From: San Diego but lived in Norway for six years and Spain for two years
Job: Runs a cultural exchange program for Americans in 25 countries
Heidi grew up near the beach in San Diego. She was a cute, fun girl with a lot of friends. Like a lot of girls, though, she felt insecurite when she compared herself with the super hot, super “popular” girls who always had a boyfriend on their arm.
“San Diego is very judgey, very based on looks, and all the hot guys are pro surfers or pro skaters. It’s a very image-based scene,” she said.
What is a “late bloomer” anyway?
Heidi told me that because she didn’t have a boyfriend in high school, she felt like “kind of a late bloomer” sexually. I was expecting her to say that she hadn’t had sex until she was in her 20s or something. But then she continued to tell me about having sex at 17 with a friend of a friend.
Sidenote: I want to reiterate something I’ve said before, how it keeps wowing me how much our ideas about what’s “normal” and what we “should” be like are formed by the wildly varied, subjective, man and woman-made environments we all grow up in. I know this seems obvious, right?! And I think many of us are aware of it. But despite that, everyone seems to unconsciously absorb some of the norms they grew up with in a way that makes them feel more true than they really are.
Thank god, if you’re exposed to a lot of different people, you might find out that what you thought made you weird isn’t weird at all. Because everyone has at least one thing about them that they assume is not normal.
But back to Heidi.
During college, Heidi studied abroad in Denmark. While she was there, she fell in love with a “really good, really handsome Norwegian man.” After the program ended, she moved to Norway to be with him. She was in love and tried to mold herself to fit into his life and his culture.
Domesticated with Prince Charming
She was living abroad and learning new things, both really important to her, but as the weeks wore on, she was also getting claustrophobic in the suburbs.
“I was, like, such a good girl when I moved to Norway. I didn’t smoke weed, I didn’t do anything. Norweigans follow the rules very strictly. And then I kind of felt like I lost a bit of myself because I tried to conform to something that I wasn’t, really,” she told me.
Heidi was playing the part of the “good girl.” But at her core she certainly wasn’t only that.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to live in the suburbs of Norway and have five babies.’”
The orgy with Vittorio the Italian drug dealer
During the interview, for instance, Heidi told me about several sexual experiences she had had around the time she dated the Norwegian guy. In one case, she was partying with her girlfriends in Oslo. Everyone took “Molly” (aka MDMA) and went out. Somehow they ended up at an Italian drug dealer’s house (his name was Vittorio) and started having an impromptu orgy.
“Everyone just started having sex everywhere and touching everyone and getting in there,” she said. “It was kind of awkward because two of my best friends were there.”
Another time, she was in a hostel in Botswana with her Norwegian boyfriend. After he went to sleep, she ended up having a threesome with a guy and a girl.
That is to say, Heidi was 24 and probably not ready to settle down just yet.
“From the white knight to the bad boy”
What happened next is what usually happens: the dark horse showed up. In this case, he was the hot latino chef at the Spanish tapas restaurant where Heidi worked.
“I went to this party and he was smoking the fattest joint I’d ever seen, and I was like, ‘This guy is badass,’” Heidi told me.
Even though the Norweigan was a good boyfriend, Heidi needed something new. She broke up up with him and started dating Spanish chef, Alex.
“I went from the white knight to the bad boy. He was so unlike me but I was so attracted to him. It was a whole new world.”
They had great chemistry, but the relationship had some crazy highs and lows. There were drugs. A lot of drugs.
Heidi and Alex moved to Spain for a while, where Heidi (who had studied journalism) worked at a press agency.
But then Alex lost his job and things began to fall apart, fast.
“Stuff is blowing up, let’s get married”
“We ended up doing tons of coke and spent tons of money. It was really unhealthy. But at that point, I needed (work visa) papers and I was like, ‘Hey, we need to get married.’”
Heidi said that when she looks back, it’s obvious getting married wasn’t the best thing to do.
“But at the time I needed work visa papers. I was very weak and I didn’t want to break up and I didn’t want to go home … I was trying to fix the relationship that was already broken.”
Heidi and Alex ended up moving back to Norway. She waited for papers while the snow piled high outside. Meanwhile their relationship got more abusive and strained. Heidi was rail thin. Cocaine and cigarettes had replaced food.
Then one night, in the thick of an ugly fight, Heidi decided to make a different choice.
A one-way ticket home
“I remember the night I bought a one-way ticked home. Alex was screaming at me and I just pressed ‘purchase.’ And then it was done.”
“I was kind of a mess after the break up. I felt pretty defeated. I quit my two jobs and said goodbye to all of my friends.”
Heidi let people know on Facebook that she was moving back to San Francisco.
“Within an hour one of my best friends from childhood told me that she had a room for me in San Francisco for $600. I took it immediately. It’s still the apartment I live in today.”
Once she moved back, Heidi had to start over with everything. It had been years since she’d lived in the US and she had to start putting down roots again. But her closest friends helped her find herself again by getting her an interview for a travel coordinating job, taking her out, introducing her to new people and encouraging her to start writing her own blog. She kicked the cocaine habit too.
Heidi didn’t date anyone for almost a year after she moved back. Then she said, she started casually dating and sleeping with a lot of people.
Sometimes she even ignored her therapist’s warning and Skyped with Alex. At one point in a moment of weakness, she invited him to move to San Francisco.
“Thank God that didn’t happen,” she told me.
She eventually payed $2,000 to finalize their divorce.
Then one night, Heidi went out to a concert with her sister’s friend. Heidi had met her a few times before and they got along great, but she never thought it wold be anything more. But after the concert, they ended up hooking up with each other and realizing that along with loving the same music and having a lot of fun, they had really great chemistry as lovers.
But neither of them was ready to have a girlfriend. And while Heidi had always been bisexual, she’d never dated a woman. So the pair spent “a wild year of being best friends and lovers” until they realized they just needed to date exclusively.
They’ve been together 4 years now.
Before, she said, the people she was in relationships with were so different from her. She seemed to seek that out, but it was so extreme. With her girlfriend she says, there is way more compatibility.
It seemed like she’d found a way to be herself and be with someone she loves deeply — a person who, by the way, apparently makes her “see rainbows” when they have sex. (How’s that for a double entendre? )
“Now I feel pretty comfortable just being myself and I think my partner loves me for who I am,” she said.
She said that although her friends and family are very supportive, it was a little weird when she first came out.
“Like, trying to tell your parents at 32 that you’re dating a woman is a little weird. I just said I was bisexual to ease them into it. My mom was always trying to ask me, “Are you lesbian or bisexual?’ And I was just like, ‘I don’t really know, mom, it’s kind of whatever you want it to be. For me it just depends on the person.'”
Plus, some people think they’re pretty open minded, but aren’t.
“I remember some people being like, ‘I’m totally cool with the gays,’ and then they were not … A lot of my guy friends got really territorial too, asking my girlfriend, ‘Hey, why you stealing our girl?'”
It’s now been four years since she started dating her girlfriend now and Heidi said that pretty much everyone close to her knows, loves and accepts her for who she is.
When Heidi looks back, she’s so happy that she was able to pull herself out of the those past relationships when she did, even if it wasn’t smooth or graceful all the time.
“Back then, when I broke up with Alex, it did feel like I had failed in some way. But now I am so so happy that I did. My life seems so much fuller and complete now,” she said.
Love this story? Click the “Follow” button on the right to get an email when we publish something new.