I stole my boss’ duck. Granted it wasn’t a real duck, but for all the hoop-la he caused about it, it might as well have been. His name is Sal the mallard; the duck, not the boss. A friend of mine and I developed a strange attachment to the duck in our Sunday Funday drunken state, and despite proclamations that we were not allowed to take Sal on an adventure, we ducknapped him. By the end of the day Sal had cuddled with a lab, squatted on a fire hydrant, and played on a playground. He drank copious amounts of Rum and capri sun, and finally came to a place of rest on my kitchen counter. The boss (TB) received a carefully crafted text resembling a ransom note informing him Sal was alive and well. Apparently this is a violation of trust. Apparently when someone tells you not to take their duck because it could potentially be valuable and/or sentimental, you’re supposed to listen. If you don’t, as we didn’t, it’s a violation of trust. Lesson learned. Also, when TB invites you to box seats for a Lakers game he should respect that invite despite your initial protestations of it being a blizzard. I did not respect him, and he did not respect the invite.
The very fact that I make such a statement, that our trust had been violated because of a duck and the Lakers is kind of ridiculous. Really TB and I have a much more complicated relationship; one which is entirely indicative of the mental problems I’ve procured over the years. I have attachment issues. Mostly of the ability to attach and only slightly of the inability-to-let-go kind. Quite the opposite if you look at it from a superficial perspective though. While I’ve probably impacted more lives by my inability to attach I’ve definitely far more impacted my life by the ones I don’t let go. TB was my boyfriend almost 4 years ago, and I’ve been working for him for a little over two years. We spent four months actually being in a relationship, and the better part of two years trying to figure out how to be friends. January something or other marks the one year anniversary of a completely platonic relationship. Working for him (at a company he owns) is a chaotic mixture of sexual harassment, general assault, long lunches, trying to find him a wife, and inappropriately sharing our history with our coworkers. We speak every day at least once, go out on what would commonly be defined as dates, and bicker like an old married couple. I can admit that I’m less inclined to actually date people when I have friends with benefits and TB. Moved on emotionally? Somewhat. I don’t want to date him, kiss him, or marry him and I also don’t want to share his time. I hate when he dates other girls mostly because it takes time away from me, and I know he’s not going to marry them anyway. Totally aside from any legitimate causes we had to break up, honesty finally created a scenario where we could no longer have romantic feelings about each other. You hear enough about the other person falling in love (me), their relationships with paid sex (his), how critical you both are, a litany of other tidbits, and you just can’t quite love the other person the same way. For us it created an undeniable bond leading to a defining friendship, and too much fodder for judgement.
The hardest part about being friends with an ex is having to imbed to memory all the lies you told when you were together. If you constantly protested you never cheated while you were in the relationship, you can’t tell the truth when you’re friends. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules, I just follow that one. The second hardest part about being friends is not bickering about your failed romantic relationship. While you have to imbed the lies, the memories you hold as true rarely are. Dissecting your relationship for years just leads to strongly held beliefs that are more based on a truth you’ve concocted than what actually happened.
The best part is being able to have someone of the opposite sex who knows what it’s like to date you, be friends with you, and hook up with you as a sounding board for your current relationship problems. You know, with the other people you haven’t been able to let go of either. Like the first person you ever loved. The person you dated long distance even though you both knew it had to end at some point because there was no way you could change your circumstances. The person to whom you completely gave your heart in all reality probably because you knew they would leave. There was no guessing about if you were going to live happily ever after because you established from the beginning you couldn’t. Until you could. 3 years after your breakup, two more life changing loves, a dozen (more or less) relationships, and a dozen (leaning towards more) casual hook ups later, they walk back into your life for the chance at happily ever after. In some ways, I knew it was coming. We spoke at least a couple times a year, conversations dotted with enough you’re still hot’s and do you think we broke it off to soon’s. It seems so trite holding on to things like that, but when someone’s your first love, you do. You hold on to every thing you can catch and distort into some bigger meaning, regardless of the intent. Well hell, I’m not Cinderella and this isn’t a love song, so I’ll take what I can get. But then it’s a year later, three visits in three months, and you’re still not in very different situations. He still lives in a different state, and while he’s trying to get back, it just doesn’t seem to happen. You’re not naive, hopeful, and daring like you used to be. Except you are in your subconscious. You hold on to fuck buddies and people like TB because you’re emotionally incapable of attaching yourself to most while the potential of lover boy is waiting in the shadows.
Lover Boy (LB) and I have a relationship that kind of works in its own sick way. It only works because he can’t exactly figure his life out and I’m on my way to figuring out mine, so nobody’s on a clock. Part of me knows I have time to wait it out, see how this progresses. The other part of me screams “THIS IS BULLSHIT!” at the top of my miming lungs within the confines of my head. I’ve already spent five years of my life impacted by this human being, and I just want to know if we’re meant to be. Either this won’t work, and I need to move on for good, or we get a real shot. A legitimate chance where we’re in the same city, trying it out to see if it sticks. It also works because we’ve developed a system of only partial honesty. (Wow I seem to have issues with actual honesty) He intelectualizes all of his emotions, and I stuff mine. He rationalizes all of his by saying while he hopes for a happy ending, he knows there’s a thousand reasons why it couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t work out. I meditate, cry, float mine away. The more we talk and spend time together the more he permeates my thoughts and music choices. The way I miss him sometimes is a depth of loneliness I haven’t experienced in a long time. A depth I haven’t experienced since the second person I loved.
The second love of my life was a blessing and a perpetuation of occurrences I can now identify as a pattern, for I also knew he would leave. Because our brief romance lends itself to similarities to the movie Leaving Las Vegas, I’ll call him Ben. Ben came into my life the summer after I turned 21, as unexpected as Mayweather’s sucker-punch to Ortiz’s face in the fall of 2011. We met amid a warm afternoon, over a Xanax deal with a girl named Brittany. Despite anything that would happen over the next two weeks, Ben and I never spent more than four hours apart. We also never spent more than four hours sober. No matter how much I love LB, no one has ever and probably never will compare to what I felt for Ben. To be completely intoxicated with another person, completely addicted is an experience I’d like to only have once in my life. An alcoholic with a girlfriend and two kids in Las Vegas, he was wildly smart, charismatic, damaged, deep, well read, and disastrous for any semblance of a healthy life. We had an inate intimacy I can’t describe that was fueled by the sharing of quotes, authors, experiences, and vodka- gallons and gallons of vodka. We drank all day, every day for two weeks. We holed up in my French blue room drinking, having sex, and talking. Occasionally we had to venture out. We went and hung out with his (mostly) despicable friends, I joined him for a day of working in the gas station, we went to the library. By the end we had virtually stopped eating, drinking 1-2 handles of Taaka vodka a day, and I learned what it was like to love someone again. I loved person number two with whom I knew I could have no future. Despite the fact that leaving Ben at the bus station was one of the most depressing days of my life (that I can recall), it didn’t impact me as long after. With Ben it wasn’t as easy as dumping his girlfriend and moving back to Denver, we were too fundamentally different. Despite our shared love of Bukowsky, Ben actually identified with him. He loved to write obscure poems seeping with alcohol and depression, and found a romanticism in poverty I could never fully embrace. He always told me I was slumming it with him, that I would find the love we had in a much more stable, lasting environment. He said I would find it with someone who would elevate me emotionally, spiritually, financially. That while he was okay with living on the wrong side of Vegas, check to check, squandering his potential it wasn’t good enough for me. I knew for us to ever have a relationship, one of us would have to change. He didn’t want to live in a white collar world and I didn’t want to live drinking pints of McCormick’s in a back alley in the desert. Ben and I were given a unique experience where we could love each other irrespective of reality, and in a way that somehow managed to not destroy our lives. You can only sustain a Leaving Las Vegas romance if one of you dies in the end, and if you both want to live, well you have to let each other go.
It’s weird writing about it, I feel the words lack the emotional attachment I really had. I go back and read some of the few journal entries I’ve ever kept, and the pain I feel reading them makes me have to catch my breath. Losing LB was a couple month process, whereas losing Ben was one day knowing that after you left that bus station you were going to drink yourself to sleep one more time before you woke up detoxing. I imagine detoxing in and of itself is less than pleasant, but emotionally it’s far worse than physically. One of the few people who continually called me during my forenight with Ben (just to make sure I was alive) was The Cop, who would soon become love number 3.
To leave a romance with an alcoholic poet and move to one with a cop was quite a change. It didn’t happen overnight, but it felt like it. Fuck buddies for two years, he called one night and I was there. I saved him that night, and from there our relationship progressed. The first six weeks I was his driver, I drove him to work, drove myself to school, picked him up, and we spent the night together. Actually we spent every moment we could together, building on what relationship we had before. Our casual relationship had an air of intimacy to it: we cuddled, I spent the night, we talked about our problems, but I always left before morning. Really getting to know each other was a healing process I desperately needed. In the beginning of our relationship I really grew as a person. I ate better, I worked out on a regular basis, I homecooked our meals, I drank less, I actually thought about the future. Despite two loves and one live-in boyfriend prior, he was the first person I could envision myself marrying. We played an interesting game of me saving him, then him saving me. I came to realize our relationship, for me anyway, really hinged on one of us needing the other. When he needed me to drive, to cook, to cuddle; when I needed him to work out with, save me, fix something it worked. He had saved me from a bad shroom trip, and I had saved him on the night of his DUI, but we reached a plateau where we were both stable. We had agreed to get a dog, but she was being raised at my house, so I didn’t want to go to his house anymore. The effects of his DUI had commenced, no more mounting debt, and he was looking at his future. I went on a trip, and when I came back I broke up with him. He was 15 years my elder, with a 12 year old illegitimate daughter living in another state, and a deep history of abandonment and attachment issues. He didn’t know if he ever wanted to get married or have another kid, and while I didn’t know if I did, I did know I wanted the choice. He was looking at a decade of working long hours, potentially overseas, and I was looking at a future with someone who wouldn’t be around. I think really I only loved him because I never thought it would last, and this time instead of the boy leaving the girl, I left him.
He didn’t really leave though, because they never do. It seems once I truly attach myself to a person they never go away. In April we will have broken up two years ago, and my stuff is still at his house. He calls every day, and we still talk a few times a week. He watched “our” dog for three weeks while I went on vacation, we do dinner together, he’ll spend the night occasionally. Neither one of us can bring ourselves to do something about my clothes, hair products, shoes. They sit in the same storage containers I bought to organize them, thirty minutes from my house which is three blocks from his work. I suppose that while I don’t particularly want a physical relationship with him anymore, the idea of not having something physically tying us together seems too final.
I spent my childhood with a fairly physically and emotionally absent mother and a non-existent father. When you grow up like that, you don’t let people in very easily, and apparently don’t let them go very easily either. I don’t think anyone would say I’m a clingy girlfriend nor ex-girlfriend, but I just have a way of keeping them in my life. Part of me wants to let go of LB, Ben, and The Cop. How can you let go of people who have fundamentally changed your life in so many good ways though? I still haven’t figured out how to get over liking people you never stopped liking in the first place. While I’ll never stop loving them two of them made it easier to move on. I knew with Ben we could never function in the real world, and the Cop after about a year of being broken up became so clingy he transformed into a person different than the one I fell in love with. I still love and adore LB perhaps because I can’t have him. He’s not here, he’s not impossible to be in a relationship with, and if anything, he’s changed into someone I love more.
I once had this theory of three marriages. You marry once for lust, once for stability, and once for the real thing. In their own way all three of my loves fit into this model. Ben was lust, The Cop was stability, and LB was the real thing. What remains to be seen is if LB is really going to be the last. Until I figure it out I have the boss for emotional comfort, a veritable pantheon of carnal pursuits, and a dog to keep my bed warm.