party until dawn and then some. Eventually we all found a place we could hang every weekend, far from the masses, located on a lake and with very few neighbors. This compound was owned by a husband and wife team who love to entertain, were hot, rich, fun and knew how to throw a party!! Pretty much everyone was coupled up but I was quickly accepted into the group as one of the only single girls and trusted by all the women.

Every weekend for around 2 years, this was my home, except when we decided to take our show on the road.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how outlandish our parties were. The majority of them included costumes, DJ’s, nitris tanks with dresses, ate ups, bubbles, fantasies, balloons, feather boas, magic carpet rides, carnies, dunk tanks, lingerie, hotel rooms and so much more……you just had to be there. But overall, I met and am still friends with some of the greatest people you could know. Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Parents and Business Owner’s, all just people who want to escape from the real world and play around in Alice’s land for a while.

That’s why I mentioned earlier that people who experiment with illegal substances aren’t all bad, even the substances themselves are all bad, it’s how you use them. Unfortunately we lost a few friends along the way who didn’t know when to stop, but with anything in life, moderation is the key.  Whether you eat too much sugar and develop diabetes or drink too much alcohol and crash your car, we are all human and allowed to make mistakes. Have fun and enjoy life, just try not to hurt yourself or anyone along the way.

Even though my Boogie Nights lifestyle only lasted 2 years, I have no regrets, not one! Well, I do have one, I neglected my doggie, Mr. Travis, even typing this right now, it brings tears to my eyes, but I made it up to him after I was done. For the last half of his life he lived like a King. Losing a few friends along the way also breaks my heart, my friend Noel, the sweetest soul with the biggest smile, somehow got too wrapped up in all the madness and lost his life; I think about him often and wish he was still here.

In the end, I walked away a better person, they don’t call them mind altering drugs for no reason, those pills unlocked the deep, dark sadness that had plagued me all those years and helped me to see who I really was, which was someone who needed to grow up and change for the better.

Eventually our group disbanded and most of us went our separate ways but I bet that majority of us have nothing but good thoughts about our time at Camp Pico and are happy to say that we dared to be different!! Maybe one day I will give you all of the juicy details of the after hours life, but for now just know that those days of experimenting with drugs are long gone and bittersweet!

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…

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…

 

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…

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.

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…….

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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