I knew going home with a rockstar was a bad idea, especially for a late thirties, looking-for-real-love divorcee like myself. It’s not as if it was a planned encounter. I mean, it’s not like I’m a groupie. Nor had I even thought about this musician’s band in nearly two decades, their heyday long since passed.
My last recognition of them was during my senior year in college. I can still picture myself staring at my cool blue and purple mandala bedroom tapestry, pressing play on their latest CD and singing along out of tune. If someone had told me then that at the onset of middle age, I’d end up entangled with their guitarist, I would’ve laughed in their face.
Admittedly, though, I wasn’t immune to being star struck. Years after graduation, I was still proud that my first college kiss was a classmate who became the face of a major fashion label. And he even played a bit role on the best Romantic Dramedy of all time, Sex in the City. I loved when I’d catch his appearance on reruns. But I was much older now, supposedly wiser. And as with most people of a certain age, I’d survived a lot — a heartbreaking divorce, two near death illnesses, and a cross country move. Just months before meeting Mr. Rockstar, I’d lost a job and was trying to re-establish myself. Getting caught up in a careless tryst was not on my agenda.
But there he was, just inches away from me at a weeknight happy hour. My wing woman was distracted and unavailable to help me make sound decisions when the host of our soiree made the introduction. When she said his first name it didn’t ring any immediate bells. To me, he was just an exceptionally hot human who didn’t fit the stereotypical mold of the local male population — men who wore khakis, visors and loafers as if part of a secret platoon.
Behind the velvet rope we shared bottle service and small talk. My breath caught in my throat as he fingered back his chin length locks, revealing a chiseled and ruggedly handsome face. "You look like you could be in a band," I said naively as he smiled mischievously. I could tell he liked me more because I didn’t know.
Four stiff cocktails was not my typical Wednesday night routine, and the heady mix of drinks and the contact high from my companion was undeniable.
He’s a rockstar, I marveled. I guess I wasn’t ready to behave just yet. I guess I still had lessons to learn. We walked hand in hand to his condo later that evening, and I didn’t resist when he lifted me up on the sidewalk, in the shadows outside his building. He pressed firmly against me, pinning me to a wall while his mouth moved skillfully from my lips to my chest. This is exciting, I thought. This is my best story yet.
But when the daylight of his apartment window woke me, I felt hollow, my neediness crept back in. I grabbed for my clothes as he slept, still disbelieving he’d graced me with his presence. I froze when he began to stir, ‘You’re not leaving already are you?’ he purred, pulling me back to him.
That’s when I should’ve run, but instead I told myself a familiar lie: this man slept with you and asked for your number, this makes you special. When he texted me later that evening from another country I looked at his message 10 times. He’s about to go on stage and he’s thinking of...ME.
My friend’s reactions were mixed. Some oohed and awed, wanted to know all the dirty details. What’s he like? Was he good? Others were more protective, Girl, that’s bad news. Stay away! But with every scrap of attention, I ignored my gut. I’m a grown up, I can handle this. When I finally made it to one of his shows, at one of the largest music venues in my city, my strong fortitude was lost. Mesmerized by his stage presence I bought into the hype, the image and the video star.
I thought my life could somehow change for the better if we dated. For over a year, his sporadic fits of attention were enough to keep me attached. But after months of easy love, I decided to test his dedication, requesting a real date. One that took place in public. I convinced myself this was a big step. This guy doesn’t just take any girl to dinner. As if being a musician gives him a pass on general dating rules and manners. Initially he made excuses as to why he couldn’t pick me up, suggesting we just meet out instead. His car was in the shop he said. ‘Then ride a horse,’ I challenged. He laughed at my sass, finally agreeing to this very basic act of common dating decency. It was then I felt the power dynamic shifting. I was finally winning the game, but I wasn’t sure of the prize.
There were long breaks between our encounters. Sometimes months. But I held fast to the times when he showed up. Meeting me at bars, contacting me while on tour in other countries, spending the night at my shared apartment when my roommate was out of town. I ignored his bipolar mood swings and the degrading things he sometimes demanded in bed. Instead hanging on rare and fleeting moments of real intimacy. Like the time he shared how his former marriage began to unravel. How fame affected him at a young age, the influence of his religious upbringing and sometimes, even our world views. Of course I knew these moments weren’t enough. I knew whatever this was would not end well. But my attraction remained powerful. Each hit, like a drug.
The final curtain call came abruptly.
He agreed to play house again. I’d cook us dinner and pretend we’re a couple behind closed doors. I ran all over town making time for a hair makeover, a manicure and a wax. On the way home he texted his favorite wine, and I U-turned to the nearest liquor store, setting the stage for another seduction.
"What’s your ETA?" I texted hours later. It seemed an eternity passed before he replied.
"I’m in the studio, really in a groove. Can’t make it. Sorry."
I’m sorry, what? Is he really this big of a dick? As I drove down the interstate the next day I felt numb. Completely used. I thought I was special. A girlfriend called, the one who never has casual sex, the fierce one who knows her worth. I blubbered into the receiver trying to make sense of the night before, my lower lip quivering as droplets of tears covered the steering wheel. "Listen, I love you, but you have GOT to stop this behaviour," she said.
"He is a musician, used to getting what he wants, when he wants it. He thinks his time is more important than you and why wouldn’t he? You keep going back. Please get some therapy."
Her words were still echoing in my mind weeks later when I finally mustered the courage to make a call that would help end years of emotional suffering and self inflicted wounds. Pain that stemmed from the words of my childhood bullies that I still chose to believe, and had carried well into adulthood. For the next two years I escaped to therapy twice a week on my lunch break, hiding puffy watery eyes with makeup and under Jackie O’ style sunglasses.
Today happily married, my husband often holds my hand and kisses me in public, and I’m grateful. The other day while driving, I heard Mr. Rockstar’s band on the radio, and couldn’t help but smile and appreciate how far I’d come. I lingered to hear the familiar chorus, and then, I changed the station.