The last person I dated before I met my wife was the first woman I ever dated. Before that, I was happily heterosexual. Then I allowed this little dyke who’d just gotten her philosophy degree to move into my apartment in San Francisco, and for a while, things went smoothly enough as roommates, but after about a year or so she and her long-term girlfriend broke up, and she started aggressively pursuing me. I politely rebuffed her advances at first, citing both our differences in age (she was eight years younger and fresh out of college) and the fact that, while I considered myself to have a queer sensibility, I was by no means a lesbian. Or even bi. I mean, there had been the usual experimentation in college, etc. but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.
To make a very long and needlessly maudlin story short–we dated for two years, and it was a hot fucking mess. I let her get away with things I never would have let a man get away with, mainly because I kept thinking she would snap to her senses because no woman could be this stupid or cruel—that was masculine territory—but apparently she was just as capable of cold and wanton cruelty as any man. On her way out the door, as she gathered up her Kant tomes and her Concrete Blonde CDs (ugh, yes, really), rather than owning up to HER faults, she decided to make a laundry list of MY faults as to the reason the relationship was ending, as though I were the one holding the culpability bag in this mess of her own making.
I mostly tuned out her bullshit excuses, but as she packed her used textbooks into milk crates and inhaled her Camel Lights, she said something that I have never forgotten, not one single day since then. She looked up at me with her heavily-lidded eyes and shrugged, and said “I dunno, I mean, you say you you wanna be a writer, so I assume there’s some sort of internal dialogue going on in there, but I’m just not sensing it.”
The cruelty of that remark and the way it stung me then stays fresh in my mind today, a decade later. It’s a tough thing to be called shallow by anyone, let alone by someone who’s ripping your heart from your chest, setting it afire, then taking a shit on the ashes.
I’m in the mind of all of this because it’s been a rough couple of weeks in our house. In addition to the corporate fuckery I wrote of in my previous entry, which has been an emotional drain of the highest order, and in addition to getting Eleanor burned off and dealing with the aftermath of that, The Wife is dealing with some challenges of her own. She had to let an employee go because he made a huge mistake. It was an honest mistake—one that anyone could make and one both of us felt horrible about him making—but it is a mistake that will cost us, literally, thousands of dollars, not to mention tarnishing our record and causing our insurance coverage to skyrocket for years to come.
So while it was an honest fuck up, it was a huge fuck up and she had to let him go, and given that there are only three employees at the bar, his absence has definitely been felt these past two weeks. The Wife has literally been at the bar for 14 hours a day for the last 10 days. She comes home to sleep and then gets up and does it all over again. We are two ships passing in the night. Oh yeah, and in the midst of all of this, both of us have caught The Consumption and are spending what time we are in bed together hacking up our lungs and trading cough syrup and pills in the night.
I leave tomorrow to stay with my mom for a few days then to stay with friends in Sonoma for the weekend. I’ll be gone for six days. My wife’s run ragged and her morale’s lower than I’ve ever seen it. I’m worried about leaving her for so long. This sounds overly dramatic, but she doesn’t do well when I’m away. So I dragged my burnt-skin, hacked-lung ass to the grocery store and shopped for a metric fuckton of vegetables and spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen chopping and dicing shit up so that she would have an array of fresh and healthy food packaged up into little to-go containers for her to take to the bar with her when she heads out in the mornings for her marathon days. And even though I felt like ass, I thought about shit like “I know how she likes everything to be the same size when she’s chewing” as I chopped up the broccoli and cauliflower and chicken for the grain salad. Or thought “Well the recipe called for two serrano chiles but she’s a spice weenie, so I’ll just get one jalapeño instead.” And I dosed everything with flax seed because she has high cholesterol, and I find sneaky ways to help bring it down.
And I don’t know why this puts me in a mind of my ex, sitting there on that day, all passive-aggressively, exhaling her wispy cigarette smoke, and pumping my brain with needless insults as she tore my heart into tiny shreds. I was in my mid-thirties then. I had no mortgage, no children, no real responsibility for anything or anyone. Just a big group of friends, a job that afforded me a glamorous enough lifestyle that meant an apartment in San Francisco and nights out on the town six nights a week. Sure, I was a party girl, or as I more charitably and pretentiously called myself, a bon vivant. I may have liked to spend most of my off time hanging out in bars, getting shitfaced with my friends, not doing much, not trying to solve the world’s problems, and certainly not staring at the ceiling and contemplating Plato’s Allegory of the Motherfucking Cave. I was too busy having fun.
And maybe that may have seemed vapid and shallow to someone who had suffered a horribly traumatic childhood, had a bachelors degree in philosophy (that was, naturally, being put to good use waiting tables in the Haight), who had the cachet of having an alcoholic father and schizophrenic mother, wanted to spend her off time thinking about the notions of truth and beauty, and wanted to consider herself deeper than the well Baby Jessica fell in. I honestly don’t know. And I guess, if I’m being honest with myself, maybe my brain was a bit of a hamster in a wheel at the time. Who fucking cares? I was just living and having a ball! Isn’t that what that time in our lives is for?
But I would have liked to think that even then, even with her, even in the midst of all my Sex in the City hedonism, I was the type of person who would have dragged my skin-cancer-sodden ass down to Safeway to bludgeon up healthy provisions for her should she have needed them in a time of her own crisis. And shame on her for not being able to have seen that quality in me after having spent two years with me. If that doesn’t make someone shallow, I don’t know what does.
Sorry y’all, I guess the events of the last couple of weeks are finally catching up with me and I’m feeling a little stabby today. I’m ahiight. Honestly, I’ve been pretty good about keeping my chin up throughout all these shake ups. The Wife and I are actually doing really well, taking it all in stride, tryna keep a sense of humor about it all. But I got Eleanor burned and scraped today, and I guess starting the day smelling your own burning flesh just puts one in a deep funk and clearly brings some nasty memories to the surface as well. Maybe there’s some weird psychic remnants of my ex lingering about in Eleanor’s hole, and I need to do some sort of sage oil cleansing up in there.
Did someone say sage burning? Mmmm…I love nature!
Here’s Jared Leto hugging a tree.