I am way too far away from Vegas to get into that intensity of trouble; but the proximity of Atlantic City has served its purpose in my life. Unless I am traveling with a spouse or parent, or for business, trips to AC were always quite memorable. I can’t get into all of them in this book; so I only offer up the most eventful and insightful ones.
This particular trip was with a good friend of mine from work. Work had been very stressful and busy, so when the time came for us to have a weekend getaway to Atlantic City, we were more than ready for the break. All we wanted was to do some gambling, a little dancing and spend some time on the beach. Nothing too crazy, but definitely fun. After my last trip debacle, I was looking forward to a non-drama weekend with a dear friend.
Oh Jenny, don’t you know by now that this sometimes is just not possible?
Things started out normal, with our check-in and doing some basic gambling before getting ready for a night out. Then we had an amazing Cuban dinner and some drinks at a yummy restaurant while we tried to figure out where we wanted to spend the evening. We had settled on visiting Harrah’s, where there was an indoor pool nightclub that was supposed to be off the hook.
All of our plans were set for a pretty normal evening, and then the craziest coincidence walked up. One of her exes and good friend happened to be at the same exact hotel as us for the weekend, and they decided to meet us up at Harrah’s later that night. Her and her ex did not part on the greatest of terms, but enough time had gone by where it was civil, and even an opportunity for them to find peace. So we agreed to let them tag along on our adventure.
Now let me tell you about this friend, the player. He didn’t know that I knew he was already seeing a mutual friend of ours. (Can we say small world?) So the flirtation with me began. And then we arrived at the club, and I watched him work the two levels to find himself a woman that night. My friend and I went on to do our own thing, including dancing in the pool and having a complete blast. Things then got boring (and the player couldn’t find someone to take home), so we all decided to leave and find somewhere else to go. We ended up back at our own hotel, where the guys graciously paid for our covers into another dance club.
We were dancing, letting loose and just having an absolute great time.
My girlfriend and I loved to dance, and were surprised when the guys started dragging us out to go. I thought it was because they didn’t like the music (though they were dancing), but turns out, as we exited and I asked what the problem was, player admitted that although it was fun, he’d rather spend some alone time with me. A-ha. So transparent. But we played along, and decided to head up to their room for some beer and chatting. We had fun, from singing and dancing in the elevator on the way up, to mock professional wrestling in the room. The four of us really did get along well, so we had a great time.
But then the awkwardness started. It took a great deal of (internal) strength to stop anything from happening with this boy. I couldn’t go there. Not that he wasn’t attractive and charming. Not that I wasn’t feeling it. But he was dating a friend of mine. I couldn’t do that to my friend, but that was really just a convenient excuse that actually was empowering me to follow through on my “no thank you.” I needed to say no for me. Because for the first time in my life, I was choosing self-worth over attention, self-respect over meaningless sex and self-love over ego.
He certainly didn’t make it easy. I had to pull out all of the stops.
I pretended to be in the bathroom puking from “drinking too much” so that he would think I was sick. You would think that would be a turn off, but Mr. Persistent was still trying. I had even excused myself to my room (after pulling my friend on the side and letting her in on what I was doing) to end the opportunity once and for all, but when they went back out for a little bit, he apparently grabbed her phone, found my number and called me. Of course I answered thinking it was my friend, but it was him,
and I had to turn him down again.
I didn’t like the feeling of rejecting this other person, who was making me feel really desirable—something I don’t get a lot. But when I say I went to sleep with so much respect and pride for myself, it was like I was a whole new person. In that moment, all those discoveries I’ve had about men came rushing back to me, along with a few more. I wasn’t going to be with a man who a friend claimed exclusivity with. I didn’t need to prove to myself I was attractive by engaging with what would have been two men during the same time period.
I woke up the next day feeling good. I didn’t have a single regret about turning him down, and my heart felt light and happy over my decision. My ego does go back there from time to time and wonder what things could have been like if I had chosen differently, but my heart already knows that answer: it would have set in motion a pattern of guilt, self-degradation and unnecessary turmoil for what most likely would have been 5 minutes of enjoyment. And although I haven’t always made the best choices in love since that time, it did help to clear up a few patterns and beliefs that were no longer working for me, and were in fact blocking me from heart healing.
I walked away feeling good that I honored a friendship and honored myself.
It being the last day of our trip, we spent the rest of our time there getting massages, relaxing on the beach and avoiding the awkwardness of the morning after that never was.
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