Aside 27 Feb

Coming to know you as intimately as I did – and what you are capable of emotionally — and how risk averse you are — the way we got our start is a mystery to me.  I’ve often thought about that day when we both sat in a conference room at a memoir writing workshop at a hotel on the bay, listening to a man tell how us how to tell our own stories. It was my first time in your city. As you know, I’m a southern California girl in my heart and had been waging a longtime love affair with Los Angeles by the time I found myself wandering down to San Diego for the writers’ conference. I spent so much of my college years in West Hollywood, in a rented room in that house off of La Cienega with the lemon tree in the tiny front yard and the orange tree in the back and Linda Blair next door — that it’s a miracle I managed to walk away with a degree considering I went to school on the east coast. There are few things I love in this world as much as waking up to the smell of lemon and orange trees.

From where, K, did the courage come to follow me out of the conference to the bar where I’d settled in for an afternoon of drinking with the boys at Pacific Beach? Is the answer there where you are? This much I know: you found me very physically attractive and spent the class writing about my hair, eyes, and ass. I was aloof and you loved that. As everyone earnestly hung on to the speaker’s every word, jotting down notes and furrowing brows as they processed the bullshit he was spewing, I looked at the clock and  squirmed in my seat, I made Princess Lea buns secured with pens, I bit my nails, I went to the bathroom three times and you loved watching me move. You would confess that one of your favorite fantasies would be to sit back and imagine me moving around the house we shared, going about my day.

Was it a full moon that puffed up your chest and pushed you along in my wake out to Ocean Boulevard and into the bar in the company of a tourist who’d attached herself to you earlier in the day? Was it a carbon dioxide leak that drew you out to my table in the sand in an insane attempt to defend my honor — which hadn’t been threatened in the first place? Was it fate that I disregarded your nerdy professor look and walked out the door with you as the pretty boys scoffed?

It makes me smile to think about how you looked after we’d gotten out of the bar and were out on the street. We stood on the sidewalk facing each other and you had the expression of a man who’d just gotten away with stealing a famous work of art — you’d succeeded in making off with your prize, but now what the fuck do you do with it? I saw your mind at work as you played out various scenarios. In mostly silence we walked to where I was staying — the Banana Cabana, which touted itself as a youth hostel catering to international tourists, but was really the last stop before homelessness for about two dozen locals – all male. 

The realization that I was staying at a place with a reputation for being a flophouse for lowlives seemed to provide you with direction you needed as to how to proceed with this thing that you’d started. It was at that moment the father-daughter dynamic in our relationship kicked in. Which is to say almost immediately. Of course, our age difference – nearly 20 years — probably made that unavoidable, but our own actions — you assuming the role of caretaker and worrier-in-chief — and my response, which was to bask in the attention and concern, didn’t help.

As we sat at another bar later that first night — after you’d moved me out of the BC and into the Westin downtown — I was throwing down vodkas while you nursed a microbrew and dissected my life, your questions as sharp and precise as a scalpel. There was a moment of silence between my last answer and your next question and I remember being stunned when you finally delivered it: “Were you molested, K?”

I had a physical reaction to your question that reminded me of this strange habit I’d had of labeling my peers as a child. I’d see other kids as light or dark. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I saw them as dark and non-dark, and felt that the kids with the darkness — maybe I’m referring to their aura, but I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate – shared my own darkness. This sounds strange, but I could sense the kids like me — the ones who’d been abused.

When you asked that question, that odd sense (that ability?) that I’d possessed as a child returned suddenly. I saw you as dark.

“Yes,” I said then, without hesitation and I told you everything, which was something I’d never done before. In fact, until that night in 1997, in that moment when the red light from the Sushi place next door reflected on your forehead and my flip flop dangled dangerously from my toe and Brick played too loudly to be considered background music and the same waiter kept trying to give us food menus…I had lived as if the stuff about the priest and the pictures he took and his suicide in jail and the neighbor at the shore who showed me his special room were just stories that I knew about some poor girl.

But that all changed when I admitted to you – and to myself, really – that the poor girl was me. 

I suppose when a relationship begins with confession it can’t help but grew into a mutual worship, practiced with a religious fervor capable only by those who know what it means to have been saved, reborn. Which is probably why this feels so much like penance.

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4 Responses to “”

  1. Wordgirl February 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    This made me cry… And made all of the hair stand up from the nape of my neck to the top of my head.

    I see you

    Love you. I have read everyone of these posts. I have been thinking of you so often.

    • TB February 28, 2013 at 1:03 am #

      I know you’re there. And I love you, too, and think of you all the time. Hopefully I’ll work through this soon and get back to lighter stuff on the other blog. I’ll write soon…XO

  2. Ashley L February 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Dang. I hope you find reprieve from this torture.

    • TB February 28, 2013 at 1:10 am #

      Hey Ashley..didn’t know you were reading. Don’t worry…I’m not a completely tortured soul – I just play one on my blog. When I sit down to write about him, this is what comes out. Must be the depth of emotion we shared and the dramatic stuff wants to be written down. Because, really? Who wants to write (or read), “OMG..remember that really sweet thing you wrote and then that sweeter thing you said and then how we fucked?”

      And the recent correspondence from him through his shitty ass friend has kind of opened some wounds, too, but I’m not on a ledge. XO

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