Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blogging for Books #12: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

[I wasn't going to enter another BforB after # whatever the one was where I kinda sorta got second place but only because the author crapped out on us and so poor Jay had to do the picking and then there were no prizes and I was very, very sad...but then I decided to grow the fuck up (read: decided I was in this for the fame, not the fortune), so here I am, back again. This is the story of a somewhat spontaneous decision and the journey that changed the course of my entire life.]

Chuck and I dated for nearly seven years--through the summer after my senior year at college, through his last two years at the same institution, and almost all the way through his four years of dental school. It was a relationship I came to somewhat reluctantly, and in which I often behaved very badly. We both deserved better, but it wasn't until he found his version of better in the form of one of his female dental-school roommates that we found the courage to make a break.

Actually, that's a lie. There was nothing courageous about our break, and there was no "we" about it. It went something like this: One night, while lying in bed together and discussing the logistics of his imminent move to do an internship and residency and whether we would live together or not, and where our relationship was going, I said, "You're making this too difficult. It comes down to one basic question: Do you love me?"

I'd never realized how vulnerable that question could make a person feel until I lay there for a long, long, long time--and I do mean loooooong--listening to the silence that followed. I left the next morning, angry and surprisingly heartbroken, despite the fact that I'd always been aware of the fact that while I loved Chuck, I was not in love with him.

It was a Monday morning, and I went straight from the train station to my office in Manhattan, numb from the sternum up. I told my friends in the office what had transpired, and they left me alone for the day, let me just sit and stew, and work when I felt I could.

That night--or maybe it was the next night; details have never been my strong point--the phone rang, and it was my boss, who worked primarily out of our LA office. My boss. Calling me. At home. What the...

"I hear Chuck broke up with you," he stated.

All I could come up with was, "News travels fast."

He laughed. "I bet you could use a change of scenery. How would you like to come out to LA, take Joe's old job?"

I must be dreaming. He must be kidding. Is it humanly possible to deal with this much...stuff...all at once? "I...I don't know," I said. "I guess I'd need to think about it."

"Well, we can talk specifics next week," he said, referring to our upcoming once-a-year meeting of the offices, scheduled for LA (with a side trip down to San Diego) this year.


"It'll be great for you," he said. "You're going to love it out here."

I remember only flashes of that trip to LA. I mostly remember our trip to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, because we visited the folks at the condor recovery program, and I'd written a piece for our magazine on it program, so I sort of "knew" the people who gave us the tour. I remember the hotel we stayed in, with these unbelievably gorgeous rooms, every one of them different, each with a guest book by the bedside where people had written their impressions of the town. I remember poring through that book after sitting with two of my favorite women in the whole world and going through most of a bottle of Bushmill's. I remember my boss glued to my side through half the trip, pushing for a decision, trying to convince me to come.

Not that it was that hard of a sell, mind you. He was talking a major promotion, from associate to senior editor, and a raise on the order of $15K a year. And he was talking about a way to put me on the opposite side of the continent from a man who had recently bruised my heart and really hurt my ego.

"Plus," my boss said, "if you come out here, I'll take you out for lobster, and I promise you your hair will turn blonde."

And so I agreed, even though I had managed to survive to the ripe old age of 29 without a driver's license, and would need to learn how to drive, a prospect that filled me with dread, and should have filled the people on LA's freeways with terror.

That was in March, 1993; by the end of May (the 29th, to be exact), I'd moved into temporary quarters in Burbank, near our offices. On July 1 I moved into an amazing apartment in West Hollywood. I got my driver's license in August, and bought my first car in September. On January 16th, 1994, I decided my life really needed to change, and because most women seem to change their lives by changing their looks, I went and had about a foot-and-a-half cut off of my hair (which was so long it needed to be, um, held up when I went to the bathroom). The following morning, at 4:31 a.m., the earth jolted out in the Northridge area, and my apartment shook. And shook. And shook. And two days later, when we were able to return to our offices, my boss announced a preplanned move back to New York for the entire magazine. I was somewhat sad, but ready to sign on.

Before pen could meet paper, however, I met Baroy and my real life began. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

By the way: The lobster was only so-so. (I've eaten lobster in Maine; I've eaten lobster on Long Island, out in the Hamptons, where you could watch it being brought in from the boats and then carried into the restaurants. Nothing from the Pacific ocean could beat that; actually, chances were that the lobster I ate that night, amidst somewhat stilted conversation with my Asperger-y boss, was probably shipped from the east, anyway.) And my hair only turned blonde six months ago...when I dyed it during another bout of wanting-to-change-my-life angst. Nevertheless, saying yes and coming to LA was the smartest, most tranformative journey I've ever undertaken.

And I have Chuck--and that long, long silence--to thank for it.

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