Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Brooklyn, New York USA



I was born at Hollywood Presbaterian Hospital on March 9, 1981. I am the youngest of 2 daughters, my sister is 5 years my senior. I was coming out the wrong way, the doctors said, so my mother had to have a c section. My father was a successful soap opera star at the time, and sometimes we got being picked up in a limo. When I was 8 months old I met my Dot. Dot was a neighbor woman, at least 65 years older than me, who my parents hired to pick me up from school and baby-sit me regularly. She was a quirky woman who'd led a wild and fascinating life, told wonderfully dirty jokes, and was in her third marriage. I loved Dot terribly. Dot's husband, Bob, and I would sit and watch Donald Duck and we would laugh so hard it hurt. My sister and I swam in her pool and Dot would watch us jump off the diving board and then we'd eat popsicles. When I was 5, I decided to skip some steps of my two-story tree house, and fell head first onto concrete. The doctor at the hospital said what a brave little girl I was not to cry. When I was around 8 or 9 years old, my dad got a better acting job up in Seattle, so we sold our cute little bungalow in Sherman Oaks, bought a customized VW camper van, and packed up the dogs for the long drive up to Washington State. It took a week.
I hated Seattle at first. It was cold and rainy and grey and Dot wasn't there. I was a real tomboy, dressed in suits when I was six, and wore army fatigues. I liked wearing combat boots and having messy hair. Women used to tell me I was in the wrong bathroom.
In my new school, kids thought I was a boy. When they learned I wasn't, they just thought I was weird. My family moved into this big three-story house in the suburbs, with a yard and three fruit trees that only bore fruit the first year we lived there. It was near a beach. Once, when I ran away for a few hours, I hid by some bushes near the beach cliff, in plain view so my father would see me there.
I wasn't learning so much in my current school, so my parents put me into a different one. An artistically centered school where some kids had half-head Mohawks and fingernails dirty with charcoal. I did badly the first year in math. My other school didn't teach me math. I had to start totally fresh. I was still a tomboy, but I stopped wearing suits and my hair grew longer. I met people and they liked me. I noticed a boy around school. He was older and notoriously strange. I got a crush on him and would make my friend, Keily, take pictures of him when he wasn't looking.
My father moved out of our three-story house in the suburbs, and got a studio apartment. One night I was playing with a bungee cord hanging from a metal hook in the wall. I pulled too hard and the cord tore the metal hook off the wall and it hit the top of my head. It bled a little, and my dad took me to the emergency room. Nothing too serious, but it really hurt. I spent most of weeks at my dad's studio, while my sister's boyfriend at the time stayed at our house. My mother was venomous then. She broke a lot of the dishes and listened to Patsy Cline at maximum volume. Sometimes my sister and I thought she might be dead because the phone was disconnected and no sound but Patsy's would come from her room. Sometimes the neighbors could hear her screaming.
My dad got a different apartment, one with an extra bedroom for me. I started leaving notes for the tenants in the building, and then blocking their peepholes with white-out. The notes became more intense, and then they turned into threats on their life. I never had any thought of injuring anyone, I didn't know anyone, but I left these notes of impending doom on their doorsteps just the same. Soon, someone saw me leaving the notes. Then, whiting out the peepholes. Then, there were descriptions of me on fliers around the building, and then a knock on the door. The landlady spoke to my dad, and told him that the person threatening the tenants and scaring them half to death, was his daughter. I didn't go to Juvy, but it was close. I saw a shrink for a while but he never spoke so I stopped seeing him. My dad gave me the Velveteen Rabbit, saying it was about depression and it might help.
My mom sold the big three-story house and moved to a small, rented house where she slept on the couch. My sister and I shared the one bedroom. When I came home sometimes, my mother's boyfriends would still be there, getting dressed.
My dad's girlfriend had a nice beautiful house where I liked to come. It was immaculate and old-fashioned. But my things didn't really fit there. He moved in with her, and so did I. She had a son, who went to my school. He rarely spoke, and would spend loads of time alone and thinking. Sometimes he would lie in the driveway and not move for hours. He never spoke to me and rarely looked in my direction. Her son was the boy I had a crush on. He was my obsession for 5 years.
Every summer between ages 12 and 15, I spent with Dot. I stayed with her for 2 months each time, and rarely spent time away from her. She had her routine of rising early, watching her television programs and cooking. Later in the day, we would shop and swim and relax and do things around the house. One summer in particular, distant relatives of hers showed up unexpectedly and would stay with us for weeks. These were people she barely knew, but who were somehow related to her daughter or ex-husband or 3rd cousin. We started calling her house the "revolving door" because each week a new random person would show up and she would open her arms and house to them. During this time, Dot's third husband, Bob, was dying. I spent one trip helping her take care of him. He had regressed 70 years and was incontinent. She minded him till he died.
My mother decided to move back to Los Angeles, saying she couldn't live in Seattle anymore. I was relieved and sad. I officially moved in with my dad, his girlfriend and her son, my impenetrable crush. He graduated high school and left for college. I grew up and started to wear a little makeup and sometimes even skirts. He moved back after a while, and began talking to me. Soon, we had conversations. And then, he wrote me a note, confessing his feelings I had no idea existed. And then he kissed me and we had a secret romance that our parents could never know about. Then he left for college again and when he came back, he didn't talk to me and there were no conversations. It was okay because I met my best friend, Rose. We hung out at the Sit and Spin cafˇ/Laundromat every day, and smoked clove cigarettes and made up stories about the staff. We played the same songs on the jukebox and then the staff started to talk to us and we hung out after hours with them. Rose and I would drive around Seattle all night, listening to Tom Waits and old war hits from the 40s. She and I planned to go to college in New York City together. After graduation, we got tattoos on our shoulders, but not matching ones, and then we left Seattle and moved east. We planned whole new lives for ourselves. We would become different people. But we went to different schools and our friendship suffered a little in the first year. I did a lot of drugs and met lots of people. One person burned my arm with wax because he said it was for art. Then he said I was in love with him. But it wasn't true.
I'd never had a boyfriend and started to feel pathetic. After many disappointing and weird interactions, I put an ad in the free paper and lost my virginity with a stranger. I didn't tell a soul. Then Rose and I traveled through Europe together, drunk and silly, sleeping in train stations. When I returned, I moved in with my best male pal, Eric and his girlfriend. I was very close to them. He was a songwriter and guitar player. The songs were sad and weird and beautiful. Eric wanted me to find a boyfriend and his girlfriend suggested he should be him. They were drunk, but he listened to her. They fought and he moved out. She asked me if we'd ever fooled around and we never had. I never knew his feelings. He finally confessed them to me. He wrote a song about me, one that I loved and never knew the source of. It was called "Lead the Way" and I'd even named it, but it was all about how he couldn't find a way to tell me. After many weeks of letters and discussions and hesitation, I decided to be with him. Our first night together I realized it was a huge mistake. But I buried those feelings and we made each other miserable for eight months. The day he broke up with me he screamed things I've never repeated. I was leaving to go home to Seattle that day, and cried all the way to the airport. My mom listened through my tears and she made me feel better. At the airport, I picked up a book by David Sedaris and I laughed so hard I started crying again.
Back in New York City, I became a bartender and started to feel older. One morning, mopping the floor, my dad called to tell me Dot had died. I slid onto the wet floor and couldn't talk. At her funeral, I saw her there. She was telling me everything was fine and reminding me about the joke with the two old guys who go to the brothel for one last time.
In a bookstore one day I met a boy who would break my heart. My friend would not let me leave the store until I asked him out. Our courtship was innocent, absurd and wonderful. I made him things, like boxes of scent memory, and he hid gifts for me in public places. I fell fast and hard and he was scared so he let me fall. I knew it was a mistake and after a few days, he knew it too. Then he started to fall fast and hard, and at Christmas that year, I was with him, sick with a cold, he told me how fast and how hard he fell. It was wonderful. Two years later, he told me how slow and rough he had stood up again, no longer in love. I was walking with a cane. I had sprained my ankle and we were in a restaurant. It was our last night together and we listened to sad songs.
At my family reunion, my stepbrother, who'd come home from college and not talked to me, started talking again. Eventually he said he still felt that way about me. I was confused. I felt different. He was not the person I remembered. He was talkative and chubbier, and sometimes wore sarongs.
I moved more and stopped bartending. I worked in an art gallery and discovered how different I was from offices. I dreamed of Peru and I went there when I turned 24.
I began making a documentary about an artist. He is old and Vietnamese. He is a poet, and has more sex than anyone I know. I hope to finish editing soon. I am dreaming of Africa now, and will be going there in 66 days, to be exact.