Friday, March 25, 2011

Vegan Beggars Need Smooches

I haven't had a day off since last Tuesday the 15th. My mind is a little hazy so bear with me.

The working keeps me from missing Abe. I haven't seen him in almost 3 weeks now. Honestly, shortly after my depression surfaced, he spent less time with me anyway. So missing him is kind of relative. I miss looking forward to seeing him.

I am getting pounded by calls from debt collectors. Lana and I joke that we aren't scared of them, and pick up, say, "Hello!? Hello!?!" and there is  no one on the other end. If there is, I simply tell them I have no money. They are constantly filling up my voicemail with silent messages.

Chase Bank called one day, knowing I missed last month's car payment, I told them about my financial woes and they said I should come into their branch and talk about it. I was given a time to go to their Hollywood branch, which cost me a quarter of a tank of gas to get there. Gas is now $4 a gallon.

I drove down there and signed in. Half the page was filled out with "Reason for Appointment: Closing Account." There were at least 7 people closing their account that day. BUT, there was free coffee, and I haven't been able to afford my own coffee since earlier this month. I poured myself a cup.

Dirt water.

My name was called and I was led back to someone's desk. I explained that I was there to refinance my car loan. He made a few calls. The man in the cubicle next to me was standing up and raised his voice, "I want my account closed NOW!"

His banker remained seated and said calmly, "It will be closed in one business day. All fraudulent charges will be covered on your account first."

My teller hung up and then gave me a number to call to refinance my loan. I said, "But, I thought that's what you were doing?"

He said, "No, they called you in to get you to open an account. Would you consider opening a checking account with us today?"

I said, "No. May I use your restroom?"

He led me back where I made the only deposit I will ever give Chase bank.

With all the extra work I have been doing and my unemployment benefits on their way back, I am on track to covering most of my expenses. Everything has been coming out of my food budget. I have been boiling noodles and trying to be creative with spices . . . digging up things in my pantry forgotten in the last year. The fatigue is getting to me though, and I really need protein.

Lana's friend volunteers at a Church Food Bank where they give out Trader Joe's food to the homeless. She connected me. On my way to the Church, Everclear's "I Will Buy You a New Life" came on the radio.

Just before leaving, I wrote my parents an email to update them on what was going on with me. They sent me a one-liner a few days before saying they were worried. I bit the bullet and told them Abe and I broke up. I briefly explained my depression created a gap, he couldn't deal with it and disappeared.

"I don't want to talk about it. I am heartbroken."

What is it about telling your parents a promising relationship failed that feels so much worse than the actual break-up? I was holding out on telling them in case things suddenly took a turn, what if Abe showed up at my door with flowers and said he just didn't understand. Or whatever nonsense fantasy I construed to delay telling my parents. They really liked him and felt better about him than they had my ex-husband.

When I was about to leave my husband, I hadn't called my mother in over 2 weeks and she was upset. I remember walking to a Church courtyard on my half hour break from work to tell her things weren't working out. She was surprisingly supportive and said, "All we care about is your happiness. If its not working out, that's ok. Just call us and tell us."

I sent off the email that Abe was gone. Then to hear the strumming from Everclear's guitar on the way to a  another church:

I will buy you a garden
Where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car
Perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house
Way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life
Yes I will.

I broke down crying at the wheel. Its hard to describe moments of damning modesty, but here was one. I was bleeding out of my vagina, I was hungry (it was 1pm and I hadn't eaten yet), I was about to take food from the homeless and I failed a relationship I really felt the strongest about it my fucked up little universe.

Abe would rather lose me entirely than move in with me, rescue me financially and spend more time with me as an adult partner. Do you know how much that fucking burns? Why? WHY!? A year and we were spending less time around each other. He was coming and going as he pleased, not communicating with me regularly or making firm plans for next week or next year.

If he moved in with me, I would make it. Instead, I was looking for a broken parking meter and crying in my ash tray of a car. I found that broken meter, by the way. Yay.

When I got to the church, I thought about bailing. I was ashamed. Somehow hunger always prevails, and I got out of my car and walked in. The volunteers were nice and gave me a huge garbage bag of food. She even asked if I was vegan. I told her I was, a vegan beggar. So classy.

There were vegetables, fruit, garlic, hummus, bread, tons of stuff. I kept thanking her but still felt like an asshole, so I said, "Can I volunteer? Do you need  more volunteers?" She said yes, and asked me to come by Thursday.

I drove directly to Doggie Daycare, and Kelly Clarkson's "Break Away" came on, which reduced me to sobs. With half a pound of cornbread spilling out of my mouth, I sang the lyrics.

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky.

Jesus. Talk about low points.

I pulled over and had a moment. I started texting Abe. It was a moment where you make a decision and suddenly freak out and turn back. You don't want to get lost on your way somewhere new, you want to go back to the street lights and corners you already double backed through several times before, just so you know where you are.

I texted, "Why do you allow yourself to be a disappointment?"

"I respect that you didn't think our relationship was worth fighting but I hope you find something that is. You will find strength and character in the work . . ."

"It was love, wasn't it?"

It occurred to me in all this time, since Murray died, I have been starved for comfort from my boyfriend. Comfort. Console. Solace.

He was there in the few days after Murray died, but never stayed long with me after that.

I was fumbling through heartache alone. I was in a relationship and lonely.

He freaked out and backed away from me when I needed him the most. I have Lana and Em, but there is something that comes with an intimate bond that provides warmth you can't find anywhere else, or that feeling of leaning on someone's shoulder and never worrying about their arm falling asleep.

Lana and Em have their husbands, their nests. My little island was drowning in an ever expanding ocean of isolation.

Last week, I did tell Abe that I wasn't going anywhere. That he had time to figure his shit out because I didn't want anyone else. My mind was going back on those words, the more I thought about his false promises to move in, his 24 hour stays once a week, his warped advice on finances, and bullshitisms "You can't afford a day off" to spend with my family. All the while, I am exhausted and he is constantly bored from privilege.

He, of course, was playing the same old game, ignoring me, since I was coming across as desperate with my text messages. I needed love really fucking bad that afternoon. I needed some reassurance from an intimate, someone that could hold me and remove all air and space between us to bring my cold body back to life.

It is a game with him. I was hurting and he was playing games. So I texted, "Fuck you and goodbye."

Then you know what I did? I contacted someone I met several months ago.

Now, I don't mean to sound at all arrogant but I am about to. There is a wait list for men who want to "hook up" with me when and if I broke up with Abe. Nothing formal. Nothing written down. But there was always this one boy I thought of . . . if I wasn't with Abe . . . We met last October and I blogged about it actually here:

I emailed him once before about an editing job and he wrote me back:
"I don't want to hear from you unless you are crying about breaking up with Abe."

Well, here I was. And I was in sore need of a kiss. Not a sloppy, sexy, bullshit kiss . . . a real kiss from someone I thought might get me.

So I wrote him, "Are you dating anyone?"

He said, "No. I don't. I have a friend in town until tomorrow. I trust you don't have a no-drinking-on-weekdays policy."

I said, "I would RATHER drink on weekdays."

We decided to meet at the same place we first met, The Good Luck Bar.

Ugh, an alias. I need an alias. I am going to give him Atticus, the name of the one-eyed doberman puppy at work that insists on walking and playing between my legs at all times, and one of the best literary characters in published history.

I was feeling confident because I looked pretty. It was raining out and I was tired but excited to meet him all day. How divine to lean up against someone and have a few beers.

There was also the guilt because some part of myself was betraying Abe.

With my hair in Princes Leia buns and the off-the-shoulder sweater dress I wore while trying to seduce Bill Murray, I jumped inside the bar. Chinese motif. Red paper lanterns. Dimly lit booths. Patsy Cline was playing on the juke box.

I looked around and didn't see him, then climbed the long, flat step to the back couch area and spotted him behind the curtain. I plopped down next to him and conversation came easy.

Atticus is a tall, incredibly handsome, 25 yr-old (oy) editor who thinks and talks like me. I have never met anyone like me before, so it was a weird and wonderful. It was just easy. Easy to talk. Easy to laugh. Easy to sit down and lean against his arm without wondering what that meant or what he thought. He immediately said everything he thought.

He did kick off the conversation with, "What happened with Abe? How long have you been single?" 

I promised myself I wouldn't get into it because . . . it just seems like the wrong thing to do. Bad form. I gave in and we spoke about it; the emails, the lack of commitment. He listened and sipped his beer. Then I realized I just got an email from Abe. Isn't it amazing how that always happens?

    "Im collecting my feelings and recovering from a little bad luck streak.

I don't want to make you upset.  We need some time to clear our heads.  I do.

We have an intimate connection. We also have some extreme differences.  We also have a distance problem.  We have trust issues.

I feel discouraged about resuming our relationship."

Atticus said, "It sounds like he is done."

I said, "Its the push-pull game he is playing. He hasn't heard from me so now he is hanging the bait. Fuck it."

I peeled the Pabst Blue Ribbon label off my beer bottle. The email made me sad. I didn't want Atticus to pick up on it, so I tried to keep our conversation light and less personal.

We were analyzing a couple across from us. He said, "Do you think they are a couple?"

I said, "No, she is sitting away from him. Look at all that distance. And he isn't attractive."

He said, "Maybe she likes him and is nervous."

I said, "No. She has leather boots and a Joan Jett hair cut. She knows what she wants."

The guy suddenly slid several feet across the couch to get closer to her. Both Atticus and I said in unison, "Whoooooooaaaa!"

He said, "I wonder if he knows how amazing that just was."

We looked at other couples and talked about the biology of human relationships. Why ugly people have long monogamous relationships and more physically attractive people struggle to keep and find one loyal partner.

An older man was introduced to a group of young girls by a twenty-something Jewish girl and I said, "Why do older men insist on trying to fornicate with younger women all the time?"

Atticus said, "Nature."

I said, "Yeah, but does that mean every guy will always pursue a younger woman no matter what his relationship situation ?"

He said, "Look. Think of it this way: If there was a box and you were promised a million dollars to press a button, but a million people would have to die, there are some people out there who would press that button. They are the same people who are married and look for young girls. Then there are the people, like you and I, I hope, who would not press the button because it isn't the moral thing to do. Those are the people who would look at their much older wife and say, 'Look, you are not a pretty young woman anymore, you are old and kind of not pretty at all but I love you and you are my wife.'

I have been asking that question to people for years, and this was the best answer I ever heard. Since I have moved to LA, I have grown concerned that men are simply not monogamous creatures and now fear I will have to surrender my romantic ideals about a long term relationship. But when a boy says something like that, it makes me believe again.

We talked about education, theories we developed about the human bladder and sexual behavior. He asked me why in the world I was an actress, and scrunched his nose. He apologized, he had to scrunch his nose because he has worked with actors before.

I told him it made me happy. That's all. There is no other reason why I am doing it. I said, "Now, you are a paid editor?"

He said, "Yeah, I got a steady job in editing right out of college. You can hate me for it."

I said, "Hey, I did a documentary right out of Grad school and got it distributed on Netflix and Amazon. Then worked in production on a documentary series for Sundance channel. I got those jobs I wanted they just weren't as fulfilling as I thought they would be."

He nodded and listened. I didn't have to fight for his attention like I do with the others. Abe was always difficult to follow in conversation, not to mention keep engaged in conversation. He was in a perpetual dream state. With Atticus its easy, he was really present and hyper aware, awkwardly honest.

He leaned in to kiss me. His mouth was warm and he was gentle with me. I felt like all my broken pieces swarmed up to meet his lips. He asked me to come home with him.

I said, "That seems like a bad idea."

He said, "No it isn't. I know you are on you're period. Nature set its boundaries."

I said, "You read my Facebook posts."

He smiled. "Nothing to worry about. No sex, just smooches."

I said, "Where do you live?"

He said, "Koreatown."

I said, "My wallet was stolen in Koreatown."

He said, "Sorry that was my fault."

I agreed and followed him home. He lives with three other boys his age. They have rifles and machetes nailed over their door.

I said, "You guys are all set for a zombie attack."

Two of the roommates wandered in for small talk. I was so happy, I kept talking and snorting laughs. My hair buns were uneven now and my eye liner smudged. I ruined the punch line of a David Sedaris joke. His roommate asked if I wanted something to drink.

I said, "Just water. I want to try to sober up as fast as possible." Then I exhaled a cloud of marijuana in his face.

Atticus took me to one of their bedrooms which was converted into a movie viewing room; a big screen TV and two parallel couches. He popped on a movie we spent about 10 minutes deciding on. I only remember opening credits.

There was nothing confusing about our night. Whether it was the beginning of something or just the night, I needed a man to be there and hold me, to laugh at my jokes and try to impress me, to put his arm around me and kiss my neck, to keep my heart warm and pumping so I wouldn't freeze shut.

I just hope I didn't mind fuck myself.

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