Phil: Hey, this is Phil, AKA Corrine.
Alex: And I’m Alex Berg. And you are listening to the I’m from I’m From Driftwood podcast. Some of you might not know this, but I’m from driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. That means it receives funds from sources like private foundation grants, fundraisers, corporate sponsors, and of course, individual donors. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, and if you’re able to, consider making a donation at Imfromdriftwood.org/donate. No donation is too small to help us continue collecting and sharing queer and trans stories.
Alex: So for these two stories, we are talking about romance and how these couples met each other. So let’s start off with Simone. I feel like I’m already just smiling as I’m saying this, it’s amazing because this was just a delightful story, an incredible story.
Phil: I’m just like, I want to live this story.
Simone: She was dressed average, just big winter jacket, sweatpants and rain boots. The train comes and we get on the same train together. I keep looking up at her and I keep looking back down in my poetry book and writing, and then I keep looking up at her, I think to myself, “Okay, wait, I should say something to her. I should say you have a beautiful voice.” I don’t say anything because I’m too shy and I’m thinking this girl will think I’m crazy for just walking across the train and talking to her out of nowhere. Number two, she’s out of your league, she’s way too pretty. And number three, she’s probably straight. And I convince myself that if she gets off at the same stop as me, I am going to say something to her.
So it’s the stop before my stop. And she ends up getting off the train there and I’m heartbroken because I’m thinking, “Dammit, I missed my shot.” Just before she gets off the train, she hands me a note, the train doors close. And I look down at this note and the note says, “I’d like to read it/ hear it when it’s finished.” And it has her email address after I’m like, “Yes, I won!”
Two days later, I sent her an email and the email says, “You had a beautiful voice. I met you on J street.” And she emails me back and she says, “Simone, that name, it suits you.” I take seven days to email her back that after that first email. I email her finally with a response and I hear nothing back from her. A week goes by two weeks, go by three weeks a month later, “Hey, I haven’t stopped thinking about you since that day. Can we meet up?” I get no response. And I crumple up the note that she gave me and I throw it in the trash and I missed my shot.
A year and a half goes by after I crumbled up that note and one particular relationship hit the end. And I was really upset about it. My friend’s like, “Come on out, man. I got a raise. I got a promotion. I’ll buy you a drink. Let that girl go.” I’m like, “Fine, okay, I’ll go out.” And I’m sitting there having a good time with my friends and in this girl walks, the girl from the train a year and a half ago. I started telling my bros this story and they’re like, “What? Why are you doing still sitting here, go in there and talk to her. Go in there and get her.”
She’s dancing on the dance floor and I’m like, “Okay, I got to use what I’m good at. I can’t just walk up to her and act like she remembers me. I have to use something I’m good at I can dance. So let me try to get her attention by dancing with her.” So I dance around her and we end up dancing with each other looks at me like, yeah! Oh yeah, I’m feeling your vibe, I like how you dance. And she says, “What’s your name?” And I’m like, “Simone.” I was like, “Oh, you don’t remember me?” And she’s like, “No, don’t remember you.” Okay, it’s not a big deal. We met a year and a half ago on the subway. It was a long time ago. It’s no biggie.
And she goes, “Oh my God.” And she grabs both of my cheeks with her hands. And she’s like, “The poet.” And she goes like, “That’s it. Take my number down right now. We’re going on a date. We’re going on a date.” We take this ferry ride. It’s beautiful, the sun is shining, It’s a great day. We swing in the hammocks on Governor’s Island. We have our first kiss on the hammocks. It’s just this beautiful, the clouds parted for us. And the sun came out and the rainbows and everything, it was just the most perfect first date I could have ever imagined. That girl has goddess energy. You’re not going to find someone like that that’s going to wait around for you to do your mistakes and to do your fuck ups and stuff like that. You got to come to somebody like that with that kind of energy with a hundred percent.
Alex: At the time that Simone recorded that story, they were together.
Phil: I mean, it’s just such a good story. I mean, it’s just an incredible story. And I have to say it is not insignificant to mention that this woman hands Simone the note before getting off of the train. That is what kicks this entire thing off. There would be no story to talk about today here if that hadn’t happened. That is what made this happen. And I really respect the fact that Simone was like, this person has goddess energy and there was no way I was going to be a part of this person’s experience if I didn’t bring the same level of amazingness. And I just thought it was beautiful. I was like, wow. That is incredible.
Alex: Gosh, there were like so many layers to this. As I was listening, I was really thinking about being on a subway and having that instant attraction to someone. I have to say, not an experience I’ve had in my life.
Phil: Not at all.
Alex: Usually when I’m on a subway, I’m sunglasses on, nobody talk to me. I don’t want to be talked to. To me, a subway is like not a romantic place.
Phil: But you do have star quality. So you might be in your incognito, like, [crosstalk] do not talk to me right now. I’m having a New York subway moment. And I do not want to talk to any of my fans. So I get it. I have definitely been on subways and definitely had this thing with a stranger and nothing came of it. But this story made me realize there were several times in this story which Simone talks about shooting your shot. Not something I’m good at, it’s not something I’m good at. And it’s just made me realize, holy crap, it’s the idea of putting out there and just doing it and be like, “I’m going to shoot my shot. I’m just going to see what happens here.”
And my thing is I think I’m more overwhelmed by the getting shot down than I am about making a shot. I’m just like, oh my goodness, what if this goes south? I don’t know. I mean, maybe what’s great about this story is that feeling of like, “What if this doesn’t go well?” Was less than the feeling of what if this goes right? I think Simone realized that I was given more chances than most people are given. I was given more chances and I can’t squander the chances, I got to get on this. I was like, this is a great story.
Alex: This is such a good story. It’s actually, my mind was a little blown because I was like, this needs to be a movie. The rekindling, just the odds that you would rekindle this a year and a half later. I mean, I feel like it’s one of those moments where this is, to me, it felt like a very uniquely queer story. Because if you’re just a straight person in New York City, you’ve got so many bars to go to, so many places to go to. And I feel like if you are a queer person, there are probably a finite number of places that you’re going to go to when you’re going out with your friends. And so the odds are higher that you’re going to encounter these people.
So to me, in a way that felt like very reflective of what it’s like to be in a community, or seeing some of the same people over and over again, but also just wild that full year and a half later, these two are running into each other. And just that it managed to work out this way. And this made me think of, so in my inspirational mode and moment forgive me. I love this Rumi quote, which is “Live life like the odds are in your favor.” And I feel like it’s just so… It reminded me of that because Simone took a risk.
Phil: Those are the moments where you make room for magic. I literally think that. I am serious when I say this. You can schedule your life to a tee. You make no room for magic, you will have no magic. Make a minute of not planned, not scheduled, this is off the cuff, just go for it. That is where magic happens in your life.
Alex: I truly could not agree with you more.
Phil: Because do you want to high five me? Do it.
Alex: I do want to high five you. I also want to high five you louder [inaudible]. No, I could not agree with you more because in my experience with dating and relationships, there have been times in my life where I really wanted to be in relationship. And I was doing all of the calculated online dating, all of the “right things” that you’re supposed to do. And then it’s always, I like hate this. It’s always when you like least expect it, you’re not looking. Why is that?
Phil: Because you’re in relaxed mode. I feel like when I say magic, I mean the world and your life sometimes takes over in ways that you can’t understand. And so I think what that’s about is that you relaxed enough to let it do that. Those things will happen over and over again, if you give it a minute, give it a fucking minute.
Alex: That’s what this story with Simone reminds me of and I feel like this is one of the reasons why I live in New York City, because you always feel like at any moment you could have a life changing interaction.
Phil: I definitely feel that.
Alex: Sometimes when you get so frustrated with this dang city or any city, you’d be on the subway and you’re…
Phil: But I just want to say one of the best moments I’ve had in the city and I’ve lived in this city pretty much all my life, I’m from here. I was on the train one day and some guy gets on the train and starts playing that, that Green Day song, “Time Of Your Life” or whatever. Literally, he’s playing on the guitar and people were just, they start nodding and then they start singing before you know it, the entire car is singing it. My heart almost broke open. And I was like, what is happening? It was the most magical thing. And everyone is singing. They are all singing. People are just smiling at each other, being like, “Hope you had the time of your life.”
It was the most magical thing I’ve ever experienced. I was like, I could never had guessed that, and I could never plan that. No one could plan that. “We’re just going to get all get on the seven train at a one o’clock we’re going to be in the third car. We’re going to do a sing along to Green Day.” So insane. Everyone walks out of there and they are on fire. They’re so in love with the city, with the people in the car, they’re just in love. It was gorgeous. It was beautiful.
Alex: What a beautiful story.
Phil: I can’t even talk about it. So I feel bad, but let’s move on to the next story, Sam’s story. Let’s talk about Sam. Sam’s story, there are many layers to this story. This is also one that could be a movie because it’s just also there are so many layers.
Sam:About six years ago, I bought a 1982 Nissan Datsun 280ZX T-top op. She was originally gray, green, and I painted her yellow and I shared this car with my best friend, Jerome, and we called it Nancy and she was gorgeous. And so my ex girlfriend that I was with, my partner, she would drive it and I could always tell when she was driving Nancy because I’d get in Nancy and she just wasn’t happy. I was like, “It’s all right, it’s fine.” And it sounds really daft but she just had to drive her really just how it was. And when you did, she just went so good. And so my ex, this is one night where our relationship was falling apart at the time.
And she calls me up at four in the morning and I had to be at work at six, I was a mechanic. And she said that I had to come and fix Nancy. She had let this go that she blatantly had a huge crush on some artist that she worked with drive the car who didn’t even know how to drive a stick shift on Hollywood Boulevard. And it was so frustrating and shitty and made me feel extra stupid and angry that I had to go over and fix my own car that she had just given to some other girl to drive, just to impress her. So the best friend that I had brought the car with, he had moved to Montreal, and then he was in New York.
And so soon afterwards, I went to go and visit him. And we were drinking at this bar, 10 Below, I think it’s called. And we were drawing on napkins. We’re like, “We’ve got to get matching tattoos. What can we get?” And we’re going through all these different things, because we lived together for a while in Los Angeles. And we were like, “Nancy, let’s just get Nancy.”
So we went outside, I used to smoke back then and went outside for a cigarette. And we ran into this chick who was cool and fun, just smoking. We are having a few drink and getting a bit tipsy and then go back inside. And so she introduces us to her friend. Her friend’s name is Lucy. She just turns to me and she’s drunk and just not interested in meeting anyone. And she’s like, “Hi, my name’s Lucy.” And I was like, “Oh my God, she’s from Yorkshire. Or she’s like from the north and I’m from the south.”
And the accent’s really nice and I was like, “Oh, you’re from England.” She’s like, “Yeah, I’m from England.” Because when you’re English, everyone’s like, “Oh, where you from?” And she was too drunk to notice my accent, so she didn’t even care. A few drinks, we had maybe another round. And they were both like, “Well we’re going to go now because we’re going to go get matching tattoos.” And we’re like, “Whoa, what? Well, we were going to go get matching tattoos today as well. Let’s just all go together.” So we all just hung out, drank some more, went and found this place on St Mark’s or something went upstairs and choosing what we wanted, the fonts and stuff. But it was such a good night and we went and got food and we probably up till about six in the morning, just all of us, we probably from about two to six, two in the afternoon to six in the morning, just all four of us just hanging out, two sets of best friends. It was really sweet with our little tattoos.
We were downstairs in this underground basement thing, which I feel was right underneath a tattoo place. Lucy went over to the bar and then I went up next to her and I just started hitting on her quite intensely. She was straight, so she had never been with the girl before and I was like, “I really want to take you home,” is what I said, maybe some other stuff that I’m not going to repeat. And she was like, “No, I’m straight. I don’t even like girls.” And I was like, “Okay, worth a shot.” So we went and had food and I went to the loo and then came out and Lucy was like, “Right, you’re coming home with me.: Then I was like, “Whoa, really?” And then I was like, well, is this the right thing? I’ve never been disloyal to my partner who was back in LA. And I made my mind up in the cab and was just like, “That’s it then. I can’t be with this woman anymore.”
I made the decision to leave her in the cab really on the way back to Lucy’s house. It was really hard for me leaving my partner, my life and everything not really knowing where I was going. And I definitely went through some bad parts and Lucy and I, we’d see each other probably once a month, maybe twice, three times every two months. And we would break up, we would get back together, we’d break up, get back together, become exclusive and then just open it up again. And then we had decided just to end it this one time, and when we weren’t talking, we weren’t talking for about six months and it was soul destroying. I just wanted to put her into every scenario or every adventure that I was going on. I wanted to imagine that she was there with me.
After this six months apart, I just realized it was not worth it. And I wanted to do everything in my power to make it work for us. And so I got her a ring, made the decision to move to New York and initially just spent the summer here and then just wanted to go full on. And so I moved to New York to be with her. And then in January I proposed to her when we were in Mexico. So we got engaged and it was, I don’t know. It’s just been amazing every minute I’m with her, I just need more minutes with her. You just want the entirety of someone and with her, I just want all of her, more of her all the time. And I think being married to her would just be such a peaceful bliss.
Phil: Are you kidding me? Shoot your shot.
Alex: Completely shoot your shot.
Phil: What is that? I mean, it’s inspiring me. I’ll tell you that much because honestly, it’s the fear that a lot of people who are queer being like, “Oh, I’m going to hit on this person and they’re going to be straight and that’s going to be the end of that.” I mean, I’m pretty sure Sam try to hit on Lucy, went to the bathroom, came back out of the bathroom and Lucy’s like, “Actually, maybe, possibly. Okay. Yes.” Literally, what happened?
Alex: Truly [crosstalk] thank you person who had a heart to heart with Lucy.
Phil: Somebody was like, “Lucy, maybe you need to give this a shot.” And Lucy was like, “Maybe I do.” And then Sam comes out the bathroom and Lucy’s like, “We’re going home.” I was like, “What?”
Alex: To which I say, we’re all straight until we’re not. We’re all straight until we’re not straight. This story was just a trip because it was just like so much. There’s this car and there’s the ex, and there’s this whole situation that happens in Los Angeles of imagining Sam’s ex’s crush taking the car, driving it along Hollywood Boulevard, messing with the car. There’s that whole story. Then there’s like this new New York chapter.
Alex: Again, this story, somebody make this into a movie. But it’s also just to the spontaneity conversation we were having, it’s like so many moments of spontaneity. And there’s something about that again, that feels very uniquely queer to me that capacity to take chances. Also I feel like nightlife is so important to queer people in a way that I feel with straight people, and I don’t want to make broad sweeping generalizations. I feel like queer people, you can go out to spaces to find people who are like you. And it also feels this uniquely queer putting yourself out into the world in a way that’s very bold. And so I appreciate that.
Phil: Yeah. I really did appreciate this story as well. And I mean, again, I don’t know what happened when Sam went to the bathroom. I mean, maybe some of that magic I was talking about earlier came in, because I’m like, I don’t understand what happened because it didn’t sound like a lot of time passed between the “No, I’m straight and I don’t date girls,” and “Oh, we’re going home.” I’m like, what happened? I need to recap. I need to, I need to check in. I need to go back and be like, “Hey Lucy, what happened?”
Alex: We want part two, we want the sequel to this one, Lucy’s story. But also what a leap of faith through Lucy as well to also be like, “I’m identifying as straight right now, or me being uncertain,” or who knows, I don’t want to assume Lucy’s perspective. But then to also take this risk and now to also be engaged to this person. Again, this story couldn’t have happened without two people exercising their full agency to make it happen.
Phil: What’s interesting is that throughout this story is that Sam notes many times throughout the story that Lucy was disinterested. Disinterested and Lucy was a little drunk and was not really noticing that Sam also had an English accent. Lucy introduced herself and was like, “Hi, I’m Lucy.” Didn’t seem interested. And all of a sudden I’m just like, what happened? Lucy, tell us what happened. Come on, Lucy.
Alex: We need to know.
Phil: I just want to know, but it’s fascinating. But I do think the shoot your shot thing is a big thing. Because without that, we don’t have stories to talk about here. It’s nothing happens and people are taking risks.
Alex: Speaking of shooting your shot, I feel like one of the hardest things about dating is the sense of rejection, the capacity of rejection. Because I feel just as human beings, we’re almost hardwired to be averse to rejection. It’s the worst. And we’ll do anything we can to not be rejected. And so I just praise both of these folks because they just forged ahead in the middle of the rejection, because I feel like that is such a difficult thing to do when I think of my own New York experiences. There have definitely been times when I shot my shot. I don’t even know what it is, but I put myself out there and like crashed and burned.
Phil: I’ve definitely there. But you know what? I will go back to what we talked about with the first story with Simone. Let’s not make it mean more than any is. We don’t even know what it means.
Alex: True, true.
Phil: It could literally be that you remind this person to somebody else and they’re like, “Absolutely not.” But that’s on them because you don’t know me. You’re now ascribing me to someone else and you don’t know me. There are a million reasons why somebody might say no and we always want to go to the worst reason and it may not be a big deal. You might be like, “Oh, I get that. Okay. That’s cool. Yeah, you can’t do it, I get it.”
Alex: Or I feel like it is okay if someone is just not romantically attracted to you.
Phil: Hundred percent.
Alex: And I feel like part of growing up and becoming more mature with dating and romance is also being able to live with that. Yes. And also being able to almost de-personalize it in a way where you’re like, “Cool, we could be friends. You’re just not romantically interested in me. And there’s no reason for me to pursue this because I want somebody who is actually romantically invested in me.” I feel it’s hard to get to that point, but I feel like that was one of the biggest lessons I learned in terms of dating was not going for people who weren’t interested in me. And also being able to put myself out there and then live with the rejection or not even a rejection, just taking it down a notch to be like, not everybody can be into everybody at the same time.
Phil: Right. And what you just said is just so the idea of being like, okay, if somebody’s not romantically interested in me, we’ve all met people we’re not romantically interested and it is not anything against them. It’s just like, there’s something either there or something not there. And if it’s not there, maybe it doesn’t have to be so personal. Maybe you don’t have to take it heart so much. It’s either there or it’s not. And it’s okay, for not to be there.
But what you just said is great. I hope that I can move forward being like, “I’m going to shoot my shot, put my shot there, put my shot there.” I am one that’s very adverse to rejection. It’s really hard for me. And I want to make friends with it. I don’t want to run from it, I want to make friends with it. Because I feel like all it is, rejection’s information. That’s what it is. It’s always more information about what works, what doesn’t work. If we could just look at it that and not make it mean so much, we’d be like, whatever. It’s okay. It’s actually cool. You got more information. You’re good.
Alex: Sitting here at the like ages and advantage points that we are at, one thing I’ll say is I do feel like dating is easier when your cerebral cortex is fully developed, because let me tell you, in my early twenties, I’ve been through therapy. I have done some work on myself. And I do feel like it is easier having a fully developed brain to process all the dating stuff. But one thing that I will always be so grateful for is that I really feel like I was able to date a lot of different kinds of people. I really was able to experience queer night life. And I feel like that was super important to me to be able to sit here and have this conversation and put myself out there an experience rejection. And I’m glad I had all of those life experiences, even though I look back and I’m like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I wrote my number on that receipt for that bartender.” Even though I look back in those moments where I’m like, “Oh my God.”
Phil: Why did I do it?
Alex: What were you thinking?
Phil: No, listen, it’s shooting your shot. And shooting your shot means it’s not the shot lands every time. It’s that you’re just shooting and you have to so that something does land, but you did the right thing. You don’t want to be looking back in your life. Simone would’ve been really like looking back and be like, “What if I had gone up and tried to do with this woman? What if I had let go of what happened in the year and a half ago when they ghosted me and if I didn’t let that go, where would I be right now? I wouldn’t be in this relationship with this woman that I think has goddess energy.” What more beautiful thing can you say about someone you’re dating? Fucking beautiful. It’s great. I’m just crossing all the place.
Alex: Andy can bleep us.
Phil: Get it out of there, Andy! But no, it’s just beautiful. And I think the shooting, the shot thing, like I have respect anybody that’s going to do that. I think it’s so good. It’s so good.
Phil: The I’m From Driftwood Podcast is hosted by Phil AKA, Corrine and…
Alex: Alex Berg, and is produced by Andy Egan-Thorpe.
Phil: The podcast is recorded as part of I’m From Driftwood, a worldwide nonprofit LGBTQIA+ story archive. Its mission is to help LGBTQIA+ people learn more about their community.
Alex: Help straight people learn more about their neighbors.
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Alex: All Through the power of storytelling.
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Alex: Thanks y’all for listening.