I remember when I came up with that nickname, “Beloved”. It was from a book by Robin Hobb. The Fool, who had been in many of her books, sometimes as a male, sometimes female, had been captured and was being slowly tortured in a frozen wasteland. He had no hope if being saved. As his skin was being slowly stripped away from his back, he was delerious with pain, and he began mumbling, “Beloved, My Beloved, ” or something like that. And even tho we’d just found each other after a decade, I knew that if I was in the same situation, I’d be calling out your name. Beloved. My Beloved. Because it has always been you.
I’d answered a job in The (Village) Voice for a body piercing job. I knew anatomy; I knew a bit about body piercing; but most of my piercings were “hidden”, neck down, and my boss put an abusive idiot in charge of her main piercing store on St. Mark’s and put most of my hours at her main store on 8th street, close to 6th Ave.
One day you came in. I like curvy girls, but I felt something with you and your beautiful baby being carried in a baby carrying pack on the back of her dad. Her dad looked a lot like the guy from the Live, whose song “Lightning Crashes” was about his own infants death.
Your daughter, a few months old, was holding onto the long, thin ponytail of her dad, whose head was otherwise shaved bald.
I don’t remember why you came into the store, but I remember you three leaving and thinking I had to go after you or I’d regret it.
You told me later M, your daughter’s dad, had told you the same.
And so we met outside the store, and exchanged phone numbers.
I didn’t expect much.
On my day off, I called you, or you called me. I was living on 14th St and Ave B in Stuyvesant Town and you were in Jersey City. We talked. For over an hour, which was a lot considering how our landlines charged by the minute.
You were an “army brat”, had moved around and planned the pregnancy of your daughter despite knowing her dad for only four months and being 19 when she was born. Her dad was a VJ/DJ, had worked with names I knew from my past at sLimelight and other NYC clubs. He was on the road a lot, making enough money so that you didn’t have to work, leaving you alone with your daughter.
The first time I went to visit was, I think, your daughters first birthday. I took the PATH and arrived late. Her dad, you, and I smoked pot and went to the basement where her dad set up a large screen and we watched Pink Floyd. At the time, I was smoking pot a lot, and worried I would be a “bad influence “, but I soon found out that you were ok with us smoking as long as your daughter was asleep or otherwise busy.
I was in college and had begun working as a dominatrix (no sex, keeping my clothes on; perfect!) and I would visit you a lot. We talked on the phone a lot. I became close to you, your daughter — whom I’d begun to think of as my step- or g-d- daughter. I also became close to M, your daughters’ dad.
You confused me by getting jealous when I was with girls; you never showed interest in being more than friends when I was around, only after I’d gotten home. Then I’d call to let you know I was “home safe” and you’d tell me how much you wanted to kiss me when I was over of something.
At some point we lost contact.
I had gastroenteritis which led to a cancer diagnosis and you had fibromyalgia. You were no longer with her dad and you went to stay with your parents in South Jersey.
I looked for you.
I stalked you on the web, even sending polite messages to people with your last name — you’d once told me your great-grandfather marrying your great-grandmother had mad everyone with your last name related.
It was mid-March almost a decade after I “lost” you and, with my birthday at the end of the month and yours at the beginning of April, I was thinking of you. Wondering if you and my g-d daughter were ok. I went into a local library and decided to check Facebook. As far as I knew, it was a site for teens. Your daughter had an unusual name, and had just become a teen, so I looked up her name.
And there she was.
I clicked on “family”, and there you were: sitting on a bed and looking so sad I wanted to cry for you. I know it had been hard to go back to your parents, a single mom who had begun working, and liked it (you were so good at it, working in one of those places people buy a plate or statue then paint or design their own way. I was so proud of you!). But now you were getting too sick to work and be a single mom and tho I begged you to move in with me, you decided to go to your parents. (Granted, had you moved in with me I would’ve had to halt my downward spiral into drug addiction to help with the pain, and who knows what would of happened? No, Beloved, I am not implying you could have played a role in “saving me” — just the opposite. I really believe that my doing heroin stopped the cancer cells from doing their thing, and if the two of you had moved in I might not have survived the cancer. I might’ve agreed to the poison / chemo; I might’ve agreed to let them remove my cervix and I would never have had my son.)
Now, sitting in that library, my heart was beating fast as I wrote you a quick note. I doubted you remembered me, but your quick response claimed you’d and my g-d daughter (I’d still do anything for her, even tho she’s now an adult) been looking for me!
Even better, you now had a son almost the same age as my own. Coincidentally, his dad had been abusive like my son’s dad. Some quick messaging, and we were meeting in front of the Toys R Us in Times Square.
I’d told you how much weight I’d lost from the cancer and how I’d decided to “get fat” to keep guys from hitting on me, but I think you had thought I was exaggerating. We wandered the toy store, letting our boys run up ahead and bond, while we caught up. You’d come back to the East Coast because your dad was dying — a result of Agent Orange. You were working for a large chain as a bartender, so had been able to have a job waiting when you got here.
I was shocked, amazed, happy. My g-d daughter was gorgeous and her half-brother was obviously going to be a heartbreaker. But you, My Beloved, you were thinner than ever. You had moved far away and been involved in an abusive relationship with your son’s dad (something I wasn’t happy we had in common).
You’d come back to the East Coast to say goodbye to your dad who was dying as a result of Agent Orange. The large, happy man I’d known was now a thin, but positive man, wasted by his disease.
Even worse, you weren’t just working as a bartender and a single mom to two kids (from two different dads), you were drinking. A lot.
In our time apart, I’d gone thru my own swim thru a bottle, heroin and coke addiction. But when I’d found out I was pregnant, I’d finished getting cleaned up. For 6 years completely clean, not even caffeine. Then I found you, and I stayed clean for a while bit then I started drinking socially, i.e., with you, again.
Our next meeting was at Central Park for a picnic and your beautiful daughter was there. I’d brought you a bouquet of daisies, Our Flower. Back when we were younger, one of us would buy the other a bouquet of dasies, and then we’d wind up dividing them. This time, they were shared among our children and we got some wonderful shots of our boys, holding hands, each holding daisies. They were about 5 or 6, and we looked at each other and spoke aloud what we were both thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if they wind up together? At their wedding, we can show pictures of them thru the years, and this will be the opening picture.”
We fell instantly back into being friends, as if no time had passed. Or so I felt.
Your daughter wasted no time going from a quiet girl with beautiful brown curls to one who made her own outfits, straightened then dyed her hair a rainbow of colors, and began wearing makeup that looked like it had been done by a professional. She was so talented that I asked her if she would teach me how to apply makeup! For (Gay) Pride Day, her eyes were done to perfection, matching the Pride flag. We took more pictures of our boys, holding hands, each with a Pride flag held tightly in the other hand. (Of course, neither of our sons had ever shown an interest in the same-sex, and we knew the chances of them both being gay — and winding up together — was ridiculous. But with your daughter a decade older than my son, it was the only way for us to achieve our dream of growing old together. More on that later, Beloved.)
My son’s dad had legal visitation, and I wound up spending those weekends with you. Your daughter was, of course, extremely popular and was out a lot. I’d visit you at work, drinking Virgin Piña Coladas, and marvel at how much you’d changed, in a good way, since we first met. You ruled that bar, Beloved, never letting guys think they had a real chance, but being nice enough so that they’d tip well and ask for you when they came back. Your coworkers liked you a lot but thought you had a “problem”‘ with alcohol and other substances. I told them you were going thru a lot but secretly hated them. You had gone from smoking coke all the time in Hawaii with your son’s dad (on your dime since he wouldn’t work) to the occasional (so you claimed to me) sniff.
I think that time when we “found” each other was the only time I regretted “getting fat”. When we’d first known each other, I’d had a Playboy figure — 36DD-26-36. And while I’d gotten a few kisses, it had taken five years plus agreeing to allow your daughters dad to be involved to get you in bed. We’d had a brief separation and you seemed to enjoy telling me all about the girl you’d been hanging out with and using my sewing machine with. Or maybe it was my jealousy, Beloved.
Either way, we used to talk about getting old together. As long as I wasn’t with other women, you didn’t care about the boys, and I felt the same. The difference being I had trouble falling in love with boys and trouble not falling in love with girls. Whereas with you, Beloved, I never thought of you as “bi” — I thought it was just me you were into. But now that I was fat, even tho we talked about getting old together, I wasn’t getting kissed, either.
Until that lovely night you got your vertical nipple piercings. If I’d been piercing, I would’ve told you not to drink. But I was and there are pictures of us kissing. But we’re you kissing me for me or for the camera?
Halloween rolled around and you wanted to be a dominatrix. I still had some of my favorite clothes and shoes, but the sizes went from 6 to 0. One leather dress was a 00 with the stomach sewed in. But you were so thin, it wasn’t a problem. I pulled out my $400, thi-hi, 6″ platform heeled boots and tried them. They fit. I wore them twice with my current boy before loaning them to you. I reminded you of their history, which you remembered. You told me you wore them with your current boy, but decided not to wear them to work. I said you could keep the dresses since I never wanted to be that thin, but wanted the boots back. At the time, you had a duplex of sorts and promised the boots were in a safe spot.
Well, after the shite went down, one of the things you said was they’d been “moldy” when I gave them to you. Not true, Beloved. A year in your damp basement turned my prized boots “moldy”
After your dad died and your mom followed 18 months later, their house in South Jersey went to you and your brother. You managed to get your brother out and spent a lot of time fixing it up for “us”. You kept insisting that we, my son and I, should move in with you and your son. Our boys were a year apart but in the same grade in school and we could raise them like brothers. We’d get them bunk beds with a slide and we’d share a bed and keep a room for your daughter and if one if us brought home a boy the other would sleep on the couch and and and…
You pushed the idea so hard, so often that I said ok. I told our landlord we were breaking our lease. I switched my Dr’s. I told my son’s school we were moving and enrolled him in the school near “our” house in Jersey. I would take the kids to school and pick them up. I’d be in charge of meals. And you’d work nights as a bartender (something I’d done before I met you).
I tried calling.
I went on your Facebook page and asked if you were, “too drunk” to answer and you finally, FINALLY, had something to throw in my face.
Bam! Facebook block.
Bam! Life block.
As if there was a single person who knew you who did not know you were drinking.
So that’s where it ends, Beloved.
That one single comment in Facebook cannot possibly be the reason you cut off contact.
But, yet, it is.
And I’m out a $300 pair of boots that were, “awesome” (I record all phone calls and save all texts because of Bad Dad).
And my son and I are out a place to live.
And I just looked you up and you’re back with the “abusive drug addict” (your words, Beloved).
Yet you think I’m the bad guy.
A basic Google search of your name shows you’ve gotten back with your “horribly abusive, drug addicted, user” ex-husband and moved back to Hawaii.
Making me, for the first time, happy I put in the weight. And sad that I thought we were friends when all you wanted was to pretend you come from New York–like it says on your info. Unless you lived here for the last few years, all you did was commute, Beloved. And you could’ve been so cool on your own. But apparently you were just using me the whole time. Have fun working to support your habit and his. My loss that I actually care about you and your kids.