By Betty Underground © 2007
I make no excuses, or try to hide the fact that I don't trust him - haven't in a long time. Still, the business of us was left somewhat unfinished, and I admit I was overcome with curiosity when he called to offer an extra ticket to the show. That, and I was one really bad idea away from a trifecta for the week, how could I pass up the chance!
I was bored. Itching to get out of town and into my head. A long, heady, drive would give me just the fix I needed.
After more than three hours of driving, I finally hit town. With great caution, I maneuvered my car towards the 2.7 million dollar house tucked back off a secluded road in Mission Canyon. No fancy gates or walls protecting what he has worked so hard for. Just a one way dirt road, a questionably safe bridge and a gravel drive-way keeping door-to-door salesmen out.
He was outside when I arrived. Busying himself with something obscure and unnecessary so that he could catch an early glimpse of me. Or was he hoping to head me off so I didn't see what was in the house? OR he heard NIN ripping the bass from my car speakers. Telling when your playlist to get you in the mood includes NIN's Head Like A Hole. I am just sayin.
He looked more handsome than I remembered. He stared. I hate it when he did that.
"I liked you better as a blonde."
"I like me better as a brunette."
I did my usual, obvious, snooping about, inviting myself in to use the powder room after the long drive. I knew my way around. I knew what it looked like the last time I was there. I was looking for signs. Girl things. Grown up girl things. A woman's touch in the decor. Pictures of the happy couple. Anything. Nothing.
"She moved out 2 months ago." He wasn't stupid, he knew what I was up to. "Do you think I would have invited you if she was still living with me?" I flashed him a look. That look. That sideways look of mild disgust, and relief. He is not exactly known for being completely faithful, but knows I, more than anyone, can sense these things and would have quickly caught her scent if she was still there.
I dropped my bag in the guest room upstairs, closed the door and changed. I had been sitting in the car for 3 + hours and needed a fresh outfit and a fist full of Vicodin to make it through the night.
In the kitchen, on the counter were two wine glasses and an already opened bottle of '89 Brander Bouchet. Our wine. Still my favorite bottle of red but for reasons that extend so far beyond him and the memory of us. I was thankful for some liquid courage. I needed to calm down. I was all over the place. Eyes darting around the house, still uneasy about being there. I moved from room to room. Sat in most every chair but avoided my most favorite chair. The leather one. The one that I had so often draped myself in, wearing only my panties and wife-beater during those talks that took us well into the morning. It faced his bed.
I love this feeling. It is a drug. The feeling of having no idea what comes next. Of being absorbed with trying to figure out his next move. I simply can't help it. I don't have an eating disorder, low self-esteem, a drug habit or an alcohol problem. What I am is a rush junkie. If I wasn't deathly afraid of heights, I would jump out of a plane. But I am, and so I leap into oblivion where the men are the sky, my instinct the parachute, and I will wait until the last possible moment to pull that rip cord. Free falling into them. That is my rush. What does the ground I hurl myself at represent? Life? Commitment? Reality? You decide.
With the exception of the glass he had, I might have consumed the rest of that bottle of wine by myself. With that, we were off. He still drives the BMW 740L he bought nearly 7 years ago. Cute. He could afford an upgrade but prefers the older styles. The 1974 BMW 2002 he bought in high school is still in the family - his little brother has it in storage to use when he is home visiting from Spain.
The venue is not far from his house, but the road to get there is precarious. Good thing he was driving, better thing I was drunk since I was still having trouble calming my nerves. He has always fancied me a bit of a lush, making it perfectly acceptable for me to request a beer before heading to our seats.
"They will bring us drinks. I have box seats."
See, now that is just cool. I had no idea! I see those box seats, largely empty, and never knew the benefits attached. Foolish people, why would you NOT use them. Pffff.
I couldn't tell you who opened. I couldn't tell you much about the set he played. I can tell you it generally sucked, but with an ego as big as his, not terribly surprised. The white noise of confusion that filled my head drown out most everything around me. The time flew by, in slow motion. When the show was over, it was only a tad past 11 o'clock and I was trying desperately to figure out where the nearest bar was as I followed him back to the car. I paid exactly zero attention to where we parked but was keenly aware of the location of the taxi stand if things had gone south.
"Where to now?" I asked.
"Home," delivered without the lift in his voice that would signal a question.
Back at the house I was still uneasy, but drunk. It helped. Still wearing my shoes, heels click clacking on the Spanish tile floor. Klunking around the wooden deck that wrapped around the entire house, suspended over the Sycamore trees. It made him uncomfortable. "You planning on making a run for it at some point?" He asked.
"In these heels? Not likely. You want me to take them off?"
The tide was shifting just enough in my direction to catch the wave. He was now uncertain about what would come next. He was the one having trouble calming his nerves. Crawling out of his skin. Both of us afraid to stop talking or moving, fearing our clothes would suddenly fall off and we would drown in the emotion of each other.
The next few hours were a blur of laughter, pool, beer and silliness. A place we historically gelled in. The place where I couldn't stop looking at him. Swimming in the pools of his eyes. He couldn't walk by me without reaching out for me. Natural. Calm. Still in the back of my mind, the remnants of previous storms remained and I desperately wanted to know why I was there. Why I wasn't there a year ago. Why, after so many years, so much dancing around us was this the time.
Why didn't I ask him? Because I am addicted. Addicted to not knowing what will come next. The rush of uncertainty and even though I swore to never speak to him again, swore to never be in this place again, I can't help myself. It is my vice. It is the devil inside me, wanting the things I can't have. Wanting to break through the walls built around their egos. I spend every day making smart, logical, adult decisions. I like having my reason torn down.
I can say I was there for answers, but I was there because I needed a rush. If I wanted answers, I would have been asking the hard questions, but I didn't. I have learned that asking, "Why wasn't it me," gets you no answers. No real, honest answers. So I didn't ask, and just fell into it. Into him as the night grew darker and eyes became heavy. I had to be up early. Had to get home. The girls would be expecting me for Sunday Bloody Marys in the city by 3pm.
He went missing for an extended amount of time. When I went looking for him, I found him crashed out, buried under the down comforter, in the bed across from that leather chair. I crawled in, the warmth around me, and sunk into the feather bed. Sunk into the memories. Sunk into uncertainty. Sunk.
Then, I pulled the rip cord.
The phone rang, it was my mother. It was 7:43 am. My iPod had been set to play all tracks, including the Berlitz "Learn to Speak French," I suspect. But it was NIN that came screaming out if it as I scrambled to locate my phone. As I answered, the room came into focus. I was home. My home, not his. He had crawled into my head, disrupting my sleep and curdling my dreams.
The best rush? A dream that leaves you with no regrets come morning.
That's a lie.
Betty Underground is a writer, probably stuck in an airport, dreaming of being home.