Boyfriend and I met at a New Year’s Eve party in Austin.
He later told me that he’d given up looking for a girlfriend because he was fed up with the whole dating scene and had pretty much decided that the girl he was looking for wasn’t going to be at a bar or any of those other suffocating meet (or is it “meat”?)-markets. If he met a girl, he said, it would have to be dumb luck.
And then I showed up at his parents’ New Year’s Eve party. He introduced himself to me, but we didn’t talk much, as we didn’t know each other at all. Around 11:30, after a few visits to the shot luge, I walked up to him and interrupted a conversation he was having to ask him who he was kissing at midnight. Without missing a beat, he replied, “You.”
When the ball dropped, though, he wasn’t there. I celebrated by hugging my friends and some strangers, and a few minutes later, just when I began to think that he’d chickened out, he was there. He said, “Sorry I’m late,” I walked into his arms, and our lips met. It was an innocent enough kiss–I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, after all, just to start 2010 off on the right foot. As soon as I pulled back, I looked into his face, and there I saw a mixture of surprise and, well, desire. I couldn’t see my own face, but I imagine it mirrored his, with a little bit of delight thrown in there for good measure. We kissed again, a little slower this time.
And then we spent the rest of the night kissing.
We like to revisit that night in conversation every once in a while. Last night he asked, “What were you doing at a party in Austin on New Year’s Eve, anyway?”
See, I live in Dallas. And he lives in Austin. A few months into our relationship, I began devising a plan to get there.
Plan A. was find a job in Austin. After a protracted job hunt and several offers to work for $11/hour (which, unfortunately, I cannot support myself on), I ended up being recruited for a fantastic job. In Dallas. When they offered it to me, I accepted, with the understanding that I would like to work from Austin as soon as possible. As soon as possible, however, is still a little less than a year away.
So I moved on to Plan B. Which is to win the lottery.
I consider myself to be a pretty lucky person. I often win door prizes and raffles and drawings. The really weird thing is that I always know I’m going to win ahead of time. I get a premonition. And then, seconds later, it happens.
Usually the prizes I win aren’t super desirable, like the time I won an XXL Pyramid T-shirt and some pilsner glasses at a pub. But sometimes they are.
Last December I won a $100 gift card to Target at our annual meeting for work, which I used to buy the coverlet that’s currently on my bed. I sat there as they drew the ticket stub that matched the number on my seat, thinking about what I would do with the money before it was even mine. Because I knew it would be. And then, seconds later, it was.
A couple of summers ago, I won $150 at Gay Bingo. When my friend Ryan and I turned to one of the last game boards in our little booklet, I said, “I am going to win this one.” As the numbers were called off one by one, I found that every single one matched in the exact pattern I needed them to be in. As I contemplated my prescient win and blotted out the winning numbers, I was more nervous about calling out “BINGO!” than I was excited to be winning. It was a tough crowd. When I finally did call out, everyone groaned. A grouchy man called me “Goldilocks” as I walked to the mic to verify my numbers, and someone else requested that they throw me in “the stocks,” which were some stocks set up onstage where the Gay Bingo violator gets accosted by various drag queens. Luckily, mine was a legitimate Gay Bingo, and I didn’t have to be thrown into the stocks.
I put $20 of my winnings in the offering plate at church the next day for good karma.
I’d heard once that the lottery is a tax on the poor, and, given the terrible odds, I was never inclined to play. Also, the Texas Lottery was one of our main clients at the ad agency, and the day I was hired I had to sign a huge document stating that I realize I, my immediate family, anyone in my household, and pretty much anyone who’s ever known me cannot win the lottery as long as I was employed there.
I am no longer employed there. So when I had a dream last week that my mom and I won $155,000 in the lottery, I considered for a week and decided on Tuesday night that it was time I give it a go.
Of course, I had no idea what I was doing. At a gas station near my apartment, I examined the form for so long the words stopped making sense to me. An Indian man behind the counter asked me if I needed help, and, grateful, I confessed that I did. He pulled his own lottery ticket out of his wallet to show me what it looked like. “How will I know if I win?” I asked him. He smiled and said that it would be on the evening news. “But I don’t have a TV.” In that case, he said, I should check online.
I had the machine pick my numbers for me, bought a $5 ticket for five chances, folded it up, and put it in my wallet just like he did his.
The drawing wouldn’t be for another day, so in the meantime, I contemplated what I was going to do with my millions. I decided I would be a conservative millionaire: I would start by paying off my Jetta and my student loans, of course, and then I would move to Austin and buy a house. Not a huge, fancy once. A modest renovated 1920s cottage. Lots of windows and shiny hardwoods. I would pay for an extravagant vacation to Europe for Boyfriend and me. And then probably invest the rest, living off the interest for the rest of my life as I tried to make a go finally at being a writer.
I really did think I was going to win. I realize how naive that sounds. But the dream! It was inevitable. Every time I thought about the upcoming drawing, I would feel a surge of adrenaline to my chest, along with a bit of sadness for my former, simple life. Everyone knows money makes things so much more complicated. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. But they’re problems I really wouldn’t mind having.
I totally understand now why people get addicted to gambling.
I waited as long as I could, and then around 10:30 last night I scooched into bed and pulled up the website that would change my life forever.
And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t win.
I’m not sure when and if I’m going to play again. Maybe when I have another dream about winning the lottery, whenever that will be. Maybe I would’ve won if I’d gone to buy a ticket right after I awoke from the dream instead of waiting a week. But that’s the kind of thought that’s bad for the soul.
Plan C., in case you’re wondering, is that Boyfriend accidentally knocks me up. According to the literature that comes with my birth control, odds are about 1 in 1,000. A bit more likely than 195.2 million, I’d say. But still not very. Which is okay, really. I know I’ll be in Austin soon. And maybe my life won’t even have to alter dramatically for me to get there.
Every once in a while, Boyfriend asks me, “How did I get to be so lucky?” Truthfully, lottery or no lottery, I’m convinced that I’m the lucky one.