my backstory, part three

continued from part two

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2010. Mike and I move to the Title Guarantee Building above Pershing Square, a place my friends and I will come to call TGB for short. We need a nickname for it, because TGB is the epicenter - the point of genesis. In TGB there is a woman named Bobbi, a semi-conservative Boomer party girl who orchestrates the entire social ecosystem of the building. She lives in one of the building's four penthouses. She's rich. She's loud and luminous. She throws raucous parties and dinners and brunches that everyone in the building wants to be at. We grow to be a tight-knit crew of misfits. A motley family. It means everything to me. Some of us branch off and become closer than others. A couple of those friendships are still a huge a part of my life (TGB is where I meet Cameron). 

Mike and I file for a divorce. He wants me to keep Chaucer; doesn't even put up a fight. I stay with my dad in Florida while he packs up and moves out. While I'm there is when he phones to tell me, first in cryptic terms, then in clearer ones when I press, his orientation. I hear myself reassuring him that it's okay, it's all gonna be okay, before ending a call that leaves me numb. We'll talk once more, when he's sick with a fever and feeling blue a few weeks later - and then never again. 

I stubbornly procrastinate the job search and focus on finding a place to live. I find the perfect loft a few blocks away at the Milano. Very quickly, I allow myself to be set up with a hipster architect who lives in the banking district, in an old building so bohemian it has communal bathrooms. He's intense and vaguely misanthropic; he smokes and drinks too much and I hate his friends. But he's smart as fuck, makes great Irish soda bread, and adores me - and Chaucer. 

Months pass, and I mostly just party with my friends and walk around downtown with my dog all day. Somewhere around this time I meet Kenny, blog code name Pinkman, a friend of a friend of a friend of a cousin from Arizona, who becomes my connection for MDMA and psilocybin and later, LSD. He's adorable but I'm 14 years older than him and it's just not a thing. Won't be a thing until years later. I'm super lost and super depressed despite the good times, the great drugs, the new boyfriend, the gorgeous loft, and the sweet dog. My dad is concerned but doesn't really step in, doesn't really say much as I continue to dawdle. Finally I run out of money and decide Okay no problem, I'll just fly out to Tucson every other weekend and make a few grand while I figure out a better plan.

In Tucson I stay at the winter home of an old customer, Gary. If I had to guess, over my years of dancing for him Gary probably gave me $25k or more. He's a truly good guy, owns clean energy power plants in Oregon where he lives most of the year. He lets me stay in his million dollar home in Canyon Ranch, drive his Mercedes, and use his country club membership while he's gone. So now I'm sporadically dancing just enough to replenish my checking account, staving off depression and existential dread by distracting myself with insane amounts of shopping, and getting all the free pedicures I want. 

These are the circumstances under which I meet Matt.

Matt is someone that I have spoken very little about -- to anyone. Cameron knows about him, some of my AZ friends know about him, and really that's about it. Also maybe some strangers on an internet support group. But that doesn't count. 

There is only one way to explain Matt, and why my relationship with him happened. And you won't understand, unless you've been there - and I hope you haven't. Matt was a malignant narcissist and a psychological abuser. And he got me. He got me good. Matt is the most dangerous person I've ever met, he is an absolute fucking wizard-level manipulator - and I got sucked into four months of his abuse. I packed up my clothes and my dog and moved to Tucson to stay with him, while he continued to pay my rent in LA. Are you following this? I broke up with the architect -- who was back in Los Angeles babysitting my fucking dog for me while I went stripping on the weekends -- and moved to Arizona to be, basically, a domestic slave for four months. That's how quickly and thoroughly I was sucked in.  

I've barely ever alluded it. Just this one post. It is an extremely painful chapter to look back on. All I can say is that Matt activated something in me, something deep and deeply broken. Matt cracked me like a code and then just sunk his emotional claws in. He peeled me off from my friends (slowly found ways to separate me from their love and support). He pulled the rug out from under me financially (if I loved him, why show my body to other men, when he could easily pay my bills?). He tore me down until I believed I was a failure and a fraud ("LA is for professional people, honey. For people like your friends, with real jobs. Not for you"). 

October 2011- January 2012. That's how long I was "gone". If you know the lingo, it was hoover, idealize, discard, rinse repeat. For four months. All credit to my friends, especially Cameron and Spyro, who put in a Herculean effort to try and extract me. It didn't work. 

It finally ended with me sneaking out in the middle of the day while Matt was gone at work. Calling a taxi to Enterprise where I rented a car as fast as my fucking credit check would allow, driving back to his house, throwing my clothes and my dog in the rental, shaking with terror at the possibility that he'd come home early and catch me, and driving for my life back to LA.

Think I was depressed before? Now I'm really fucked. Dancing in AZ is off the table; I'll never set foot in the state again as long as I live, after Matt. I'm dick broke, with an $1850/month apartment. Some of my friends are starting to distance themselves from me because of my drama and depression. In a last bid at staying afloat in LA on my own, I start dancing in the City of Industry. Four nights a week I get on my road bike, commute via the blue line, and ride down Washington Boulevard at 10pm at night to a club so sketchy I pretty much keep the whole thing a secret to everyone except my closest friends. It is awful, but at least it gives me something to do most nights. 

Somewhere in fall of 2011, I meet Greg, who becomes the first real Elliequent love interest. 

And that's it. It feels a little abrupt to end it this way, but now we're more than caught up to where my blog picks up. Anything beyond this and I'm re-telling. 

If there's anything you want to know more about, just email me. I'll either point you to a post or write one if it doesn't exist. 

I'm also considering putting together a character bible, just for fun. Or maybe an alphabetized index, which would gratify the English major in me. And eventually, if for no other reason than respect for the thousands and thousands of words I've written, I will put this whole mess together in a book form. Something for me to read in thirty years, in a cabin in a snowy wilderness, when I want to be warmed at the thought of the wild, stupid, simple but wondrous life I have lived. 

But for now, my darlings, that's my backstory.