After much debate, I thought I’d start things off in the most positive way I can. After all, we all have things we love to complain about – things we need to get off our chest. I don’t know about you, but it gets tiring reading about others problems!
It was November 27th, 2009 when my life took a turn for the better. First, some background. I was in the midst of a downward spiral that at the time had no end in site. Over the previous few years, my career had quickly gone from one in which I was content and reasonably comfortable, to a debacle. It was the during the depths of the housing crisis, and I lived in South Florida. You see, South Florida was one of the areas most severely impacted by the housing crisis, and I was in the wholesale mortgage lending business. I was getting it from both sides – the value of my condo in Boca Raton plummeted by about 40%, while my income dried up almost completely. It is no exaggeration to say that I was scoping out potential bridges for myself and Benny to sleep under. What was at one time unimaginable, was now a real possibility.
Fortunately, I had friends. Two friends in particular knew how bad my situation was, yet still allowed me (and Benny) to move into their beautiful home, and basically pay them what I could afford (not much). I cannot overstate the effect that a situation like this can have on a person’s sense of being. It can change who you are and how you view life. I was perpetually sad, angry and demoralized. How could my life have gone so far off track? I was at one time a successful bond salesman on Wall Street – a 2 percenter- to become someone that depended on friends just to have a roof over my head. It was in this context that I met Marla.
I was at the Boca Ale House – a local restaurant/bar that offered decent, inexpensive food, and lots of large-screen TV’s with all the games you could hope to watch. We were a group of about 12 there to celebrate one of my new roommates’ birthday. Marla was sitting next to her sister – a friend of mine that was an adored teacher and who had taught both of my children over the previous several years. I was immediately attracted to her, and immediately terrified. We hit it off almost instantly. Not only did I find her attractive, I quickly found that we had a lot to talk about. She lived literally a stone’s throw from where I once lived on the Upper West Side, and worked in the brokerage industry for Smith Barney – exactly what I used to do! There is a saying in Judaism when two people are meant for each other, or something was just meant to be. It’s pronounced B’shert. When I observed Marla and her sister look at each other after her sister made the introduction, B’shert was what immediately popped into my head. There was one problem. I was at an all-time-low in terms of just about every metric one uses to measure his or her life. I had no money, lots of debt, and no income. I was depressed, and I think it showed – despite the game-face I wore that night. What could I possibly “bring to the table” that would attract this girl? In those days, it was difficult for me to find a reason to smile, let alone attract a companion. The only thing I felt happy about was my two handsome, intelligent and wonderful boys, and Benny – my dog.
After about an hour of talking to Marla, I knew I didn’t want the night to end. I was speaking with one of my roommates about this and decided that this was worth pursuing. Since I had no money in my pocket (a fairly common occurrence those days), I needed to ask him for $20 so I could buy her a few drinks, and not look like the loser I felt I was!
Without going in to too much detail, Marla and I began a long-distance relationship. We talked on the phone several times a day, and really got to know one another. In many ways, OUR long-term relationship was the best thing that could have happened. It allowed us to focus on getting to really know one another – and made the times we could actually see each other that much better. She wasn’t terribly concerned about my situation – at least outwardly – in fact, I was continually amazed that she would even give me the time of day! The following months offered further challenges to my well-being, but Marla had the ability to help me return to the person I was when I didn’t face these challenges. She gave me hope and love, and while I tried to give her the same, I was always afraid that she would wake up one day and and say “why do I need this guy’s problems?” It was clear to me that I needed to claw my way back, if for no other reason than to hold on to Marla. Don’t get me wrong here – I already had plenty of reasons to work towards improving my situation, not the least of which was my children – but Marla made me feel like a man again and I knew that I didn’t want to lose her.
Marla and I have been married a year and a half now, I’m not only back on my feet, but am also back in the city I love. I don’t get to see my children as much as I used to, but have come to realize that they need a father that they can look up to, not pity. They have their own lives now, and I speak with at least one of them each day. While I have a long way to go to get back to where I once was, I am getting there, and I believe they recognize that.
The moral of my story is, when you are happy in your personal life, the rest takes care of itself. You need to always work on improving yourself, but having someone beside you while you do makes all the difference in the world!