Her first name was Kim.

The license plate on her car read RUSH 47.

Her last name can’t be recalled.

She listened to Rush way too much, so that part of the plate merited no query.

But the 47, that piqued my interest.

Kiptobin9e

 

Like most people my trajectory through life has been filled with tests and lessons. If school prepared me for anything it certainly wasn’t a career, but an ability to recognize when I was about to be graded.

Returning to LA was a test on both my relationship and my ability to be loved and reciprocate love. I failed.

The first week was blissful and sweet. We met each others friends and took each other to our favorite places. We nuzzled and fondled and pulled the car over to the side of the road to have panic-stricken emergency sex on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Cole’s catch-phrase during those days was an awed “So THIS is how it would be.”

Apparently Cole was a changed man. His friends were amazed at his open declarations of love. I just thought it was normal. We talked a lot about each others pasts and I kept no secrets. Cole did. Dark things had happened to him that he wasn’t ready to divulge. I didn’t push, but I did wonder.

At the end of the week, just before I was to return to Fiji, as planned, I got an email.

The email was from my clients, telling me they’d run out of money for the project and would I mind delaying my return? Cole was ecstatic. I was scared. I had no money, no work-visa and no idea what I would do. The idea of relying on Cole, even for a few short weeks, weighed on me. I started to withdraw.

My body tensed.

The monster awoke.

My emotional synapses went haywire.

It was a simple fact that procuring a visa for me to return to the US was going to be really difficult. I had lived there for too long without applying for a Green Card. In order to move back it would take time and money that I didn’t have, and was not prepared to borrow. I was convinced that if by allowing Cole to help me he would lose respect for me. That I would lose respect for myself.

I’d had a relationship for five years that had deteriorated because of similar issues and I wasn’t going to risk it. So I flatly refused any assistance. Now I know that there’s a middle ground, that it’s possible to accept a hand with grace and fortitude when it is offered with love and candor.

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

Cole hired me a car and gave me some money. I don’t even know if I was
gracious about accepting it. We started to talk about the future and
things took a turn for the worse.

At one point Cole offered the biggest gift of all. He proposed that we get married.

I turned him down.

I cry as I write this, not because I still feel regret, but because by writing it I’m tapping into something I’ve buried for a couple of years. There are moments in life when everything changes and we alight on different paths. It’s sad. Sad to know that I will NEVER know the outcome of that other path.

The truth is that I’d never wanted to get married before. Cole was the first person who stirred those feelings in me. I wanted to say yes with all of my being, but I didn’t, and I will never know the outcome of our lives if I had said one single word differently.

“Yes.”

Once the multitude of difficulties ahead were revealed I became embittered and angry. The hopelessness of depression returned. Cole would go to work each day and I would sit on the bed and stare at the walls, ‘knowing’ there was nothing that I could do to change my life.

Cole kept on saying those words “So THIS is how it would be.” But now his tone had changed. There was apprehension in it. Fear. I sensed change and it made me act even worse.

We fought.

I said cruel things.

I sabotaged everything because it seemed obvious that one day it would all disappear anyway.

Perhaps if we’d had good times for longer there might have been a bigger foundation for Cole to lean on when the times got rough. But we hadn’t. He had no idea if this bitch I had evolved into was the REAL Zoë, he had no comparison.

It must have been very confusing and disappointing for him.

I’m sure I hurt him.

I know I scared him away.

I was in LA for a month. Three weeks longer than planned. I finally flew back to Fiji amid a haze of tears and heartache. We both felt so much love and loss, but so much fear and ugliness.

I called and apologized as soon as I landed. The obstacles had been so big, so seemingly insurmountable, and had turned me into a creature even I didn’t recognize.

It was too late.

He pulled the plug.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t cope with that level of sad, mad and bad.

Who could blame him?

It was over.

And I never saw him again.

It’s been two years now and my desperate phone calls and emails to Cole petered out from daily to weekly, to monthly… the last time we spoke was a year ago.

He’s here, in LA, somewhere.

My visa was finally approved, after two years of waiting.

He might be living around the corner from me, for all I know.

That last time we spoke he’d just met someone and sounded happy. He wasn’t thrilled to hear from me. The letters and phone calls had scared him away even more.

I used to wonder if, had I just left him alone for a while, we might have been able to build a bridge between us, but I didn’t leave him alone, of course.

In the throws of a returned depression I had no focus, no calm.

I was a shrew, a beggar, a mess.

I had no dignity.

Yuk.

I always imagined that we’d run into each other some place, some time, but to this day it hasn’t happened. I figured that fate would play as much a hand in a reunion as it did in our first meeting. I always thought we might meet for a coffee and a chat, perhaps rekindle something. I’m here now, but I haven’t called. For two years I dreamed about him nightly, and cried often. I missed his friendship and the inspiration I drew from him. I wondered if seeing him would give me the closure I needed. I wondered if I was still in love him or just in love with the IDEA of him… for clearly he was not the man I needed or knew, just as I was not the woman he expected.

Time passed.

I decided to write this story, to share it, and as the words left my brain and fingers something miraculous happened.

I gave Cole away.

He’s yours now.

He was a beautiful moment and a wonderful dream.

He existed to show me that men were wonderful and pure, after a lifetime of lies and deception and abuse, he showed me there was love and magic. He just didn’t have the stamina to keep it going, and I can’t say I blame him one tiny iota.

The last time we spoke he told me that he thought our brief time together was just a fantasy, something that never could have sustained itself. Those words broke my heart more than losing him ever did, but I knew that I too was capable of convincing myself of certain things in order to be protected. To heal. In any case, we were clearly both now remembering different lives and speaking different languages.

I wrote him one last letter. I never expected a reply. He’d finally, after a year of being alone, met someone else and was smiling. It hadn’t been easy for him either.

I too had other lovers, I tried to love again. I felt some semblance of emotion for some of them, others were just physical interludes in a time of growth and mending.

I got better. I found my hope. I started writing and laughing and living.

I cannot find the last letter I wrote to Cole, in all its torn asunder splendor. I was going to post it here as one last gesture of open honesty and raw emotion. And clinging need. A farewell to a lost friend from a heart that has finally, through the power of writing, been able to move on. I must have discarded it in a fit of pique or mortification.

Still, there is goodness. I could not have been more honest in this telling, and I have been rewarded with a sense of peace and purity.

You have seen inside of me. I’ve turned myself inside out. For you. For me. It’s a beautiful, naked, tortured and complicated thing.

Sometimes we have to lose what is the most precious to us in order to evolve into the best that we can be. A sad fact, but ultimately a wonderful one- if the end result is peace and a better human being.

I had to lose something dear thing to me to become the best that I could be.

I’ve never been happier, yet I will never know what would have, could have, been.

This story ends here. There are no resolutions or reunions, no fated meetings or fairy tales. It just ends.

Life goes on.

FINI.

x


Trust is an elusive thing.

It’s hard to know when to let down your guard with someone, to let them see who you really are. And when you’re hurt or betrayed by someone you love, it becomes that much harder to open up to someone else.

But what, exactly, defines betrayal?

In this particular case I’m talking about romantic relationships. What constitutes a breach of trust? Is it when your partner tells someone else one of your deep, dark secrets? When he or she makes a big decision without you? When they sleep with someone else? When they break up with you?

For me, sharing sensitive information with others is probably the biggest violation. If I tell you something that is understood to be sensitive, and you tell someone else, I will probably never again share anything important with you. And yet, there must be situations in life where sharing a piece of information like that would ultimately be the right thing. So how to know what is right?

What if someone leaves you? Breaks your heart? Does that constitute betrayal? Marriage isn’t the institution it once was. No-fault divorce makes it easier to end a legal union. Conservatives might cite the decline of marriage as damaging to society, but what is better–ending a corrosive relationship or suffering in it for years?

Why do some people claim they will never trust anyone again after being dumped? Is the person who fell out of love somehow guilty of betrayal? Is there blame to be placed when love simply dies?

And what about infidelity?

Many relationships end because a partner strays. Imagining the love of your life in the arms of another is enough to make anyone squirm.

If you found out your partner was cheating on you, would you leave them?

Based on the blogs I read, most people seem to answer “yes.” But when actually put in that situation, not every scorned lover ends their relationship.

Recently I saw a news story about spyware designed to help determine if your spouse is cheating on you. You can record every keystroke your lover makes on the computer, see every page they visit on the Internet. Read their emails.

Even before the Internet, suspicious spouses could review phone records, credit card statements, even follow their lover around in the car.

I did this sort of thing once. Read someone’s email. Listened to their voice mail.

Never have I felt so sneaky, so oily as a human being. It served no purpose except to enrage me.

If your relationship reduces you to espionage, is it worth it?

I’m not going to pass judgment on infidelity, either for or against it. Every situation is unique, and I’m uncomfortable with absolutes.

Personally, I’d rather be cheated on than play detective.

If you were in a happy, fifty-year marriage that fulfilled you in every way, and after your partner died you learned he had slept with someone else in the ninth year of your marriage, would it damage the love you’d felt for your whole life?

I mean, you’re not going to be happy about it.

But to characterize all cheaters as worthless humans misrepresents our animal ancestry. Our natural impulses. If infidelity is so wrong, why does it happen so much? Why are their web sites available to help you cheat?

Hey, you might say. If you can’t control yourself, don’t get married. I pretty much agree with this.

But if you look at the divorce rate, if you consider how many people cheat, it seems that marriage isn’t the right choice for many of us. In the U.S., 2005 marked the first year more adults were single than married.

Is marriage an institution that can’t keep up with modern society? And if so, what does that mean for children? Many of you grew up in fractured households. My parents are still together. Am I any better off than someone whose parents divorced when they were a kid?

What if you have ten five-year relationships instead of one fifty-year marriage? Are more relationships inherently worse?

I don’t know because I haven’t been in that situation. You can’t ever really know, can you?

What if medical breakthroughs allow people to live for hundreds of years? Does “‘Till death do us part” mean 150 years of marriage?

I am friends with both men and women who have cheated on their spouses. Men may be more prone to stray, but not by that much. It’s not just a disease of the man with roving eyes.

In the end, whichever side of the fence you fall on, no matter how much or little the possibility of cheating bothers you, isn’t spying on your partner kind of absurd? If you’re reduced to playing covert operative, why not just leave?

As I sit here, intent on typing the third installment (now long overdue and angrily demanded) of this sorry tale, a song begins to shuffle and shimmy out of my speakers…

The song is ‘Do Right Woman’ by Aretha.

Oh, the precious, delightful irony (and another bit of proof to back up my theory that iPods on ’shuffle’ are actually a direct line from God).

God has a sick sense of humor, but we knew that already.

Anyway, where were we?

That’s easy, we were here….

THE COLE FIASCO. PART 3-

The humidity was dense and suffocating. From the moment we debarked the plane the air began molesting us with sticky fingers.

It was hot.

It was wet.

It was like trying to walk through sex.

I loved it.

Cole, on the other hand, was used to more temperate climes.

Whenever love presents itself, no matter what the extenuating circumstances, I always advise people to leap at it with an open heart and mind, to take it by the balls and make it dance a drunken jig, to go meet its parents and charm them into submission. Do it all. Dive in head first. Go crazy! BE MAD!!!! Fuck love’s brains out with a rubber strap-on, and respect it with an eager blow-job in the morning.

Love your love, for that is what nourishes it. Love, carnivorous, cannibalistic, feeds only on itself.

Love.

Embrace it, adore it, run towards it…

Unless you’re clinically depressed and fucking kidding yourself.

If this is the case, then think very carefully. Be cautious and mindful of yourself and your actions, and the way they affect your life and others.

In mid-2005 I was still sick, but with all the heady jubilation and fluffy butterfly moments… I just couldn’t see it, or I forgot, or I chose to believe I was better.

A depression manifests in many different ways.

In my case I was a volatile and emotional basket case. Reactive, angry, scared, suicidal, at times vicious, often terrified and constantly, consistently, without hope.

When Cole innocently tripped into my life I managed to sweep these symptoms under the bed, then clamber unceremoniously on top of them for a dirty shag. I was so happy and so in love that my demons were temporarily banished into something flimsy, a paper bag perhaps, something it didn’t take them very long to claw back out of.

Cole and I spent ten blissful days in paradise. There were no pressures, no stresses… just sun and sex and food and beach and sex and laughter and a bit of sex on the side. We banished the Fijian help from our house so that we could utilize every one of its surfaces. Finally alone we pottered around, naked and sweaty, playing “happy families”, imagining all the while that a vacation in the tropics was indicative of what a REAL LIFE together would be like.

We were naive.

When Cole left I was bereft. We spoke every day, as many times as we could, and reverted to our routine of sharing Internet stories and twisted adventures.

I wrote-

“A lopsided ceiling fan stirs the air above the bed, click-click-clicking as it rotates.
The air is barely stirred by the motion of its blades, for the dense humidity resists all movement.
The air is wet and think.
Like a loaf of fruit bread.

Beneath the mosquito netting He stirs. One hand rises to shield His eyes from the encroaching sunrise, the other moves stealthily across the bed to touch Her. Blindly He gropes through the sheets until He hears Her sigh sleepily in response to His touch.

Her breathing stays regular, She dreams on. He can feel the soft rising and falling of Her breasts against His wrist. A sticky curl of long hair falls over Her shoulder and tickles the tips of His finger. He is about to tug on it, gently, to bring Her to life when He hears a small sound.

A rustle, barely discernible, from under the bed.
A bug?
An animal?
A crazed Fijian crouching in wait, maggoted on kava?

He opens His eyes and looks around. She shifts in sleep, arching Her back, smiling a little at a private joke, a memory. He can almost see Her small triangle of pubic hair before She turns completely and bares Her back, moist with the perspiration of One Who Dreams Heavily.
He hears the noise again.
Odd.

He withdraws His hand from between Her legs and shifts the mosquito netting from around the bed.
The morning light is still vague, but His hangover has magnified the reaction His head is having to it. In short, He feels fucking awful.
What monstrous chaos did She cause last night?

He peers over the edge of the bed.
Nothing.
He hears a scurrying, a patter.
He leans further.
The darkness under the bed is slowly fading as His eyes adjust.

What is that?

What are THOSE?

Reaching, from the floor up to the mattress, are dozens of tiny ladders, spaced at intervals of a few inches, all around the bed.
What?
He starts to speak, to laugh and rouse Her, when He hears a voice.

A tiny voice.

“Freeze”.

And so, He does.

“Turn, very slowly, We have You covered”.

He raises His hands and slowly lies His prone body back on the pillows, finally turning His head, His eyes squinting in apprehension.

“Don’t move”.

There, on the bed, facing Him, are row upon row of miniature soldiers, rifles drawn, expressions fierce. The stained, damp wrinkles in the sheets have become trenches, forts and watchtowers. His legs have been swarmed with orderly lines of infantry and canons. Thousands of small, beady eyes are trained upon Him, peering out from their bunker in His crotch.

“Are you kidding me?”

“SILENCE!!”

The order comes from Her side of the bed. All along the silhouette of Her body stands a regiment of officers, swords and guns drawn. A General perches upon the highest ground, the rim of Her hip, just above where it melts into Her thigh. The General tries valiantly to keep his footing as the ground beneath him moves with Her breathing.

“One move, big boy, and we’ll fire”.

Nobody moves. There is silence. A few members of the cavalry shuffle and dig in further behind folds in the bedding.

A thought occurs to Him, a vague drunken memory of something that happened last night. He struggles to remember the cause of the violent reaction that had been triggered in Her. What was it?

She freaked out about something. Caused pandemonium in a restaurant… Spiders?

“SPIDER!” He yells, and instantly there is chaos.

She erupts from the bed like a human hydrogen bomb, naked, sending pillows, sheets and little soldiers into the air.

“Where? Where?! What the FUCK?! WHERE????”

The men in His crotch fire desperately as He attempts to swipe at them, but She is already destroying all. With pillows as weapons She swings and smites. The bed is a battlefield.

“DIE YOU FUCKERS DIE!!!”

Her fury knows no bounds. She is deranged.

She is still trembling in the aftermath, when the bed is once more Their own.
She huddles behind Him, eyes like saucers, freckled skin pale and shivering.

He comforts Her. “There there. Come here. It’s okay. I’ll protect You.”

Her hysteria subsides and She slowly relaxes. “That was horrible”.

He flicks the corpse of a small officer off the bed and reaches down. The ladders are still there, perhaps they will come in useful when He gets back to Los Angeles.

“I hate it here”, She says.

“Me too”. He says, His voice dripping sincere empathy, and reaches lecherously for Her arse.

“Next time lets just stay at the Chateau?”

The End.

And Cole replied…

“Aspirin dreams, sedative dreams, tequila dreams. No, what kind of dreams? Stoned, drugged, something. Haze.” He fell back into sleep for several hours and drifted into what his body clearly identified as something that resembled (a little too closely for its own comfort) — death; and he shot wide awake, hurtling into the obese person in the seat next to him, whose layers of fat oozed over the side of the seat like blue cheese dressing on a skimpy lettuce salad at a bad steak house.

He violently tried to put the blood back into his arm and the leg on his left hand side by slamming them into the seat and he caught, because of the spill-over, the edge of the hefty sized t-shirt on the passenger next to him and pulled him inadvertently across the demarcation zone that divided the two seats so that he started suffocating under the weight on top of him.

“Get the fuck off me lard ass. And take a fucking shower. You smell like you have been wiping your ass with your face.” He screamed this so that the entire business class section and most of coach turned to stare.

“Oh, excuse me, excuse me.” The fat man said repeatedly with a disarming sincerity, squishing his seat mate as he pulled himself back into his own.

In the mean time one of the flight attendants, trained after September 11 for events such as these, raced hastily toward the overhead bin, searching frantically but methodically for the in-flight tranquilizer gun and handcuffs. She opened the overhead bin and as she did so she heard something that sounded like “ALLEZ” and the tranquilizer dart miraculously lodged into her forehead and she stumbled into the seats and passed out.

“I’m really sorry about the fat insults.” He said as the blood slowly crept back into the left side of his body. “I just kind of feel into a weird sleep and woke up and was not sure where I was and had one of those shitty death instilled dreams.”

The fat man, smiling all the while, said “I have those dreams all the time. No big deal. My name is Ron.”

“Nice to meet you Ron. Do you think she is alright?” He said as they both looked toward the commotion of the other flight attendants who were pulling the sedative dart out of her forehead and carrying her to the back of the plane. While she attracted the attention of the passengers he felt a distinct but but slight pulling sensation on his pant leg and he looked down to see one of the soldiers winking at him and he quickly scooped him up and whispered into his ear “Get back in that bag and behave yourself or we are really going to get into trouble. Nobody has a sense of humor about airplane pranks anymore.”

And he casually dropped the soldier to the floor just as his seat-mate turned back and hefted “What did you say?”

“Nothing, just commenting that it probably hurts like hell to have a sedative dart stuck in your forehead.”

“No shit. But I kind of had a premonition something like this would happen,” Ron said happenstancely, “In fact, I even wrote it down about an hour ago in my journal. Want to see?”

“Sure man. That would be kind of cool.” And Ron pulled from his bag a tattered old journal full of food stains and his pudgy little fat fingers that looked swollen with high blood pressure turned to a page and Ron handed the book to him and he started reading and almost to the action, Ron described the preceding 20 minutes with a level of detail that escaped even the events themselves; and as his eyes arrived at the end sentence and it read “Right about now the captain of the plane will tell us that he has to make an emergency landing.” And he looked at Ron and started to ask a question and over the intercom a smooth fly boy voice came over and said, “Ladies and gentlemen no need to be alarmed but we are going to need to take this big bird down a little bit sooner than we expected. One of our flight attendants shot herself in the forehead with a dart gun and it looks like she may need some medical attention and we are still about 5 hours out of Sydney and so we are just going to drop in on the nearest airport, which is on the island nation of Fiji. We are about 10 minutes out so if everyone would return to their seats, buckle up and get ready for a little unexpected tropical getaway.”

“I told you so.” Ron said with no hint of pride. “I am what is known as psychic.”

“You are not what is known as psychic you are one bad ass mother fucken psychic“, He said with a good deal of respect.

Ron struggled to get the buckle out from underneath his ass and looked at him and said “Could you help me find the other end?”

“No way man. Not a chance. I’m not going near that thing. You’re psychic. You’ll find it,” he said reassuringly.

“Oh there it is” Ron extended the seat belt to its maximum girth and took a deep breath, sucked in his stomach and barley managed to clasp the belt. “I meant to tell you,” Ron wheezed, “your girl is not in Sydney, right about now she is sitting in some office in Fiji reading her emails.”

“That asshole,” he said out loud. “She was going to make me fly all the way to Sydney and then what? Fly back to Fiji? Any idea why, Nostradamus?,” He asked Ron.

“I don’t know the why’s, I just tell it like it is.”

And He sunk into deep thought as the wheels of the plane touched the ground of a tiny island in the middle of a very large ocean.”

The End.

We were having fun, despite the distances between us.

I had never felt so in love, so loved in return, and so inspired. I told myself I was better, and stupidly, I believed it.

A month passed and we missed each other with adolescent fervor.

I was broke and employed as a writer in Fiji, an adventure indeed, but not a lucrative one. I didn’t have many options. Cole considered returning to see me, then at the last moment cashed in some points and sent me a ticket to join him. We were to spend a week together in LA, my old home, my favorite city in the world, the place I dreamed about returning to. After a month in the jungle I was ready for some city. I wanted to kiss the pavement, the graffiti, the filth…. Cole.

He met me at the airport, lingering, laconic, in the background of the departure area.

He leaned against the window and waited, smiling, almost shy, as he watched me walk towards him in my jet-lagged haze.


To be continued….

My charge for the day, 3-year-old Ruby, and I are skipping down the snow-covered sidewalk.

“This is going to be so fun,” she giggles in time to the swish of her snow pants.

It’s Winter Carnival, and our destination is the symbol of all things ice-blue and festive: The Ice Palace.

Where we last left off in Part II of our series

My girlfriend and I had just brought home our new cat

We had named her Asha (Sanskrit, meaning Hope)

Like I said in Part I of this post…

 

Pretty much all my life
I’ve been a Dog Person

Not a Cat Person