THE STORY OF US PART 2
For much of my life I had been a heroin addict, and then, in 1998, I stopped. I had been living in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn next to a dominatrix named Zanny. Zanny was saving up all her money working in a Dungeon in Chelsea to move to LA and be a movie star. At least once or twice a week I would sneak across the fire-escape that connected our two apartments and crawl through her window and steal a couple hundred dollars from the shoe box she saved her tips in. I would use this money to buy heroin.
One morning I woke up to find Zanny standing over my bed. She had a gun in her hand. It was pointed at me. In her other hand she had the number to AA. Zanny gave me an ultimatum.
She had this amazing red, curly hair, and a southern accent that reminded you of peaches and cream and sugary deserts, and pale white tits and she laughed a lot and shared her whiskey with me and she loved me and still I stole from her: I can tell you this, the fact that I loved her and the fact that I stole from her never seemed to conflict in my mind. I did love her and I did steal from her. I am surprised at how little these two realities converged until that day I woke to find her pointing a gun in my face.
It was summer when Zanny gave me my ultimatum, July. A week later, broke because of me, the man who stole her dreams of moving to LA, she moved back to North Carolina. And I had seven days sober.
Two years into my sobriety I moved to LA with my partner Jordan. I had convinced him that we needed to be in LA to get our careers started. Jordan bought a beautiful apartment in Los Feliz overlooking the park and downtown. A month later I broke up with him for a guy I met in AA.
I remained sober for 11 years. And then, a week before I was to fly to Amsterdam to meet my mother, I decided maybe I could drink. I spent weeks wandering Paris and Amsterdam and Venice drunk.
That four year relapse was the coldest, darkest place I have ever been. I met strange and captivating demons, monstrous entities inhabited my mind: a darkness flowed through me that was insatiable: I hungered for my own destruction and created palaces of despair, a life of loneliness and isolation. I believe that I had allowed a demon inside me: that I became possessed. My mother told me that she thought maybe I was cursed. It was the only thing she could think of. Someone had cursed me. She believed that by relapsing I had forfeited whatever good will I might have gained in those 11 years sober: and that I would fail. I have a clear memory of some hallucinogenic night standing in front of my bathroom mirror staring at my reflection and a voice telling me to smash my face into the mirror. To jump out the window and fall to the street. To pick up a knife and stab myself with it.
I was possessed by darkness during that time. I lost everything: my home, my mind, my life, my friends, my job, boyfriends and family, all in ways so unexpected and shattering, so horrifying that the very fact that I was eventually able to get sober again and regain even a small percentage of what I once had is mind boggling in its mythic miraculousness.
I have learned something very important from that four year relapse: inside me there is a demon, and he is growing stronger every day. The longer I am sober the more vicious he becomes: and he is waiting for me to fuck up, to make one mistake, so he can pull me back into his darkness. And it is possible that I will fuck up. It is completely possible that one day I will convince myself that I need a xanax or a joint or a glass of wine: something small and innocuous, something harmless in appearance: just to cut the edge, to smooth over the blandness of daily life: I am fucking apocalyptic and if I am not careful I am capable of destroying everything.
I can’t tell you exactly what made me get sober. I had broken up with my boyfriend. I had been evicted and was living in a strange and dark apartment in the building next door (I had created an elaborate lie that lead me to court where I was able to sue the landlord who was evicting me, giving me enough money to move and to live for a few months), my car had been repossessed, and my family was basically done with me. My father, who had been supporting me for years had finally decided, at 43 years old, to cut me off. No more new cars or rent checks or allowances. No more grand trips to Europe when I felt trapped. I would sit in my apartment alone reading old interviews with Allan Ginsberg and jerking off to gang bang porn online. My friends had all moved away. Or were just as fucked up as I was. My life was small and it seemed to just keep getting smaller.
So I went to an AA meeting and I found a sponsor and somehow, a few months later, I got sober.
I was also evicted again and ended up, in some kind of magical moment of grace, moving in to a large and beautiful Silverlake Mansion in the junction with views of the Hollywood Sign and the Observatory and on those incredible clear LA days maybe even a glimmer of reflected sunlight off the Pacific.
And here is the other thing I know about sobriety: there is a grace to it, something strangely magical and miraculous. If I can just get out of the way and let it happen: life seemed to fall into place for me. I went to meetings. I did step work. I meditated and jerked off endlessly and watched a lot of TV and went on epic midnight bike rides through Los Angeles. There were some nights, still detoxing and unable to sleep, that I would ride my bike all the way to Santa Monica and back. Or through the hills of Silverlake, my calves burning. Anything to escape the screaming panic that was my head. For me, that bike, was faith. It was God. It was magic. I rediscovered the world: I rediscovered color and hope and beauty on that bike.
That period in my life, when I was just getting sober, was incredibly magical. But no more or less magical than the dark magic of my relapse. Both events, relapsing and getting sober again, opened me up to a world of spirituality and magic and endless possibility. I learned that I am capable of things that even I, on a surface level, can’t understand. That I make choices and bring about futures that seem unimaginable to me. Every single day I choose between annihilation and success. It is that simple. But around me there are forces rooting for me, pushing me ever forward, hoping for my happiness: just as there would seem to be forces rooting for the opposite: parasitic entities: leeches that have latched themselves to me, feeding off my pain.
Three weeks before my relapse I was walking home from work, east on Sunset Boulevard, toward Silverlake. I was happy. I felt free. I felt connected. I had been meditating and casting spells of intention and I thought I understood the world, I felt strong and good. I looked up into the sky: blue, cloudless, and I watched as a large black bird soared: wings expanding and merging with that endless blue, and for a moment it was as if the layers of reality were pulled back and I could see behind the curtain: an endless flow of energy where time and matter were the illusions, creations of thought. I stumbled and fell, and all the world melted into color: shifting forms, people like burning stars exploding and reforming before my eyes: the street was a river of golden light. In the distance the hills shimmered like diamonds: the world was aflame in light and color and I could feel it all move through me, become one with me and than separate: I understood that that was the constant play of the Universe: becoming one and separate, endlessly moving between the two.
When I got home I sat on my couch and tried to understand what had happened to me. I was completely sober at the time. To this day I sometimes wonder if I had a glimpse at God, at who we really are.
It is strange that three weeks later I decided that I could have a drink. A glass of wine at Stella’s Café with a friend of mine, a new ageist who affirmed for me what I already knew to be true: I didn’t need AA or some God outside of myself: all I needed was will power and intention and to believe in my personal strength: she kept saying, over and over, “The world is what you believe it is. What you say is what you are. We create our realities.”
I now know this is absolutely true and complete bullshit at the same time.
When I met Alex I was a week short of seven months sober. We met on Scruff. He was supposed to be a trick: just a fuck: a really dirty fuck. The first thing we established was that we were both tops. Alex said he was versatile, which, I was later to find out, was a lie, but he has a seduction tool: he has one of those famously large Dominican dicks, what I’ve come to think of as his bottom maker.
We spent a few days talking on scruff. Alex was working on a movie for SciFi at the time: he does special effects make-up and I was spending a lot of time in prisons and jails talking to criminals. We made a plan to get dinner: he insisted we go on a date, I had been hoping we would fuck right away. I like to get the fucking out of the way first: how else do I know if I even want to go on a date with you if I haven’t fucked you? Somehow, over the course of those days, I went from being the top to being the bottom. We had a solid plan: dinner than sex. I hadn’t been fucked in over a year. He sent me a picture of his dick. It made me nervous. But it also turned me on. I liked the idea of getting owned. Of being dominated. Taken.
I was suddenly in the mood to be seriously and righteously fucked.
Alex showed up and still insisted on dinner. This was a date. Later he told me he knew that I was going to be more than just another fuck. He had a feeling about it. I was living in that run down, decayingly beautiful Silverlake Mansion.
We went to a Thai Restaurant in Hollywood.
While at dinner he gave me his card. Which I thought was strange, but somehow endearing. I had recently had some interest in a horror script of mine. He was learning how to network. Looking back, of course, he was networking with me. Months later he told me he thought I was out of his league, “I kept waiting to step into some bad lighting and for you to see me clearly and realize you’d made a mistake.” This idea, of course, is ridiculous. Alex is stunningly handsome. Breathtaking.
Alex insists that two weeks later I gave him the keys to my house. I’m pretty sure I made him wait at least three weeks. He also likes to remind me that I didn’t invite him to my birthday party. We met on May 4th, my birthday was May 8th. I had decided that I couldn’t invite him: what if he bought me a shitty gift? I could never forgive that. It was safer to just not invite him.
I still think that was the right choice. And I still think I made him wait three weeks to give him the keys to my house. Either way, I definitely made him wait 8 months before he could move in.
Magic is strange. The way the world works is strange. Somewhere in the middle of my relapse I met a Persian boy named Arman. He was a dark and violent young man: painfully beautiful. I believed he was going to be the love of my life. The first time we fucked I woke up covered in bruises. Arman liked to hurt me. He enjoyed it. He had a long fat dick that I loved to feel inside me: at first the biting and the brutality seemed sexy, passionate, but there came a point where I thought: can’t we ever just fuck? Like people? Can’t we just have fun and kiss and get off and then go to bed? Does everything always have to be so fucking epic? Sometimes, late at night, I would wake up to hear him in the living room of his West Hollywood apartment talking to himself. I would walk softly to the door and listen to him madly whispering to ghosts or demons; I was never sure which. We spent a weekend at a friend’s family’s estate on Lake Tahoe where we dropped acid and sat on a dock in the lake, looking up at the stars. Arman held me tight, telling me strange stories and somewhere in the middle of that night I knew: he was not mine. He was dangerous. This knowledge flew through me in shadows: as if I were seeing a reflection of the future; I could see the future the way it would play out with us. It was a future neither of us would survive.
Arman’s family was wealthy. They were art dealers and he spent a lot of time with his father in Tokyo and Hong Kong, Paris and Rome. Once, after a trip to Lisbon, he returned to meet me in New York City.
“He’s evil,” my mother said, and I laughed. She said things like that sometimes. Hyperbole was a way of life with us. “He’s dark. Susan saw him standing over you. A knife in his hand. Bloody. You were gasping on the floor, dying.” Susan was my mother’s psychic. She channeled an entity named The Omega. While the name was stupid, something about Susan’s predictions always came true. She had a way with the future. Omega said that time was like a flat plane. It was like looking out over my front yard. That is how he saw our lives. Like blades of grass flickering in the garden: whole existences existing simultaneously: all time like a magnificent pond, shimmering in the afternoon sun. “He will kill you if you stay with him.”
Two nights later he pulled a knife on me. I ran onto the street, and east toward 7th Avenue. I called my mother. I was terrified. She told me to keep heading east, toward the River, where she would meet me. You’d think that would have been the end of Arman. But it wasn’t. He bought me Rayban sunglasses and a beautiful Cartier watch and cried and told me he loved me. We flew back to LA. For a week he was amazing. Gentle and loving. But then the voices came back, the late nights locked in the bathroom, chasing me through the apartment with scissors.
I bring Arman up to say that I was not always the best judge of men. Sometimes, if they fuck me right, I can lose whole years of my life to a man. But Alex…he was different. I felt it in my soul. He was my partner from the beginning.
I have thought a great deal about the idea of a soul mate. The idea that one person can be everything to me, that there is one person who is magically created to fit me perfectly. My other half. This idea gets even more complicated when you know the future and know that we end up with Jon, the three of us coming together to form something new, something larger: but still…I can’t seem to shake the magic that surrounded the events that lead me to Alex. He protected me. Sheltered me. Carried me.
Maybe I believe that there are souls that call out to each other, and once united they are stronger together than they are alone.
I became stronger with Alex.
This is not to say that there hasn’t been darkness. Remember, I am possessed. I have a demon living inside of me. Gnawing at me. Chewing at me. Clawing its way out.
But I also have a lightness in me. And sometimes, in those darkest moments, if I stand really still: I can feel Alex’s love for me and I feel that maybe there is a purpose to all this. That maybe love does matter. And that maybe I might find some kind of redemption for my past.
It was almost a year and a half into the relationship that I found out I was HIV positive. And again, I think, the world moves in strange patterns.
To Be Continued….