Friday, May 18, 2012
Some years ago, I dated an American. It wasn't one of my best ideas. This was before I went to America and discovered other Americans, whose simplicity and generosity knew no bounds. No, this was one of those Americans who expected their dates to come fully-formed, waving Y2Ks in front of them. Money was a game he could afford to play. After some months flaying about he broke up with me, citing my lack of a viable financial future as a major cause of concern. Yes, he worked in finance, for a multinational that had to have an office in every country in the world and would then proceed to scoff at their weedy financial muscle.
I was hurt, but imagined he was right. It wasn't my best of times, I'll admit. I swallowed my hurt and soldiered on. I cultivated his friendship; after all, he seemed to know better than me. A year or maybe two passed, and by then I had done the unimaginable and moved to New York! The American came to visit, and in the course of a long, blurry evening, I finally realised he was a balls-to-the-wall alcoholic. He got me more drunk than I'd ever been, and he was drunker still. He could barely stand, so I had to hail us a cab home. He was a mess - I suppose I'd just seen it so often I never really noticed when we were together.
Next day, he was sleeping it off in my roommate's bed at our digs in Brooklyn. I didn't see him till late, so late in fact that if he didn't hurry, he would miss the flight to Chicago to see his fucking Episcopalian pastor of a father. When I finally caught him, he was trying to slink out unnoticed. He informed me with a smirk that he had wet the bed, so I needed to clean up. Plane to catch, see ya.
After eight years, I came back to Europe fully-charged. And today it's my 44th birthday! Shit! Times have certainly changed. I see many, whose once-untouchable surety is looking pretty shabby. These past twelve months were no picnic for me either. I got sick, real sick with pneumonia, and my mum died. That was a wrench. Still, I dug in my heels. And actually, I'm one of the few who can say I'm doing pretty good. I'm firing on all cylinders - no need to go into details. I see so many my age who look like the life has been sucked out of them by circumstances out of their control. But my ideas have never stopped. Never.
So, the American. Not long after the bedwetting, there was another incident which really was TOO MUCH and I told him to take a hike. I finally said to him, why am I allowing myself to be taken down by a closeted alcoholic bedwetter with Aids? Ouch. Because he's financially viable? The American will never lose his job; he's too high up to fall, it is said. Others will be sacrificed before he. He now moves and shakes in London, but occasionally surfaces here. I ignore his stares. Then I think, you know, I should be more grateful. For the night he really lost it in front of me, and showed me the little baby in the Big I Am, was the night I stumbled drunkenly into Lennie, my eventual life partner. I have never forgotten the cab ride back over the Williamsburg Bridge, city glittering, window rolled down and that night city air. Lennie was American too, and the sweetest, sexiest soul you could ever hope to meet.