Not quite love but rockets

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7:00 pm 7.4.11

Scene: Atop the Pacific Electric Lofts, downtown Los Angeles

“This is silly.” I told him.

“No it isn’t.  Now eat up.  We have some history to make in a bit.”

He’d cooked dinner for me.  A conversation about things done and things not done had been discussed prior to this evening.

“This is also going to be one of the first holidays I’m not spending with the family.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint.  How’s the polenta?”

“It’s delicious.  It’s not that it’s just..”

“It’s what?  Look I’m having a great time tonight.  We’re going to have a great time later too.  This will be fun just calm down.  Look I bought something you might like.”

He pulled some whiskey stones out of the freezer and put them in a glass for me.

I smiled.  Little things always seem to make me smile more than even the biggest ones do.

“Well it looks like you might have actually survived my cooking.”

“It’s too soon to tell.”

“You’re right.  Now come on, let’s get to the roof.”

It was crowded up there.  Lots of yuppie new money kids sipping cocktails.  It was straight out of an episode of Miami Vice but downtown Los Angeles.

We sat down.  The fireworks started to go off.  He kissed me and smiled.

“Now we’ve both checked that off the list.  How are you doing?”

“Good.  This whole evening was good.  Thanks so much…sincerely.”

For years I’d imagined this moment kissing the person I was with while fireworks blew off at the top of the world in the big city.  It should have been perfect… should have been.  But it wasn’t.  He wasn’t who I wanted it to be with.

 

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White sheets and neverending mornings

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1:30am 3.27.12

Scene: a white room in a famed Hollywood apartment

“I have to work in the morning.”

“I’m having a great time though.  Aren’t you?”

“Very much so.”

The night had been exquisite.  Dinner and chatting and… more chatting.  There was so much conversation that hours drifted away like nothing.

“I think the cats are getting it on again.”

We laughed.  Sitting across from eachother on the couch all we could do was laugh.

“More champagne?”

“Yes please.”

And so it continued.  The evening poured on and on…

“It’s empty.”

“Bedtime?”

“Yes but um.. it’s not the best time right now.  I need to work in the morning.”

“I understand.  I’ll make sure you get to work.”

Things progressed to the bedroom.  His room was white.  His sheets were white.  White pages and fresh starts indeed.  It scared the crap out of me.

“It may not be the best time for this right now.”

“I told you I’ll get you to work in the morning.  It’s not a problem.”

“That’s not it.”

“Well what is it?”

I knew how fast everything was going.  I knew I had to be in the office.  I wasn’t nervous about that.  I wasn’t nervous about him.  I looked at him one more time.

Well maybe if you can make sure I get to work we can cuddle a little bit.

Temporary Residency

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8:30pm 3.2.2012

Scene: a famed Hollywood apartment not far from the strip

Hollywood, the 20s

He told me he’d just moved to Los Angeles but I didn’t think he was serious.

“I moved up here in March.”

“That was only a few weeks ago.”

“I wasn’t kidding.”

He’d told me about the move up here.  I should have run immediately.  It got worse.  I listened to the tales that lead him to relocate up to Los Angeles.  Of heartache and pain and… hardship but you’d never know it by looking at him.  I suppose we shared a few things in common.  With others, we couldn’t be more different.

“This place is gorgeous.”

“It’s a historical landmark.  Here’s a picture of it…”

Swing metal robins egg blue doors greeted us as we got to his floor.  I had never seen an elevator like his in anything outside of a movie.

Inside it was a combination of white and earth tones.  The furnishings sent the message that he had tastes of a higher but grounded simplistic caliber.  There were only a couple of things on the wall.  His apartment inside was massive.  And while it was beautiful, something felt missing.

“I got rid of all of the decorations and things when I left San Diego.  It was too hard on me.  I’d collected all of that when I was with my wife.  We’d picked it out together. I couldn’t have it here.  I wanted a true opportunity to start over.”

His tale continued to get worse.  It’s funny how the little things around us tell so much about us… even the missing things.

“After things were bad with my wife I ended up dating her best friend.”

“How long has that been over?”

“I left San Diego and got here March 1st.  I haven’t talked to her since I left.”

“I’m not looking to be your rebound here.”

“You’re not.  If anything she was.”

Somehow the conversation changed back to his apartment.

“Why here?”

“Because the agency wanted to open offices here.  And I thought the move would be cathartic.”

“How do you like LA?  How long do you think you’ll be here?  This doesn’t seem like the right part of town for someone like you.”

“Funny I was kind of thinking the same thing.  That’s why I have such a short lease.  It’s only six months.”

I thought about my apartments here.  How for the longest time when I got here I hadn’t unpacked the boxes in a silent rivalry with being here.  I thought about how much stuff I’d kept since the divorce.  About how much had been purged.  About how much probably still needed to be purged.

It’s funny how the little things around us tell so much about us… the missing things and perhaps some of the stuff that should be missing… if you have the courage to let go.

A serendipitous toast

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8:00 pm 5.18.12

Scene: the Bathtub Gin  & Co.bar, Seattle

We’re going to meet up with my friend from South Africa right now.

“I can’t wait to see you!”

“Eventually.  We’re lost.”

That bar was hidden.

“It’s by Hotel Max.”

“You mean Hotel Douchebag.”

“Yes Hotel Douchebag.”

It took us a few minutes but eventually we found it.  Practically buried underground we walked into the inviting, charming cellar that is the Bathtub Gin & Co. bar.  Seated downstairs were three other women in the party.  One was her visiting friend, the others were friends of hers both from Los Angeles at one point- one currently in the area and the other moved up North as my best had.

We took our place on a dark leather couch in front of a barrel to order our drinks.  There would be cocktails.  Jedi mind trick anyone?

“This all looks great but I love ordering off the menu.”

“Do you go to a lot of places down in Los Angeles?”

“I do.  I could tell you some secrets.”

And that’s what we proceeded to do.  We talked and shared our worlds… our very different overlapping worlds.  Three of them worked in the medical field.  Two in physical therapy.  One in psychology.  There was a comment made about a darker side of relationship therapy.

I looked over at my best friend.  We were both in our own conversations at the time.

“Take a look at that ring!” one of the women exclaimed.

She’s getting married.  I was happy for her.  I’d always known it was going to happen but nothing had been said officially.  When he moved up there with her that was a sure sign.  However, despite talking nearly daily, she’d never mentioned it.

“Ahem.  What the fuck I talk to you every damn day.  How come you never told me?”

We laughed.  I shrugged it off.  The secrets kept pouring in.

“My ex husband..”

It was the theme of the evening.  And then we all realized it.

“Wait wait are we all ex wives?”

It was true.

This was such a strange trip.  Everything about it was surreal… just like this moment.

We raised our glasses for a toast.

“Here’s to our past… and to our much better future because of it.”

Deliberately me

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8:45am 5.7.2012

Scene: a busy coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles

A new outfit fit for snobbery and a hankering for espresso brought me in that morning.  Not because I needed it, but because I wanted it.

There are days when I simply haven’t put much effort into getting dressed.  The office I work in has a very lax dress code policy.  It seems that no one dresses up here.  Dressing up has less appeal here.  No one notices and we have so few walk in clients, it tends to get wasted on dry cold air.

On a rough day I will frequently take a few minutes and sneak outside for a break to people watch.  Growing up, working downtown amongst the suited corporate elite was a dream.  Now, the dream doesn’t exactly match the reality.  It’s funny how that happens.

Most days when I go in I give a fake name.  But something about that day was different.  Something in the air made me reject the notion of yet another coffee ring with “Sylvie” “Abby” “Rin” or whatever acronym caught my fancy.  It was a strange feeling of inner complacency.  Maybe the therapy really is working.

“What’s the name on this?”

“Jen.”

While somedays it’s good to be someone else, damn does it feel good to be everyday.

Ghost of cuddles past

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9:04pm 5.3.2012

Scene: a spooky loft just outside downtown Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights

“Can you just cuddle?” it said in an unidentified text message from an area code I didn’t recognize either.

“Who is this?” I texted back.

“Guess?”

I milled it over in my head.  It’s been a strange week.

A strange month.

A strange.. everything.

But that’s what happens when you’re self evaluating.  And while my brain was sifting through the memories trying to make sense of everything, this made even less sense.  Who was this?  I was both flattered and… annoyed.

“The truth is I know who I want this to be but you’re probably not said person.”

“Who?”

I was honest but I wasn’t going to be that honest.  The unidentified stranger didn’t need to know who was on my mind.  Hell- as I typed it I felt guilty.  By all accounts, the person or persons I was referring to wasn’t anyone I probably should be wanting to text me asking for that.  I knew better.  Or I’d hoped I did.

An hour later I received a text with the answer.  It was Mr. Midnight– a “Hemmingway” of a punk rock lover from my past circa a couple of summers ago.  I didn’t respond.

“Is that bad?”

A pin dropped.  I didn’t know what to say to that.  It had been so long ago that it felt like another lifetime.

I posted to Facebook about it and referenced a few friends that remember some of those memories.  I should have seen this one coming.  A few weeks prior he had added me on Facebook again- albeit briefly.  He deleted me a few days later after I asked him what brought him to reach out to me.  It was about events that never happened.

“I wanted you to come see me play.”

Why do we always fall for the Bad Bad Things?

 

May Day

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10am 5.1.12

Scene: An office with a purple wall, downtown Los Angeles

It is written that April is a the cruelest month.  Without divulging into those memories, I will just have to note that I was counting down the hours until May Day.

Growing up May Day was a special day shared with me and my grandmother.  She would make baskets and get us flowers.  It was a celebration.  It was joy.  It was for these reasons that I had to make a point to call her.

Work calmed down long enough to take a few minutes to talk.  I used to call her more often.  After certain events transpired this weekend, I felt the urge to start doing it again.

Grandma’s memories are still very much intact.  She will tell you the most amazing stories but also tell you nothing about herself.  She is secretive but sweet.  Giving but guarded.  Her memories are treasured.

“I wanted to call to tell you Happy May Day Gram.”

“You remembered?!  No one remembers my baskets.”

I wanted to call my dad to tell her to make sure he called her too.  I texted a nudge to my brother.

“Why do they do that anyway on May Day?”

“I really don’t know.  I think it has something to do with the May pole.  It started in Europe.  We’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid.  Maybe if you get on the internet you can find out and tell me.”

My grandmother is in her mid seventies.  I fear that one day her memories will disappear as well.  I know that she doesn’t reveal a lot about her own, but she is often quick to divulge quirky stories about other family members… like this one.

“Grandma what was it like when my dad was little?”

“Your dad was always business!  At around Ethan’s age (my 10 year old son) he told me “I’m going to make my living with my pencil and my brain!”

I thought about talks I’ve had with another relative about dad.  About how when I was a kid I thought he was the coolest guy ever.  As I got older and saw dad turn into the super corporate Republican type even more so my opinion started to change.

“Your dad was never cool.” my cousin once told me.

“Your dad was always carrying around a pencil.  He told me “Mom, I’m going to make a living with my pencil and my brain!””

The memory made me smile.  She made me smile.  She always… makes me smile.  And even though it was her day, it was my day, and maybe, to a degree my dad’s day too.

Maybe my dad really always was a square and not this super cool guy I thought he was from my childhood.  Maybe none of us geeks ever were.  But at the same time, maybe, just maybe, we’re both.

Whiskey Tango

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9:30pm 3.26.12

Scene: Seven Grand whiskey bar, downtown Los Angeles

“Is the whiskey gone?”

“Yes.”

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

“It was meant to be in my belly.”

This was going to be an interesting first introduction.  He’d had a meeting with Australian clients so wasn’t able to make the tasting.  I had not formally invited him to the meeting of this month’s Whiskey Society but thought it might be a good place to say hello regardless.

At this point, however, it had been 7 glasses of delectable and old (forty four years was the oldest) rare whiskeys for this Little Girl in the Big City.  And while I wasn’t three sheets to the wind, I was most certainly bubbly.

“I didn’t eat.  Do you know of anywhere around here we could get something?”

Of course I did. However by the time we arrived the kitchen was closed.

“I’m sorry.  It just closed.”

“Let me get you a drink at least.  What would you like?”

“Can you make a Mad Hatter?”

“The bartenders looked at each other.  Neither of them could.

“I guess I’ll take a 1920s Cosmo.”

He and I had discussed drinks in emails.  He’d made comments on my complicated tastes in drinks… and about even being aware of the Whiskey Society’s existence.

“That sounds too easy for you.  Are you sure you don’t want something else?”

“A gin gimlet perhaps?”

The bartender smiled and so did I.

“I’d like to make you a gin gimlet.”

And so it went.

I found myself apologizing for the strange introduction.  It was his first time meeting someone from online.  He was newly divorced and single.  Fresh to Los Angeles.  Extremely.  He had moved up here March 1st.

At the back of my mind I feared impending disaster.  I had nearly cancelled this introduction- or postponed at least until the next day- to allow for a certain programmer to have the evening.  Maybe that was jinxing it from the beginning.  I’ll never know.  But worrying about it wouldn’t do me any good either.

The conversation was going well.  He was adorable.  Much more my speed than the programmer had been.  The conversation was fluid and not forced.

I got a call while we were sitting there talking about our exes.  Another doomed conversation perhaps.  It was my ex calling to apologize- at midnight- that he wouldn’t be able to hang out and wishing me a good time at my tasting.

“You know, if you’d be open to it.  I’d love to re-meet you tomorrow on a sober note.”

“That’d work.”

We were having a good time.  He went to bring me home.

The conversation continued to pour on.  Quip after quip after…

“I know a place that has food that’s open now!”

“Where?”

I texted my friend to get the exact name.  I’d been there frequently but couldn’t remember where exactly it was since I hadn’t needed to drive in months.

The night pressed on.  It was fantastic.  The first one of it’s kind that I’d had since the second goodbye.

“I’m not looking to rush into anything right now.  My last ex wanted to marry me.  And then, well… things were… All I want to do is live moment to moment and see where it takes me.”

“Me too.”

Tango with words.  It begins this moment.  But for how many neither of us could be sure.

Dance with me

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11:46pm 3.24.12

Scene: a spooky themed loft just outside downtown Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights

“Are you at Ruin?”

“Fuck no.”

“At any of the events?  You went to Ruin last month.”

“I’m on my way to Dance Bitch via El Pollo Loco.”

“Ha.  Have fun.  You never called the other night.”

“You didn’t ask me to!”

“Call me now?”

I was about to head out to an event with a gal pal.  I had had a mishap when attempting to lighten my hair earlier this week and wasn’t sure how I felt about the in between.  His hat assisted wonderfully.  It was for this reason that I was really hoping to dodge him… at least for the time being so I could not have to worry about giving the hat back.

We talked.  My friend arrived with me still on the phone.

“I’m going out to dance with my friends.”

“You don’t dance.”

“Yes I do.”

“You never did with me…”

Somewhere along the way, the call dropped.

“Why did you hang up?”

“I didn’t.  Call dropped.  Going to Batcave.”

“But I want to see you.”

“Good.”

And so I arrived at the gothed out extravaganza that is the Batcave.

“Who was that?”

“Guess.”

“You really should just not talk to him.  He’s not worth your time.”

“I know.  But I still care.”

We navigated through the bar and met up with some other friends.

To dance.

To the smoking area for my friend to feed her habit.

Throughout the night he would continue to text.  I would continue to respond.

“You’re only feeding a troll.”

He called while we were on the smoking porch.

“How do you know [so and so]?”

“She’s a friend.  I met her at [redacted]. Why do you ask?”

The call dropped again.  It was too loud out there anyway.

“Call me when you can talk.  I miss you.”

“He misses me.” I told the friends.

They rolled their eyes.

“Of course he does.  Let him.”

I put the phone in my jacket pocket and walked away.  On the outside, I probably looked strong.  After all that he’d done, I shouldn’t be talking to him again.  He’d already done this twice.  I should have known that he’d be back yet again.

I couldn’t think about it anymore.  I jumped back on the dance floor with your hat.

You say I never danced with you… but that night, even if you weren’t there… we did.

Spring Escapes

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11:45pm 3.29.2012

Scene: a black car driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood

“You’re not sprung on me already are you?”

The question was not a question but a declaration of insanity.  Another red flag.  But would I listen?

Of course not.

I just laughed.

“Why would you even think that this early into things?”

It had only been a week if that.  A few dates.  Was this the second or the third?  The real question that peered at me was “Why do men always get to this state so fast with me?”

“I just want to make sure.  I want you to be honest with me.  I don’t want you to get attached really fast and not let me know.  I don’t want to hurt anyone again.”

…Again. Geezus.  This is about his latest ex.  I heard the story on date two.  Things with him had been intense from practically the beginning.  It was wonderful but yet there would be these moments scattered throughout the entirety.

“I’m having a good time with you but I’m sorry to bruise your ego, the answer is no.”

“Whew.”

There were a few seconds of silence as we continued to drive.  He calmed down.  Or at least I thought and hoped he did.

We were headed to a liquor store before going back to his place.

“Let’s get you some good whiskey.”

“I do enjoy a good drink.”

“I know.” he said as he grabbed my leg and pet me.

We all have our escapes and fears. Was this him projecting that perhaps there was already the potential of shared emotion residing under the surface?  The charm and invitation of escapes of both his time time with me and our time perhaps escaping the rest of the world was a bit dazzling.

Mutual vices and temporary escapes perhaps?

For now none of that mattered.  I enjoyed it.  He enjoyed it.  Why did there have to be anything more than that?

A quote from a book by Philip Slater would later explain the entire situation.

“It is not what happens abroad that generates hysteria, but rather what  appears to be happening within ourselves.”