Learning How to Love: Chapter 6

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS. CHARACTERS AND EVENTS MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED FOR STORY LINE PURPOSES.

CHAPTER SIX

LOST…IN LOVE?


May 26, 2012


I can’t believe he expects me to spend the weekend with him at my boss’s house. He’s so nonchalant about it, too, like it’s not a big deal for me to sleep over at my boss’s house who I literally just met 2 months ago. If he thinks he’s getting laid this weekend – he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. I just think it’s too much, too soon.

I’m no stranger to spending the night at a guy’s house. I once spent 2 weeks in New Mexico with Mr. Right. We cooked breakfast, we lounged, we explored, we smoked weed, drank beer – you know – the usual. I wasn’t scared of spending the night with another guy. I was scared of what would happen after Mr. Money and I spent the night together.

Does this mean we would be exclusive? Does this mean we have to start dating?
Does this mean I have to make you my boyfriend? 

Mr. Money is a natural salesman. If he were selling me a car, it would have been a best-in-class 4-door sedan with additional warranties and policies that I really didn’t understand or need. I’m sure he would have thrown in some free all-weather mats and a roadside assistance kit, too, just for flair. He doesn’t know how to take no for an answer and will convince you why you should say yes. Eventually, you will say yes.

He might think I’m playing hard to get, but I’m really not playing. I really am hard to get – even just to understand. I don’t have time for games; I invited Mr. Right for a summer in Humboldt and I’m pussyfooting around with another guy. This romance doesn’t feel authentic – it feels like it’s been built on a broken foundation waiting to crack open at any time. I haven’t been honest about Mr. Right, mostly because I feel a deep shame for having made those plans in the first place.

You can’t let your guard down around these heteroguys. Once you do, they’ll think they “won you over” as if you’re some sort of consolation prize promised to the bird who squawks the loudest. I’m no consolation prize; nobody worth keeping around wants to truly love me. But I only think Mr. Money wants me so bad because he can’t have me. Truth be told, I’m not really looking for anything serious, anyway.

I really do like how easy it is to talk to Mr. Money, though. He doesn’t make things complex; He accepts statements with ease and engages in great surface-level conversations. Being around him is so easy, too; I don’t have to change much about myself to make this work. I just keep things simple with him.

I heard this piece of advice once: “If their kiss doesn’t leave you mesmerized, they won’t leave you mesmerized, either.” Truth be told, I’ve kissed a lot of folks, and not many were lips worth bragging about, not even Mr. Moneys. His lips were timid but strong. The way he parted his mouth to let me inside was half-assed; I had to lead this kiss. I don’t think he’s ever learned to kiss anyone with a passion.

The lackluster kiss is hardly what struck me as odd; it was the apparent lack of understanding that what he delivered was indeed a bad kiss. In fact, he described the kiss as “amazing.” Yes, in fact, was amazing. I’m a great kisser with loads of experience. Mr. Money, however, kissed me like it was his first time; It was brief, dry, and a little awkward. Nothing short of a business email – I’m sure.

But he cradled my neck when he kissed me. Just the gentle touch of a young man sent chills up and down my spine. No one had ever caressed any part of my body like that. If he hadn’t done that, I would have never kept kissing him. I would have never stopped the first kiss he attempted and took control of the second kiss. I placed a hand on his cheek and guided his chin toward mine. I puckered my lips and gave him a soft and wet kiss with no tongue – the lingering kind that leaves you wanting more.

For the last week, he’s treated me like an absolute princess – not a Queen. A Queen is not scared, is sure of herself, and knows how to use her power. A princess – me – is spoiled, still learning how to wield power and is dependent on others. Mr. Money has taken me out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and ice cream dates all in the last 7 days.

I will admit, walking around town with a new dude holding my hand seems really weird. I told Mr. Money I’m not into public displays of affection, but I lied. I am actually terrified of Mr. Right showing up out of nowhere and starting trouble with me and my new friend. He’s not supposed to be in town for another week, but I still wiggle out of every arm-over-the-shoulder and awkward-hand-holding opportunity Mr. Money gets.

We did have one sleepover in this last week – let me rephrase that. After two hours of begging me to spend the night with him, I finally agreed to spend the night. Just one night (this was before I knew there would be a whole ass weekend). One weekday night of cuddling – that’s it. As long as we didn’t have sex, there wouldn’t be a risk for greater attachment, right?… Right?

But that was it – that’s what did it. When he held me, his body molded into mine and we stayed that way all night. In the morning, his roommates asked if I was able to sleep with his loud-ass snoring in my ear, and I said what snoring? You mean I slept through what sounded like someone choking all night? Fuckinaye. If this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.

I keep telling Mr. Right that him coming to Humboldt is a bad idea – that I wasn’t thinking straight when I agreed to these terms. I hinted that I changed my mind and things weren’t going to work out. But his response was assuring me things would be fine and everything would work out as planned. He made it sound like we were going to start a life together – in Humboldt. Is that what I agreed to? In his “defense,” he couldn’t get a refund on his Greyhound ticket, so he had no choice but to come.


Erykah Badu – “Didn’t Cha Know” – Official Music Video

June 7, 2012

Before I knew it, the web of lies I spun had caught up with me. Not really, I had to come clean to both of them. I came clean to Mr. Money first – after all, he’d done for me he deserved to know the truth about what I did. Shortly after the weekend I spent with him – after we slept together, after we played house, after we fell in love – I broke it off.


“Listen, I don’t know how to tell you this,” I tell Mr. Money in a sad and soft voice. While watching the passersby on a park bench, I decide now’s the time to come clean. “Remember that guy from last month? The one who threw the fit in my dorm?”

“Yeah, your ex-boyfriend? The one who was an asshole to you?”

“Yeah, yeah. Him.”

“What about him? Did he contact you again?”

“Actually…he’s supposed to be my roommate this summer.” I look down at my feet and away from him. I can’t look him in the face right now. I don’t want to see his reaction. 

“What do you mean?” he asks nervously. “What do you mean roommate?”

“I mean, before I started dating you, he and I made plans to live here in Humboldt – together.” 

“Are you fucking serious right now?” he snaps at me.

“Yes, I’m serious.” I pause and let out a sigh. “Look…i’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. This wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I told him not to come. But he’s coming anyway.” My legs shake as I wait to hear his response. Part of me wants to get out of here as soon as possible and the other part of me wants to call Mr. Money right then and there and tell him to fuck off with his stupid non-refundable Greyhound bus ticket.

“So, what does that mean for us?”

“I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”

He bites his lip, stares off into the sky, and doesn’t say another word. Suddenly, my heart aches, like I’ve lost a loved one; more like I just pushed my lover into a volcano. He didn’t deserve this. He deserves so much more; a better me.



I have to keep the promise I made to Mr. Right. I feel like an early 19th Century European middle-class white woman caught between a budding romance and her cruel and vicious husband. She can’t leave her husband because (1) she can’t prove he is unfaithful to her and (2) he’d probably hurt her if she tried. Here I am – 200 years later – anxious to leave an abusive relationship, even after experiencing healthy love. The details may have changed, but women are still expected to obey men, regardless of what they really want.


New Chapters are available to read every Wednesday @ 8 PM.

Things I Would Tell My Future Child

THINGS I WOULD TELL MY FUTURE CHILD IF THEY END UP LOVING AN ABUSIVE MAN/
THINGS I WISH MY MOM WOULD HAVE TOLD ME/

I can’t forbid you from seeing him, but you should know this is not your fault. He’s threatened by your power: the rumble in your voice, the energy in your reason, the tenderness in your soul. There is nothing more threatening to an insecure person than someone who is passionate, sure of themselves, and multi-talented, like you. Being upset doesn’t excuse him for acting offensively. Just because he’s insecure, doesn’t mean it’s okay for him to bully you.

When he goes low, baby, go high. You keep your head high when he tries to bring you down because he will. He will attack your character, your spirit, your existence. You give him nothing. Don’t spend your energy trying to clear your good name. Do not accept these insults as true; Don’t give him the reaction he wants. Don’t give him any of your power.

Walk away before he exploits your kindness. He will exhaust everything he has over you. He will take whatever he can. If it is within your will to walk away, do it safely.

Love will always be present in your life and he is not the only person capable of loving you. You are worthy of great love and not just a half-assed love. If his idea of love is conditional and filled with ‘only ifs,’ that is not loving, sweetheart, that’s control.

When he says No One Else Will Love You Like I Do, tell him you hope not.
When he says You’re an Ugly Slut and a Bitch, just laugh it off because only you have the power to decide who you are.
When he says I’m Gonna Hurt You and Your Family, let him know how the power of Self-Defense holds up in court.

Everyone has the power to stop perpetrating violence.

He’s not strong like you; Strong people don’t hurt others on purpose. Everyone hurts someone eventually, but what he’s doing is unkind and vicious. Everyone has the power to stop perpetrating violence. Everyone has the power to change. If he’s not willing to do that, he’s not fit for loving others.

And it’s not your job, or responsibility to change him or make his life better. You don’t owe him shit; You are not indebted to him because he cares for you.

They call people who died in violent acts of war, “casualties of war” or “collateral damage”. I don’t want them to call you that one day. One day he’ll go too far to prove his point. You’ll fight hard and he’ll try to fight harder. He’ll hurt you. He might even leave marks; leave you in the hospital. This boy is declaring war on your body so you must be the Pacifist.

I’m not going to forbid you from seeing him, but we will remind him of the likes of true power.  

Once you know the power you wield, he no longer has anything over you. When you break free of those chains, nothing can stop you, baby.


Learning How to Love: Chapter 5

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS. CHARACTERS AND EVENTS MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED FOR STORY LINE PURPOSES.

CHAPTER FIVE

DESERVED LOVE


May 10, 2012

“Can’t believe you’re graduating this weekend! You must be so excited,” I cheered. I’m genuinely moved when I see brown folks succeed; I feel like if they can do it, then I can do it.

“Yes! Yes, I am!” Mr. Money’s smile was so big, it could have walked off his face. “I’ve worked so hard for this. Brown people have to work twice as hard in this country to get ahead, so I’m glad I get to pave the path for my younger sisters.”

“That’s incredible. What are you doing after graduation? You gonna stay, or what’re the plans?”

I’ve only known Mr. Money for a few weeks. He’s been training me to take over his job once he leaves. He’s charismatic in the way he makes you feel important when you’re talking to him. The whole office – mostly the women – adores him. He’s got a perfectionist attitude, but I feel like there’s more to him than just work, school, and family.

“I’m working here in Housing for the Summer and then I’m moving back home to study to be a licensed financial advisor.”

Of course, he’s got it figured out. Nevertheless, I rejoiced, “Wow, that’s awesome! You know, ‘cause you actually have a plan,” I joked. 

“Since we’re both working here over the summer, I’ll see you around, yea? We should hang out,” he insisted.

Mr. Right is not supposed to be back in Humboldt for another couple weeks, so I have a little time to kill. “Yeah, totally. Hit me up whenever!” I remarked.


Mr. Money isn’t the kind of guy I would have paid attention to back home. He wears button-up shirts with Jordans and he’s snarky but in a funny, respectful way. He’s really flirty, especially with all the women in the office. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were dating one, or already had dated one. Besides his obvious love for shoes (which I respect), the only thing we have in common is that we’re from LA.

I can tell Mr. Money is really into me. His eyes glisten and gleam when they look at me and he can’t stop smiling when I’m around. Plus, my boss Glenda hasn’t stopped talking about what a great young man he is and how he still hasn’t found a “nice girl.” I think he got into her ear about liking me. It’s kind of weird since we all work together; but coworkers date, right?

Glenda’s the kindest boss I’ve ever had. She’s got kids our age, and they’re both in college, too. On the surface, she’s a middle-aged white woman living in a predominately white community. The only systemic struggle she’s had to fight is being a single mother and survivor of intimate partner abuse. That’s where we bonded; I needed a mom and she needed to talk to another survivor. I think that’s why she asked Mr. Money to train me, so we could bond, too. We call her White Mom.

When Glenda asked Mr. Money to walk me to my dorm last month, I felt grateful but embarrassed. The more questions he asked about Mr. Right, the more shame I felt. I didn’t want to tell my coworker why I was still fucking with this immature older dude who wasn’t good for me. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and face the truth; Mr. Money might actually one of those “nice guys” everyone keeps talking about – the good kind, not the weird kind.

Plus what if Mr. Right was still in my dorm? What was he going to do to Mr. Money? Beat him up for walking me home? I was scared shitless of that possible outcome. Mr. Money was packing decent muscles, but something tells me he wasn’t quite the hoodlum he thought he was in L.A. Mr. Right is a tall beefy sum’bitch; I was frightened of what he could have done to my new friend.

When Mr. Money dropped me off at my dorm, he lingered for a minute or two. Just before we stepped a few feet from my suite, I covertly surveyed the parking lot for Mr. Right’s car. There was no sign, so I let Mr. Money give me a hug and wish me well. When he hugged me, I felt safe. I felt like I could take deep breaths again. Why hadn’t I met you sooner? He grabs my shoulders and stares into my eyes with furrowed brows.

“You deserve better,” he tells me.

I look down, let out a long sigh and mumble, “I know.”



May 19, 2012

The summer here hardly feels like summer. I know it’s still Spring, but it’s still overcast 99.9% of the time and rains every other day. We’re lucky if we get a few hours of sunshine a week. Part of me wishes I was back home in the L.A. desert, but the majority of me craves independence. Working over the summer is the only way I’ll be able to afford the rent on my new apartment. And with my roommates gone for the summer, I’ll have to rely on my coworkers for support and having fun.

I took up Mr. Money’s offer to hang out, but since I’m not 21 yet, we’ll have to drink at his place. To his content, the Lakers are playing tonight so we’ll hang out and watch the playoff game. I’m not certain this is a date, or just some coworkers hanging out. I know he’s into me, but he doesn’t know I’m into him and I want to keep it that way. I’m not really eager to get involved with anyone right now, especially because I’m expecting a visit later this month.

I decide to look irresistibly cute anyway. You only live once, right? It’s a bit chilly, but I’d like to wear a floral stretch mini skirt because they’re comfortable to wear. I add black tights for the weather, a black and white Incubus band tee ‘cuz it’s my fave and my cheetah print Vans – because, duh, why the fuck not.

I split my hair down the middle and French braid each side. Shoulder-length hair doesn’t give me a lot of up-do options and this one is by far my favorite and the cutest. I grab one braid and pin it under the opposite side and do it again to the other side. This is as close as I get to traditional anything. I loosen up the braids a little to give it a textured look and spray down the back. Having my hair out of my face makes me feel bold and in control.

I’m ready to head out to Mr. Money’s place; But first – snacks. I can’t show up to the homie’s house empty-handed. I stop by the grocery store and pick up some chips and salsa. As I’m waiting in line to pay, I catch the eyes of a very handsome young man. He looks like a Vegan Veterinarian who promotes world peace and creates his own compost. He probably does that farm-to-table crap all these yuppies do. If I had the means, I’d probably farm-to-table, too.

Handsome Young Man decides to get in line with me and ask me what I’m up to.

“All dressed up for chips and salsa?” he inquires.

“Yea, I’ve got a hot date with some beers, so the chips and salsa help make a good impression,” I jokingly said. We both smile and examine each other’s bodies and faces.

I’m not sure how I’ve got the attention of two guys at this moment. I’ve been trying to get laid for at least 6 months and now that I’m not desperate for someone to notice me, suddenly I’m popular?

“I’m having a small party tonight. You should come,” he asserted. He writes his number down on my receipt and hands it to me. “Call me and I’ll give you the address; starts at 7.”

At this point, I’m thinking, “Is anyone else seeing this? Am I being set up? Ashton – is that you in the corner? Am I being Punk’d?” Handsome Young Man just gave me his number as I’m on my way to meet another dude whose – excuse my accent – been on my nuts since day one. The Universe took pity on my thirsty ass and sent fine ass blessings my way! I’m receiving, Universe, and thank you for being so gracious.

“I’ll see where the night takes me,” I coyly stated. I flashed the approval smile, gave his whole essence a once over, and bounced out of that grocery store like the heartbreaker I intend to be. I’m not going over a stranger’s house in the dead of night for a possible hook up. I’m a brown girl from L.A. in the heart of a racist county – I’ll pass, thanks.


Mr. Money’s place is a bit of a hike away from the grocery store, so I arrive a bit sweaty. To my surprise, I’m greeted by a very casual Mr. Money. He looks like he’s been cleaning his place all day. It’s Saturday, so he could have been cleaning from the break of dawn until now like most Mexican children have been trained to do. He’s wearing basketball shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt. I don’t think I gave him enough time to get ready. I look at my watch, and I’m 15 minutes late; I guess this isn’t a date after all.

Shockingly, I feel more at ease seeing Mr. Money in his Saturday cleaning clothes. He introduces me to his roommates, and we all drink and watch the game in his living room. This doesn’t feel so formal, so I don’t have to be on my best behavior; I can relax and be myself.

I hate the Lakers, so I’m talking shit. More specifically, I’m not a huge fan of Kobe and what he did to that young girl. I know the media lies, and he said he was sorry, but something about the whole situation doesn’t seem right to me. Mr. Money doesn’t get into the politics of who deserves praise, or forgiveness; he just appreciates the hard work it took for the man to get on top.

When the Lakers lose, he expects my sympathy. But instead, he gets my arrogance. He’s a team player, so he takes the L on the chin and pops open beers for the both of us. I wonder what kind of person he thinks I am to console someone when their team loses. Did he not get my whole -liberal-independent-feminist vibe?

I gotta hand it to him though – he’s surprisingly fun for a Business major. I thought those folks were all uptight and all about the money. At least I know I was wrong about one thing. He brings out a bong and packs it with some fire. Score! Homie has a 24 oz mason jar full of dank ass bud that’s supposed to last him through the summer. I guess we can stay friends.

We take some kitchen chairs and prop them on the lawn to soak in whatever sunrays are still left. Bong in one hand; Beer in the other.

“What made you want to come to Humboldt State…so far from your family?” I ask.

“I wasn’t going to get far staying in L.A. I was hanging around bad people, doing a lot of drugs and I needed a way out of all that. So I came here. Plus this was one of the only schools that accepted me,” he stated matter of factly.

He has a very mature nature. Like he’s seen the world crash, saved humanity and is now living life in a carefree, but responsible way. You all know the type, right?

“That’s crazy. That’s kinda why I came so far, too. I had to get out of the fucked up world I was living in,” I added. He didn’t really ask about me, but I felt inclined to share anyway.

As the sun sets, so does my hand-eye coordination. I’ve never drunk these beers before – IPAs or some shit? They’re a little bold, but I manage. They’re strong so drinking the 3rd beer while taking bong hits is taking its toll on my movement management. In order words, I’m cross-faded so I have to call it a night before I get sloppy.

Mr. Money insists on walking me home – oh, what the hell – I accept. He pulls on a red Southpole sweater that does absolutely nothing for his Saturday cleaning outfit. He probably should have put shoes on, but who am I to judge? About five minutes into the walk, he tries to grab my hand, but I tactfully hide my hands in my jacket and act like I didn’t just bust his move. He’s crazy if he thinks he’s going to make moves on me. We’re coworkers.

By the time we get to my place, we’re deep in conversation about who we are as people: what we believe in, what we want, what we hope for and what we dream of. I really needed someone to see me authentically and mirror that back. I really needed the company of someone genuinely interested in my personhood and not just what I had to offer.

When I was ready to head inside, he leaned in for a goodnight kiss, and I turned my cheek. My instinct was to turn away. I didn’t want to share a kiss with a coworker I may or may not be into. He’s a great listener, but I’ve got a dude coming over in 2 weeks. I can’t start something new while not having ended the thing I share with Mr. Right – whatever that is.

He took a step back and asked if he read the signals wrong.

“I’m just not ready to start anything new right now. You’re great, but I need time,” I explained. I didn’t want to give him any details; like the fact that I’m kind of single, but not really.

I omit the truth to keep my shame hidden, but I am being honest about not being sure about this guy. He’s got a good heart, a good head on his shoulders, he’s funny, he’s charming, he’s a college graduate, he’s stable, he’s responsible…why didn’t I accept his kiss?

The next morning he texts me bright and early, “Good morning, beautiful. Can I please take you out for coffee today? Maybe even a bite to eat?”

I take my time to text back. I don’t want to sound too eager, because I’m not. After 2 hours, I finally reply with, “I’m down. Just let me know when and where.”



New Chapters are available to read every Wednesday @ 8 PM.

Learning How to Love: Chapter 4

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS. CHARACTERS AND EVENTS MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED FOR STORY LINE PURPOSES.

**Trigger Warning: Descriptions and detailed scenes tied to Intimate Partner Violence.

CHAPTER FOUR

THE WRONG MR. RIGHT

Ugh. People with their long-term monogamous relationships make me sick. Taking pictures in front of a Christmas tree, kissing under the mistletoe. It all makes me sick. Does anyone even know the meaning of Christmas? Does anyone even know the meaning of love? Love ultimately leads to separation of some sort. So, what’s the point in being in a relationship, anyway?
 
When you love someone, you should be willing to put that person’s life ahead of yours. 
 
Even if it was only for that moment, I loved so hard. For what? So I can get my heart torn out and stomped on? Then you expect me to love you again? You took everything from me. You took so much, I had nothing left to give myself. 
 
You threw me on the bed because “you didn’t want to hurt me.” You called me names so I could understand the anger I “caused” you. Why? I did nothing to hurt you, at all. 
 
It was all a tantrum. A show. Pretend. And that’s all you are. A pretend lover. You never actually opened up to me. It was only anger. You were never truly yourself. Just an act. 
 
You’re always going to be fake to me. Christmas is mostly about consumerism now and I hate that. That is also fake. Like you. So have fun this Christmas, living a fake ass life with fake ass traditions. 
 
Fuck you, Mr. Right. Seriously, go fuck yourself.
Posted on Tumblr.com on December 15, 2011

April 3, 2012

After several months of trying to get back into dating and looking like an idiot, I’m done. I can’t believe I posted my phone number on my neighbor’s door and told him he was cute. I can’t believe I slept with this freshman White-Boy who came after like 3 seconds (poor thing couldn’t handle all this). I also can’t believe I slept with my childhood BFF (it was great, too). And I really can’t believe I just texted my piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend.

He wasn’t always a piece of shit to me. We were really good friends in the beginning. He was my favorite person to be around when I was a freshman in community college. But after a year or so, he started getting controlling and possessive, so I got the fuck out of that relationship.

But when my Dad died, Mr. Right was there for me with a strong shoulder to lean on. He’d take care of me after I was done taking care of everyone else. But just as I would quiet my sadness, Mr. Right would ask questions like, “So, did you fuck anyone else?” and then add things like, “A break don’t mean shit. You were unfaithful if you fucked around like that.” And I would come back with things like, “Well then, technically, I was unfaithful.” That same strong shoulder I loved to lean on would then jerk me around.

Sometimes it was a shove. Sometimes it was broken objects. Like cellphones, windows, doors. He would lose control, blame it on me, take it out on me, weep like a child, and then beg for forgiveness. It was a vicious cycle. Round and round. Get mad at stupid shit, blame it on me, take it out on me, feel like a piece of shit and cry, and then beg for another chance. Pathetic, honestly. At the time, however, I was crying, too. I was scared he’d take things too far.

After my Mom divorced my Dad, she married this tall, light-skinned hijo de su puta madre from Michoacan, Mexico. Universe, forgive me for speaking of the deceased in that way, but I’ll never forgive him for what he did to my Mom.

He was emotionally abusive and controlling. When she asked for a divorce, he showed up to the apartment with a plan for a murder-suicide. He only got away with one thing on that list. And now my Mom lives with the haunting memory of brains splattered across white walls and beige carpet. She still shutters when she hears a loud BANG!

I didn’t want my Mom to live with losing her daughter to intimate partner violence, too. But some part of me thought this was “it” for me. This is the most love I’ll get out of a relationship. This is the kind of love I deserve. I’d never seen someone with so much hate and anger in their eyes. But it didn’t matter how many times I tried to leave, he just wouldn’t leave me alone.

But now I’m here in Humboldt, 700 miles away from my family and friends – basically, all I’ve ever known. And even though I blocked his ass on Facebook and changed my phone number, I still yearn to reach out. I’m lonely and he’s loyal.

I don’t know if he’s changed. All I know is that he’s a person I trust and am comfortable around. Freud has thing weird theory about people falling in love with partners that remind them of their parents. I don’t buy it. Mr. Right is nothing like my Dad, but at least I know he’s a ride-or-die kinda motherfucker. That’s all I need right now.

Weirdly, I’m not afraid of him anymore. If I feel uncomfortable, I’m not afraid to speak up anymore. If he gets loud, I’m not afraid to laugh and point out the silliness in all this anger. If he dares put another hand on me, I’m not afraid to stab this foo in his gut. And if it all goes to shit, I’m not afraid to die trying to defend myself.

He doesn’t own my power anymore – I do.  


April 10, 2012

I cannot believe this. I just spent the most magical weekend of my whole ass life with Mr. Right.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know. We decided it was a good idea for him to drive to Humboldt to see me. Don’t ask me how it got to this point. All I know is booty-calls are sometimes hella complex.

He drove up from L.A. bearing gifts; my bike from back home, an ounce of bomb-ass LA bud, a Ziploc bag half full of gold caps, a bit of hash and this new thing called DMT. I already had access to all this product in Humboldt (I mean, come on – it’s Humboldt) but getting it for free as an apology gift is more my steez; I think it’s the Aquarius Ascending in me.

As if Mexican Drug-Dealers didn’t already have a bad rep, Mr. Right had to go and fulfill the violent stereotype. He was hypermasculine in the ways that pressured him to bully other boys into joining his entourage. He didn’t have real “friends.” He had scared boys who never said a damn thing when Mr. Right would raise a hand to me in front of them. 

He also owned a gun and taught me how to use a shot-gun and an SR22. About two years ago, he pointed a shotgun at me. There was no fight, no horseplay, no obvious trigger for him to do that, so I panicked. I belted out and started crying for help. Then he started laughing hysterically. Said he was playing a prank on me. No, I didn’t think it was a red flag. Yes, I started laughing, too. 

In Dr. Howe’s Family Relations in Contemporary Society lecture, I’m learning that when your young brain sees violence in your home growing up, you’re more likely to be the victim of intimate partner violence, or be the perpetrator of violence in the relationship. Sometimes, you’ll be both. Hearing the way Mr. Right’s mom berates him sometimes makes me cringe. She’s usually drunk out of her mind when she goes off, but she digs her nails deep into ill-healed wounds. 

Mr. Right is aware of his trauma and has is actively trying to heal his trauma. At least that’s what he said on Facebook. Those things are usually pretty accurate, right?


We drove out to the beach on Saturday to explore this new Northern territory together. I rolled the window down and let the crisp off-shore breeze forcefully sweep hair into my face. I popped in a Summer 2010 mixed CD with songs by Sublime (not with Rome), Rebelution and Bob Marley. Hearing about world peace and smoking trees, while enjoying the sunshine sends jolts of serotonin throughout my body. I live for moments like this.  

At the beach, we tucked ourselves in between the giant forest rocks and trees and pitched a small tent. Beaches here get super windy and cold, so we chose a spot where we could watch the sunset without being pounded by the wind. It didn’t take too long for us to realize how much we missed each other’s company.

I never thought I’d have sex on the beach, but he and I were pretty adventurous with each other. There was that one time in the woods…and on the highway…and on a roof. I guess I’m not surprised we did this, too. 

Between the time I left LA and now, I’ve had a lot of time to explore my body and sexuality. I finally know how a real orgasm feels and I know how to make myself get there – alone. Plus,  vibrators have become a necessity and a luxury. I’m not relying on anyone else for pleasure anymore, honey; This gal has got it down! 

People often neglect this fact, but having an orgasm on THC is an extremely pleasurable experience. Your body is relaxed. Your mind is at ease. Your body is flowing with nature and if you’re not feeling paranoid, sleepy, or munching out, then you can immerse yourself in a sensational encounter.  We smoked a fat ass joint. Because that’s what we did when we were together. We smoked; We laughed. We lived in the moment. This guy always came through for me. If I had a problem of any sort, he was there to support me through it and help me feel better. We rode hard for each other. And there he was, 700 miles from home, stripped of all toxic masculine cultural expectations and pressures, inhaling dank ass LA bud and exhaling shame and fear. 



I asked him to visit me again. Yup. Even after everything he’s done to me. Maybe I need closure? He was supposed to leave this morning, but he ended up leaving sometime in the afternoon. When it was time for him to go, he started sobbing. And boom – just like that, there it was: instant regret.  

“I just don’t want to go back down to LA. There’s nothing for me out there! I’m not safe out there!”

Mr. Right is sitting with his head in his hands with tears and mucus running down his face. I crouch down to meet his eyes. But, I can’t sit here and coddle him. I’m going to be late for work.

“You have a life down there and I have a life up here. Your Dad needs you in LA. You’ll be okay,” I say firmly, but calmly.

He wipes his tears but lets his mucus fall onto his lips. He’s an ugly crier. “But you don’t understand what it’s like for a guy like me in the ‘hood. Constantly having to look over your shoulder…ready for the next foo to come at you. Ready for shit to pop off.” He takes his sobbing to the next level and yell-spits, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR ME!”

I don’t have time for this. I don’t know what it’s like but I don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a white Mexican cis-het-man with anger issues and trauma. He needs a therapist, not a girlfriend.

“You need to get your shit together and go home.” I let out a sigh and looked him sternly in the eyes. “I’m going to work and by the time I come back, I hope you’re gone.” I soften my look cause I don’t want him to react violently but not before reminding him that this weekend was lovely, but it’s come to an end. Before I left, I sat with him for a second and put my hand on his leg. I finally whispered, “Let me know when you get home,” and walked out of my dorm.  

My job was only a 2-minute walk from my dorm, but I took an alternate route so Mr. Right couldn’t follow me. I wouldn’t put it passed him to show up and make a scene. I’m usually not one to air out my dirty laundry at work, but I had to tell my boss why I was late. She’s a gem. She knows what it’s like to have been kicked around by a loser. She kept me at work as long as she could and asked my coworker to walk me back to my dorm as a safety precaution.

Mr. Right left before I got back from work. Thank the Universe. What a relief. But what Pandora’s box did I just open? Before his meltdown, I told him we should do it again this summer. I thought things would be different.

Fuck.


New Chapters are available to read every Wednesday @ 8 PM.

Learning How to Love: Chapter 3

CHAPTER THREE

CAUGHT BETWEEN A BLANKET AND HIS LIPS


May 3, 2014

Who the fuck knows what love is anyway? I can study it my whole life and still not be a fucking expert yet here I am trying to make sense of it and love someone else. 

If this is going to be my life’s work, if this is going to be what I study and build programs around – this unknown mysterious feeling- then let it fucking kill me as Marie Curie did with her work on radiation! 

Let it consume my life so I can write about heartbreak and moving the fuck on. But honestly Universe, can you send some nice lovers my way? I’m really sick of this whole “love” thing. I just want to fuck around and have a good time. Can you do that Universe? Can you…please?


June 9, 2013

After spending a whole night with a cute guy I couldn’t kiss, I decided it was a great idea to hang out again. This time, thankfully, we made plans to hang out in daylight. It’s never sunny in Arcata, but that day, it was bright, beautiful and charmingly quiet.

“So, how long have you and your boyfriend been together?”

“Since last Summer kinda. He didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend until Fall, but he had already moved 700 miles away. We’ve broken up a few times. It’s weird.”

“How’s it weird? Seems like you and your boyfriend have a trusting relationship.”

“It’s weird because I don’t believe in Love the way he does. He pictures us as a family like I’m supposed to be this wife who creates these perfect little good children and we live in this big house and it’s gotta white-picket-fence n’ shit. I just don’t know how I’m supposed to be all that.”

Mr. Mariposa and I walked from the school campus to a nearby neighborhood park. I had walked through this same park the first night me and Mr. Money hung out. We were leaving his place, drunk and high and he insisted on walking me home. He tried to kiss me here, at this park, but I gave him the cheek. He was a nice guy and all, but I didn’t wanna kiss him. It wasn’t a sexy moment. Now, I’m here with a sexy guy, really wanting to kiss him. The irony never fails.

We decide to sit in this park and drink the rest of the Stellas from the night before. It’s broad daylight and we’re at a kid’s park. Nothing wrong here, right?

He continues to ask about my relationship. I think he’s curious about why I feel the way I feel when I’m around him.

“You know, Mr. Mariposa I just think you’re easy to talk to and I feel like you get me.”

“What’s there not to get? You’re an intellectual. I feel like you get me, too.”

“So, what’s your deal? Are you seeing anyone?”

“It’s complicated. There’s a girl. But she has cold feet. We tried getting together before the year ended but it wasn’t the right time. We said we’d try again when she moves back.”

“I get that. The story sounds familiar.”

“Yeah, so earlier you said you and your boyfriend keep breaking up. Don’t you get tired of the on and off? I had a relationship like that in high school. It’s kinda exhausting.”

“You don’t say! It’s fucking ridiculous. Why can’t we make up our minds? I don’t know. I don’t think we’re meant to be. He says we’re soul mates, but I believe a person has multiple loves throughout their lifetime. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all type of Love. I don’t know about Love…”


July 13, 2013

The cool thing about staying in Arcata over the summer is that the campus is virtually uninhabited. Plus working for the Housing + Dining department has its perks. I get to live on campus for the summer for FREE! But I do have to work nights and be on-call for 24-48 hours every other week. Just a small price to pay to live rent-free and steps away from the Redwood Forest.

It’s 8 PM and Mr. Mariposa is late, per usual. But he shows up with a blanket, some snacks, and that legendary beam I’m so fond of. I wasn’t expecting to see him again so soon. Especially after I cheated on my boyfriend with him. Plus, my boyfriend and I hadn’t actually broken up. I just sent him a text, which is hella shady. But I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to stargaze in a deserted football stadium. I pushed my guilty feelings way back into my amygdala hoping that it comes up with a neat way of processing all this shame someday later. But not today. Today, I’m going on a date.

You’d think summers would be nice anywhere in California, right? Wrong. Not in Arcata. Arcata is mostly foggy and wet. Mostly always wet. The Redwood Bowl serves as a sweet escape for the night, but it does not come cheap. The night is cold and the grass has small surprise puddles. Mr. Mariposa and I don’t care. While the Earth is wet and full of last morning’s dewy elements, the sky is a paradise for stars.

We find a patch that’s decent enough to sit on, and we lay the blanket down. Even though I devoured his face the night before, I still sit away from him, hoping to keep my distance and focus on the conversation, not my feelings. One thing Freud got right was that arguments stemming from logic are weak when pitted against human passions and desires. As it gets colder, we’re forced to sit closer to one another and I’m face to face with a charming brown boy.

 Fortunately, the electric conversation between us generates some heat. In between talking about views on humanity and navigating the world as brown people, we make time to laugh. He asks me if I’m ticklish and I coyly say no. He decides to test it out and slowly brushes his fingers down the length of my back. I hold in my laugh and smile through the pain. He inches toward my side, the epicenter of all things ticklish and I explode with laughter. He goes in for the kill and starts tickling my sides, setting off my defensive pushes and shoves. Somehow, my leg wraps around his. His warmth sends shivers up and down my spine.

I lay on the ground to get a good look at the stars. I’m not even sure when the meteor shower is supposed to appear. I’ve never seen a meteor shower, so I don’t know what I’m looking for. Suddenly, Mr. Mariposa pounces on me and squared his arms between mine. Leans forward with his whole body, presses it against mine and lets his lips do the rest of the talking. He consumes me; engulfing my body with his hands, touching every inch of this heavenly body and letting me know that he’s down for more than just a kiss. Not even the stars feel this beautiful.

I felt like I was in the opening scene from Charles Baxter’s The Feast of Love. Two young kids making love on the football field. Wild and free. We weren’t making love, but I wish we were. I’d been dreaming about this kind of romantic shit my whole life. I held his face as he kissed me and moved my hands down his back ending up with a hand full of cute-boy-ass. Indeed, this was a feast of love.


New chapters are available to read Wednesdays @ 8 PM.

Learning How To Love: Chapter 2

*Disclaimer: The characters and plot of this story may or may not be real, or based on actual events.*

CHAPTER TWO

MR. MARIPOSA


July 17, 2013, 4:13 PM 

Mr. Mariposa’s style in bed is so different than anyone I’ve ever slept with. Honestly, it’s awful. He’s 19 and I’m 21. He’s a Leo and I’m a Scorpio. But I know things will get better. Mr. Money wasn’t that great either, but after I mailed him a copy of the book, “She Comes First,” boy did I. But I will give Mr. Mariposa props. He has potential. Big, big potential if you know what I mean.

I’ve been dreaming about a guy like Mr. Mariposa for a while now. A guy who listens when I speak is interested in what I have to say and admires my intelligence. He says I make him “curious”. I can’t do that with Mr. Money. He either argues with me for fun, plays devils advocate for some banter, or gets bothered by the “big” words I use in my everyday vocabulary. I love Mr. Money, for real. He has all the qualities I want in a future man: emotional stability, financial security, and goals. But Mr. Mariposa just gets me.

Honestly speaking, I could never be in a relationship with Mr. Mariposa. He’s younger, he’s a sophomore in college, and he’s not that stable. That may be perfect in the short term. I think I thrive off short-lived romantic relationships. I don’t have to get attached and I’ll always have that nostalgic memory of “that one great summer” or “that one-night-stand guy.” I don’t want to leave a steady trail of monogamous relationships. I want to go all out, guns blazing, dating whoever the fuck, whenever the fuck, however the fuck until this fire within me burns the fuck out.


July 13, 2013

“We should go stargazing tonight. I hear there’s going to be a meteor shower.” I text Mr. Mariposa.

I’m nervous. I accidentally kissed him last night when I was blacked out drunk. Well, we kissed each other. A lot. Okay, so the truth is that I drank enough to blackout so I wouldn’t feel bad for cheating on Mr. Money with Mr. Mariposa. In my defense, I told Mr. Money about a thousand times I wasn’t ready for a relationship, let alone a long-distance one. I was really feeling Mr. Mariposa’s vibe and I wanted to feel his body, too. All over the place.

Mr. Mariposa texts me back about 2 hours later, “sounds lovely.”

My heart skips a beat. For a second, I thought maybe he’d say no. But then I think, he might just be a lazy texter. I wonder if he generally forgets to text me back, or if he’s really that laid back and nonchalant about texting. I’m an immediate texter. Mr. Mariposa texting back so late makes me wonder how he spends his free time. Is he a daydreamer? Is he a napper? Is he thinking what I’m thinking?

I feel guilty for being so excited about hanging out with Mr. Mariposa. This time we’ll be alone and under the stars. I’m so excited that I’m 2 anxious thoughts away from throwing up. First things first. Break up with Mr. Money. I’m sending him a text.

“We need to talk. I’m not happy. I can’t be in this relationship anymore. Please don’t call me anymore.” I’m ready to hit send, but that sounds a bit harsh, right?

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

“Hey, I’m so sorry this might sound unexpected to you, but I can’t do this anymore. I’ve tried to tell you many times, but this isn’t working out for me. It’s best if you don’t call. I can’t do long-distance anymore. I’m so sorry, but I’m not happy.”

Send.

Mr. Money gets the hint and doesn’t text back or call for a couple hours. Now I can spend alone time with Mr. Mariposa without feeling guilty.

I head to the market to pick up some brew for my date with Mr. Mariposa. I’m 21 and he’s 19, so I’m getting us a 6 pack of IPAs. The irony is how all this started over me buying him alcohol.


June 7, 2013

It was the beginning of the summer and our once vibrant college town became a desert. College students always go home for the best times of the year. Sucks for the folks who don’t have anywhere else to go. So, we band together, throw badass parties and find any excuse to turn up while school is out. After all, most of us are working full-time to get through our school break. Mr. Mariposa and I both stayed in town because Arcata was better than home.

One night in June, I got this random text from someone I had met at a library sit-in. I volunteered to help make posters for a protest and he was part of organizing the event. I barely gave him a second look when I met him, so of course, I didn’t save his number.

“Hey, are you still in town?” he texts at around 7pm on a Friday. It’s prime party time and I have 0 friends in town.

I don’t want to seem desperate (even though I low-key am), so I wait about 20 minutes before I respond, “Yeah, I’m still around. What’s up?” I don’t ask who it is, yet, because I’m dying for human interaction. At this point, I’ll hang out with anyone.

Mr. Mariposa quickly replies, “Awesome! Are you over 21?”

Now we’re talking! Are me and my random texting buddy heading to a bar? Suhweet! Before we make plans, I should come clean. I text back, “Sure am! But I’m sorry. I didn’t save this number before. Who are you again?”

“No worries! This is Mr. Mariposa. I think I have the wrong number. Who did I text?”

Shoot! My plans are a BUST! I’m nervous because now I think my only hypothetical plans are done for, but also, how did Mr. Mariposa get my phone number?

I reply skeptically, but honestly. “This is Lola.”

“Oh, hey, Lola! I thought I was texting my friend Alma, my bad! This is Mr. Mariposa from that one protest. I have a favor to ask. Can you get me some beer? I’ll give you money.”

It didn’t matter that he said he was from “that one protest”. I still had no fucking idea who I was texting. But it didn’t matter. “Yeah, sure, meet me at the first liquor store off G St. & 16th. Right by the creepy Motel.”

By the time I get there, he’s leaning against liquor store window looking like a modern James Dean with cigarettes in hand and some cash in the other. He’s the only college student looking kid around, so I’m sure this is the guy I’m supposed to meet. As I get closer, I realize it’s the dude I met one day while making protest signs. He was in charge of running the space and I was a volunteer. I ended up forgetting about him and everyone else from the protest. I continued on with my life. He made no significant difference in my day-to-day life at that moment. But when I met him here, at this moment, when he greeted me like an old friend, I knew things were about to change.

He asked me to buy him a 12-pack of Stellas and then asked if I wanted to drink them with him. He was by himself and didn’t want to drink alone. Shit, I couldn’t turn down a beer. Especially not after he flashed me with that sweet smile. I followed him back to his place. 

I texted Mr. Money about an hour and 2 beers later. “I met a cute boy! We’re drinking and hanging out tonight, is that cool? I might flirt.”

Mr. Money replies with, “that’s cool, babe! There’s no harm in flirting. Have fun!”

He was confident with himself and trusted me more than I trusted myself. How? What on earth gave him that idea? When he sent me that text, I went all-in with the flirting. I couldn’t help myself. All that I knew, was that I was lonely and a cute guy was sharing his beers with me. What could go wrong?

Nothing went wrong. The problem was that it all went right. Too right. We were really vibin’ with one another. He put on some music and I really liked what he was playing. It was a stark contrast to my boyfriend’s music which was Pop, Old School Gangsta Rap, Country and other White Girl music. I’m not exactly sure why I was cool with that? Mr. Mariposa played The Smiths, Manu Chao, Sin Bandera, Mana, and Julieta Venegas. Fuck me. I was smitten with his smile, style and music taste!

As the night went on, he kept smoking cigarettes, and I kept smoking weed. We opened up about our fears, what holds us back, and who we hope to be one day. We went in deep right from the start. I felt like I was where I needed to be. Except I wasn’t. He put on some Rock en Español and asked me to dance. That’s where I needed to be. In his arms, dancing. We danced so close, I could feel his heartbeat. I knew this was “wrong”, even though it felt so “right.”


New chapters are published Wednesdays @ 8 PM.

Learning How to Love: Chapter 1

*Disclaimer: the characters and plot of this story may or may not be real or based on actual events.

CHAPTER ONE

INFIDELITY


April 1, 2020

When I was 17 years old, I asked my Dad about infidelity in romantic relationships. He was good at that. He told me, “You’re a Hernandez, baby, it’s in your blood.” His Dad was also really good at cheating on his Mom.

That moment absolved me of every kiss I’d ever snuck and every one-night stand I shouldn’t have had. Were we not worthy of a full and flourishing love? Was the Hernandez legacy doomed for addiction and unhealthy romantic relationships? I had to find this out for myself. Was love truly blind and only meant for procreation, or was love more complex than I knew?

By that age, I had already lost my virginity, been cheated on, been the cheater, had an abortion, kissed straight and gay boys and girls. I had already seen my fair share of unhealthy relationships, stalkers, creeps, fuckboys, and “nice guys.” I asked my Dad that question for a glimmer of hope. I’d been desperately searching for “true love,” and came out empty-handed after every endeavor.

Two years later I asked my Dad’s youngest brother about true love. He’s a man who loves men. Many, many men. After a couple beers and a joint we smoked, he said, “I believe the Universe gives you multiple true loves throughout your lifetime. You can love…over and over again. There will be good relationships and bad relationships, and you can love them all and they could have all been ‘true’ at one point.” Maybe my Dad also felt he had many true loves and that’s why he cheated…on every woman he’s ever loved.


August 17, 2012

“What do you think we’ll do after you move back to LA?”

“Well, hopefully, we will still be together.”

“We aren’t together now. But this is fun….and exciting.” I wrap my arms around his chest from behind and rest my chin on his shoulder. “I’ll be so sad when you leave.”

He kisses my arms and lets out a heavy sigh. “Me, too. I’ll visit as much as I can. We could talk on the phone and Skype.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to cramp your style when you move back to LA. You’ll have a new life, new responsibilities, a new job. I don’t want to distract you.”

“You will never be a distraction. If anything, you make my life so much better. I love you.”

“And I love you.”

We kiss and hold each other. I’ve only got 24 more hours of this and I want to soak up as much of it as possible. I haven’t told Mr. Money this yet, but I’m not planning on keeping in touch much after he moves away.


July 13, 2013

I saw a quote on Tumblr that read, “Some people are meant to fall in love, but not meant to be together.” I keep thinking about how troubled our relationship has been since the beginning. All these obstacles we’ve faced and overcome has been enlightening and inspirational. We got each other out of our bad habits and have grown with one another.

I think that’s why I feel bad about cheating on Mr. Money with Mr. Mariposa. We’ve made such huge impacts on each others’ lives and I feel terrible about breaking this bond. But he knows I don’t keep commitments like that. He knew that before he asked me to be his girlfriend. I told him again the first time we broke up. And then told him that again the second time we broke up. I was not ready for a full-on-relationship, but he always insisted on being together. I don’t regret kissing Mr. Mariposa. I regret giving Mr. Money another chance against my better judgment.

It was only a kiss. But it was a beautiful, drunken passionate kiss that I initiated. I felt like I had disconnected from reality and gave into my deepest desires. I told him things my sober self would never say. I might have pinched his nips, too. Okay, it was not just a kiss. It was a sexy-ass romantic lip locker with ass grabbin’ and groping of all sorts. It was fucking great. 

I have to make things right with Mr. Money, though. I feel like I need to be in an open-relationship if this long-distance thing is going to work. I care so much about Mr. Money. I value and want him in my life, but I need my freedom and I come first in my life. Whether he accepts it or not, is not my problem.

I’m not breaking up with Mr. Money to be with Mr. Mariposa. The truth is that Mr. Money is the settling down type, and I just want to fuck around. I’m not ready to settle down and I feel like there are so many connections I want to explore.


Chapter Two goes live on Friday, 4/3 @ 8 PM.