I had two options that warm day in May of 2005: Meet the guy from JDate who seemed only slightly interested in me or meet the guy who left voicemails “just to hear my beautiful voice.” Being a young, educated woman who had a full-time job and plenty of friends, I did what any girl would do; I tossed the “voicemail” guy and met up with the distant one. To protect his privacy, we’ll call him John.
John was my height, a bit more religious than I am, and extremely irritated by the following: I had not read nor seen anything Harry Potter-related, the original Star Wars movies or Batman cartoons, and had not read comics/graphic novels. Come to think of it, I probably just annoyed him overall. Somehow, I passed the vetting process and was allowed to meet his friends.
It was late June when he called and said he’d be picking me up at my house with his friend. I waited on my front deck, hoping the sweat from my underarms didn’t soak through my new shirt. I ran into my house to grab a bottle of water and when I came back, John’s car was idling in front of my house. The front passenger seat was empty and I walked over confused until I saw his friend sitting in the back. I jumped in the car and was quickly introduced to Drew.
“Why didn’t you sit in the front? You were in the car before me.” I asked.
I turned around to look at him; he was tall, dark and handsome. He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders awkwardly. His nose glistened with a little bit of sweat and my heart fell. I was in love with John’s best friend. I was a huge cynic and didn’t believe in love at first sight because that only happened to Meg Ryan in movies I’d watch when I had my period. Except what I felt was unprecedented and very real.
John turned around and explained that he thought it was silly and that Drew had moved to the back only when he reached my house. It was then I realized I had two choices: Break up with John and lose Drew or stay with John and at the very least, grow a friendship with this man that had me feeling like I was going to throw up, in a good way. I, of course, took the smart route and stayed with John. I wasn’t prepared to lose Drew.
My friends reminded me daily that I was in a relationship with John, not Drew, after I’d tell them about any interaction I had with him that day. It was mostly always innocent texts confirming plans or asking what food I was in the mood for so he could coordinate our weekend. John never did that. John never really cared about what I was interested in.
Throughout the following months, I played the part of “fun girlfriend” to John. Drew and I lightly flirted (though if you ask him now, he says he never intended it to come off as flirting. He was just being extra friendly to a girl he felt very connected to. I believe him.)
New Year’s Eve, 2005, the group (including John’s friends and mine) all went to Atlantic City. As the clock edged closer to midnight, everyone was buzzed, happily gambling and heartily eating. I felt depressed. I didn’t want to kiss John; I wanted to kiss Drew when that clock struck 12.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I put a smile on my face and went about New Years Eve like it was my job. Later that night, when we all gathered at our cars in front of John’s house just around 5 am, John walked right into his home without even a look back to see that I got into my car safely. The only two left outside were me and Drew. He saw how sad I was and told me to call him when I got home to make sure I was safe, a job most certainly that should have been John’s.
It was then I realized it was too painful being around Drew and not being with him. It was too painful to pretend to love John any more, and I knew I was hurting him. On the drive home, I thought about all my mistakes. Maybe I should have went with “voicemail” guy. Maybe I should have broken up with John immediately. Maybe I should just grow up and be honest with everyone about everything.
I called Drew when I got home and we talked from 5:30 am to 9:00 am and only because my cordless phone had run out of battery did we end our conversation. I revealed everything to him: that I had more than just friendly feelings for him (I didn’t tell him I loved him — I didn’t want to be that girl), that I was only staying with John because of him and that I was feeling like the most horrible human being ever to call Earth home. He confessed that he felt the same way but at the same time encouraged me to stay with John and try to work things out. Despite our strong feelings, John was still his best friend and he wasn’t sure he could ever be with me. I hung up the phone feeling elated and completely destroyed all at once.
A few days later, I broke it off with John. It just wan’t going to happen, especially now that I knew Drew had feelings for me. Word around the group was that John had thought I was the one and that we’d end up married and he was devastated by the break-up. I always found that curious, considering he didn’t treat me like I was the one.
A week after, Drew and I became a couple. Secretly. We knew we couldn’t be away from each other but we also knew being “out” would tear the group apart. It must have become obvious to others as Drew started receiving warnings from friends and family members.
“Stay away from Liza.”
“She’s John’s ex. Friends don’t do that.”
“She’s trouble. You’re better than that.”
Six months later, Drew told John. John accepted it but our group get-togethers became very awkward and few and far between in until they were no longer.
In 2008, Drew’s mother and my parents were witnesses for our “wedding.” A simple ceremony at the Justice of the Peace. We had no party because we had no friends to invite. No one even thought to bring a camera so all we have is a grainy cell phone picture to commemorate that day.
We have now been married for almost six years and most of those years were without friends or family by our side (except for my family, who accepted our relationship the moment they met Drew and realized how much better off I’d be.)
The question that always comes up is whether or not I cheated on John. Did I? Perhaps emotionally, never physically. Does that still make me a bad person? Probably. It took me a long time to come to terms with my actions but I am settled now. We have a wonderful little boy and Drew is the most involved and loving father I could have ever asked for.
When I think back to that day in 2005 when I had the choice between John and “voicemail” guy, I get the chills. The road not taken. What if I hadn’t picked John? I don’t like to think about it too long. A life without Drew and my son is no life at all.