Monthly Archives: November 2019

Rainbow Connection; chapter two, part two

Chapter Two; Part Two

“I like him, too, but I’m not tagging along on your date.”  I interject a teasing note into my voice.  “One of us should be getting laid, and it’s not me.  Just remember, though, no glove, no love.”

“Girl, you know you don’t gotta worry about that with me,” Paris says with spirit.  He is the poster boy for safer sex; I wish all queer men would follow his lead.  I’m tired of losing so many of them to AIDS.  “Guess who emailed me last week?  Jenna.”

“No way!  I thought she gave up.”  Jenna was Paris’s last girlfriend—the one he broke up with just before meeting Lyle.  Paris had been dating her a month when she wanted to take it to the next level.  Problem is, the shine had already come off the relationship for him.  She did not take it well when he broke up with her.  His ex-lovers rarely did, but hers was the worst reaction in a long time.  He considered having her served with a restraining order, but she backed off just enough to make it a non-issue.

“I thought so, too.  Apparently she heard about the break-in and was concerned that I might be hurt.  She won’t be satisfied until she sees me with her own eyes that I’m ok.”  Paris’s lip twitched as he relays the information.  I struggle to keep my face solemn as well, but can’t.  We both know it’s just an excuse to see him again.  Paris has the misfortune of being utterly captivating to the people he dates, making it difficult for them to let go when he dumps them.  Make no mistake about it, he’s always the dumper not the dumpee.  The only time he didn’t dump his lover was when Brett died of AIDs.  Other than that, he’s batting a thousand.  I, on the other hand, am much more likely to be the dumped than the dumper.  By the gods of karma, it’s my right to dump the next five people I date.

“You going to see her?”  I know the answer before Paris even opens his mouth.  Any attention would only encourage her.  In some ways, I’m surprised.  She was such a drab mouse when he dated her.  He tends to be attracted to people who don’t shine as brightly as he does because he likes to be the one in the limelight.  Not physically, necessarily, as he likes beautiful people, but personality-wise.  Unfortunately for him—and for his lovers—then he gets bored because the other person can’t keep up.  This has been his pattern since I’ve known him.  Only Brett and now Lyle have been anomalies which is one reason I have high hopes for Lyle.  Another is that he’s just as good-looking as Paris is with his thick, dark curls and intense blue eyes.  He lifts weights religiously as does Paris; in fact, that’s how they met.  At Paris’s gym.  One look and it was instant lust.

“Hell, no!”  Paris says emphatically.  “I haven’t even answered the email, and I don’t intend to.”  He knows it’s better to be firm than to waffle.  “I’m hoping she’ll go away peacefully this time.”  I have my doubts, but I keep them to myself.  I don’t want to harsh on his high over Lyle.  “Hey, you said you were going over to Lisa’s tomorrow?”  He watches as I mix the batter and start shaping the cookies into little balls.  “Is Vashti going to be there?”  He doesn’t offer to help for the same reason I never offer to help him—each of us is fiercely territorial when cooking.  It’s hands-off for the other person.

“Yes.”  I nod my head, my eyes dimming.  I’m not sure I can face her.  I unconsciously finger the bridge of my nose where there is a bump from being pistol-whipped and broken.  Of course, I get dough on my nose and Paris wipes it off for me.  My right knee twinges as if it senses my thoughts.  That’s where I got sapped with the same gun that night.  My injuries are mostly healed, but they like to remind me now and then of what happened.

“You ready for that?”  Paris rubs my back sympathetically as I continue dropping cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter two, part one

Chapter Two

After fifteen minutes of petting by Paris, I go to my room to research the aforementioned topics.  I start with therapists in the San Francisco area and quickly realize that I will have to narrow my search in order to be more successful.  There are a million and one people hanging out their shingles in the Bay Area, and I have no way of knowing which are legit and which are not.  I could wait until Monday and ask around at the office for referrals, but I prefer not to mix my personal life with my professional one.  I start plugging in words such as ‘Mission District’ and ‘trauma therapy’ into the search field and finally come up with a manageable list.  After scanning a few websites and scribbling a few numbers down on the pad of paper I keep next to the computer, I do another search, this time for group therapies focusing on traumatic events.  That is too broad a topic, so I start winnowing.

It takes close to two hours, but I finally find a place in the Mission District called A Ray of Hope.  What is it about nonprofits that they always have to have cheesy names?  It’s a clinic that provides group therapy with a facilitator who has her MA in women-centered psychology.  The group is for women who are survivors of a traumatic event and allows new members once a month.  ‘The group will provide you with the tools to cope with your traumatic event.  Everything that’s said in the room stays in the room.  We hope to provide a safe and nurturing environment.’  I barely manage to not roll my eyes at the psych-speak.  I have a healthy dislike for anything that smacks of New Age.  It’s not that I don’t think therapy works; I do.  I just don’t see the need to talk about it in fey terms and breathy tones.  People who talk that way are trying too hard to sound sincere and usually come off sounding fakey.  However, I have promised Paris that I will do something about my depression, and I honor my promises.  Pushing aside my discomfort, I continue to read.  The meetings are Tuesday nights from seven to nine, and the upcoming Tuesday is the one where new members are allowed.  There is no fee.  I make a note of it in my calendar on my computer and power off.

I sit slumped in my chair thinking about therapy.  I’ve been in before—what child of the eighties hasn’t?  I don’t have the energy to invest in one-on-one therapy and decide that I’ll start with the group.  That way, I don’t have to say anything if I don’t want to, but I can jump in if I feel like it.  Sounds ideal given how low energy I’ve been the last month.  I close my eyes, but images of the gun pressed against my temple crowd my mind.  My eyes fly back open as I break out into a light sweat.  I am panting slightly, and my eyes dart from side to side, involuntarily.  I automatically note that the windows are shut and locked.  It makes me feel safer, though we are on the third floor.  The drapes are shut as I prefer them so no one can look inside.  I used to love to have as much sunshine in my room as possible, but I can no longer tolerate the light.  I want to move, but there really isn’t any place for Paris and me to go.  We got this two-bedroom apartment in the Mission before the dotcom boon with rent-control in place.  We each pay eight-hundred dollars a month, which is a steal in San Francisco.  Neither of us can afford to pay more than that per month, so we are pretty much stuck where we are.  Paris offered to switch rooms with me which I accepted, but as the rooms are identical, it hasn’t made much of a difference.

Replacing my bed helped, however, and making Paris paint the walls yellow to match the walls in the living room made me feel marginally better.  I painted the living room walls when Paris and I first moved in, much to the dismay of the landlord.  These days, however, he treats me with great care—like everyone else.  At least with him, it’s partly because he’s afraid I’ll sue him because the security in the building isn’t that great.  The killer got into the building and into my apartment without any help from me.  I’m letting the landlord sweat because he should suffer some considering what happened to me.  I won’t sue him, but he doesn’t need to know that yet.  He is giving us three months off from paying rent.  There is a deadbolt on the front door, too, courtesy of Dickie, the landlord.  Paris says I should have held out for six months rent, but I didn’t feel like haggling.  I don’t feel much like arguing with anybody these days.  I look around the room.  I have placed a few of Paris’s painting on the walls.  He has given me the brightest ones, insisting that I need a myriad of colors surrounding me.  I have to admit, they sure make the room less gloomy.  My favorite is one that Paris did of me and him in Dolores Park laughing and having a good time.  The faces are blurred, but if you look closely, you can see the resemblance.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter one, part two

Chapter One; Part Two

“Just that she’s sorry.”  Paris’s cold tone indicates what he thinks of her apology.  “She kept saying it.  Like she always does.”  He pauses to flip over whatever he’s making.  “As if that makes it all better.”  I sit there, tears silently dripping from my eyes.  Paris turns around and sees me.  “Oh, honey.”  He rushes over and pats me on the back before returning to his cooking.  “I could kill that girl, I really could.  What was she thinking?”  He shakes his head, giving me time to regroup.

“She thought she was protecting a friend,” I say, sniffling up some snot.  I know I must look a mess, but there isn’t much I can do about it.  “She was doing what she thought was right.”

“Then how come you’re not speaking to her?”  Paris asks, not expecting an answer.  He knows that even though I think Vashti did what she thought was best, she still severed the fragile ties that bound us.  I have no idea when—if ever—I will be willing to try to trust her again.

“How’s Lyle?”  I ask, switching subjects.  Yet another thing to feel guilty for.  Paris’s new love who has been getting the short shrift because Paris has had to spend so much time with me.

“He’s fine.  We’re getting together tonight, if you think you’ll be ok on your own.”  Paris glances anxiously at me, trying to gauge where I am mentally.  It saddens me that I have been reduced to this—my best friend tailoring his dates around my mental condition.

“Go.  Have a good time.  I insist.”  I don’t give a damn what I’m feeling like—Paris deserves a normal life.  In the past month, he’s gone out with Lyle four times, rushing back home before midnight each time.  They talk on the phone all the time and meet at the gym frequently, but it’s not the same.  No more.  “And this time, spend the night.”  I look hard at Paris to show that I’m serious.  Unfortunately, his back is to me, but I feel better, anyway.  A tiny step towards feeling more like myself.

“Here we go.”  Paris sets a plate in front of me.  It has an omelet on it along with a chocolate croissant.  My mouth waters at the heady aroma.  I cut into the omelet, watching the aged sharp cheddar cheese ooze out.  The omelet is bursting with ham, onions, broccoli, and red bell peppers.  I pop a tiny bit into my mouth and chew it slowly.  I don’t want to make myself sick, so I masticate the bite thoroughly.  I wash it down with a sip of milk and wait anxiously to see if it’ll stay down.  It does.  I take a bite out of the croissant.  Pure heaven with the melted chocolate running down my throat.  Encouraged, I take a bigger bite of the omelet and immediately start retching.  Dropping my fork, I race to the bathroom and kneel by the toilet.  I am able to lift the seat in time just as the food forces its way back up my throat.  It doesn’t taste nearly as good going up as it did going down.  I have tears in my eyes as I finish gagging.

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