To Star Wars and Back

I’m hesitant to write this post, because lately I’ve been feeling all types of stupid. But, for one, you haven’t read anything from me in a while since my computer is still broken. For two, this is a rare moment in which I have my father’s computer and my son is asleep. And for three, you deserve an explanation as to why I feel so stupid (don’t worry, it’s good). However, since I’ve been feeling like a schoolgirl, please don’t expect much from me. I’ll try, but my normal poetic brain has escaped me and my turmoiled heart is at peace so things may sound generic and cliche and . . . stupid. Fuck it. (Also spellcheck is telling me I just made up the word “turmoiled” and I’m too lazy to look it up so if I am, blame it on the stupid.)

Honestly I don’t even remember where we left off. Around Christmas, I suppose. And before that it had been even longer, since I was running around with people no good for me doing things even worse for me. But alas, that’s history. Thank god.

I also don’t know where to begin. Because there are so many different starting points. Like when I was 14 and went to a social gathering at my friend’s house and kissed a very cute boy. Or when I was 17 and best friends with that boy’s sister and decided, during a sleepover, to knock on his door once everyone was ready for bed. Or how several months ago a man who had the same boy’s name and face messaged me on Facebook. Or even one month ago, on the day I met that man for the first time since I had last seen the boy 10 years ago.

Or maybe it started over 4 years ago when Nate was arrested. Or over 7 years ago when I told Jack to stay far away from me and he didn’t listen. Maybe it was a few weeks ago when I went on the most amazing vacation of my life and finally woke the fuck up. You know what? There could be a million starting points. I could go back to my freaking birth and probably piece this all together. Because it’s all part of the plan, you see. So let’s just get started.

Sometimes, in order to survive your own life (or someone else’s), you convince yourself of things that aren’t true. You want so very badly for them to be true so you believe them with your whole heart. But on the sidelines your brain is whispering “Dude, this isn’t right.” Most of you should know that your heart could easily take on your brain in a karate match, so your brain is silenced while your heart tries to repair the past and keep the future looking positive. Meanwhile your brain is drowning.

That’s one of the things that was happening to me. I think some of you saw it, even though you’ve never even met me. I know a lot of my family and friends saw it, but they know me and they knew I’d figure shit out on my own eventually. And I did. Oh, I did.

Can you tell I’m talking about Nate yet? Because I am. His arrest on December 24th, 2011 changed my life forever. And even though I had been his for 9 fucking years before that, he had only been mine for a short while. So I latched on with everything I had and swore I would make it work. We would make it work.

We didn’t. I didn’t. He tried his ass off, I’ll give him that. Nate has changed into a much better man than he was when he went in. But that just wasn’t enough for me. Some people might say it’s not true love if you can’t wait. But you wait 4 fucking years while looking at another 11+ and then get back to me. I wanted to wait, I really did. I just couldn’t anymore.

I was depressed. I was stupid (and not in the good way). I was a mess, which had become so normal for me throughout my life I didn’t even realize it anymore. I hung on to people who were toxic for me simply because I needed to have a connection with someone. I convinced myself I was getting better when reality was that I was just taking a break from the mayhem. It was going to come back. I know it was. I know it was because without even thinking, I had prepared myself for it.

My house was a disaster, because why should I clean it now if I’m going to have an episode later and be unable to even get off the couch? People should just get used to it now. (Honestly, it’s still pretty bad, but I’ve been working on it.) I kept a stash of needles and other heroin paraphernalia “just in case”. Just in case I relapsed, so I could be safe. That’s what I told myself. That’s what I told the few people who knew about it. I held on to love that either wasn’t real or was faded or jaded or fucking bleeding me dry. I took Suboxone even after I had “officially” stopped so it could be my crutch. I kept people around who I honestly didn’t know how to treat like real people. I used them for my convenience and couldn’t stop. Even though they didn’t make me happy, I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let go of anything, and every single thing I clutched with my clammy hands was preparing to tear my world apart.

But that didn’t happen. Because before all those aspects of my life could rally against me, I woke the fuck up.

And yeah, it took a man to make that happen. But not just a man. A man and comfort and sunshine and rum and family and adventure and escape and vastness and love. And most importantly, extreme happiness that I haven’t felt in so long, I don’t even remember it anymore.

The first day we saw each other we hugged like old friends and laughed like new lovers and were both super nervous at first but then realized that this time, we were okay. We didn’t plan this. Even on the first day, we didn’t expect it. We cuddled because that’s what we do and we watched TV (because that’s also what we do) and we drove each other a bit crazy, but in a good way. And we shared a moment that no one else can ever have. But we still had no idea what was to come.

On the second day we talked for hours like philosophers and started to feel a spark when we touched. We talked about politics and he gave me a book to read “so we could discuss it later”. I said “If we keep doing this, we’re going to fall for each other again. Or at least one of us is.” And even then I had no idea. He started to figure it out, though.

Then I went on vacation with my family. I flew in to Florida for my aunt’s wedding (that never happened due to the weather), and a whole slew of aunts and uncles and cousins followed me the next day. My first day there I spent with my grandparents and started to realize that Fuck, they are adorable. I want that. Relationship goals, yo.

The next day we all gathered at my aunt’s house and I thought about how she’s no longer with the father of her children, the “love of her life”, and I watched her preparing for her wedding with her fiance whom she’d known from the earlier years of her life and I thought Fuck, they are adorable. I want that. Then I got super wasted with my cousin and texted the man all sorts of feelings and even though I told him he couldn’t hold any drunk texts against me, we both knew they were true.

The third day I woke up hungover and prepared myself for the wedding but my amazing aunt cancelled it because the weather was bad and she didn’t want to inconvenience other people and I thought Fuck, they’re so in love and confident in their relationship and he cares so much about her family that their wedding isn’t even that big of a deal. I want that.

All this time I thought I had that, but then I pictured my future filled with a jailhouse wedding and none of my family there and sleeping alone (or worse, next to someone I didn’t want to be next to) for the next decade and trying to have children and start a whole new life in my 40s. And I started to slowly piece things together.

Then I got on a motherfucking cruise ship headed to the Bahamas, with my family in tow. A cruise ship headed to the Bahamas with my family where I would have no phone service and unlimited booze. Oh hell yes. The first drink I got was something inside a coconut. I don’t even know what it was. But I got it before I went to my room. I got it immediately, and smoked a cigarette in the smoking section next to the pool and across from the pool bar, and took it all in. Cruise ships are obviously heaven, in case you were wondering.

I didn’t even like the coconut concoction, so I threw it away and ordered a pina colada. I explored the ship and ran into random family members and we decided to all meet up for the complimentary dinner every night. I watched over the side from the very highest floor as we ventured into international waters. I took pictures. I left my motherfucking phone on the motherfucking charger in my motherfucking room because I was no longer in the real world. And it was wonderful.

The days kind of blend together, but I think on the first day they had a belly-flop competition. I taped it. One of the other nights I met the champion belly-flopper. His name was Raoul. I have no idea if that’s how he spelled it but that’s how my family’s been spelling it since the cruise so that’s what I’m sticking with. Anyway, there are a lot of stories from this vacation that I could share with you, but that’s not really what this post is about so instead I’m just going to share this one.

I was wasted. My cousins were wasted. And we had been wasted for a couple days. I don’t remember how I met Raoul exactly, I just remember that all of a sudden he was there. It was late at night. Around 3am. My cousins and I had been out partying hard that night, attending parties and going to clubs and dancing our asses off and just being all-around hooligans.

My mom (with whom I was sharing a room) tells me that she woke up at some point, looked at her phone, saw that it was 7am, decided to meet everyone for breakfast, and got up and showered and had coffee and started her day. She then went out to the common area (for lack of a better term) to try to find the rest of the family when she heard a commotion in the elevator and recognized my voice. She ran over as fast as she could but the door closed just as she arrived. Then the door reopened to my beautiful, trashed face. I asked her what in the hell she was doing and she replied “Going to breakfast with my peeps” and I simply started laughing hysterically, pointed at her and said “That’s why I love my mom!” Also I supposedly introduced her to Raoul, told her he was the belly-flop champ, and slapped his stomach, all while she turned her nose down at me for still being drunk and partying at 8am. Then the elevator door closed again and we were on our way. She sat back down on the steps when finally a cruise ship employee informed her that it was actually 3am and sometimes the time on peoples’ phones gets a little wonky.

Up on the top deck, my cousin was having a ball with some guy named Nick (I think) and Raoul started kissing me. But then he got all hot and heavy and I told him to stop. And the first person who popped into my head wasn’t my fiance in prison, it wasn’t the guy I was living with who helped take care of my son, but it was the man I had only hung out with twice since I had last dated him when he was still a boy 10 years ago.

Raoul passed out sitting in a chair overlooking the sea. My cousin and I switched to the other side of the deck and hung out with Nick and his cousin Hugo. We took pictures of and made fun of Raoul, and just as we were about to slap him with my shoe it started to rain and he woke up, so I ran to Hugo and hugged him super tight to hide myself from Raoul. He talked to my cousin for a minute, and then disappeared. We said goodbye to Nick and Hugo, smoked a few more cigarettes, met another guy who tried to shove his tongue down our throats, and finally went to bed. Around 5:30am.

When I got to my room, my mother popped up and scared the shit out of me. Then she proceeded to tell me all about her night (featured above), along with some other tidbits. Fucking Raoul had remembered my room number that I had apparently shouted to anyone who was listening, went down to find me once he woke up in the rain, and found my mom instead. They talked for a while. He told her that he was Cuban but had never been to Cuba (that’s like me introducing myself as German instead of American). Then he said “I’m going to be honest, I really want to do it right now.” My mother, being the fucking perfect specimen she is, quickly came back with “Well I don’t, and Tempest obviously doesn’t either or she wouldn’t have ditched your ass!”

So, to bring it back to the point of this post, there were several people with penises I could have engaged in sexual relations with on the ship. And when I’m drunk, I’m known to be a whore. But I didn’t do anything except kiss one of them. Because someone else was on my mind.

As I stated before, I didn’t get cell service out in the middle of the ocean. Or in the Bahamas. And I was super stoked to have an excuse to avoid nearly everyone. However, the ship did have WiFi and we were welcome to connect to it if we paid a fee every day. I paid the fee. I mean, I do have a child after all, and what if something happened to him? Jack knew he could get in touch with me via Facebook. But he didn’t. I only talked to one person. And when that person started talking about politics (again) and saying perfect things, I literally had to have my cousins take my phone away so I wouldn’t tell him I loved him in a drunken stupor before I knew if I really did or not. They told him that was the reason they took my phone, but still. It’s the thought that counts.

When I was drinking and partying and having a blast, it felt amazing to not have to answer to anyone. I was more happy than I should have been that Nate couldn’t call me to ask what the hell I had been doing. When I was waking up to the most beautiful view I had ever seen and drinking mimosas, it felt so right but at the same time pretty damn lonely. I felt like I should be experiencing it with someone. I posted real-time updates and plenty of photos to Facebook to feel connected, but then I ignored anyone who commented because I didn’t really care about them. When I was on the islands exploring I was exhilarated but also felt like I needed an adventure buddy. I had my family (sometimes, others I was alone), but that vacation was probably the best experience of my life and I wanted to be able to share those moments with someone. Or, actually, I at least wanted the option. If I decided to stay with Nate, that wouldn’t be an option until we were around 55 years old (considering his minimum plus parole). I have too much life between now and then. I shouldn’t have to live it alone. I shouldn’t have to live it for him.

When the cruise was finally over and my exhausted family and I loaded our stuff and ourselves into the van to make the hour-long trip back to my aunt’s house, I was still happy. Ecstatic. I took hungover selfies with my cousins and ate cashews from an unknown origin. Then Nate called and I was visibly annoyed. It had been almost a week since I had spoken to him but I still didn’t want to. I didn’t want to answer his questions. I didn’t want to force stories that I wasn’t ready to share. I didn’t want to hear how he thought I was gorgeous no matter what. I didn’t want to deal with him bugging me about sending him sexy pictures, again, or making me feel bad for being such a flake and never doing anything he asked. I didn’t want to interrupt my time with our time, even though we had so little of it. So I came up with an excuse and got off the phone.

As the day wore on, I got more hungover and more annoyed (and hungry). My aunt, mother, cousins and I finally ventured out to get food and Nate called again. I didn’t answer the first few times, because we were in the car being our silly selves and listening to music, but as usual he wouldn’t give up so I finally accepted the call while I was waiting for my long-awaited greasy death burger. I had just endured a four-day binge, the experience of a lifetime, my crazy fucking family, and the better part of a serious hangover while walking around an unknown town looking for food. I was simply in no mood for anything. So we talked for a little bit but then he got in a weird mood because I was in a weird mood and I realized that he relied on me too much. If I was happy, he was happy. If I was pissed, he was pissed. If I was sad, he was sad. I was his inspiration, his motivation, his everything. He didn’t have himself anymore. That was way too much pressure on me and it was breaking me down. So I got off the phone again. And enjoyed the rest of my day.

During which I told the man that my family wanted to explore but I just wanted to nap and he said “So explore a nap” and that was the first time I told him he was perfect. And I didn’t realize it until later, but I so meant it.

The next day we spent 9 hours on the phone. I think that’s when we realized we loved each other but we were both too cautious to say anything because what if it was just the new romance rush and distance that was giving us all sorts of crazy feelings? So we held off.

I spent the rest of my vacation resting in the sunshine and listening to music that touched my soul and being sober-honest about my feelings.

The man picked me up from the airport when I arrived back home. He hugged me tight for a long, long time. When we stopped to get food he did the same thing. We looked like crazy people and it was awesome.

At that point it had been a week since I had stopped taking Suboxone. But during the trip I had some comfort meds and lots of alcohol. The day I got back was my first real day without anything at all. I felt alright for most of the day, other than having weird body temperature fluctuations, but during the night I got really bad. I was spending the night at the man’s house and he stayed up with me the whole time. He was supportive and caring and non-judgmental. I remember spending a week at Nate’s house when I got off Methadone (and we had a four-month-old baby) and it was nothing like that one night with the man. Not only that, but he woke up (and woke me up) at 7am to make sure I got home in time to get my son to school.

And that’s the day he met my son. And they played and laughed and bonded immediately. And my heart grew ten sizes.

It’s also the day I got rid of all of my “just in case” drug stuff. Because I decided there is no more “just in case”. I don’t need to worry about being safe, because I am safe, because that life is finally behind me for real. And I don’t regret one minute of it, but it feels so good to let it go for something much, much better.

A day later I ended things with Nate. Even when I first answered I still wasn’t sure if it was really going to happen. Because this had happened before, you see. I have loved since he’s been gone. Simon and Jack both asked me to leave him. But that’s the difference, I guess. The man didn’t ask me to do anything. He just let me do whatever was best for myself.

So no, I did not leave Nate for another man. I left him for myself. I left him for our son. I left him for him. But mainly, I left him for life. Life he could not offer me. And I don’t blame him for not being able to offer what I want. I don’t blame myself for wanting more than he could offer. Sometimes life just has other plans, and over the course of the last month I’ve learned to embrace those plans instead of fighting them like I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember.

Yes, Nate made me happy. Sometimes. When we had good phone calls or he wrote me a good letter or I thought about an impossible future. But I deserve to be happy all the time. And I know that’s unrealistic — no one can be happy all the time, especially someone as fucked up as me, but I can (and will) have happiness to come home to, or wake up to, or roll over to, or a text away.

I can look in the man’s eyes and find happiness, and love. But most importantly, I can look in my own and find the same. Before all of this I could find happiness in my smile, but I avoided my eyes. Now they’re full of giant pupils and amazement.

Now we move on to Jack. The day after I got back I asked him when he was moving out.

We’ve been fighting or avoiding each other pretty much nonstop since then. I broke all my own rules and he’s mad about that. I introduced the man to my son very early, before I introduced him to Jack. I had the man come spend the weekend while Jack was visiting his sister. I’ve been being a bitch.

I can admit that. I’ve never treated Jack very well. As much as I complain about him and how he disrespects me, I do the same to him. I don’t know how to treat him anymore. He let me treat him badly for so long that it’s become normal and I can’t find it in myself to respect him. I’ve tried. But I’m a seriously broken individual and there are just some people I don’t know how to treat. I can’t treat Jack right, and I can’t let Luke treat me right (I guess that’s a story for another day). I still care about Jack and want him to be happy, but we’ve become so stuck I think that him hating me is the only way for him to move on with his life and get his shit together. So I’ll play that role.

He spent a few days away. Now he sleeps on the couch. He’s moving to another state in a couple weeks. I’m excited for both of us. We’ve been in this weird on-and-off toxic relationship for 7+ years. And yeah, I’m probably the toxic one. So we both need to get away.

But honestly, I can’t find it within myself to care that much about other people right now. Of course I do, I don’t let go easily. But I don’t care as much as I thought I would. I need this for myself and my life, and that’s what’s important at the moment.

I always thought once I was in love I would never fall out. That’s just how I worked. Nate and Xavier and Jack would permanently be pressed into my heart like dried flowers in a book. But then I told the man I loved him. And he said it back. And I started showering more and cleaning more and realized what type of person I can truly be who I’ve been hiding this whole time and now those flowers are starting to crumble. Actually, I can say with certainty that Xavier and Jack are now simple petals (or maybe thorns); reminders of what was and caring that will never fade, but love? Deep, intense, real love? That’s gone for them. I’m pretty sure it’s on its way out for Nate, too.

I also thought I loved the same. I thought I loved all three of them with everything in me. But they’re all different. Xavier was young love. Young love that I held onto because he was fun and poetic. Young love that was probably gone a while ago but I didn’t want to admit that. Jack was intoxicated love. We started our relationship on drugs and even though we got sober together, it was still a drug-infused relationship. We relapsed together and got help together and relapsed again together. I’m not sure if you can experience the extremes we have and come out of it with the relationship still intact. And Nate, well, Nate was the first love. The one who got away. The babydaddy. Nate was a lot of things, but all of those things were just excuses to never leave. They weren’t reasons.

What I feel for the man is different. It’s real. It’s passion and fire and longing and content. It’s adult. I quite literally didn’t think I could feel like this for another person. That’s not to say that I wasn’t in love with the other three — I was. Just in different ways. Ways that probably wouldn’t have worked out had we tried in the real world. But the man and I are in the real world, and it’s working. I told him I loved him differently. He asked how.

“Better.”

A lot of people will say it’s too serious too soon. A lot of people will be mad at me for being such a flake with Nate, or such an asshole with Jack, or so open with my son. But those people can’t understand what they don’t feel. So I don’t even really have anything to say to them. Because I know what they never could.

And yes, part of me is afraid of him leaving. Part of me is terrified. This feeling is one of those “How did I survive without you?” kinds. But a bigger part knows that I would be just fine. Devastated, of course, but I would pick myself up and keep moving forward. Because he’s awoken something in myself I always knew was there but couldn’t access until now. I don’t even have a word for that something, but it’s motivation and passion and independence and submission and even more all rolled into one. He makes me question almost everything. He makes me realize new things. But it’s me doing those things, and I will be able to do them without him. I don’t want to, ever, but I could if I had to. And isn’t that wonderful?

During the writing of this entire post I’ve been trying to come up with a name for the man. I told him he needed a fake name, like everyone else has here (except myself) and he said “fuck that”. And now I’m realizing, fuck that. He is who he is and I am who I am and we’re more real than anything I’ve ever known. Mostly I give people fake names to either protect them or protect myself, but neither of us needs protecting from the other.

I love you Michael Sloan, to Star Wars and back. And even better, I love myself enough to be the best I can be.

Mike

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10 thoughts on “To Star Wars and Back

  1. Well, Tempest, for all your changes (and they’re truly amazingly wonderful) you remain the inspiration to me as a writer that you’ve always been. How you can go through such a whirlwind of experience and change, and still retain such clarity of vision and articulation, is totally beyond me even to understand, let alone emulate.

    You retain my amazement and admiration.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, seems like you did a lot of cleaning up there! Well done! So happy to hear that you are happy. I hope you still are! Don’t worry too much about things not going to work out. Take one moment after the other. Sometimes living in the moment is not bad, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just re-read this, and it’s still amazing to me — and inspiring. Until I can say I am as independent as you, standing firmly in my truth, I won’t be able to hold a candle to you; and I’m sure that until then, I won’t begin to write like you do, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BTW, your poetic brain has not deserted you at all. It reflects your poetic heart wonderfully, carrying this reader easily along, surfing on the wave of your description, highlighting all the bright points of light even in the swirling cloud of uncertainty and frenetic action it seems any passionate life must navigate.

    Liked by 1 person

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