To many, Friday the 13th is supposed to be bad luck. I’ve never been one to believe the stereotypical superstitions. When I was a kid, my Nana used to tell me that any penny I find is a penny from heaven sent by my papa to remind me that he is with me and that he loves me. My whole life, even still to this day, I pick up any penny that I find. More often than not the penny is heads down and despite common belief that face down pennies are bad luck, I pick them up. I’ve never had the opportunity to step under a ladder, I’ve definitely broken my fair share of mirrors, and I try to cuddle any black cat that crosses my path. With all of that, it is obvious that I have never had any negative feelings toward the number 13. I never really thought about it all to be honest. That was of course until I met the man who exactly 5 years ago on this day, became my husband. Of all the blogs I’ve written thus far, I have yet to tell how Tom came into my life and so today, Friday the 13th, I find it fitting to write about how we met.
It’s no secret I love firemen and it was no secret 11 years ago that I went out of my way to see them. When I was just 21 years old I used to go into the grocery store just because the fire trucks were parked out front. Thats exactly what I did on June 30, 2010. You’re probably wondering how the heck I remember the exact date. Besides the fact that I keep all my old planners, I remember because the very next day I picked up the keys to my very own studio apartment. I was on my way to the subway for an appointment downtown. I was passing the grocery store and there it sat; Engine 22. At the time I had no idea where they were located or even the difference between a truck and an engine. Now I’m what you might call a buff and damn proud of it. As I went down what used to be the meat section of the store, I spotted the firemen. As I passed by, I strategically flashed a smile and gave a small head nod as if to say hello. Hook, line and sinker. One of the guys, probably twice my age at the time, started a conversation with me. He asked what I was up to that day and I told him of my plans to head to the subway. He pointed out that the subway was a block from their firehouse and offered me a ride in the firetruck. A ride in a New York City firetruck!? Ummmm….duh!
I bought my Smartwater, a purchase I was only making so I didn’t give away my true stalker tendencies and then awkwardly waited for them to checkout. I climbed into the firetruck, surrounded by four firemen. Down second avenue we cruised. We turned the corner at 85th (a corner to which most of this story takes place) down a block and a half right to the firehouse. I climbed out all giddy but because I was now running late, I didn’t have time to stay and chat. I asked the nice guys if I could take them out for a drink later. I was cute and young and offered to bring a friend so it didn’t take much convincing.
Later that evening, with my always-ready wing woman Meghan, I arrived to Mustangs Bar, right on that same corner of 85th and 2nd. Joined by five firemen, ironically none of which were Tom, we ordered margaritas. Lots of margaritas. I asked fire question after fire question, loving every new learned fact. From them I learned that they worked in engine number 22 but also in their house was truck number 13.
On Thursday nights Mustangs, now a Wahlburger, had Karaoke and Meghan willingly agreed to sing a song with one of the guys. They stood on the tiny platform and serenaded the crowd with “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. When you sang a song, the bar gave you a shot of tequila as a prize. That shot was all it took to put Meghan from having a good time to time to go! I bid my new fire friends adieu and escorted my girl home.
On July 1, I moved into my very own studio apartment, running me $1350 a month. At the time I was working as a waitress and bartender at a shithole up the block. Though a shithole, I made the $1350 each month for my roach infested shoebox I was proud to call home. That summer my new firemen friends would come to the bar when I worked and every once in a while I’d meet a new guy. By September I knew a lot of the members of E22/L13 but still hadn’t met my man. Each day as I headed to school, I’d pass the firehouse for my morning hello. I will admit now that the firehouse was NOT on my way to school but I would allow extra time for my daily detour. One day, just after Labor Day, I passed by and there he was. Tall, tan, handsome and oh my God! Those biceps! He saw me too. We smiled at each other but he didn’t say a word. I chatted it up with the friends I did know and went on my way.
A week later the whole firehouse was out for their annual “guys night out,” always celebrated on the Friday night just before their annual 9/11 memorial mass. After their dinner at Nicks Italian Restaurant(where they still go each year) a huge group popped into my bar, one of which was Mr. Biceps. We exchanged pleasantries and I learned his name was Tom but that was it. I was working and they had other bars to hit.
Two days later it was opening day of football and I made plans to watch the games with two of the guys at Mustangs. They helped me cheer on my Broncos and then one of them asked me who he should set me up with. “Which of the guys am I hooking you up with? You need a nice fireman boyfriend,” he said. “I don’t need a boyfriend, I just like hanging out, this is fun.” I responded. “Buuuuutttt….Who’s that guy with the big biceps…? Tom?”
A week later on September 13th, I was out to dinner on the Upper West Side with Amy and Meghan and I received a text from my matchmaking friend. “Your biceps guy is here at Molly’s but he’s got to soon. Hurry if you want to see him.” We paid the check, hailed a cab and my wing women and I headed across town to meet my mystery fireman. We walked into Molly’s, just across the street from Mustangs, again on the same corner. I remember exactly who was there and I remember exactly how it went down. Amy interrogated him. Meghan politely asked about him and I just smiled at him. One of his buddies took his phone and put it right in front of me. “Go ahead and put your number in Tommy’s phone will ya?” Then he left to meet his wife for a sushi dinner. I took Tom’s Nextel, put my number in his phone, and called myself from it so that I would have his number as well. Because I have no shame or patience I texted that man within hours of our first official meeting at Molly’s. At the time, you had to push the button three times just to get to the letter C so our exchanges were slower than they are today but we kept it up. The next day he flew to Florida to celebrate his birthday with his family but we planned to go on a date when he came back. My sister in law still tells me about the mystery girl he kept texting while there. When he came back, we went on an official date and the rest is history.
That September I met someone I want to spend all of my time with. He was obviously handsome but he was also kind, respectful to me, and from what my matchmaker friend had told me, he was an incredibly hard worker, a quality I find very attractive. We saw each other for a month but nothing was official. I asked him to be my date to Amy’s 21st birthday. We started the night at Tin Lizzy’s, a total hole that is now today the The Supply House, our number one watering hole. There we had our first ever picture taken together. We barhopped and while in Rathbones (lots of adventures have taken place in Rathbones) we stood up against a wall as the crowd danced around us and had the “I’m not seeing other people. Are you?” conversation. And so on October 13th amidst the napkin throwing and dancing, we started an official relationship.
As time went on, I learned about his obsession with the number 13. For him it started with baseball player Mike Pagliarulo and then quarterback Dan Morino.Then it just sort of became his religion. When it was time to choose a firehouse, he was torn between a house on 13th street and Ladder 13. He decided on the truck on 85th street. Crazy 13 enthusiasts would point out that the 8 and 5 added together make 13. Several months into our relationship we sat on the patio at Mollys for lunch and he went on and on about how 13 is not just a number, it is a way of life. I laughed at him because he sounded ridiculous. “You can laugh all you want Jess but if weren’t for 13, I would never have met you.” It was all I needed to hear to fall harder for him and become a 13 believer myself.
Once I started paying attention, I discovered that a lot of crazy coincidences revolve around the number 13. When I moved to NYC, my first dorm room was on floor 14 but as I look back, I realize it was actually the thirteenth floor because of the silly superstition. Both of my best friends were born on the 13th and like Tom, they are my soulmates. I live in building number 313. It’s not by choice but rather because other countless crap holes were unlivable and when the realtor showed me 313, nothing compared. More often than not, I get the number 13 at the checkout of Whole Foods and for whatever reason, maybe just coincidence, I seem to catch the time always on the 13th minute. It really does become a way of life. Now I’ll do little things like set the alarm clock for 5:13 or the microwave for 2 minutes and 13 seconds. You can think we’re both crazy but I’ve met several other people since Tom who feel this way.
Thirteen has brought me happiness. Whether real or in my head, I can’t help but disagree with the superstition of it being bad luck. Since September 13th of 2007 I have felt like the luckiest girl in the world and on July 13, 2013 I married the man that makes me feel this way. Today, a day that is supposed to be cursed and bring us all bad luck, I give thanks for lucky 13 and the man it lead me to. Happy Friday the 13th to all my fellow 13 enthusiasts and happy anniversary to my meant-to-be fireman.