Baby, it’s cold outside

Thanksgiving weekend was…complicated.

I went in trying to gather all the life lessons that would shore me up for the triggers I anticipated encountering. I expected to be tried. Aren’t we always, to some extent? But holidays aren’t just for friends and family. They are for all our old trauma to come as plus ones and play out alongside us.

I spent Thursday building furniture (a pink couch) and helping Gian figure out how to build the coffee table. We are now good to go on furniture and Gian knows how to screw…furniture.

I made flower arrangements. Pretty ones that are still beautiful even the Wednesday next.

I decided to relax as much as I could until I had to cook. My back hurt and my feet hurt and I didn’t want the thing that took me down to be ignored pain.

I started cooking around six. A turkey breast covered in herbed garlic butter and salt and basted with soy sauce and orange juice. Two pork loins basted in French mustard and cherry jam. Hasselback butternut squash. Roasted beet/Brussels sprout/spinach/corn salad with goat cheese. Mushroom and barley salad with Parmesan. Roasted green beans with slivered almonds. Mashed cauliflower. Biscuits. Pan gravy.

It was the best meal I’ve cooked to date.

But Alfie tested me and I called him out on it, refusing to be steamrolled by anybody. You don’t disrespect someone in their own house. At least not at 4 a.m. I still think I did right in that instance. But I’d already flipped the switch. I was in reactive mode. And that is me at my worst.

Friday night I went to Maddie and Erica’s over in Crown Heights for their Friendsgiving. Honestly, and not to be biased, Erica is the worst cook I’ve ever met who enjoys cooking. The first time she cooked for me she made “tacos.” Drumsticks marinated in salad dressing, American flour wraps that she asked me to toast until brown in the toaster, and salsa cobbled together from jars which had been molded over. I ate because you don’t disrespect someone in their house. But you get the idea.

I wasn’t there for the food, I was there for the friends and there’s usually a good time to be had in that apartment. But Jesse came. Jesse Bryson, the biggest bore there ever was. The type of musician who lives in his father’s shadow. Who is horrible to everyone and probably pretends to be drunker than he is to get away with being awful. Who always has a sob story to justify the awful.

When he wasn’t calling me a bitch or a cunt or telling me not to ruin his chances with the poor girl he brought, he was singing to no one, threatening everyone, and being a general nuisance. The entire night was focused on managing him. And I think Erica played out her trauma by doing that over and over again.

Jesse hates me because he sees in my eyes that I know he’s a fraud. Not just from him, but from an old roommate who told me that he used to collapse on the floor in the fetal position, crying, wondering why no one loved him. I’d feel bad for him if he wasn’t such an asshole. But as it stands, he gets not an ounce of compassion from me. He knows what he is doing and he is looking for someone to give in and give him attention. But that doesn’t make it easier to deal with.

Erica confronted Maddie and me in the morning, saying she was the only one to stand up to him and that is why he respects her. Only he doesn’t respect her and he wouldn’t act differently if we did stand up, which we have in the past. It’s a lost cause. I left the conversation before I said something cruel. But Erica persisted.

I charged my phone so I could get an Uber. And that is when Erica went dark. She’s scary like that. She can turn on a dime and then seems unpredictable. And that speaks to child me, who had a mother like this who scared me more than anything. Only I’m not a child anymore and I react with words.

I left, but I broke my own vow to not get mean. And I really had such good intentions.

On Saturday, I reflected and tried to take stock. But at Maddie’s that night, I called her out for not backing me up against Jesse or Erica. She’s protected Jesse’s (temporary) girlfriend. But I was supposed to go up against both Jesse and Erica by myself? When she knew what was wrong?

Somewhere in there, I began to cry and become irrational and then say things I couldn’t take back and leave in a huff. And I had such good intentions.

By Sunday, I was a single raw nerve. I stayed in my room. I planned to maybe never leave it. I felt so much pain and regret. Feelings I don’t really encounter anymore. But I couldn’t spiral. I had no one here to bring me back from the brink that I used to reach. It had been so long, over three years, since I’d gotten this way, that I didn’t know if I could contain the whirlwind of pain inside me.

I was so upset that I wrote shitty sentences like that last one.

And that is how I found myself on a Tinder date. I didn’t expect much. I just wanted to be around a stranger whom I hadn’t yet damaged that weekend. I didn’t even expect a good date. Just a person and a drink. Maybe some conversation.

Low expectations, indeed. But even high expectations would have been exceeded. Not at first of course. He was quiet. I talked for the both of us. Jibberish, really. And then he challenged me. On politics. And then we just talked about who knows what and my shoulders unclenched and he smiled and he laughed and I released whatever I’d been storing in the pit of my stomach.

At Do or Dive they sell tamales. They’re not great, but I was starving. I’d manage to not eat very much on Thanksgiving weekend. I don’t eat when I’m stressed. I asked the bartender if they had any, and he said no. But they had bar mix.

I must have smiled, because the guy I was with reacted like I’d lit up Christmas tree style. And that was when I knew. He was into me. And from there going forward it would be me holding us back from falling into bed together. I figured I had an hour to build an opinion of him. So I threw out stories that would scare the meek and mild. He didn’t blink. And then he kissed me.

Back to my place. Sex; the good, hot kind you have with a near stranger. But sex turned to sleep and quiet. And a day in a half later, I’d been kissed and touched and held and fucked and talked into sanity.

He left Tuesday morning to go home.

Tinder…it’s not just for hook ups.

Now it is Wednesday and I am still at home. It’s cold and the radiator hasn’t been on since yesterday morning. I’m wearing Uggs to keep my feet warm. I’m under a heating blanket and my Dyson heater is on (everyone thought it was such an extravagant expense–ha!).

I’m listening to the impeachment hearing. It’s been incredibly interesting listening to the historians. The Republicans are so blantanly hypocritical that words no longer have meaning. I’m not partisan. I’m a pragmatist at heart, and I am not easily swayed by hyperbole and passion. But the Republicans have shown who they are. They’ve lost their moorings and they’ve sold the farm for a populist autocrat. Goldwater is spinning in his grave so fast right now you could hook him up to a Tesla and ride the PCH from L.A. to S.F.

To counter all remnants of grim, I am in this makeup.

I might go to Long Island City to tell a story tonight. If I can summon the strength to go out in the cold. It isn’t that I’m afraid of the cold. It just takes me a while to acclimate to change. Don’t count me out just yet. I don’t lay down and die.

Tomorrow night is Devendra Banhart at Brooklyn Steel. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from that show. Alfie will be there. And so will the new guy. Let’s watch as my worlds collide.

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