Everything Ends Eventually

radioactive-happiness-face

It was my plan to write today about happiness.  How sometimes, happiness is a choice and one that can be very hard to make and how frustrating it is to have to make that choice over and over again.  That was my plan.

I just got some news that upset that plan and, of course, me.

I’ve written in the past about my dear friend, who for these purposes I call “Eve”.  I met Eve when I worked in retail 12 years ago.  I liked her and enjoyed our friendship but some things happened along the way that for a time we weren’t as close as we once had been.  When I moved to California, I assumed I’d never see her again, indeed, I never thought I’d speak to her gain.  I don’t think I realized then, that her grandparents live in the bay area and she has a long-standing tradition to come to the bay area to visit her grandparents the week of Thanksgiving and when the time came for her to come visit the first year I was here, she contacted me and invited me to come hang out.

I was really glad she did, and with the trappings of our previous work relationship, and with all the rumor and hushed conversations of others out of the way we had the opportunity to really grow in our friendship and our love for each other.

Earlier today, I logged on to Facebook (evil site that it is) and found that I had been “tagged” in a note by Eve.  I looked at it to find that it was one of those “25 random things about me” lists.  (Random thing about me #1:  I’ve been dreading being asked to complete one of those!)  As I read her list, I noticed that number 15 said this, “My mother and I have an amazing relationship, I die a little inside knowing I have less than 12 months to spend with her before she moves to the west coast.

“Awesome” I thought, “Now maybe she’ll make more trips out here and I’ll get to spend more time with her.”

Eve told me years ago that her mother was planning to retire to the Bay Area so she could be close to her parents.  I always secretly hoped that Eve would move with them, or shortly after them, and we could be close again.  A few years ago Eve’s mother took a huge hit when the stock market faltered and she lost a significant amount of money.  Apparently, that’s when they decided to move west, but some place a little less expensive.  So today, I asked Eve about this:

Self:  So I didn’t realize your parents were going to move here so soon. Where are they going to live?

Eve:  In Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA.

Self:  Oh. I thought they were moving here.

Eve:  No.  And, my Grandparents are even moving up to Portland or Vancouver, too.  So this Thanksgiving will be the last time I head out that way

Self: Oh, no.

Eve: Yup.  So I’ll get to see you in Feb and in Nov and that’s that for awhile

Self: Well, you’ve just totally bummed my day!

brokenheartThis is tragic!  My heart is absolutely breaking!  I don’t know what my life would have been like without her in it.  I don’t know if she had any real impact on my existence, other than to have been the one person I knew I could come out to and know there’d be no negative repercussions.  But I know that these brief, and few and far between, visits that we’ve shared over the last 11 years have meant the world to me, and they’ve been the life’s blood of our friendship.

I feel like our relationship is ending.  Is that silly?  I mean, in this day and age with Instant Messengers, and Facebook and iPhones with text messaging, is that silly?  The problem is, I’m doing what I always do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead.  Yes, I’ll see her, however briefly, when she comes out to visit next month, and I’ll see her again very briefly in November.  The visits will be fun, but they’ll go much too fast, and there will be a cloud over them.  And in November, when she walks me to my car (if she walks me to my car) and hugs me and says good-bye.  It will be for the last time.

I haven’t been to Tulsa in five years.  My sister and her family have moved to New York.  I’ve lost touch with all of my other friends besides Eve.  I love Scornful Mother, but I can’t stand to be around her for long.  Going back to Tulsa, really isn’t in the cards.

Ultimately, I’m only a very small part of Eve’s life and I don’t fit into the rest of it.  I’ve met her boyfriend twice, but I don’t know him, I’m not completely comfortable with him and I don’t think he’s completely comfortable with me.  I’ve never met his two children but I know they’re troublesome and I don’t really feel like I should be involved in that.  And despite the way I speak of Eve, we don’t really have the kind of deep connection where I would be welcome and convenient as a part of her every day life, however briefly.  Therefore, going to Tulsa, with the purpose of visiting her doesn’t seem likely.  And even if I did, I couldn’t get away with being there and not seeing/visiting/staying with my mother.

So, I’m doing what I alwasy do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead and what I see happening is, our interaction will dwindle.  Eve is never on Instant Messenger any more.  Occasionally, I talk to her via the chat function of Facebook, but it’s not very convenient and it’s very infrequent.  We exchange one line comments and topics on Facebook but it’s all very superficial.  We don’t spend much time on the telephone.  And text messeging is no way to carry on a conversation.  Soon it’ll be nothing but comments on each other’s Facebook activity.  I don’t imagine I’ll ever see her again.

funny-pictures-sad-cat-blackandwhiteIt is at a moment like this, when I’m faced with difficulties and sad things that are not within my control, which really aren’t about me, that I remember just how much of an effort it is, how much hard work it takes to be happy and at this moment, I can’t put forth the effort it requires.

Not Enough Love and Understanding

It really sucks when your dearest friend in all the world is 1800 miles away.  It sucks a lot actually.

It sucks when you’re only guaranteed one day (not even a whole day) with your dearest friend, once a year.

It sucks when your friend decides that she’s going to bring her boyfriend with her and so your one day (not even a whole day) per year isn’t even one on one.

And it really sucks when people who are supposed to be mature, grown up people, can’t manage to behave that way and have to ruin a precious experience for someone else.

In my post titled It’s All About Eve I talked about my relationship with “Eve”.  I talked about how very important she is to me, and how despite being a gay man, she’s the love of my life.  Obviously, moving to California when she was staying in Oklahoma was a harder choice because of my feelings for her.  I don’t think I knew when I moved that she came to California every year to visit her Grandparents, so naturally I was thrilled when I found out, the first year, that she would be here and I could spend some time with her.

I was very anxious the first year, while driving down to her Grandparents house.  At the time, from where I lived it was a nearly 70 mile drive (this year, only about 45) which gave me plenty of time to worry and stress about how it was going to go.  I knew Eve’s parents, but I had never met her Grandparents and I was anxious about meeting new people (go figure.)  I was asked to be at her Grandparents house at 9:00 in the morning, which seems reasonable enough on it’s own, but with the 70 mile drive on California highways I didn’t know what to expect as far as traffic is concerned, I didn’t know how long it should take (70 miles on all highways should, theoretically, take about 45 minutes).  I left home at around 8:00 in the morning and stopped for gas and breakfast along the way.  I arrived at the house around 9:10 and was hassled for being late, and then sat around for another fifteen minutes waiting for Eve and her clan to be ready to go.  I didn’t care.  I got to see my friend who I missed so much.

I spent the day with Eve, her infant son and her parents.  After a long, planned to the minute day of shopping, or recreation of some sort, we returned to her Grandparents house where we had dinner, after which Eve and I went out on our own for some one on one time.  I returned Eve to her Grandparents house around 10:00 or so, in the evening and called it a night, before my 70 mile drive back home.  I didn’t care.  I got to spend a long, pleasant day with my dearest friend.

On that first visit, Eve’s infant son, developed an ear infection.  He was miserable and in terrible pain and had no other way to convey that than to cry and fuss.  Eve’s Grandfather, was horrible about it.  He complained throughout dinner that the boy was being noisy and disruptive and why couldn’t Eve do something about it?  He acted like the boy should have been able to control himself and act differently, while simultaneously acting like Eve was somehow at fault for not doing something about it.  Besides his issues with Eve’s son, he was not terribly hospitable to me, but mostly he just ignored me.  I was gracious and grateful and tried to stay out of everyone’s way and was very grateful when Eve and I were able to go out after the meal to spend some time alone.  It was then that she informed me that her Grandfather had always been a vicious, horrible, unkind, temperamental, hateful man and that no one liked him.  The visit’s were mostly for the sake of the Japanese Grandmother, whom, I’ve only ever heard referred to as “Obachan.”  “Grandpa” was only about 5’8″ but must have weighed nearly 400 pounds (if not more) and had difficulty walking without leaning on something to support his weight.

A few years ago Grandpa got very sick (he’s diabetic), was hospitalized and ultimately had to have two or three separate surgeries during which both of his legs were amputated, the right one above and the left one just below the knee.  He lost a significant amount of weight, and not just from the amputations.  He is also legally blind and can’t see anything more than to know that there is a vague shape in front of him that is not familiar but he doesn’t know who or what it is.

When he no longer had legs and was far more dependent on Obachan, his demeanor started to change quite a bit.  He’s still surly and he has some really unpleasant moments but he started to appreciate his wife more and treat everyone with a little more common decency.  Or so I thought.

Three of four years ago, when I came for my visit the whole posse was going to go to a Chinese buffet and I was supposed to meet them at the Grandparents house at 11:00.  By this time, I had grown quite accustomed to sitting around and waiting when I arrived because no one was ever ready and I was bout fifteen minutes late.  This time was no different, except that it only took about five minutes for everyone to get their poop in a group and out the door, yet somehow it was still all my fault.

“They,” (both Grandparents,) “are diabetic and have to eat on a set schedule to keep their blood sugar level,” Said “Big-D”.  This is what Eve’s son calls his grandmother, Eve’s mother.  I can appreciate that and respect that they’re trying to maintain said schedule.  With that in mind, however, I would think they could have gone on to the restaurant and just called me on this new fangled contraption I had, called a CELL PHONE and told me they’d gone on without me and that I should meet them there.  That’s what I would have done under the circumstances.

On that particular occasion, when the waiter brought the check, I reached into my pocket and took out some cash to give to Obachan to cover my share of the bill.  She would not take it and I was told to put my money away.  (This happens every time but I never assume or take it for granted and I always express my appreciation.)  This event was no different.  Obachan refused my money and I said, “Thank you, very much.”  Apparently, Grandpa didn’t see any of this and while he didn’t say anything to anyone at the time, he got his panties in a bunch because I was “ungrateful and unfriendly.”  He told Eve the following year that he didn’t really want me to come around because I wasn’t friendly, I never talked to anybody and I wasn’t grateful for their generosity.  After finding out what his problem was, she explained to him that his perception was inaccurate and stopped him from denying me “access”.  But when I arrived, she made a point of pushing me to proactively say hi to her grandparents.

Now, I know that sounds reasonable enough and like I shouldn’t need to be reminded, but here’s the thing.  I have never been introduced to her Grandparents any more than to say, “These are my Grandparents.”  Eve’s Grandmother is Japanese.  Her Grandfather met her during World War II (I think) and brought her back to America with him.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that fact except that, I can’t understand a word she says!!! Her Grandfather, as I have already stated is blind as a bat and doesn’t seem to even know I’m in the room most of the time.  And again, I’ve never been introduced to them.  I have no idea what their names are or what I should call them, and I realized the other night while telling all this to Insightful Therapist that I can, and should ask Eve, in private, what I should be calling them but it never occurred to me before and I haven’t done so.

How incredibly uncomfortable for someone, who is an outsider to begin with, is tremendously socially awkward and has not been properly “initiated” into the group to be left to fend for himself in such a setting.  And how insanely unfair to ridicule and belittle that person when they don’t perform to your standards.  I was angry when Eve informed me of this turn of events and I wanted to run away and cry after having been put in that situation, but I did not.  I dealt with it, because I wanted to see my friend.

Every year it’s a variation on a theme but it’s the same old story.  I try to make sure I’ll get there “on time” but I’m coming a great distance at such an early hour and a little leeway is in order.  I’m often “late” but not by more than fifteen minutes.  I always have to wait while Eve and her clan finish preparing and I’m hassled because I didn’t arrive on the dot at the assigned hour.  It is ALWAYS Eve that holds things up.  So not only am I harrassed for being late, but I’m forced to sit around and try to make conversation with the people I did not come to see.  After 10 years, this is not such a hardship but it is still stressful to me, because of all the negative treatment I know I can expect.

This year was different from the get-go.  In setting up plans with Eve and the boyfriend, she said, “Just tell me what time you’ll be here and we’ll figure the rest out then.”  This translated, to me, as, “It’s just going to be the three of us so there’s no pressure.”  I told her 9:30, but wasn’t able to get out of the house before 9:15.  I called her and told her this and she said no big deal, no one was ready anyway.  (Big shock.)    I had to stop for gas and breakfast on the way and I arrived at Eve’s Grandparents house around 10:45.  I was ushered into the kitchen/dining room and instructed (by Eve) to “have a seat at the table and talk to my parents.”  Obachan was in the kitchen and I said hello to her on the way through, which amounted to making eye contact with her (so we’d both know who I was talking to) and saying, “Helloooo!  It’s nice to see  you again.”

So I sat at the table with “Big-D” and “Saba”, (Eve’s step-father is Israeli) and chatted with them about the weather, and about work (Saba always asks me “hows your job”, it get’s really old trying to be polite and not say, “It sucks big gorilla dick and I wish I could quit but I don’t have any other prospects or any hope and I’ll probably die at this job because I’m worthless and can’t do anything else and I hate it, but thanks for asking.”), GPS devices, an offer of seeds (pumpkin I think), Invisalign (I have it and therefor declined the seeds) and Sudoku.  (Bear in mind, I did not know that it was going to be anyone besides me, Eve and her boyfriend.”)  Every five minutes Obachan would say something I couldn’t understand and Big-D would say, “I’m ready.” and Saba would say, “I’m ready” and I would say, “I’m ready.  What am I ready for?”  and no one would make a move for the door.  Three guesses who we were waiting for, only this time, she had a decent excuse.  Eve was on the phone with the VA trying to straighten something out for Grandpa.

While we were waiting a woman I’ve never seen before wondered into the kitchen and milled around for a little while.  I did not say anything because she had not noticed me,  I was in a room full of people who knew both of us and I was uncomfortable, and I was in the middle of a conversation with Big-D and Saba.  Where I come from, when two people who do not know each other encounter each other and there are others around who do know both parties a third party introduction is the considerate course of action.  Apparently, that is not the case in this household.  Finally, this woman looked across the room at me and said, “Who are you?”  I told her who I was and somehow I became aware that this was Eve’s aunt but still no one made any effort to introduce us.  This was the moment it dawned on me, again, that I was never introduced to Eve’s Grandparents and this is probably the reason I’m so uncomfortable being around them and expected to be the one to start up a conversation.

When Eve was finished with the VA, we headed out with Saba, Big-D and Obachan in one car and Eve, the boyfriend (TBF) and me in my truck.  We went to “the Japanese store” (I’m sure it has a real name, but again, I’ve never heard it – and I certainly couldn’t read it) and afterward Eve, TBF and I broke off on our own.

We had lunch at Tony Roma’s and went to the mall were we went to the movie theater and saw “Roll Models” (Pretty good movie but it was a little bit ruined for me by the six people who decided they had to sit in the top row with us and asked (five minutes after the movie started) if we could move down and make room for them, only to be disruptive the whole time and then I overheard one of them, during the final credits, say, “That’s the first time I’ve ever gone to see the same movie twice in the same day.”)  After the movie we (and by we I mean Eve and TBF) did a wee bit of shopping.  We then left for dinner and went to a Cuban restaurant (I’ve never had Cuban food before.  Don’t know that I ever will again, but it wasn’t terrible.)  After dinner we decided to go shoot some pool but Eve said, “Before we do, I’d like to go back to the house and drop some of this stuff off.”  That should have been the fist indicator of trouble right there, but as I was backing up to get enough distance between my truck and the vehicle in front of me so I could pull away from the curb, I literally forgot there was a car behind me and I backed into it.  Fortunately, it was really just a nudge and there was no damage done to either vehicle and fortunately, the owners of the vehicle (after the hostess finally tracked them down) were perfectly fine with the situation and didn’t even ask for my name or insurance information, but talk about your harbingers of doom…

The three of us returned to the Grandparents house so that Eve and TBF could offload their haul and while we were in the house, Grandpa started in complaining about how Eve had not taken care of all the things on the list…  Every year Eve’s Grandparents give her a few hundred dollars and in exchange, Eve takes care of some items on a “honey-do” list generally having to do with inputting information into the computer, or as in this case, talking to the VA.  Grandpa was having a tantrum because Eve had not taken care of all the items on the list which she said, he had told her not to worry about because other parties were dealing with those things.  And then came an issue with his watch.  (I know what you’re thinking, “what does a blind man need with a watch?” I was thinking the same thing but then I found out that apparently, it talks to him, so, yeah!  OK.)  Something wasn’t right with the watch and Grandpa and TBF went off to Grandpa’s office to find the instructions for it.

I had only been half paying attention as I was talking with Eve’s, now 10 year old, son and watching him play a video game (and I did not want to be a part of – or in the vicinity of – the conflict) so I missed a lot of the action but it was at this point that I heard her complaining to Big-D about Grandpa’s attitude about things and the fact that he apparently holds on to things forever.  “He made a comment about me ‘pulling an Eve'”, she said, in reference to something that had happened when she was 16 years old, she’s now 32.  It was also at this point that I found out that Grandpa had made a point of telling TBF what an ungrateful ingrate I am.

Eve said we should go and sit in the living room and wait for TBF to finish with Grandpa and then we’d go out again.  I asked her, “It sounds like maybe it would be best if I left?”  And she told me no.  That’s when she said we’d leave in a minute.  So we went to sit in the living room and not two minutes later, TBF came into the living room and Grandpa called Eve into his office.

Now, I have tried really hard to look at this situation from other peoples perspective and not be unduly angry but I’m having a hard time not taking this thing personally.  Eve went to see what Grandpa wanted and was gone for almost an hour while I sat in the living room with TBF making small talk (which I suck at) and waiting.  About fifteen minutes into this I felt like I should leave but I felt like if I left without saying good-bye that would be rude and if I interrupted their conversation to say good-bye that would also be rude and give Grandpa more excuses to dislike me, so I sat there looking at the TV with the “The Lord of the Rings” on (Which I do not want to watch.  I read the books as a child and felt they were very demonic) and listening as TBF’s breathing slowed and then turned into a quiet snore.

Finally, Eve came back into the living room, mouthed, “I’m so sorry” to me, and then woke TBF up to tell us (him) about the conversation.  “Do you know what this was allabout?” she asked.  “He’s throwing his little princess fits, (see I come by it honestly)” she told TBF, “because I’m his only Grandchild and he feels like I come all this way to see him and he still doesn’t get to spend time with me because I’m ‘always off doing other things.'”

Now if I look at this from Grandpa’s perspective, sure, if that’s how he perceives things I can understand why he’d be upset.  I don’t think I’d have chosen that moment to talk about it when my Grandchild had a friend waiting for her, though…  If I look at this from Eve’s perspective, I know she was pissed.  I know she wanted to “have it out” with Grandpa but she was going to wait till morning.  I can understand, though, that if this conversation that you feel strongly that you need to have comes up before you planned to have it, you need to follow it through and talk it out with the other person.  I really do get that.

And because I absolutely love Eve, I don’t want to be mad at her.  Nonetheless, I think she could have handled it better.  She knew I was out there waiting for her.  If I’d been in her shoes I’d have told Grandpa, “Hold on one minute.  I want to have this conversation but it’s obviously going to be a little bit and Kevin’s out there waiting.  Let me go send him home and I’ll be right back.”  And then I’d have come out to the living room and told me, “I’m so sorry to do this but I really need to have this conversation and it’s obviously going to take a while so you probably should go ahead and go after all.”  If she’d told me that I, of course, would have been dissapointed but I would have understood it and I would have gone.

None of that happened, though, and in reality, I’m only seeing this from my perspective and my perspective is that her crybaby, whiny-assed Grandfather, deliberately decided to take that moment to have this conversation.  That “always off doing other things” really meant, going off and spending the day with the ingrate, and that it was his intention to ruin the rest of my visit.  And no!  I am not paranoid.  I can’t help it if they’re all out to get me.

But here’s the thing.  As if that weren’t bad enough and enough evidence to support my argument, here’s the rest of the story:

Five minutes after Eve finally rejoined us in the living room, he wheeled his way into the arch-way (can’t roll his wheel chair on the carpet, I guess.) and started talking, to her as if we were not in the middle of a conversation (I’m supposed to believe he didn’t know I was there?)  He started talking to her and it was obvious that he was stretching for things to say (“When you get back to Oklahoma” (this was their last night in town) “see if you can find out who the ‘author’ of this painting is.”?)  This went on for about five more minutes and then when it was obvious that my time had ended I told her I should be going.  It was about 9:30 PM and we’d had a long day together.

After making me seek out and say good-bye to Obachan and Grandpa, I got to the door with my shoes on my feet, coat on my back and car keys in hand, expecting that she would walk me out to my car as usual (and, I guess, hoping for a bit of an apology for the way the evening had turned out – for which I would have absolved her of all responsibility) but instead, she gave me a hug, opened the door and stood aside.  I hate to think I’m making more out of that then I should but there was an almost physical feeling of not-right-ness to it.  I don’t think she’s ever, not walked me out to my car and I don’t like that she didn’t do it this time.

So here I am, nearly a week later, and I’m still bothered by the experience.  And I’m bothered that I’m bothered.  And I don’t know how I should react.  I want to ask her about it but I don’t want to blame her, and I don’t want to piss her off, which I have never succeeded in doing and she swears I can’t…  but I never believe her…  and I’m sad…  and I want her to be a more constant part of my life…  and I want her to be a boy…  and I’m sad…

It’s All About Eve

My retarded clever gene has struck again.

I’ve tried three times to start this post in a clever way and nothing seems quite right, so I’m just going to be straight… eh’hem.  So to speak.

The love of my life is coming to town.  I’m totally stoked!  She’s bringing her boyfriend.  I could do without that.  Not that there’s anything wrong with him, he’s actually a really nice guy, but her having a boyfriend means she’s not pining away for me and I’m not loving that.  Her name is “Eve” (as in “All About… “).  OK, it’s not really, but I call her that here because she will be the first person to tell you that “it’s all about me”, and she won’t be kidding.  It would be annoying and a real turn-off except that part of what is all about her, is her genuine interest and care for the people in her life.  She has an amazing ability to turn that “it’s all about me” selfishness right on upside down into a selflessness that is completely unparalleled.  I also call her “Eve” here because, well, even though it is an actual real name (the only one you’ll find in my cast of characters, thus far) it is absolutely nothing like her real name which makes it sufficiently anonymous while still being slightly clever.  (Seriously folks, I need someone besides me to validate my cleverness.)

Now, if you’re a regular reader (and if you’re not, you should be!), I’m sure I can imagine what you’re probably saying to yourself right now.  “This dude is gay.  Why is he talking about a woman as the love of his life?”  And you’re probably right.  It’s a little bit odd.  But I guess you’d have to know us.

Eve has a far clearer picture of the real me, than anyone else in the world, I think.  I shudder at the thought that maybe she doesn’t know it all, and if she did, I’d finally succeed in driving her away.  Lord knows I’ve worked pretty damn hard at it over the years.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I met Eve around the middle of 1995, I think (may have been 96, I’m bad with this stuff.  But she’s not.)  I was working as an Assistant Manager at the Men’s Clothing Store that happened to carry a moniker deceptively similar to but has no affiliation with that of a former NFL Running Back but which has since gone out of business, when Eve transferred in from the Salt Lake City store.  She was a year younger than I which is to say, she moved to Tulsa, because she still lived with her mother and her mother moved to Tulsa for work so therefore Eve moved to Tulsa as well.  Eve was essentially placed in our store by the District Manager who didn’t ask the Store Manager for her opinion or an interview and therefor Eve was starting out on the losing end.

The fact is Eve had everything you want in a “sales girl” in a men’s clothing store you want to be viewed as “young and hip.”  (Just to remind you that I am gay, and just how much, it popped into my head and I started to type, “now Eve Peron, had every disadvantage, you’ll need if you’re gonna succeed.”) (and that’s an Evita reference for those who don’t know.) She was young (19), beautiful and very flirtatious.  Before her mother’s job brought them to Tulsa, Eve was the strongest seller in her store.  This is the reason there was no question whether she’d be brought onto our staff when the call came in.

Eve was instantly disliked by the Store Manager, Jodi (I’ll use her real name because we aren’t friends, I don’t know where she lives and I doubt she’ll ever see this) because Eve was “forced” upon us, and by the First Assistant Manager, Paul (I’ll use his real name for all the same reasons) because of no reason that I can identify.  It’s possible that Paul was just loyal to Jodi and that was all it took.  I don’t know.

Eve has an amazing memory.  Stunning even.  She remembers specific events, and specific things that were said that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She consistently blows me away with the things she pulls out.  I on the other hand, can’t seem to remember jack shit!  I don’t really remember how I came to be friends with her.  In fact, I thought things were somewhat tense between us.  I remember more than one occasion when Eve drove me to my car at the end of our shifts.  It was the holidays and the lowly mall employees were relegated to parking in the middle of BFE so that the precious patrons wouldn’t have to walk very far.  On more than one occasion we had conversations about why she was having trouble with Jodi, and what Eve could do differently to win her over.  Eve tells me, however, that there was rumor and speculation about me having had feelings for her.  Looking back, I realize that’s probably true.

Jodi quit soon after Eve joined us and we got a new Manager named Becky (Oh. My. God.)  I remember that Becky and Eve usually worked the day shift together which did not make Eve very happy because there was far less business in the day time than there was any other time, but that’s how the schedule usually came together.  I remember walking into the store one late November afternoon and finding Eve standing in the front window, waste deep in a gold leme faux gift box.  Becky felt that Eve would be fairly artistic and that she should do the holiday window display.  I have two specific memories from this day and no idea what order they come in.

Memory #1:  I’m somewhere in the store, doing something store-like, and I hear a yelp.  I look toward the front of the store as Eve slowly turns around to face me, biting her bottom lip and a glisten of fought back tears in her eyes.  When she could speak again, after the bleeding had stopped she revealed to me that she had been holding a piece of our semi-industrial strength packing tape in between her lovely lips while arranging the tissue paper she was about to tape in place and when she literally yanked the tape out of her mouth, some of the flesh from her lip came with it.  It was one of those things that we knew we’d laugh at some day, but you should have seen her face in the moment.

Memory #2:  (I’m guessing this one comes first.)  Eve is in the window up to her eyeballs in paper and gift wrap and clothes and mannequins and I hear her say, “Oh sure!  Make the Jewish girl do the Christmas display!”

That year we decided to have a “Secret Santa” gift exchange in our store.  The rule was that we would not spend more than $10.00 and there was a sheet behind the register where we were supposed to put down ideas about what our Secret Santa could get us.  I remember very little about how the whole exchange went down but I remember that I had picked Eve‘s name.  Most of the staff went into the thing with limited (read: negative amounts of) gusto and most of the gifts amounted to $10.00 gift certificates (yes!  Certificates, not cards!) to Blockbuster, or a music store, or McDonald’s (actually some of those college kids really appreciated the McD’s certs) or a $10.00 bill stuck into an envelope.

By this time Eve and I had become friends and there was no tension that I can recall, so I really wanted to give her a good gift.  I didn’t care about the Secret Santa.  I didn’t care about the $10.00 limit.  I wanted to give my friend a good Christmas gift.  You see, gift giving is a major weak point of mine and I’m always disappointed by my own poor gift giving acumen.  But Eve had let something slip.  “James and the Giant Peach” was coming out in the movie theaters and she wanted to see it.  She mentioned one day that “James and the Giant Peach” had been her favorite book growing up.

It was one of my good days and I was paying attention.  I made a mental note and when I got the chance I went and found a pristine, hard cover copy of “James and the Giant Peach.”  Now, as I’m writing this I’m realizing, I may even have special ordered it.  You know, it’s funny!  To me, giving a book as a Christmas gift isn’t a big deal.  That has a lot to do with the fact that Dead Beat Dad‘s parents used to send us books from foreign countries, travel guides I think they were, all the time.  Every Birthday and every Christmas we could count on getting a book from the grand peeps.  And to tell the truth, it sucked!  So big deal, I thought, so I got you a book.  It’s only special ’cause it’s your favorite and I thought it’d be nice for you to have a pristine copy. But to hear Eve tell it, it was a big deal.  It seems like she’s told me it had to have been expensive.  Whatever was so special about it, it was certainly grist for the rumor mill.  I didn’t care.  I’d done something nice for my friend and she was grateful.

And then tragedy struck.  Eve decided to take up her Dead Beat Dad on an offer to come to Idaho where he lived and work in his office.  Two years earlier I had taken up my own Dead Beat Dad on a similar offer for many reasons. I couldn’t blame her for going.  I had already done the same thing.  But as I recall it (which is admittedly probably faulty) this is the moment that it hit me.  This woman matters to me. And I was about to lose her.  I was terribly sad she was going and didn’t really know how to tell her.  I wanted to ask her not to go, but I had nothing to offer her to make her stay.  So I said nothing.  And she went.  And we lost touch.  I was never very good at long distance relationships.  Even my relationships with my various family members have suffered from distance.  With one notable exception, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.  But I digress.

Eve left me and I was devastated.  But two years in Idaho was enough for her and she moved back to be with her mother, and Eve and I were back on…  So to speak.  There was no aspect of our relationship that pointed at romance.  Eve never expressed that kind of interest in me and I certainly didn’t have the cajones to try and make something happen, so there we were, smack dab in the middle of friend central.  A few years ago I asked her in an instant message conversation if there was any chance we would have ended up  together if I had not moved to California.  She told me “I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But I’ll tell you this much.  You wouldn’t have stayed a virgin for so long.”  (You should have seen the looks on my co-workers faces when the realized that boom they heard was me falling out of my chair.)

Something unusual happens when Eve drinks alcohol.  She gets very drunk, very fast, on very little.  And then a half hour or so later she’s perfectly sober.  No doubt a breathalyzer would disagree, but for all intents and purposes she’s good.  After she moved back to Oklahoma Eve met a guy and despite his name, he did not live in a giant peach, and despite his not living in a giant peach, I’m still going to call him “the Pitts”.  (Hey my clever gene is waking up.)  The Pitts was an ex-husband and a father of two children, and a carrier of a nasty little venereal disease, none of which did he bother to mention to Eve.  So on one particular evening when they were together and Eve‘s odd metabolism had done its worst, she convinced him they should have sex.  The Pitts, apparently resisted (only a little I’m sure) but she told him, “C’mon.  You know we’re gonna do it eventually, why wait?”  So they did.  Under protected.  If ya know what I mean.

The Pitts left her with two “gifts” that night.  Not long after that, he just left her.  When Eve knew she was pregnant, she told me about it.  I was a terrible friend, for I was still under the influence of Vengeful Mother and had not yet learned to form my own ideals and principles (yes, even in my early 20s).  Eve told me, “I don’t know if I can do this.  I’m not sure I can keep it.  I’m thinking of having an abortion.”  I don’t know what I said, or how I reacted, but I know something in me changed that night, at least for a time.  Abortion, I thought, how can she consider an abortion?  Abortion is wrong.  If she does that, she’ll be wrong.  I can’t be friends with someone who has an abortion! Far be it from me to just support my friend through whatever she may be going through without judging her actions.

We drifted again.  At the time that she told me this I was contemplating a change of my own.  I soon made my move to California, and while we talked some after that, we lost touch again.  The few times that we did talk after that I never asked, and she never said, what she’d decided about the baby.  It wasn’t until the following October that she made contact with me again and told me that she and her parents… and her son were coming to California the week of Thanksgiving to visit her grandparents and that if I wanted to we could get together while she was here.  It was at that moment that I realized just how much I missed her, how much she had meant to me and how I had just walked away from it. I’d like to think that I’d have felt this way regardless, but I admit that when I heard her say “my son” and I knew she had not had the abortion, my heart skipped with joy and relief.  I guess somehow that made her acceptable again.  I’m a terrible friend.

There is more to this story I haven’t the time to tell now, but suffice it to say, Eve is my dearest friend!  She means the world to me, and we have a relationship that defies explanation.  We hardly ever talk to each other, probably more my fault than hers, but when we do see each other, every year, the day after Thanksgiving, like clockwork, set your watch by it, for ten years running?  It’s like we never missed a day.  It’s awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for the world!  Vengeful Mother asked me to come “home” for Thanksgiving, the other day.  I told her, “No.  I have a prior engagement.”

The love of my life is coming to town, in 16 days.  I’m totally stoked.

Life, Lunacy and the Pursuit of Financial Happiness; or The General State of Affairs

There’s a tickle at the back of my brain. A wee, small voice is calling out for freedom. There is a compulsion making its way to the surface. I feel like I have something to write. I’m just not sure yet what it is.

Saturday was Vengeful Mother’s 64th birthday. I played the dutiful son and called to wish her Happy Birthday and to inform her that a gift was not to follow. Things have been really tight for me lately. True to form, she took advantage of a moment of vulnerability on my part in which I told her of the financial difficulty I’ve been experiencing, to tell me that I wouldn’t be in this situation if I would just pay my tithes. Because after all, when I’m having trouble making ends meet to begin with the smartest thing I could do is write a $250.00 check, twice a month, for which I’ll receive no goods or services in return. Why wouldn’t I want to be $250.00 shorter per paycheck than I am now?

She tells me things would have been worse if she hadn’t done it, but I remember watching her write her tithe checks regularly, spending her last $50.00, and then having to scrape the cupboards to try to find something to feed her three hungry children. I guess she was “leading by example” by writing the checks, but what she was trying to instill in her children, that God will bless your finances if you tithe, didn’t come through. As far as I can tell, she’s still waiting for the blessing.

I suppose I was meant to accept not suffering homelessness, not having to go to school in rags and not starving to be a blessing. Now, I know I’m a bitter old dolt who has a fucked up sense of obligation but as far as I’m concerned, if Vengeful Mother and Dead Beat Dad weren’t prepared to guarantee those minimums, they should never have procreated in the first place. They probably shouldn’t have anyway. No, to me, being blessed is having all your needs met and having ample opportunities to make the most of your life. Those are the things I most certainly did not see happening when Vengeful Mother put her last few tuppence in the offering plates. Those are the things I didn’t have, period.

Tithes are supposed to be the “first fruits” of your “harvest” or the first 10% of your income. In other words, pre-tax. So my take home pay may be $1500.00 every two weeks, but I earn closer to $2500.00. Uncle SAM (as in Stole All my Money) takes the first nearly $1000.00 and then I’m supposed to hand over $250.00 more than that, before I do anything else? It’s impossible!

We had a luncheon at work today. I work in a small office of about five people. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve already been “introduced” to that group. We have a counter part group who works in another building. We don’t like them. They don’t like us. We have a mutual don’t like for each other and it’s a permanent condition.

Since my manager, Douche bag, is on vacation, the diminutive manager for the other group has been in charge. He decided to buy lunch for everyone today. So we gathered for sandwiches in a conference room. Midway through the lunch, he decided to announce that he was going to make this a monthly thing and that we’d meet for lunch monthly.

Every couple of months this comes up. Douche bag and his fun sized counterpart talk about how we should work together and have team building orgie— er, exercises and be BFFs, like that’s all it takes. Personalities and hard feelings be damned. I’m not sure why they can’t get it through their impenetrable skulls that we do not enjoy each others company and no amount of forcing the issue will change that. In fact forcing it on us will just make it harder to change things.

I had a couple of very peculiar dreams the other night. The first had to do with a forced entry situation at Vengeful Mother’s house. CPA sister and I were both there and it was bed time. CPA Sis was getting into bed in the living room, and Vengeful Mother was in bed in her room. CPA sis came across some papers in the living room that had some significance to a former boyfriend of hers; we’ll call him Breastplate (Explanation to follow). Vengeful Mother and I were reviewing the papers and realized that they were incriminating for Breastplate and some other guys. Suddenly, we heard loud noises as the front door was being broken down. I grabbed the papers and stuffed them under Vengeful Mother’s headboard.

I don’t really remember what happened after that except that the guys were tearing the house apart trying to find the papers and there was threatening and violence going on.

The second dream had a similar theme. I dreamed that Vengeful Mother and I were in a drug/grocery store and we had separated. The store was taken hostage by a group of ne’er-do-wells. I do not remember what their motivations were, but I remember that they were very rough. They were armed, but they had some sort of poison darts that they used to kill some of the hostages.

Once again, I do not remember the details of the dream but I remember that Vengeful Mother was killed with one of those darts. The dream ended when the police broke into the store and took out the bad dudes. I had managed to kill one of them in the course of my dream so when it was clear that the evil doers were going to die, their leader shot me with one of the darts, a moment before a policeman shot and killed him. Then just as everything was going dark I felt a sharp prick and shortly after I recovered. The police had the antidote for the poison and were able to save me, but not Vengeful Mother.

My therapist had the audacity to go on vacation last week and so it’ll have been two weeks since I’ve seen her, when I get to my appointment tomorrow evening. It seems as though I may have a lot to talk about. I do not wish for Vengeful Mother’s demise, but I do know that many things would be a lot easier on me if she was no longer part of my life. As I mentioned, she just turned 64 and some of you might be saying I don’t have that much longer with her, but you’d be wrong. People in my family, on both sides actually, live very long lives. My Paternal Grandfather who just died was almost 92. My Paternal Grandmother was in her early 80s when she died of cancer. My Maternal Grandmother was 84 when she died. The only enigma, if you will, is my Maternal Grandfather. He was killed when a psychotic divorceé boarded his plane wearing a dynamite vest in 1962. Grandfather was in his late 30s. Who knows how old he would have lived to be?

I take comfort in the fact that I won’t have to face the death of my parents for many years, and yet, there would be some comfort to be taken if I didn’t have to deal with those troubled relationships any further.

After nearly a year of negotiation, my regrettably pink bathroom is finally going to be remodeled starting on Monday, August 25, 2008. I’m dreading it. It’s going to be a major hassle for me. Their will be detritus everywhere while the work is happening. For a few days, my shower will be unavailable to me. Scared kitty will have to be closed up in the kitchen for his own safety and sanity, and the house will have to be thoroughly cleaned this week before my landlord sets foot in the place to meet with the contractor. I’ll be thrilled when the work is done.

My house was built in the 1920s. And the bathroom may well be the original bathroom, save for a new-ish toilet that was put in fewer than 5 years ago. The floor, sink counter and backsplash, and two sided shower surround are all covered in 4″ x 4″ pastel pink tile. The counter has a beveled, raised, pastel pink tile boarder that is hard to keep clean, and the counter is only 22 inches deep while the sink is 26 inches deep, so there is an angled protrusion from the counter where the sink is. The tile is dirty with the kind of dirt that doesn’t come out. Decade upon decade of use has resulted in a hue of grey that covers the pink such that only a power sand scrub or perhaps a dose of hydrochloric acid would make it come off, and then the tile would come up too. There are also what my landlady calls spider vein cracks in the tile. But most importantly, IT’S PINK!

Apparently, in the 1920s people were a good foot and a half shorter than they are now. The shower head, were it not to have an aftermarket handheld shower wand added to it, would hit me mid tattoo

 

and require me to bend down significantly to use it, and the top of the tile shower surround hits my shoulder level. Here in Oakland, we have a lot of mold issues to deal with, and it’s been my concern all along that this is going to be an issue if left unchecked.  (By the way, no comments about my ogre head!)

When completed, my bathroom is going to have new shower head that is up about two feet from it’s current location, the shower surround will be two single slabs of granite that will go up to 18″ from the ceiling, their will be an entirely new sink console with a new sink with polished nickel fixtures including a goose neck faucet. A new wall mounted mirror will hang over the counter and the counter will be single slab marble. Their will be fresh paint, new light fixtures, new towel hooks and rods and a brand new pergo floor. When finished the bathroom will be modern and lovely and will match the rest of the renovated house. I can’t wait!

And then theirs work. Douche Bag returns from his three and a half week tour of China tomorrow. When that happens, the respite I have had from all the shit that comes with his presence will be over. I do not look forward to that. I so desperately want to change jobs. I want to find something to do that is fulfilling and gratifying. I want to make a living being creative and inspiring to people. I would like to be a writer, but I don’t know how to make a living that way.

What I need is a sugar daddy! I’m now taking applications! Serious inquiries only, please!