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Coachella Day 3, Pt. 3: Saturday Night, When Dark Turns To Black

Saturday, April 13th, 2013 

Part 3

Coachella on Fire

As Trent and I made our way through the collapsed thousands on the grass of Coachella’s fairgrounds, we found ourselves stopping to stare at the kids eating food. We were so goddamn tired of peanuts and energy bars. The price of food and drink at Coachella was far outside our budget.

One of them looked up at us. “We were just admiring your fries,” Trent said.

“Oh good. I was about to dump them,” he said, handing them to us.

We gorged ourselves on cold, soggy French fries like Moses himself just handed us both milk and honey.

Then we took more shrooms.

**

There was something called a “Silent Dance Party”, where everyone gathered under a large dome of balloons, gently quivering to the desert breeze. Just before entry, we were handed headphones, each headphone was synched to music, and we were shuffled by a few security guards under the dome. It was strange.  I don’t understand the concept. We were all together, unable to speak to each other without peeling off these black headphones, standing around, rattling to music like a carton of eggs on top of a grocery pile in a car, each in our individual foam dimples. Side by side but huddled together.

SILENT DANCE PARTY SML

Silent Rave

The music wasn’t that great either. We swayed a little bit. It was harder to establish a connection with the people around us. Some were facing other directions and most were restlessly marching in the dome and back out. If I caught a glance from a stranger, it was usually a drunk boy thirsty for casual sex.

The temptation to fornicate on a dirty camp ground with a group of rowdy man-children wasn’t appealing on any level. There was physical beauty, but if you go deep inside of me, you do require some depth in general. That is not to say there wasn’t a passing flirtation with one of the young men who bicycled people from one end of the campgrounds to the other in a seated cart attached to the back wheel. A great luxury indeed for the cost of $20. He was exceptionally handsome and sat on his bike, casually ignoring potential customers who slowed to stare at him before walking by. He wanted to chat with us as we decided what to do next.

I was sunburned, I hadn’t bathed in 48 hours, and I didn’t feel like there was anything I had to offer in the company of exotic, costumed barbies, as they swung their hips, head high, parading themselves with perfect pedicures and brand new flip flops. The young man seemed interested in me, though. He had sandy blond hair that captured the moonlight, he was tall and lazily slouched over in a generic, white polo shirt. Trent wanted to talk to him for obvious reasons, but I found his company a little nerve-wracking. I was self-conscious and sexually unavailable. In an effort to conceal my mood, I performed my porn-star orgasm impression which includes a duck face framing clenched large teeth, and an angry, forced moan that burns into a hiss. He laughed. I shrugged, hung my head and stepped back a little.

“So what are you guys doing later?” the boy asked.

“Going to some parties,” Trent asked.

“Yeah, can I give you my number? I am off in a couple hours and maybe we could hook up,” he said.

“Totally,” Trent answered. “My phone is dead though so you will have to get hers.”

He and I exchanged phone numbers. He leaned back and smiled that farm boy smile. The kind of boy who walks around topless on summer days, chews on straw and calls forth the sweat to tickle around your underwire bra.

After we exchanged numbers, he folded up his business and said, “Cool, ok. I gotta try to pick up some customers.” He gave me one last bad boy wink before a couple slid into his backseat. They had been waiting for the ride.

After he rode off, Trent said, “He liked you,” in that sweet, sing-song way. His voice sounded like it was bouncing happily on a hotel mattress. I shrugged. “Not that I can do anything about it.”

**

Michael, my boyfriend, knows me but doesn’t trust me. He got to know my writing before he really understood me. A few months later, he was folding my laundry (part of our domestic contract) and said, “Here I am folding up your onesie, thinking I should leave it out because I know you will wear it soon and everyone else is reading your sexy adventures. They have no idea.”

I have been reading Truman Capote lately, and came across a quote from Marilyn Monroe in his essay Elizabeth Taylor. I related to it, being a sexual woman who falls in love easily. Men make very easy connections between the two, but I find love and sexuality far more complicated.

“I don’t believe in casual sex. Right or wrong, if I go for a guy, I feel I ought to marry him. I don’t know why. Stupid, maybe. But that’s just the way I feel. Or if not that, then I should have meaning. Other than something physical. Funny, when you think of the reputation I have. And maybe deserve. Only I don’t think so. Deserve it, I mean. People just don’t understand what can happen to you. Without your real consent at all. Inside consent.” –Marilyn Monroe

 **

Trent’s approach to sex I can also relate to. There was a time when if I was angry or disappointed, I would fuck. Not because it was a comfort. Not because it was a distraction. Just because I wanted to punish myself. I don’t know that Trent would agree with me, but when he texts me from a cheap motel on one of his drug/wine/casual sex binges, I remember what that felt like: wanting to be used.

171442_coachella-2012_0411_

We released ourselves into the general population of the campground. There were small parties everywhere. Trent had to piss every few minutes because his bladder is the size of a coin purse. We were in the company of Houston and Benny, the two young fellows who were separated from their group but searching for them in a dizzying maze of tents, parked cars and music blasting from cell phones. Houston carried around wine in a bag, some kind of current young people fad. “Smack the bag!” We each crouched below him so he could fill our necks and mouth full of cheap wine until we couldn’t breathe anymore and were then supposed to smack the bag. Not especially enjoyable but necessary to keep a walking buzz when far away from Black Betty and her trunk of warm beer.

Trent would approach strangers, he was friendly at first. Pointing to their shirt, he would ask, “What’s this?” Or “Merry Christmas!” “Happy New Year!” Just strange nonsense to start a conversation or exchange. We were in the company of young people who had trouble enough conducting a basic conversation, I don’t know what he expected. There were a few hostile boys who thought he was making fun of them, but most walked by us in a zombie daze, oblivious to any strange faces or inviting words.

One young woman with a hefty build and square face walked by: “Happy Halloween … “ he said just before she threw him a nasty glance. “Oh. Too close to home?” he said.  I laughed so hard I stopped walking and slowly collapsed on the ground.

Houston was trying to lead us to a party hosted by his people. He was on the cell phone, strutting proudly and announcing he had two cool people he wanted to bring to the alleged party. It was hard to find and Trent was turning.

Coachella-campgrounds-at-night

Having been in love with an alcoholic for a number of years, I feel like I can speak with some authority on the subject. People, including my roommate, will try to label a person like me as an alcoholic because I need a few beers to wind down at the end of a busy day or I will drink flat champagne first thing in the morning. A real alcoholic is one whose personality will flip on you. Their face will change, their voice lower, and you will realize that they are on the attack. I don’t understand how the chemistry works from the inside out. I knew Trent had trouble with alcohol. I knew he could change and get nasty for no other reason than the alcohol engorging his stick thin frame. And having some experience managing an alcoholic of my own, I knew how to put up invisible hand rails in conversation, to keep them from spilling over into unsuspecting friends, acquaintances or strangers. Soften the insult with a compliment. Distract. Promise something great at the end of the line like a sandwich or another drink. Keep them from falling on to someone else.

Trent had already pissed himself, so I knew we were in the danger zone before he got short with the boys. They were nice boys and they didn’t know what kind of monster was waking beneath the coco skin of my unpredictable but charming friend.

Trent was frustrated people wouldn’t talk to him. Trent was frustrated we couldn’t find the party.

I would softly flag him with a “Trent …” or “No, no.”

“I know, I know,” he would say.

“Don’t worry, you are adorable,” I said.

“Shut up!” Trent barked. My back stiffened and my eyes rolled over to Houston and Benny.

“Trent …” I said pleadingly, gently flipping up my hand rails.

“Shut up! Just shut up!” he said, throwing his arm down and storming ahead of us.

“Don’t talk that way … to me,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because I love you and it hurts my feelings.”

Silence.

We found the party. I cautiously followed Houston under a large car camping tent, like a collapsible carport. Actually it was a few strung together for one covered area. Instead of grass, there were rugs rolled out together, bean bags and chairs pinning them to the ground.

“I get it alright? I GET IT!” he said, walking into a rather dull assembly of young adults, each on their cell phone.

“That’s all I needed to hear,” I said.

We sat in the corner and observed the new group. Houston left to go gather more people, but I could tell already this was too uncomfortable for us. “You can move closer to us,” a girl suggested while staring at her cell phone.

“That’s ok” I said, keeping my ass and eyes tight to the corners of the tent for an exit.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, waited for the right moment then took off. I think we ran out of there to keep from feeling bad. Then we made our way back to Black Betty and the warm beer. The night was getting colder and we wrapped ourselves in blankets and sat outside with D and Benny, chatting. The conversation was pleasant enough, but Trent was complaining. Usually he tries to make his company feel ignorant, uneducated or dull when he is drunk and restless. There are times I don’t mind, but it just so happened, this particular time, we were with two men who were anything but. Above all, they were kind.

jekyll

They ignored him, for the most part, or laughed off the insult. This bruised Trent a bit, but he turned on me. He accused me of losing some of the mushrooms, of not being very intelligent, for ruining the party. I stared at him in the night, and we locked eyes. The shrooms made his face ripple into a woman’s. This happens on psychedelics, I see Trent transform into an exotic woman, somewhere between a gypsy over a small circus campfire to an African woman off the pages of an old magazine. Eyes large like stones and a wide jaw wrapped around ivory teeth. I watch his face and wonder what it means.

Then his face broke into a large smile: the real Trent surfacing for a moment. It was like a cinder block was kicked off my shoulder. It was only a moment though. I was falling asleep on Benny’s delicious shoulder wondering if the boy on the bicycle texted me. My phone since died. When I revived it the next day I found several messages asking where we were with various misspellings that made him easy to dismiss.

Benny was a bit of a temptation, himself. I knew Trent was attracted to him. Of course. He was attractive, tall, young, white and straight. He fit the gay fantasy flip profile. The difference between Benny and all the other boys that easily fit Trent’s fantasy was that Benny was exceptional. He was intelligent and gracefully carried conversation, contributing just enough to make him a curiosity while asking just the right amount of questions to keep you engaged. His eyes shaped like almonds but with the color of wonder. I leaned against him underneath the sleeping bag we shared and felt his strength, my eyes lazily closed to the calm of his voice, the vibration from his neck and chest to his shoulders. I thought how sweet summer camp romances were when I was too young to let them go, even when autumn arrived and school started.

“Well, I am going to hit the sack,” D said.

“What?!” Trent squealed.

“Yeah, it’s getting pretty late,” Benny said, twisting the wilting petals of his mouth away from my hair.

“God! I am stuck with you people when there are parties out there. Unbelievable! Fine. Go! I don’t care. You don’t say anything interesting anyway.”

D kind of chuckled as he repositioned his feet in his sandals, ready to make the 10 foot climb to his tent.

I grabbed a beer. “Fuck it! I’ll stay up. I will fucking stay up all night. Let’s go fucking crazy!” I cheered, as I opened up a can of beer and downed a third of it in one sloppy swallow.

“That’s right! See, that’s why I love her! That’s why I love you,” Trent said, assuaged if just for another few minutes.

D got up with polite apologies and disappeared behind a car or two before he was safe in a sleeping bag. Benny excused himself as well, slipping into the back seat of his truck. It wasn’t long before I convinced Trent to fall asleep too. Knowing it would be a huge imposition on Benny, I escorted Trent into the back cab with him and tucked him in under a blanket. I sat up next to both their still bodies, wide awake with a fizzling beer, as they both slipped off into the first splash of morning light.  I wouldn’t sleep but at least there was peace.

Sunrise coachella

 

 

 

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Acid, Ecstasy and Disneyland

Ask me the first time I let Michael into my heart?

I can tell you the steps, the baby steps, he made across the line into that first pumping valve. The first memory is taking him to see The Hollywood Stones in winter of 2012. The Hollywood Stones, once called Sticky Fingers, is the Rolling Stones cover band who first introduced me to the music back in 2001 in Pomona. I liked it. When I saw them last year on the Queen Mary, I had familiarized myself with the albums “Sticky Fingers” and “Let It Bleed” just because they ushered me through the door. I schedule my entire month around seeing them. As I once said to their saxophone player outside an Orange County steakhouse, “Hearing ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ live is just a gift.”

Dancing to the Stones

Once, the mentor, who broke my heart and leveled my self-esteem with her post-semester evaluation, invited me to her house for a reading in her Topanga home. It was the perfect opportunity to touch base with her again and give some credibility to my commitment as a writer. When I saw that The Hollywood Stones were playing the same night, I looked over at Michael. “Should I pretend to struggle over this decision?” I scratched out my old mentor’s event and wrote HOLLYWOOD STONES on my wall calendar. When I dance, when I dance to the music, it becomes my religion. That is when I feel the most alive.

The first night I took Michael to see them I knew that it would be a good indicator of where we would end up. Abe, my ex, would quickly run and hide during my dances. Was it out of fear or embarrassment? I never really figured it out.

Michael was ordering us drinks when the Stones hit their first song on stage. I was walking out of the bathroom and I felt the eyes of the band on me. It was a small venue. I am always the first to dance during the first song. And I am always alone.

I looked over to the bar and waved in Michael’s direction then started dancing. Michael creeped on the dance floor in my winter’s jacket. He was wearing it so I wouldn’t have to lug it around. I stopped to smile at him, as he sauntered on the floor towards me, sliding each sleeve up his forearm. I looked at the lead singer, Dick Swagger, and I watched him smile.

That was one of my favorite moments.

Another was on New Year’s Eve in a gay bar called Akbar. It was free and a last ditch effort during a busy dog walking season. Michael, Trent (my gay boyfriend) and myself all walked in knowing the DJs were usually hit and miss. This night it was Elton John, The Animals, The Monkees, The Black Keys, Jet and even Nancy Sinatra. We had a bag of cocaine on us and Michael was regularly excusing himself to the bathroom to take a few bumps.

“Does he know to take it easy on that stuff?” Trent asked.

“I don’t think he has had that heart stopping, ‘I am dying’, moment yet,” I said.

He never did. When Whitney Houston came on, Michael knew he couldn’t leave the dance floor, so he cleared the stage in front of the DJ and set up lines for himself in front of everyone. I admire that fearlessness. I worry, but I still admire.

la bound

Another favorite moment of us, in this rather young relationship, is coming home from the AWP conference in Boston. It is a conference for writers and publishers. He picked me up from the airport. At the baggage claim, I watched him looking for me. As soon as he saw me, he grabbed my arm with such force it almost hurt. He yanked me in for a hard kiss. A real kiss. The kind you see on TV and convince yourself don’t really exist. I kissed him back, forgetting the department head and president of my school were there waiting for their baggage too. When I opened my eyes, his arm swung up in my face … with flowers.

There was the negative as well. Michael doesn’t understand why I maintain contact with my ex-boyfriends, ex-lovers. I told him, “I don’t know how you can be intimate with someone and not stay in touch. How can you stop caring?”

In fact, Michael was no longer in contact with the girl he was going to move back to Milwaukee for before we started seeing each other. I knew she was upset at him from various angry, bleeping text messages around the holidays. That always bugged me.

‘She blocked me, ok?” he defended.

Other things, as it did with other cohabitating partners, bothered me; eating cereal next to my head as he stood over me to read while I was writing, this tick of pulling and sniffing on his nostrils, and gagging himself with a toothbrush while brushing. The clanking of his spoon against the bowl. (That isn’t specific to him, my roommate Frank is creating the same jarring sound from the living room as I write this) His rearrangement of my garments in the dresser. Little things bothered me, but they never really contended with his undying love and devotion. Whenever you consolidate your life with someone else’s life, there is friction.

It is difficult talking about how I love people. Last year, I was really hurt with many people. My  roommate hung himself and died. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me a few days before agreeing to move in with me and take me to his cousin’s wedding. My parents kicked me out with no money or shelter. All that happens to a broke girl is a kick into survival mode. You still have affection for people, but you don’t invite them into your soul anymore. It is a liability. And, at that point, it would be just plain stupid.

Michael’s mother gave us a timeshare for a Disneyland tower. I stocked up on my favorite drugs; MDMA, acid and Ecstasy. Acid, for some reason, is in low supply in Los Angeles. Luckily, my roommate Frank had two cubes of sugar he was saving in a friend’s freezer.

We arrived. I was in a pink sock hat, heart pajama bottoms and a Doors shirt with a Hunter S. Thompson biography and a stack of oreo cookies under my arm. I expected the Disney staff to either be over-serving in typical Corporate-Magic fashion or ignore us. Instead, the staff seemed to know exactly why we were there.

HST Flip Off

“That’s a great book,” the Bell Hop said.

“I know. It is blowing me away,” I said.

“They only use the words of people that knew Hunter S. Thompson. It is one of my favorites.”

What a pleasant surprise. They were kind, assuming a lower but friendly tone with us as we were escorted to our hotel room. We got in and watched the afternoon burn off. When we woke up in the middle of the night after beer, Taco Bell and a nap I wanted to take the acid. Michael was reluctant, wanting to wait until we were in the park. The drugs would hit me long and hard. My friends know that drugs hit me in “a weird way.” I don’t know if it is my brain chemistry or what exactly, but I get a bang for my buck no matter what. That is why I always dose low and slow. Even things like cough syrup and tylenol were given to me in minimal and controlled doses as a child.

I dosed and Michael followed soon after. One of my favorite things to do is watch old Looney Tunes episodes on psychedelics. We had the pleasure of an old Sylvester the cat episode. When acid kicks in, you know. The colors start getting strong. So strong they almost leap out of your television set. You laugh so hard you start uncontrollably cackling until tears cool down your face. All of this happened in the course of one hour, but not with Michael.

Sylvester is after the mouse, but somehow the mouse was able to substitute himself for a kangaroo.  Of course, the house bull dog has no sympathy for Sylvester. Scared over a mouse? Get in there and do your job! Sylvester gets the shit kicked out of him, and when the bull dog sees the kangaroo, he grabs Sylvester by the scruff and drops them both on the back of the truck. “When you start seeing a 5-foot mouse, then its time to jump on the water wagon.” Both Sylvester and the dog look defeated as they are carted away.

This was hysterical, and I couldn’t stop laughing. How things happened and in what order I am not sure. I accidentally hit a switch on the wall, and our bed boards lit up with electronic fireworks and a lit Disney castle to the hard, strained chords of a music box orchestra. We were both astonished.

I had to leave for a cigarette and be by myself. I know Michael wasn’t feeling it and was quite disappointed. So I walked outside and smoked next to a few potted trees in a huge,empty, concrete parking lot. It was 4am so no one was there but the night crew.

I looked at a bush next to the ashtray. “You just want to be free to grow, huh? I understand.” Everything seemed so controlled and fake. Sectioned and tarred. I smoked two cigarettes and watched the night time sprinklers go on. I watched the leaves dance for water and touched their pointing tips to feel some life in this endless parking lot. “I am sorry,” I whispered.

I walked back into the hotel and got in the elevator with a Hispanic man from the cleaning crew. My pupils were the size of dimes. “These graveyard shifts will shorten your lifespan, man,” I said. He giggled.

The elevator doors opened to Michael, waving his arms. He was worried about me. After huffing and puffing, he took off down the hallway to our room. “Have a good night,” the night man smiled.

We got back in the room and I laughed off his tantrum. I was only gone for 20 minutes, the acid was expanding his time. “I was really worried about you. Like, where were you, man?” He was adopting my dated vocabulary.

“I was outside. Those plants don’t like it out there.”

He calmed down after 10 or 15 minutes of panting and complaining. We hugged and kissed. When he had to poop, I dragged the chair into the bathroom and sat outside the toilet door because I didn’t want to be alone. It wasn’t just that. Something is vulnerable about a man on the shitter. He kept the door closed but we giggled so hard, I toppled over on the chair as it rocked clumsily between bathroom tiles on the floor.

Suddenly famished, we ordered room service (something we couldn’t afford) and the cart never made it as far as the beds before we fed off the table in the hallway. It was a great first night. He enjoyed a California omelet. I inhaled fresh fruit and oatmeal. “I can understand now how someone like Lindsay Lohan can blow all her money in a hotel.” When we were done, the sun was rising and we decided it was no better time to unleash ourselves into the park. We were allotted early entrance as Disney residents.

It was a special day, we walked into baby ducks marching towards us with trust and confidence. “Is this real?” Michael asked.

I always hit Storybookland first. Mr. Toad and his Wild Ride. Sleeping Beauty. Snow White. Pinocchio. And Peter Pan. Jesus, those rides are like flipping through old library pages in the early 80s. In the 2010s, themes of crystals and the occult are evident. On acid, it is a lift to the curtain. Instead of the characters coming alive, I was more aware of the squeaky wheels under the ride. The flimsy cardboard as each sun-bleached character clumsily stumbled towards us before spinning away. The paint on the wall was of someone with talent but not allowed artistry. On acid, in Disneyland, you would like to believe everything comes alive. It doesn’t. Everything is revealed as it truly is: a farce.It was easier to surrender my imagination sober. Under the influence of psychedelics, all I could see was man instead of imagination.

It wasn’t as if this ruined my time however. We bought cotton candy.

“My parents never let me have cotton candy,” I said, feeling pink sugar dissolve on my tongue and teeth. “This is the best thing man ever invented.”

“Whenever you tell me about your childhood, I just feel sad,” Michael said.

Disneyland (2) Disneyland (1)

My mother worked at a dentistry school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was never allowed to eat a cookie without a glass of milk. To this day, the association of sugar without a cleaning entity leaves me feeling dirty. Cotton candy, sugar cereal and cookies were among the many offenders of bad teeth.

We rode the Merry-Go-Round. We happened across a horse drawn cart. I saw the horse and felt an immediate kinship. “I want to touch that horse.”

“I don’t think you can, baby,” Michael said, holding on to my wrist as if holding down a helium balloon.

“I think it wants me to pet it.”

The horse driver slowly stepped towards us, smiling but cautious. “I don’t think you can, baby.”

I sighed. “I love you,” I called to the horse. It bucked it’s head and vanilla mane towards me like it understood. I stomped away on the cobblestone path to Buffalo Bill’s Wild, Wild West. The Petting Zoo was closed.

Disneyland (4)Disneyland (3) Disneyland (5)

We hit the Pirates of the Caribbean and I watched as the pirate chasing women was now changed to pirates chasing each other while holding a stolen treasure. The “Buy A Wife” still remains, with one woman in a brazen, red dress eager for purchase. A child cried. “It’s ok,” I said, “It just called sex slavery.”

The lecherous pirate chasing a teenage girl (hiding in a barrel) chanting “”It’s sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench” was changed to “I be looking for a fine pork loin, I be” and (now) a cat peeking its head out of the barrel.

We hit the Haunted Mansion, which was the one time I was not able to carry myself. It was completely dark and the pathway started moving. I asked Michael to hold on to me so I wouldn’t fall. “Are you freaking out?” he asked.

“No, I am just disoriented. Hold on to me, please.”

Afterward, Michael had to smoke, so all the smokers huddled in a corner by Autotopia to suck on cancer sticks. I wasn’t interested. “Are you not feeling it?” I said.

“No. But I have already come to peace with the fact that I can just enjoy you feeling it,” Michael said.

“Well, let’s take the Ecstasy.”

“Now?” he asked.

I gave him his pill 20 minutes before giving in on mine. I was still on the tail coats of acid but there was no denying it was a weak dose. The ecstasy hit him on The Matterhorn. I was sitting behind him in a bumpy bobsled.  A white, hairy creature would sometimes coast out on rickety rails and clinking wheels with his hands raised in claws and his eyes burning red. As we whipped around snow-capped mountains, I watched Michael raise both hands as they gracefully lowered to either side of him, middle fingertip pressed to thumb in some kind of meditation pose. I will never forget that. I knew the ecstasy hit him as soon as he reached zen on the Matterhorn. I chuckled even though he couldn’t hear me on the rattling ride as we swept through, under and over mountains modeled poorly after the Swiss Alps.

When we got off, I turned to him and said, “So, what? Are the people of Switzerland terrorized by a large, white, snow bound monster?”

“I think it is modeled after the Abominable Snowman,” he said with lazy eyes.

We went to Indiana Jones, which is still one of the best rides at Disneyland. We still ducked when feeling the air from blow darts. The rock rolling towards us still felt believable in the second before the ride drops below it.

We took Mark Twain’s Riverboat to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We got over there and all we could do was sit in the sunshine and kiss. “Ewwww” a little girl screamed, pointing. We both turned to her and laughed. It was just a lovely afternoon. Ecstasy gives you a bigger lift than Molly (MDMA). You feel like you could fly with laughter, like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

Back on the Mainland (Disneyland), there wasn’t much left to do. We made an appearance at Tomorrowland, though Space Mountain was more than I could admittedly deal with. Alice in Wonderland was a much needed stop. It’s a Small World. The Ecstasy had triggered strong maternal feelings and I was kissing the air within a few feet of stranger’s children. I am not sure I want children, but I can tell you they are amazing human beings.

They wore their pajamas. They ate their lollipops without inhibition, often leaving hard candy raindrops on their face and pants. They smiled when I smiled at them and cried only to their parents. All of them were carted in strollers, which was a bizarre sight. Children, all the way up to 10 years of age, were being carted around in rented strollers … not for fatigue but for speed and efficiency in the parents’ best interest. Stumbling on stroller parking was still one of the most bizarre sights I have seen. It seems we are rapidly approaching the life and times of Wall-E.

Stroller parking

Could children not walk anymore? Or could parents not be bothered with their short stride?

It was mid-afternoon when we took the tram back to our hotel room for lovemaking. Of course, the drugs had stripped me of all disguise and left me much like a little girl abandoned in a grocery store. I cried in the middle of lovemaking, walked to the other side of the suite and returned to Michael. This happened about four or five times in succession. Michael was patient.

“Work it out, baby,” he said, laying on the bed naked. His head pressed against the headboard with his thick, black hair brushed up and over his head like an Outsider from the 50s. His Italian eyes I once thought looked sad. Now, they looked heavy with seduction.

When I told my sister I was dating a full-blooded American-Italian she typed, “Yuck. Latin lovers are the worst.”

Those eyes brought me back, though. His arm was hung around the back of his head, stretching his biceps, almost forlornly watching. He didn’t try to wrangle me or cajole me back to the bed. He just watched me, feeling bad when I cried and satisfied when I returned. Recently, I watched “Scarface” and realized Michael had AL Pacino’s eyes. He knew I would be back and gave me the space to mourn my loss. When I wept, I don’t know what he thought I was thinking of or feeling. I can tell you the recurring memory was my parents kicking me out. If my parents can abandon me, anyone can. I had to cry it out, pathetically, naked, alone, next to the ice box and empty champagne bottle. I needed to work it out.

“Work it out, baby.”

al-pacino-20 al-pacino-20-1

To start my new family, I needed to mourn the old one. I cried and I came back to him.

We made love. We watched the Princess Story Time on the Resident Only Disney Channel. “Why is she using that voice? Doesn’t she know kids don’t like being condescended to? I can’t bear this.”

I took an MDMA pill. My serotonin was already depleted from the Ecstasy. However, I was launched into a world of floating pillows and white bed sheets like Jasmine the Agrabah princess. I couldn’t raise my physical senses any higher, but napped and levitated until the sun set.

a dreama dream 2

***

A lover of 5 years confessed to making out with his 1st cousin as a child and described walking into his father’s hospital room, while he was dying of lung cancer, then leaving immediately without saying a word. His father died before he could find the courage to speak.

Another lover of several months once described a moment where his birth mother accused him of being a “faggot” before abandoning him as an adolescent.

Love for a women is immediate. She opens her body to pregnancy and disease on the word of a man. She sacrifices her pulse and movement to a man, as he enters her. Men don’t experience this, though themselves are made of flesh, blood and bone. Words, you see, amount to nothing.

vag

It was much later in our relationship, in June, when I was having a nervous breakdown about residency, about love, life and rejection, that Michael invited me into the bathroom. “Do you want to watch me poop? Would that make you feel better?”

“Yeah,” I whimpered. It would. And it did.

I pulled a chair into our tiny bathroom and sat there holding his hand when I heard the first plop. I was crying all night and suddenly smiled. He could reveal as much of himself as I needed to … in order to love again.

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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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The Wake, My Men . . . and Losing Your Shit

The first few days after Danny died, Dora seemed ok. She was coherent, sober, collected . . . she just missed him. They were together for 2 full years prior to his suicide. He was her first adult relationship; the kind where you talk about raising a family together and wedding plans without worrying about divorce or paternity suits.

She decided Thursday would be the day to have his candlelight vigil at our home.

I was picking up all her shifts at Doggie Daycare. I was still in a bit of a daze, but totally focused on her. I knew if I were her, I would lose my shit. I also knew she was still in shock.

I asked my parents if I could stay in their home in Washington. They were on their third week touring Italy . . . again, but I just needed a destination to collect myself. One of our neighbors left town the night Danny hung himself, and another moved out completely.

My parents emailed me back there was no spare key and I would have to wait two more weeks before coming home. Then, they would be there for me.

Thursday morning, I called Alan. I was walking the dogs and started weeping into his voicemail.

I said, “Things are really bad here. I think about the last time things were ok and it was with you. Can you let me stay at your place . . . for a couple nights . . . please? I really need someone.”

Around this time, the nightmares started.  Dreams of rats eating through my walls, gun shots, blood, images and emotions that barely pieced together a narrative. I just woke up with my heart racing throughout the night. It was hell.

After work that night, I came home. Frank was there, loyal as always with a fresh baggie of cocaine for me. I may have asked for it, maybe not. I don’t remember now.

The sun set and I saw that Alan emailed me. I opened it:

“This is probably the last time you’ll hear from me for awhile.  I feel
like every time I respond it just prolongs the pain.

I am so sorry.  I am so terrible for ignoring you now, but I know that
there’s just nothing I can do but make things worse.  You can get
through this.  And you don’t need me like you think you do.

I can’t be there for you.  I really can’t.  I am barely holding my
life together and trying to hold yours together too will break me.
It’s selfish but it’s the truth.  Hate me and be disappointed if you
want.  I deserve it.  But it isn’t going to change things at all.

Some day we will both be able to hold our own, and then we can try to
be friends again.  But right now we’re two helpless people and it’s
just dangerous for us to try to be together.

You’ll be ok.”

 

Frank was sitting on a folding chair by my computer. I was standing up as I breezed through those words, and I collapsed crying for the first time.

Frank held me, like I was a doll with a heavy glass head and only cloth arms to break my fall.

I cried, hard.

I remember saying, “I want my mom.”

He tried to comfort me and I heard Dora through my door say, “Don’t cry, then I will cry.”

When I pulled myself together, one of Danny’s friends, who had smoked all his living brain cells away, showed up to make dull comments like, “I remember the last time I saw him was at that party. He said, ‘See ya next time, man.’ Next time . . . he was a good guy.”

The manager who lives at Doggie Daycare and the very dry, sarcastic Filipino woman who handles Human Resources both showed up together with a candle each.

Dora was inside, setting up food or on her phone.

The Manager asked, “Did you notice they were fighting a lot? I mean, was it that bad?”

I said, “They are 22, how bad could it be? What, the assets? The house payment? The kids? I mean . . . they are too young to have real problems.”

They nodded, processing. We were all processing.

They only stayed for a bit. When they left, Dora fell apart.

I heard her crying inside, and I walked into her dark, now bare bedroom. I sat next to her while she kicked and screamed and punched her pillows, “WHY!? WHY!? WHY DID I HAVE TO FIND HIM? TELL ME!!”

I put my hand on her back and let her scream it out.

I said, “That is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Now its over. Now you know you can survive it.”

She kept throwing her body around like a rag doll. I held my phone in my hand.

I thought about being there, alone with Dora. The men left us, and now we had to deal with it on our own.

As Dora crushed her face into the linen, I texted Alan:

“Can’t be there for me. Well now I have to take care of 9 animals instead of my 4 and a grieving fucking girl who has no one. And take all her shifts. But I want to be the type of person that is there when it matters. I don’t ever want to be you.”

People will ask me what happened to him, and I will explain he couldn’t be there for me. Sometimes, someone will say, “Sometimes we can’t be there for other people.”

I would then say, “He said he loved me. He was a liar.”

I remember this moment really well, sitting there in the dark, with my hand on Dora’s back, keeping a straight face. It was a moment when I realized that I am who I want to be. It was a defining moment.

There was bullshit all year with friends and men and drugs and financial hardship … just bullshit.

This moment I was ok being alone. Just the fact that I had to stand alone proved something to myself, that I was strong and decent.

This part of the evening would be my high point, since I sipped off of Frank’s bottle of whiskey for the rest of the night.

I  would fetch Dora cigarettes and mumble something a few times. Frank kept asking, “What?”

I then snapped, “SHE NEEDS HER CIGARETTES!”

Frank, all things considered, was very patient. He was there for us, no matter the motives.

He always used to say he had some relationship with death, often he is invited to or present for grievances, mourning, ceremonies surrounding death.

When Dora stopped crying, I allowed myself to get sloppy.

I drunk texted Abe, my ex ex boyfriend, “I wish you were my boyfriend tonight.”

Abe texted back, “Ill come by if you’d like. I do have to work in the morning though.”

I wrote back, “Its far.” and then gave the address.

He wrote back, “Wow, if I leave now I could be there at 9.”

I went outside and asked that idiot friend of Danny’s to watch one of Dora’s elderly pugs, Otis. When I came back outside after comforting Dora and setting her up with a fresh cigarette, Otis was gone.

I freaked out a little, there are coyotes and bobcats very nearby. I complained loudly about how useless the kid was and eventually we found Otis sitting on a wood staircase at the end of the street. He was shaken up. He was the dog closest to Danny.

The moron didn’t even help us find him.

I went to cool down with my own cigarette on another staircase parallel to our apartment. I was saying, “I have to do fucking everything! Fucking useless!”

I texted Abe, “I can’t take this”

Him, “U can do it. Wish I could help tonight.”

Me, “Not coming? I was counting on you again.”

Yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy with my epiphany at Dora’s bedside and my disappointment of Abe not following through. Just because you find yourself, doesn’t mean you still want to be alone.

Him, “Its already evening. Id have to leave after hour. I have to go into down town early Friday.”

Me, “Forget it. Thanks for not being there again. Fuck, why did I ever call you?”

Him, “Jeez. U live like 70 miles into hills. Don’t find extra things to madden you please. I told U id like to see U on Saturday.”

Me, “Forget it! FORGET IT!!! I am stuck here taking care of this girl while everyone bails on her because I am the only one with balls to do the right thing.”

Him, “Ok. Chill. U r her roommate, coworker and friend, be nice and U shall feel better.”

Me, “Yeah thanks for the advice. I will take care of everything alone as usual.”

Him: “Good Job”

One after another, my co-workers from Doggie Daycare showed up. They brought candles, food and wine.

They brought me back to the doorstep where all our candles burned bright around Danny’s picture. When ever I think of his face, I think of this slightly overweight Hispanic kid with a lazy eye. He was so nice. I mean . . . even tempered, kind, just . ..  so nice. What the fuck?

The picture of him in a beanie hugging a bunch of dogs showcased in the center of all our candles.

I took my time lighting them as I explained to a few people the Dr. Drew show I just worked audience on. This woman said she was attracted to hard criminals, corresponded with them and invited them back to her home where she was raising two teenage daughters.

I said, “Then Dr. Drew asked her if she was attracted to Charles Manson, and she said, ‘Yes. I would probably date him.” I gave my dry head roll to those quietly listening to me.

Ocean stepped up the stairs and was suddenly standing over me, she looked down and smiled. She is so beautiful. I stopped talking, grabbed her pant leg and started crying into it. Her smile didn’t fade, she bent down and held me as I cried into her.

It was a relief. I don’t know why her, it just was her.

She walked inside, and Mississippi (the Southern kid we torture at Doggie Daycare) stepped in her place and wiped my face clean with the corner of his t-shirt.

I said, “I will never forget that you did that.”

He smiled.

The vigil went on, you know, what do people do?  I don’t remember. I floated from room to room.

We took 20 minutes to sit around and share memories about Danny.

Dora’s mom started.

My memory was, “I remember I couldn’t get my internet working the first few days I was here. I bought a device I needed installed and it was really early in the morning, like 8am. I came up in my pajamas and asked Danny to fix it right away. He said, ‘Can it wait til after work?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I really can’t live with out internet, can you do it now?’ And he did. He laughed, he came down in his slippers and he fixed my internet. He was nice.”

Others had obscure stories too, about how he helped with a car, or how nice he was. He was so fucking kind, I didn’t see the darkness on him.

After we shared memories, I was faded.

I stumbled outside looking for Frank, and he was holding the bottle of whiskey and laughing heartily with the neighbor.  His laugh echoed in the hills.

I crawled into Dora’s bedroom and cried on the knees of a girl who no longer works at Doggie Daycare, but did at one time. I cried. She put her hand on the back of my head and said, “I know. Its a bad thing what happened.”

Dora walked in the room and I sloppily wiped my nose. I could tell my withering emotional state was disappointing her.

People left. Towards the end, I remember screaming at Mississippi that he was good looking.

I remember taking my plate of new coke up to the dining room and snorting it with Trent.

Then I remember throwing up into a trash can and all over Taylor.

Taylor kept saying, “We’re even, right? We’re even.” He was so embarrassed by his birthday party, and here I was, barely able to walk.

I somehow ended up outside the front door step, Trent and Taylor sitting with me as I cried.

Trent said, “You can’t do this alone. You already have too much going on with yourself you need to take care of. This is going to tear you apart. You have to take care of yourself!”

I felt my head and body start vibrating. My teeth were chattering like I was a child fresh out of a bubble bath. I could feel my whole body start convulsing.

Taylor was saying, “Calm down. You aren’t alone.”

And I said, “I am alone. I have to take care of her. I have to!”

Trent tried to calm me down, “No!”

He was getting emotional. My twin flame. Shit. No matter what happens, I will always remember Trent in that moment, being there the best way a human being can be there.

Sasha came out, “We have to get her to bed. WHERE IS FRANK?”

Trent said, “He is on her bed.”

Sasha stomped down into my apartment and flung open the door. Taylor and Trent escorted me into my room. Frank was passed out on my bed, pot belly hanging out with an empty whiskey bottle nearby.

Sasha said, “Come on! Time to go! (My name) needs her bed! UP! LET’S GO!”

Frank opened his eyes, “Whaaaa?”

He was high on Xanax.

He got up and I laid down on my bed, rolled up in some kind of fetal position. I mean, I am a tall, grown woman .  . . but I felt like I was disappearing.

My light was on and I saw Sasha and Trent standing at my door telling Frank to leave. Frank was resisting.

Trent said, “You just keep feeding her drugs so you can fuck her. That’s the only reason you’re here. Just go home!”

I was high, and my resentment towards Frank hadn’t quite taken root yet, but I remember feeling so happy someone stood up for me, even though I should have stood up for myself a long time ago.

What I was told later remain two different stories:

Frank claims that he woke up in a daze, that he was accused of trying to feed me drugs, he calmly exited my residence and offered a handshake out by their cars. Sasha barked, “Don’t shake his hand!” And everyone walked away leaving poor Frank to drive home drunk.

Sasha and Trent claim that Frank was belligerent and resisted leaving the residence, spitting as he spoke. Sasha asked him not to spit on her. Frank then took a finger full of coke and snorted it- this was the last I ever saw of that coke (which I am eternally grateful for). There was no handshake. There was just a chubby, rude drunk bitter that he was pushed off a bed and thrown into the cold night to fend for himself.

I slipped off into darkness, maybe Danny would be there.

The next morning, I woke up to Dora screaming.

I walked outside and saw her pop her head out of the hallway window and yell down to me, “STOP! STOP FIGHTING WITH MY MOM! It took me years to get things back to where we were, don’t you understand??”

I said, “What? What are you talking about?” Good Morning.

Dora said, “You are down there in the canyon fighting with my mother, stop!”

I thought, “Did I fight with her mom at all? Fuck, what did I say last night?”

I said, “Last night?”

Dora said, “No, this morning.”

I said, “Hey babe, I just woke up. I don’t know what you are talking about.”

She said, “Where is Frank?”

I said, “Frank!? He went home last night.”

She said, “He isn’t on top of that mountain, screaming at me.”

I looked up at the mountain across from our apartment. No. No one was there.

I said, “Hold on!”

I put on a sweatshirt and walked into her unit.

I said, “What is going on?”

She said, “I swear I just ran all the way up from the canyon where you were fighting with my mom.”

I widened my eyes. My hair wasn’t brushed.

I said, “What canyon?”

She said, “Kagel canyon. WHAT is going on?”

Dora ran out of her apartment and stood in front of the mountain.

She said, “Frank was just there. There he is! He is in your car with my Mom, see!!”

I looked in my car. It was empty.

I said, “Dora, no one is in my car. What the fuck? You need to sleep. You are hallucinating.”

Dora threw her hands up and down then huffed. She said, “You swear you didn’t fight with my mom?”

I said, “Dora, I woke up to you yelling at me. I have no idea what is going on. Why don’t I call your mom?”

She walked away back into her unit.

Now this was new and fun, a psychotic break. GRAND!

I didn’t know what to do, so I texted Frank.

I checked my phone and saw he texted me:

3:51am

“I am home safe now. It should go without saying that I touched nothing that belonged to you, nothing. I crawled into the bed in which you’ve made me feel so at home many nights. And the funny truth is, with whatever just happened, more even than holding u on a night where I think u needed it, I’ll miss most of all waking up tomorrow morning and taking Maggie (my dog) and the gang for a walk in the park, and talking and laughing with you in the quiet morning hours in the countryside. Its important to have your friends watch your back, but they were way off base tonight. I was fast asleep and have truly no idea why they decided I should go. But I know you love them. I will not interfere with that. There are good hearts in this world, (My Name). They’re closer than u think. I promise. Many hugs and kisses-”

YADA YADA YADA:

I texted back, “Frank, Dora is hallucinating and I don’t know what to do.”

I think I called him and he showed up, only after Dora’s mother came over. As her mother climbed the steps, I said, “She needs to see a therapist immediately.”

Her mother said, “I can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do. (beat) Its not healthy to have people around encouraging her to dwell on this.”

DWELL ON IT!? He killed himself 2 days ago. And why am I the last person she sees before going to bed and the first person she sees in the morning? Family should either be spending the night or taking her home with them.

I was sure once she spoke to Dora, she would change her mind.

Nothing changed.

Dora stayed there and argued with her mother.

I think Frank showed up anyway, and wanted to push the martyr routine about the night before. He could have died drunk driving, blah blah blah.

I responded and will always respond, “Its hard to feel sorry for anyone but Dora right now.”

Frank was there though. His presence was a weird comfort, though it served no functional purpose.

I confided in him, “I had a dream last night Abe killed himself.”

Frank said, “Ugh, that’s awful.”

I said, “Yeah, why couldn’t it have been Alan- it wouldn’t have been a nightmare.”

Frank said, “People were acting like it was a party last night, when they should have recognized it was a wake.”

Silence.

Frank was the one acting like it was a party, laughing heartily, chugging whiskey and making himself at home. It was those friends at Doggie Daycare that were there by our side, holding our hands and letting us collapse on their shoulders. He was asleep on my bed, waiting for the mourners to leave, and waiting for me to be alone again.

He helped me grab cigarettes and made some comment that Dora remembered, “I don’t want to buy you cigarettes. I want to help you, not kill you.” Ironic, seeing as he was feeding me cocaine and xanax in the hopes of fucking me. He knew it, I knew it and Dora knew it.

There was a distance there now, he still feels I need to apologize for siding with my Doggie Daycare friends and I think he needs to shove it up his ass.

I was hoping to reconnect with someone I already had an intimate relationship with. Someone who knew me. Frank was an easy choice because he is unemployed and readily available to be there- but he wasn’t the right choice spiritually or emotionally.

I texted Abe, “I dreamt all night that you killed yourself. I feel like I have been crying for days. You are alive. Thank God.”

Then I texted, “Abe, can you come to me tonight?”

He wrote back, “Don’t dream about me dead! Come on.”

I wrote, “Now she is hallucinating. I love you Abe, I always loved you.”

Him: “R u trying to play with my emotions? Being emotional inhibits rational thought.”

Me: “You always were romantic. I don’t play with emotions. I am here when someone I lived with died. It makes your mind spin.”

I went to work, and for three days, came home to Dora hallucinating. I was convinced her sleeplessness was causing hallucination.

She would ask me what was real and what wasn’t, and I would tell her. I also told her she needed help and that all of this was beyond my ability.

Dora would say, “Its ok! You don’t have to deal with it. I am fine!”

You don’t rationalize with an irrational person. So I stayed there. I listened to her footsteps over head when I laid in bed. I would go to the bathroom and always check to see if her bedroom door was open, if I could hear sheets rustling, if she was eating . . . if she was still alive.

The neighbor asked if I knew if she was “partying”.  I said, “I don’t think so.”  He said, “When you aren’t here, she is roaming the streets, talking to people who aren’t there.”

On the third day, I woke up to fire engine lights outside my window.

Already, between the coke, the birth control, the smoking and the stress, I was having chest pains over my left breast and in my left arm.

When I woke up from my nap to red lights and that constant, loud hum of the fire engine- my heart stopped. I choked. I got up and ran out to her, I was sure she killed herself.

I asked the police officer standing at her door if she is alright. He said, “Yeah, she just needs some help.”

I said, “Who called?”

He shrugged his shoulders, “They don’t tell us.”

I asked to speak with her, he nodded and I snuck in. I saw her sitting at the kitchen table, tapping her foot on the floor. She refused to look at me.

I got on my knees, put my hand on her leg and said, “Are you ok?”

She pulled away and said, “I hope you are happy.”

I said, “I didn’t call them, but I am glad someone did.”

She turned her whole body away from me and said, “You didn’t call them, so who did? Whatever, just leave me alone.”

So I did. I smoked more cigarettes. I couldn’t catch my breathe, I just kept smoking and breathing and trying to slow down my heart rate.

I am well aware smoking cigarettes doesn’t slow down your heart rate, but it controlled my breathing and I didn’t know what to do.

I eventually made it to work again. Everyone was so understanding there. I was an hour and a half late, but no one cared. They all worked by my side in silence.

Dora texted: “I am not even getting admitted just getting prescription meds.”

I wrote: “Ok good. And someone is talking to you about counseling?”

She wrote, “You’re amazing. I am so sorry you had to go through everything u went through. I seriously love you.”

I wrote back: “I am trying to do everything right.”

When I came home that night, a handwritten sign was on Dora’s door that said, “I am sleeping.”

That made me happy.

I went to the bathroom, went back downstairs, and cuddled with my dogs alone. My family wasn’t there and there really was no one else I am so close to they could help bring my head back.

Except for Abe.

Abe texted me: “Ok. Saturday.”


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