I’m not proud of my behavior the night she came home. I’m completely ashamed, and I don’t forgive myself for it or excuse it in any way.
I heard her car pull into the outdoor parking garage beneath our apartment. I turned off all the lights, and unplugged the lamp that was normally connected to the switch near the door in the living room. Ditto the one in our bedroom. When she walked into our room, confused as to why she couldn’t see anything, I pulled her down onto the bed and wrapped my arms around her from behind and said “so… what was this ‘not a date’ you just had?”. If I were in a proper state of mind, and sober, this may have come across as I’d intended — an indication that, yes, I was upset, but I also wanted to know why she lied. Instead, I sounded like I’d lost my fucking mind. She, understandably, went into a state of survival and just laid there quietly. Her answers were shakey, and short. I said “you need to shower. now.”, while grabbing her neck from behind and continuing to hold her arms under mine, and she quickly ran into the bathroom to shower.
I, shamefully, brought what used to be our fun little BDSM game from the wayback days into this place of darkness and jealousy, and ruined her trust in me and made her feel unsafe. It’s something that makes me cringe to this day, and I don’t fault her — or you, the reader — for thinking I’m a giant piece of shit for that.
When she was done showering, we had a chance to talk. She was honest. I was heartbroken. We broke up that night, but still laid in bed the next day discussing things. Her main point of contention was “well, you never said we had a new set of rules. You made me feel like nothing changed. I waited and waited, but you never said anything. So, fuck it. I went out with someone who wanted to go out with me”. She was right. She’s still right. Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, but.. I was certainly in no position to sit there and pretend I had a fucking leg to stand on. All she wanted was to be together and, as far as she saw it, all I did was keep her just out of reach of us being together.
Shit was weird and fucked-up in my life at that time. I had lost my show at M+, then later M+ went out of business after postponing several months’ worth of paychecks to me. Then, of course, my mom’s condition got worse and we knew she wouldn’t live to see the end of the year. Now, this woman I loved was running off to chase some washed-up child actor.
I tried so hard to get her back, to no avail. One day, she called into work because her back was all fucked up. Minutes after she made that call, I retreated to my office and scheduled a same-day deep tissue massage and acupuncture appointment for her, then drove her to the appointment, and drove her back home. While she was thankful that I did that for her, it was bittersweet. She was originally going to cancel on a date with Red because of her back but, now that she felt fine, she didn’t need to cancel it. That said, I also had a reality show date during this time 1which, ironically, aired about a month after we got back together.
For the next month or so, we still lived together and she would leave on her nights off to see Red. For her birthday, I had planned to make her favorite cake. To figure out what her favorite cake was, I texted her mom. Ironically, her mom texted back while we were at the grocery store one day, and she said “look, if you’re gonna text some whores to get over this whole thing, at least don’t do it in front of me”. I said “I’m texting your mom”. Now, I’m the kind of person who would say that anyway as a “your mom is a whore” joke, but this time I literally meant that I texted her mom. Thankfully, her mom didn’t ruin the surprise, and instead told her “ohhh he was just apologizing to me for you two breaking up”. Which is weird, but it covered the surprise.
She spent most her birthday afternoon riding around on Red’s motorcycle with him, before he basically went “okay, toots, it’s been fun. Now… get on outta here!” and sent her home at, like, 7pm. On a Saturday. Which is.. I mean, you know dude’s definitely not trying to get a relationship going. She came home to a string of flower petals (of her favorite flower, mind you) leading to our kitchen table, adorned with her favorite candy — cherry-filled Hershey kisses — surrounding a home-baked spice cake. That didn’t quite make up for her previous birthday (as you might recall), but it at least helped soften her gut-punch of being sent home early from her new love-interest’s house.
Within the week I was sleeping on the couch, on my own accord, because I didn’t want this shit getting weirder and it was hard enough to sleep next to her without touching her. We agreed she should move out, and I traded her co-worker’s roommate — a guy I never met 2but ended up getting along with really well and I’m still friends with — for Melinda. The weekend she moved out, I said “I’m going to Vegas”. By that time, Red had pretty much stopped talking to her and she was starting to wish we’d stayed together. She wrote a series of little love notes and drawings on my body while I slept, 2 of which I found the morning I left, and another of which was found by the 2 women I ended up in a threesome with in Vegas that night (which was a lengthy love note written on my back, and neither of the girls felt comfortable reading it out loud).
We kept in contact after she moved out, and occasionally she’d even come over and stay the night. It was weird because we were in this purgatory of a relationship. Neither of us wanted to move on and be done with one another, but neither of us agreed that we should actually be together since we’d already hurt each other too much. One night, after a post-sex discussion, while both of us were drunk, she said “you know… you never did fuck me in that wedding dress”, to which I replied “well… if you ever decide we should be together, you’ll need to show up in that wedding dress, and I’ll know you’re serious”.
In June 2008 — a few months after the initial breakup but a few weeks before she finally decided she was completely done with Red — I asked her to join me for my mom’s “run for cancer” and partial family reunion. It was the first family reunion my family had since I was born, and it’s the last one I’ll ever attend (because they’re all fucking dead to me, which is another story and bla bla bla). Lucky for me, Melinda played along and pretended to still be my girlfriend for the sake of my family. Melinda and I drove up to San Francisco, met up with one of my cousins, drove to the party at another of my cousins’ houses in Northern California, and I ended up smoking weed with my mother. It’s funny, cause my mom always thought weed was the devil, but once it was prescribed for her as part of her cancer treatment, she said “nothing I’ve done has given me more joy, relieved as much of the pain, and given me more of an appetite quite like this”. All three of those things are very fucking important for cancer patients. Meanwhile, the number one person I was paranoid about seeing me while I was high was the very person I was getting high with.
I’m skipping a lot of details here — both because they’re part of another story about my mother’s final months, and because this story is already too fucking long — but about 2 weeks before my mom died, Melinda came over to hang out and when I stepped out of my bathroom, she was lying naked on my bed with the wedding dress lying next to her. When I looked at her and smiled, she laughed and said “c’mon! close enough!”.
I don’t think I’ll ever have a more passionate round of (like 5 minutes… tops) sex in my life.
I was still angry with her, and still hurt by what she’d done and what she’d put me through the last few months. But, I knew three things : I still loved her, I’d need someone in my life when my mom died, and she would always be the last girlfriend I had who actually met and spent time with my mother 3something my mother warned me about. Essentially, it was “worth a shot”, but I still genuinely had hopes for the both of us.
After our trip to Colorado for my mom’s funeral 4it bears repeating that she did, in fact, honor her promise to be with me for my mom’s funeral, I turned into a fucking mess. I drank constantly. I would put vodka in my morning coffee, for fuck’s sake. I was invited to Hustler 5yes, the Hustler building, on one of the top floors, which was a dream come to life to interview for a job that would’ve pulled me out of my funk (and out of my debt, given the salary they offered) and the interviewer — who was the head of the department for which I was being interviewed — knew me from my Vivid days. At the end of the interview, he pulled me aside and said “hey… you’re a great hire, your work is top-notch, your references are solid, and I remember how hard you worked in the Vivid department, but I can’t hire a guy who comes in slurring his words and smelling of booze at 2pm on a Tuesday”.
Melinda felt the same way. I kept hoping she would grab me by the head and scream “goddamnit! you’re better than this! let’s pull your shit together, man!”. That’s what I needed. That’s the woman I’ve always dreamed of. In every biopic where a fucked-up person gets their shit together, someone they love gives them that speech. I wanted that speech 6I explained this in detail during one of the last episodes of Straight Riffin — skip to 1hr 9 mins — where I was told ...continue. Instead, she said “why do I always end up with the drunks?”, to which I said “did you ever think maybe you’re the reason?”.
That was the crest of the wave that decimated the village of our relationship. Or, keeping with Centralia — that’s when the townsfolk moved out, and what was left of our love was those 10 stubborn people.
One night, I came home after a gig and she wasn’t home. I texted her to ask where she was and she said “ohh… I’m at (suchandsuch) bar with friends”. So, I left our apartment to join her. When I showed up, she was sitting at a 2-seater with some guy I’d never met. A mutual friend of ours was there and kinda jumped in the way to start a conversation. He was talking about asking his girlfriend to marry him, and about what kind of ring to use. I don’t recall my exact words, but I said something “I think you’re putting too much thought into this whole thing” 7in my shitty defense, this dude was talking about a woman that we ALL, including him, agreed was pretty well done with him. The dude sitting with Melinda looked at me and said “what, you don’t think about how you’ll propose?”. For a guy I’d never met, who was sitting across from a woman I’d been with for 3 years, that felt like a fucked-up question to ask. But I just laughed, said “nope, not really”, and watched as he looked across the table to Melinda and rolled his eyes. It all made sense at that moment. I said my goodbyes and drove home.
The following day, Melinda came home from work, sat me down and said “I met someone new. You met him last night. I hope you find what you’re looking for, because it’s definitely not me”. With that, she gave me a hug, and she never spent another night in our room again.
Within 2 weeks, I found myself a new place and even used my own credit to get her a new place that the landlord of our current apartment was renting out. I didn’t stop drinking, but I definitely cut down enough to get my shit together and find a grip of new clients, before we all moved out of that place.
Nad ran into her about 2 years later and had a long conversation with her, later telling me “if you ever want to know what we talked about, let me know”. I’ve never bothered to ask. I did, however, run into the former boyfriend of her old roommate who, while drunk, forgot that I knew him and told me about “this married couple” he lived with that he’d known for awhile named Melinda 8though he used her actual name and dude-whose-name-I-forgot.
I’m not sad about this whole adventure, despite the wild rollercoaster of it all. When she wanted me to come through, time and time again, I clearly didn’t. When I wanted her to come through, she also didn’t. And, that dude at the table was clearly looking for the same thing she was : marriage and family. I’m genuinely happy for her. I’ve stayed single because I realized… I don’t actually know what I want.
I think it’s unfair to string along anyone who does know what they want, so I end up having fun with people who are in the same situation as me. As it turns out : those people figure out what they want, and they move on.
And, frankly, that’s fine by me. I’m still working on my plan, even if there doesn’t end up being one.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||which, ironically, aired about a month after we got back together|
|2.||↩||but ended up getting along with really well and I’m still friends with|
|3.||↩||something my mother warned me about|
|4.||↩||it bears repeating that she did, in fact, honor her promise to be with me for my mom’s funeral|
|5.||↩||yes, the Hustler building, on one of the top floors, which was a dream come to life|
|6.||↩||I explained this in detail during one of the last episodes of Straight Riffin — skip to 1hr 9 mins — where I was told “you’re not enough of a mess for that”|
|7.||↩||in my shitty defense, this dude was talking about a woman that we ALL, including him, agreed was pretty well done with him|
|8.||↩||though he used her actual name|