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Learning to Love Yourself, Permanently.

I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and I didn’t really think much about what it meant to me. Afterall my first tattoo was a Dr. Seuss blue fish, just like the book you’re thinking of. I mean really, how deep could the reasoning behind getting an animated children’s book character tattoo really go? As I got older, I would continue to get more tattoos over the years and I think after the first few, I knew that each one meant something special to me. Then in 2006, I just stopped getting them.

I figured 15 was enough, and for a long time I didn’t get any new ink because I was afraid of being rejected from legitimate acting jobs in L.A.. Then, at some point last year, the urge to get another tattoo hit me. I had decided to put my fears behind me, rebel against the system, and tell Hollywood to kiss off. I knew acting wasn’t for me anymore, so one bright sunny day after my workout I went straight to True Tattoo on Cahuenga and got “qualcuno da amare” from the inside of my left elbow all the way straight down my left forearm.

In Italian that translates to “Someone to Love.” Yes, I am of Italian decent, and no, I don’t speak the language but that’s ok because this tattoo means something to me that no cartoon character can touch. I thought about this one a long time, and I knew it would symbolically ruin my short and fleeting career as an actor, but I didn’t care anymore. It HAD to be done.

I can only assume I was passed over for a few jobs in my life because of the fact that I have visible tattoos. I was barred from being a server at a restaurant once in 1999 because the uniform required me to wear shorts and I have four largely visible tattoos on my legs. That artistic racism would continue into my thirties when I guess I lost out on some acting jobs because sometimes it’s just easier to hire the guy who looks like me, but who doesn’t need to spend an hour in the make-up chair. Believe me, 90% of the reason actors get hired actually has NOTHING to do with their talent as an actor.

I was aware of this fact for years as I was quietly coming to the realization that the pursuit of acting just wasn’t making me happy. Fucking life in Los Angeles wasn’t making me happy, and I was sick and tired of how Hollywood works and unable to see my place in it anymore. Then one day I heard this song which reminded me of another song, which then prompted me to get my first new tattoo in almost 10 years in a place that is very obvious. Let me explain.

I’ve never been the model boyfriend, but I am still a hopeless romantic and by that I mean I have fallen in love, made mistakes, been in a bunch of self inflicted traumatic relationships, and to some extent I’m hard to handle. I may not be the first person people go to for relationship advice, but at some level I understand that you can’t love someone unless you yourself are lovable. There’s that old saying that says “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Ok, maybe it’s not THAT old of a saying and maybe it’s actually a real quote from a writer whose words made it into the script for the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it’s an astoundingly accurate statement.

 

Maybe that’s why some of my relationships didn’t work out in the past. Maybe I didn’t think I was deserving of the love I was getting in return. After all, it’s not like anyone can teach you a specific way to love somebody because everyone defines love differently and there is no guidebook that tells you how to do it right. It’s one of life’s greatest prizes, but it’s also that one that seems to elude a lot of us as well. Aside from the the obvious explanation, there is a double meaning to this story. It all started because of this Queen song by the same name.

I have listened to that song over a thousand times in my life, always questioning when and where was I going to find that someone to love, or if anybody was going to help me with that feat. For 20 some years I think I had good intentions, but the whole time I think I was doing it wrong. I truly believed that there was someone out there for me, but in some silly and drudgingly romantic way, I figured I wouldn’t ever find her, or if I did find her, it would somehow never work out. It became like a self fulfilling negative prophecy that kept me out there looking for someone and therein lies my tragedy.

I fell in love with the idea of being in love, and at no point until recently did I realize how backwards as fuck that was. I was trying to love the other person, when the whole time I should have been trying to love myself.

Years had gone by since I first heard Freddie Mercury sing those lyrics that became the theme song to my late teens and early twenties. Also years had gone by when I didn’t get any new ink because of my fear of missing out on work, otherwise known as FOMO. Wait, is that how the kids say it today? I honestly don’t know, but eventually one day in the Fall of last year, remnants of that Queen song came back into my life in a completely new way. I heard this new EDM track by Deorro called “I Can Be Somebody.” Listen to what she is saying….

Sounds a lot like the same message from before, right? Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not the most masculine sounding track about love that I have ever heard, but new appealing rock n roll music about love doesn’t really exist anymore. Plus I have to remember that even though I was thinking about that elusive female love interest when I would sing along to Queen, I’m 100% positive that Freddie Mercury probably wrote that song about a dude. I digress.

Regardless, it only took me about 24 hours after hearing “I Can Be Somebody” before I decided to get “Someone to Love” tattooed on my arm, an idea that had been implanted in my brain since the early 90s when I was first introduced to music that was inspirational. Yeah, I may be a little dramatic, but I don’t feel bad that art and music mean something to me and the fact remains that a beautiful and important message hidden in the lyrics of a song always seems to find me at the right time. I needed to hear that song and I needed to get that tattoo so I could remind myself that I was lovable. I don’t think I ever thought of myself that way before, and what a shame it would have been if I never had.

I don’t think “giving up” is the correct phrase for how I decided that Hollywood wasn’t my bag. Let’s just say the day I got this tattoo, I left something behind that wasn’t working for me anymore. I had been through hell the past few months, and I decided I needed a constant reminder of what really mattered to me now. Truth is, I came to an awareness and realization about myself that I had been ignoring for far too long. I know now that I’m a good person. I may be a “single” good person, but just because I don’t have someone to love in my life right now doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of being that someone.

Tattoos don’t hinder me from getting work anymore, in fact I think they have helped me. They have become a conversation starter and talking point for everyone I serve a drink to up in Seattle. I would go on to get three more tattoos before last year was over, but it all comes back to this one on my forearm that really means the most to me because it has such an important message.

I’m able to love myself permanently now, and I’m sure love will find me when it’s right. And this time, I’ll be ready for it. It’s imperative to me to be that person to love first before I am able to meet and reciprocate the type of love that I think I deserve. And me, we all deserve to be loved.

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The Girl Who Was Sick in the Head

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I met Missy at my place of business in 2006. She was 19, Italian, had a spunky personality and her honest and genuine smile was something that I was immediately attracted to. She had the checklist features of my traditional female which included light eyes, dark hair, and she liked to laugh at my jokes. I have to say I wasn’t in the right state of mind at this point in my life. I was a little sick in the head and as I would eventually find out, so was Missy.

I had been casually dating this one girl I met through my co-workers, and I had been trying really hard to get off of that California snow that was making me crazy when Missy entered my life. Before I knew it, I stopped seeing the other girl and I started spending more time with Missy. Then she dropped this bomb on me.

“I’m sick.” She said. “I have cancer.”

This totally blew me away. I was like, what do you mean you have cancer? Cancer of what?

“Brain cancer.” She replied.

Now look, I didn’t know a single thing about what that meant other than I had to highly doubt it’s even possible to have brain cancer and be walking around like nothing is wrong. In my alternative state of mind I kind of felt bad for her, but at the same time the part of my brain that was actually grounded and still rational questioned her as to whether or not she was telling the truth. She didn’t like that, and immediately pulled away from me.

A couple days later her and I met up again at my apartment and we had a long talk. She went on to tell me about how she had been sick as a kid and how she had just gotten back from an Oncology lab in Texas where she was getting tests done and other cancer-related things. She was going to be going away soon for treatment, and she was really convincing. I guess I kind of believed her at that point. We spent the next week hanging out and making the most of the time we had left.

Things between us were good, and I even talked about marrying this girl, albeit might have been a desperate attempt to prove my love, but I didn’t care. I told my friends who would listen about her story and they all felt really bad and supported the two of us, except for a few people at work.

“She doesn’t have fucking Cancer Christian. I had cancer, and I know that girl is lying.” My co-worker Lainey said to me.

Lainey was making a lot of sense, but I was in a state of mind where I couldn’t tell whether to believe the awful truth that perhaps Missy was making this up, or continue to play into the idea that her cancer was real because why on earth would someone go to such lengths to get my attention as to make up a fake story about having one of the worst diseases in the history of the world?

I started to do some research. In between my days of being with Missy, my nights of not sleeping and my afternoons of not wanting to get out of bed, I secretly started googling stuff about cancer and a lot of what Missy was saying added up. There really was an Oncology lab in Texas and the doctor she told me she was going to see really did exist. In fact, he was one of the top cancer research doctors in the country at the time…he even had done some successful brain surgeries in China to alleviate the disease.

I went back to my friend Lainey, and I told her about my findings. She wasn’t impressed, and she continued to inadvertently have my back by trying to tell me I wasn’t thinking straight. Perhaps I should have listened to her.

“I don’t like that girl.” Lainey said. “I just don’t trust her.”

That was fine for her, but I really cared about Missy because over the last week or two she seemed like the only one who understood me. At one point she saw me at my worst, up for two days and crying, and she still said she loved me and it was going to be ok. When I had an bad experience and it felt like my whole brain was going to explode, she borrowed someone’s car and drove right over to my place to see if I was alright.

Plus, my cat liked her and that in itself was saying a lot because it takes a awhile for my cat to warm up to anyone. I knew if I were to even doubt what Missy was telling me again I would lose her forever. I was one of the only ones who believed her, because I wanted to believe her. I was in a real shitty place mentally back then, and in some sick and twisted way, Missy having cancer was the only thing keeping me alive.

It was September of 2006 and I was watching Maria Sharapova in the U.S. Open when Missy told me she had to go away for awhile. I wouldn’t be able to contact her because she had to go overseas to China to get treatment for her cancer which made sense to me after what I read online. I spent the last few days with her hanging out in Hollywood and in Malibu at the Paradise Cove Cafe, eating fried calamari from a giant martini glass, and listening to the song Invincible by Muse on the ride back from the beach.

I had quit my job, and I got a new one tending bar at the Wiltern in Koreatown. I made Missy a mix cd and booklet with all these pictures of us so she would remember our time together. One of the outcomes of her 50/50 procedure was the possibly of memory loss and the one thing I wanted her to remember was how much I loved her and how all I wanted was for her to get better, even if she didn’t remember me.

She left me on a Friday in September, and even though it was tough, I went on with my new life, praying every night that she would be ok. I took a little trip by myself to Arizona to clear my head before I started my new job, and I got myself clean, at least for a few weeks.

When I returned, I received a MySpace message from one of Missy’s friends stating that Missy was ok and she was rehabilitating on the east coast. I tried sending a message to this mysterious person asking for more details and hoping that I would be able to get to talk to her, but I never received a message back. I would spend the next few weeks writing blogs I posted on MySpace about how much I missed her and about how I couldn’t wait to see her again This is an excerpt from one of those posts:

11-13-06

(originally posted http://www.myspace.com/*starduster)
I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and I was thinking about Missy. We used to say to each other…”I heart you” I liked that. I like that we made everything our own…and I love that we did it deliberately because we really meant it even though we knew we didn’t have much time together. It kind of all makes sense now…. Even if I never see her again….or even if she never finds me or if she decides that it would probably be better if we were just friends or if I’m off in Romania when she comes knocking on my door…I still can be happy to say that she loved me unconditionally and she couldn’t have come along at a more perfect time in my life. I loved her first and I always will. I’ve never doubted it either….it kind of freaked me at first but sometimes you need that to really know how you feel. Love is always on my mind and that’s what I’m putting my faith in these days. Sometimes I forget how simple life is because there are so many damn illusions that feel like the real thing. I’ve always been good at giving myself a reason to go on and I’ve always known exactly what to tell myself to make it all ok for now. I heart you too…..and I always will.

I continued writing for a few more weeks, as I poured my heart and soul out to anyone who clicked on my MySpace blog. Then a friend from my old work told me something I didn’t want to hear, but I think at that point, I NEEDED to hear this.

I saw Missy on Hollywood boulevard today. I called her name and she turned around, and then ignored me and kept on walking. She’s not in China, and she’s not rehabilitating on the east coast. Christian, you have to believe me.” he said

What the fuck?!? I knew something was rotten in Denmark because my friend Joel had no reason to lie to me. That’s when all the doubt I had been ignoring the past few months started to take center stage. It wasn’t soon afterwards that I got a knock on my door at 3pm on a Tuesday.

For some odd reason, I didn’t answer it, I looked through the peephole and I saw someone out there, but then I put my ear to the door and I listened. Just then I heard a familiar ring tone go off. Missy’s ring tone. I couldn’t confirm that it was her, but it felt like she was standing right outside my door, which I never opened.

My mind started to piece it together. If I was about to be found out for telling a humungous lie, the first thing I would do would be to show my face again to the person I lied to before someone else told me about it, right?

I went through my MySpace account and looked at the profile of the girl who had been sending me information about Missy. She had no profile picture, and she didn’t have many friends in common. Back then, anyone could send anyone else a message because privacy settings didn’t exist. I started looking at all these phone calls I had been receiving from a “restricted” number who would hang up every time I answered, and then I came to a conclusion that I should have known from the beginning.

What if the whole time that person who had been sending me messages was Missy herself? What if the restricted phone calls were Missy was dialing *67 before placing the call? Was I being cat-fished?  Was I getting duped by a girl who was born in the 80s? What was the point to all of this anyway, and how could I have been so stupid not to see this coming from…..oh right…I was a drug addict back then. (figuratively)

Something occurred to me after that day. If Missy was sending me messages on MySpace pretending to be someone else, then she was able to read my blogs about her as well because you didn’t have to be friends with someone on MS to see their page.

I had to find out if this was true, and the only way I knew how was to put it out into the world, and see what came back. I posted a blog called “and now I know the truth” and basically stated the whole cancer story thing was a ruse, and I ended it with the sentence, “You deserve everything you get in life, and I hope you get nothing but regret. Goodbye Missy.

The next day I was sitting in the car with my friend Dana outside of a pot store when I got a text from Missy.

“Why are you writing negative things about me on MySpace?”

“Who is this?”

“This is Missy. Who are you?”

Who am I? Wow, this girl had some balls to keep lying to me even after the fact, so I called her out. I was like….Let me get this straight….You don’t remember my name now, probably because of the brain cancer surgery you didn’t have, you have no idea who I am or how this number got into your phone, but somehow you managed to connect the dots to the fact that I posted something on MySpace about you, and then assumed this random number in your phone must be that very same person? There’s about a million holes in that story, the story she told me before, and every other lie she had told me up until this point.

I didn’t even want an explanation, I just wanted her to go away. Do you have any idea how embarrassed and duped I felt for days afterwards? I felt like someone ripped out my heart, put it through a blender, turned up the settings to high, and then WATCHED me from afar as I tried to piece every thing back together.  It was fucking creepy, and it didn’t stop there.

Missy kept trying to contact me over the next year and I ignored her. Eventually, I talked to her on the phone some time in 2008 and she came clean about everything. She didn’t have brain cancer, (obviously) but she told me she had some “form of cancer” which I think in itself was still a lie, but at this point who really cared?  She told me she had a boyfriend/fiancee the whole time she was living in L.A. while sleeping with me, and that she made up this story of brain cancer and having to go away because she just couldn’t bear to tell me the truth.

Now, I don’t know what causes this kind of thought process, but it seems to me it would have been a lot easier to just tell me you had a boyfriend in the Marines who asked you to marry him, instead of cheating on him with me, lying to HIM about it, then lying to ME and everyone else we worked with by fabricating some ridiculous story about brain cancer and China and having to go away for months. In fact, you probably could have just told me the truth and lied to your boyfriend and no one would be any the wiser.

The last time I saw Missy was in 2009. We met at the Roost in Los Feliz, and she looked different to me, but maybe that’s because I was seeing things for how they really were, or maybe I was still angry and upset with her for what she did to me. I’m not anymore. She has apologized many, many times and I have forgiven her for what she did. I’m not saying it was ok, but if you hold on to anger and resentment in life, you end up making yourself sick in the head.

I know why I had to go through all of that. I was in a really bad place when I met her, and my short lived love for her and the belief that I’d be able to see her again someday was the only thing that got me through that time in my life. I wouldn’t want to go through it again, but I understand the life lesson.

Missy recently got divorced. This past summer she contacted me and every now and then we would talk or text. A few months ago I got a text from her saying she would be in L.A. for the night and she wanted to see me.

“I’ll call you after my meeting” she said

I never heard from her again. Maybe the meeting got moved to Albuquerque, or maybe the plane got hijacked or maybe she never landed in Los Angeles at all. I don’t know, but I don’t need an explanation any more about any of it. I’m done with that chapter of my life.

However if I know Missy, I’m sure there is some crazy story to go with it.

You send your lover off to China, and you wait for her to call.

You put your girl up on a pedestal, and you wait for her to fall. -CC

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Maybe Love Will Come Around If….

I haven’t had a girlfriend since 2009. That equates to six years of being single and six years of Holidays and Valentines that have been spent either drunk, alone, or with other friends who also share the same relationship status as me. I have to say, as much as I’ve appreciated saving a little extra money by not having to buy someone a gift around these times, those 8 to 9 days a year are some of the loneliest and depressing nights I have to endure and one of the major reasons why I don’t look forward to the holiday season which in a few short weeks will be upon us in full swing.

In the past few months I have come to the realization that I may be flawed, but I know I’m a good person and I know I would make a good boyfriend. The problem is finding that girl who can compliment me and at the same time who doesn’t take away too much focus from my work and my writing. I like the idea of love. Ok, I love the idea of love, but I also know just saying that out loud doesn’t create an opportunity for love to come around. So what does?

I’m picky. I prefer a certain type of girl and I prefer a certain look to that certain type. It’s never been easy for me to find someone to love. It’s not like anything else in life that I desire and I could just go out and get. I don’t even know where to start.

I tried the online dating sites and what I have ascertained from them is that computer dating takes the fun and soul out of the idea of dating. There may be a connection, but that connection fades when I’m not online.  I already have the odds stacked against me because I live in Los Angeles and there are about 1000 better looking guys than me out here.

Ok maybe that’s too harsh…maybe there are less than 1000 better looking guys, but the point is my personality isn’t going to shine through via a two dimensional screen with pictures of myself and some witty words that girls rarely seem to even care to read. I’ll admit it. I look at the pictures and then I decide if I want to read her profile, if she even took the time to make one. I know that finding love on the internet has been done before, and done before by me, but I got to be honest, there is something unromantic about swiping left or hitting the “fave” button and paying $45.00 for three months to get rejected and flaked on by some girl in some town who thinks there is someone better coming around the corner.

Maybe love will come around if I had the perfect online profile? Probably not.

Timing is the one factor that I can’t control. Perhaps the girl I really enjoy talking to and would like to start dating, just started dating someone SHE really enjoys talking to and has now put on her horse blinders and can see me only as a guy to put in her bullpen. If you don’t know what I mean by that reference, then I suggest you watch a baseball game.  

If you still don’t get it, you probably haven’t been single in a long time, so I suggest you go back to your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend and figure out where you two are going to go on date night this week.

Regardless, “I wish I had met you a few weeks earlier” has been said to me a couple times. “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” has also been said to me. So in essence, I could have found the girl I wanted back in June, the last time I got laid, and it could have been the perfect time for me, but NOT the perfect time for her.

So, what do I do then? Oh right, I stop seeing her completely and I go on a four month span of depression, not dating, and feeling like nothing is worth my time, and then I end up writing about her in a blog titled “The Flight Attendant.”

I started thinking maybe love will come around, but she never gave me the chance. Maybe love will come around if the timing is right? Well that just sucks. The timing is never right for love, is it?

The other day I was hanging out with my best friend who recently started dating someone and is now in a full blown relationship. I mentioned to her that I would like to have a girlfriend and the first seven words out of her mouth were “I didn’t know you wanted a girlfriend.” Sure I do. I’ve always wanted someone to love, but I want the right girlfriend, or the right someone to love. Do I need to declare that fact and make it known to the world by putting out a status update on Facebook stating that I am now accepting applications for the role of “Girlfriend.”

GIRLFRIEND: (27-35 Caucasian/Latin/Ethnically Ambiguous) 5’3’’-5’7’’ dark hair, light eyes, big features, not too much drama, but preferably a hot mess that doesn’t really have it all together, but strives to want to get it all together at some point and between the two of us maybe we can figure out a way to compliment each other’s messiness.

I’ll admit it, I’m a hot mess right now. I probably will be one for the remainder of my life, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try and hide the fact that I don’t have it all together in a town full of women and men who are in the same position as me. Enough of my life is in sync now that I feel like I have something to give to that special someone who hopefully feels the same way about me. I don’t mind if it happens really fast, but I don’t want it to take over my life and deter me from my goals. I want her to be cool, and quirky, but not Kristen Wiig quirky, more like sexy quirky as in Angelina Jolie in the movie “Hackers.”

I want her to be crazy enough to get on a flight to Vegas with me on a Monday, but down to Earth enough to know that we have to be back by Wednesday cause I have work. I want her to be so many things, but part of the thrill of being in a new relationship (as I remember it) is finding out what makes the other person tick, so I still want an element of surprise to go along with these other desires.

I want her to be able to deal with what goes on inside my brain, and be attracted to me on the inside as well as on the outside. How do I manifest all these things? How do I draw love to me in a way that once it’s here it won’t make me step back and go “Whoa, I’m not ready for this”  because that’s the opposite of what I am putting out into the world, and I’m NOT going to be one those people who gets what they want, then changes their mind about what they want and how it came about.

Truth is, I do want love in my life and I do want there to be someone special for me to have adventures with but how do I know if it’s the right time and the right place for the right girl to come into my life? When I say that I’m a true believer in love because it’s the most powerful emotion on the planet, I mean that. It scares me, but deep down inside I know….

Maybe Love will come around if… I want it enough.

I think I can live with that logic

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An Open Letter to WordPress

I started this blog about 6 months ago as a way to write about my friends’ weddings and then post them on Facebook for all of them to read. I posted about 8 or 9 blogs over the course of three months, got some positive and some negative reactions, was praised for my work, and condemned for it at the same time. I gained some friends, and lost some old ones. Then I took a break for awhile.

When I returned from my sabbatical, I started blogging about personal issues, things I was currently going through or I had went through, and stuff that I wouldn’t even admit to some of my friends in real life. Then something strange started to happen….people on WordPress started to follow my blog. Then came the likes, and the comments and then I started thinking, maybe this is what I should be doing with my life.

I had been searching for something like this for a long time. What’s the word…. oh yeah, “recognition.”

I’ll admit it, I like it when people “like” my posts and I appreciate each comment and I do my best to comment back and to check out other people’s blogs. I’ve gotten to the point now that I feel compelled to write every week, because I know people are reading and part of that knowing keeps me going.

Is it a self fulfilling prophecy? Probably, but I’m not an ego-maniac, I just like to know that I’m not the only one who has had a shitty day, or a broken heart and I know now I’m not the only one who writes about it.

Recently I was nominated for “Performance of the Year” by ThePublicBlogger.com. I’ll save you the drama, I didn’t win. I didn’t even make it past the first round of voting because A. I didn’t know it came down to a public vote & B. I was asleep for 85% of the time the voting polls were open.

I worked every day last week until about 2 or 3 in the morning. Yesterday on my day off I took a xanax at 9pm after eating half a pepperoni pizza, and woke up a little before noon today. It felt fucking great to sleep, but it felt kind of like shit to wake up to 25 Facebook notifications basically saying that I wouldn’t be making it to the next round and that I was now a “falling star.” I just grabbed my coffee, deleted all those posts and said “Fuck that shit.” Winning anything doesn’t really matter to me anyway. It’s not why I do this.

The internet is weird. People on Twitter are passive aggressive assholes you don’t know, and people on Facebook are your old friends that post pictures that make you think their lives are perfect, when they’re really not. The poker sites are rigged, the sports blogs are biased, and there is so much celebrity bullshit going around, with  no way to prove any of it, but who fucking cares anyway?

Then there is WordPress, where people actually seem to care. For real. They read what I write and they sympathize, or they laugh out loud, or they just make me feel like someone is listening and basically, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

So thank you for following me, and thank you for commenting on my posts. Thank you for the nomination, and thank you for paying attention to the one thing in my life that I feel I have absolute control over, and believe me, that level of confidence doesn’t come around very often for me.

I don’t know what happens from here. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, or where I’m going to end up, but I know I’ll keep writing about it and I know you’ll be here to keep reading about it. Thanks for that.

Love & Regards,

Christian Marc

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The Girl From California

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I met Kathryn in a chat room during the fall of 1994, some 21 years ago. We couldn’t text each other, because that technology didn’t exist. We couldn’t send each other a snapchat, cause that app hadn’t been invented yet. All we had was a 14400 bps dial up modem, a keyboard, a computer screen, 3000 miles in between us, and a little internet service we used called Prodigy.

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I was 18 years old, I just finished graduating from high school, but I didn’t immediately go to college. I decided to stay at home for a year and explore my options. One of those options was sitting in my Mom’s basement at night and going on-line and talking to people from all over the country. When I started talking to Kathryn, I never knew it would take me all the way to Southern California, but it certainly did just that.

After a few weeks of chatting online, we mailed each other pictures of ourselves. One day I opened up a letter with the postmark from La Jolla and I saw for the first time what this girl I had been talking to for weeks actually looked like. I was stunned. She was gorgeous. She was so much not what I thought a southern California girl would look like, which was blonde hair and a surfer vibe.  She looked so much better. She had light eyes, and dark flowing black hair and she had an edge to her that manifested in every other girl I have been drawn to. She was the mold that created the standard of the type of girl I am attracted to. Mysterious, dark, and edgy. When I looked at the pictures of her for the first time, I knew I had to meet her.

Financially, I was well off back then and I was a good embellisher, therefore I could afford to tell my Mom and my friends that I was planning a trip to California to “look at colleges” when in reality, I was flying there to meet her. I hadn’t been to Cali since the summer of 1987 with my family, but I figured I could make my way around with a keen sense of direction, and a little help from strangers. I boarded a plane at Philadelphia International Airport that was headed for San Francisco, and I never looked back.

I spent the first two days in San Fran walking around the city, pretending to be someone famous while eating at the Hard Rock Cafe, and bumming a ride off of a 56 year old man who I sat next to on the plane ride out. I had never been this far away from home by myself, and I was loving every minute of it.

After a few days of hanging out and not checking out a single college in the Bay Area, I flew down to Los Angeles where I stayed in a motel in Burbank where the Americana shopping center now is. I took a cab to USC, and walked around the campus, but I couldn’t get very far because I wasn’t a student there, so I grabbed some pamphlets, and I had the cab driver take me down Hollywood boulevard to see the stars’ hand prints in the cement on the sidewalk that I live half from a block from now.

It was all kind of surreal for me. I was 18, all by myself in the third largest state in the nation and even though I looked at UCLA later that afternoon, I knew I didn’t have the grades to get into ANY of these schools at all. I didn’t really have a game plan as to what I was supposed to do, or what I was going to do once I got to San Diego where Kathryn lived, but when my flight left LAX for the short trip south, I felt this sudden rush of nervousness mixed with complete and total confidence.

I arrived in San Diego, and I had rented a car from a place that allowed 18 year olds to rent cars back then. I don’t know how that worked exactly, but for a few hundred dollars I jumped into a black Chrysler LeBaron convertible, and I found my way to La Jolla where I checked into my hotel room at the Holiday Inn.

I called Kathryn around 4pm and she answered and was really excited to hear from me. I told her I was in La Jolla and she told me that she had school tomorrow, but she couldn’t wait to see me. We devised a plan where I would show up at her high school the next morning (yes, she was in high school at the time) and she would sneak out during 2nd period and we could go anywhere as long as she was back by noon. I was going to meet her later that night at her parents house for dinner, but a secret rendezvous in the middle of the day where we would have some unadulterated time together was exactly what teenage boys and girls dream of doing if the situation ever arises, and that’s exactly what we did.

The next morning, I woke up bright and early, had some breakfast, and drove a few miles to Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, and I waited. About five minutes later, I see her. She’s a tall, attractive brunette wearing a jean jacket and she makes her way down the quad, onto the sidewalk, and into my convertible which was parked on a street right outside her school. It was the first time we had seen each other in person. I was enamoured at her smile, stunned that our plan was working, and overjoyed that we had the next few hours to ourselves. We took off and headed back to La Jolla via the I-5 freeway.

Some asshole cut me off at some point on the ride back to the hotel and I gave him the finger out the window.

What are you doing? Don’t flip people off out here, they’ll shoot you.” Kathryn said to me as I changed lanes.

Apparently, it was true. A few months back someone was shot and killed on the freeway in California for doing exactly what I just did, giving someone the finger for doing something stupid while they were driving. Regardless, I kept my fingers to myself, turned off the freeway, and made our way back to my hotel room, which was the only place we could go to be alone.

We had talked about this a few weeks back. There was the obligatory sex conversation that occurred over the phone and in the private chat room we used to go to…….then back at the hotel room, the obligatory sex happened, for a full three seconds.

I wasn’t very good in bed that day, I realize this but it didn’t seem to matter. Kathryn was in high school, and I had just graduated, and neither one of us had a lot of sex beforehand to compare it to. Looking back now, I think the whole idea of this trip centered around the mystique of the two of us meeting each other in person, and not so much what happened when we met.

We put our clothes back on, talked for a little while, and then I dropped Kathryn back off at school, which DOES seem kind of weird now that I’m in my 30s and writing this. Still, I was going to see her later that night but I had some time to kill before dinner. So I did what anybody visiting Southern California would do in late 1994 when they had a few hours to kill would do. I drove to Mexico.

It was pretty easy getting across the border back then, it was slightly more difficult to get back, but still pretty easy. I remember driving into Tijuana, looking around at how impoverished the city was, and remarking at how every little Mexican person was trying to sell me a knock off Mighty Morphin Power Rangers doll. I wanted no part of it, because I hated the Power Rangers. They were campy, and I wasn’t into campy at that time. I was into flying across the country, lying to my Mom about my intentions, and aiding in the corruption of a sophomore in high school by coercing her to cut class and meet me for “lunch.”

As I made my way back to the United States, I gave a dollar to a little Mexican kid who cleaned my windshield, but in reality totally made it streaky and unable to see out of for the next 45 miles back to La Jolla. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any washer fluid in the car, but luckily, I had a convertible so I stuck my head out the side of the window and drove back to my hotel.

That night around 5pm I headed over to Kathryn’s house for dinner. She lived in a gated community somewhere on a hill in La Jolla. I drove up to the gate, hit a few buttons and made my way into the world of the white, rich and privileged.

I met her parents who were sweet enough to buy us some Chinese food for dinner, and then Kathryn and I went to the movies to see this new film every one was talking about called “Pulp Fiction.” I bought the tickets for me who was of legal age to see the movie and I handed one ticket off to Kathryn, who was NOT of legal age to see the movie. I was definitely racking up the unethical acts with her that day, but it didn’t seem to matter to either of us. I had to have her home by 10pm, which I did abide by. We went upstairs in her room and took a few pictures of me pretending to choke her which I now realize was a very strange thing to do, I know, but then we also took one of us making out while her cat laid on her bed in the background.  I stared into her eyes, and I ran my fingers through her hair, and I hoped and prayed that this wasn’t going to be the only time in my life that I would see her face to face.

KCI was leaving the next morning, headed back to NJ because as much as I loved being in California for a week, it costs a lot of money to stay in a hotel and rent a car. I said goodbye to Kathyrn that night, and we promised each other we would keep in touch and maybe, hopefully, I would find a college out there I wanted to go to. After all, she still had two years of high school, and I still had plenty of time to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

When I got back home, we talked almost every day online and we chatted on the phone twice a week. It was going really well, I mean as well as a 3000 mile long distance relationship could go. We talked about me moving out to California at some point, and we were planning to see each other again in a few months when the summer started and she would be out of school.

About a week or so later I logged on to Prodigy to talk to her, but I couldn’t find her anywhere. People didn’t have e-mails back then, so all I could do was wait and see if she showed up in one of the chat rooms. A couple days after not seeing her online, I tried calling her and left a message. Then I tried calling her again, and left another message. I never got a phone call back. I didn’t know what to think.

I knew something must have happened, but I didn’t know what. Did she get a boyfriend? Did she change her phone number and not tell me? Did she move out of the country for legal reasons? We did break a lot of rules when I went out and saw her, but I don’t think we did anything unconstitutional that could have resulted in her being legally banned from talking to me.  A week later, I got a letter from her in the mail.

I read the letter three times before I totally could comprehend what it said. As it turns out, Kathryn and her Mom went to the doctor for her yearly check up a week before. At the appointment, the doctor asked her if she had been sexually active in the last few months, and Kathryn just couldn’t lie. She told the doctor about the sex we had, and she told the doctor right in front of her mother who was absolutely livid…. at both of us.

Her parents took away her computer, told her to cut off all contact with me, and she was never allowed to talk to me again. In a way, I understood that, being that we undermined their trust and also the fact that she cut school, I took to an R-rated movie, and I was a little bit older than her and they probably saw me as a threat and as a bad influence on their teenage daughter.

I wrote a letter to her parents shortly thereafter and I apologized for what had happened and I begged them to let me talk to her again, but I never got a response back. In fact, I haven’t heard from Kathryn since that letter arrived at my house in the Spring of 1995.

I was depressed for a little bit. I really liked this girl, and not only was she beautiful and cool and witty, but she represented something bigger to me than just a girl from California that I met on the internet. She represented hope. She was a belief that maybe I could get out of NJ once and for all. Being that this was the mid 90s and meeting people off the internet wasn’t a popular or safe thing to do, it felt right and it made me feel like there was something special between us because I’ve always wondered about her and here I am writing a blog about her 21 years later.

There is a part of me that knows I didn’t do anything wrong, even though I knew some of what I did WAS wrong in the eyes of a parent. I really cared for her, and I took a chance and went for it. I wasn’t a scumbag or a kiddie corruptor, I was 18 years old, my heart was on my sleeve, and there I was sitting in the basement of my townhouse spending night after night becoming infatuated with the idea of love and how it brought me all the way from Marlton, NJ to Southern California. There is a part of me that forgives myself for being such a weirdo creep to her parents, and there is a part of me that still thinks about her as I write this from my one bedroom apartment 80 miles from where I picked her up that Wednesday afternoon in November of 1994.

My memory is pretty good, but 21 ago years is a long time to recall without the details becoming too cloudy. I remember she was the first girl I met off the internet, but she wouldn’t be the last. I remember how much fun we had for those few hours we were together, and I remember the weeks and months leading up to us meeting in person when I had so much confidence and never let a doubt creep into my mind about anything. But most of all, I remember that moment when I was able to combine the words she wrote me and the voice I heard on the phone to a picture she sent me that I stared at for hours. The first time I saw this picture, I couldn’t get a word out. I was speechless. Dark hair, light eyes, incredibly beautiful and edgy as fuck.  It’s no wonder that every girl I’ve fallen for since then has looked somewhat if not at least a little like Kathryn did.

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I wonder where she is today. 

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Rainchecker

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This one was about my ex-girlfriend who had broken up with me in a crowded restaurant in November of 2004.  I contacted her a few months later to try and be friends.  She was kind of a bitch on the phone and made me feel like an idiot.  I wrote this blog right after we hung up.

(Originally posted February 5th, 2005)

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Imagine that you had taken 2 months to finally forgive someone, and that within that time you had little or no contact with them at all.  Now imagine that you start to feel like you want to reconnect with them and you feel this in your soul and in your heart of hearts. You feel this way because you know you are happy with your station in life and you know because you’ve never felt better than right now. You know because life has been good to you lately and has brought you special people and wonderful things that you couldn’t have imagined were possible to show up at the right time.

Imagine that it had taken you so long to finally feel free enough to open up the door and let someone familiar into your soul again. Now imagine that you call them and tell them all of this and they think it’s too soon to reconnect. Imagine that they think you feel like you haven’t healed and that you’re still pining for them in your little apartment in Hollywood. Imagine that they condescend you and treat you “as if” you’re a lost soul with so much tremendous heartache still left in your chest that they think it’s best to take a raincheck on your genuine offer to reconnect as friends.

Imagine you truly know without a doubt that everything they think isn’t true because you know yourself so well….and in reality you’re very much over them and insulted that they would try and protect you from yourself.

I don’t take rain checks on feelings. I don’t push away and pull people towards me only to end up pushing them away again through a parade of e-mails where I say “I love you, and I probably always will.” Probably? What kind of person writes something like that after saying I think it’s too soon for you to see me. It sounds like nonsense. It sounds like bullshit, and it sounds like there won’t be another opportunity for this to ever see the light of day.

This was my closure. This is the way i chose to finally end it.

I know I’ll see her again someday…..probably

The Roommate

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I met Racquel in the summer of 2000. She was hired as a server at the Olive Garden in Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle Washington when she was 17, then in August she turned 18. Three weeks earlier, I had been hired as a server at the same Olive Garden after I turned down a job at Claim Jumper in Redmond. I knew Claim Jumper was a better restaurant, but the OG was closer to the place I was living, and I kind of felt like I needed to be there at that time in my life because A. I didn’t have a car, and B. I knew nothing about a la carte restaurants.  Was it fate that I was meant to meet her? Yeah, I think it was. I remember the first time I saw her like it was yesterday.

There was a group of new servers in training that week, and Racquel was one of them. She had shoulder length black hair, striking green eyes, and she walked with a gait that commanded your immediate interest and  attention. I opened the two-way door to the kitchen and I watched her pick up a tray of food and carry it out past me into the dining room. I don’t know if anyone else took notice of her as quickly as I did, but hey, 15 years have gone by since the night I watched her wait tables in high heels and couldn’t wrap my head around that fact.  It seemed so odd to torture yourself while you’re constantly walking at work, but maybe she didn’t care. Maybe they made her more comfortable. It was her style and I liked that about her immediately.  She had grace and easily glided through the dining room while wearing  stilettos and serving soup, salad and breadsticks. Thought it was kind of cool.

I didn’t immediately talk to Racquel, but over the next few months we became  friends and I would see her from time to time during my shifts. It was right around  Christmas of 2000 when our paths would finally cross in a way that I think was a bit serendipitous. I was sleeping on a couch in the living room of a friend’s house in Edmonds, but obviously, I was looking for a way out. One night at work, Racquel must have overheard me complaining about my living situation and came up to me with an idea.

“You need a place to live?” She asked.

“Yeah, actually I do. You know of one?” I replied.

“I have a two bedroom and my roommate just moved out. She was crazy.” Racquel said with a laugh.

Now, I knew what the next thing she was going to say was, so I gave it a full four seconds of thought  before I decided that I’d love to move in with her. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think in that moment that a part of me wants to fall in love with her too.  I kept that latter part a secret for a little bit.   Eventually, both of those things DID happen, but let’s take it easy for now and just move in with her.

“You can come live with me if you want.” She said.

“Yeah?” I asked.

Yeah.” She said. “We’d be roommates.”

And that’s how the relationship, or “un” relationship began. First off, nothing about my friendship with Racquel was traditional in any way, shape or form. I had no idea what to expect as I had never roomed with a very attractive 18 year old girl before. I mean aside from the obvious, the two of us living together would make for a funny sitcom idea.  I knew that this was the right move because the way it worked out was effortless. When things are meant to be in my life, they happen very easily for me.  I slipped into this new fangled living situation with Racquel like putting on one of my favorite well fitting soft cotton t-shirts I’ve had for five years. It was there when I needed it, and I felt comfortable around her from the start. A few days after New Years I moved into N301 at Tamaron Ranch Apartments, Lynnwood Washington, 98087

Things were relatively normal when I moved in.  We got along fine and yeah, at times I walked in on her in the shower, and she would exercise in the living room and I swore there were some situations that might have created a little sexual tension, but Racquel was dating  someone else we worked with, and I was pining after a blonde haired server named Jill that week. Yet at the same time, I really couldn’t ignore that I was kind of catching feelings for her. She was really sweet, and we got along great plus, she was funny and understood me and did I mention that she is fucking gorgeous?

I remember the night I knew I had fallen in love with her. Our co-worker’s were having a party.  Not a real party, just one of those “let’s go back to our place to drink and smoke pot after work like they do in the movie “Waiting” type of parties.  Racquel noticed this bracelet I had been wearing on my wrist for the past year. She looked at it, asked what it meant to me, and I told her. I told her about my ex from Jersey, and I told her I felt like it needed to be on my wrist to remind me of the past and what I had gone through the last year which included my heart being broken by my ex-girlfriend AND my ex-guy friend, and uprooting myself to move to a city which I had never been to before in my entire life.  Speaking of that Jersey girl, I had to change people’s names to put them in the blog, but the truth is, in reality, I did find it kind of strange that the one girl I meet and fall in love with in Seattle would have had almost the exact same name as my ex girlfriend if you changed the first letter. Plus, she was also born a Leo like my ex, and like less than a week apart.  To answer you question, apparently I have a type,  but NO, I never called Racquel by ANY OTHER name than Racquel.

Regardless, before I even finished my story, and without giving it a second thought, Racquel reached down, and in the most carefee way, took off my bracelet for the first time in over a year.

“I’m breaking you of your past, or what’s left of it.”  She said in a very omnipotent tone.

Wow, I hadn’t taken that bracelet off in a long time. I don’t remember if my ex gave it to me, or if I bought it when I was with her, but  I kind I felt like a divorced man who didn’t want to admit his marriage is over and still wears his wedding ring, only instead of a ring I had a leather thing around my wrist.  Come to think of it, it might not even had been leather. Whatever it was made of, I chose Racquel to be the reason why what happened in the past didn’t really matter anymore. She just sat on my lap, said some encouraging words, and unclasped the bracelet like it was no big deal. In a way it wasn’t, but in another way, it was symbolic. I had a new life now and I needed to start living in the present and not think about who or what had happened in the past.

Racquel and I had a lot of fun the first few weeks we lived together. We bonded over coffee and Denny’s, I made fun of her for still having her baby blanket in the house, and she poked fun at my Jersey accent by butchering what most people think a New Jersey accent sounds like.  To Racquel, she thought it sounded like Barbara Walters saying the phrase “purple turkeys”  but pronouncing it like “poyple toik-ees, or a real thick Jewish/New York accent. Of course I had to inform her  that no one from Jersey talks like that. She made me sushi for the first time ever and she introduced me to Thai food. I tried to sell her on my new founded positive attitude and how someone getting me a journal for my 24th birthday last year really helped me to get in touch with my feelings and I haven’t stopped writing since.  We smoked pot together which was cool because my ex hated that I did it. We went to Target on multiple occasions to buy things for the apartment that we both knew we didn’t need, she read my journal even though I had never let anyone read it before her, and we talked about our past, our present, and how bright we wanted our future to be. We were like best friends. It was a perfect union of a male and a female coming together to live and work in a non-realtionship friendship where we shared some common interests and the  right amount of sexual tension.  It all made perfect sense,  until the night we drank a bottle of wine together.

I wasn’t a big drinker at all, meaning I had the lowest tolerance for alcohol that a 25 year old could have. So one night after work, Racquel brought home a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco. You remember that stuff, right? It was like carbonated grape juice, but with a high alcohol content. Of course, in my case ANY alcohol content was a high alcohol content. Regardless, that night we drank, we made out, and then we ended up in my bed where something happened that complicated everything else.

I remember waking up in the morning and putting my arms around her, falling back asleep, then waking up an hour later, alone in my bed. I didn’t know where she went. Did she leave town? Did she freak out? I mean she just had sex with her 25 year old roommate who she also works with almost every day so there was probably a lot of thoughts running around in her head right? I remembered wanting her to be there when I woke up because it had been so long since I slept in the same bed as a girl.

Now I definitely was falling for her, and I kept thinking to myself, how am I going to play this cool? How am I going to live, work and be with someone I think I’m in love with without scaring her away or sacrificing the obvious fact that I am her roommate How do I come on not too strong at this point?  I mean, we might have been a little tipsy that night, but do people really sleep with their roommates if they aren’t the least bit interested in them? Like, how the fuck do I “take it slow” from this point?

I knew what I wanted after that night. I wanted her. I wanted to be in a relationship with Racquel.  It just made sense to me. I didn’t know how it was going to happen and I didn’t know if it was meant to happen, but I wanted it to happen. Thing is though, her actions  the next few days were making me believe it was NOT something she wanted, at least, not right now.

Over the next few days I tried to get back to doing what I did best at that time in my life, which was working 5 to 10:30pm, then dropping ecstasy and going to raves at NAF Studios with my friends in downtown Seattle to dance and drink water until 4 in the morning. I would see Racquel almost every day, at least every day that she was at the apartment, but she was kind of a part time roommate at this point. I know on some level, that kind of upset me. Thing is, I didn’t have any reason to be upset. It’s not like we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and it wasn’t like we were even dating. We were roommates who slept together one time, and even though I know she cared about me, she was 18 years old, emancipated herself from her parents a few years back, had gotten out of a three year relationship where she was engaged less than a year ago, and I think it might have freaked her out that she was now living with a guy who she had sex with after less than one month of living together. I don’t think she wanted to be in a committed relationship.

Thing is, I had gotten out of a one that ended quite traumatically less than a year ago, as did she, and I guess  the whole time I just followed my heart (which was probably located on my sleeve) and I thought it would  be nice to be with somebody again and not feel shitty  and lonely.  But if you know me, you know I can count the relationships I’ve had since 2000 on one finger, maybe two.  We talked about all of this one night and she told me, we can’t live together, work together and be together. She made a good point, and I agreed with her.  So I quit the Olive Garden, the next week. Thing is though, before my two weeks were up, I got fired for using a $5.00 coupon, and pocketing the cash.

Now here I was 25 years old without a job and living in an apartment with a girl who I was in love with, but who I wasn’t in a relationship with, who may have loved me back, but not in the way that I wanted her to. It was a tough situation to be in.  I went back and forth in my own mind thinking that I was a failure because this is so close to the same thing that happened less than two years ago when I dated “Melissa.” I wanted things to be different this time. I wanted to make a comeback and not let life drag me down like it did before. I had to do something bigger than wait tables at an American Italian restaurant.

I remembered couple I waited on at the OG a few days before I got fired. They had been sitting at a table for about five minutes and no one had come up to them to take their order. So in a totally uncharacteristic move, I offered to pick them up.  It’s not like I didn’t like them or anything, it’s just when a guest waits 10 minutes without even a  drink order being taken, they are obviously not happy to begin with, and may turn into a problem table, but I said fuck it, I’m charm them and make them forget about what happened, and probably buy them a dessert for being patient.

Turns out, they owned a bar Mountlake Terrace about a mile down the road called Sharkey’s  Pub. I had just put my two weeks in, so I asked if they were looking for a bartender, and their response was, we might be. As it also turns out, I wanted to be a bartender more than a server but aside from a two week class in Jersey back in 1999 and two nights working at the Olde City Tavern in Philly before I got let go, I had no experience. Of course, when I went to Sharkey’s Pub a couple weeks after I waited on Wayne and Dawn, I didn’t tell them that. I bullshitted them…told them I have been tending bar for three years in Philly. They hired me on the spot and I went from living in financial purgatory  to living in a small, yet upscale room in the  lap of luxury.

That job was a God send. It was everything I ever wanted from a bar job, if that could be a thing to live for. I started working a couple nights a week, and I was balancing it out with a part time job at the Red Lobster, which ironically was located directly across the street from the Olive Garden where I was now an ex-employee..  It only took about a month before I was working only at Sharkey’s and no days at the Red Lobster. I didn’t need to. I was making a shit ton of money, and I was able  pay for things like I had never done before, and buy a car which I hadn’t had since I moved there. I would make my rent in two nights. The bar had these things called pull-tab games and I would get tipped every time the regulars won cash prizes.  There was something about me that was lucky because the bar never gave away so much money before I started there. One night I made over $400, which at the time was the single most amount of money I had ever made in one day.

Racquel used to come in and sit at the end of the bar and watch me work as she sipped a Sex on the Beach I made for her. Yeah, I know she wasn’t 21, but who the fuck was going to say anything about it? I ran that place and they loved me there.  All the regulars knew me by name and one of them nicknamed me “Hollywood” because one night I came in wearing a hundred dollar pair of shiny grey pants and a button down shirt that looked like I just got out of the club. . Life was looking really good for awhile, and then something tragic happened, followed by something euphoric.

Back at home, things between Racquel and I were just ok. She was the first person I had slept with since my ex that I truly cared for.  Don’t get wrong, I had plenty of opportunities in Seattle, and I was vocal about the idea that I wanted things to work between us, but she kept her emotional distance.  I couldn’t blame her. She had a lot of things going on in her life at that time and I didn’t want to make it more dramatic or difficult for her. Even now, 14 years later as I re-read some of my journal entries from April of 2001, they’re very cryptic, but I could tell that something just wasn’t vibing between us. Maybe it was the drama of her life, maybe it was the drama at home? I didn’t know what was holding this up because I thought that if she could just let go of the pain that was dragging her down maybe something better was in store for her. I thought maybe I was put in her life to help her remember the good times, the times when nothing else mattered but the moment we were living in.  I did for her, what I thought was the best thing to move us past this awkward phase and help her forget about her problems for a little bit, and maybe even put a smile on her face. On a damp night in early April of 2001, I introduced Racquel to a little pill called ecstasy.

Now look, before you go ahead and judge me, remember that this was 14 years ago, and that’s what kids did back then to chill out. A lot of people where taking X, but it was still relatively new on the scene.  I mean ephedra was totally legal at the time and I could get it as a shot in my coffee at Java Jitters. Me and my friends took pills, talked about our lives, smoked pot and mellowed out. That’s just what we did. I will never feel bad for taking ecstasy. It’s not like blowing a line of coke up your nose, and it’s not like jamming a needle full of heroin into your veins. It’s like taking a breath, and realizing how great it is to breathe. It’s like taking a sip of water and being amazed at how you’ve taken liquids for granted your whole life.   It’s like listening to a song you’ve heard 99 times before, but hearing something new in it the 100th time you listen to it.

For me and Racquel, doing X wasn’t necessarily about getting high and escaping life, it was about a different perspective and it was about looking at the world in a new way, and it was about seeing things for what they are, by seeing them for what they are not. It was about being happy and me putting on sunglasses and my favorite pants, and her putting on a feather boa and a red dinner dress and the two of us dancing around the apartment to EDM back when it was still called “Techno.” It was about healing ourselves from the past by breaking down the barriers in the present that kept us from knowing who we really could be in the future. We had a great time. We would babble on and on to each other about our beliefs and about life, and we would take tons of pictures with a film camera and then wait two weeks to see how totally awful they were when the film actually got developed. Some of them turned out really well, but for the most part, we just let go of our inhibitions and we opened ourselves up to the possibilities that maybe life wasn’t so bad after all.

I’ll never feel guilty or ashamed for taking ecstasy in my life. EVER. It’s not for everyone. It actually helped me a year and half before when my ex and my best friend got together, so I thought maybe it would help Racquel to work through some of her issues. I thought maybe it would help us become closer as friends and possibly as a couple, even though deep down inside I knew that wanting something like that out of this situation was selfish, irrational and maybe setting myself up for disappointment, but I didn’t care. I had only really taken X with my friends when we went out to clubs. Rolling at home felt comfortable with her.  I actually started to enjoy it more than going out.

However , it wasn’t all happy pills and dress-up sessions during that time. Sure, we were having some chemically induced fun, but in between the nights we’d chill out, there would be days that would go by when I wouldn’t see her, and there would be nights when I came home and she would have a boy over. I didn’t know how to feel about that. I mean yeah, some times I was out gallivanting myself with other birds, but I never found anyone who I cared about more than her, and I never took any of them seriously. I just thought I was killing time until something better came along. To be honest, I thought I had it all figured out. I thought all I needed to do was convince her she would be happy with me, show her the way and she would walk next to me, hand in hand forever. But as I would find out that summer, the more doors I tried to open up for her, the less likely it became that she was going to walk through them.

I tried to help Racquel with her issues as much as she tried to help me with mine. Nobody talked to me and made me understand and feel better about things after the fact then the way she did.  I liked that about her, and I hoped I did the same for her. I guess I wasn’t prepared for a lost soul to enter the picture that summer, and rely on Racquel in a way that I just didn’t have to.  She had met this guy who was a little bit older than her but didn’t have it all figure out. I think she took him under her wing, so to speak.  I guess she tried to help him figure out his life problems, while I was trying to help her figure out hers.  I’ll admit, I was a little bit jealous of him.  I was jealous because he took her away from me. I was jealous because I knew the potential her and I had as a couple and when we stopped hanging out as much that summer, I felt like maybe she didn’t need me in her life anymore.

It was an up and down battle the next two months. One day I would wake up to her climbing into bed with me, then the next night I would come home to read an angry letter she wrote in my journal after we fought and I slammed the door to my bedroom in her face. The great thing about us, was that even if we got into an argument, we would talk about it the next day and we would apologize to each other and then we would agree that nothing else mattered except for the fact that we were “homies” who had slept together twice, and knew we were friends, but there was always some level of that push-pull thing going on between us.

It had been like that for awhile now. She’d pull me in, then push me away. I’d do something nice, then judge her for something ridiculous. It wasn’t a very healthy situation, and it started to take it’s toll on the both of us. My cushy job at the bar was the first casualty.

I don’t remember how it happened, but one night six days after Racquel turned 19, I was accused of letting another customer play in a reserved pull-tab bowl of another regular. I know this doesn’t make much sense if you’ve never heard of pull-tabs, but some of the games had prizes in the thousands of dollars, and when people put more than $100 worth of cash into a bowl, they are allowed to reserve it for only themselves. I might have let one of my best regulars play in a bowl that was reserved by a guy who was NOT my best regular, and my guy hit for $500. He tipped me $100 that night, and it would turn out to be the last time I pulled a winner at Sharkey’s Pub.  The regular complained, and my boss didn’t like that. I denied it, but he had it on video, and I was fired. I was fired from my $1000 a week bartending gig that I had talked my way into without any prior experience, and Racquel had quit her shitty job serving in Mukilteo a few days prior to that. Before we knew it, we were both broke, unemployed, and pretty soon thereafter everything else in my life started to fall apart.

The news made Racquel upset, and she wondered how I was going to pay my rent and the bills that were do. I freaked out at her because how could she quit HER job and then get mad at me for being fired. I wasn’t very good at saving the money I made back then, but I sure knew how to spend it. I mean, in addition to the fact that the past month had been a trying time for the two of us, what was going on or NOT going on with her and that guy coupled with me getting fired AGAIN was the icing on the proverbial shit cake that became my life at the time. I remember her not coming home for about four days in row, then one night, I was in Capitol Hill getting my tarot cards read. I got the Devil and the Tower card. Basically that meant something bad, and something tumultuous on the horizon. I was advised that something was about to happen and that it was going to get worse before it got better. Naturally, I came home to an empty apartment that afternoon, but I noticed it was slightly more empty than before. The towels in the bathroom were gone. Fuck me… that was it. Racquel was on her way out of that apartment, and out of my life.

I moved about 50 yards away into a one bedroom apartment in the same complex. I was reminded of her every day I lived there, mainly because I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and I was taking care of her cat, Wonkie who lived with me, PLUS I literally could see the apartment where Racquel and I used to live from my new bachelor pad balcony. I would notice boxes being taken out of that apartment as I sat and smoked my cigarette one afternoon. It sucked, but we made sure our friendship didn’t have to suffer. For me, it was lonely those next few weeks, but Racquel and I knew it was for the best… at least that’s what we kept telling ourselves.

The truth of the matter is that I had no job, I had never lived alone before, and I didn’t even have enough stuff to furnish the place. The living room remained empty for months. All I had was a bed, a table, and a TV with no cable hook-up. Racquel was living in Everett with that guy, and I would hear from her from time to time and we would talk on the phone about how maybe we both acted a little irrationally and how we missed each other and maybe we should have tried to work things out, but then again, wasn’t that what we had been trying to do the whole summer?

It was a dark time in my life. I wasn’t taking x because it started to react differently in my body and make me sick, plus I couldn’t fucking afford it. I had my first “heart attack” which actually just turned  out to be a panic attack because when I got to the Emergency Room and the nurse told me I would have to pay $500 just to be seen by a doctor, suddenly I wasn’t feeling like I was dying anymore.  Anxiety was getting the best of me and as I pounded the proverbial pavement for a job, I kept noticing how distraught and confused I felt when I would come home with no leads, no plan to make things better, and another empty apartment, with no one to talk to.

With the exception of a year and a half ago when Melissa broke up with me, this was perhaps the saddest time in my life, and in some strange way I felt like I had put myself in that position to make myself stronger. I wrote a lot during these four months and at times, I could tell I was slightly out of my element, started questioning everything, was totally unprepared for the day to day, and yeah, maybe I was bit delusional.  I took a job at a Blockbuster Video store, (remember those?), then I quit two weeks later for a job at a bar called the Getaway Tavern. It wasn’t anything like Sharkey’s, but it was something. I wrote, I worked, and I smoked a lot of pot as I tried to understand why the hell life kept repeating itself. Two years earlier I had been fired, lost the girl, and then started doing drugs to kill the pain. It’s like life was on replay, but this time I was 3000 miles away from home, and even if I wanted to go crawling back to Jersey to center myself, I couldn’t even afford to do that last part.

There were times when I doubted myself and couldn’t comprehend how I fucked it all up by not being able to appreciate how much I had accomplished the last year. There were times when i wouldn’t get out of bed until 11am because I had no where to be.  And of course, there  were times when my undiagnosed depression used to get the best of me as I broke down into tears one day thinking of my ex girlfriend from New Jersey and my ex roommate from Seattle while listening to track 6 off the new Jimmy Eat World album, Bleed American.

The winter was coming, and between the two of us, our situations weren’t getting much better. I was working, but I hated it. Racquel was living, but not the way she wanted to. Then one night, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Racquel, me, and a group of our friends attended “Freak Night” which is a Halloween themed rave in downtown Seattle. God I had a great fucking time that night. We were kind of broke, but somehow still able to make it memorable. Even though it was a last minute decision on her part, and I was already at the event, but then decided to drive all the way back to Everett to get her and bring her there, it was the right decision to make. I pinned leaves on my pants and wife beater and went as the season of “Fall.” Racquel dressed as a butterfly and somehow, even though we didn’t coordinate our color scheme or our outfits, we matched. That night was legendary. We danced, we had some extra curricular activities going on, we ran into some people we hadn’t seen in months, and our friend Vanessa was able to capture the night in one click of the shutter on her camera. I still look at this one picture every now and then, and all I can do is smile.

After that night, things started to feel a little bit more like we were headed in the right direction. Racquel would come over to my empty place and listen to new music that reminded us of each other and we would talk about how maybe we should give this living situation another shot. I know what you’re thinking…we had our issues in the past, but doesn’t time heal all wounds? The last three months were some of the most depressing and unfamiliar days of my life, so when I left Seattle for a week to go back to Jersey for the holidays I put an offer on the table. Her and I again, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath.

Jersey was quite an interesting experience. I looked like absolute shit since the last time my friends and family had seen me, but I’m sure it had everything to do with the depression, the anxiety, and the drugs I did leading up to the day I left. I recouped for a few days and found myself in a Tower Records store when my ex- girlfriend Melissa called me to come have dinner with her and her Mom. Now, I hadn’t seen or spoken to Melissa since I left New Jersey 7 months ago. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went to dinner anyway and then we kind of caught up with each other over the next few days and maybe SHE put something on the table I hadn’t heard in awhile. An apology.

She was sorry. She was sorry for what had happened, she was sorry for making me move all the way across the country, and she was sorry for breaking my heart. I appreciated all of that, and I still cared about her,  but in the back of my mind and on the Motorola Star-Tac phone in my ear, I was hearing from Racquel that she was ready to accept my offer.

“Two bedroom one bath, right?” She said.

“Yeah. Two bedroom, just like before.” I replied.

“Ok, but I want to be on the ground floor this time. I’m sick of the stairs.” She said.

“You got it.” I said.

With a new take on an old idea, I headed back to Seattle in January of 2002, and Racquel and I moved into an apartment right across the street from the first place I lived with her one year before. I had quit working at the Getaway Tavern before I left because I didn’t like it there, and I was working part-time at the Eddie Bauer call center, but that job suddenly disappeared when I got back to Seattle. Fuck, I was jobless again, but at least this time I had my girl back with me. At least, so I thought….

I guess in my mind I figured this move was something she wanted and it would be like old times again, except this time she would actually be there in the apartment instead of somewhere else. Within a week us moving in together, I started seeing things for how they really were, which was me coming home to a vacant apartment, yet again. I didn’t understand what the fuck was going on. I didn’t know why on earth things seemed to be going so well for us when we were apart, then the week we move back in with each other, everything was chaotic and dysfunctional. At least, that’s how I saw it in my mind. Life was stagnant and I felt destitute and it was not how I wanted to live.

One of the reasons I wanted to move back in with her was so that we’d have something stable during a time when everything else was an unknown. It seemed like nothing had changed since the last time we were together except for our address, and the fact that all of our stuff was in one place. Well, my stuff anyway. At this point, I knew that even though I cared about her and loved her, there was never going to be relationship in the traditional sense for us. Something happened in her life to make her bear the cross of the emotional weight of so many people, and I think it was too much for her to handle.

She was still dealing with that boy from Everett, and I guess that situation was more involved than I knew, or cared to hear about. I tried to help her as much as I could, but I felt like with every word I spoke I was walking on eggshells because I didn’t want to say anything that would push her away. In the past, I had been guilty of appearing  very prophetic and maybe even holier than thou, and I acted as if I knew everything and I think that bothered her. This time, I tried to let her know that I was there for her, but I wasn’t going to force my beliefs onto her anymore or make her feel judged for being who she was. I accepted her as my friend and mentor because the one thing I realized when we weren’t living together was that I truly missed her, and I had learned from her as much as she had learned from me.

I decided to go my own way. I went out and tried to make new friends and find things to do that didn’t involve smoking pot and getting into trouble. I looked to find any bartending or serving job, but nothing seemed to come my way. January is the worst month for finding jobs in the food service industry, so I guess I was climbing the proverbial uphill battle. I was still relatively unemployed with the exception of a call-center job I got setting up appointments for people who owned homes and wanted to have new windows installed. Yeah, tons of fun. When I worked there, they used to call me “Jersey.” Perhaps that was a bit of foreshadowing.

I would occasionally see Racquel in the apartment, and we would chat every now and then, but there was something off between us. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and it made me kind of sad. I didn’t know what I was doing there anymore. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew she wasn’t going to be able to give it to me. I stayed in contact with Melissa who was living in Philly, and she would write me letters and we would talk on the phone and sometime around the month of March when I had exhausted every single avenue in Seattle, and I had admitted to myself that I wasn’t happy anymore, and when I had woken up to realize that perhaps Racquel wasn’t the girl I made her out to be in my mind, I had no choice but to face the uncomfortable truth that maybe it was time to leave the Pacific Northwest.

On a Sunday in early March of 2002, I packed up my white Mitsubishi Eclipse and I drove East, heading back to the place I had left not two years ago. I made the trip back in about four days and the whole time I kept saying to my friends and family and kept thinking to myself “This is the right move.” Everyone was convinced of that idea, except for me. I moved in with Melissa and her roommate and I think it took about ten days before I regretted what I had done, wrote a fuck you entry to myself for uprooting what I had in Washington, but by then it was too late to go back.

I thought to myself…. I wish I had tried just a little harder, or I wish I had put up with it just a little bit longer.  Maybe I would have found the key to the castle in the sky. I don’t say this about any other time in my life, but in that instance, I couldn’t help but wonder… what if?  Were things as bad as I made them out to be, or was I just being heavily manipulated by my own desire for something more and a broken heart? It’s probably the latter, I know myself pretty well.

I saw Racquel one more time after I left Seattle. I drove up from Vegas which was where I was living and we spent the next few days together. It was great to see her, but it’s been almost 13 years since then. I do text and talk to her from time to time.  She tends bar in Seattle near Everett, just had a huge birthday party for her 33rd with a deejay last week, is looking to buy a house, and she had a son back in 2005 or 2006.  I think it’s great. All I ever wanted was for her to be happy and I’m really proud of her and who she has become. I could probably take a few lessons from her now. Maybe I’d have my shit figured out too.

Lately, I’ve seriously been debating on whether or not I should stay living here in L.A. I haven’t been happy here in awhile. Things haven’t worked out quite the way I have been working for them to work out.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about “peacing out” of this shallow place and heading north for deeper waters and a little more rain. I mean honestly, all I do is write, tend bar, and I occasionally get a phone call from a  friend who wants to put me in one of their web series.  I mean, that last part is fun, but it don’t pay the bills.  I can write and I can tend bar anywhere in the country. Why do I still do it here?

This was one of the hardest blogs for me to write because my time in Seattle is so near to my heart that I wanted these words to be perfect. I loved it there, and I loved my time with Racquel, and I feel like this is a story that needed to be told the right way.

In my opinion, Racquel and I were soulmates. Not like the single soulmate philosophy idea, the multiple one. I believe I have a handful of people I was meant to meet in my life, or will meet for some reason or other, and for my time in the Emerald City, Racquel was one of them. I knew it from the beginning, but I didn’t know what that meant, or where it was going to take us, or how to understand or react to what I was feeling in all the moments that led me to and away from her. I know I might have been irrational during that time. I know I could have acted more like a friend, and less like a scorned lover, but I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m sometimes dramatic, plus, I was 25 and she was 7 years younger than me.

We were two kids with broken hearts who found a way to mend them back together through an unpredictable rendezvous with each other. She helped me understand the simple act of being a good listener to someone because maybe that’s all they want you to do. I’d like to think I helped her to have a little more fun and maybe think of things in a different and spiritual way and perhaps that gave her some level of enlightenment.  And I know now exactly why she came into my life at that moment.  We were there to give to each other the power to be able to love again.

Was it perfect? Sure.  It’s all perfect in some way.    I know we didn’t end up together, but maybe that’s not what was meant for us.  Or maybe that WAS our time together. It doesn’t matter because what I learned from my time in Seattle was that “perfect” doesn’t always mean it works out the way you want it to. Sometimes perfect means we made such an impact on someone else’s life in a short amount of time, that even 14 years later, I eat Sushi or Thai food every week, or I smile when I hear songs that remind me of her, whether it’s the song I posted below, or if it’s that Tim McGraw hit “Just To See You Smile” which was the first  country song I grew to appreciate.  Sometimes perfect means there is still a possibility of the fact that I might actually see her again soon, and wouldn’t it be great to catch up on everything we missed over the past decade and a half?

But sometimes, perfect is looking at a picture from one night in the summer of 2001, when the only things that mattered in that moment, was the music, the sunglasses, the feather boa, and the one thing you both believed in….each other.

ecstasyseattle

The Artist

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I met the Artist in the Spring of 1997 when I was 21, and she was 16. Her name was Melissa, and her and boyfriend at the time used to come into my work at TLA Video in Marlton and rent indie films and discuss music and pop culture. I took an immediate liking to her and I think her boyfriend took an immediate liking to me, and invited me with them to go see the Violent Femmes concert somewhere at a small club in north Jersey.

Now, I loved the Violent Femmes, but I also had a an attraction to Melissa that I knew from the start was taboo. First of all, she had a boyfriend, second of all, she was really young, extremely beautiful and had these big stunning blue eyes, big lips, and maybe it was some spell she put over me but I was immediately attracted to her for some cosmic reason. She kind of resembled Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” minus the stitching and the fact that Sally was a puppet. In fact, her nickname in high school was “Nightmare” for this reason specifically. I knew that there was an odd attraction to her, and that maybe her boyfriend didn’t see it, so I decided to go to the show with her, her boyfriend, and a few other high school kids. I mean, I was either the cool older guy, or the lame weird guy for hanging out with high school kids who couldn’t vote or legally order an alcoholic beverage yet.

I remember the club had a cage around the bar that you could only access if you were over 21. So there I was, inside the cage not drinking anything alcoholic because I didn’t start drinking for another 5 years, looking out at the Violent Femmes singing one of my favorite tunes, “Add it Up.” I looked over at Melissa and smiled, and she looked back at me and laughed because I must have looked like fool being on the other side of the fence, literally. Melissa’s boyfriend had a station wagon, and at the end of the show we all piled into it and started driving back to South Jersey. Somehow, I ended up sitting in the way back of the car in the extra seat that faced the opposite direction of the driver with Melissa sitting next to me.

As it got dark, it took all of my will power not to touch this gorgeous girl sitting practically on top of me in the way way back seat of a station wagon as her boyfriend drove us back to Marlton. Thing is though, I did kind of touch her, and she did kind of touch me. No kissing, just grabbing of things and intense eye contact, but believe me, it was enough for me to realize I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing and that even though I may not have know it then, this event would eventually come back to haunt me 3 and a half years later when I would find out exactly what was meant by the phrase “you get what you deserve.”

For the next few weeks, I hung out a little more with Melissa and the gang, but eventually that all stopped when I guess the guilt got to her and she told her boyfriend about what had happened in the back of his car that night. He was pretty mad, and rightfully so. I mean I hooked up with his girlfriend 8 feet away from where he was. He hated me, and I deserved to be hated, and that was pretty much the last time I saw her for awhile.

It was mid August of 1998, and I was working at T.G.I. Friday’s as a server. One night the hostess came up to me and told me there were two girls at the front who wanted to see me. Here I am thinking what girls would come to see me at Friday’s? I wasn’t dating anyone, and my mom and sister definitely wouldn’t just pop in out of nowhere. As I made my way down the stairs to the first floor of the restaurant, I saw Melissa and her friend staring straight at me. What the hell was she doing here? I started to wonder if this was a set-up and was her boyfriend was going to pop out of the phone booth and hit me across the head with a lead pipe because of what happened last year? Also, I was not prepared for such a rendezvous as I was wearing my goofy Friday’s uniform which at the time was a red and white striped shirt, suspenders, and a stupid hat that COULD NOT be a baseball hat as those hats were a violation of the uniform code.

“Hi. What are you doing here?” I asked Melissa.

“I wanted to see you.” She replied.

“I broke up with Brandon…well, I’m going to break up with him.”

What the fuck? Is she for real? Is she setting up her next boyfriend before breaking up with her current one? I guess she planned this out pretty well. I mean, I appreciate that she is coming here to tell me this, but what does that mean for me?

Truth is, I still thought about her a lot. I know it had been almost two years since that night at the Violent Femmes show, but I had run into her a couple times at shows, & the AMC movie theater. Sadly, we never talked. God forbid Brandon saw us talking, he’d probably freak the fuck out.

“Ok.” I said. “Well, let me know when you do break up with him. In the meantime here’s my pager number.” (PAGERS!!!)

I gave Melissa my beeper number, and with that I went back to work, confused and slightly interested. I think a day went by and I was at a house party when she beeped me and I knew it was her because we all had codes back then that we would leave on each other’s beepers. Mine was 11, and Melissa’s was 108 which had something to do with a song, or a band, or the album title for a band whose name escapes me now. Anyway, I called her back, she told me she broke up with Brandon, she was single now, apparently had an agenda, and this is how I started to date Melissa for the next year or so.

Melissa and I lived in the same neighborhood in Marlton called Kings Grant. It was really convenient when I drove home at 3 in the morning from her place and only had to travel a half mile. We spent every single day with each other for the first few months, and like any couple who got together when we were young, my social status and hanging out with my guy friends took a backseat to hanging out with Melissa. She was Italian, gorgeous, and she had a really close relationship with her Mom who liked me from the start and who would allow me to stay over at her place until the wee hours of the morning.

Melissa was an artist and she had this amazing quality to be able to immerse herself in the process of creating something out of nothing. I respected that, and it kind of made me want to do something artistic myself. At the time, my friends and I were running an underground fanzine called Jr. Skeptic which reported the ongoings of the punk rock scene in South Jersey. We would interview bands that came to Philly or Jersey to play shows, write articles about life, review some really good and some really terrible music, and we were slightly known in the town as being the older kids who knew what was cool, even though the whole idea behind punk rock was to avoid the mainstream vision of what was actually popular and cool. Basically, we ended up being cool though no fault of our own.

Melissa and I never fought with each other. Almost every night after working at Fridays, I would make my way over to her house and her and her mom and I would smoke cigarettes, eat food, and talk shit on people. Those two loved to gossip, and to be honest, so did I. Her mom used to take us out to dinner at the Medport diner after her shift and she would always pay for me to eat. She even helped me get a job working with her at her textile plant in Berlin organizing documents and filing away invoices. It was totally boring work, but I appreciated it, even though I eventually quit working there and started at another restaurant.

I was definitely in love with Melissa. She was the first girl I truly fell for that didn’t hinge upon the fact that I realized I loved her after I had lost her, or when it was too late. She introduced me to a way of thinking and a credo that I still believe in today even though at the time I might have scoffed at the notion she presented that “Everything happens for a reason.” She checked her horoscope daily and did my astrological chart for me and I was astonished at how accurate it was. I spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with her and her family in Philly, I was friends with her Dad whom none of her ex boyfriends could make a claim to because he didn’t like them and he was a menacing six foot three Italian ex bodyguard for Mike Tyson with a distrustful attitude and an impending look on his face that made you never want to hurt his daughter for fear of getting your legs broken.

Things were sailing along quite smoothly for the two of us. I had dated her for over four months straight which at the time was the longest relationship I had ever been in. I normally wasn’t the relationship type, but Melissa changed all of that and turned me into a long haired, beard wearing softy who cuddled with his girlfriend on the couch and held her hand everywhere we went. She loved me, hated the fact that I smoked pot, and I guess at some level I knew this but chose to ignore it from time to time and perhaps that ignorance would eventually piss her off, but it wasn’t THAT big of a deal, was it?

Yep, we were happy and in a great relationship, but when it came to our sex life, the truth is it was pretty much non-existent. That’s not true, it existed, but on some what of an adolescent level. Why? Because only one of us had had actual sex at this point in our lives, and it wasn’t her. Melissa was a virgin and I knew this from the start. I had dated virgins before, but I was 23 going on 24 at the time and I had had sex with a handful or two of girls before I dated her and I really enjoyed sex.

Don’t get me wrong, Melissa was a great kisser and she gave killer hand jobs…. probably because of all the practice she got over the last 5 years or so while she was jerking guys off instead of having sex with them. What about getting some head you might ask? Well, thing is, she wasn’t really big on blow jobs either. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times she blew me over the course of our relationship. Come to think of it, I can count on one finger how many times she blew me, and even then it was only an attempt to blow me and not a full on BJ where the end result was an orgasmic experience on my end. Did this bother me? Not really, but it was definitely a hot topic so to speak in our relationship for a good solid 9 months.

Look, I’ll be totally honest here. I did at one point tell Melissa that my intention was to eventually consummate our relationship and if that was never going to happen, I needed to know so I could figure out if I wanted to continue being with her without the ability to have sex. A guy can only receive so many hand jobs in a years time without eventually wanting to know what it’s like to actually be inside of his girlfriend, instead of just being gripped like the handlebars on a bicycle on a regular basis. It’s not like I gave her an ultimatum and said, “fuck me or else I’ll break up with you,” but I guarantee you that’s probably how she remembers it.

There were a few other things about us that made me realize that perhaps we were a mis-matched couple and starting to grow apart. At a New Year’s Eve party in 1998, I got stoned fifteen minutes before midnight and came back to the party high as a kite because I didn’t really drink alcohol at the time. Melissa took one look at me and my bloodshot eyes and utterly gave me the cold shoulder all the way into 1999. I never could understand her hatred for smoking pot. I mean, I had just turned 23, I had a good job, I loved her, and at the end of the night I didn’t puke up all the Captain Morgan I drank and made her drive me home with a splitting headache like most kids my age.  In fact, I could still drive us home while I was stoned because at the very least I’d be cruising under the 35 mile an hour speed limit on Main street.

In the spring of 1999, things started to come undone. I had moved into a two bedroom apartment in Maple Shade with a guy I worked with at Friday’s, and literally two weeks after I signed the lease, I got fired from my cushy $450 a week serving job, which in today’s world is the equivalent to being paid $715 a week. I know it wasn’t a lot of money, but my rent was cheap, and having “no income” a week doesn’t pay the bills. It was at this time that I started working with Melissa’s mom in that shitty textile plant which only lasted a month or so. I did some odd jobs here and there and eventually found myself working as a server at Carrabba’s Italian Grill a few miles down the road from my place. Crisis was kind of adverted, but a new challenging situation would then arise.

One night in June of 1999, the time finally came when Melissa had decided she would say goodbye to her V-Card. Now, I had talked with her about this for awhile, and even though she told me it’s what she wanted to do, I still felt that on some level she was doing it more to keep me around than because she actually wanted to do it. Regardless, her Mom was out of town, I came over to her apartment where Melissa had candles and incense burning and we started to do the deed. This is where things got weird…..

Not a minute into it her eyes grew large and she stared at me with a shocked and upsetting look on her face like a deer in headlights. Now, I know the first time is painful, but the next thing that happened totally threw me for a loop. She suddenly started crying in the middle of it. Like hysterically crying. Did I do something wrong? Was she in a lot of pain? I know it’s very possible that it hurts, but my dick isn’t THAT big, is it? I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless and I felt strange and I didn’t know how to react to this situation and it started to make me angry.

I wasn’t angry at her or anything like that, I just was angry at the situation because I wanted it to be perfect and now I felt helpless and confused. I felt like all of a sudden all of her past issues were coming to a head and being spewed out all over the bed on a night that was supposed to be a sexy and romantic moment in our relationship. I hated my life at that moment. I hated the fact that this was happening, I hated myself for pressuring her, and I hated the fact that this was not going the way I had planned and I didn’t know why. I don’t even think she knew why, or if she did, she never was going to tell me the truth. This was a bad idea, and after about fifteen minutes, she calmed down we put our clothes back on and we just sat there with almost nothing to say to each other.

Melissa and I didn’t attempt to have sex again for awhile, but she did attempt to smoke pot with me one night at my apartment, probably in a effort to see what it was all about and unfortunately that led to fifteen minutes of hysterical laughter interspersed with fifteen minutes of hysterical crying. This went on for what seemed like two hours.

“Are you ok?” I asked her as she blankly stared at my wall without saying a word.

She never answered, and she didn’t speak for a hundred and twenty minutes while I tried to get her to sober up by feeding her cheese and crackers with a side of diet coke. The reaction she had was so weird. I felt like I had a sick puppy on my hands and I was afraid to leave her for a minute and I just didn’t understand what the hell was going on. Needless to say, a few days later we broke up. I don’t know if it had to do with the last few weeks of experimental sex and drug use, or if it had to do with the fact that perhaps our thing had run it’s course. Just to be clear, I didn’t want to break up with her, but it’s something she felt she needed to do and she cut off communication with me for the next few weeks. That’s the one thing I did not appreciate about the way it ended. I had no idea how to fix this.

Look, I knew I wasn’t the best boyfriend in the world the last few months, and I’m sure the stress of me losing my job maybe put a strain on our relationship and perhaps there was some stigma that she couldn’t ignore when it came to the failed attempts at sex and weed smoking. Maybe she was pissed that when she went to college earlier that spring and had her own apartment in Philly I didn’t come by as much as I should have come by. Maybe she was pissed that instead of hanging out with her I was hanging out with my friends from work playing poker and getting stoned til 3am? Maybe she just had the foresight to see that this thing wasn’t going to get any better.  I was really upset about it for awhile and I used to hang with my best friend, telling him how depressed I was and how I was lucky to have him there for me while I whined and complained about how much I missed Melissa…..or so I thought.

One night in early October of 1999 I drove over to my best friend’s house to watch a movie. As I pulled up, I took a look at the cars that were parked outside as that was the way to find out who was all over there. I didn’t see many, but the one car I saw that didn’t normally belong there belonged to Melissa.

Wait…. what the fuck was she doing hanging out at my best friend’s house watching a movie? It was as if I didn’t even need to go inside to get that answer, but I guess I felt like seeing it for myself because I went inside anyway. I walked in the back door into the downstairs den of my best friend’s parents house where I had spent the last six or seven years hanging out eating food, horsing around, and watching the Phillies, Flyers and Eagles. I looked on the couch and saw him sitting there, a few feet away from Melissa. I said hello, and he said hello back, but neither one of them made eye contact with me, and that’s when I knew exactly what was going on.

Wow. Karma is a bitch, and apparently I had been dating karma for the last year and a half. I only stayed a few minutes because the tension in that room was unbearable for me. I left that night knowing that my ex girlfriend and my best friend were about to start dating each other and there was nothing I could do about it. Now it was all out in the open and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t devastate me, but to be honest, it didn’t surprise me at all. I guess that’s what you get when you hook up with a girl three years earlier in the backseat of a car driven by her current boyfriend. In a way, life had come full circle and I was reaping what I sowed. I didn’t like it, but in hindsight I got what I deserved.

I dyed my hair black the next day and I took a shitty job at a restaurant called Prospector’s on 38 in Mt. Laurel and I tried to busy myself with work, and get the situation off my mind but it wasn’t helping me. Then one night in November of 1999, after I had spent the last few weeks crying myself to sleep writing sad bastard entries in my journal and wondering why it all happened, I got a call from my friend who told me he had something he wanted to show me, and for me to come over after work. When I got to his cousins house he handed me a white pill with a little Tweety bird on it.

“Here, take this. You’ll thank me for it later.” He said.

That was the first hit of ecstasy I ever did, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. There was something about doing X that night that changed my life forever. I let go of the anger and resentment I had towards my best friend and Melissa, and I started to envision a world where I wouldn’t let it bother me anymore. For the next few months my friends and I got caught up in the club scene and believe me, we did MORE than our share of tweety birds, mitsubishis, rolex, and double stacked ferraris during that time. I didn’t think about Melissa anymore and all I could do was create a place in my mind where I was able to live my life without her and my best friend in it.

Looking back now, that place in time had been filled with drugs, parties and late night trips to Atlantic City at 3 in the morning, but it still left me feeling empty. When I got arrested outside of Studio 6 in A.C. on April 1st 2000, everything in my life changed. I hadn’t talked to Melissa in awhile but she came over to see me the next day and her and her Mom and I went out to Applebee’s for dinner. I was cracked the fuck out. I probably looked like one of those kids you see on the MDMA episode of Drugs Inc., deshelved from spending the night in jail with his pupils dilated and a cold sweat dripping down my face. I was in a bad place, and even though this was the first time I had seen her in awhile, I knew that Melissa wasn’t going to save me. I had to do things on my own.

A few months later I sold my car and all of my belongings and I moved 3000 miles away to Seattle Washington, a city I had NEVER been to before, and I started a new life there where no one knew me. I could be anyone I wanted to be. I was so far enough away from New Jersey that I didn’t feel the pain every time I drove past a place that reminded me of her. I didn’t have the possessions that used to trigger a memory that no longer served me for good, and I made new friends and told them to call me Christian so at least in my mind I could think of myself as a healed soul living in the Pacific Northwest.

I lived there for two years, and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ll probably write a blog about that later. As for Melissa, we kept in contact for a bit and when I moved back to the east coast in 2002 I lived with her and her roommate in Philly for a few months, but it never went back to the way it was. We were just two different people. She was experimenting with pot and ecstasy at the time (how ironic) and I was trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. I eventually wound up here in L.A. and it was about a year later when Melissa and her roommate moved out to Hollywood as well. Why? I’ll never know.

You might be wondering if we ever got back together…but that never happened. She had a new agenda and that ended up being dating one of my friends I met out here, naturally. I can’t say I was surprised. I guess that just ended up being her thing in life….dating friends of the boyfriends she used date. She was a really good artist too, but that’s not how I remember her. I really wish it was.

I don’t talk to Melissa anymore. I think it’s been almost 7 years since the last time we spoke and to be honest, I wouldn’t even know what to say to her if I did see her. I hear she had an arts and crafts store in Haddonfield that closed down, and she is getting married to a guy I used to be in a band with back in the late 1990s. As for my best friend who she dated for years? We’re still good friends. I made up with him a couple years later and to be honest I don’t hold any ill will towards him at all. We joke about both dating her now and we even have a bet every year at the Super Bowl coin toss and the loser of the bet has to accept the fact that Melissa is their proverbial “girl” for the next year. Trust me, it’s not an honor. I was just at his wedding last year when he married the love of his life and we still text each other almost every day. I guess there is some truth to the phrase “Bros before Hos”

The time when I lost my ex girlfriend and my best friend within a month of each other really did suck, and it hurt….but instead of letting it define me in a negative way and making it the reason I hate women and don’t trust people ever again, I used it to be the catalyst to make a huge change in my life that may have had to happen to me to force me to get to where I’m at today. I’m extremely happy with what the future might bring in the next few months, even though I still haven’t figured out the relationship aspect of my life. I know it will come in time. Melissa really did affect me in a way that I will always remember and hold true to myself. I still check my horoscope every morning when I have my coffee, I still appreciate fine works of art and the sounds of indie rock when the moment strikes me, and the day after she broke up with me I started writing in a journal and I haven’t stopped writing for the last fifteen years. I just think to myself sometimes that maybe I needed to get my heart broken so that I could heal my mind. Everything happens for a reason, right? At least that’s the way I choose to look at it.

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Her: 18  Me: 23