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Road divided

September 4, 2006

One night at a party I was talking with this bartender I knew who was employed by one of the only decent bars to play pool in. I think he might have fancied me but most of the guys I hung out with at the time did because I was 18 and had a habit of drinking too much and letting that lead me to wild places. At the time I don’t know if I thought of their attentions as flattering or even directed toward me as I was too insecure (still am) and felt mostly way in over my head. The woman I was closest friends with at the time and the person I did most of my drugs with was in her late 20’s and from New Zealand. A kiwi. She liked to say when she thought of someone as inept that they had the IQ of room temperature. That did not sound so awful to me as about 70ish IQ is functioning okay. She then explained to my untraveled mind that they used celsius and room temperature is about 23* degrees. Pretty dim. She had easy access to cocaine and as a previously high school student I had trouble getting it and found it was more trouble than it was worth. With her it was easy. Expensive but easy. I had never been a big drinker and was always considered a cheap date because 2 beers and I was drunk and 3-4 made me throw up and act like a fool. Cocaine made me brave and not afraid to talk to strangers and friends of friends. I could also drink A LOT of liquor and not feel too drunk although I still had the hangover in the morning. You get the picture. Typical American teenager with money at her disposal from a lucrative illegal job does hard drugs. Cliche, I know.

So I am talking to this guy Terry I know. We are shooting the shit and it is after the bars close and we are hanging outside of my friends townhouse in a swanky party area of the city near the docks. Cobblestone streets and tug boats are decoration contrasting sharply with the college drunkards and old time junkies. Before long other people show up and party along with us into the early morning. Square shoulders comes by with his less good looking best friend. He is such  a prick. You know what I mean; cocky, stupid, great looking in the typical chiseled football player, hair a tad too long but sexy and dressed very nicely kind of way. Mr. Shoulders knew how to turn it on and was just brilliant at getting you to believe he was going to ask you out and was really into and then would say the most vile thing like, “I bet your pussy smells like shit, doesn’t it?” or something equally as foul and mean and weird.

I HATE Mr. Shoulders as he is just the kind of guy I went to high school with and despised for his easy grace and luck to be born rich and good looking and white in America. That kind of privilege rarely does anyone any good. I mention to Terry that I hate this guy and why does he always come around. I turn to get another beer and light another cigarette and I see them talking. Seemingly within seconds Terry has thrown Mr. Shoulders down to the ground and is beating the back of his skull out on the curb of the street spotlighted by the a lamppost. Everyone just kind of looks on with the expression of a person whose buzz has been seriously killed and with mild interest. No one is helping or interfering. I sit there feeling scared and to blame for this and suddenly a police car turns up. I am nervous selfishly because I am underage drinking and am on drugs and have drugs on me and holding a beer outside in a state with open container laws. Terry breaks away from Mr. Shoulders and walks over to the cop car. He leans in conversing causally with the police and they hand him something , he hands them something he moves in such a way that you can see the gun he is carrying in his pants.

All my middle class whitegirlness is shierking “OHMYGOSH..a gun??? A Gun???? It is the police…why are they just driving away with a friendly wave????” But they do. The police drive away, Mr. Shoulders less good looking friend helps him up, they leave the party and everyone just kinda shakes it off as I sit in my lawn chair on a balmy summer evening and think dramatically, “This is NOT my movie. Who do I think I am Drew Barrymore or Tatum O’Neill?”

I see the ridiculousness and the severity of the sleazy life I have carved out for myself and stop right there. Slowly I break away passive-aggressively by fucking up my friendships, being judgemental, showing up late for work and fucking people over. I get fired from both my jobs in one week and go from making about $1500 a week inn 1990 to almost nothing and almost loose my apartment.

I can not afford hard drugs and vintage clothes is the rational I tell myself so I stick with my obsessive collection of handbags, dresses and sweaters. I don’t hang with anyone as they have all broken up with me. I start all over again and don’t realize how lucky I am until I hear that Terry was in jail and was killed, my kiwi friend is still strung out and starting to owe dealers money so instead she has sex with them and I start saving money again and keep my apartment in the hood.

A few months later I meet this fabulous guy who I truly fell in love with for the first time in my life. Mark was the first guy I could just be silent around (shocking , if you know me) and just be and be happy. He introduced me to Tom Waits and gin rummy and his best friend Matt who I grew to love to. Not long after I moved back to my home town I became obsessed with finding Mark and tried all the old places. I would get close with people saying, “oh, yea, he was just here last night…” but did not connect with him. I am out for a night of pool and beer with my brother last year and this bartender says, “oh, Mark is dead, two years now” He drowned. He is the second of my ex’s to drown. This gives me a really creepy feeling and want to obsessively call every ex to make sure they have not also succumbed to this horrible fate. I am so sad. Sad for his sister because they were really close. Sad for his girlfriend because I heard they were really, really, really happy. Sad for me because I can never tell him how he changed my life and I am so grateful for that experience. I remember nothing but joy when i think of him. Innocence and laughter. Adventure and great sex. Food and beer. Cigarettes and gin rummy. Tom Waits and long conversations. I do remember how he broke up with me on my 19th birthday but it certainly matters little now.

I think loving Mark and simultaneously walking away from destructive behaviors saved me and I went another way. Knowing what love really feels like made me want it again. To be that awake, alive and open to it was something I could find. Wait for. I found it in my friend,my love, my D. All the bad things in my life luckily seem to have lead me to here, right now. This moment. And it feels fine.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 4, 2006 1:39 am


    When I think of the times I could have wound up disfigured, or diseased, or dead, and didn’t, and when I look around and see what I have – the love of my life and two beautiful children – I have to wonder how all that chaos lead me here. It’s just a mystery. But it weirds me out that I was so lucky and others from my peer group weren’t.

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