Ten years ago today I went on my first and only Craigslist date.
For the longest time we told the kids we “met at the mall.” Which is true, but we met at the mall after lonely hearts ads were answered on CL. May Day was full of protest; crowds marched the streets, the black-hooded dingleberries played on the freeway, people were maced, I believe. I didn’t know and didn’t care. My new friend and I were looking for a safe-feeling place to get to know each other. We cared not what the rest of the world was up to. Make love, not war! was the theme of the day.
That tryst turned into one of the most intense relationships of my life. I’ve never cried harder than when I was told it was ending, though ending the relationship was the right thing to do. I grew up a lot during that relationship, and I hope someday I can share that level of intimacy with someone else. I’ve considered her one of the true great loves of my life. You know who you are.
This was brought back with such force in part because of TriMet. They rerouted the #15 NW 23rd Ave bus, it temporarily stops where I get off downtown. As I headed to the Flower Shop, I saw the #15 and hopped on. I was curious.
“Have you been on this route long?” I asked the driver.
“About three days.”
“Is there still a market behind Montgomery Park?”
“I don’t recall seeing one.”
“Next to the car wash?”
He remained quiet, so I decided to ride along and see for myself.
I had three days off last weekend, in which time almost all of the women in my life ignored me. Coincidence? I think not! It was a grand conspiracy to keep me from two of life’s favorite things.
Or maybe not.
I tried calling Meg after finishing laundry Friday morning. Get the responsibilities out of the way, so the fun can begin. Starting early, I was at the laundromat by 10 AM. Had the joint to myself, in more ways than one, and finished about 1 PM. I sat in my chair for a second, and awoke at 2:45. Shit, I must hurry if I want to get Meg’s errands ran by 4 PM. I called, but she didn’t answer. I tried two more times. Oh well. Maybe she fell asleep.
I’d been spending time with Stevie, mostly when her son was at school. We all got along great; her son loved when I brought Angel over for a puff and a laugh. I envied his experiencing puberty living in a downtown apartment, explaining to Stevie that country raised Jesus-freaks are just as susceptible to life’s misfortunes as street rats from the urban core, while typically growing up with a more open mind.
This was subject to debate, as was most everything with Stevie.
If this were autumn, we’d be calling the weather Indian Summer, so I guess we’re on the cusp of Cowboy Springtime. The days have been sunny, the nights cold and clear. The young girls are sporting sundresses. Young boys are sporting other things because of such. I watched two teenage boys and a girl share two seats on the MAX. I thought they were going to do it right there, then the girl made a joke about an open sore and it was like an ejection seat. They spoke of condoms after that.
The lovely ladies of the ’80s era were out in force. (I saw fetish gear in the store NOT close to Club Sesso.) Even co-workers who don’t usually drink were out tearing it up, looking for a little ‘strange’ on a cool almost-spring night.
My friend Stevie has been hanging around. Nothing is going on, but it has the feeling it could. Her son has a robust social life, with many activities keeping him away from home. I’m still in a weird place about Rain, and not looking to complicate things. So I be careful what I say and keep my hands to myself.
But, but. But it’s been three months. My brokenhearted martyrdom of celibacy feels more pointless every day. To quote Van Halen, “Everybody wants some. I want some too!”
I’ve been having a good time. Last week’s road trip, then workplace-shuffling have me floating on a never-ending space-cruise. Running errands for Meg. Tell me where to go and when to be there. I’ve been going up to Stevie’s for smoke breaks. It keeps her in weed and calm. When I told Meg about it, she reacted like a raging ’60s housewife. She ranted for a minute, then said, “Why do I mind, anyway?”
I was charmed.
So, when I was all devil-and-angel at Stevie’s, thinking naughty thoughts while peacocking over Meg’s sudden jealousy, my phone goes off. It’s Rain. “Where are you? At your little frenn’s house?…”
I was ready for a walk. “Where are you? I could meet you at Pioneer Square?”
“Meet me at Starbucks on 4th.” Done. I got right there, and of course Rain was nowhere to be seen. I’d pulled out my phone and was dialing when I saw her walking toward me. I had to laugh. “What’s so funny, Redman?”
“We should coordinate more often.” She was wearing my favorite little red dress. I was wearing the infamous red shirt. We were dressed like teammates.
We walked and talked. Saw Festus, who got a hug. (From Rain, not from me.) I saw a Green Line approaching. “Want to get on?”
“You want me to come over? I suppose we could. I could get some clothes.” She looked at me sideways. “Or something.” She started to grin, and I felt all funny down there. We got on the train. I folded her coat and set it on my lap. She rested her head and slept while we rode. Every couple stops she’d stir, I’d give a reassuring shoulder stroke and she’d drift back off. I started nudging about two stops from home, and we were off the train and walking.
We stopped at the Kwik-E-Mart, where Rain had bought doggie bones for my blind mutt. At home, I entered first. When more motion was detected, Doggie was up and at the door. Her tail was straight out and NOT wagging. Then she caught Rain’s sexy scent of cigarettes and perfume, and that tail was moving like a blind man’s cane during the 100-yard-dash at the Special Olympics. The Bone of Bribery insured that the dog would not give a shit about me for months, once she realizes Rain isn’t behind me.
We retreated to my room, locking the door. She removed the red dress, the thigh-high boots too. I pulled slippers from under the bed. I smoked a joint while she smoked a cigarette. She wanted to “show me something on my phone.” I watched as she flipped through the apps, glancing at pictures and phone messages. She wasn’t particularly nosy, but she saw enough to know I didn’t have anything else going on at the moment. We e-mailed pictures to each other, she made a surreptitious home movie of me reclining next to a devil’s trident, smoking with my reading glasses on. She showed it to me. “Don’t think I didn’t think about you. I knew where you would be, and what you would be doing. I thought of you every time someone blew their nose…”
“Aww, it’s cold and flu season. You must have been thinking of me all the time.”
“You know it,” she said.
We talked, honestly but not too seriously. She confessed things I may or may not have known. I played close to the vest, but at one point, as she leaned over my bed, using it as a table to scratch her lottery ticket, I said “I have missed the view.” I stood behind her as she swayed her hips back and forth. I rubbed her back, kissed her neck, and whispered a provocative question into her ear.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“Ten o’clock. We got about an hour.”
“So I been here for six hours and you just now hitting on me?”
“Oh, uh, yes.” She gave me that smile, and we were like newlyweds. I could remember few times as passionate as that hour. We took a couple minutes too long. The last train had left the neighborhood. So I rode with her on the bus back to Old Town. Our arrival was met with a police barricade; some drunken jackass had broken INTO to the county courthouse, bus service disrupted. Since I only had two buses left to get home on, I asked Rain for a pass walking her all the way across downtown. She was cool with it.
As soon as I was rolling, I texted her. “Thank you for a most excellent evening. I’ve missed you.”
“Back at ya, Outie.”
I felt better about things, and not just because I got laid. It was an honest, uncomplicated encounter, and we parted without acrimony or uncertainty. I will likely keep on the hunt, but following my gut. I’ve showed restraint, and for once it seems like I’m getting results. I’m being treated the way I want.
And I’ve reconnected, albeit at a distance, with Rain. I love her and miss her, even if I can’t handle always being around her. If I can’t have my version of a dutiful house-mouse, I can at least have an old friend who probably knows me better than anyone these days, and will still come crawl into bed with me once in a while just because she misses me.
She STILL didn’t take any clothes with her…
“They are just like my old ones. Nike Air Monarch, black, size 13 4E. My last pair were good for five-hundred miles, I figure.”
She was grinning.
“And don’t start singing that fucking song!”
“I would walk five-hundred miles;
And I would… aughh!”
When I find something I like, I stick with it. It’s the bane of all my girlfriends’ existence, I’m sure. My “look” changes about every ten years. My clothes, a little more often, but only because I have a bunch of the same kinds of things.
Pocket tees have been a staple since 1990. I wore sweatpants for twenty years, but switched over last year to denim jeans. I do have a pair of camouflage cargo pants for when I feel like going back to my outlaw hillbilly roots, but I wear them as laundry pants most of the time.
Bottom line, stuff wears out. It was time to refresh.
I get comfort from the damnedest places.
I’ve been living alone for a couple months, maybe three. I’ve asked Rain repeatedly to come get her stuff, while trying to resolve mixed feelings. I want her, and want it to be like it was when it was good. Realistically, that isn’t going to happen, or it would have by now. I’ve given her deadlines, which have come and gone, so today I took a little more of my freedom back.
I moved some of her stuff into the driveway.
It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in ages.
I’ve been trying to get Rain to come get her clothes/possessions for over a month now. Delays were expected, but at the first of the month, when she has money for about three days, I was hopeful. I began making plans.
My first day off was New Year’s Day. I was available, but figured she’d be busy her first day with money. (“There’s so much shopping to do.”) We made plans, but I wasn’t surprised when she left me waiting at the bus stop for an hour. We’ll try again tomorrow.
Friday, we made contact, made plans for early evening. Again, I went to meet her, to escort her to the house, but “something came up” and it was a no-go. That’s all right, I had food at home and was up for a quiet night.
Saturday? She’d texted me during the night, saying she was coming on the last bus, but by Saturday morning she hadn’t shown. By Saturday afternoon we were conversing, and she’d be on her way in a while.
By Saturday night, I was tired of waiting. One of the things we fought most about was her ability to waste my time. I make plans during specific times so I can get things done in an orderly fashion, as I assume most people do. This doesn’t work with Rain, who says “I don’t make plans, I follow God’s plan.” Well, God isn’t making any more time, and I hold mine precious. DO NOT WASTE MY TIME.
I’d spent Saturday waiting, and was done. Sunday was mine! I would watch football, sleep too much, and do what *I* wanted.
Around midnight, Rain called. “You hear that? I’m on the bus, headed your way. Have you ate yet?”
“Yes,” I said. “I’ve ate and gone to bed. Sorry I missed you.” At this point I wasn’t really sorry, though.
“What does that mean? Do you want me to turn around and go back?”
“Well, I been waiting three days for you to show up, I got tired and went to bed. Maybe we can try again tomorrow?” I said it nice as pie.
“I, uh- Fuck! Well, bye!”
I hung up on her.
We haven’t talked since. I might call her in a few days, to let her know her stuff is going into the driveway if she doesn’t come soon. After a day in the driveway? There’s a donation bin around the corner, about to get some nice, cheap ladies clothes…
I can’t decide if it’s been a good Christmas holiday, or the saddest ever. A little of both, maybe?
For the first time in years, I spent the holiday alone. Not completely, sad-old-man alone, but by myself, watching TV, going for walks. Allowing the day to run me, instead of the other way around. As I went through the day, I wondered about Rain. She moved out a month ago, and I barely hear from her. A text once a week or so, telling me she’s coming for her stuff.
But not on Xmas. Not a peep…
Rain’s departure has come with little fanfare this time. Out of respect for her (and us) I haven’t been saying much. My family and co-workers have been through our break-ups many times before. I’m sure folks say “Oh, they’re just fighting, they’ll be fine next week.” For the longest time, that was true.
But, in recovery, they talk about rock bottom. “How do you know when you have hit rock bottom?”
“You’ll know when you get there.”
I’m pretty sure I’m there.
…All over again.
Just spent my first weekend alone in a long, long time. You know, without a girlfriend to answer to, or a date to keep. Just me.
It’s weird how I’d stopped doing things for another person, things I’d loved before. Also, things that hadn’t bothered me were starting to. Rain has been leaving clothes, makeup, worldly possessions, etc… at my place for years, but she used to take them when she went away. This time I am left with a monolith of a suitcase that only fits if sitting on the edge of my bed, braced against the wall a foot away. Hey, it’s almost like sleeping with her…
It goes with the rolling suitcase at the foot of the bed. I can tolerate the five trashbags of clothes hidden around the room, or the dozens of shoes under my bed. The makeup and body lotions on the nightstand add a sense of femininity to the room, and make it seem less like a Florida motel room where old men go to drink themselves to death.
Yet, without a woman there to use those things, clog up my TV-watching with her BET shows and eat half my dinner? I get lonely as hell. So I go out for walks. And bus rides.
Long bus rides.
Rain has been living with me for a couple years, off and on. It’s a cozy arrangement. I have a bedroom that’s about 12×15, in which we share a single bed, and a TV slightly larger than that. That we haven’t killed each other is a testament to ongoing love, because I’m sure we’ve both been tempted a couple times. Despite rough spots, I’ve really enjoyed having her with me.
But, it’s time for space. When the winter shelters open downtown, she volunteers and stays there. We’d been planning her departure for yesterday, opening day, but because of cold weather the shelter opened last week. Rain has been volunteering, and staying with me at night. Yet she held to schedule, and night before last, when I got home from work, she was in full-on packing mode.
My bed was piled four-feet-high solid with clothes. How the fuck did she get all those clothes condensed into that tiny roller suitcase? No wonder the seams had broken. The new suitcase was a collapsible jobber, big enough to hide me or her inside. (“Road trip! You ride in the bag…”) She stuffed four smaller bags inside the big one. Eventually she cleared the bed off, and I fell to sleep. It was about 6 AM.
I awoke about 10 AM. She was still up, but fading. She’s always asking, “Aren’t you sick of me and all this crap of mine in your room?” Even on the rare occasion her stuff does bug me, I keep quiet. It’s like that snoring that bugs you to death. You miss it so bad when it goes away you can’t sleep, because you miss her so much…
I rolled out of bed, put my feet on top of her suitcase next to the bed, looked her in the eye, and said, “Okay, THIS is too much!” I said it with a smile, but she wasn’t looking.
“It’ll be gone tonight. I’M LOADING IT TO LEAVE, REMEMBER?”
Ooh, testy. I backed off. I loaded up and left for work. I’m guessing my room will be a lot roomier after midnight.
About 8 PM, I got a call from Rain. “How you doing, babe? Did you get it moved?”
“Well…” she said. “I was wondering if I could stay one more night? I have to rethink my packing. I can’t drag this thing. It’s too big!”
“Of course,” I said. I wasn’t in a hurry to sleep alone. “It’s like that old Johnny Cash song, where he built a Cadillac in his living room? ‘That’s cool, but how you gonna get it out of your house?'”
About ten minutes to midnight, she showed at work. We met at the bus stop, and went home just like normal.
Now I have this suitcase the size of a Cadillac. We all share a room in Felony Flats. And at the moment it’s sleeping with my girlfriend…