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With Val, it was definitely love at first sight!

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Have you ever had a scheduled phone meeting, zoom call, or a Microsoft teams video conference that was set in a different time zone and it was left up to you to calculate the difference? I mean, whoever thought a fifth-grader could beat me in the show “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader,” if I were on and asked to calculate time differences? I was graciously allowed to speak with someone about their Once Upon A Hetero journey who I knew lived in a different time zone than my CST, and somehow I missed the set 1 p.m. meeting.

I am so thankful Valerie, Once Upon A Hetero’s next storyteller, allowed me to redeem myself and successfully interview her. I realized towards the end of our chat we’d been chatty Kathy’s for over 2 hours and I did not regret a single minute. The old saying is time fly’s when you’re having fun. I hope you enjoy this beautiful journey shared by a woman who chose her own path to reach her happy ending.

Can you first start by telling me a little about yourself?

Sure! I’m thirty-seven years old, from Washington, spent seven years of my journey in New York, and for the past six years, I’ve been living in California. I was married to a man for seven years before moving to California where I truly found myself.

To be married to someone for 7 years is a really long time. How would you describe your marriage?

First, it was exciting, we met in Seattle, and he was really nice. He and I both wanted a fresh start and I think we gave each other courage. We jumped into marrying which showed based on how we grew apart over the years. I think had we not moved directly to New York we would have separated much sooner.

Okay, so a Seattle meeting but you started your lives together in New York. What was that like for you? You were a newlywed and moved to a different city. At what age did you get married? And how long had you two been together before marrying?

We were engaged within maybe three months of meeting each other, things moved super quick. I was twenty-five when we married and I think we were married less than a year after our engagement. Honestly, it was a bit of a blur in time for me. Moving to New York a month after our wedding was terrifying but I oddly enjoyed starting my life over. I guess I can get restless easily. We moved to a really rough part of Brooklyn and Jerry, (name changed for storytelling purposes) my ex, was mugged after having lived there for maybe 6 months. We packed up, broke our lease, and used everything we had (with help of my parents), and moved to Brooklyn heights. The move showed us a completely different side of New York giving us a brand new outlook. It felt like the struggle was already gone and we were off to have a lot of fun.

Wow, so you move to a new city as if that wasn't hard enough and was met with a traumatic experience. That was really crappy!

It was a quick learning experience that was a reality check for both of us.

At the time, did you feel he was the right person for you? What do you think set you both on a path of separation?

At the time I definitely was in love; he was my best friend, we had a blast together. Jerry worked as a concierge in New York which came with endless perks. We were always out and always doing something cool. Over time, my status increased, I found my voice and became more vocal. Ultimately, I think the change in my status affected him. After a while of living in New York, experiencing its nightlife I was able to see past all the silliness of the nightlife scene and got bored with it all. As I got bored with the nightlife, he got bored with me. He was in search of excitement and began looking for it in a new person.

It's hard to put my finger on but over time we just didn’t really like each other. I don’t know when he first started to feel differently. We didn’t fight. We never yelled at each other so I’m not totally sure what went wrong but I know about 4 years in I stopped really liking him as a person. I’m pretty sure he felt the same about me but we have never talked about the split. We made great friends but that was it.

Can you tell me what you mean by your status?

When we moved to New York I got a job as a Maitre d’ in a small restaurant name Forge. Matt, the general manager, took a chance on me and that move pushed me into the fine dining restaurant scene. It’s impossible to get into but once in you’re kind of set up career-wise. I was lucky because it helped me into some of the best restaurants in NY. So, Jerry and I both started building our careers and our “names”.

Side note: I definitely had to google the meaning of "Maitre d".

Was it in your plans when moving to NY to work in the restaurant business or did you have other plans? Are you still in that line of work now?

Yup, still in restaurants! I never had a career path so restaurants were my speed. So to speak, I kind of fell into it in Seattle before the move and basically never looked back.

Earlier you expressed you never fought, how was it expressed that things were off between the two of you? As you said you became more vocal, had you kept silent before?

I was more of a pushover at the start of the relationship but that faded as I built self-confidence. We were always looked at as couple goals and people often said they looked for what we had in their own relationships. I don’t remember anger or resentment. It really snuck up on me but I could tell things were off as we weren't physical often. We didn't even hold hands, and just talking became a task. It never quite felt right... I didn’t see that until later.

Wow, what was it like hearing that you both were, as younger people say, "relationship goals?" Were you being told that statement at a time when you knew something was off in the relationship?

Yeah, we were told up until the end of the marriage that we were the “perfect couple,” and in the beginning, I felt like it. In the end, I realized we were better as friends because there wasn’t really anything between us.

When did you decide to end your marriage? How difficult was it to decide to terminate your marriage?

I knew something was going on, I felt it in my gut and asked him to talk one night. He took hours to get home which to me, was a sign. When he walked in I think he just sat down and said, "I'm having an affair." Just like that- I remember nodding and asking if he wanted to work it out. He said yes, and we decided to do that until it didn't work. It didn’t take long, just 3 days and I asked him to leave the house. I was destroyed. I only stuck around NY for about six more months.

One night, I had a dream and it said to move to San Diego. That same day I bought a round-trip ticket to check it out. Leaving him was for my survival. The only way I was going to be okay was to completely start over. It was me, my dog, and a suitcase.

Woah! That was a huge bomb he dropped on you. I couldn’t imagine having the strength at that moment to ask if he wanted to work things out. I am sorry you had to experience that. In that six-month time frame did you both continue living together? When you visited San Diego, was it love at the first visit?

He moved out those 3 days after he told me and never returned. We did see each other and struggled with the next steps but he never came back. San Diego was a dream and all the signs pointed to yes.

Linus (tan) & Luciana (black) my wife and I’s dog

How long did it take you to tell Jerry? What did that conversation look like?

I didn’t tell him I was leaving until maybe a week prior. I had him come to the apartment because I needed him to sign to break the lease. I wouldn’t have told him otherwise. He went through a whirlwind of emotions but I was leaving, and no one could changing my mind. It felt like jumping out of a plane. Both scary and exciting.

That is ah-ma-zingg! Go you! 
With your new lease on life, when did the time come that you found yourself thinking women might be an option for you?

Lucky for me I moved to San Diego which is a very gay-friendly city. I’ve always appreciated women. I’ve always found myself only being attracted to women but it never was more than a thought or curiosity. I was only dating men when I met my now wife, but the moment I saw her I said out loud “that’s her”.

Just like San Diego, it was love at first sight. That’s rare and I love that for you both. Can you tell me what you remember from the first time you saw her?

I was serving at a restaurant. Her friends had already arrived and had placed orders, I was getting their items when she walked in. I was standing by the bar with a coworker, completely intrigued by her. She was wearing scrubs (she’s a nurse) and there was something about her; I was a mess. I was flirting with her like crazy and she picked up on it. On her way out she asked for my number which only later I found out she had never done that before. I knew in my gut that I had found my person. Instantly.

I thank her for her service during these coronavirus hectic times!

Ooohhhh, I love directness! She picked up on your not so casual flirting and asked for your number. Would you say you made the first move?

Oh yes, definitely!

You said you'd always only found yourself being attracted to women, was there something that kept you from acting on your thoughts and curiosities?

I grew up in a smaller town. It had a gay bar but really that was a place for 21-year-olds to dance. It was never a bad thing, in fact, all my close friends were lesbians. I just had blinders on. In those times women never hit on me but men always did. I’m sure I would have acted if someone had hit on me. In high school, we messed around but I played it up like it was experimental.

I understand those experimental times. Had you ever confided in a friend about your curiosities?

Never. We'd never get too deep in our conversations in those friendships or maybe I was closed off. Which now that I think about it, it's odd because all my friends were hooking up with each other so it would have been fine. I was most likely in a relationship at the time.

Your wife was the first woman you dated, how was it for you during your first conversation as a potential partner? Were you nervous? Did she lead the conversation?

On the day of our date, I was waiting at the restaurant when she arrived and I wasn’t nervous. I dated a lot and all I could think about was the possibility of kissing her. I was already gone and on cloud 9. She, on the other hand, was nervous which gave me even more confidence. We both held our own in the night's conversation. There wasn’t a beat missed; it was so easy. It’s so cheesy. I know.

I’m insanely picky and at the time wasn’t big on keeping people around. I was just so happy, no one else was on my mind. We literally were obsessed with each other. Never leaving each other except to work.

How long did you date before you married? When did you feel in your heart that it was a good choice to get married? Do you feel you had a different view on marriage? Did you know what you were looking for to get married again?

We dated for a year and a half before we got married. I don’t ever remember it not being a good idea. I’m a dive-heart-first into anything so it was easy for me. I really don’t fall for people easily. I actually don’t feel like my view was any different but all the feelings were unique. We have a unique chemistry. I definitely didn’t know what I was looking for because it found me. I didn’t think too much.

How did your family deal with your divorce? How long after your divorce did you meet your wife? Had your family ever expressed dislike about the LGBT Community? Are they excepting of your beautiful union?

My family was incredibly supportive! They were there round the clock. I met my wife almost three years after my seperation. My parents never said a bad thing about the gay community and they love my wife so much. It’s really sweet.

When was the first moment you felt like you took a breath and you were in the right place in your LGBT life?

The first date with my wife. The world lined up for me, it all made sense.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone currently going through a Once Upon A Hetero journey of self-discovery?

I think everyone gets brave or wakes up at their own pace. Just know that as long as you surround yourself with love, it’s all going to work out.

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