and a cast of thousands
Just skip this if it’s not your thing. You have my permission.
You know why I hate Charles Dickens? Too many damn characters. I know, I know, James Joyce has a zillion characters, too, in that one book, and I don’t hate him.
Okay, I hate Charles Dickens because it’s boring writing. So, if you hate me, let it be for boring writing and not because I didn’t ‘splain to you who the people are that I talk about in this here Love Story.
Some names are made-up, some are not, all are real.
People I Know
In Real Life
My first love. We met in high school. I was a sophomore and he was a senior. He left Chicago to study at Stanford and we held a long-distance relationship for two years before I came out to California to study at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Before that time, we traveled back-and-forth to see each other often. Instead of going to my high school prom, I went to Palo Alto to stay with him.
Mid-way through my freshman year at UCSC, I fell in love with another boy. We took a last-minute secret trip to Paris, which sealed it. Immediately upon returning, Aaron and I broke-up.
Today he remains a very good friend, and I will always love him like family.
Andy Warhol is a friend of mine. He is very smart, especially about art, but he got this nickname (which he may or may not know about) from having a general Warhol vibe about him. His utterances are measured very carefully and he is also a serious musician in a serious band.
My baby sister (I have two little ones, sisters that is, and Audrey is the youngest). Freshly returned from Spain.
How do I say this…she is complicated. Audrey just turned 21 and is going through that funny transition from kid to “grown-up” that I’m not even sure I’m out of yet.
We’re getting to know each other again on a different plane.
A poet, one of the best I know. We met in college and became lovers. He was never a “boyfriend”.
Bryant was one of the key figures of The Barn artist collective in Santa Cruz, and brought me to that special and funny place. We wrote together, we write together. He’s one of my best editors. He is now a professor.
We are in and out of each other’s lives, without apology or need for such, having never really fallen out of love. It is a gift of a relationship.
Charles was my partner (boyfriend, lover, best friend, flat-mate) for about six years. He is also a poet. It was a great love, but not built to last. It’s been over a year, I believe, since I’ve seen him, but he was the first love story documented here. Or, at least the end of us was.
My father. I love him. Dearly. Our relationship is unpredictable, and has been since I was about seven. That’s when my dad’s alcoholism developed.
As of late, he is sober. There are sometimes periods, of months, where we do not communicate. No phone calls. I don’t really know why, though I have theories.
Sometimes my sisters and I felt as if my father were the child. We took care of him. Well, during his drunken episodes, I mostly took care of my mother and my little sister took care of my father.
As Adorno writes, “[I]n an antagonistic society the relation between generations too is one of competition, behind which stands naked power.”
Sometimes my father and I disagree, but those are good times of debate. Usually about politics, about which he is almost always more informed. I still try.
Quoted material from Theodor Adorno’s “Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life”, in particular the entry No. 2, “Grassy seat”, the title of which is an allusion to the lines of a well-known German song:
Der liebste Platz den ich auf Erden hab’,
das ist die Rasenbank am Elterngrab
The dearest spot I have on earth
is the grassy seat by my parents’ grave
Dear friend I met in the fashion industry, she also now represents me and my (art)work. We have the exact same birthday.
She is pretty.
How do I say “this young woman is a genius” without sounding over the top? Fuck it, she is. Diana and I were Twitter friends while she was finishing her degree and lo and behold, she moved to SF so now we are IRL friends. Anyway, her writing is breathtaking and I expect great things from her (no pressure, Darling!). Go see her blog, Sleuth, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Also, she is friendly and charming and lovely in addition to being brilliant.
My therapist. Best one I’ve ever had. She practices and is one of the pioneers of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I’ve been seeing her for four years now and
have no plans to stop I’m taking a little break from therapy right now, and it’s the right time. She is brilliant, and funny, and young.
We talk about love, sex, boyfriends, illness, my dad, my mother, The Business, my anxiety.. the usual things. With her help, my life has changed dramatically (though it feels sometimes slowly).
From time to time, I feel some embarrassment about seeing a psychologist. I’ve run into my share about people (my mother included) who think it’s not worth the time or money. I’ve had therapists less helpful than Dr. M, I will admit.I’m tired of having to explain, or rather, defend my relationship with her. Given the real facts, the evidence, I should be proud.
She is lovely and funny (and a bit eccentric, perhaps, in the good way). Like the Holden Girls, Elise and her brother have gone through tough times with their father…which I think is some of the reason we are all so close. Strength in numbers and all that.
Not my boyfriend, so not possibly my future ex-boyfriend, but he came up with this name for himself. A precious friend, though. Sweetheart.
An ex-boyfriend. He broke my heart. Briefly, anyway. When we were on the precipice of moving in together, he told me he wanted to be single for awhile. He’d already been divorced and met me before it was final (another little thing he’d forgotten to mention). Unfortunately for him, he has yet to experience his own freedom, having taken up with a woman he works with not weeks after our breakup. I have to shake my head a bit, but I think I dodged a (lying) bullet.
An old college friend. Or, more correctly, a brief love affair. Either way, we keep bumping into each other in the Financial District downtown. So he is back in my life as a friend.
Also known as Nice Boss (there is also Drunk Boss and Mean Boss). One of my three bosses when I am a secretary. She brings me treats, often. And writes really sweet thank-you cards.
A badass girl who I met on teh interwebs but is now my friend IRL. Because we are cool. Lisey is the originator of the In My Elevator Right Now photography series.
My father’s fiancee wife and now my stepmom. There has been a lot of adjusting…and we only met last year. The wedding was in July. Yes, it’s a weird thing, your dad getting remarried. But he seems happy, and calm, and most importantly, sober. Margot, if nothing else, is a wonderful mother as evidenced by her daughter who is a bright and happy teenager. In general, I have to say, I like Margot, even though I sometimes fight with the idea that liking her is somehow doing a disservice to my mom.
(formerly Monsieur and/or M.)
My BFF. When we’re together, we’re like little kids.
Miguel is a boy who I briefly dated and then became my dear friend. He has both an older brother and a younger brother quality that, since I’ve had neither, suits me.
I’m not very comfortable around most people, but with him it was nearly instant, and I wasn’t about to let that go because a romantic relationship wasn’t in the cards.
Also, he has a fish tank and a really nice television with 8 million channels. We go get espresso and gelato in North Beach, where he lives, and then watch movies and have sleepovers.
I’m sure I could wax poetically about the psychological reason I’m closer to men than women, or more accurately, have more close boyfriends than close girlfriends. But, since I’m part-lesbian, a lot of that goes out the window. I’m really friends with Miguel because of his heart which I love.
My beautiful, creative, crazy mother. She moved to our summer home in Nantucket after divorcing my father.
Sometimes I think it was a bad idea, to maroon herself on an island…but she loves Nantucket like I love San Francisco. Also, she now makes those special Nantucket baskets and even made me one for Christmas. She’s pretty amazing for all sorts of reasons.
Recently, we talked about any idea of her moving away from Nantucket. It is an island, and the only way to the mainland is via ferryboat or plane. But it is her true home, and the simple sands and beachgrass suit her.
Her home is white and yellow and blue and calm and lovely. I miss her terribly, worry about her some, but also see her as an inspiration to independence and freedom.
My little (middle) sister. Also the CEO of our company. Also my best friend.
She lives in Dallas, we talk almost every day.
I met Natalia when she came in for an interview to be my assistant.
She’s now on to bigger and better things, one of the most successful young women I know.
We quickly became close and go to French Tuesdays together.
She is my Ukrainian sister.
Family friends. Really part of my extended family, though I’m not related to them by blood.
My little black dog. She has one ear that sticks up and one ear that flops down.
I adopted her from Pets Unlimited four years ago. She had ended up in the shelter because she was hit by a car. The SPCA picked her up, but couldn’t afford to give her the major surgery she needed. Still, they thought she was too cute to die. So, lucky for us, Pets Unlimited saved her. I still cannot believe she survived.
When we met she was all banged up with lots of stitches and wearing a med collar. She was very skinny, but I fell in love.
I don’t know what breeds she is, but maybe Dachshund, Black Lab, Chihuahua, and some kind of terrier? Sometimes I dress her up as a bat, because she looks like a bat and she runs like a bat out of hell, which scares my neighbors in the building, but then they get embarrassed because who could be afraid of such a little cute dog?
A photographer and friend. Yes, that is his real name.
My first real girlfriend-girlfriend. I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but I remember her fondly, and our relationship, which was (as I remember it in my nostalgic version) so lovely and drama-free. I miss her from time to time. So beautiful and kind and crazy and so different from me.
One of those friends that slips in and out of my life. Which reminds me, I have to call her. It’s been too long.
A girl who I love like a sister. We are so very alike it is nearly disconcerting. Even though she lives in LA, whenever I feel alone she is with me. A muse of mine, too. I’m hoping to finish this poem I am writing for her sooner than later, so I can start a new one, and then another. It’s funny, Jack introduced me to her maybe almost a year ago, and she’s helped carry me since he left. So I ought to thank him for the gift of Thalia, my friend.
One of my best friends in college. He dropped out to become a Marine. I’ve currently lost track of him. Last I heard he was stationed in Okinawa, but that was a few years ago. I pray for him during this war.
My real friend from faraway (okay New York). Kind, talented, goldenhearted.