I jolt awake sharply at dawn. Afraid. Turmoil in my stomach and brainstem from too much day-old cold coffee. A marijuana vape I sucked down yesterday in a bid for numbness leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I rip open the Indica vape box sitting on the agate bedside table, hoping for sleep. It does not come. The cats come instead. Nevada Jacobson Lambert, Betty Illuminati Lambert and Freddie Mercury Lambert. Laden with dual marital memories. Soft grey fur. Black fur. Brown fur. The three cats face bump me. Offer the pure animal unconditional love I cannot give anyone anymore.
While rearranging my home after Jasper’s eviction, I found a green metal and glass end table. I set pot after pot of cold black coffee on it. On the other side of the bed. Rarely get out of bed for the rest of the month. Something I learned from that honeymoon room service: long mornings are so much more pleasurable when you don’t have to get up to get another cup of coffee. That white plastic coffee pot. On the room service tablecloth. At our staycation suite at the Silver Legacy.
Without my knowing? On our honeymoon weekend there? Jasper did some of what the kids now call Molly. She slept through most of the weekend in the wide California King. Even on our honeymoon I was betrayed by her substance abuse.
I have my grandparents white sheeted bed all to myself with endless coffee now. House all to myself again. I abandoned Jasper to homelessness to save my own life. Technically we are still legally married as of this writing: November 2019.
I take the silver wedding ring on and off. Put rings from different engagements on the fingers of my left hand in a macabre joke, I am not sure is funny or tragic. I used to listen to Marilyn Monroe sing, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Sing it in the shower at my Los Angeles television boyfriend’s house. He never proposed. I have a terrible habit of falling deeply in love. The jewels to prove it. I cover my other hand in moonstone and cheap boho ring stacks to offset.
The tiger cat Betty toys with a black Halloween ring. It arrived in the Sub Rosa zine I just had a piece in. Everything being published now is about Jasper. Our romance. Marriage. Love. My love did flow. Then switched off like a spigot. I abandoned her to her addictions. I couldn’t provide detox facility level care in this, my private home where I actually live and write. Go to a hospital for that shit. You’re not permitted to die in my bed like my last wife.
Somehow I never write a personal essay in which that does not come out. Somehow I never not overshare in a personal essay. My uncle asked me if I had ever written anything that was not about myself. I had to tell him no. Not within recent memory. He thought there was something wrong with that. I don’t have to make things up because my delusional haze is unreal enough to most people as if to be fiction anyway.
I wake up the next day at 2:30 am. Prone. Reversed on the bed. My face almost run into the flatscreen. The grey Amazon Prime screen reveals I fell asleep late last night watching AHS: Coven. This particular season was recommended by my second to last therapist in Los Angeles. Spawned a three-year obsession with the show.
I wrote a grief memoir about my first wife’s suicide using American Horror Story as counterpoint. Writing through the first six seasons. Two seasons ago. I’ll have to revise once the final season has wrapped.
In earlier version of that manuscript called “AHS: Grief” I read in serialized installments on my YouTube channel. In the studio Jasper got evicted from. When she moved in with me. Jasper doesn’t live here anymore. I had to leave her to her opioid addiction. She’s my second wife. On paper first but that’s homophobic laws for you.
“A domestic partnership is not a marriage, so this is your first marriage,” said the Washoe County Clerk. Am I not a widow? Are these not tears? What have I been doing these last seven years if not mourning my wife’s suicide? All this bureaucrats’ cruel legalese couldn’t wipe away the grandeur of what will forever be to me my first wife. The second one though? Shitshow.
I’ve been having had a terribly large amount of fun living my life inside my house according to my terms and not submitting to the uneducated Southern redneck platitudes of wife #2 who actually called the asian doctor who recognized her infected abscesses as injection sites, a “Jap.” She called me “spicy” and thought I was “hood” because I listened to Cardi B. I am a quarter Mexican. Although I grew up in white suburbia having missed the memo I wasn’t white. Jasper let me know she was whiter than me. Shades of colonizer white trash, I would say, if we are to get ugly. Or call her Hootenany McGee.
To me it was as if she was from a different country. Georgia. At first her difference intrigued me. Until the racism, anti-intellectualism, bigotry, traditional gender roles and Christian guns and God stuff she was born and raised in emerged. Dealbreaker as big as shooting pills on my green velvet couch for perhaps the entirety of our cohabitation. Because I ran through my backlog of saved SSDI and liquidated what stock I could over the course of our ten wild months together.
We’ve been separated for about a month. I’ve gotten a lot more writing done, and been verified on Google since. Telling me that yes, this is better. I am better off alone.
It was as if the two Americas came together an orgiastic spasm then revulsion. As her Borderline Personality Disorder dictated. I know the pattern. My first wife had BPD also. Yet was a much more, how do we say, high quality person. I realize I sound like the worst sort of Marie Antoinette aristocrat classifying people that way, but given all my other identifies are subhuman marginalized, I hold onto the pearl tiara of firstborn heiress as if I was Reno’s Paris Hilton. I feel like it’s the only way I can get people to respect me enough not to kill me. I’m apparently wrong.
I receive two email death threats. One from a not so secret society. One from some unknown hit men who want $5,000 not to kill me. Joke’s on them, I don’t have that much money. Liquid, anyway. I don’t think my life’s worth that much. I would place my life at about $9.95. I go into deep freeze seclusion. Draw the blinds. Stop going outside except for packages and trash. Put the Christmas tree up early so inside is a Winter Wonderland. I only speak to others through the Internet. Become nocturnal. At this point I couldn’t tell you when I last saw the sky. Although I am aware it is right out there, were I to look.
Sarah Vaughn has a breakup love song I listened to over and over in 1999 after my anarchist punk boyfriend broke up with me. The refrain, “and in between I drink…black coffee and cigarettes.” I live off of warm coffee, dab wax and Klondike bars in the month of November. I can’t bring myself to eat anything else.
A few bites of a cinnamon roll, tender pastry in white frosting. A handfuls of grapes. Or Smart Food popcorn. I take out an apple or cucumber and two bites in can’t finish it. Set it back in the refrigerator. When grieving, it’s normal to eat less, I tell myself. Maybe I’ll shed some of this second wife ice cream weight, I tell myself. Maybe the world would be a better place if I just wasted away and died, I tell myself.
I google Reno’s Ketamine clinic. Research hope at four am. Medicare will not cover that. I can’t pay out of pocket. I can’t even afford a divorce and I kicked my wife out a month ago. It’s been a blaze of joy since. The elation of having my house back. Putting the doilies back under the lamps. Cleaning. She should be glad I packed all her stuff. Put it in a room. Will now give a happy forever home to the cat she adopted on a whim. Jasper’s love for me was so intense, that I heard from my father she was homeless and heartbroken. Yet is ready to move on. Would accept a divorce. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could afford one, but not on $1000 SSDI a month.
I think of my father’s brother, who had three wives with three children between them. We never talked much. Now we have more in common. I feel this strange macho notch on the bed frame to have had two wives and three cats with them. A plush princess puss with my first wife. Tawny tiger Maine Coon I adopted myself. Jasper’s black panther SPCA adoptee.
“Ditch the bitch, keep her cat,” I joke via Facebook chat with an old friend. My first lesbian crush in Junior High. Puerto Rican soothsayer mom of a toddler. She says she foresaw it all, having been through similar heroin honeys. Felt she couldn’t warn me.
It is almost as if the lesbian triage brigade emerges after I post my last column, letting everyone I’ve ever known or even admired what happened to my marriage. Old girlfriends and distant relatives message me to offer comfort and a listening ear. I am reminded I have a global community of friends, and family, after feeling so alone for so long.
As I heal. As I pass through the underworld of winter like Persephone. As rain falls. Then snow. I am comforted by these words of kindness. Enough coffee will wash away the pomegranate after taste that traps me. I hope to re emerge in spring.