This is a collection of stories that all connect…ish. The best way to read them is to pretend you’re floating in a lazy river. Don’t question it. Just keep drinking that “road-margarita” you snuck into the water park (probably hiding in a Sonic cup), and keep floating down that man-made, chlorine smelling “river”. It all works out, I swear.
I have had the luxury of dating in LA for 5 years. I’ve loved and not loved, casual-ed and full on relationship-ed quite the collection of people, who include but are not limited to: a writer, a stuntman, a YouTuber, another writer, an actor, a hot as fuck bartender, a musician, probably another writer?, a comedian, a chef, a two-time Emmy award winning producer, a cocaine dealer… a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker… okay, those last three are lies, but one of the writer’s was pretty handy so I’m sure he could make a candle or two. Out of them all, only the cocaine dealer was a bad choice. That story is for another time… I (usually) date genuine, good people, and have grown from every experience. However… as I conclude this portion of the thought-essay I’m writing while drinking a bottle Charles Shaw 2014 Shiraz, let’s get it straight – I’m still single. Single as fuck. Also, this wine is…. really bad, y’all. Liiiiiike, it tastes like the $3 I spent on it were shoved into the bottle, then Smirnoff poured into it, then left out in the sun since 2014. There cannot be real grapes in here.
At 26 I went to a psychic who beautifully ripped my world apart. I was hoping she’d tell me I was a cat in a past life, or something. Instead, before I’d even sat down, she said, “So. You’re a writer.”
I explained that I was also an actor, and she shut that shit down, “No you’re not.”
I was taken aback. Acting had been my life’s passion (said with alllll the pretention of a Freshman theatre student in their first Voice & Movement class), but the only defense I came back with was, “Well. I got a degree in it.”
Her slap back was far superior, “Well. I got a degree in Art History, but does it look like I’m an Art Historian to you?” She’s a slayer. A slayer of bullshit dreams.
At the time, I was going through the motions of being a working actor, but I was miserable. I was trying to fit into a world I didn’t have the heart for. This psychic reminded me of my REAL passion – stories. So I quit acting. I know. It sounds ridiculous that I turned my back on a dream because a psychic told me to. I’m not here to make anyone believe in psychics (honestly, I still don’t), but I do believe this woman saw ME, not a future or a past me, but me in that moment. She wanted to help, and help she did.
This has been a whole tangent to say, in the middle of this incredible, life-altering conversation, she throws in, “Oh, and you meet the love of your life at 28,” then launches back into telling me how I gotta write more and stuff. YEAH. I HAVE A “LOVE OF MY LIFE” AND I MEET THEM IN TWO YEARS?! WAY TO BURY THE LEAD, PSYCHIC!
At 11 years old, I sat in the third row of the First Baptist Church of Farmington, Arkansas and the preacher commanded “the young people” to do something I’ll never forget, “Pray for your future spouse. Pray for your marriage now. You’ll need it.”
The adults in the congregation laughed. It was meant to be a joke, but my 11 year old heart took him seriously. I translated this the only way I’ve ever known – I wrote. I started writing letters to my future spouse. I have now written over 36 letters. Though originally my letter writing was out of fear my future marriage would fail, I now write the letters for a number of possible reasons. One of my therapists believed the letters were, “a coping mechanism used to deal with my parent’s unstable marriage.” The therapist I like more said they were, “a poetic, and creative form of expression.” They’re both right, and still missing the deepest reason. I think the reason I STILL write these is because, simply, I like it.
I’ve struggled to accept this part of myself. It doesn’t fit “Me”. I am a feisty, sardonic, 5’2”, 100 lb. goddess who don’t need nobody! But these letters read like the Jane Austen-loving schoolgirl I thought I let die a long time ago. This part of me is vulnerable, and sickeningly sweet, and terrifying – the part that hopes for a soulmate, that believes one day I’ll share my life with someone. And when it hasn’t worked out with a potential lovemate (lovemate? Who the fuck am I?!), I write a little letter to the ol’ soulmate. I fold it into a little tiny square, and shove it in the beat up manila envelope labeled “One Day…” with all the others. In short, the letters are more for me than for “my person”. They are the warm part in my otherwise cold, dead heart.
I am wearing lime green heels. Yep. Lime green, 5 inch heels. I regret this decision as I parked too far away from Tender Greens. Oh, and for those unfamiliar with this establishment, it’s a glorified commissary, and I am overdressed.
I think it’s funny to be going to Tender Greens for a date, but the guy I’m seeing has been working all day and it’s quick, decent food. I LOVE dating someone who works, no matter if it’s an actual job or just working towards a goal. They’re better people. They have thoughts, and read, and stuff. The guy I’m seeing excels this basic need. HE FEEDS ME, literally. Also, he has a Jaguar convertible soooo, bonus points. He also has a dog. I fucking hate dogs, but this dog is legit. He has human eyes that stare into your soul and remind you that life is pretty fucking dope. Oh, yeah, and he’s kind and smart and we have great conversation – the guy, not the dog.
I get there early. I’m usually early, it’s a habit. Some say it’s control. I say it’s not wanting to disappoint someone with being late. He arrives 5 minutes later, but on the appointed time because he is beautifully punctual. He complements my fancy shoes. I joke about how I’ll be all stumbles from here. It’s awkward. We haven’t seen each other in two weeks. I had gone home to Arkansas for a week, he’d gone on vacation the week after. The distance was purifying, but not helpful in this budding relationship.
We order food. We get food. We take our seats. We conversate. It feels like we’re already in a relationship. I like it, but I feel that fluttery feeling in my gut – the one that says “this ain’t it, girl”, but I keep going. I keep trying. When I finally finish my food, I say, “Now I’m just eating to eat”, and he releases, “Can we have a talk?”
Annnnnd it’s like a band-aid’s been ripped off. Nope, that’s not accurate. It’s like duct-tape, like I was hiking – which I don’t do, and got a cut on my leg, and someone was like, “Ah shit! We’re out of band – aids!” and then someone else on the hike was like, “It’s cool! I got this duct tape.” And then 2 hours after we finally make it back to camp, the duct tape is ripped off. That’s the OUCH I’m thinking of.
“I think we’re just friends”, he says, and I know he’s right. We are friends, nothing more. But damn did I want to pretend we were more. “We could have kept going comfortably for years, but I’ve had the luxury of knowing when it’s been right, and this isn’t it.” With no sarcasm here, ladies and gentleman, this is the perfect way to break up with someone. Quick, to the point, no bullshit. Would it have been better to do it ANYWHERE OTHER THAN TENDER GREENS? Yes. But he still paid, so, free food = win.
“Thank you for breaking it off now, because I wouldn’t have,” I say. Every relationship I’ve had has lulled around for far too long because neither of us knew how to stop it, because relationships are comfortable. Well, I am a comfortable partner in relationships. I always want them to work out even when I know they shouldn’t. I tell myself it will be different when fill in the blank . And he knew that, and didn’t want that again for me, or for him. So we say our goodbyes, talk about hanging out again as friends after some time apart, and kiss for one last time.
He offered me a ride back, which I denied, because one sentence he said was working real hard to rip me in half. “I’ve had the luxury of knowing when it’s been right before.” That is indeed a luxury, one at this point, I don’t believe I’ve ever known. I think back on my past relationships, scanning the moments I thought were “right”, only to be revealed later they weren’t. I’ve questioned my gut so much by this point that I don’t know when a “gut” feeling is a gut feeling, with anything. I overanalyze and override my thoughts to no end. And that made me cry. Not the missing him, not the wishing it was something more. But I wept for myself because, in the words of the great Whitney Houston, “How will I knoowwww-oh-oh?! How will I knooooo oh ohohhhh?!!” about anything if my gut is always so wrong?
Almost done, y’all.
It’s been a week since my latest dumping, and I’m not miserable. I’m in the reflective, drink way-too- cheap wine, and rewatch Jim & Pam’s greatest moments from The Office portion of healing, if that’s what we’re calling it. Here are my latest reflections…
It’s time to admit that I’m no ‘stronger’ than anyone else. I’m just as vulnerable, just as breakable, and trying to be so strong and independent is lonely, so let people in and stuff. Say hello. Be kind.
I want to love and be loved. I want a “you”, and I want to be someone’s “you”, too. Haha, U2. Okay, back to it…
I am naïve, and I’m still learning, and I hope I’m always still learning, and the more I question the validity of my gut feelings, the more I’m reminded of some wise words my best friend Faith said after she went through a break up, “You know, rejection doesn’t mean that my gut feeling was wrong.”
I don’t think my gut has been “wrong”. I think it’s been unwise before, but my gut is not ‘bad’ or ‘good’. It just…. Is. It’s me, at my core, and I have to stop ignoring it. I don’t need to do everything it says, but I need to acknowledge it instead of thinking it’s too naïve to be important. I’m gonna focus on trusting myself a whole lot more.
These aren’t groundbreaking thoughts, but they opened my eyes and made me stop the pity-party I was really trying to have in my shower all week. And chances are, someone else is struggling with listening to their inner voice, too. So listen to it y’all! And always remember… It all really does work out. I swear.
Laura Jenkins is still a goddess. She lives in a now gentrified part of Eco Park. She turns 28 October 12th, and hopes that her soulmate works at Fat Sal’s or in the least, can help pay for her Fat Sal’s habit.