Dad Stories

So my family is in town, and we hung out at my older brother’s place in the Castro for a while. It was me, S and his boyfriend Oscar, my mom and dad, our younger brother R and his girlfriend Dina.

We started talking about broken bones–whose broken them and what. R has broken both arms (both due to rollerblading) and had crutches for a while, but nobody could remember what he did that he was in crutches twice. Dina broke both her wrists in high school while trying to protect herself after falling backwards; one broke right after the other healed and had the cast removed. My mother has also broken a wrist and had pins in her arm for a while because of how badly splintered the bone was in her case (she slipped by a pool). I’ve only broken a big toe; it was two years ago.

Jacob and I were on our way to the gym, walking there, and a man and his kids were on one side. The kids were running, so we moved to the other side to let them pass. However, the side we were then on had one of those large plants with long leaves that flow over the sidewalk, and it partly masked the unevenness of the concrete. My feet got tangled, and I tripped. In trying to stop myself from falling, I kicked my right leg out–slamming my right toe directly into the back of Jacob’s heel. I had to wear an orthopedic shoe for a few months; it wasn’t something they could cast.

Then S asks my father, “But you’ve never broken anything, right?”

He hesitates to respond, and my mother, myself, and R begin to laugh.

“Well, I have,” he says slowly.

“It’s the stupidest way to break anything,” I say.

S, puzzled by the rest of us laughing, asks, “What did you break?”

“I broke my toe,” my dad says. “In a movie theater.”

“How did you do that?”

“I felt an itch on my big toe, and it wouldn’t go away. So I bent my toe and pressed down really, really hard.”

“So you’re either really weak or really strong–which is it?” R laughs.

“Wait, so you broke your own toe? What did the doctor say when he found out?”

“I lied. I said it started after I’d been exercising in the pool.”

“He wanted his doctor to have an impression he gets more exercise than he really does and not admit he broke it himself while sitting down,” I say, still laughing.

“And then they took forever to tell me that I broke it because they thought I might have gout and they made me do blood tests before doing an X-ray.”

“Because you never told the truth!” I exclaim, “They had no idea you broke it yourself!”

“I told the truth eventually,” my dad says.

“Really?” I ask. “When?”

“When I saw a different doctor.”

Off of Market

When we got to San Francisco, we didn’t stay in my apartment long. We headed out to grab lunch and then go for a walk. We held hands while walking down Market St. Occasionally I would put my arms around him, rub his back, or walk with our arms linked.

There was so much intimacy in all those small touches, movements, and things. I was very happy. Euphoric. Blissful. I didn’t want our time together to end.

He observed all the Folsom Street Fair individuals who were dressed up and remarked how good everyone looked. We had previously discussed perhaps going with each other; his suggestion was that he could wear a speedo, collar, and leash which I would hold, being the Mistress after all. However, his flight meant we wouldn’t have time to enjoy the event. Neither of us have ever been to the event itself, and as it got closer to our weekend adventure, he seemed to be a bit shy; he said he would need to practice in private before he felt comfortable going public. In private sounds fun too.

Still, we hurried back to my apartment for one last hurrah: clothes came off, and more cuddling plus other things was had.

When he realized the time, he jumped up and got dressed in a hurry. He had to be off for his flight, so it was a rushed farewell.

As he hurried down the stairwell and I closed the door, I felt drunk–high from the euphoria of our 24 hour romance. I felt as if I were in some dreamy state, and I wanted more. All I could think about was how exciting and marvelous the past 24 hours had been.

It was the best weekend and 24 hours of my life. I was touched when he sent a thank you email about having such a wonderful time with me. 

My only question was when can we plan our next adventure?

Yetis and Ice Cream

After out photo shoot, we headed out to an Indian/Nepalese restaurant called Yeti something or other and then headed out to one of Seabiscuit’s favorite ice cream places. With the exception of where we sat across from each other and we’re too far away to touch, we still could hardly keep our hands off one another.

When he took photos, he would tell me to look at them on his digital camera viewer. I would slide my hand on his back and lean in. When he drove, I would rest my hand on his right, and he would rub my head and play with my hair with his free hand. I loved it so much, all of it. my favorite part of getting my haircut is when they massage your scalp, and I was eating all the attention up eagerly.

At the ice cream parlor, he smiled at me. When I asked what that was about, he said, “I just can’t believe I’m here sitting with you. It was very brave of you to come all this way.”

That made me smile.

We headed back to his apartment. First things first: we had to select which photos were the best from the photoshoot and send them off to Lord Byron. After spending 20minutes or so, we narrowed it down and picked out our favorite five. We were in a rush to pick and send them off so we could jump back into bed. It was a lot of fun.

I hadn’t been planning to stay overnight. The plan originally had been he would drive me back to San Francisco and stay with me, so I was unprepared. No change of clothing, no toothbrush. Not even a comb. But early on he had said we could stay at his place and go back early in the morning, and that sounded fine to me.

He asked if I wanted a T-shirt or something to sleep in, but I figured what the hell. I felt comfortable in my own skin; he made me feel that way. If he was going to sleep naked, then I’d sleep naked too. So we did. That was nice. 

A Relationship Designed for Damage

Things a healthy relationship should not make you feel:

– Lonely and alone
– Trapped and suffocating
– Neglected and invisible
– Unheard and ignored
– Rejected and not worth it
– Dead and empty on the inside
– More pain than happiness

And yet I have felt those things, all of those things in my relationship with JL. They were issues I raised when I tried to break it off last month. JL would go on binge Civ V playing–to the point where he could sit in the living room, not move for 6 hours, and then when I would ask for an hour of his time, he would say he was too tired or too busy. It was a horrible feeling, to feel as if my own existence meant nothing.

I would express my needs for intimacy. I would try to initiate things–and was rejected over and over, often for the same reason: Too tired. It killed me; it was a stab right to the heart each time, and that knife was twisted like a screwdriver whenever it happened after I watched him binge-play video games all weekend.

So here we are again. More empty words, more meaningless promises. He once promised me he would initiate intimacy because he kept rejecting me when I would try, and each time, it buried that knife deeper. So then I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited over a year before we fought again and I asked if he preferred I see other people and if we should have an open relationship. He scoffed and thought I read too much Savage Love.

I have been vocal about my needs. I have been the best GGG (Good, Giving, Game) girlfriend I can be.

But I can’t be that anymore for him.

He asked me to judge him by his actions over the next few months. He’s been going to NA meetings, and has gone to four this week.

I don’t care. I don’t care what he does. He should live his life because I am going to live my life, and I am not going to waste my time waiting for anyone.

For him, it’s easy to say and ask to give our relationship time: he wasn’t the one who was getting more and more hurt for the last three years. Even he has had moments of realization where he has acknowledged that his behavior towards me in the past amounted to “torture” and was “terrible”.

I had an epiphany back in February when our team had a disagreement style workshop. As I read over my answers, I realized it was exactly what I had been doing my whole life in relationships and why I had stayed in relationships longer than I should.

My top three styles (all tied): release, maintain, decide by rule. It’s the first two that got me teary-eyed in a room with my team, who probably didn’t notice the sudden seriousness that overcame me.

Release is dropping it, letting go, deciding it’s not worth further discussion, and letting the other party dominate.

Maintain is just letting things continue as they are and taking no action.

I have taken these two approaches for too long. Five years of my life have I wasted in relationships I shouldn’t have. Essentially my last two relationships were twice as long as they should have been (JL – 6 years; P – 4 years).

I confided in my coworkers Tuesday because otherwise my only confidant was C, and I wasn’t sure if I should keep some distance for a while. They had the same conclusions I had already made long before this week: 

The thing with addiction is people have to reach rock-bottom before they can change. As long as I am in a relationship with JL, I don’t think he has a reason to change. He hasn’t lost everything; I am his crutch. He has to deal with his depression. He can’t love me before he loves himself.

As Mikey put it beautifully yesterday, “Right now he has loved you the best that he can. He has to love himself before he can truly love you.”

Faking it

I am normally good at getting cards before the actual date of things. I try my best to write heartfelt messages, and really minimize any involvement with cards where I feel I have to fake it. I loathe fake people and the artifice they bring, and I try to avoid any interactions where I may potentially have to fake it.

However, I did not get a card ahead of time for today. It is the 6 year anniversary of being together for me and JL. I have mixed feelings about it; at best, I am neutral. The past three years, especially this last one, have not been great.

How bad was it? I tried to break up with him a few weeks ago, not wanting another year of misery. Things that held me back and made the talk most difficult: 1. social pressure (having to explain it didn’t work out to everyone, especially family), 2. the unaffordable cost of living in this area if we separate and one of us has to move out of the apartment we share.

If you hurt a person enough, if you break their heart too many times, if you let them down too many times, they will stop feeling anything for you. That is where I am at right now with JL.

But when he cried and fell to pieces in front of me, it felt impossible to break up. I know he loves me, and I loved him too, once. Despite our previous serious talks, it finally seemed like this talk, this one finally sunk in that I am not putting up with the status quo anymore: I say maybe we want different things in life and should go our separate ways; we both should be happy, but it seems impossible for us to make each other happy and have a relationship. I suggest maybe we are better off as friends.

As he finally realized how serious I was that something has to change, I was not sure that it wasn’t already too late, and I am still uncertain. We agreed to try, to give it one more chance…

And JL is trying. I can see it. I am trying but still not feeling. I was honest with him when we had our serious talk. I am numb.

(As a comical note: all three cats were concerned and acting weird as we sat and cried at our kitchen table. The youngest crawled into my lap, looking sad, and he never sits in my lap or approaches me. Who knew cats could add social pressure to stay in a relationship?)

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Tacos, Voodoo, & Drunks-Oh my!

My elevator ride down is yet again slowed by another drunk kid who thinks pressing all the buttons is funny. The group is wholly obnoxious and loud as one would expect. The only surprise was spotting the one sober individual in the group; he gave me a sad sheepish face and whispers, “I’m sorry.”

I wanted to check out the sportsbar first as I was worried I wouldn’t find much open this late (11:45pm). Instead the employees have closed up shop early. So much for the information from the receptionist who checked me in. Out it is!

I end up following the group of drunks from the elevator and see the street we’re on runs into 6th street. Barricades are up ahead to keep it pedestrian traffic only. The revelry at 6th St reminds me of Mardi Gras. It’s unfathomable to me that this could be the norm. I feel as if I am about to witness a live production of COPS or Campus PD.

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Checking in to Austin

SuperShuttle was slow, making me regret not just finally downloading Lyft and calling a ride. I spoke with a woman from Lansing, MI who was in town for a conference. It wasn’t the same as mine; it was a medical something or other. For a while it was just her and I in the van, and then finally our driver returned with two more passengers.

As we left the airport and neared downtown, where all four of us were staying, I began to wonder what kind of a ride I was in for. Though it was dark and late (close to 11pm at that point), downtown had this frenetic vibe that I was not used to nor expecting.

Sure, I had spent some time in the Castro, visiting bars and clubs with friends during my college days, and I had been to a few college parties–but this? This took it to a Bacchanalian level. Combined with the humidity, it felt feverish.

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Things that go bump in the night

As I prepared to board my first ever Virgin America flight, the familiarity continued to elude me. The strangeness continued to grow at an alarming rate as some cancerous tumor. The boarding process itself made me scratch my head.

In my previous flights, mostly all Southwest, there were numbers and groups A, B, and C. There was order. Virgin Airlines, however, was a hot mess, like what you’d expect to find leftover on some mirrors and cushions in a sex club.

There was exclusive boarding, then gold member boarding, then silver member boarding, then small children and old people boarding, then Virgin America credit card boarding, then priority boarding, and then lettered groups such as a and b. I was in group b despite checking in 22 hours before my flight, so what additional groups followed mine I do not know. I imagine there were additional boarding groups that followed, such as “people who shit where they eat” and “people who need to get their shit together and not check in last minute”.

Even the plane felt weird: an Airbus over Boeing. A long walkway of pink and purple neon lights illuminated the darkness. The chairs were black leather. There was a sleekness, fashionable sense to it–did I just stumble into a gay bar in the Castro?

It was completely unlike the budget airlines I’d flown that felt like ugly shit (Southwest always had that pukey brown color scheme going on) thrown together and superglued. Every chair had a video touchscreen, and every seat had its own remote/game controller. You could order a meal without speaking to a flight attendant.

The educational safety video was a song and dance routine with children rapping. I couldn’t tell if I was more horrified or saddened. Even the information brochure was an attempt to be hip and cool and included comic-like cursing. What the $@%*!

The flight itself was normal, a bump here and there. I had a window seat and stared out over the landscape. The beaches of San Francisco had never looked so beautiful as they did when our flight sailed above them. It was a perfectly sunny day, and the sapphire and emerald waves crashed along the coast, the white foamy crests scattered like threads of lace.

Over Arizona, besides the long reddish patterns of mountains and flat desert plains, I saw housing developments that left a strangely beautiful pattern from the sky with how park space had been designed between sections–one nearly looked like a fleur de lis, and the others had some equally unusual patterns. They were not the hodge-podge cookie cutter rows of of house after house, or an appearance of a splatter of houses on the landscape. The development seemed well thought out.

Eventually the sun, long descended behind us, left a chilly darkness on the other side of the glass. Somewhere over New Mexico, the street lamps looked like blazing fires. The orange lights seemed larger than usual and flickered in the darkness. My eyes felt tired despite the terrible cup of coffee I had been served on the flight.

I wrote most of the way on the plane, a three hour flight to Austin. When I arrived, it was dark, humid, and birds oddly were singing at 10:30pm at the airport drop-off/pick-up area. It was very strange. I felt as if I had landed on a different planet.

Like a Virgin

I hadn’t flown in a while.

I used to feel so much anxiety about flying–not so much about the flight itself but everything else: the getting to a place and rushing to be on time to the airport, worrying about a missed flight, the tension of parting, the dread of returning back to college and another semester ahead–those were the things that gave me anxiety.

It brings back memories of late lunches with my family, often the good Southern California Mexican food (real chile rellenos!) at some restaurant on the way to Ontario airport. Then there was the return trip to campus from Oakland airport, boarding the connector bus to the train, and all the while the loneliness slowly dripped in just as the students slowly trickled back to town. I would lose my thoughts in wondering who the next roommate would be and when I would finally be able to see the familiar face of one of my few very close friends.

As I arrived at SFO for my next journey, the strangeness of it made me feel as if I had been airdropped into a foreign country: my confidence dropped to the level of a lost child. I felt unsure in my actions, questioning the logic of it all, feeling I had stumbled into a mad tea party. I was lost among the sea of connections around me, struggling as some poor insect that has become entangled in a spider’s web.

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