When we meet again,
Introduced as friends,
Please don't let on that you knew me when,
I was hungry and it was your world.
I am on the second day of a migraine, but all I can do is lay down and think about writing this blog. It has been working my brain for the last month and I need to lay it down here.
At work Huck texted me that he was “fucked up right now” and I needed to “let [him] go, at least for right now” and finished with a “I miss you, I don’t know” . . . I said I would let him go.
Huck “met someone” which was to say this was different than arranging to fuck someone. I can’t say I handled myself the best way possible- but looking back, I am really not sure how I should have handled it.
You see when I am silent, I feel victimized. There is just no other way to put it. There have been lovers in the past who moved on, and I let it happen quietly, but not boys I fell for. Definitely not boys I fell for before moving in with my parents in bumfuck nowhere. I am reminded of a line from Edgar Frog in Lost Boys, “I think I should warn you all, when a vampire bites it, it's never a pretty sight. No two bloodsuckers go the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.”
The first thing I did after finding out the boy I loved was burying his cock in another woman was ride my bike into “town” and go play pool to blow off some steam. Carrying my bike up the stone steps of a local bar, I tripped and collapsed under my bike. My knees were shredded, so I hauled the bike over the grass, threw it down and lit a cigarette. I do this kind of shit on purpose, and I don’t mean I threw myself on the steps, exactly- but subconsciously I did throw myself on the steps.
My knees burned and bled, and I puffed huge clouds of smoke, hoping it would take away everything that was ripping at the inside of me. I had a few beers, then bought some Rainier to take back to my room.
Walking into my parents living room with bloody knees, they worked themselves into a frenzy trying to sterilize and clean me up, as I kicked back another cold beer. You see, my parents need something to work on, something to fix. If I am alone in my room, working, well that just won’t do. They need a job and they need to be involved somehow. My Mom is great when I am sick. When I am healthy, all she wants to do is make me sick again.
I drank. I drank a lot. No, I don’t think it was healthy but what the fuck, man? My heart was broken and I felt like an idiot on top of it all. Of course he was going to meet someone else to fill my place. He told me he would. Fuck, I probably told you he would in the beginning of his story. That didn’t stop the gushing.
Things were better at my house since I started working, but I was still having vivid nightmares every night. Dreams about the local drug dealer breaking in through my screen window and being unable to dial my phone properly for help. A dream about my oldest pit bull, Maggie May, trying to walk with two broken back legs. Another about trying to escape through swamps in the night only to see someone pull out a revolver and one-by-one assassinate people and horses stuck in a pool of mud.
I would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating. Turn on my computer to watch something or stroke my little dog, Brad, then drift off into another nightmare. Almost always, I would wake up before dawn, just laying there, waiting for the sun to rise and my father to get up and make coffee.
Yeah. Life sucked. There is no other way to put it.
The first week Huck found his new Muse, I drank so much wine I woke up in the middle of the night to have a conversation with myself. Maybe it was me, at the time I was convinced it was an angel. I have mentioned angels and demons before, those are easy characterizations for something I vaguely have my own definition of. There is energy, there is evil, but I don’t know who it was I was talking to on this particular night. I woke up smelling like an empty wine bottle, my mind was sloshy and my eyes swollen.
Whatever it was, Common Sense or my Guardian Angel, I felt an inner voice say, “You have to take care of yourself. Stop drinking. Stop smoking. You are hurting yourself. Get yourself together. You are the only one who can do it right now.”
I remember nodding in my bed alone, promising I would get clean the next day, but then the sun would rise, and I would have all those feelings thump against the side of my head all over again. I was angry at him for not caring enough, I missed him, I still lusted for him- he was the last man I was with. I didn’t like the feeling of being cast aside, after serving my purpose, when someone else more convenient could take my place. Thanks to modern technology, I could communicate all those various feelings in the moment they struck via text message.
Sometimes I would throw my phone on the floor. If my computer was too slow, I started slapping the desk with the bottom of my hand. My Mother would come in and say, “What is wrong?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said. Any mention of Huck was met with disgust or dismissal.
“This is why no one wants to be in a relationship with you, you know?” she said.
“Great, thanks for making me feel better!” I said, turning deeper into my computer.
My text messages were all over the place. I was fairly horrified re-reading them in the mornings when I was sober. I would text an apology, and Huck would text back that I worry too much, or I was acting immature or something of that nature. All in all, Huck was decent for as long as he could be.
The most embarrassing texts, and I do feel I have to publish them here- probably because I grew up Catholic- . . . were pretty bad. Let me say here, um, I actually thought these were kind of funny before texting them. Huck didn’t think so.
Exhibit A) "I cried when I masturbated to you this morning"
Yeah, while that actually did happen, really, this line was invented while I was chatting with another friend from France over Words with Friends. He asked how I was doing and I wrote, “Well, I just masturbated then cried if that gives you any indication”
He said, “Well, I hope you thought of me . . . not during the crying part.”
The crying is all very therapeutic for me. I love crying. It doesn’t happen often, but when you feel a good cry, it really can help clear your mind a bit. Sadly, not in this case.
Exhibit B) "Don't fuck other girls, then I can't shit right”
Again, true. In terrible taste I agree, but while I was finishing my Rainier (that my father tried to hide from me earlier in the day) I actually thought this might work in some kind of stand-up routine. In the morning, I was fairly horrified and apologized, but how many times can you apologize?
He kept saying we would talk later, and I would wait and grow to hate him. The longer he took to respond to my messages, the more invested I knew he was in her. One afternoon, drunk, I hit him with every terrible insult I could muster:
“7 inches . . . hm . . . standard.”
He called me immature, a lot, not just in this conversation.
and “Your tattoo artist sucks.”
He texted back, “Yeah, well you are weak & pathetic.”
“Weak & Pathetic, like I haven’t heard that one before” I punched.
I knew he was there with his friends, and complaining about me. The same friends who were escorted through my Facebook photos and told I was “a real catch”. Now I was a blubbering drunk with absolutely no self-control just . . . hating herself. I knew there would never be any real relationship with Huck after this, but I still capped off a “I love you” at the end, just out of general stupidity and intoxication.
The next day at work, the words haunted me. This fucking guy has managed to call me “desperate”, “needy”, “weak” and “pathetic” all in under 6 weeks. Really, those are about the worst adjectives you can toss over to a woman like me. I suspect he knew that.
I was working a wedding reception outside, and stood next to Trixie, the other server.
“I am depressed, can you say something inspiring?” I asked.
“I was just thinking about everything that was depressing me, like this fucking dead end job,” she said. “I saw something inspiring on Facebook. ‘Right now, someone else is cleaning up a Taco Bell bathroom.’”
I laughed. “I had this whirlwind affair in under a week with this boy and we got carried away. Then he went back home and he told me he is with some other girl. So I texted him awful things. Like ‘7 inches, standard’ and ‘your tattoo artist sucks’. Was that wrong?” I said, half-heartedly.
“I don't do well with those kind of things myself. I would blow up,” she said.
“Then he texted me that I was weak and pathetic,” I started cracking. Tears were arriving and I sucked in some hot air to push them down. “I have to go pull myself together, I’ll be back.”
“Do you want to go home? I am sure they will let you,” she said, softly.
“Hell no. Home is the last place I want to be right now.”
I walked out and cleaned up my face, then went outside to the Employee Smoke Shack to puff it out. We all sat on a little, old, pathetic picnic table in front of the shack. It looks like it already caught on fire once. This time I was alone with The Night Shift Auditor, a guy named Gordon. He was tall, very pale. His skin was almost blue, like most people who work Graveyard Shift. He was around my age and I thought we had some kind of unspoken connection.
“My problem is I am gay and I need to get back to civilization,” he said. OH! There is that connection. Second best to finding me attractive, I guess.
“Yeah, I would keep that to yourself here,” I said, delicately.
“I know, I told you because you are an LA Woman,” he smiled, juggling the filter between his fingers.
“That's right. You are my people.”
“I tried moving home for a couple months, but after 4 days I couldn't take it. So I moved in with my ex and its cool. We fool around sometimes. He works, he is a marine biologist. We drink and he is just really cool,” he said.
“Why didn't it work out?”
“The age thing bothered him a lot. He is 49,” he said.
“So let me ask you, the whole Huck fiasco. A week long affair and a month later he is with someone else. How would you have dealt with my situation?” I asked.
“I am a train wreck when it comes to those kind of things,” he said, looking down on me carefully. I could see how his face would crinkle when he cried and I knew he was telling the truth.
Our bartender came out, a surly Mom who is actually quite beautiful, not really chubby but what weight there is keeps her youthful. Her eyes were smart but she was often moody.
“I need a fucking cigarette. I have to pee,” she said.
“Cigarette first?” I asked.
“The bathroom is kind of a disaster.”
“Oh yeah, did you see the girl throwing up in there?” I asked.
“Yes, I almost said something to her like ‘Can I help?’ but I hate it when people try to talk to me while I am throwing up. And the keg blew up in my face.”
"I hope your mouth was open for that part,” I said. We all giggled. “Right?” she said, kicking back her apron strings before lighting her smoke.
Later that night, I saw a little boy with blonde hair, big, black glasses and Huck Finn shorts. What a whimsical madness I was spinning around me!
Cleaning up the Back Hallway with the QuarterBack (QB), my little 18-yr-old neighbor who is not so little anymore, I learned he was curious about me.
"How old is your lover?" he asked. I introduced the word "lover" to everyone under the age of 25 who worked at the hotel. Every time they said it, they pronounced it carefully, like it was a foreign language.
“I don’t think he is my lover anymore, but he is 27," I answered.
“How old are you again?"
"Like em' young huh?" he said, smiling.
"They got to keep up with my energy," I said smiling. "Growing in a beard?"
He massaged his chin, thoughtfully. "No I forgot to shave," he said.
"When, a week ago?"
"NO! 4 days ago."
My little exchanges at work were the only real conversations I had. Even so, I was guarded with them. My father warned me it was a small town, and they didn’t want anyone in our business. It is hard not opening up to someone though, not fueling your feelings and thoughts into at least one person.
One afternoon, I wandered into my father’s study and we ended up having a friendly chat. It was the only time I spent time with him in that room and I can’t remember how it started.
We were talking about marijuana and my father said that “It makes people violent.”
“Um, no it doesn’t. Not at all, actually,” I said.
“Well, you are a woman, so its different,” he said, leaning back with his red wine and one, melting ice cube tickling the sides of the glass, mumbling the song of wind chimes.
“It actually isn’t. Alcohol makes men violent. Marijuana has the opposite effect,” I said quickly to stop my father from shaking his head. “Trust me, Dad, if there is one thing I know more about than you, it’s marijuana.”
“That’s probably true,” he said, “Now lets change the subject.”
We started talking about my Mother’s nervous energy. He said things like “People really like her”, which I find hard to believe, and then he would say, “God, I have to do everything I can to make sure she doesn’t outlive me.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know what she would do without me. If I go first, eugh, I don’t even want to think about it. If she goes first, I will just travel by myself for awhile. She will probably die from a heart attack or something like that. She is so high strung.”
My eyes watered, “Let’s not talk about this,” I said.
He noticed my eyes and smiled, as if it was a relief I cared. “She will go, not too long from now. And so will I.”
“I know,” I said, picking the tear drops off with a fingertip.
He leaned back, “Yeah . . . I don’t know. You have to take care of her if I go first.”
“I know you love her more than us,” I said. “Us” meaning me and my sister.
“You figured that out already, huh? Yeah . . . I do,” he said, leaning back, his hands clasped for a headrest.
This hit me hard for some reason. Of course, I initiated it, but I expected another response. Maybe. I don’t really know. Maybe I knew he would acknowledge it, but I didn’t know it would make my stomach bleed acid.
“You always told us we were accidents. Holes in the diaphragm,” I said.
“I never said that, we wanted to have you. You were planned,” he said.
“That is the first time I have heard that.”
“Yeah, we just wanted two to replace our spot on the world. One for her, one for me. That’s it. That’s the only reason we had you two,” he said. “We did our part.”
“Great. Well, that’s better,” I said, dryly.
He chuckled, “Well, you wanted to know.”
This conversation was coupled with a moment later in the day that kind of pushed me over the edge. It was hot, very hot for being on top of the Gorge. The summer brought on a heat wave that was difficult to sleep and work in. The only air conditioning unit was in my parents’ bedroom, so they would close my bedroom window and shut the door because they felt this would help with ventilating the rest of the house. The only problem is, 99% of the time, I was in my room. That afternoon, while trying to shove open my window and keep it propped open with an empty wine bottle (I know, classy), the spring in the window frame popped out.
I called for my Father to help fix it, and he grabbed the window and carelessly pushed me aside. He huffed, and pushed and pulled, grunting and sweating. “Jesus Christ, [StarFire], what am I supposed to do now?” he asked.
“Sorry, I just needed the window open, that’s all,” I said in a small voice.
My Mother charged into the room to see my father leaning against my window like it was the boulder of Sisyphus. “Don’t worry, [Mom]! I will fix it!” he shouted.
Something about the two different responses, the one toward me, and the one toward my Mother, set me off. I grabbed my iPod and my cigarettes and headed off to the spot behind the neighbors’ shrub where I used to smoke.
When I arrived, I saw my sweatshirt was gone (I kept it there to act as a sort of smoking jacket and keep the smell off me), and the bag with all my trash, beer cans and butts, was removed. Now, there was only a sign that said, “Private Property. Keep Out.”
So I was kicked out of my sanctuary, too. None of these things are a big deal alone, but somehow the combination of them made me crazy. I continued to text Huck, who was now completely ignoring me. I kept texting anyway.
One thing my sister and I do is rent a romantic comedy, get drunk and text each other little remarks about the movie. It isn’t a thing we both do at the same time, its more like I wake up in the morning to six or seven drunk text messages from my sister and start my day off chuckling. Well, I downloaded a Reese Witherspoon movie, got drunk and texted remarks to Huck. No response.
The next few days, I sent a few texts like “Obviously, I am too insane to have an intimate relationship.”
or “I miss our chats, even if you don’t answer me, let me send out little notes to space and believe someone is reading them.”
or “Oh look, Nordstrom’s is having a sale.”
Then, he texted back. Oh boy, did he text back.
“Just SHUT UP! SHUT UP! I am so tired of being saturated with your bullshit!” (I am impressed with the use of the word saturated)
“Let go of the fantasy”
Then, the big text, “The bond is dead.” We referred to our little tryst as a bond to avoid the word relationship. So the text was pivotal and I had to take that seriously.
Do you want to know how I felt when those four little words popped up on my phone? Relieved. I felt fucking relieved. I couldn’t fuck up anymore. It was over. Isn’t that warped?
I was on my way to work when the pulses from my phone delivered one hateful text after another. I asked him to “Have a heart” or “I am going through a really tough time right now.”
“Go through it without me” he wrote.
It kind of wound down with a “Can we be friends at least?” and he wrote, “Yes, we can but you have to stop texting me so much.”
Obviously, we weren’t friends if I was going to go through a tough time without him. I just needed to soften the rejection. The rejection is what hung around my neck and swung heavily from side to side at all points of the day. The rejection is what keeps me just a little sick, even now. Not the man. The rejection when I was most vulnerable.
I deleted his number and worked an entire shift screaming in my head. I was screaming bloody murder. “Fuck Fuck Fuck” over and over again.
Shueman, a very attractive boy who works as one of the Housemen for the Hotel, was setting up tables for my assigned event outside. He never spoke to me, we just exchange smiles every so often. The boy is damn attractive. “How are you doing, [StarFire]?” he said, concerned.
I sighed, “I’ve seen better days.”
I hated myself. I really hated myself. What amazes me is after going to France and really finding myself, getting into this writing program, having great friends, my whole opinion of myself weighed on the shoulders of these three people, my Mother, my Father, and someone I made love to for a few days. All three of them withheld compliments and favor, and, with Huck, I fell for it.
My parents I ignored, but Huck’s little mind games kept me wanting a compliment more and more. The more I wanted one, the further back he held it. I know better than that- but somewhere about the time and the place, living with my parents, being nowhere near anyone I knew, I tripped and I fell.
That night, while pulling dirty plates and carrying them out to a bussing station on the back lawn, a full moon rose over the mountains in a matter of minutes. Even when you've given up, when you hate yourself and are barely holding it together in front of a group of strangers, God has to throw something like that before your eyes to remind you of beauty. It makes your broken heart beat again.
QB was going to drive me home. I waited for him in the Smoke Shack after midnight. He walked in and sat next to me. He is one of the few who doesn’t smoke. "Smile, [StarFire]!" he said.
I faintly curved my mouth then plugged it with a cigarette.
"So, how is your lover?" he asked, putting his elbows on his knees.
"He hates me. I texted the relationship to death, I guess."
"You texted him a lot?" he asked.
"Yeah, well ... a lot. Like four times in a row."
"You texted him four times and he didn't write back?"
"Yeah, but they were funny. You know? Sometimes, they were funny."
"Do they call you crazy? Are you their crazy ex-girlfriend?" he asked, smiling.
"I am pretty sure they do call me their crazy ex-girlfriend, but you hear that buzzing over there happening on my phone? That's my ex-boyfriend. He broke up with me because of the texting too, now he is having a conversation all by himself on my phone . . . out of the blue. So . . . I don’t know. When I want them, they don’t want me. When they want me . . . I don’t know."
"Well, girls like to text," he said, leaning back. He was so cool about everything. I wonder if they hand out booklets to high school quarterbacks and teach them how to be like Marlon Brando.
"I love to text," I said, thickening my throat despite the smoke.
"And they love Facebook."
"I love Facebook, too. Do you text them back?" I asked.
"Only the ones I want to fornicate with. Or am fornicating,” he said, looking down.
"Thanks, I just thought of that. You were an actress?"
"Yeah,” I said. It was easy to smile around him.
"Why?" he asked.
"Why not? And waste this?" I said, dryly, motioning around my face.
"You don't look like an actress,” he said.
"Well actresses look like all sorts of things."
I put out my cigarette and he drove me home. High school quarterbacks never drove me home before. Oddly, on this night, it was a nice consolation prize. Even so, I still got tanked and sent one final text to Huck:
“Fuck you, you fucking asshole. I never thought you were my boyfriend, even when you were fucking me and filling my head with bullshit. I just needed a friend, and I wanted to be your friend cause you were smart. So FUCK YOU, you fuck hole.”
That morning, he texted back, “Why can’t you see yourself?”
Yes, I know. I was like that actress in the 1995 made-for-TV Elizabeth Taylor movie when she was fat, and bed bound, crying as her soon-to-be ex-husband looked on in disgust. Or worse yet, the weeping Asian guy in “Fargo” who sits way too close to Frances McDormand in a buffet restaurant. Yeah, I was all those things.
I wasn’t his fantasy anymore, and we were never really friends. I was just human. Why do humility and humiliation have to share the same bloodstream?
I wrote back: "I just had to scream. It's over. I won't contact you again."
The thing is, yes, Huck is an asshole. And he said so himself in plenty of texts. But, truth be told, I made him into my monster. I needled and prodded, and insulted and bothered until he turned into the guy I turn them all into. They are pre-selected: A guy who appears emotionally detached, who is hardly ever sober probably because he has no ability to deal with emotional problems and I push them when I hit a crisis (which I always hit a crisis) until they snap.
The question is, why would I turn them into that guy, when he is just outside my bedroom door all day?