Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Long Goodbye

Last week, Em and I had a talk about the July 4th moment I had with her hubby.

In the 20 minutes she spoke (since I couldn’t get in a word edgewise), I was criticized for “interrogating” him, not being an experienced enough actress to leave my emotional turmoil on set, for abandoning the social festivities to run off and have a great ole’ time with Alan during the fireworks show and for not apologizing the next day.

I was taken aback by how she spoke to me, since I had never seen this side of Em before.

A) I don’t feel that I interrogated Em’s Hubby at all.

B) The stab at not being an experienced enough actress seems moot since some of the actors I respect the most have grappled with life as an actor and life as a character (ie. Adrian Brody, Hilary Swank).

C) Alan was working to keep me from completely shutting down that night, and a joke he made about sex prompted a knee jerk reaction from me where I walked a couple of feet away. He patiently talked me back.

D) I don’t think I have to apologize for getting my feelings hurt.

I listened to as much as I could before my shift started, but honestly, the whole thing was just a black hole of emotion. And, I don’t feel that I owe them an apology. My character was under attack and I reacted, so I take part responsibility for making the poor decision to talk about it- but . . . the hateful words were directed at me. I was the one hurt. I never retaliated against their character or personalities. In fact, the thought never occurred to me.

I texted her that it was more of an attack/lecture than a conversation and we could revisit when emotions cooled. My feelings were never addressed and wrote “we were all human. People get selfish when their feelings are hurt.”

She read my last blog and texted me something sweet. “Don’t forget who we are. I heart you.” She then invited me to her last Hurrah/BBQ party before they moved out of the house.

I told her that I thought it was best I see her and her hubby beforehand, just to keep things from bursting out of our mouths.

The party was Saturday and my only free day before then was Friday, which was a crazy day. I was transporting rescue dogs and cleaning my apartment since Brian (the actor I crossed paths with a few times on audience work) moved into my living room and Alan was coming up again that weekend. I promised him I would fix my life.

It was hot that day, and as I cleaned I thought about all the men who tried to get me to clean and organize. Now it was sinking in that this was something I have to do in order to get on the right path.

I took a nap and woke up late in the evening. Em and I decided to meet that night before Alan arrived.

So I drove out again, even though it felt like I was about to stick my face in a fan. Alan’s advice was to let it be, stop all contact and wait for a clear-minded email months down the road. The affectionate text message seemed promising and I love Em, so I thought I would do whatever I could to heal the friendship.

When I came out to her backyard, she was alone. No hubby. She offered me guacamole and chips and we had a friendly conversation before I said, “I don’t know how to start”, so she started . . . and it was fairly brutal.

I promised myself I wouldn’t eat shit anymore after I was let go of my last job-type-job. Its the main reason why I don’t speak to my parents regularly anymore.

I accept criticism, even hateful criticism. I consider all things said to me, in all forms. However, I will not allow someone rip me to pieces. Not anymore. They don’t respect you, and eventually, you stop respecting you. I am done with that part of my life.

Em started with, “How do you act when you meet your boyfriend’s parents?”

I said, “Is this in relation to what? To the Saturn Awards?”

She said, “Stop over analyzing everything, just answer the question.”

I kept asking where she was going when she cut me off with, “Stop diverting the question.”

How can I divert a question, when its an indirect question to begin with? I am in the habit of saying what I mean, and a huge fan of cutting the bullshit to avoid confusion.

She said, “Yes! This is about the Saturn Awards and what you said to [her hubby]’s co-worker over cigarettes outside.”

If you forget, I said finding out Oliver Stone was bi-sexual ruined my fantasies of unprotected sex with him.

This was drilled in to the ground a bit before I said, “This is the most condescending conversation we have ever had.”

She cut me off, again and again.

This woman who I’ve come to love in the past year was talking . . . well, like her husband.

I resolved that her husband simply didn’t like me, which I was going to address in my conversation with both of them that night, and hoped to say, “Hey, I am not for everyone. I get it. You don’t have to like everyone, but we are family.”

The opportunity to talk never happened.

The conversation bended towards my blog. She asked me to think about that night. I told her I did when I wrote my blog. Words collided. She, for some reason, thought I said “I talked about it in the blog” when I said, “I thought about it when I wrote the blog.” We debated over what exactly I said 20 seconds earlier, and I suddenly realized two of the three times we have spoken about this, she was drinking. She wasn’t hearing me, she was hearing her husband and essentially acting as his mouth piece. I have various feelings about this, one being that it seems expected of a couple who loves each other and stews over a subject or person in more than one conversation together . . . the other being . . . forgive me, she was being weak-minded.

We were back on how my blog didn’t address the theme of doubt as much as I told her it would in an email, and then on to how I have to learn when to turn it off. “It” being my desire to perform, no matter where I am.

I was frazzled during this portion of the conversation and can’t remember what was exactly said, but as her voice rose, so did mine and I shouted, “How dare you!” My voice cracked.

I thought this meeting would be a less emotional conversation and more about repair. Its very jarring after living with a bunch of dogs who are just happy to see you’ve come back.

We were both standing and shouting about nonsense. She was basically upset with me for behavior at the Saturn Awards, which is the equivalent of getting drunk at a company party. Have you been to a company party? The shit they do is way beyond anything I have ever done myself (recently).

I have been friends with Lana for four years, maybe five, and she has had a lot more credible reasons to be angry and disappointed with me. However, we have always had a conversation, that is, we would take turns exchanging points of view and acknowledging each others feelings and thoughts. This situation was nothing like that. It was an attack.

I shouted, “My character was torn apart. He called me a user, manipulative, neurotic, psychotic . . and then you are upset at me for not socializing more with your friends!?!?” I would have to be psychotic to remain unaffected, and I don’t feel like I need to pretend to make their night better.

As I left, one more fictional accusation was launched in my direction, “You accused [My Hubby] of wanting your life, of not being happy with his own.” I NEVER said that.

What was said, as a sober person arriving to this BBQ gathering, was actually from Alan, who said, “Sometimes people get envious of the Bohemian lifestyle.” Alan himself admitted that he is jealous of my life. Though I am broke, I do what I want. Its a rare freedom.

Em’s Hubby jumped on this, saying I was not at all Bohemian and asked if that's why I thought he really wanted to make me cry.

I remember very specifically shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Its a possibility.”

At which point, Em’s husband warned Alan that he would feel differently towards me in a couple months when I revealed how “neurotic and psychotic” I was. I remained silent and Alan put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, “What they don’t know is I like my women neurotic and psychotic.”

I wasn’t hurt by the statement, I was just taking it all in. When people react violently to things like, say, someone’s personality in general, I assume it has to do with something else. If you are at peace with yourself, you don’t go pushing people around about who they are.  I figured that out in the 3rd grade.

So back to Em’s second “conversation” with me about it: another subject rose out of the mud, seemingly out of the blue . . . she coldly and sarcastically said, “Poor [My Name]”, and as she said it, her head was tilted downward and her eyes rolled up to me. She knew it was a burn because she knows I hate accepting help for my problems, financial or otherwise.

I never asked for help, despite her burning desire to constantly offer money and emotional support. I never took it for granted, and I always felt guilty about it.

The comment was a stab, worse than all the others.

I looked at her and thought, “This is not your friend anymore.”

So I walked away, she told me to go, even though I was leaving . . . blah, blah, blah.

Alan was coming to me that night, and I refused to be crucified over something that didn’t seem worth the friendship or my time.

I was shaking when I got in the car, and I drove home wondering what the fuck just happened.

My eyes stung, and I wondered if I would cry. Then I thought, that would be fulfilling Em’s Husband’s wish from the beginning . . . to make me cry. So I didn’t.

When I got home, the first thing I saw was Alan smiling at me in the bedroom. We hugged and kissed. My shaking stopped. I told him he was right, I should have given Em more time.

I briefly covered some highlights without dumping shit all over our hello, and wrapped my arms around his stomach, buried my face in his shirt and said I shouted at her for the first time ever, “How dare you!”

He said, “Isn’t it funny how close ‘I dare you’ and ‘How dare you’ are?”

We filled up a bag of ganja from the volcano and took it out to the living room to greet my two fosters, my two pittie princesses and my new roommate. The bag of ganj was a welcoming present, all three of us passed it around.

Alan played with the dogs and I played Scrabble.

Brian, “You’re a dog person too, huh? You guys are like the same person, its weird.”

Alan and I looked at each other and kind of smiled. Its a weird but wonderful thing to say.

Brian said, “Hey man, I have no intention of sleeping with your girlfriend. I am just here to get myself together. Nothing else.”

Why did he have to bring that up?

I said to Alan, “Brian asked how you felt about him moving in, and I said you had reservations since you always wanted to have sex with the female roommates you had.”

Alan said, “Its true, but my main concern is that she will lose her little tree house sanctuary.”

Brian’s head lowered and his eyes tilted up, much like Em’s an hour before. He said, “I am just here to do my business, man. Just here to do my business. (beat) I am going to do my business.”

Alan was looking down at the dogs as Brian stared at him and I said, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you high?”

Alan said, “Ah, the wonders of the volcano bag.”

I said, “We are going to bed, take it easy, dude.” I patted Brian on the back.

As we left we heard him say, “That weed is strong.”

I find it very interesting that men who are physically bigger than Alan seem intimidated by him. Its fascinating to watch, and I don’t have to worry about Alan’s feelings because he is so in control, all the time.

Maybe that's whats so intimidating to all of us.

While making love that night, I said, “I can feel myself completely give up control to you.”

He said, “I feel that. And I can feel that I could take it. I don’t want to do that. This is the first time I feel like I am doing things right.”

Alan has become a drug more powerful than any narcotic. That really is the only way I can describe the hold he has on me. When I get high, I never do so much that I lose control. Under Alan, with his eyes searching mine, I felt very distinctly like I could give up all control to keep riding the high, whatever it is.

The next day, we had various errands to run. We now joke about how little we get done, since we end up wandering stores in conversation, totally unaware of time and, almost always, leaving empty handed.

At the 99 Cent store:
Me, “Do you feel I was interrogating Em’s Husband?”

Alan, “No, not at all. They were drinking and moving is a stressful thing. They are realizing they don’t have a lot of money right now. They probably feel like you do all the time, but you don’t take it out on other people.”

I said, “Well, its more of a constant with me.”

Alan, “Its not about what you said or did. Its about something else, they probably don’t even know yet.”

At a restaurant:

Alan, “Would it make you feel better if you went over all the things about her character you don’t like?”

Me, “I thought about that, but I just can’t stomach it.”

At a Thrift Store:

Alan, “What did we come here for?”

Me, “I forget.”

That night, I saw Brian on my computer after already asking him to leave us the apartment for the night. Alan will be starting a new trimester down in San Diego and won’t be able to visit for several weeks.

He agreed, but then said, “One of them volcano hits would be great for driving out to this party.”

I said, “You probably shouldn’t drive after doing a volcano hit. I don’t, even Alan doesn’t.”

Brian said, “Well, I guess driving will have to wait for a little longer.” He leaned back and crossed his arms.

I said, “Hold on.”

Alan was waiting, restless in my bedroom. I agreed to fulfill any fantasy he had that night. Like I said, no control. Its so delicious.

I went back to my bedroom and told Alan about the conversation. His eyes narrowed and he said, “I don’t like this.”

He filled up a bag and said, “Don’t take a hit off of this, its all harsh shake. Its going to be rough on his lungs and throat.”

I dutifully brought it to Brian, who sucked half of it down and left without saying goodbye.

Alan said, “I don’t like you living here with him. I am not sure I would be willing to come back with some creep in your living room.”

I said, “What do you want me to do? I need the money, and its not that bad.” Its not. He is tolerating a room of destroyed furniture and four dogs. When he handed me part of rent, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Seriously, what do you want me to do?

Alan said, “I am sorry I am bossing you around. I am not used to doing that.”

Somehow, I think he is very comfortable with it.

That night was one of the sexiest of my life. His fantasies are very much in line with my own. I can’t stop thinking about it. A memory will trickle down my spine like a line of cocaine down the back of my throat. I feel my eyes glaze over, my skin rise and I hear myself sigh. Have you ever had a lover who can do that to you? My God. It was like experiencing your ultimate fantasy without having to explain it to a longtime boyfriend over the third bottle of wine.

Sober. After a few weeks. I was allowed to be me.

I woke up to the hot morning, sticky and sore. I threw my arm around him and said, “I love you.” I did it with my eyes closed, half asleep, afraid of that silence between your words and his. Then he said, “I think I am falling for you, too [my full name]”

My name sounds like an old Italian film or some kind of product meant to evoke cheesy passion. I worry about that, being the fantasy and not being the girl.

We forced our bodies to make love again.

It was Sunday, so we walked the dogs, got coffee, then lunch. The pit of my stomach started turning with the impending goodbye.

Alan said, “Its almost worse having a few hours to say goodbye. It draws it out. Its like the long goodbye.”

I said, “Whats the long goodbye?”

He said, “A line in old mobster movies. It means to off somebody, but I can’t think of a better way to describe these mornings with you.”

The count down to saying goodbye. This one was worse than the others.

I lost one friend because of who I was, now I was gaining a partner for who I am. Its all very disorienting.

My stomach flipped and I thought I was going to throw up. I said, “I don’t know whats wrong with me, my hormones or something.”

He said, “Well its both our hormones then. Its just hard saying goodbye.”

He walked me to my car and I said, playfully, sing-song “Love you” and smiled as my lips pressed against his nose and mouth.

He said, “I love you, too.”

I said, “Lets see how we feel when the pheromones wear off.”

He said, “I have never felt anything like this before with anyone else. I know it won’t wear off. It will just eventually take more work.”

I told him he was my little pocket translator. Somehow, he can put the world in perspective for me so my mind doesn’t spin into small hurricanes of obsession.

We kissed and I went to work.

When I came home that night, Brian said, “How long have you known this guy?”

I said, “Six years. But we have only grown close the last month or two.”

Brian: “Be careful. That dude’s got a dark side. The way he was coming at me, I think he is threatened by me or something.”

Me:, “Are you kidding? You kept saying ‘I’m just gonna do my business’ over and over again. It was weird, dude.”

Brian: “Well, he looks like a serial killer.”

Me: “He does have a dark side, but no darker than mine. We are a lot alike.”

Brian: “I know that.”

Me: “I am just better at hiding mine.”

The other goodbye, floating on a buoy in the distance, is my two foster dogs, Angie & Brad. Angie is a sweetheart and always close by, smiling at me, but Brad is utterly devoted.

He cries for me, he follows me, he sleeps with me, he watches me . . . Now, Brad is small and can cross over the whole apartment with me and not try to kill my cat. This gives him more access than the other dogs, it also gives us more time to bond.

I have never had a dog follow me inside and out so loyally. If I look down, I can’t see him because he is so close to my foot.

Brian: “And Brad’s got some problem with me too, I don’t think he likes me.”

Me: “Is he threatened by you, too?”

Brian: “Brad is a gay name.”

Me: “He is my boyfriend. Brad, my boyfriend.”

At Doggie Daycare today, I spoke to a Swiss woman I work with, “Talk me out of adopting my foster.”

She said, “What does your heart tell you to do?”

Me, “Keep him.”

She said, “What does your head tell you to do?”

Me, “Let him go.”

She said, “What does your gut tell you to do?”

Me, “I don’t know.”

She laughed and said, “I would keep him. Always follow your heart.”

I said, “But it always gets me in so much trouble.”

Tonight, I left work and called the Canadian woman who is financing his rescue. She sent me money for gas, medicine, a harness, a leash, and flea medication. I’ve never met her but I started weeping on the phone.

I said, “I don’t know how I am going to give him up.”

She said, “He is going to get a good home, no matter what. We do home checks and have a very thorough application process. But if you want to keep him, you have my blessing.”

Me, “He is just so devoted. He is always there, I don’t even have to look down.”

She said, “Well, you saved his ass. He knows that.”

Me, “I don’t know, I have to think about this.”

Hellos, goodbyes and maybes. Fuck. I love them all; Em, Alan and Brad. Life is about change though, we all have a journey and we all gravitate towards those who understand us the most. That all changes under the course of time, who we are and who understands us now, as opposed to then.

How precious and temporary our connections are . . . you keep them inside of you, even after the phone calls and text messages stop popping up.  And then, there is always more out there for you.

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