my backstory, part two

continued from part one

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2009. Just moved into a cool as hell, two-story loft in downtown LA, with my new husband and my sweet puppy. 

Michael almost immediately lost interest in sex with me. He made one or another excuse until I just gave up trying. It was devastating and bewildering. I had no idea what was going on with him emotionally, professionally, or financially. He was an actor that didn't book anything; just another handsome face with headshots. His parents didn't care, though, and just kept paying the bills while he took improv classes and picked up short-term, seasonal gigs like. . .working as a character at Knott's Scary Farm during Halloween, then as the Grinch at the Universal CityWalk at Christmas.

I shit you not. 

And look, I'm not getting all elitist here. God bless the amusement park actors of the world. But I wore a $7k Monique L'huillier gown at my wedding and went on a $10k tour of Ireland for my honeymoon. Knott's Scary Farm was not on my newlywed bingo card. 

Things got weirder and weirder. Mike would disappear on days he wasn't meant to be working. He got really secretive and would do things like say he was going to Starbucks, but instead of the Starbucks just downstairs he would drive to one miles away. He started declining calls that came when we were together, and taking his phone with him into the bathroom when he showered. Meanwhile I'm so lonely I'm very seriously considering placing a personals ad on Craiglist, or going to our cute next door neighbor and inviting him to fuck me.

I'm just going to skip ahead in this part of the story and spare you the suspense: Mike is gay. I don't know if Mike knew he was gay all along. It was his experience, his lie, his pain. It is what it is and I don't want to pile on him. He confessed it to me later down the road, after we were separated and the divorce papers filed. And there's not much to be made of it other than it's a plot point in my life. Too bad Weddingbee didn't invite me back for an epilogue. Wouldn't that have blown the frosting off their triple-tier fondant-and-ganache cake. And I'll leave you with one more tantalizing tidbit but then we'll have to leave it there, because from there it's his story, not mine: Mike remarried. Mike remarried another woman. 

But back to me. During this time I'm working away at my little passion project-turned-wee-entrepreneurial-enterprise, Rainy Day Templates. It's an online shop where I sell blog layouts. By this time I've taught myself enough HTML to be able to hack my own blog's code, and it's hella fun and I'm good at it. So I start doing it for money. It's a great gig until it grows bigger than I can handle, in my depressive state. And here I should pause and say, sadly, it was really, really, really bad for me around this time. How bad? Well, when I think back to that first LA apartment, cooped up as I was with a man I didn't know, not having made a single friend yet, this is what I remember:

1. I remember sitting in the window sill and looking down at the street below, where there was a bar perpetually filling and emptying with revelers. So much laughter and joy. I burned with jealousy. Around this time my AZ friend Mason (we'll get to him) used to tell me to just suck it up and go out alone to coffee shops, try to meet someone, anyone. But I couldn't, because

2. I was suicidally depressed. I used to stare at a certain corner of the upstairs loft railing in our apartment and fantasize about tying a belt around it. Hanging myself. That was until I discovered how close I lived to easily accessible train tracks, not far away in an industrial part of downtown. Then it was imagining how close I could cut it - how long I could wait before darting in front of the train so that the conductor wouldn't have time to slam on the brakes. 

In August of 2009, three months after we'd moved in, in the throes of this already rampant depression, my mother died. She died of heart failure, alone in her apartment. I hadn't seen her in two years. I hadn't invited her to my wedding. Why hadn't I invited my own mother to my wedding, you ask? Well, remember the bit about her being a codependent alcoholic housing my grifting, mentally ill brother? In 2007, I drove up to Phoenix to tell her that I was getting married. I didn't drive to her apartment, though. I drove to the adult day care she was staying in, because my drunken brother had pushed her and she'd fallen and gotten hurt. This, after years and years of my begging her to cut him off, to quit drinking and smoking herself to death. But when I got there to share my news all she wanted was for me to go buy her a six pack. 

"Mom, you can't drink here. They'll kick you out."

But she didn't care. She just wanted beer. And if I wasn't going to get it for her, she would shrug me off with a dismissive wave. My news wasn't of much interest to her. I left and I never saw her again.

My mom left behind a little bit of money for my brother and I to split. But she didn't have a will, so it was a whole mess trying to get her accounts cashed out and her car sold, because normally the oldest sibling would execute the estate. Only at the time, my brother was homeless and didn't even have a phone number, much less a checking account. My dad intervened and eventually we got her assets divvied up. When I cleaned out her apartment, among my mother's possessions I found two things of interest:

1. Letters that my brother had written to her from jail, filled with lies about me. My brother had fabricated a whole story about me, for an audience of one: my mom. The letters picked up my tale in 2007, when I stopped speaking to her, and had completely fantastical details about what I was doing, who I was seeing, how I was living my life. My brother told my (Catholic) mom in these letters that his jailmates had been customers of mine at the strip club, where I confessed to them wild stories of sexual exploits, disease, abortion, and other shameful, heartbreaking adventures of a daughter unhinged. 

Of course, my mom was dead by the time I found these letters. I couldn't ask her if she'd believed any of it. And I couldn't set the story straight. 

2. Love letters that my father had written to my mother in the 60s, when they were in a long-distance relationship from New York City (where my mother was a model, then a flight attendant) to Point Barrow, Alaska (where my dad was working for the government intercepting radar transmissions from Russia). These letters were filled with endless expressions of love and affection - and shockingly few typos. They were a secret both of them had kept for forty years. I'd had no idea they existed. I'd had no idea my parents ever loved one another that much.  My mother had preserved them in pristine condition, neatly stacked and bound by a rubber band, squirreled away in their own storage box.  When I told my dad I'd found them, he was gobsmacked. He asked me to send them to him unread. He asked me to wait until he himself died, to read them. 

I wouldn't have to wait long.

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Mike and I, still plodding along in our joke of a marriage, moved to another spot downtown, a building above Pershing Square, right smack in the middle of the city. And it was here in this building that everything changed. 

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continue to part three