Siri, set the timer for one hour.
Ok, Leslie. I will… and the suspense is killing me.
I got home around 11:30 last night after going for a pedicure and dinner with Scales. We talked for four solid hours, and it was amazing. In terms of the polish, I couldn’t decide on a color, so I picked out black with red glitter and said, does this look like DC United to you? And like that, we were off…
Which is why I was so surprised when a propos of nothing, my eyes popped open at 5:59. I was out the door and at SBUX by 7:10, had my coffee by 7:24 (took me a few minutes to set up the app) and set my timer for an hour so I could get lost in my writing and not forget to go to work. I have given up on Starbucks cards. They generally get lost in my car, my room, etc. So much easier to log onto the web site and add them to my phone. Plus, SBUX is now cheaper than 7-Eleven, because the price of the coffee is about the same and with the number of rewards I have, I get free refills (not that I should use them… at least I don’t have an office mate to watch me spazz out all day). I was going to get some tea, but the bold pick today was too amazing to ignore… Cafe Verona… yum. Plus, I have Stash™; at the office in both Earl Grey and English Breakfast should I need to spazz out again this afternoon. Starbucks sells Teavana,™ but it’s more expensive and to my mind, just not as good. But perhaps it is not the tea itself, but the package that comes with the tea. Stash is a Portland company, and when I drink it, it’s the equivalent of going back in time. Sometimes I wish Dana & I had never left, but at the time, it made the most sense. You have to have a Master’s to teach in Oregon, where in Texas, it’s just a simple exam if you already have a Bachelor’s.
Plus, living in the city of Houston, it’s very possible that Dana would have been placed in a school where we could be out… not true 20 years ago, but certainly a possibility now. Of course I wanted her to teach at HSPVA. Of course I did. Her BA is in technical theatre, and not only that, I think she would have been one of the most popular history/geography/senior English teachers in the history of the entire school. This is because senior English is all Brit Lit, all the time, and Dana has an encyclopedic knowledge of Shakespeare and Rain Man when it comes to geography and history…. where as MY geography knowledge is limited to They Might Be Giants.
Of course, because schools need math teachers so much more, I think she would have been excellent at that, too. I was the creative diva basketcase while Dana’s brain works on a more logical axiom…. which is why I think she could also be a six figure programmer in no time if that’s something she wanted to take on. But it’s not my job to think about Dana’s future anymore. I just want the best for her, and I believe that’s how I know I’m really getting over it. Seeing her happy no matter what she does is important to me, without the weight of the past. It’s been long enough that I forget how bad it got and focus on how good. There will never be another Dana, and the sooner I recognize that, the easier it will be for me to think about accepting someone else.
But right now, I don’t want anyone else. I want her… in all her flaws, failures, successes, and hilarity. I have always thought of Argo as a completely separate compartment than Dana, and they never overlapped. They fed different parts of my brain, and the thought that I was on my way out the door because I loved Argo’s brain was laughable. The lesson for me in all of this was learning to love someone’s brain without thinking that translated into needing to be with them to enjoy it.
Dana used to say that Argo was an X-factor, that if I was capable of falling in love with her brain, I was capable of falling in love with someone else’s, and that person might actually be a lesbian and it wouldn’t be so easy to crush out and stay married. I personally thought that was bullshit, because I know what threat looks like. I recognize it. If Argo had been bi-identified, I would have run from her like a house on fire from Day One (also my favorite track on John Tesh Live at Red Rocks [shut it]). Argo being so incredibly heterosexual allowed me to feel all giggly inside like a teenager, an injection of dopamine that just made me feel good without all the messiness of shit getting real. There was no one that could make me blush easier, no one that could get under my skin with her words the way she could, for both evil and for awesome (thanks, Strongbad). But I felt that if my feelings for Argo stayed in the Argo box, I was perfectly capable of having enough love inside me for both of them, because as those giggly feelings faded, philia took over and eros got stronger with my wife, the one it was supposed to go to in the first place. However, I could never convince Dana of that, and perhaps that was a throwback to our past memories. I will never know, and that’s ok, but perhaps being married and falling for her best friend back in the day convinced her that’s what was going to happen in this case… that it didn’t matter what Argo’s orientation was, that our relationship was so tight that gender and sexuality didn’t matter anymore. But of course they did. OF COURSE THEY DID. I am a huge personality in a tiny body, but I have never once been able to “turn someone gay.” It doesn’t work like that, although I did make the joke back in the day that I didn’t think you could catch homosexuality from Gmail and Facebook Messenger, but you might want to check your license agreement. Shit happens when you don’t read the fine print.
In retrospect, I wish Dana and I had moved to DC at the same time, even as broken as we were, living apart so that we could make our own friends and still see each other every once in a while… but that is my bag, not hers, because she found what she was looking for in Houston and I, put quite simply, did not. Plus, I didn’t want to be a Houston-based writer. I wanted to be a DC-based writer. Too much to write about with too little time… although I don’t want to write about politics. I want to write about the city. Everyone focuses on Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court. But how many people focus on what it’s like to really live here? Muriel Bowser (mayor of DC) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (shadow Congresswoman) are doing the best they fucking can with a garbage dump of a situation. The founding brothers never really intended for people to live here, and it shows. Though DC is becoming more and more gentrified over time, the reality is that there are tourist areas and ghettos right next to each other, with the middle class only now emerging… and the upper end of middle class at that, because very few people can afford to live in the city proper. When Kathleen and I were looking for an apartment, the best we could find is a tiny box for $2,000/month, and that was 15 years ago… although if we’d had enough money to buy a house in a shitty neighborhood, we’d be rich by now. Again, gentrification is happening. Columbia Heights has been completely overhauled in the time that I’ve been away, as has the SW waterfront.
My favorite house that I saw was on the Potomac River, close to the marina on the NoVA side, and it was only $880,000. We didn’t have that kind of money, but I assure you that was cheap for its location, and now it’s worth over $2 million. We ended up in a small townhome community in the city of Alexandria, behind Landmark Mall for those who are familiar. The rent was reasonable, and we had all the amenities inside the house, like a washer and dryer in the kitchen so we didn’t have to schlep our clothes to a Horn & Hardart. But like I said, that was 15 years ago…. that same townhome complex probably charges twice what we paid then.
I am glad that I went the group house Craig’s List route, because I do not do well living alone, and my rent is less that $800 all bills paid, including cable and high-speed Internet. Now that I have a middle class job, it is allowing me to put away more money than I could ever save if I had a place of my own.
Plus, Sam, who still calls me “Mark.”
For those of us just joining us, a few months after I moved in, I got a “Share a Coke with Mark” Coke bottle at 7-Eleven and joked that now I only needed Luke, John, and Matthew. That was almost a year ago, and “Mark” has stuck.
One of my favorite stories about Sam is that her family took her back to Lebanon to see where Hayat grew up, and she and her sister tried to find the actual “Jesus tree.” If only there was photographic evidence. One of these days, I want to make it over as well, especially if Beirut calms down. In fact, I want to explore all of the Middle East, but I have to do it in a certain order, because the rules about traveling between Muslim countries and Israel are frightening. I also want to go to Turkey, the site of the original Mt. Tabor, and swim in the ocean at Antalya, thanks to the pictures my friend Brian and George posted of it.
Travel is at the top of my list in terms of interests, but in muslim countries, I swear to God I would wear a burka the whole time. I’m a lesbian and I look like it. I don’t want to take a chance that it could be used against me, and a burka allows me to watch people without being noticed, important as a writer. The place I want to see the most is the mountains of Afghanistan, thanks to The Kite Runner. I also want to see JoBurg and go to a Springboks game and perhaps try to find a way to meet Desmond Tutu. And oh my God, what if I went at the exact time the Springboks were playing the All Blacks?
And on that note, my timer is done and I have to leave. See you on the flip side. 🙂