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.



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.

Stages of Grief: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You About Burying Your Dad

CHAPTER 1: Anger.

I get feelings of contempt here and there when someone tries to sympathize with my loss. They don’t know the feeling of wanting to hug the fresh dirt that now surrounds my Dad’s casket. They don’t know the hearts I had to hold so they didn’t break. They didn’t know that I held my father’s heart the same way until it gave out. They don’t know how I watched my sister fall to pieces, watched my Grandma say goodbye to another son, watched my family say goodbye to their favorite cousin.

They don’t know the alcohol that didn’t sit – didn’t inebriate me enough to not feel what I felt, didn’t drown me enough to forget what happened. They don’t know what it’s like to be without you.hey don’t know the cigarettes I smoked to get closer to you. Or the throats I would have choked rather than to live another day without you.

They don’t know what it’s like to be without you.

CHAPTER 2: Bargaining.

You were hospitalized in April. Congestive Heart Failure. You were swollen – retaining water, and you couldn’t walk. I thought maybe, just maybe, if we made some changes to your lifestyle when you came home, things would be okay.

You would live a little longer. You would be a little healthier. We can take walks around the neighborhood. You can cut back on fast food. But you didn’t, and I wasn’t there to stop you.

I wasn’t there for you.

CHAPTER 3: Denial.

You quit the crack. That’s what you said. It’s October now. And my Grandma has been in Mexico for two months. She comes back today. October 21st. Her flight lands at 1 pm. My cousin is giving her a ride home from LAX. They are on their way to you. My cousin gets off to open the door for Grandma, but something’s wrong. You’re not answering the door. My cousin looks inside the house through the front window. Sees you on the couch – lifeless. 

Something’s wrong.

He climbs onto the roof, flings open the upstairs window, jumps inside and runs downstairs. It’s too late. You’re already gone. Maybe 2 hours, maybe 1. Maybe just 30 minutes. Days later. We find a crack pipe hidden where you had your fatal heart attack. 

CHAPTER 4: Depression.

Sometimes the sadness and loneliness show up in the ugliest ways. Like in the bed of an asshole who treats you like shit. Before you died, I had the strength to say no, leave me alone, don’t come back here, fuck off, goodbye. But I didn’t want to lose another man I kind of loved. Considering I only loved men that hated themselves. So, when this asshole’s insecurities started playing out in the forms of carnal damage, I stayed. 

I didn’t drink too much, or smoke too much weed, or take too many bars, or do too much cocaine, or sleep with random men, or cry. I laid in the arms of a man who hated hurting me but did it anyway. Maybe, I felt like I deserved it. Like I wasn’t worth saving. Let this man kill me, cause I’m too chicken shit to do it myself. If that’s not the worst depression, tell me, what is? 

I remembered when I told you I was going up north for school. I thought it would break your heart, leaving you like that. I wasn’t asking for permission, just letting you know, but you already knew. You said, “Baby, It’s okay. We all knew you would eventually move far away.” You saw me. You knew me. And then you died. 

You didn’t raise me; you didn’t discipline me right, but you talked to me, and you knew what my depression looked like. When I was in a deep, dark hole and you weren’t you knew how to get me out and see the light. I’m sorry I couldn’t do that for you, too. 

CHAPTER 5: Acceptance.

I don’t visit your grave. Ever. I figured there was no point in visiting a rotting body if it won’t do anything for you or me. So, I visit you in my dreams. Or maybe, you visit me? All I know is up until my last dream you were always the same shitty Dad I loved. Sometimes you were short with me and couldn’t look me in the eye sometimes you were in jail sometimes you were back home and hugging me but you were always upset. You weren’t happy in those dreams. You weren’t pleased with me, or content with yourself. 

But in this last dream, we were connected. You were tender and cared about yourself. In this last dream, unlike reality, you had even forgiven yourself. I wasn’t traumatized and you were emotionally stable. Was this your heaven? Where the family you helped create was okay and not so fucked up? We laughed and my face caressed yours like a cat rubs her face against her human’s face. I never showed you that kind of love in real life. 

In this last dream, you let your guard down. That’s how I knew you were finally okay.