So I had these plans for when I returned to LA.
I'd frolic around the neighborhood on my bicycle, laughing and pumping my fist in the air, so elated to be back. I'd ride the trains and explore the city and I'd figure out how to get to the beach without a car. I'd sink into my home and I'd make soup and I'd finally learn how to mix spices well. I'd pick up lemons in the backyard and I'd find a special plant that wouldn't be too hard to over water and I'd care for it.
None of this happened. I returned to a home and relationship that was falling apart for reasons I don't need to write about here. I'll just say, simply, that IT WASN'T WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS.
And when I realized how much it really wasn't what I thought it was, I left. Or fled. Or whatever.
I went to Seattle with a weight in my stomach as heavy and hard as a bowling ball. At the risk of sounding like a battered woman WHICH I AM NOT, I found a safe place at Carl's. Carl got me through breakup boot camp/phase 1 and woke me up at 6am every morning to hike five miles with him and the dogs. He calls it "walking". But it was through woods and up some hills and down some others. Therefore, hiking. It was dark and spooky in the trees when we started and dawn by the time we reached the beach. Once it rained and once we saw the Asian ranger who greeted me, "Hello, lady."
When I wasn't hiking, I curled up on the couch in Carl's "man room", feeling too shitty to even make jokes about his huge beer mirror. I did, however, admire the other manly elements of his man room: the leather couch, the massive sectional, and the outsized flat screen television mounted on the wall. Carl cooked for me and poured me wine and helped my bowling ball shrink from the really heavy kind (the kind I almost tore my shoulder out of socket over recently at Pickwick Bowl) to a smaller, child-size heft. Thank you, Carlito.
He also lent me his manly truck to go hang out with Ingrid and LAM, the serious fucking bad ass Seal Press editors I assisted when I lived in Seattle. They took me to a bar in Georgetown that had a buffalo head on the wall, which I got a kick out of for some reason. LAM made fun of me for ordering soup and salad, "You're so LA." I defended myself my pointing out that I was drinking a FULL CALORIE pint of pale ale and not some swishy cocktail or sparkling water, extra sparkle. She acquiesced.
I started laughing more. And I flew to Mexico for breakup boot camp/phase 2.
PHASE 2 IS KEY. After wrenching yourself through Phase 1, which is necessary and honest and unavoidable, and your gut is all sore and your eyes are stinging like hell and the sharp little shards of your heart are starting to injure neighboring organs, you've got to figure out how to wrench yourself out of it. Here I got lucky.
I'd mentioned to Leila in an email, in response to her question of whether it was nice to be home, that it actually blew chunks to be home. I gave her the briefest outline of what was going on and she left a message on my phone that pretty much said:
"Do I need to remind you that I own a house in Mexico? That it has a room with a separate entrance if you want to be alone? That you can hang out if you feel like it? That you can walk on the beach? And learn to surf? That the plane tickets are cheap? You should come here. In fact, I INSIST on it."
When Leila insisted, it was done. Apparently I needed someone to tell me what to do. I was also lucky in that I had the kickass synergy of money in my pocket + nowhere I had to be. It could have been worse.
I've already written about the depths of relaxation I reached in Sayulita. I started feeling like myself again and less like a Tim Burton character. I really had no choice, what with surrounding myself with fun, generous people, tasty food, and sunny sunshine. It would have been ludicrous to spend a week in Sayulita feeling depressed and sorry for myself. ABSURD.
I was so comfortable there that sometimes I couldn't stop laughing, even when I sort of wanted to ask, "Um, self? Is it THAT funny?"
Yes, yes it was. It was that funny when Leila emailed me in the plaza from her iPhone to tell me that there was a horse parked in her front yard and it was that funny when it was so hot that I was sweating just watching other people sweat and it was that funny when I found out that one of the guys in town is an author of self help books for women on dating.
Part of me really wanted to tug on his boardshorts and ask some questions. The other part of me was waaaay too embarrassed. I didn't. I just smiled and carried on normal conversation, unrelated to the demise of my latest romantic entanglement AKA he who I had considered the love of my life. When I found out, however, that Leila told Self Help a teeny bit of what happened in LA/what I was doing about it and he nodded with approval - I'd like to think he also nodded because he was SO IMPRESSED but I wasn't there so I'm making that up - I will admit to feeling as validated as hell.
Do I sometimes feel like I'm completely cracked? Maybe. But maybe not.
I started to untangle myself in Mexico/phase 2. If I let myself think certain thoughts too much, I'd feel that old heaviness, now more of a baseball than a bowling ball, start knocking around. There were moments, though, where that shit was barely even ping pong grade and I knew that I was okay. Mad? Check. Hurt? Oh, yes, check. But broken, maimed, and irreversibly scarred? Nope. And no longer shellshocked. I was getting perspective. Thanks, Leila.
My lightest, airiest ping pong moment was in the car with Chucky and Pato and Leila at the end of the week, driving from Sayulita to Vallarta, on our way to the airport. I was staring out from the open window and my hair was getting all blown around and I was looking at the trees in the hills and I thought, THESE TREES ARE GORGEOUS! THESE TREES ARE INCREDIBLE!
The song on the iPod changed and suddenly it was Sublime singing "What I Got". And I remembered - mom, dad, close your eyes for five seconds - tripping on mushrooms and dancing around the livingroom with Kevin in Olympia, singing that same song: "Lovin' is what I got, I said remember that." And just for that moment in the car I felt like THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG!
I was thinking in happy caps.
Phase 3/Back in LA
Really, the best thing to do when you move out of your house and get a storage space and try to figure out what the heck you're doing in a city that you only moved to for the relationship that just disintegrated is go on tour with the Spice Girls.
I have more questions for myself and more sorting through to do with my feelings, but for the next six rehearsal weeks I will be doing those things from a very nice room in a very nice hotel in West Hollywood, courtesy of the tour. When I first realized I was going back to a hotel after just spending the entire summer in hotels, I was heartbroken and cried because I want a home so, so badly. I can't overestimate how sick I am of moving. Of writing my address in pencil because it keeps changing. I am ready to stay the fuck PUT. But, where?
I now have a few more months to ponder my little heart out. Having stayed one night in the hotel, I'm already warming up to plan B/phase 3. Okay, fine, it won't suck having someone make my bed everyday and leave the New York Times and bring the car around for me in the morning.
Oh yeah, the car. The very nice car is also courtesy of the tour and I had two equally powerful reactions to driving it around today: 1. This isn't my car, people! Don't look at me like that, this isn't me! I'm not a doctor's wife, I'm a cyclist, for chrissake! And then there was 2. This is how I ROLL, bitches.
And now for some thanks. Dad, thanks for your sweet advice on a good place to meet good, healthy people, spoken straight from your runner-loving heart. Mom, thanks for reminding me that you and Bob Roncker got engaged after six weeks and that taking big risks isn't a totally stupid thing to do.
I haven't given much airplay to many people about all this but to those of you who did hear me blister and blubber and scream, thanks for saying a bunch of true shit. And for making me laugh even when I wanted to stab myself with a hot poker. Sunny in Chicago: "Forget for a minute about what he did to YOU, I've got a bone to pick with him about what he did to ME, taking you away from me like that."