In 2004, while living in San Francisco, I received the nickname Sandpaper from my best friend, Chris. He was a smooth as silk guy who I respected a great deal as he was routinely with beautiful women, but more importantly because of how he carried himself at a very early age. He wasn’t promiscuous; he was a gentleman, tailored, and someone I looked up to. I respected his opinion. After witnessing my efforts to secure dates with women unsuccessfully on countless occasions, he said I was as smooth as, well, sandpaper.
I suppose there were examples in my past, which supported his rather quick assessment. Like at 18, when trying to give my girlfriend a blindfolded massage, I grabbed Victoria Secret bubble bath, instead of massage oil, and the ice I was using to be erotic turned my room into a 6 year old’s birthday party. It turned out ok, she couldn’t see, obviously, but I spent half the romantic session swinging at circus sized bubbles floating in the air.
How about the time when I went parking in the gravel roads to be adventurous, the windows were starting to fog up when I saw lights in the far away distance. I freaked out and backed my car into the ditch behind me. It was winter time, and I had to run a mile in the blistering cold in order to knock on the door of the first farm house I saw to get my car pulled out. My pants were frozen stiff from being knee did in the icy ditch water.
I was smooth enough to fall in love with a woman called Bear 9339 through an AOL chat room when I was 20. Turned out she wasn’t a 19 year old cheerleader from Bellingham, Washington at all, rather a middle aged, 297 lbs. pyramid scheme waiting to happen.
I think I have only gotten worse as I have matured. Shit, just Thursday during my personal training workout, a girl smiled at me in the gym, and I almost fell off my decline bench, while dropping a 40lbs dumbbell on my head. I didn’t recover my cool for half the day, and I wasn’t even slightly interested or attracted to the girl.
I have had 7 first dates in my life as an adult, and 6 of them turned into long term relationships. None of them ended without me being in control of the decision, and despite some tough situations, I don’t think any of them have ended badly. My first girlfriend died tragically a few years after we had grown apart. My college girlfriend refused to see me again, after I left her at her doorstep to move to California instead of waiting for her to finish school. The 3rd is my son’s mother, who is very stereotypically Latin, so I don’t think that ending can be my fault entirely. We are still a work in progress, but improve on our relationship as parents every year. The fourth I left at the airport in San Francisco to come be a father in Costa Rica, after a shot-gun wedding to girlfriend #3. That was difficult, because at the time she was my best friend. She understood, and we remain friends to this day. The 5th was French and sweet. The 6th, I deserve a medal for hanging in with for 12 rounds. In some way, she probably deserves one for dealing with me too in a very rebelling, lost, time in my life. There is one thing in common with all 6 of them – they weren’t the one, or life happened. It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, but I still think they all genuinely care for me to this day, and I am proud of that.
What I have discovered is, I am a picky, hopeless romantic, extremely shy and awkward man in social situations. I used to be the kid under the covers in the back of the school bus, telling my 5th grade girlfriend how many kids I wanted, what their names were going to be, and how I would propose to her someday. However, in the past decade, some women think I am just a complete asshole. Perhaps they are right. For some reason, I have become cold, distant and self-proclaimed “too good”. Living in a tourist town as a single dad hasn’t helped at all as I don’t do casual hook ups, I don’t like to share, and I have been largely indifferent as a single father for fear of bringing anyone around my son that didn’t belong. I have been single for 70 percent of the decade I have lived here. However, when I see what I want, I pursue it passionately with an all or nothing type approach.
What is it that I want then? Am I an asshole? Will I always be cold and distant? This is something I have been thinking about for the better part of the last year.
The 7th first date (chronologically between #2 and #3) did end badly, at first take. I was head over heels in love, vulnerable, and I relished every moment of the 3 months we spent together. I wrote her poetry, planned romantic getaways, and even refrained from looking at other girl’s breasts. I got burnt, she chose someone else. They got married. I quit using steroids, shaved my head, and started drinking a lot. I even did some things that hurt her as well, things I regretted. I think this is when the prick in me was born. Eventually, when the rage settled, we forgave each other and remained friends. The years have raced by, the stars have aligned, and I am ready to passionately pursue her again, because I think she is the one and of course no longer married. I am sure I have known this all along, so perhaps, I wasn’t an ass at all, just a man in waiting.
There is only one problem. I am jobless, with a low amount of savings, a single dad, moving into my mom’s basement, and pursuing an acting career at 35, with a back-up plan of winning Survivor. Yah – good stuff, Corey….Very, well, Sandpaperish.
But you know what? I don’t care. Motivation is a powerful thing and she motivates me to be better. She did when I dated her 12 years ago, and she still does now.
I mentioned this to Guru Mike, in our weekly Conquer Your Life Session, and at first, I thought he was going to fall off his chair in disbelief. “Wait, you’re going to Arizona now, not Iowa, not Chicago?”
“Yes, to see a girl. I think I love her,” I mumbled.
“Are there acting opportunities in Phoenix?”
Not, so much, but she is there, and that’s where I need to start. I need to know. The rest will take care of itself.”
“Does she know this?,” Mike says, slowly stabilizing in his chair.
“Well we haven’t seen each other in 12 years, but yeah, I think she knows. Mike, do you think I am nuts? Are you judging me?”
“No, I am listening. There is a difference!”
“I feel like you’re judging me.” Shit, I’ve never had a Guru. They can have off days too right?
“Corey, if you think there is any way you could spend the rest of your life with this woman, then you need to go.”
We scheduled my visit to Phoenix, for July 23rd. That is why I like Guru Mike; he is a not-so-hopeless romantic too.
This week, and throughout this process, I have had the girl I call Goober, on my mind a lot as I have worked out. Wednesday, I was having such a hard time analyzing through the situation, I almost skipped my Surfset class because I got depressed, and was thinking of all the ways my entire life could fail miserably, or why I wasn’t good enough to pursue this women given my current situation. But I didn’t, I moved forward, re-focused, added more exercises, more reps, and pushed myself harder. I fought through the doubt, because I know despite there being a lot of fog in my future right now, it will clear up soon, and I can visualize my crazy idea of perfection. What i believe to be true, is that the road towards love, is a long and windy one, but it usually begins with first loving yourself.
The truth is I want to be the best I can be when I see her, because I think she deserves it. I think I deserve it. She isn’t the only reason I am choosing this path of health for myself, but she is a part of it. I believe we attract the people in life we are meant to be around, by the people we are ourselves. I can feel my humble confidence growing inside of me. I am walking with an extra pep in my step and some inflation to my presence. This is what hard work, and releasing endorphins in a positive way does to you. It’s killing the insecure, shy, and detached tumor that has grown inside of me, and is helping me chase after the women of my dreams with clarity and “pura ganas”. I think she gets my inner nerd, my creative sweetness, and my drive to be something special, and I can’t wait to see how her eyes look at me. I may screw it up, with all my awkwardness, or intensity, or because I am just not the one for her, but that is life, and life happens to all of us. It is how you deal with it that defines you. I am going to give it everything I have, just like everything else I am preparing for, because she is what I want, what I believe in, and I feel it deep in my heart.
Maybe that someday is approaching, and instead of a 5th grader on a school bus, there will be a horse drawn buggy, a blanket, beautiful city lights, and a bottle of bubbly for me and my Goober. Maybe I will be the tailored man I want to be, with a little bit of that sweet, mischievous, cowboy left inside. Maybe I will get her to believe in me and the vision I see for the future. Hopefully good ole Sandpaper is gone by then, so when I grab her hand, help her down into the street and my warm embrace, I don’t allow her to step directly into a pile of horse shit.
60 Days to the Rest of My Life
May 27, 2015
Liisa's 30 Days at Revive Wellness Center at Langosta Beach Club in Tamarindo, Costa Rica