Tag Archives: cocaine

Coachella Day 3, Pt. 2: Saturday 90,000 People on Drugs

Saturday, April 13th, 2013 

Part 2

Trent and I were without much narcotics. There was some coke left over, in addition to a bag we found the night before, but finding privacy and still air for lines in the desert just puts me on edge. It wasn’t my scene for coke. Violent Femmes were on at 6pm that was the one band I wanted to see.

Today would be the day we wouldn’t let the rich kids get to us.

“I hate you white people because you are rapists, child molesters and sociopaths. Look at all the serial killers. They are all white! … and now you are taking over Coachella,” Trent said just before squeezing my knees affectionately. “No offense.”

“None taken,” I said casually. “I don’t consider myself white. I am a black, jazz singer trapped in a tone deaf white woman’s body.”

vanessa-hudgens-drugs-coachella04_4daeee459e19a-t

Walking around asking strangers for drugs was hopeless the day before, with the exception of a middle-aged hippie from San Francisco.

“Do you know Molly?” Trent asked, as we pressed shoulders against each other on a hay stack.

He stopped. “I sure do. I know Lucy, too.”

“Lucy?” I asked. “Who is Lucy?”

He stepped closer to us and spoke quietly, but shrugged. “Lucy is acid.”

“Lucy in the sky, I get it,” I said, happily.

“How much do you need?” he asked.

“Just a few hits each.”

“Oh … I only deal in grams. A sheet of LSD would be around 40,” he said.

We didn’t have enough money to buy a sheet of acid when we wanted a psychedelic and MDMA or Molly or Ecstasy. We just needed a handful of party favors for the weekend. However, if my phone hadn’t died weeks later, that would have been a helpful business contact for Los Angeles. Acid is non-existent down here. We explained our position.

“I get it. I just can’t walk around with $5 bills filling up my wallet,” he said. We weren’t the big spenders. The college kids who hoarded their drugs and kept privately within their SUV campsites had a bigger spread, bought more drugs and could splurge. This guy financed parties.

The next kid we met, a spacey-Eskimo teenager stopped when we asked, “Do you have shrooms?”

“Shrooms …. Oh… I would really love to help you … but I ate them all.”

We did however find a cool young kid who sold us some good mushrooms at a decent price. I can’t recall much about the kid other than he seemed like the one person who was lucid and smart enough to sell drugs at Coachella.

Security Check Line at Coachella

Now, there was the security check into Coachella concert grounds. Naturally, because I was the girl, it would be easier for me to pass through carrying. Security guards don’t like to feel up girls. My secret was the purse. There was a zipper pocket inside. I put the drugs at the bottom and a big packet of handi-wipes on top of them. No one would think to take all my items out of the inner zipper. It would just hold up the line too long. The other place is behind a driver’s license or bill fold in my wallet.

On the final day at Coachella, one female security guard, the bull dyke type, felt up my bra. “Wait a minute! What’s this?” she said.

“My tits,” I said. “I know. I have big tits for my body type.”

“Hold on,” she said, calling over an equally bloated, blotchy faced, female guard with hair cut close to the skull and small earrings as if it was a last ditch effort to distinguish gender. She felt my breasts, too.

“She’s clear,” said the second guard.

“Ok,” the first guard said, motioning me through. I gave her a look of outrage and invasion. My eyes narrowed, my lips pursed and I glared. I picked up my purse with in total disgust; the same purse carefully carrying weed, a pipe, two packets of shrooms and leftover cocaine.

Trent Walks Ahead

Inside, we stopped by a few forgettable artists when we decided to duck into a tent and offer to get someone high in exchange for a light. That was harder than it sounded. This was no Woodstock. As social of an event as camping in the desert seems like it must be, it seemed the venues and concert-goers had fine-tuned the art of isolation, despite Coachella’s conception and design. Most people were drunk and bumped into you or cut you off in line without as much as a head nod. Others just avoided you. Once in a while there was someone who was passed out or fell sick. One girl was throwing up. Trent was holding her hair back and feeding her water. We found out the four kids standing nearby were her friends. They were too absorbed in the concert to help her.

“That’s your friend, she needs your help,” Trent said. They kind of nodded, bleary-eyed, smoking a joint and turned back to the concert. “Hey!” Trent said again, grabbing their arm. “She needs help. You have to stop what you’re doing and get her out of here.”  This time they were a little more awake and made the minimal effort to lift her up. Trent and I kind of chuckled about it, like the wind was knocked out of us. It didn’t matter how poor we were, what color our skin was, these people were so disassociated they didn’t even have each other.

Inside a tent, we found a volunteer who was chilling out off-duty. We asked him for a light in exchange for a bowl. He was friendly, mid-twenties, dressed comfortably with a little extra weight on him. He wasn’t over-weight, he just looked normal. He also smiled through his beard, made eye-contact and warmly regarded us. It was a bright ally in an unfriendly country.

As we sat down to pack the bowl, we spoke about our expectations and the people around us. “You know I expected something different. But whatever, they are doing here what they seem to want to. There are lots of perfect bodies. That takes a lot of discipline. They are goal-oriented and I respect that. But there is more to life than just reaching goals. Like, where is the love? I would like to see more love, more physical love, more self-love. I don’t know why it’s missing but maybe they don’t need it. Maybe it isn’t as important to them. I just come here, listen to the music and try to be kind,” the stranger said. We smoked not long before Trent yanked on my sleeve and said he had to leave.

The stranger sensed the sudden pain, like he too felt the heat of a flame and waved us goodbye without question.

Outside the tent, Trent walked quickly away, crumbling in tears. “He reminds me of Kent.” His last love. We are all haunted by loves, but until we fall in love again, the hauntings are a hassle, a chronic ache, a struggle. When a new love makes his way in, the spirit remains but is somehow friendlier. At least that is how I feel about my lost loves. The anger and resentment drains out of you, the disappointment fades, but the love remains.

starbucks all you need is love

***

Violent Femmes took the stage. We were late getting there. It was the one band I wanted to see. Initially, before the line-up for Coachella was announced, there were serious rumors that The Rolling Stones would headline. You can imagine what that did to a girl like me; I was practically foaming at the mouth. I wish I could say when the rumors were denounced, I let it go.

I never let it go. I held on to the fantasy until Saturday night. The truth was once I walked through the campground, waited in line through security to the festival grounds, I could see that it wasn’t the Stones crowd. Their music would be wasted here.

The other artist I wanted to see was Lou Reed, but he backed out the week before the festival. Last week he died. My heroes are ghosts.  It would be easy to say this left me with a disenchanted life, but I have been lucky thanks to Los Angeles and a little bit of resourcefulness and ingenuity. I have seen the greats, what’s left of them.

Violent Femmes is a weird little band. My best friend in high school introduced me to them. He was two years ahead, drove a pick-up truck and had a big crush on me. He liked a lot of things I didn’t really care for like Lord of the Rings (the books), martial arts, boy stuff. We still enjoyed Kubrick films together, shared pots of ramen we didn’t bother to scoop into separate bowls and went to Germany as exchange students in the same group. He was a good friend.

Violent+Femmes Original

His sister bought tickets to see the Violent Femmes at the county fair. She told Rob, my friend, that he could bring anyone he wanted … but me. She didn’t like me. That was my one chance to see them.

Now, twenty years later, here it was my second chance.

You could say they are “folk punk”. They are just a cool sound. Funny enough, they started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1980 through 1987 on their first run. I was trapped in that hole of a city from 1982-1991. My sister had an album by them and I never forgot the song “Confessions”. It wasn’t until I hit puberty that I invested in my own album, a best of. I sunk into the off-beat, whiny vocals, the grating bag pipes, the angry lyrics, the dark stories. Now they were old, and fucking thrilled to be playing again for a crowd.

VFemmes Lead

VFemmes Bag Pipes

I was into it. I knew the words. I wanted to dance but it was an odd scene. Only a few girls were moving and Trent was off to the side, checking his watch. He wasn’t into it. It was a good show. The sun set.

Violent Femmes

Next on our to-do list was a band called Sigur Ros. I never heard of them, but I live in my little room, with my classic rock, my books and dogs. People don’t sit around and share music anymore. We settled into a group hanging out on the grass not too far from the stage. We ate our shrooms.

A couple sat behind us to the left. A white couple, fairly average in looks, the girl with medium length brown hair and a black coat, her boyfriend a little larger, also in black, held her close. She looked so unhappy. So despondent.

After a few minutes, I looked over to check on her and watched a tear fall down her cheek. Her companion tried to console her, but she elbowed him away.

“Uh oh,” I said, tapping Trent. “The drugs are kicking in for someone.”

“Where?” he turned to look and suddenly her face was covered in tears. She shrunk and buried her head into his lap.

“Yikes. That was fast,” I said.

“Music is emotional business,” Trent said. “There are 90,000 people here and we are all on drugs.”

Snail Photo by Sarah Parvini

Coachella had a theme, though it wasn’t totally evident. There was a huge snail that moved an inch every so often across the grounds. I didn’t even know it was moving at all until Trent told me. Then he pointed out the large, decorative ladybugs and a praying mantis. “We are the ants,” he said.

praying mantis

When Sigur Ros came on, I had no idea what to expect. The mushrooms make you sick and sleepy at first, and then your eyes are reopened. I couldn’t see them through all the heads, but white light fell over us like we were children running underneath a parachute on a summer day. The music was gentle- a piano, a bowed guitar, percussion and the sound erupted into something new. Music I never heard before.

sigur ros guitar

sigur-ros star storm

sigur ros stage

A voice sang in Icelandic through the music. A feminine, angelic voice. Even listening to them now, as I write this, I feel chills run up from my ankles to my thigh. My heart pounds harder and my eyes tighten. What beauty. Who knew Iceland reinvented music?

The show peaked with a choir. Whether there really was a choir there or not, I cannot say for certain. I am not a journalist. I am a music lover and a drug user. I raised my hands high and felt warm tears spill down my face. The scream of the vocals weak but sharp, growing through the strings and lights. It was like a pharaoh’s voice screaming to us. It was a perfectly unique moment. And finally, I had my moment where I felt one with the selfish frat boys, the girl crying in her boyfriend’s arms, the drunk guy who bumped into me and the Eskimo who ate all his mushrooms. The music was the gel oozed between each individual and clenched us together.

Sigur ros

When the music stopped, the lights turned off and we all blinked out of our daze, still sticky from the thumping harmony. We slowly climbed away from each other, wet, touched, awake.

I turned to the people around me. “Ok. Where are the Stones?”

“The Stones?” an older guy said, with a beard and a biker scarf over his head. “You mean, The Rolling Stones?”

“Yeah, man. The Rolling Stones.”

“They couldn’t get them, but the Stone Roses took their place,” he said.

“Eh, that’s bull shit.” I turned to Trent, “What do we do now?”

“They were great, right?”

“Phenomenal.”

“Phoenix is on the other stage,” he said, leading me through the crowd to more music. It didn’t have the heart, and I hung back with Sigur Ros’ toy piano plucking my brain. The light from their stage still burning bright inside me.

“You want to go back?” Trent asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We stumbled across a pile of ice someone dumped on the grass. I stopped to address it, “Hey, you make great music.”

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Hippie Chic: Coachella Day 2 … Friday

April 12th, 2013

It was Friday in the desert. I waited as people woke up. As I get older and work more, I get used to being an early morning person. The coffee and food trucks were lined up beyond the campgrounds, in a different section even further beyond the toilets and showers. I heard you had to hit the showers early if you didn’t want to wait in line for hours.

I watched the risers to gather a picture of where I was and prepare for the experience. Frat boys. Topless. Long shorts. No body hair. Identical. Sorority girls. Daisy dukes and bikini tops. Lots of daisy dukes and bikini tops. They were all loud.

“COACHELLA!” someone would scream.

greetings

The heat weighed in heavy almost immediately.

Trent got up to a beer and a few lines of cocaine.

A couple stumbled in front of us. The girl taking the boy’s hand and pressing it against her groin while seemingly entranced in a kiss.

“And I thought true love didn’t exist,” Trent said.

“There are so many daisy dukes and bikini tops that it has become a permanent fixture in the background. Our canvas IS daisy dukes and bikini tops.”

We ventured into the festival. Though I was wide awake at 7am, I was exhausted by noon and we stumbled by something called the Do LaB to fall asleep in the grass. The music was hypnotic. It didn’t really have an identity to itself, but a comforting, predictable beat. Similar to a mother’s heart beat from inside the womb. There were layers to it that, in my opinion, achieved an echelon above the usual pop hit I spin through on the radio.

Pictures in the News

Do Lab Day

I sat up to watch the beautiful people dance. The beautiful, bronzed, thin, muscular, self-aware puppets danced. Everything was so hyper-aware. The flower in the hair. The face paint. The shoes and painted toe nails. I heard the phrase “hippie chic” on the television one day. It seemed counter intuitive. Hippie chic.

Hippie chiche

Hip·pie  /ˈhipē/  noun: a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Chic /SHēk/ adjective: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.

Paris Hilton

So unconventional becomes conventional. Rejection becomes acceptance. Were these girls really interested in what was happening in Afghanastan or Egypt? Had they formed opinions about Obamacare and the Affordable Healthcare Act? Were they working to reclaim their country and assume a new identity of freedom, revolution and peace?

Maybe. I couldn’t talk to them. They didn’t see me. They didn’t look for a connection. On the contrary, I stared at them. Their flat abdomens swaying in unison to a beat. The bored little hippie dolls, unmoved, uninspired, with pouty lips. They only knew how to be adored. How to be fucked like a rag doll. They didn’t hear the music. They didn’t see me or Trent, sweating alone in second hand clothes under the bright, orange awning. They didn’t see each other. All they saw was themselves. They were the center of their own universe. Walking back and forth to the outdoor toilets like it was a grassy runway. Always on their phones. Always videotaping. Always assuming they were the one person who was supposed to be noticed.

Do Lab Girls

These girls become a blur and, for once, I was thankful for the bit of chub I acquired during my first 6 months of winter. Michael was feeding me well, too well. He would still drop everything to get whatever I suddenly found a hankering for. Vegan sundaes. Candy sprinkles. Vegan nachos. Daiya cheese. Wine. Beer. Vegan pizza. Vegan pizza. Oh yes, vegan pizza. I have learned to watch what I say aloud, because he will bring me whatever I suggest. The princess treatment was appearing and reappearing in my midsection and arms. I like being skinny, but this particular weekend I liked being chubbier … if just by 5 pounds … just so I could be different.

Me and Trent

It was there, sweating, awake, mildly disgusted by the orchestration of trend and vanity, that a beautiful boy stopped to stare at me. Fat, little me. With my Princess Leia buns and vintage sun dress. He smiled at me. My cheeks burned and I looked down.

Michael knows about my weakness for male attention and sex. If you hadn’t met me but read only my blogs, you might think I prance around in diaphanous clothing, slipping behind the nearest curtain with the first available man. I am rather shy, in a way; otherwise I wouldn’t work so hard to entertain.

It was my first adventure alone, without Michael, in a privileged playground. I didn’t know if I trusted myself yet. So when the beautiful, Greek warrior stared at me with the smile, the smile that can blind one from moral obligation, I turned away. Sure, they were all snot nosed kids who spent more time on their figure and wardrobe than intellect and community. I could still smell their sweat.

The center stage was overcome by a skillfully choreographed show of alien-clad dancers. Females with popping limbs and bopping heads. Water guns were turned on the crowd. With the spray power of a garden hose, one body after another collided with a foaming charge of cold water. It looked delicious. A male dancer came towards us, front and center in the performance. His legs were covered in black latex and stretched over his shoulders in thin straps, leaving his chest and back completely exposed. The muscle in his stomach and arms worked under the perfect flesh of a tight machine. Each working part triggered another, muscles taut and pulling to another lever, another tool, a further apparatus on a flawless stringed, meat symphony.

Performers Do Lab

A ring descended from the top of the stage and stopped at the man’s face. He was crawling on the floor to the ring and broke character for one, holy moment. He grabbed the ring in one hand, and I saw him mouth the words “You can do it” before he clasped on with both hands and was raised in the air like a phoenix sprung from her body. My mouth dropped open. It was sky ballet. I wasn’t even on drugs yet.

Ring Performer at Do Lab

I turned back for Trent, who was awake. I walked through the crowd. Flower halos. Converse shoes. UCLA flags and baseball hats.

“Do you want to go back?” he asked. We needed to get drugs.

We didn’t know anyone holding extra to sell. We had to approach strangers. So we would simply ask people if they knew Molly. Most people kept their head down and their mouths shut. Though Coachella was supposed to be a collapsible community, no one wanted to venture out of their inner circles. They were uncomfortable if they were spoken to, and didn’t want to share. Of course, we were offering to pay them.

“We came prepared. Learn your lesson,” one 18-year-old blurted out to us.

“We have an unreliable drug dealer,” I said, casually.

Trent has a switch. And before they had smarted off to us, Trent was flipped. We were tired of being ignored and avoided. We were tired of people treating us like we were hobos, panhandlers or freaks. We were all there for the same reason. The walls in Indio were taller than ever.

“You are just a couple of kids, you don’t know anything,” Trent said, throwing his hand in the air and storming off.

“Why don’t you chill out!?” one said. Trent turned towards them, the whites of his eyes screaming at them for more. Feed me more.

“It’s ok. It’s not worth it. Just let it go,” I said to both of them. More to the two young men than Trent.

There was bickering and I gently pulled Trent towards our tent as the confrontation spilled and fizzled into nothing at all. It was hard. We both had been bashing most of the yuppie, white teen trash washing into the festival all day. At one point, I was picking up receipts off the ground by the ATM machine and reading off account totals. “Balance $2,004.00, $6,458.00, $11,899. FUCK YOU!” Needless to say, my balance was in the negative. Trent had struggled the first half of the day trying to remember his pin for his ATM card. He called his bank and his mother trying to figure it out before it just came to him, in the middle of a hot afternoon, while overpriced beers were spilling over rich kids’ fingers. We had plenty of food in the car from the Target run the night before. It was the feeling that we were excluded from some gradiose American experience. To run off to musical festivals with no job to get back to, no rent to pay, no car breaking down every couple weeks. To have unlimited resources to do anything you want. To just fuck off without consequence. Of course each person has their own conditions to grieve. Their own price to pay. That didn’t ease the bitterness as they paraded in front of us, noses high, money and luxury cars everywhere, and worst of all, ignoring us just like they would anywhere else. If we served them in a restaurant- which we probably did. If we mopped their floors, paid their share of taxes, bought from their family brand, we were expendable. We were invisible. And here in a paradise constructed of synthetic, pharmaceutical and musical fantasy, our fantasy was interrupted.

Frat Boy Indian

I would like to think I can be a better person. That I could let go of class and kids, the miles between the cost of my time and the cost of theirs, the year it took for Trent and I to save up for this weekend so we could feel a part of something magical and current, something that could give us the vision of a life we wanted and the commercial it has turned into. Tickets are over $300 each and continue to rise every year, making it only possible for a certain type of person to go; the type that makes sacrifices throughout their year for a ticket, or the type with a large, disposable income. To throw those two in the desert together was mephitic to the point where it was almost paralyzing.

Trent and I fed off of one another. Sneering. Glaring. Quipping. It did us no good.

Back at the campground, we met a kid who would trade us Molly for $30 and some blow. I guess cocaine was a little more exotic to that breed. Good thing our unreliable drug dealer was never short of one thing: blow.

As night fell, my sinuses tightened and I felt the onset of a migraine. I didn’t drink enough water. I used to have them all the time, but now it is rare. I have credited the dog walking for improving my circulation. When a migraine takes hold of me, it is by the throat. If I move, the pain can become so overwhelming, I am forced to vomit. My neck and head lock and I freeze. The Molly still flooded me with serotonin. My heart sped up. My eyes peeled back to reveal the world underneath the obnoxious screaming and drunk lechery.

night coachella

Beach House played. Trent was ecstatic. It was the first time he was really happy. Poor, unfortunate souls like ours feed off music. More than food and money. The music reclaims us.

Beach House

There was a string of huge balloons tied in a long rope across the sky. They were so big; you could see them from the sky, miles away. They bobbed gently in the desert wind. And over the string and gently moving balloons was a full moon. The music came to me through those large round spheres, full of human breath, moving with the Earth’s voice and I saw it. I saw the music.

The whole note.

The half note.

The crochet.

The quaver.

The breve.

The minim.

Each note danced overhead to the soft, hypnotic music.

Balloon Chain by Robert Bose Photo By Sarah Parvini

I had to lie down to keep my head still, as to reduce my physical suffering. My face buried in the cool, cool grass. The heat from the Molly extinguished on midnight dew. I remembered my Third grade teacher scolding us for pulling out the grass in the playground. “That is God’s carpet,” she said.

God’s carpet. It held me still so the music could play through me.

Music was coming from two other stages. It felt like all the instruments were colliding over my head and spilling in lost notes through my hair. The volume so loud the ground shook. My head shook as if the fingers of the musicians were pressing down on me with each cue.

I stayed there in child’s pose. Occasionally, someone would ask if I was ok. I said I was great. Better than great.

moon rise

That is when we found blow on the ground. These kids were so fucked up, they were dropping their drugs on the ground without notice. We collected the baggies.

Next on stage was the Yeah Yeah’s. Trent led me to the next stage, and I fell to the ground again. My feet behind my ass, my face planted in God’s carpet. And the music came again.

“Do you need water …?” Trent asked. “A cigarette?”

“No, I just need to be still.”

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio

Once in a while, a drunk would step on me, trip over my back, press their foot onto my hand. They couldn’t see me. I was beneath the light. Beneath their line of vision. Swimming in the world of dreams.

“No one can see you down there,” a stranger said, trying to divert foot traffic.

“I know,” I said.

I know.

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Estranged, Out of Synch and Slipping on Black Ice

My birthday was coming up in January. I would be 35 years-old. I had lots of ideas about who I would be at 35. Married. A career. A child. Maybe two.

I remembered when Madonna turned 35. I was 15 years-old and thought she was still beautiful. Even in my mind back then, before I had fully developed as a woman, I thought the possibility of still being sexy, still being alive was out there. I had plenty of time.

Madonna+-+Calender+1993+-+CALENDAR-155249

As it turned out, I do. Here I was, going out dancing whenever I wanted to. Dating a 23-year-old. Wearing scandalous outfits and grabbing compliments, instead of glares, from other girls in the restroom. I didn’t have a career, but didn’t feel like anyone did. We were in the middle of a recession. Those who had careers and savings accounts were now temping for companies or waiting at home for an email back on a job or an interview.

Friends with kids were all consumed. Loving their kids. Working for their kids. Trying to plan as best they could for kids in a country where education is expensive and jobs are scarce.

I didn’t feel any less fulfilled with a family of Los Angeles transplants and orphans, rather than blood and wedding bands. But a depression was creeping up on me. It could have been my post-residency come down. All my friends were gone and my schedule opened up. Tension about Huck lingered.

“You act like you should get some award for not sleeping with him,” Michael, my boyfriend, said.

“I should … it was really hard.”

It could have been working my ass off day and night for the rest of the year, through all the holidays, only to leave me broke after repairs on a recently purchased, bad used car.

**

It could be that I was turning 35, or that I was having my first birthday estranged from my parents. They kicked me out in August. Now it was January and I hadn’t heard a word from them. I ignored my mother’s birthday, then my father’s birthday for the first time in my entire life. I got no phone calls on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Maybe a voicemail from my sister, but nothing from my parents.

Not an email asking if I was ok.

Not a voicemail just to hear my voice.

Not a card with love sent from Mom and Dad.

why_gal

My parents were dead to me. And I was dead to them. That was a harsh reality for a birthday. We didn’t have much money, but Alia and her boyfriend Ryan, my roommate Frank, my best friend Trent, my oldest friend in LA Jeph and my boyfriend all went to a club in Silverlake called The Echoplex. I thought the jams would be a mix of old and new songs. Something called “Bootie Mash-Up” advertised as “LA’s original mashup bootleg dance party, spinning only the finest bootlegs and bastard pop.”

BootieBostonJan13-web

The Echoplex is kind of a small venue with a couple bartenders in far corners. There is no line for drinks, so you kind of have to figure out where you are in a receding line-up without stepping on the wrong person’s toes.  And why I thought a mash-up would be a fusion of old and new songs, I don’t know. It was hard to recognize any of the songs. I realized how far my head was in the musical past. Several songs would spin before one was within recognition. Something about that in and of itself was depressing for me. My musical life was dying out, and once again I didn’t fit in and probably wouldn’t as time goes on. I was out of synch.

Somewhere in the night, Trent just left and went home. My friends wanted to keep me chipper, but the booze and the music weighed me down. Michael felt like he screwed up my birthday with the wrong venue and lack of preparation.

***

After we all said goodnight, Frank, Michael and I grabbed some vegan food at a midnight diner on the overpass. I was still drunk … I must have been, because around 3am I drunk-dialed my mother.

It rang. I heard her tired but worried voice say, “Hello?”

“FUCK YOU!!!!” I said, hard and low. Then I hung up.

Scream

Michael laughed and Frank kind of smiled through his cigar. “That’s horrible. Don’t do that.”

Somewhere in the next few minutes, Michael and I thought it would be a great idea for him to follow-up my phone call. At this point, my mother turned off her cell and it went straight into her voicemail.

“Um, yes hello, I am here with the very beautiful and talented, [StarFire] and wanted to let you know that I think you are a complete fucking cunt. Now, you can go and fuck yourself. Goodnight,” he said, in a very polite, matter-of-fact kind of way.

We laughed. We laughed to keep my heart from sagging.

“Alright, give me your mother’s number,” Frank asked.

“You are going to call?” I asked.

“No. Never. I am just going to hold on to it in case of an emergency.”

I wondered what would happen if I was in a car accident, or raped and killed. Frank would call my parents and what would they do. Would they come? Would it fix things? Or would they say, “She’s not our daughter,” or “She had it coming, the drunk,” or would they just hang up. They haven’t done the right thing so far, why would they start now?

First thing in the morning, I felt hung-over and immediately bad about the drunk dialing. “We shouldn’t have done that,” I said, with smudged eyeliner and snagged morning hair.

“Probably not,” Michael said, “but what they did to you was much worse.”

***

My parents abandoned me. I tell myself it doesn’t mean as much when you are an adult. After the age of 30, you should be fine getting kicked out, with three dogs and no place to stay. You don’t need a mother or father anymore, you are your own person. The fact is, no matter how old are you, you need your mommy.

Maybe that is why my mother got the brunt of the midnight phone calls. I didn’t care to interact at all with my father- the man who made me uncomfortable as a child with his unpredictable temperament and bizarre post-Vietnam War behavior. He was the one who smashed my nose in at the dinner table when I was 13 because I smacked my lips too loudly in imitation. I couldn’t stand how they ate at the dinner table. My nose bled for 5 minutes and I screamed in horror thinking it would never stop bleeding. He was the one who dragged me into the bathroom by my hair and told my mother to check to see if I was still a virgin because I was late coming home from school. He repeatedly kicked me out of the house in middle-school and high-school for acting out, for being moody, for sleeping too long. He kicked my boombox apart for playing music too loud.

My mother was supposed to protect me. “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

I always crept back up my parents’ doorstep and mended things.  I knew the only way to get out of that suburb and get into a four-year-college was to do it using my parents’ as a springboard.

They suggested I move in with my high school boyfriend. Even at 17, I had visions of working at the mall, going to the movies every Friday as a retreat, eating at strip malls. I didn’t belong in that suburb and, maybe even then, I knew I didn’t belong with my boyfriend. I loved him, but there was more for me out there. So I soothed my parents when I needed to, ducked my head and worked my ass off until I turned 18. Once they dropped me off at that four-year-college in Olympia, WA, I was free.

**

Then why did I move back when I was 34? Didn’t I remember the tension, the strained mealtime conversation, the nervous pacing, judgement and irritation with little things, like my bursts of singing? Didn’t I remember that I resented them?

The quick answer is no, I didn’t. After I moved out at 18, I loyally visited my parents. For the last 15 years, I called my mother almost every day. The one Christmas I spent away from her, she cried on my voicemail. I was faithful, anyway. Children always are.

When I moved back, I was a more whole person. I was no longer a child, no longer as insecure or needy for validation. I was an adult, and that behavior, their behavior was peculiar. Then it grew hostile. This time, when they threw me out, I didn’t hang my head and offer to make things right. I didn’t soothe them with apologies or tears. I just left.

I don’t know how they feel. I know my sister showed them how to block my number from their cell phones. “I have to say I was shocked hearing my little sister talk that way to my 70-year-old mother,” she said.

Wasn’t she shocked when her mother kicked out her little sister? Why didn’t that warrant the same reaction? Am I not worth as much to her?

Lose your illusions 2

In those few weeks after my birthday, I read my final semester notes from my mentor. Her words changed from encouraging to judgmental, from interested to bored and “confused”. She didn’t like my final submission and felt that my material was too personal. “[She] tends to write about men she had sex with when the audience may not find that as interesting as she does.”

The words burned holes in my chest. It was then that I laid down in bed and didn’t get up for four days. The dog-walking business was down. No one was booking me after the holidays.

**

Michael was growingly frustrated. With the depression, I was snarky with him. I rolled my eyes and was sarcastic, at times rude. I wish I could write something poetic here about why I was that way to the one person who loved and supported me every day, all day. I really don’t know how to justify it, other than saying depression clouds you with darkness. You can’t really see anyone or anything. The self-loathing poisons your whole demeanor, even towards the kindest souls. I hated myself but couldn’t do anything, not even shower or eat.

“I just can’t make you happy,” he said. “We have to break up.”

When Michael broke up with me, he was dog-sitting at a mansion in Sierra Madre, about half an hour east. He was staying there overnight for about a week. So when he left, he said it was permanent. We weren’t working as a couple. My life was snowballing into a total disaster.

So I did what any self-destructive, depressed Los Angeleno would do … I bought cocaine. Frank and I stayed up listening to Bob Dylan and snorted the night away. In the morning, the come down was like an ice truck crushing me against the asphalt. I was crying.

Cocaine hell of a drug

I called Michael and he picked up.

“I need to see you,” I said.

He came right over and he held me. He held me all day as I cried in his arms and tried to fall asleep. My body would twitch and flinch with nightmares, and he laid awake and cradled me like I was a baby who couldn’t sleep. When I would wake up, I would cry again.

“I can’t lose you, too,” I said.

“It was bad baby, really bad,” he said, kissing my hair.

“I’m sorry,” I cried into his shirt, before drifting again, into another nightmare.

When Michael left that night, I pulled myself together. The self-pity, the darkness, the cocaine, the nightmares all had to stop so I could get my life back. I had to keep going and pretend it didn’t all hurt for another few months so I could gain momentum. I had to make jokes, so people would laugh. I would have to dance, so people would play more music. I had to write more, so someone could send me a few words of encouragement from somewhere. I had to make love to my boyfriend so he could feel my love, if not in the tone of my voice or in the way I was treating him, then with my body, my mouth, my cunt.

I did love him.

I drove out to Sierra Madre to see him and ask him to give me another chance. He hugged me. I rested my chin on the top of his head and felt that soft, black hair around my face.  Towering over him, I felt myself melt.

“I’m not going to cry,” he said in my shoulder, “because I am a man.” In my arms he cried. And I got my second chance.

Path of Life

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Cowboy Confidence

Cocaine. Our very first introduction, when I was an adolescent, was through various scenes in the film “Goodfellas”. I believed it was a white powder that made women insane, tearing apart their bedroom closets shortly before they broke down in tears.

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Later in life, I heard it was good for porn actors. Around Hollywood I have been told about casting calls for background actors who show up to a house in North Hollywood, stroll into a garage full of people in bathrobes and are asked if they want a line before greeted with a “hello”. Stevie Nicks was forced to rebuild her nasal passageway from so much drug use. It burned a dime-sized hole through her cartilage.

Once,on an internet date, I toured the music studio where “Rumors” was recorded. “There used to be punch bowls of coke laid out right here,” my date explained. I tried to imagine that … punch bowls of cocaine.

Stevie-Nicks-Feet-201203

In an interview with Oprah, Stevie says, “It turned people into nutcases … Mick and I never would have had an affair had we not had a party and all been completely drunk, messed up and coked out. [We] ended up being the last two people at the party. So guess what? It’s not hard to figure out what happened — and what happened wasn’t a good thing. It was doomed. It was a doomed thing, caused a lot of pain for everybody, led to nothing. I’m like, ‘Gee, could you have just laid off the brandy and the coke and the pot for two days?’”

It all sounds pretty negative. The word may conjure up images of Lindsay Lohan, Scarface and clips from Charlie Sheen’s meltdown. There is a flip side to what you see on television. Cocaine is an emotional drug. You feel like opening up about your past, you feel oddly connected to the other people in the room, there is a strange kind of spiritual shake to snorting blow. It is when you cross over to the compulsion of it, that is when you start to lose. It usually happens around 3 or 4am, when you know you are running out because you have tripled the amount of coke with each snort. You start licking tabletops and debit cards. Around 5am, you wonder if buying more is a good idea.

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My roommate likes to blend crushed xanax into his lines, which can dull the edge. Let me rephrase, it may dull the edge. The last time I shared coke with him, he was blending xannies, slurring and still staring at the lines on the table until it was his turn. I made sure to do half the amount than everyone else with each turn, and was the only one bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, already in shorts and a pigtail, ready for a dogwalk before everyone crawled out of their corners. I am not always that disciplined.

*

After Thanksgiving, Frank, my roommate, had a birthday. I baked a cake. We were all so broke, Frank ended up financing most of his own party. He is the only one of us not scraping pennies to fill a quarter tank of gas. He was a good sport about it though. The coke was stationed in two spots, privately in my room and privately in Frank’s walk-in closet. Only a few party-attendees were invited. The girls mostly. It was also Michael, my boyfriend’s, first time.

He clicked into it a little bit too easily. He kept asking to go back to the room, constantly reminded of the lines waiting patiently for us on my dresser. I realized he could easily cross-over. His eyes turned black and he kept looking back to my bedroom door. Next month it would be his bedroom door, too. We were moving in together, though we didn’t know each other all that well. One month before, we started dating hot and heavy, and Michael felt swept up like I have before with others … but now I was more cautious, more skeptical. It seems the less I expect the more I gain in return. He was good to me, the sex was great and I liked him. Did I love him? It was hard to really reflect on our relationship, the bond, when I was in survival mode- desperate to make rent, desperate to get a working car, desperate to prepare for school starting the following week.  Library books were stacked on the small kitchen table. My laptop was in the kitchen. My socks and glasses of tea and water sprung up out off the furniture; the bathroom counter, the shower, the empty DVD rack (which is still empty).

Prepping for residency

I already felt that I had ruined Michael’s life. Since our first date in October, he lost his job, his car and iPhone … his pet-sitting clients, a few possessions, most of his savings. As one of my cohorts at writing school once said, “Oh, you are that kind of girlfriend.”

Michael was never bitter. He insisted he was happy, and mentioned his mother was supportive of our relationship because she sensed he was happier than he had ever been. Only a 23-year-old would make such fantastic claim. I just turned to him, “Happier ever or just since another time you last remember?”

“Are you kidding me?” he said, “Happier than I ever could have imagined was possible.”

I believe Michael was living under a lot of heavy expectations up to this point. His mother, who believes he holds the most promise of her three boys. His bosses, who used guilt and pressure to motivate employees. He was trying to please everyone else because he hadn’t looked at things from a different angle yet; not as someone’s son, but as a man.  Somehow, my attitude and lifestyle gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to do. Experiment with drugs. Yell at bad drivers. I call it “Cowboy Confidence”. He can get carried away and tell everyone off. After his former employer delayed his final paycheck by almost a month, he called and told them he was showing up and wouldn’t leave without a check in hand.  When he came home after the incident, he was bouncing on the soles of his feet, “I am on a warpath.” He told everyone exactly what he thought of them and I could see the fire lit in his eyes. Not to mention his paycheck in hand. Michael got the taste of freedom.

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Now, he got the taste of cocaine. We all circulated around our little house as characters from Frank’s life dropped in for birthday wishes. Happy Birthday was sung. Candles were blown. I danced with my little dog Brad in the kitchen, cradling him in my arms, swinging him back and forth to the music. He lay back, completely trusting that I would never drop him. The crowd started chanting, “Go Brad! Go Brad! Go Brad!”

Brad at Franks party

Outside in the smoker’s circle, Alia, her boyfriend Ryan, Michael and I all gathered together, mumbling nonsense and declaring secrets. “You know what is great about unprotected sex,” I said, wishing Frank’s friend Jim would go back inside, “Feeling the semen drip out of you when you are alone, somewhere else later in the day.” Alia nodded with a kind of nobility. Jim, a New York stand-up comic, pulled out a notepad, occasionally making notes for his next show. Frank hovered somewhere in the background.

“You need to have protected sex,” Alia said, “And (she pointed at Michael) as the man, it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe sex.” I suddenly felt regret for mentioning it at all. A few weeks ago, after my period, Michael and I continued to have unprotected sex.

“Did you cum?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he moaned.

I slapped him in the face. “What the fuck, man?” I asked.

“What? You told me to.”

“I was talking dirty … you weren’t actually supposed to do it,” I said, getting dressed.

“Well, I thought you knew what you were doing.”

“I am not on birth control.”

“I know, but I thought, hey it’s [StarFire]. She knows what she is doing.”

*

I took the morning after pill, then started taking the pill a week later. This threw my menstrual cycle on a loop and left me in a bloodless limbo for several weeks. After a couple weeks of maybe, maybe nots … I was lucky to make it out motherless. However, the surge of hormones made me crazy for a good month.

CokenWoman in Goodfellas

As it turns out, bragging about unprotected sex in social circles doesn’t make your opinion very popular. Perhaps, I was suffering from my own version of Cowboy Confidence. I will say that one-on-one, every person will agree unprotected sex, with all its risk and vulnerability, eclipses the condom any day.

A troupe of lesbians came in and occupied the living room, cooing over my dogs. It must have been around midnight when Michael and I sat with them and endured an interview about our relationship. In that moment of reliving our brief affair, I turned and saw him sitting on the couch. His eyes were a deep brown, glazed with puppy dog love and buried sadness from somewhere else. His beard was growing in. He looked back at me and my heart swelled. I was really falling in love with him. I could feel it now, after the champagne and cocaine suspended my body and her flinching affection, all doubts and broken hearts, all logic and sensibility, I felt that seed in my mind burst into a sprout. I reached out to caress his face in front of our audience.

“You guys are making me sick,” a girl said. I removed my hand, but never let go of the feeling. Not when I sobered up. Not when we suffered through our first fight. And still not now, as I write this.

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Frank’s one single, straight female friend was there. I knew she suffered from alcoholism and a serious cocaine addiction, after all, she had money. As the evening went on, I saw her stumble around on heels, grabbing onto counters and tables to steady herself. She was in her forties and an actress, skinnier than she should be, wearing heavy make-up. “What is that song Alice in Chains does?” she slurred.

“Type in the lyrics and I can find it on YouTube,” I said over a passed joint.

“Type it where? I have never used this before.” I patiently showed her the search window in Google and watched her slowly type “Black Hole Sun”.

“Oh, that is Soundgarden!” I said.

“Right, Soundgarden. God, I am so stupid. Why am I so stupid? I hate it when I do things like this.”

“You aren’t stupid. You just mixed it up, that’s all. We all do that.” She stopped talking and I could feel the blades and shadows cutting her up on the inside. I felt sorry for her. Frank told me about their relationship. They watch football and hold each other. Sometimes he spends the night. “I know I am seeing her tonight because she has a date,” he once said. “If it goes bad she calls me, but what is worse is when it goes really well. Then she sabotages it somehow … and calls me.”

Last week, I asked to use his scanner and he pulled out a photograph from the last scan. “What is this? Oh yeah … this is [her] after she passed out on me. She never believes me so I took a picture.” And there she was, collapsed in brown hair, face down, as if she died.

I believe she is in love with Frank. To Frank, perhaps, he loves her for the sentiment. We all have fail safes in are back pocket. And we all want to be loved.

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The evening passed through the house slowly. Around 3 or 4am, I started playing Rolling Stones and James Brown on my laptop and got a few people dancing. Jim watched. Because Jim just watched, Frank watched.  “This is a really good night. This kitchen is great right now,” Frank said.

Jim laughed, cool as always. “This is a great kitchen.” The two fondly echoed each other’s sentences. The drug made them one.

Outside, alone with Michael, he chattered through the drug. “You know what my favorite dinosaur is? The stegosaurus, because it reminds me a lot of me. You know, everyone criticizes it for being slow and stupid but it is just doing its thing. I don’t think I like cocaine, cocaine isn’t really my thing. Do you remember Shelley Duvall? Remember when she used to read those kids books on TV and then they put her in ‘The Shining’? Do they know how much that fucked up kids?”

shelleyduvall

I listened to him, occasionally laughing, trying to fight down my own thoughts and memories, kicking at the curtain in the back of my mind.

Inside the house, everyone was gone. “Puff the Magic Dragon” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary played on Pandora. Back on the couch, I sat on Michael’s lap. He kept chattering.  “This song is so sad. I love this song. It used to make me cry. Little Jackie Paper loved his imaginary friend and then he had to go away. Why did he have to go away? He loved him.” There was a moment of quiet between us, in the dark, as the harmonized voices serenaded the powder dripping down the back of our throats, turning to a thick syrup. Then Michael wept, and I held him.

Like I said, it is an emotional drug.

Jim and Frank took frequent smoking breaks. Jim with his spirits and percocets and Frank with his cigars and xanax.  Late in the night, closer to morning, I left Michael on the couch to play “My Funny Valentine”, threw a pillow on the floor in front of Michael’s feet, and sang it up to him. With big, black pupils he stared at me. Jim and Frank walked in and I could see plainly that Frank was agitated. So we went to the bedroom and made love.

Michael drew this for me

Michael drew this for me

When Michael passed out, I returned to the living room to finish my annotations for the semester. They were due that day. I stood in front of the kitchen table, typing, typing and typing. At 6am, the sun rose and Frank walked into the kitchen alone. “You are doing homework now? You can’t be serious?”

“Due today” I said, flatly, hunching down to peer into the screen. Reading. Re-reading. Making sure the drugs hadn’t scrambled my grammar or common sense. As soon as I pressed “send”, Frank and I had a smoke.

“We have to talk. Now, when I moved in here, I thought I was moving in with a couple of artists. I didn’t think I was moving in with a young couple in love. I can’t stay here. I am not saying I am leaving now or anytime in the near future, but down the line, I think …” he said.

“Before the lease is up in October?” I asked.

He nodded, with a fresh cigar hanging low but erect from his lower lip. “It isn’t that I don’t like Mike. I love Mike. He is a great kid.”

“He is so nice …” I said.

“He is so nice, he is solid. I really like him. I just can’t live here with you two.” He paused. My head hung low. “I won’t pull a Gary and leave you hanging. I will find someone to rent out the room and take care of all that.”

“What about the cable!? It’s in my name and it is a year contract. I don’t watch TV!”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that … maybe we can break the contract. I don’t know. We will figure it out later down the line, when it becomes more serious. I am fine for right now.”

I blew out a cloud of smoke. It slowly rose into the sky. “I just have to let these crises pass through me like a wall of water. The money, the car, the lease. I can’t control any of it so I just have to surrender to these moments,” I said. “That’s life, I guess.”

Tidal wave tsunami art

Frank looked as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “Sometimes you say really profound things.”

“Great,” I said, dryly, sucking on my cigarette.

“God, feelings talk really works!” he said, cheerfully. Then he patted my shoulder. In that moment, I hated him. I despised him. No one was loyal. But as it is with everyone else I love, it soon passed. I just wanted everyone to be happy. And despite the huge reading list and all the preparation I should have done for school coming up, I spent those last few days before school troubleshooting and reviewing what the worst outcome could be with everything; with Frank, with Michael and with school.

I blew the coke and blood out of my nose, sent in my final paperwork and went back to work. That’s life, I guess.

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Welcome to the Darkside

I’m stressed but you’re freestyle,

I’m overworked but I’m undersexed,

I must be made of concrete,

I sign my name across your chest ….

Halloween is sacred to my kind. I love it more than Thanksgiving. I love it even more than Christmas. I am not sure if it is the assumption of a different identity, if it is the permission to love the darkness or if it is simply the only holiday that marries an adult to her childhood without involving other children. It could be because it is the one holiday where family is irrelevant.

Happy-Halloween-from-Clara-Bow
Alia bought me a ticket to the Los Angeles Dead club scene for the night. I was so broke, I couldn’t put together the costume I had hoped. Alia was going as Madonna and I was going to be Lady Gaga. While living at her house, I showed her a music video from Gaga, “See? She has a David Bowie thing going on.”

In the end, I didn’t have any money for much of anything much less a  costume. Alia found some cheap outfits on-line, but anything more than a couple bucks was a stretch for me. I was eating a bowl of cold beans in the morning for breakfast. “I am so tired of being hungry,” Gary said. Once we moved to Glendale, he dropped his job at the Halloween store because the commute was too difficult without a car. So he settled in a red, fold-out chair in front of Frank’s television set and watched the News, commercials, sports and movies from 7am to 10pm everyday.

I was working but unable to really retain any of my money after gas, dog food and some money for a deposit I handed over to Frank, my other roommate. In addition to all of that, the brakes were going out on my car which made no God damn sense since I paid to have them replaced the year before.

The evening of Halloween, Alia and Ryan came over with more blow. Or was it already here? I never knew the details. In addition to sharing her drugs with me, she brought a blue wig and some silver chaps along with silver thigh high boots to match. So I could throw together some kind of pop diva look. When all was said and done (the boots were too small for me) the look became known as “Girl Bowie”.

Girl Bowie

Bowie and Madonna kiss

Bowie and Madonna dance
Girl Bowie with Esther

“Come here, I have a fat line all set up for you,” Alia said from Frank’s walk-in closet. I crept in and looked down. My first thought was, “Where?” I stared down at two modest lines. Frank and I already took our vice to the next level. A fat line in our world looked like an obese, on-the-verge-of-heart-attack, in-desperate-need-of-a-bypass fat line. Alia and Ryan were still dancing through it like pixie dust.  On Frank’s coke, I knew I could have a field day. On Alia’s, I had to watch myself. She was buying, I still owed her money for her laptop and recreational use in her scene was very much kept at recreational.

evil queen coke
In a blue bob wig, my fishnet dress and silver chaps, we headed down to The Belasco Theatre in Downtown LA. We found parking in a lot next to a hotel and a dive bar. The hotel was empty on the first floor, the marble floors and glass entrance were completely vacant with no movement or light, with the sad exception of an ATM machine. We stopped in the dive next door to use the bathroom and I bought everyone a very cheap beer. It was a long hallway of a bar, with a jukebox playing some funk, several black people laughing and drinking with only one or two white guys eying us up and down. The bartender was surly when I warned her my card might not go through- but when I did, I left her a huge tip and she smiled at me.

Alia was uncomfortable, I could tell, but I liked the feel of the place. Two white girls dressed up in lingerie, feathers and wigs stirred the pond a little, but it felt like a real place. Thin cigars and Brixton Jones hats teetered under the red lights overhead, shifting the light from one shoulder to the other, without revealing the eyes of it’s owner.

After our beers, we headed towards the Belasco on foot. Alia wore her costume with a graceful wiggle, balancing her petite hips over two incredibly small heels, the size of dimes. Her fake eyelashes splashed the glitter out of her face and she handed over our tickets to the doorman. The doorman looked us over and nodded, turning ever so slightly to his left so we could pass by a cheap, velvet rope. Once we were in, I could see there were three floors, on each level a dance floor with a different theme of music. The basement, below, was spinning darker music: The Smiths, The Cure but with a little Garbage thrown in there. The ground level was the main floor, a few go-go dancers were positioned on rises here and there. The stage was shadowed and almost none existent with the exception of a few monitors and a big screen giving legs to animated characters synched to the music. The top floor were more vintage type rock: Violent Femmes, Bowie, Depeche Mode, Blondie.

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Alia and Ryan immediately filed into the line for photographs, so I patiently followed and tried to keep my mind in conversation as the music called to me from three different doorways. The music was already in my legs, I felt my knees shaking from the coke and bass. The acidic trail of cocaine down the back of my throat was fading in the seduction of lights, magic and music. I Didn’t care about the coke anymore, I wanted to dance.

Alia knew the person collecting tickets and money for photos and made conversation. The man behind us was looking us over, trying to take measure with which one of us was with Ryan. My feet wouldn’t stay still, they tapped, they turned towards the doors, they wanted to lead me away, but I had to be patient. We posed for pictures and then Alia led us into the first dance floor, ground level. Ryan and Alia sat down in back. “I have to go out there, are you ok here?” I said. There was no way I could sit down and watch people dance. “I will go out with you,” she said. We left our coats with Ryan and shuffled to the center of madness.

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The eye of the storm was between three risers holding up go-go dancers. The strobe lights and deep ceiling kept everyone anonymous. We danced and the world was pushed off the cliff of recognition. My wig flew off, so I stuffed it in my pocket and let my hair spill out on my shoulders, betraying the blue for a darker shade of rye American whiskey. Everyone was shadows, even Alia, and the pulse of measure and metre wrapped its legs around me until my mind and body fell in synch. Alia left, grabbing my arm to let me know she was going to find Ryan. I nodded, feeling the sweat stick to my hair, keeping it out of my eyes and mouth. I lifted my head to the music. In and out of the shadows, other costumes appeared. On the whole, the LA Dead scene was a menagerie of strange and disturbing costumes. The theme was very dark. There were a great deal of large men with plastic masks that bore no expression, whatsoever, but sported overalls and an ax or machete, human-penguin-hybrid types with umbrellas and plaster noses, dark monsters we have invented or have yet to invent stories for. When I dance I smile, and when I felt watched under the eyes behind such thick, foul faces, I reminded myself to keep smiling. The human was not the mask and the only way to ward off fear, to ward off darkness, was through the light. No one was there to hurt me. The fear wasn’t real. So I kept dancing.

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Men surrounded me in shifts. I noticed two closing in on me, one was The Crow (circa 1994) and the other was a Santa Claus tumbling around me with too much padding and a very young face. Alia found me on the dance floor and invited me to the third level, as I followed, I let my hand drag across the stomach of The Crow so he would know to follow. And he did.

the crow
To the third floor we went, and without water or drink, I continued to dance. Note to note, my body, hips and feet met each euphonic note, dripping in honey and sweat. The Crow appeared and continued dancing with me. The face of what I know to be Brandon Lee in the 1994 cult classic film melted under white grease paint and sweat into a rather thin, white boy fighting to keep up with me. Once in awhile, he leaned in to ask a question and receive a generic answer. “You are sexy,” he said, smiling behind the painted black lipstick of a mime. “Thank you,” I replied wondering if Michael would approve, or wondering if he would disapprove. He was with his mourning family in Milwaukee at a funeral, and I was dancing opposite a young man I could easily take home with me. He had a tall, lean body and though I don’t pretend to speak for other women, I always had a fantasy about Brandon Lee as The Crow. It isn’t the type of fantasy men might have towards a character or costumed woman they find on an image search via the internet. I just liked The Crow. Even at the age of 16, I wanted to make love to him, then be his girlfriend.

The boy, whoever he was, had the same long, curly haircut as his persona from the film. He was taller than I was but skinnier. Waifish. Occasionally we would touch and once he leaned in for a quick kiss.

I thought about the last thing I said to Michael before he left California: “Let’s just leave it at ‘We can do whatever we want.’” I had permission to do whatever I wanted to do. Michael and I were not serious, not yet. Though a mild betrayal, it was a betrayal somehow.

He wouldn’t have to know. I was allowed to indulge myself in the painted skin of a young stranger. I felt my mouth go dry and I wondered where Alia was. Let me rephrase, I wondered where the rest of the coke was. I couldn’t afford anymore drinks, so all I had left was the line in her pocket.

I looked in the sea of masked faces and didn’t see her, but each song took me by the laces of my cheap, glittered chaps and dragged me back into their melody. I couldn’t part from the music, until The Crow took my hand and asked to move to the basement. I agreed.

Like an animal you’re moving over me,

When did I get perverted,

I can’t remember your name,

I’m growing introverted,

You touch my hand and it’s not the same …

We walked down the stairs and I ran into a fellow blogger, hand in hand with my new suitor. “Hi, I didn’t know you would be here,” I said. He was someone I barely knew, a messenger in Hollywood. We friended on Facebook well before the birth of my blog and I hadn’t seen him since. “Welcome to the darkside,” he said.

Downstairs, it was a smaller dance floor. At the head of the horizon, two cages were staged and occupied by two slightly overweight and exhausted go-go dancers. I knew the music more than the boy, and I sang, grabbing his hand at the head of each song like I could take him into my world with the movement of lips and hips in pop poetry. He gave into me, and I smiled, lifting my arms into the enveloping darkness of the dance until I felt Alia pull me out of the water. “Hey, do you want the line I saved for you?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, but where?” I asked.

“Let’s go in the bathroom,” she said.

I held up my finger for The Crow as Young Madonna lead me into the restroom outside the bottom dance floor. We waited in line for the handicapped stall and walked in together. After clasping the lock down on the long door, she pulled out what was left of the coke. It was more than I expected. “It is yours, do you want to do it all now, or do some and save it for later?” she asked.

“Let’s do it all,” I said. She poured it on the toilet paper dispenser and extracted a straw, snorting what lines were left. I, obediently, followed. The taste of powder in my nose and mouth lifting me an inch higher than the music. We stumbled out of the stall into a pod of young women with black wigs and black eyeshadow. No one looked at us, despite the fact that the sound of our snorting must have stabbed  through their conversation and running water. We checked our nostrils in the mirror for any residue and skipped back out onto the dance floor.

Alia led me to a booth where Ryan was waiting. I grabbed the hand of my new suitor and slid him down the vinyl lining of the seat then struggled to listen to conversation as 2am put her heavy hand on our shoulders. “Do you want to go back to my place or yours?” she asked. Ryan’s hand was on my thigh, I could feel the warmth of his fingers between the silver chaps and my dress. “Um, whatever is easiest for you,” I said, sucking whatever powder was left between my teeth.

Another boy with a forgettable girl tugged on the arm of The Crow. He leaned in to exchange a conversation. “I have to go, my ride is leaving,” The Crow said. “Oh …” I said, disappointed the music, coke and boy were all ending in the same minute. “Do you want to come home with me?” I asked.

The Crow conversed with the boy and turned back to me. “Yes,” is all he said.

We left the club before the house lights were turned on and the bouncers grew cloddish. Only then does the fantasy of the evening dissolve. You see the rips in the stained carpet. The coarse skin around make-up. The spot on a wall painted a different shade from the rest of the house. There was still the magic of illusion in one, shifting, fragile, oily bubble wrapped over us as we trotted out on the sidewalks of Los Angeles.

OW_web

Out in the parking lot keeping Alia’s prius behind steel bars and under bright lights, we all took a turn smoking a joint. My body was wet with dance, and the harsh calx of ground bud sucked whatever air was left in my lungs. I crawled in the back seat and put my head on The Crow’s lap. We exchanged names and ages. He was 24.

“Yeah, I was in the army for like a year. I was a sniper in Afghanistan,” he said.

“How was it?” I asked, heavy from drugs and attraction.

“It sucked,” he said, “Fuck the army!”

“Where do you live?” I asked, handing him the joint, only for him to wave it off.

“You know where Six Flags is? Up there. I am going to school up there. I live in a townhouse with my two uncles. They don’t work, so they just kind of hang out there.”

“That sucks, “ I said, French inhaling the vapor fresh out of my lungs.

“Yeah, fuck them!” he said.

Ryan drove and dropped us off at my quiet, Glendale front house. There were no more trick-or-treaters, no more headlights on the road, no more police cars coasting over the speed bumps near the elementary school on the corner. There was nothing but the night, a street lamp and The Crow.

A flash in the pan,

A storm in a teacup,

A needle in a haystack,

A prize for the winning,

A dead for the raising,

A catch for the chasing,

A jewel for the choosing,

A man for the making in this blistering heat …

In the stark, empty apartment, I led him into my bedroom and laid myself out for him. He crawled over me, the make-up still thick in the light of my computer monitor. He kissed me and tickled me with his tongue before stopping short. “Do you want to see my Halloween costume for next year?”

“Sure,” I said, smiling a little and crawling out from underneath him as he reached over my head to type on my computer. My desktop was still laid out on the floor for lack of furniture. After a few taps on the keyboard, he summoned a cartoon of Wolverine with pulsating muscles, beastly hair and dripping fangs. “Oh,” I said politely, almost as if I was his mother.

Wolverine comic art

“I already have a membership at Gold’s Gym to work up for it,” he said.

I giggled. “Ambitious” I said, realizing how much more immature he was than Michael though a full year older. Then I unapologetically pulled off his shirt. Across his soft, flat chest was a tattoo of a skyline you might see in a neo-noir graphic novel by Frank Miller. My fingers searched for body hair above the waist but only found the placidity of youth. “I have never gone home with a girl I didn’t know before,” he said.

“Is that true?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he chirped, “I have never kissed a girl on the dance floor before either.”

“Come on,” I said, “That isn’t true.”

“It is true,” he said before feasting on me. He pulled off my chaps and my dress until I was totally nude. I wondered if I should shower off the music, club and cocaine before we started, but he was already licking me and I felt myself forget everything but his fingertips pinching my clitoris, softly bringing an engorged tip into his mouth. No one had ever pinched my clitoris like that while going down on me and it easily produced three or four orgasms.

“Wow,” I gasped, “You are really good at that.”

“Yeah, I read about it in a book,” he said. Then he pulled out his cock and I thought for a moment about the disease I might have from the last man I fell in love with, or the disease I might give the next man I fall in love with. Just as the word “condom” crawled up the raw, dry base of my throat, he stuffed all seven-inches of himself inside of me and I was helpless. I could feel his skin working against mine, and my eyes rolled up in my head. He smelled of borrowed aftershave and cheap deodorant.  We fucked in every position you could imagine from a typical, mainstream porn. We started in missionary. He stopped me and requested I climb on top. Then he stopped me and requested I get on my knees. Then he stopped me again, and requested I get on top again but with my back to him, in reverse cowgirl. I appreciated the direction, but something was too clinical about it. It was easy for him to withhold his cum, which was the total opposite of Michael. The inability to produce primal surrender from him stifled the eroticism, and at one point, an hour or two later, I felt my 34-year-old body grow tired, my knees ache and my hips grow still. He went back down on me, using his forefinger and thumb to pop up my clit like he was plucking one corpulent grape from a vine. The orgasms came so easily, I almost felt my elixir spray in his mouth. I pulled him down for a kiss after the fourth or fifth orgasm to taste myself.

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Sweat it all out,

Sweat it all out,

With your bedroom eyes and your baby pouts.

Sweat it all out,

In our electric storms and our shifting sands,

Our candy jars and our sticky hands …

As the sun rose on the other side of Los Angeles, the pale blue of dawn ate through the clouds. He finally came. “It takes me a long time,” he said.

“Well, I think we covered every position in the book,” I said.

He laughed. “Yeah, well, I figured now that I have the chance I should use it, right?”

“Why not?” I said, turning my body away from his to fall asleep. I cued up some Thelonious Monk to escort us into sleep and slowly heard his pant fade into idle.

I woke up not long after. I got dressed, showered, made coffee. I chatted with Gary in the living room. I checked my email on my mini-laptop with my crooked eye glasses and my hair swept up in a sloppy bun. Eventually the tall, chatty, white boy appeared in the hallway, leaning his arms against the roof of the archway and advertising the city landscape across his chest toward us.

“What’s up?” Gary said, nodding his head.

“What’s up?” The Crow said. His makeup was washed off now and I could see some slight acne around his chin and ears. He was still handsome, but somehow younger. He asked me to drive him to the train station so he could make class in Valencia.. “Or you could drive me and I would pay for gas,” he proposed.

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I agreed even though it was a 45-minute drive and took him out of the heavy traffic and noise of Los Angeles into the suburbs of the hills and canyons. “I would really like to take you out to dinner or something. I have money so I can treat you. I think that would be really nice,” he said, hanging his head from the side, staring at me solemnly.

I thought about Michael. “That sounds nice,” I said.

“Ok, I will call you then, if that is ok,” he said.

“Of course,” I said, parking my car and receiving one last kiss before he hopped out.

By the end of the day, I had 19 texts from the boy and I was partly flattered but partly worried how I would conceal one kind of love affair from another.

Frank came home, asking about the night. Over a cup of coffee, I indulged him in the details of the night; the cocaine, the dancing, The Crow. “Did you see this guy?” he asked Gary.

“Yeah,” Gary snapped back, “He looked like some 19-year-old kid.”

Frank laughed and looked at me, “What the hell are you doing?”

“Whatever I want,” I said.

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Beginnings.

It is hard to decide when someone you are calling on someone for sex or for company. Well, it is hard for me since I assume every man I am with prefers the former. After Abe, my boyfriend of two years, broke up with me a few days before his cousin’s wedding, and a few weeks after agreeing to move in with me, I had officially given up. Maybe it wasn’t official. There was still Huck, who I fell head over heels for at writing school for the week residency in June.

In between, I had several small love affairs with European men while in France. In Washington, I had a few one night stands, one that was a little more, mostly with younger men … less charming men. When you are a single woman and you really harness spontaneity, the short-lived spark of a moment and the sweet surrender of pleasure … you don’t go so hard for the hunt of a mate. I am sure when my body starts aging I will feel differently, but right now I feel as if I have unlocked the secret of being a man.

hollywood stones

The Hollywood Stones, the Rolling Stones cover band, I followed and adored through the outskirts of Los Angeles county, were playing in Orange County. Abe lived in Orange County and I thought it a good opportunity to see him again. We kissed goodbye in spring, before I left for France and spent the summer in Washington. Last thing I heard from him was a text: “I read your blog. I am so glad you had so much time to write all those things down!”

I wrote back, “Oh, you must have read about Huck.” He didn’t respond and I didn’t press. The man disappears when its convenient and only ever really reaches out on holidays or when he visits his grandfather’s grave.

My fear with reconnecting with him in person was that I would fall back in love with him and resume a love affair that would go absolutely nowhere. Old habits die hard.

Down to Orange County I went with my two roommates, Gary and Frank. We still were on a coke binge of some kind, there was plenty left or plenty more bought … I wasn’t sure. We did several lines and arrived to Harvey’s Steakhouse in Huntington Beach blitzed, riding in on the white pony. Frank wanted to order a steak and some nice liquor. That is part of who he is. Gary was just along for the ride, he couldn’t find a job, had no money and didn’t talk very much. There was a balance between Frank and Gary- they both enjoyed each other’s company while I was away at work but when it came to serious issues like finances and forgotten children, I was the one they spoke to.

At Harvey’s, it was my first time seeing the band since I was kicked out of an outdoor concert in Sherman Oaks for dancing too wildly and (supposedly) not wearing any underwear, which is total bullshit by the way. I made contact with the band via Facebook. They already recognized me from dancing on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, at the Brixton in Redondo Beach and definitely when I was asked to leave by police at the Earth Day concert in Sherman Oaks. The band promised me a t-shirt and gift bag the next time I saw them in concert, afterall,  they found my dancing to be “inspirational”. I should state here many people think I am on drugs when I dance, the truth is no one can really dance like I do drunk or on drugs. It would be physically impossible to dance that long and hard. From the first note to the last, I keep going.  When I dance, it is with every drop of heart and soul. Most people love it, some people hate it. That seems to be the case with most things though …

Halloween Hollywood Stones 2

I was nervous because I really wanted to this cover band to like me, we hadn’t ever spoken in person. Once, I spoke to the lead guitarist after their St. Patrick’s Day performance on the Queen Mary. “Are you in a relationship?” I asked.

“Of course. Aren’t you?”

“No, he couldn’t commit,” I said.

“Well, I have heard that one before,” he said.

“Midnight Rambler, please?” I always ask.

“We only had til midnight. Not this time,” he said.

bill wyman
Since that night in April, they have closed with Midnight Rambler to every show I have ever attended. Is it because of my request that night? I don’t really know. Once I hear the dripping, heavy harmonica, I scream. The women on the dance floor flop around as if Dick Swagger’s (that is the name of the lead singer) lips are blowing directly on the globular bud tucked away safe between their legs. Even the least attractive drunk finds the rhythm of sex during that song, and in the beat we share that rhythm together. Once in awhile I will look up and see all the women surrounding me in the dark, as the drum and guitar catch up to the clacking, bluesy voice steaming out of the harmonica. It is a beautiful sight.

Dick Swagger
This particular night, I did not invite Michael to join me. Michael was the boy I was sexually involved with. He was on my mind, but I didn’t want to be confused with him and Abe in the same place, at the same time. And I didn’t want to make it awkward for them. I will freely admit I keep the men I loved on a string partly because I don’t know how to give up on love and partly because it eases the ache of rejection. It always seems nicer to stay in touch- nicer and more confusing.

We arrived, our pupils large and black. I was in a red and black tutu Frank bought me with a Freddy Krueger hat Alia set on fire and stomped on to make more authentic. I also had the token Freddy glove. I was running out of money and had to stick with what I knew. Put on some glitter knee high socks, converse and a ripped ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ shirt and voila! StarFire failsafe. Girl Kreuger. (I love “Nightmare on Elm Street”)

Halloween Hollywood Stones 1

The band came on with the music before Abe arrived. Abe is always late. He is also always stoned. I dragged Frank to the floor and it only took a few seconds before other people stormed up to join us, like it was the beginning of a revolution. That is usually the case. It only takes one. The problem was the cocaine was making my heart palpitate. It was difficult dancing, because I when I go, I go hard. I thought if hard core bands like Led Zeppelin or the Stones can go on and perform shows high on coke, I should be able to dance for a couple hours.  After the first song, I could feel myself get dizzy and wondered if I would pass out. I kept going. No matter what my body is telling me, no matter how hard my feet and thighs are screaming “Stop!” or my lungs and heart burn, the music keeps me in motion.

Frank was mixing his cocaine with xanax, and after a few days that makes him funny. In this case, it started when I refused to dance with him to ‘Time is on My Side’. I shook him off. “I never dance with other people,” I said. He looked hurt, then offended, then indignant. The xanax was bringing out that aggression. He would dance close, or get close to the guitarist and nod his head heavily or block out some other schmuck trying to dance with me. The guitarist would look at him, then at me, trying to piece together what to do.

cocaine lover

“Ya’ll got … cocaine eyes …” I sang to him. I flicked my fingers over my eyes with the line. He doesn’t remember. That is the problem with doing too many drugs, they make you act like an asshole but rob you of the memory. You can’t learn, reflect or empathize. You let something else take over your body for a period of time. A monster maybe. A machine. Something that wasn’t Frank. He stopped every once in awhile on the dance floor to hold his head, shake and scream. Men pulled their girlfriends away. Xanax only ever makes me blackout, but that night it sucked my friend’s soul away.

coke clown
Abe arrived and once I saw him I felt my smile. I rushed over to him in between sets and greeted him.

“I know I am late,” he said.

“$8 cover charge,” the man at the front said.

“There is a cover?” he said, annoyed.

“Well, you should have come early and got in on our table. That is the price you pay for being tardy,” I said.

He stretched out his eyes just before stretching out his wallet and pulled out a $20 bill he never worked for. He got the change back and I asked him to dance with me. He wouldn’t. He still claims the band hates him … which makes no sense. “I haven’t been really doing anything, except discovering the secrets of the universe,” he said. Floating in a cloud of THC and family money can make you believe anything about yourself.

At Harvey’s, the band is afforded three sets and the third is always the best because they throw in all my favorites “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Miss You”, once “I’ve Got the Blues”, “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Monkey Man”, “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’”. It is the bluesier set. They also have a saxophonist. He is an older guy, we spoke outside during a break.

“We really appreciate seeing someone who shares the same level of enthusiasm in the music we have.”

I blushed. “To dance to a live saxophone on ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ is a dream come true. Thank you!”

A guy came out of the club and looked me up and down, “Whatever you do in life, dress like that every day.”

“Thanks,” I said flatly.

“You must have had a lot of drinks to dance like that,” he said.

“Not really. I am their groupie,” I said.

“Well, I am a groper,” he returned. I snarled my upper lip and turned away. Charmed.

The saxophonist smiled. He was cool, in his 50s, wearing down from the late nights and lungs full for brass. He leaned against a post outside the corner Orange County steakhouse and smiled away from me.

“Do you smoke?” I asked.

“Not cigarettes,” he said. I smiled and nodded. I was still shy with the band. It wasn’t because I wanted anything from them, certainly not sex. The majority of the band is over the age  of 45. I just wanted (and still want) them to like me.

Before the third set, one of the guitarists approached me with a gift bag. “We designed the shirt just for you,” he said. I blushed, though you couldn’t notice from how red my face was. The cocaine softened in my system, and I was drinking one goblet of water after another.

I pulled out a red tank top with a completely lace back. There was a card and a pin. I thanked him and loosely hugged him, worried my sweat might stick to his. “You should come and hang out with us in between sets,” he said.

“I don’t want to bother you. I know you are in the zone and everything.”

“Don’t feel that way, please. Feel free to stop by for a conversation and talk to us.”

Halloween Hollywood Stones
When the third set came around, Gary was hanging by the table or outside with Abe chatting. Abe would never come back on the dance floor. Frank did come back in, sipping something out of a small glass, “They are talking about probiotics and bananas out there,” he said. I laughed but kept far enough away to watch him, as he teetered against the wall in a black fog. He wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning.

I wouldn’t leave the music for Gary or Abe outside. I wouldn’t leave the music with the waves of nausea and exhaustion bursting from my overworked, pumping heart. The saxophonist was done for the night and blocked Frank from getting too close to me on the dance floor, first by the restrooms then closer to the bar with his single drink. I danced to the last note and the lead guitarist saw me after the show. “Get home safe tonight,” he said, glancing towards Frank. I nodded and smiled, brushing my hand against the vintage, velvet sleeve.

I said goodbye to Abe, who I barely saw that night and then tried to drive all three of us home. Frank passed out in the passenger side and I told Gary I was going to throw up. “Can you drive?” I asked.

“Sure, I just don’t know where I am going,” he said.

“Follow the navigation on my phone,” I said, cueing it up for him.

In the back seat, I fell down on a cloud of cocaine, and several glasses of water with no food in my stomach. I felt the car come to a start and heard Gary whine, “I don’t know where I am going.”

In my motherly voice, “Do you need me to take over?” I asked.

“Sorry, [StarFire]” he said.

I got in the driver’s seat and consulted the navigation to find out we were in Long Beach, that is the opposite direction of Glendale. Gary wasn’t too bright. “I am going to throw up so can you find a plastic bag back there?” I asked.

I heard him rustle and then give up after 20 seconds.

“No plastic bag?” I asked.

“No, sorry,” he said.

So I pulled over and vomited up about two liters of water. Frank woke up out of his deep snooze and rubbed my back, but I was in no mood. I shook him off and puked once inside the car just to make a statement. Yeah it was my car, so what kind of statement I don’t know. Then I drove us home. “Two grown men in the car and no one can help me get home …” I said. Gary apologized again, but Frank was back to snoring.

The next morning, I woke up Frank with two cups of tea and sat on the floor of his bedroom.

“Do you remember last night?” I asked.

“I um … remember some of it but most it is lost, I have to be honest,” he said.

“You have to stop taking the xanax,” I said. “It was bad last night. Really bad.”

“I could say some things about you but I am going to hold back,” he said. It hurt to have the talk so he threw that out once then twice. “There are some things I could say about you, but I am not going to right now.”

“Ok, this is about you and you were out of control last night. I was embarrassed. You need to stop,” I said, staring at him.

“I heard your peace,” he said, sipping his tea. “Should I expect tea every morning from you?” His smile crept up between blowing the steam off the top.

What resonated with Frank was my refusal to slow dance with him. “I have just never seen anyone go that ga–ga over a cover band. I mean, they aren’t the Stones, they are a cover band!”

My friend Jerry was over for this particular conversation and said, “When [StarFire] dances, she dances with the band.”

“You’re telling me,” Frank said, giggling over his disappointment. “You can go see them again, but I am done with that band. I don’t need to see that again.”

“Great,” I said, “No man ever wants to just dance with me to the Stones.”

“Honey, not like that,” he said, before taking a long, sip of coffee.

**

A few days later I recovered most of my things from a storage unit in Orange County. Abe helped me, and as he gathered my things out of his garage and packed up my car, I flirted with him. I stood close and tried to kiss him on the mouth. “What is wrong with you?” he asked.

“I am just so God damn attracted to you,” I said, grabbing his hips.

He was awkward about those kind of things. He laughed and pulled away, regrouped and verbally planned out how to pack up my car. I leaned against the hood of my car and propped my leg up. He laughed and walked away. He smelled of cigarettes and laundry detergent. He was exactly the same. Nothing had changed in him.

When we got to my storage unit, we packed up both our cars to drive back to Glendale (which was over an hour in rush hour traffic).  I thought about whether or not I wanted to have sex with him. I thought about what it would mean. Would I go back to mooning over him? False hope about a relationship? False comfort? I really didn’t want to go back. The hardest part of seeing him again was resisting the urge to fall back in love, and it took me like a stranglehold. He was nice, he was attractive, awkward, calm, all the things I loved about him though I knew he had nothing more to give me.  To this day, sitting here in my bedroom with another man’s smell on my pillows and blanket, it still makes me sad.

I thought about Michael. I knew I made love to him twice and he was inexperienced enough to be vulnerable about my other partners. If I had sex with Abe would I have to tell him? Was I capable of leaving him for Abe? God, how could I live with myself?.

Those pristine blue eyes under the shadows of his severe eyebrows brought me in again. “We cast a spell on each other,” he said once.

We got back to the apartment in Glendale and unloaded most of my stuff from storage. Abe smoked out Gary and the two seemed to get along well. They were both in a nonsense world with minimal responsibility. That said, they both helped me when they could. Gary would walk the dogs and do the dishes. Abe unpacked my things and set up an air mattress my boss loaned me.

Abe and Gary
When the lights went out and the house outside my bedroom door settled, I wondered if I would have sex with Abe again. I wanted to, but it felt like the wrong thing to do. “If we had sex, I am afraid you would lose your mind again,” he said. I laughed. “Me too.”

It is hard loving someone partly with your soul, but completely with your body. I laid down and he played some music on my computer. I asked him to rub my back and I fell asleep with his warm hands on my back and legs. In the middle of the night, I woke up to him climbing out of bed with me, still fully clothed. “I have to go home now,” he whispered.

“Stay,” I groaned, grasping at the air.

“I can’t,” he said. And that was the last I saw of him.

***

It wasn’t long before I was back in Frank’s closet, snorting a few more lines. As long as it was there, the three of us, Gary, Frank and me, kept going, playing music, sweating, roaming, circling in and out like a merry-go-round.

cocaine-crazy-disney-drugs-Favim.com-517720
Somewhere earlier in the day, another ping rung out from my phone. It was from Huck again: “Miss you.. im comi gng to lax in december. I cant waieoq.” I screamed and dropped my phone again. I looked down at my black phone on the floor frozen. Then I screamed again.

“What …?” Frank asked. I read him the message. It was unlike Huck to misspell words, so I assumed he was drunk. Later I found out it was written by his girlfriend at the time. After reading the words aloud, Frank leaned back, “Tell him Super Shuttle is $13.”

I laughed and picked up my phone. “What … the .. fuck?”

“Seriously, if you bring him back here during residency, I will knock his block off. And I am serious,” he said.

“I would never … ever … TOUCH him again!” I said.

“Ok,” he said sing-song. “Just don’t bring him back here.”

*

I hadn’t heard much from Michael, he was still at a cool distance. I texted him: “What are you doing tonight?”

“Hanging out with my best friend [StarFire]” he wrote.

A few lines of fairy dust were swept into a small baggie with a make-shift straw I kept sticking out of the top. Instead of laying down lines on a mirror or surface, I would just snort directly out of the bag. There wasn’t much, not to justify what a junkie I can be. It is just a moment. A dance in time. It would be over soon enough and I would be back to work.

“Should I ask where you are going?” Frank asked.

“No,” I said finishing up the line he cut for me before rushing out the door. “Dogs are walked and fed. See you in the morning.”

*

I showed up to Michael’s house in Pasadena. He was the only tenant on the bottom floor. His room had a bed, a massage chair, a computer and a dresser, all in black or white decor. He greeted me as I walked in, “So I have champagne, chocolate soy ice cream, mango soy ice cream, wine and vegan almond squares.”

“Oh my, you have been reading my blog,” I said, delighted. I sat down eyeing the champagne first.

“But first I would like to take you out to dinner. Anywhere you would like to go,” he said, smiling.

“That’s ok, you don’t have to do that,” I said, popping open the champagne myself.

He slowly nodded, trying to understand what that meant. “I am not very hungry,” I continued, opening my little baggie and taking a whiff of dust. I felt his hands on my shoulder, he was short but I loved the way he touched me. The weight of his hands fell around my shoulders, and I felt his breath on the back of my neck as I snorted. Snorting cocaine excites men, which I never understood since it seems like such dirty business.

cocaine street art

When I was done, I felt the heat of his body pull away from behind. “You wanna go smoke a cigarette?” he asked. I smiled and nodded. Outside, there was a fire pit of sorts, surrounded by old, rotten couches and a stand alone fridge, stocked with beer. Plenty of young men occupied the house, but I rarely saw them. It was dark and cold, but the fire was going and the hot tobacco warmed me up.

“So I got a message from Huck, remember Huck from my blog? He wrote me ‘Miss you. I am coming to LAX in December. Can’t wait to see you.’ I mean, what the fuck? Who does this? Who breaks someone’s heart and then pulls strings afterward? I wouldn’t do that. If I hurt someone as much as he hurt me, I wouldn’t go near them again just for sex or whatever he wants. Its not fair.”

“You know what you sound like? Someone who had their heart broken,” Michael said.

I blew out some steam and then allowed him to light a second cigarette. “You know there aren’t other girls like you?” he said. “You know that, right?” I hung my head heavily to the side. It is a beautiful thing to say but I didn’t know how to respond without sounding arrogant or self-deprecating.

“You are a beautiful woman, you are a great writer, I love those blogs. I don’t read very much but it is easy for me to read your writing. That says a lot. It keeps me interested. You have a, you know, good head on your shoulders. And you are great in bed. What more do you need?” he said.

“I would like to be funny,” I said, smiling through the burn and the darkness. “You are,” he said.

I knew the kid was holding me up high. The blog is a monster because I refine my life and bring out my best and worst moments to be a character. There is a human under the witty banter, the drugs, the adventures and the sex. The human is always less appealing than the character. He would find out who I was, eventually, but for that moment in time I wanted to be his fantasy. Those are always the best parts of my relationships. The beginnings.

We spent the entire night making love. Sex would last a few minutes; the groaning, the sweat, the sloppy ecstasy before a quick end. Then it would start back up all over again. In between sessions, we would talk. I was out of coke but forgot about it. There was no come down, there was no aggravation, no rustle for the last few drops of white powder.  He made me laugh and my withdrawal vanished.

“Here, let me play some music for you,” he said, pulling up his Pandora.

“The Diva channel? Really, Michael. I don’t know what straight guy has Celine Dion and Cher as a channel,” I said.

“Why not?” he squeaked. We played some music and talked about more music. He knew more about 80s music and culture than I did, which still baffles me since he was born in 1989. He must have spent a lot of time alone as a child.

“You are cold as ice, willing to sacrifice our love …” he sang.

“You know who sings that?” I asked.

“Yeah, Foreigner.”

“No, really.”

“Look it up.”

I got on his computer at the desk parallel to his bed and pulled up ‘Cold as Ice’ by the Chipmunks. “See? It wasn’t Foreigner, it was the Chipmunks.” I pressed play and made him listen to Alvin, Simon and Theodore harmonize. He laughed with his whole body. I watched him lay in bed with a perfect upper torso, black hair trailing down his stomach to his plump cock, and the laughter tighten around the muscles in his abdomen. He had a high pitched laugh, but it wasn’t feminine. It sounded like the squealing of tires and made me feel brilliant every time I cracked a joke. It also created that bubbling sensation in my sternum, the possibility of love or what I know of love.

“Suggested videos from the Chipmunks is ‘West Side Story’” I said, clicking over to a medley of songs. “Maria”, “When You’re a Jet”, “America”, “Cool” all played, and I sang them almost word for word.

Westside-Story-classic-movies-6446879-2560-2010

“How do you know all the words?” he asked.

“I am a fan,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“You want to see my impression of ‘West Side Story’? Eh, my name is Tony and Chino killed me. Oh…” he said in fast, low thug voice. I cackled. He does quick and silly impressions of people and movies. It is one of my favorite things about him.

“Uh oh, looks like someone is drunk Facebooking,” I said, rolling over his computer. “‘I wish people wouldn’t tell me how to raise my kid, go to hell!’ is her status update. Let’s review the events of the night and see what brought her there. Two hours ago ‘What a beautiful night, I am blessed!’ Uh oh, only two hours ago? What happened? One hour ago “Why does my life have to be so difficult? Because of the men I choose to share it with. When will I learn?’ Ok, so in the last two hours she had a bad conversation with the father of her child, I guess, and chased it with a bottle of wine. I love it. I am a pro at drinking and Facebooking.”

“And we love you for it,” he said. His soft brown eyes always looked glazed over. All the years I had known Michael it never occurred to me we would have a chemistry. You would think there would be a tingle, a moment of recognition, a hint of some kind that this person could make you fly with a kiss.

“I will get a dog. A dog with three legs is like … cool. A dog with two legs is like, ooooh, I really love that dog. A dog with no legs and just wheels is heaven!” he said. “That’s my goal, to get a dog with no legs,” he said smiling. Sometimes he would sit up on his bed and face me, as I nursed the bottle of champagne and then the bottle of red from his desk. Other times he laid back. We had made love four times, but were both wide awake.

dog with legs 0.jpg

“Tell me your deepest, darkest secret,” he said.

“Why?”

“Just to do it, why not?” he asked.

“Because I am having a good time. I don’t want to change the tone. Do you have a secret you want to share?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said. I crawled on the bed to fit in the nook of his arm. When we laid side by side, I could feel encased by him. I could look up to him and feel smaller, pocketed, loved the way I was used to. Standing up, I felt like the Jolly Green Giant.

“Did I tell you about the time I tried to kill myself?” he asked.

“No,” I said, softly.

“I feel like I did. How they had to pump my stomach with charcoal,” he continued.

“I feel like I would have remembered that. What led up to that decision?”

“I was 15 and my Mom had this snowglobe. My grandmother gave it to her and she just died. I accidentally broke it. When she found out she screamed ‘I hate you!’”

WinterSnowGlobe
“That’s terrible … but is that all?” I said. “Not to take anything away from you but … was that all that happened?”

“Yeah. That was it,” he said. I realized then how fragile he was. “My childhood wasn’t great. Kids were mean to me. I let them be mean to me but it still sucked. One time I let them set me on fire.”

“Oh my God,” I said again. “Did you get badly burned?”

“Yeah, that was horrible. I had to pull my sweatshirt over my head,” he said. I realized why he was attracted to me, why he loved the blog so much. He thought we connected because we suffered in the same way, but we all suffer, and all in different ways.

“How were your parents?” I asked.

“Well, my father died. Did I tell you that? I thought I did,” he said.

“No, stop saying that you told me these things because it makes me feel like I am not paying attention. I would remember stuff like suicide and dead father.”

“Yeah, he died when I was 19,” he said.

“I am sorry.”

“No big deal, he was barely around at that point,” he said, lightly. The eyes made sense now; the loss, the burning desire to rescue paraplegic dogs and fuck me. I put my arm over his chest. “My grandfather died, his funeral is next weekend so I will be out of town.”

“Oh, I am sorry about that, too,” I said.

“We weren’t close. No big deal.”

“It might be good to go back and settle business before you move back to Milwaukee,” I said.

“Maybe I won’t move back,” he said.

“Oh,” I said. In fact, I can’t remember what I said but I felt my heart stop and a chill freeze my blood. He was going to stay because of me. “It sounds like you have a pretty solid plan though.”

“Not really. I just thought I could go back there for a change, but I can do all the things I was going to do over there here.”

“What about school? You were going to be a vet tech?”

“Field animal observation. I can do that anywhere. I was looking at Glendale Community College. I can get free tuition in California,” he said.

“Well, you know my feelings on Milwaukee so, I think that would be a better life for you to stay. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons,” I said.

“I will,” he sighed, holding me closer, blowing into my rustled head of hair.

It was around this time I crawled down and gave him a blow job- not because I was in love but because I knew it would impress him. I also knew it wouldn’t take too long. Afterward, with the moaning and praise, he said, “I never knew it could be this way. That was the best head I’ve ever had.”

“Well, you are only 23,” I said.

“No, sex with you is on some other level. I can’t explain it. I never have had sex like this before,” he said.

“Well, I am probably more experienced than the other girls you have been with. That’s all.”

“When you touch me, there is an electricity,” he said, covering his face with his forearm. His skin was so milky white in contrast to his black hair. He almost looked like a sculpture of a Roman soldier I admired in the courtyards of Paris- with the prominent nose, the robust physique, the marble-like complexion. I wiped my mouth and crawled back into the crevice of his arm singing ‘I Feel Pretty’. We agreed to turn on “West Side Story” and fell asleep to it. I woke up to Maria crying over Tony and muttered in a morning voice, “She was so good in this movie …”

“Yeah” he sighed, holding me up for a morning kiss. We made love a few more times before agreeing to go to breakfast.

The only place I could think to go was the vegan place in Los Feliz  Abe and I used to regularly go called Green Leaves. It is all vegan, vegan pancakes with vegan chicken and vegan eggs. We came in together and the usual waiter recognized me, looked at Michael and smiled. I shamelessly sat down with a head of hair that was tossed in a hundred different directions during a hundred different positions.

“I am not going to push you, but I want you to know at some point I am going to ask to be in a relationship with you. I want you to be my girlfriend. It doesn’t have to be now, but I want to talk to you about it later,” he said.

I nodded, “Ok.”

“I am not sure how you are feeling but I have feelings for you,” he said.

“I am having feelings too, but I am not looking for a relationship right now. Things have been going really well with this whole casual approach thing I am doing. It is hard to be in a relationship with someone like me,” I said. “Let’s just leave it at ‘We can do whatever we want.’”

“Well, I would like to try. Like I said, let that sit. We can talk about it later,” he said, casually picking up a menu. And just like that, my heart was dragged back under by a 23-year-old from Milwaukee. His mother was going to kill me.

Michael at green Leaves

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White Lines & White Boys … again

There were discussions about where to move and discussions about who to move in with. The vibe at Alia’s was so welcoming Frank, my friend of four years, agreed to move in with me and Gary, my Washington state transplant who left his girlfriend and two daughters behind. Frank felt that Gary would temper any sexual or romantic tension that might linger between us in a residence.

A year and a half before, Frank and I discussed moving in and he made mention of what bothered him: “I can just see myself getting all amped up from a football game and then when you bring some guy home I just fucking lose it.” That scared me enough to keep from moving in with him in 2010. Now he was flirting with Alia, playing poker with Gary and he seemed at peace with the matter.

angry coach

There was one late morning where I confided that I was  a little jealous of his flirtation with her and he invited me over for cocaine and sex. I considered it. We kissed in Alia’s empty kitchen. He asked me to think about it and left. I went somewhere else that night. I needed a roommate who had money, who had income and who I know well enough to avoid surprises. I liked the idea of living with Frank because we watched crappy television together, we both kept odd hours and he would be good to my dogs.

His neighbor, a mutual acquaintance, once asked about our friendship as it went through so many highs and lows in the blog. “What is the deal with you two?” she asked. “We have three things in common; broken hearts, cocaine and classic rock.” Later he said, “That pretty much sums us up to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”

Sex_Drugs_and_Rock_n_Roll_by_Jestersdream
Frank loves sports, he loves gambling on sports even more. He loves my dog Maggie, probably because she is overweight, lazy and loves to eat and some part of him identifies with that. When I was up in Washington he said, “You know I do miss you, but I miss Maggie even more.” Frank was a New York stand-up comic and everyone I introduce him to asks me if he still performs. He doesn’t but he can riff all night with just a half a glass of scotch and a dirty cigar. He was a good friend to me when sex didn’t get in the way, whether that be the want for sex, the rejection of sex or just the idea of sex.

Sex always got in the way.

While looking at three bedroom apartments, I asked him one question every day: Are you sure you can deal with it if and when I get a boyfriend?

“I think I am in a different place right now with everything. I think it will be fine. Especially with Gary there.”

And with Gary, the quiet stoner who followed me down the west coast, I asked him one question: Are you sure you are going to stay in LA? “Yeah, I am not going anywhere,” he said.

Broken_Promises_by_HerrFous

In between afternoons walking dogs and feeding cats, I frantically reviewed rent ads on Craigslist and forwarded them to Frank. He would be the one laying down most of the deposit since Gary never got his final paycheck from the Hotel where we used to work and my savings was quickly depleting from not making enough and paying too much on gas.

It was nerve racking. We would find a house we really liked, put in the application and lose it to a family. Frank and I even posed as a couple for one particular house. We were interviewed and I felt the eyes of the landlord roll down my skinny jeans to my converse shoes. She knew I was a dog-walker before the interview but that didn’t seem to matter. Every week we would fall in love with a house, and every week we lost it to someone with kids and a real job. When we walked into an empty three bedroom house in Glendale, we were both exacerbated, grouchy and emotional.

“See? I like this. I want this now,” I said, walking over faux wood floors and white stucco walls.

Our living room

“You like this? You want this? Fine. I am putting in the call right now,” he said pulling out his phone, “Yes, hello. We are in the house up for rental in Glendale and we have seen a few places, really liked them and just didn’t get the application in on time so we are a little frustrated. We are really serious about this place and want to do whatever it takes to rent the place now. What do we have to do? Can I drop by and put a deposit on this now? (silence) Tomorrow? … Ok, we will stop by tomorrow.” He hung up the phone and looked at me against an empty kitchen with lonely washer/dryer hook-ups staring at us from the wall.

There was a lot of light coming through windows on every side of the house. There was no yard for the dogs but plenty of room for them to roam around inside. I already had my heart set on the bedroom facing the front yard.

my bedroom

Frank would take the bedroom furthest from me so he wouldn’t hear the music of love-making from my room. He only required a private bathroom. In this house, the third bedroom not only had a private bathroom, a walk-in closet the size of a small office, but also a private entrance. If he needed to, he could avoid me for days.

*I realize this sounds like an odd friendship, but being a man and a woman in a friendship is complicated for me and Frank. If I were a man, there would be no question … he would be my best friend.

“There it is, we will go in tomorrow and I will put money down on the deposit. Happy?” he said, almost barking like a chained up dog across the street. We were both fried from the experience of drifting around homeless, couch surfing and living out of our cars for the entire summer and now most of Fall. He was subletting an apartment from that same acquaintance who inquired about our friendship. Frank was on borrowed time and was floating around Los Angeles, uneasily creaking by on a rocky canoe. He wanted to settle down, to stop and put his feet on solid ground for awhile. “You need me for this. You and Gary need me and I don’t like this feeling that I am being used.”

“Using you? HA!” I popped. Frank’s face was getting red and his eyes were growing.

“Yeah, what would you do without me putting the money down on a place? You would be stuck with Gary and three dogs. You have no other option so you are pressing me to help you out!” he rattled.

“I have been on my own since I was 18 years-old. I have been doing it without you and without anyone else for a long time, even with these dogs. I don’t need you and I don’t need anyone! Don’t move in with me if that’s how you feel!” I said, raising my voice and hands in the air. We were both shouting now in our new empty house. An Armenian man was pacing outside along the driveway. He must have heard us arguing, but I didn’t care.

“No, it’s fine,” Frank said, lowering his voice.

“Now I have to go to work,” I angrily chirped. I burst through the back door and jumped in my car. My face was hot and my voice squealed. Frank pushed for a relationship. He always went on about how he wanted a wife and a family and a house- and now in the face of a platonic, low-commitment arrangement on an apartment he was freaking out. “I hate men!” I shouted to myself, slapping the top of my steering wheel while wading through one stoplight after another.  My phone buzzed. I picked it up and opened a chat window. “heya” It was from Huck (the Milwaukee poet who broke my heart last summer). I yelped and dropped the phone like it burned my hand. Then I picked it back up and called Frank:

burning phone

“I am glad you called, I feel a lot better about everything now. You said everything you needed to say,” he said.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Huck just pinged me. Why would he do that? What the fuck?” I asked.

“Um … yeah … he is going to try to fuck you again,” Frank said matter-of-factly. Huck lived in Wisconsin and, as far as I knew, was still dating some girl he mentioned in his poetry. We just shared a week last residency in what we called a “tryst”. I fell for him, and maybe he fell a little bit too. He fucked someone else a few days after returning to Milwaukee and the whole affair sloppily dismantled in the messiest way possible- over cell phones and GChat. The students at school meet twice a year on campus for ten days and we call those periods “residency”. Last residency was June. The next residency was December. It was now late October and I didn’t know how I would react to school or Huck after he broke my heart.

“Anyway,” Frank said, “I feel good about moving into this place with you and Gary now. Thank you.” I came from an Italian Mother with a hot temper and wild eyes. Frank was a Jew. When it comes to resolving matters, shouting and slamming doors are familiar. That is how we do it. The next day, Frank laid down the deposit and the three of us signed a lease.

lease

***

My time in Alia’s fairydust house was coming to an end. No more waking up to quiet, chlorine pools or falling asleep to the chatter of friends around a firepit. I fell for her a little bit too. One morning when talking to her about the stress of money, the house and my parents, I simply walked up to her in the kitchen and kissed her on the mouth. It was unlike me to ever initiate a kiss with a woman or a man. I can’t explain why I did it. She looked up at me startled but smiled. I wondered for a day or more if that made her uncomfortable until it became a ritual for us to kiss each other hello and goodbye on the mouth. We joked that we were “Sister wives.”

“I always wanted a sister wife,” she would sing from her couch throne, under her wild ruff of hair, nursing a bong and balancing an iPad on her knee. She was eccentric, always singing with me when I randomly broke into song, always begging to hang out when I was too consumed with school or work to give her the time I wanted. We had our banter over breakfast in the mornings before I headed out to the city.

“God, I love taking showers stoned,” I said, walking out to the living room with wet hair.

“Are you kidding, why do you think I am always stoned? Cause of the showers, man,” she said.

She drove like a madwoman in her Prius, cutting around cars and speeding down quiet streets. “My therapist and my pot dispensary are on the same street. They don’t like each other, though.” I would chuckle and then she would look at me as if waking out of a dream and release this high pitched cackle from the base of her throat.

Alia on an interview

“I want to make love to Jim Morrison. How unfair …” I would say to myself, in a daze in front of my computer.

“Yeah, me too. Like, God? Not cool, man,” she bellowed from the living room.

She was random and strange, but she moved in my conversations easily, often making them more bizarre and funny. “I have a dead friend on Facebook. Yeah … it’s weird.”

If she left for a job interview, or to see her therapist, she would mosey back into the house looking around. “I was going to grab my laptop, but I forgot it … because I got high … I was gonna clean my room until I got high (singing) I gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high …”

It was strange that we connected at random on Facebook. Stranger that we shared an acquaintance we both disliked, the same acquaintance who connected me and Frank, and Frank to her. We were all so loosely brought together and somehow it worked in all its disheveled charm.

After working all day, I would write a blog from midnight to 5am in the kitchen nook, while Gary snored with a dog under his legs. Alia wandered out one morning before the sun rose and saw only my face in the monitor light. “Wow, you really don’t sleep do you?” she asked.

“Not really,” I said.

When we told her we found a place in Glendale, she squealed and hugged me. It was bittersweet, and I buried my face in her robe and hair. “I can’t thank you enough for taking me and the dogs in. I am really going to miss you.”

“And I am going to miss you too,” she said, “but I am happy to get my house back.”

“You really encouraged me and validated me. I wish you were my mother,” I said.

“And you pay attention to me and take lots of pictures of me, like I wish my mother did.”

We shared a crazy laugh and then I asked, “Maybe you could move in with us?”

“Are you kidding?” she said, “And give up this sweet pad? Hell no.”

I always had trouble saying goodbye, even if I knew she was only 45 minutes away in traffic. In LA, 45 minutes reduces a friendship from everyday to once a month, if that. I haven’t seen her in over a month now. As I said goodbye to one new friend, I was thinking about another; Michael, the 23-year-old boy who snuck into my room one drunk night and made love to me on the floor, surrounded by pillows and dogs just before slipping away at 5am to go to work. He was still on my mind.

***

Michael didn’t call me after we had sex. I was so overwhelmed with the new job and the new place, that I didn’t think too heavily about the brief sexual encounter we had. I should say, I didn’t analyze it very much. In memory, when I heard the moaning of a boy losing all control of himself on top of me, inside of me, I felt my head fall back, my eyes get lazy and my thighs shiver.

He left his cell phone charger in my room and I texted him “Hey, you left your charger in my wall.”

“That’s ok, I have another one,” he texted back.

toaster sex

We hadn’t had a conversation about what happened, despite being friends for the last few years. It seemed strange that it happened at all, but I couldn’t afford the time to really think about what it meant.

“Sorry I had to leave so early, I had to be at [Doggie Daycare] at 6am,” he wrote.

“Yeah, where are my flowers?” I texted back.

“You never got them?” he texted back.

That was my little joke to ease the tension. When I dropped my dogs off at his house, so he could watch them while I moved most of my things into the new place, he met me outside with a cigarette propped out of his mouth. The skin under his brown eyes bubbled in a restrained smile.

“Thank you for doing this,” I said, handing him the leashes to all three of my dogs, “but I never did get those flowers.”

He smiled around his cigarette and then gracefully removed it. “Still? I am never using that flower shop again!” he said, buying into the joke.

It was on this night that cocaine was guided back into my life like a surprise entertainer, led in through an alley entrance. Alia, Frank and I spoke about getting coke for a week or two. When we signed the lease and got the new place, Alia and Frank split the expense and got a decent amount of white. I don’t know the details of how much since I have never really been able to afford my own blow, but they were both generous with it. Alia’s lover Ryan played music on the laptop and we all rotated in and out of Frank’s walk-in closet, taking turns with a line or two. Even when I think about it now, the powdery aspirin sear through your nose, burning the eyes and groin almost immediately, wets the appetite. Then to wait for the drip down the back of your throat, bitter at first but followed by a thick, heavy heart beat.

peter pan coke

I took on a few lines and texted Michael, “Thank you so much for taking care of my dogs, I really owe you.”

“You don’t owe me. Maybe I can come to a housewarming party or something when you get settled,” he texted back. I was impressed but equally confused as to why he wasn’t being more aggressive with me after our night together. I needed the space, that was certain. He was very calculating about that, and perhaps I underestimated him … in general.

“Why don’t you drop off the dogs and join us?” I texted back.

“Now? At the new place?” he wrote back.

“Yeah. Now.”

The high was making me restless. Between the living room and Frank’s closet, there wasn’t much to do. The more coke I snorted, the more I felt like a goldfish dropped from a plastic bag into a larger glass bowl, whipping back and forth in the empty L-shaped house.

“Ok” he wrote back.

Alice and cocaine

Frank always had one rule with buying me coke. “Have as much as you like, but don’t have sex with another guy on it.” When someone is cutting me a line with a debit card, and muttering one rule or another, I will nod my head … hell, I might even utter a “Yes” or “Ok” but really all I am thinking about it how that next line will taste. Frank was mixing xanax with coke to ease the high. He didn’t seem concerned about Michael showing up or even aware there was something going on between us.

The evening got foggy in the laughter, the dancing, the pillows on the floor and the flirtations. Pearl Jam played from Frank’s small, computer speakers. Michael arrived with the dogs and waited patiently for me in the living room as I excused myself every 15 minutes or so for another line. When Alia and Ryan left, and Gary fell asleep on the floor of his new room, Michael sat cross-legged across from me on the floor. The wet of morning was already falling into the night air and I watched Frank to see if he was awake. Sprawled out with one arm around Maggie my dog, and his face buried in pillows, he fell asleep next to the music crackling through the speakers wired to both ends of his laptop.

Michael

Michael was watching me, and waiting. He wasn’t like the other boys, he was playing it real cool. He sat there, propping his boyish grin up in the heel of his hand, knowing I was high even though I didn’t tell. Knowing I would seduce him even though I hadn’t called. And as soon as Frank’s snore found a rhythm, I took Michael’s hand and led him into my empty bedroom.

He crawled on top of me, peeling the clothes off of my body. Brad, my little terrier, lunged at his face a few times. “Brad, no! Mommy doesn’t want that!” Brad curled up on my chest and stared at Michael, who slowly eased off my body.

“Uh uh!” I said, gently pushing him off.

“I think he is in love with you, like in people love with you,” Michael said.

“I know, he is my husband from a previous life. I think somehow he was offered the deal to either live with me in this life as a little dog and watch me make love to other men, or wait a lifetime away from me.”

My husband from a previous life

“Wow, that seems um … very elaborate.”

“Yeah, it’s complicated,” I said, grabbing a handful of shirt and pulling him towards my face. I felt the cocaine dry on the inside of my nose and my lips swell. He went down on me and I was shy about it. I felt the scratch of his morning beard knock against the neglected slope of my thighs. The burn and the wet crawling all over me until I came once, maybe twice. When he entered me it was brief, again, but erotic with the groaning of boyish innocence, the hard, wet forehead collapsing on my breasts and the dry, perfect kisses to follow.

“You are sexy,” I whispered.

“Thank you,” he said, catching his breath.

“But now we have to go sleep out in the living room in case Frank wakes up.”

He took a moment and then said, “Um … ok.”

The morning came, Frank still asleep in the center of the room with my dog and his computer. Michael against the wall on pillows and a blanket. And then there was me, half awake, wondering what I wanted from the boy in the corner.

sex__drugs_OR_Rock__n___roll___by_Annnce

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