Thursday, December 29, 2011

Make believe

When mother first moved to Los Angeles she tried to make friends with families that were everything she aspired to be. On the surface, she left her hippie-self and the people attached to that lifestyle in New York, but she's the kind of person who will never grow up and become "normal", whatever that is.

For New Year's, she invites herself to one of those families and orders me to go with her. "Please behave" she says, which means I have to act perky and humorless, smile at their stupid jokes about "normal" people and listen to their dorky son talk about life in college. Mother will try not to drink too much while making me seem like the perfect daughter, cutely dressed up in pink and with just the right amount of make up on.

The whole evening will taste like vomit, one you have to swallow over and over again, and I will have to think very carefully about everything I say in order not to offend anyone (that would be very easily done if I wanted to) or seem strange.

And then, as the new year begins with fireworks and champagne, mother will hug me and say she loves me, and I will forget the charades and the fake smiles and say I love her too, just because that's how I wish things were between us. I will grab her hand and hold it, and for a moment I won't think about who's no longer there, like he used to be, protecting me from all that's evil in this world. It will be a happy moment, but it won't last forever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fairytale of LA

Mother refuses to play Christmas music on her stereo, so we spend the day listening to psychedelic rock from the 60s. At last a redeeming feature. After lunch I finally call Carl. I tell myself it's just another way of passing time, but in reality I've been thinking about it for weeks. When he answers on the third signal I wish him a Merry Christmas and then nothing. I'm lost for words with so much to tell him.

"What's this" he says, "Avy Stanford with nothing to say?" It's so perfect, he always knows just how to talk to me. I can do nothing more than hang up, no matter how much it hurts, inside and out. I've never been good at breaking hearts, but with him I do it all the time, unintentionally.

It was all so different back then, in the garden under the stars. So much bigger.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Melting of the ice

"I'll be home over Christmas", mother says on her way to the kitchen. It's not what she had wished for, it's never been a secret how much she hates sunny California this time of year. She grabs a bottle of tonic water from the fridge and sinks down next to me on the sofa.

I don't know why she won't go to New York like she would have wanted, but she tries hard to act as if she's not disappointed and asks me that question again, her head slightly tilted to the left: "you love me, don't you"?

I'm not supposed to answer, so I change the subject and ask if anyone will be joining us. Hernan still comes and goes and mother's mood changes accordingly. "No" she says, "you're all I have". She grabs my hand and holds it for about two seconds. I guess that's a start.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Memento non mori

Chloe knows what it means to dress up so she came to me in her best YSL and smokey eyes Friday night, light as a feather without even trying. When she paints her lips red as blood she shoots you down harder than any heroine from the French Nouvelle Vague. Sometimes I think of what could happen if she only knew how to use it.

She saved my life once. I carelessly mixed some pills I found in mother's bedside table with too much alcohol before going out, and ended up collapsing on the dance floor. Chloe dropped everything, forced me to throw up and fed me water till I threw up again. When we got home she sat next to me on the floor all through the night, keeping me warm and awake while the shivering slowly wore off.

This time I just wanted to be close to her so we lit a fire and shared a bottle of wine in the dark. When the morning approached I told her I was cold, so she stepped out of her dress and gave it to me. It's her way of saying she knows how nothing makes me warm like her naked porcelain skin.

And all I can think of now: why don't moments like those last forever?

Friday, December 16, 2011

No one's gonna fool around with us

Earlier today I'm on the bus, a man in his 40s sits behind me, talking to someone on the phone. He's speaking in a foreign language so I don't understand what he's saying, but I can hear he's crying. People around him are trying not to listen, uncomfortably looking away, out the windows. I know what they're all thinking, just like me: lucky man, he's feeling something.

S calls in the middle of it, I don't answer. Instead I send a text message to Chloe, telling her to dress up for tonight. At least then we can pretend like we're somewhere else.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I wanted to call him today but didn't, ashamed of my egotistical reasons. He deserves better than to hear me rant about this misguided jealousy. I am happy for S, but that's only a part of it. The feeling of running into them earlier today downtown, him looking good in a black leather jacket, her looking happily in love. I went home, began dialing his number but stopped myself, mother's words echoing in my mind:


I don't know where we are anymore and I'm starting to lose track of time. It's getting darker and colder, and it's not just the seasons changing. We're mostly reading and sleeping, when I'm not thinking about how I really feel for him. He's so pretty but I'm afraid that my love is selfish, that I only love him because it makes me feel good about myself.

Yesterday a tall rugged man approached us as we sat in the restaurant. He didn't know any English but we soon understood that he wanted to buy our jeans. And suddenly I was brought back to reality, realizing how incredibly privileged I am. My stupid problems seem so trivial compared to the poverty we're witnessing all around us. But then again, I guess things are never that easy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I wanna be adored

I call him Carl, he has another name but I stopped using it over night years ago. He never asked me why. Lately he's let his hair grow long, and when he wears the dark gray D&G jeans I bought him for his birthday he looks really handsome, in a Milo Ventimiglia sort of way.

When I'm down I sometimes call him and he picks me up with his car. We usually just end up driving in silence, and he makes me feel safe again just by looking at me in the rear view mirror. I guess it's my way of remembering a time when it felt like nothing could ever get to me, and of forgetting how all that suddenly changed.