You were depressed.
Last winter, you were having a rough time. Things had not gone as planned. Your return to the United States had been lackluster, the job you were working was somehow unfulfilling, your relationship with your best friend was crashing and burning, you couldn’t hold any progress with your client-roommate, your father was dead, your apprenticeship had fizzled out in a less than desirable manner, you had financial set-backs, your back was a mess, you had food poisoning, and you were smoking.
But that was nothing compared to what would come next. But you didn’t know that. You were just passing your days on the couch, watching dreary documentaries about honey bee colony collapse, the water crisis, and financial doomsday.
You had one friend across town, but saw him infrequently.
You know what your problem is? You’ve always said it: you’re an anti-social extrovert. * sigh *
Extroverts need stimuli. They draw their energy from other people. Thank god you worked at a gym.
Anti-social… avoidant of society. You’ve crossed the street or ducked from view on more than one occasion, seeing someone you know, but not having the stamina to interact with them. The thing about the gym is that you’re not really socializing–it’s more like you’re conducting business.
One of your clients found out a few particulars of your situation and started telling your other clients.
“Maria… are you like…. okay? Did your dad really just die?”
But you were fine. Really. It wasn’t his death that bothered you. It was icing on the cake.
You were lonely. And aimless.
San Francisco was lovely. But what was the point? You could feel the end of your “relationship.” It had already happened. And you felt emotionally stranded.
And on top of all that, you were lame. You eschewed white flour, sugar, dairy, meat, coffee, alcohol…. you didn’t like parties. You hated spending money on cheap thrills. You basically didn’t do anything but chop food, go to work, and occasionally work out.
Gabe accused you of behaving like an anorexic. “It’s about control. You wear your healthy lifestyle like an eating disorder. You feel out of control.”
It was true. You needed to lighten up after your last blow-out with Alexis. It was a blow-out that left you pedaling from her flat in tears, hell bent on finding tobacco. That evening, you checked your mailbox, found your lost mobile, and isolated yourself on the patio.
You checked your voicemail and listened to the angry tones. Rolled a cigarette. Opened your mail from Lorelei Stevens: Executrice of the Estate of Larry Stevens–and read how much money he left you.
That’s probably when the real depression began.
What’s the point of having all that money without a fucking purpose?
Sure, you had goals: travel the whole world, share the stories, collect the memories. And hopefully share it with the person you love. You were going to do it. You’d learned to travel alone already. But biding your time in that condition was intolerable. You needed to make some friends.
So you did. There was Kerrye, one of your favorite clients–diligently adhering to your program, being mostly quiet, and lingering at the gym. You started to understand that she was in a rut, same as you. And because she liked whiskey, she made a great drinking buddy.
A few social gatherings, picnics, and drunken bike rides later, you were feeling much better about yourself. So then you picked up a sport. Turns out you were better at kettlebelling than you were at rowing. This gave you focus and drive.
–well, she’d already entered. Another client. You’d found her before the New Year on an elliptical machine. She was wearing a rugby shirt. She was screaming gay. You decided to pitch your program. It was an easy sale.
By late January, Katie was several weeks into your program and asking questions about the workouts via Gchat every few days. At the gym, you followed up with her here and there, as you would any client, but found yourself inwardly smiling when you talked to her; you suppose you took solace in the fact that you were not the lone lesbian in the oppressively straight-seeming gym.
Then one afternoon, sitting alone (again) in your giant apartment,you fielded another question from Katie via Gchat. You can’t remember what led up to it, but you each agreed that since neither of you had any gay friends, it might be reasonable to hang out together, and be friends.
You texted her for the first time on a Saturday night, while biking precariously on South Van Ness toward the Mission. You had volunteered to tell a story at your friend’s non-profit event–Spokespeople–and would be happy to pay her a visit afterward.
And so you did.
Katie lived in the heart of The Tenderloin–San Francisco’s seedy, crack-and-shit-covered neighborhood where one can daily see public urination, fighting, drug-dealing, and more. You knew it well, in fact, because Katie lived on the same street you did (though you were a safe mile down).
In fact, your first real introduction to the Tenderloin involved a very dark-skinned dude named Edward, who was locally known as “the Tap Guy.” You met him early in September, while jogging back home from your new job locale. He exclaimed, “Aw I can keep up with you! Where you headin’?”
“Home,” you said, without outward annoyance
Long story short, Edward was a street performer who caught a view of your giant white butt and decided to make you his conquest. One which failed–but not before you visited him in his apartment in the epicenter of the TL–in a place with a broken elevator, multiple gates, a creepy security guard, and stains on the rug and walls. Edward’s room was about the size of a bathroom, but without a toilet. Toilets were down the hall.
He talked big game. You talked bigger. And his attempt-at-conquest ended after you told him how many people you’d slept with. “Damn! For real? Damn! Shhh….. I’m like… tryin’ to do the math–” (of geometric risk for sexually transmitted disease) “–and like…. Damn!”
And that was that.
Then, months later, there you were once again, in the TL, this time to see Katie…
You’re not sure what you were expecting. Somehow, you thought she was *clears throat * “cooler” than she turned out to be–meaning, you didn’t understand why a young 20-something would be staying in on a Saturday night.
Poor Katie. You started talking, and while she had already known you through the gym and through sessions as a talker about fitness, she hadn’t met the Maria who just talks about herself–openly, without much restraint or censorship.
The fact that you described in detail your soul-purging experience on ayahuasca within the first few minutes of conversation might have been odd. But it was an emotional time! And what better subject than the drug that threw you in the ring with nothing but your feelings for 10 hours.
Katie, however, was not to be outdone, and you swiftly learned that she was equally forthcoming with information about herself, and before you knew it, the two of you were discussing the ins and outs of relationships with frustrating straight women.
This person sounds just like you.
It was true. You had an eerie sense that you were talking to a younger version of yourself. The matter-of-factness, the rationale, the concerns, the complaints. You each wanted the same thing in a partner.
You would like to have sex with this person.
But not all at once. Frankly, you were content to make her acquaintance and didn’t have an agenda beyond friendship. You left a couple hours later and went home–
–only to come back the next day, that time drunk after Sunday brunch at Kerrye’s place. That might have been a mistake if you had been worried about your image as her trainer. But nahhhh… One thing led to another, and due to the return home of Katie’s potentially-just-got-dumped cousin, the two of you decided to relocate a mile down Turk street at your place.
You drank. So did she. And you drank some more. And so did she. And you kept drinking. And she stopped.
When it got cold, you moved from the rooftop to your “bedroom” and continued talking. The best part of it all–the absolute best part–was that you had no agenda whatsoever. You were content to talk until you passed out. But she was not. It was Sunday. Katie had work the next day.
“So, Maria,” she said. “It’s late. I’m in your bed. I’m drunk. I keep dimming the lights. Are we going to fuck, or what?”
She was a straight shooter.
You promptly got up, went downstairs, and told your roommate, John, to stay in the TV room, crassly vocalizing your intentions–all of which Katie heard due to the flat’s high ceilings.
And when you returned. “So I’m a top. You’re a top. How’s this going to work?”
“I guess we’ll find out.”
After several minutes of wrestling, you eventually answered your own question.
You’d like to skip ahead to “..and after that, the two of you were inseparable,” but you’ve been called out for not being honest. For glazing over rough terrain that ended in a nice smooth relationship with Katie.
“But that’s personal!” you retorted. As if this blog weren’t already personal! But even you have your limits, and you grow more conservative with time, believe it or not.
So here is it–the addendum inserted in the middle of this post…
You didn’t have work the next day after your amplified wrestling match (poor John!) with Katie. That was a fine thing, considering your hangover. You grabbed your phone and sent Katie a text, “I would like more sex from you as soon as possible.”
You don’t beat around the bush. Neither does she. So she was back at your place that evening.
Then, in an act of rare restraint, you decided you would sleep apart the next night. The last thing you wanted was a rebound. But tensions with Alexis were high, and you felt hurt. You cried and felt sorry for yourself–replayed the fights in your head–re-read the emails and the texts.
“You don’t want to be in my life when it’s bad, so I don’t see why I would ever give you the satisfaction of being in my life it is gets good again. My recommendation for all the people who think you’re a good person is for them to fall in love with you, to need you, and then tell me how they feel.”
The text burned through the screen and into the palm of your hand like a dying ember. You wanted to squeeze your palm tight and crush its stupid, meaningful glow. But it hurt too much.
02/01/12 — “Months ago, there was so much possibility. You were happy. Now you don’t have the most important person in your life. Now you want to run. But you’re too tired. Too sad. You want to run to her place and fight. Beg her to hold you. She won’t even be friends with you. She loved you like no one would. She understood you. She won’t even be friends with you. She hates you. And now you’re looking for any distraction you can find. “
Distractions… You’d been through this before. Hell, you’ve been dumped before. After your divorce in 2008, you’d shacked up with Erin, a pocket-sized femme who would change your views on sex with women forever.
And now you had Katie, the perfect distraction. But you wanted to be cautious. You didn’t want to throw her on the rebound pile. It wasn’t for her sake. It was for yours! You didn’t have any intentions of winding up in a relationship with anyone. You were foaming at the mouth to travel again.
You told yourself that you would not spend three nights in a row with Katie. That spelled trouble. Such a thing would lead to your dependence on her.
It was 11 o’clock on a “school night,” and you had a knot in your throat that made swallowing painful. You wanted to call Katie, just for the company. So you would be forced to pull it together and stop crying.
No, no… you must not call Katie. Where’s your pride? Seriously? What will she think if her fucking personal trainer calls her at 11 and begs her to come back over for a third night in a row simply to “use” her.
Well… if you were Katie, and your hot, older-woman trainer asked you to walk a mile in the cold over to her place because she was lonely…
You didn’t need to contemplate.
You’d fucking do it! Jesus Christmas! Of course she’ll come over!
And she did. Got out of her own bed, put on clothes, and walked a mile in the cold to your place. That night, you bit your tongue when immense feelings of gratitude and romance flooded through you from a surge of dopamine.
And after that, the two of you were inseparable. It was a convenient situation, after all. Katie’s recent relationship had also just ended, and the two of you delicately rebounded with each other without much expectation or demand. It was so easy. Effortless.
Let it rebound! Isn’t that what people do?
To occupy yourself, you made a sport of exposing Katie to the most cliche and shocking aspects of dating a real lesbian, from dinner, to out-loud reading in the jacuzzi, to kinky all-women’s parties, to obscene acts of PDA, to one horribly contrived and cliche Valentine’s Day observance.
Though you were dating someone, the Valentine’s Day fiasco and the sudden loss of your job left you panicking about everything in your life and subsequently grasping for an escape route. You started interviewing strangers for the position of new travel partner, and set yourself a deadline of September to get yourself out of the United States and into South America. You did this with Katie’s full knowledge, and she didn’t try to stop you.
The two of you enjoyed one another’s company and were simply content with the moment. No demands. No expectations. One night, gently rolling on a little bit of mollie, Katie encouraged you to take her ex-girlfriend’s place on the trip she’d planned several months prior, to Las Vegas.
Vegas with Katie was the best decision you could have made. It involved hiking, gambling, beer drinking, zombie movies, bombs, and guns. And a great girl. What more could you ask for?
You stopped thinking so intently about escaping the United States.
You built a new business. You taught group fitness. You went hiking on the weekends. You walked all over San Francisco. You started to enjoy yourself. And you started spending money.
Again. What was the point of having money without someone to share it with?
A $750 road bike might have been a bit much as a birthday gift to a girl you’d only been seeing for two months. But you saw it as an investment. Katie needed to keep up.
You went about your merry little life that spring without much thought into the future. Desperation for travel had waned (though it didn’t stop you from trying to convince Kerrye to go with you). You told Katie that you would travel again, and that you would eventually leave her behind, and she accepted it.
It wasn’t until Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May (just after your 28th birthday) that Katie would utter these words to you:
“What if I quit my job and traveled the world with you?”