How do you make pickle bread?
You start with a dill dough…
“Yes, and I didn’t snap or anything. I just asked her to keep the cap on it when she wasn’t using it. She denied uncapping it, SWEARS she didn’t uncap it. Which pissed me off, because it’s just me and her there at 5 AM, and the pen has a habit of uncapping itself in the middle of the night…”
Mizelle and I were talking about stupid domestic squabbles, and the stupid things that cause them. She and the Frenchman have reconciled after a time apart, and she called to say hi the other day. We soon knew we’d need more than a phone call to get all the juicy details, so we made a lunch date. In the meantime, I might as well document the occasion…
I took the train downtown to the Psycho Safeway. I’d asked Clairissa if she wanted a beer? “Nah, bring me a candy bar. You choose.” I found a Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar, stashing it in a black plastic beer bag. I waited for the Union Avenue bus, listening to Steely Dan and reminiscing about all the times I used to invade my barber. There was a time when I would see her every two weeks. There was the summer of my 50th birthday, when we shared truly magical times. I missed my friend, my hair was a mess, and I was having girlfriend issues.
It was time for Hairapy.
It’s business as usual. Kinda.
Rain showed up after four days, looking haggard. I’d called her, but no answer. Her throwaway phone may have run out of minutes, or she’s holed up somewhere, either in a dope haze or withdrawing from one. I tried not to care, but I worry.
She smiled at me. “Babe, I been so sick. I got a bed at the shelter, so I’ve been staying in there, away from everybody.”
“Everybody has been looking for you, asking. My co-workers see you, say you look like shit, no disrespect.”
“None taken. I feel like shit. This has got to end.” She rested her head on my chest. “The others don’t care about me. They just know I’ll share if they’re sick. Motherfuckers. I lost that phone I found.”
“That explains you not taking my calls.”
“Oh yeah, don’t leave a message. It’s the phone I found, and I don’t know how to unlock the messages.”
“I know. I’ve learned.” I smiled, weakly.
So… She’s okay, doing pretty much exactly what she was doing a year ago. So am I. I love her for who she is, and without the drug habit I never would have met her, so how can I complain too much? When you get a snake for a pet, you risk being bitten. Not saying Rain is a snake, but I do see occasional snaky behavior. It comes with the package.
I go on about my business. She comes by work once or twice a night, for a kiss, a hug and a cup or two of coffee. When she’s on a dope run it’s a 24/7 job, and I come secondary. I’ve adapted to that, and when dope is #1 in her life I don’t take it (too) personal. I understand the Nature of the Beast. I’ll be there when she’s done with him.
I hope she doesn’t take too long. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. In the meantime, I will have a pint of this and be happy for my slightly dysfunctional love life.
It took two weeks, but we finally had The Talk.
After the initial blow-up and subsequent eviction of my sorta-live-in girlfriend, I’d wondered if we’d be apart for a long time, if I’d see her again, or I’d be weak in the knees (or a couple feet higher, to be exact) and welcome her back with no consequence. It took several days for her to get up the nerve to visit me at work, and she stayed close to the door in case I blew up at her. She knows I have a temper, and would never hit her, but I don’t think she was ready for the verbal onslaught I am capable of when righteously pissed. She made sure there was someone around, just in case.
On the two-week anniversary of me putting her out, she showed up at the store…
That doesn’t mean I don’t check up on her. I could cyber-snoop, I have all her internet info. I only did that once, and felt like the lowliest of shitweasels. I trust her more than that now. I’m referring to knowing where she might be, and gazing from a block away to make sure she’s up and around, doing all right. My hard line toward her has softened, though I know things won’t be the same. They might get back to close, but that’s going to take a while.
Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
I joke a lot about getting high, and it’s no secret that I have a medical marijuana card, but I haven’t used hard drugs in years. I haven’t done white powders (meth or cocaine) since 1996. The last time I took psychedelics (LSD or mushrooms) was at a Kid Rock concert in 2004. I haven’t drank alcohol in over two years, and tobacco irritates me. I take pain meds when available, and imbibe freely on top-grade herb. I’m in a good place.Lately, however, I have been running with fast company. Someone who shoots heroin and smokes crack when she feels like it. Lately she’s been feeling like it a lot, and it’s gotten to the point where I can no longer be around it.
To rate the chances of our relationship repairing? For once, I am pessimistic. I have been cautious, but as trust grew I let my guard down, and things began disappearing. I had to know for sure, so I started paying attention to the little things…
It has been an incredible summer. I’ve had a companion, a witness and co-conspirator, a sidekick, a lover. A vision of beauty that made me look above my class. We held hands on the walk home from the bus last night. Yes, we’ve been calling it home. She’s been calling it home. But this morning, she packed her bags and left.
As partings go, it wasn’t bad. It hurt to watch her empty her underwear and sock stash, leaving the box I’d doodled her nickname on. She took her shoe collection from under the bed. I gave her my lighter. It was lime green, a color that looks good on her. We hugged and exchanged a heartfelt “I love you”.
It’s time. We’ve made proficient use of my tiny living space. I never thought I’d be able to sleep on a single bed again, let alone share it with a full-grown woman. I will miss having her bodacious behind nestled into my lap, with her hip as my armrest as we sleep the sleep of a crashing three-day tweaker. She called it snoring; I called it music to my ears. If I could hear her rhythmic breathing and feel her pressed against me, I knew she was all right.
And now, I’m going to have to teach myself to love her a little less. To not think about where she’s sleeping at night, or with whom. I checked on her tonight, and kinda wish I hadn’t. I heard things I didn’t want to hear, but they were things I had to hear. PAY ATTENTION. LISTEN. Our time was there, and it has gone. I made as many concessions for her as I could, but now my family, and myself, must come first. There are bells I can’t unring, images I can’t unsee. I am open-minded and giving, but some things I just can’t share.
Some things I just can’t share.
Go, take care of yourself. Be well. Know you are loved.
And thank you for an awesome summer.
I have not gone missing. I’ve been busy.
Instead of excuses as to why I haven’t been writing, I will try to capture what’s been happening before I forget. Road trips, hospital visits, SEX! I’m being rode hard and put away wet, and I am liking it!
“You want me to?”
We’re beyond intimate now. We’ve turned sharing a single bed into an art form; she lays just so, my arm goes there, my other arm rests on her cocked hip, her bodacious booty nestling into my lap like a couple of soup spoons. We’re bending, stretching, flexing in ways people our age usually don’t. In a word, glorious.
There are trials and tribulations along the way; my paradise is paved with some irritation. But mostly life is good.
There *was* a road trip planned this weekend, but that got scrubbed, so there’s a good chance I may hibernate in front of the keyboard instead of hiding behind a steering wheel on the open road.
So yeah, I got a couple things to talk about. I just need a few hours away from work to get it out. T minus twelve hours and counting until weekend…
I recently finished a 68-hour work week. Before that, 54 hours. Daddy’s getting a new pair of shoes.
Something’s up. I spent lunch hour in the park, listening to sappy love songs and trying not to cry. Sometimes life seems so good, you know it can’t just keep going on that way. But I can hope.
Rain has been living with me. We arrive home late and leave together; I go to work while she does her thing. We meet up throughout the night, and catch the bus home together. Abandoning the front, we’ve taken to sitting in the back, with her sleeping on my shoulder as I stare out the window. It’s a ten-minute walk through Felony Flats to my house. The neighbors see us in the daylight, and while I don’t notice, Rain thinks they stare. They do, but not because we’re a mixed couple, or because Rain is black.
It’s because we look so damn good together.
I carded a young couple the other night. “How old you think we are?” the guy asked. I don’t usually play this game, but they were out-of-towners out of their element and I wanted them to relax. Rain was standing next to the porno rack, sleepy.
“I’d guess you’re thirty, and she’s about twenty-five. But she don’t look it.” I smiled at the petite Asian girl, whose demure smile was contradicted by mischievous eyes.
“Damn, bro, spot on!” Dude-30 bumped my knuckles.
“How old you think she is?” I asked them, nodding toward Rain. She appeared to be dozing. It was 1:30 AM.
Asian Girl got wide-eyed, a look that said, “You don’t really expect me to discuss that woman’s age while she’s standing there, do you?”
“It’s okay, we’re together. Just don’t say sixty.”
Rain gave me a slow look.
The Asian Girl said, “I think she is 34 and you are 36.” Dude 30 nodded in agreement.
“You hear that, babe? And that’s after the second double-shift!” She’d been right there with me, most of the time. It earned me a wink.
The Asian couple left, knowing old doesn’t mean less than beautiful.
Working into the overnight, we see a lot of sketchy types. The folks who live on the sidewalks and have nowhere else to go. They amuse themselves waiting for last call, and as the bars empty they move in for the day’s last round of panhandling. Even Rain said, “I’m gonna go down in front of the strip joint and flash some leg, see if I can get some old drunk’s hopes up.” She was back in five minutes, and made five bucks without showing or giving up anything. Gotta love alcohol once in a while.
As dawn broke and we made our way home, we held hands walking up the bus mall. Her head on my shoulder, the quiet walk up the road, the quiet calm as we discard the day and curl up in spoon position on my single bed. For a long time I feared having her with me; now I’m beginning to wonder what I’d do without her.
As I get those funny burning feelings in my chest, (mushy love stuff, not acute angina, although she does have a cute- oh never mind) I wonder if my brain and my heart will be on the same page some day. She’s not perfect, but neither am I, and who ever is? I enjoy her company, immensely, we have fun together even when times are sucky. She’s starting to make me feel like I’m her man, not just her coin-purse-that-delivers.
I’ve taken to leaving her at home to sleep as long as she wants, and to follow me into work if she wants to. Most days she comes later in the evening, strolls around and says hi to her friends. She’s taking steps to make a source of tension in our relationship better, and as I see progress I can only feel my love for her grow stronger. We may not end up together forever, but I know we love each other enough that we will never not be friends.
And so, my ebony princess, as you sleep I will play this song, cry a little bit and wash away all evidence in a cold shower. And when I see your eyes playing peekaboo over my counter later, the smile erupting from my face will be spontaneous and heartfelt.
Much like my feelings for you have always been. <3 Outie