El Paso is a plain city. It is very dry, and the Rio Grande, which separates it from Juarez in Mexico, is small. The city is divided straight down the middle by a low mountain range called the Juarez Mountains.
Those mountains made me love that city forever.
When I first moved there, I was married to Jake and we lived on the west side of the mountains. This was the white side of town. It was ugly. It was the suburbs.
After nine months of living with Jake, I moved out. I went to live on the east side of the mountains. This was the Mexican side.
It was an improvement.
There, I rented a room from a hippie lady with a lot of cats and a very dirty house. The rent was low and I knew I’d need to save as much as I could for whatever was next and now I’m so glad I did.
Soon after leaving my husband, I made a very important decision: I decided that for the first time in my life, I would look for a boyfriend.
I am not going to do what I did last time, I decided. I’m not going to wait around to be happy. I’m going to make myself that way.
I can be good to myself, I thought, and, more than that: I should be.
It’s a principle I’ve lived by ever since.
You see, before I got married, I was always just waiting for something to happen. I didn’t look for what I wanted in life; instead, I waited for something to intervene: For fate. Or for God. Or, always, for a sign. After I got married, though, I realized something very important: I could make mistakes.
Mistakes, as it turned out, can actually be good for you.
And so, my new life began. I signed up on a dating website and soon, I met Josh.
Josh was a normal guy and a nice guy. He was intelligent and we had the same taste in movies and books. He liked to have long conversations. He had a cat and he had his own apartment.
He was good enough for me.
We dated for six months. After that, I decided to leave El Paso. Josh and I broke up, and I looked on the internet for a new boyfriend, also someone nice, and even before I left El Paso I met David. Then, I moved to Seattle, and because of that, now more than ever before, I am happy.
The first night I spent in Seattle we went on our first date and from then until now I have never been alone—not once. And because of that, I have learned a lot.
The first thing I learned about being in a relationship after I was finally lucky enough to have a good one was this: Ask for what you want. Which is another way of saying what is so often said, which is, Don’t play games. And, that oft-said corollary, which is: Be yourself.
David and I were both thirty-one when we met so somehow we had already learned how to do that and it was a good thing because knowing who we really were and what we really wanted was one of the things that made us fall in love in the first place.