“Fast away the New Year passes.” I hear sifting through profiles. Swiping my phone with sweaty hands. Interviewing every queer in Reno not frightened of me. It’s on like Donkey Kong from my first online conversation with Jasper. Soothing my loss scarred soul. My domestic partner’s surprise suicide left me a dried up husk. A widow. Wearing her ring for almost a decade afterwards. Vamping in black veiled hats.
I wear black leather to the cupcake shop where Jasper and I meet for our first date. We agreed to both wear hats. A few AA jokes later? I take her home. We sit on either side of the couch. Carefully not touching bodies while entwining minds. Talk. I see in her the golden soul I’ve sought. We fall into the couches green velvet vortex. Time loses meaning. Until dawn light reveals her car snowbound.
Over five months we battle the “urge to merge,” spoken of on The L Word. Jasper presents the option. Becomes the reality. Feels like destiny. Of living again. Loving again. Cohabitant again. Marrying again. Love transforms. Thaws my heart in the deep freeze like a slice of raspberry wedding cake. Glittering Cubic Zirconia on my finger. Abalone band on hers.
A snow covered intersection at dawn. Underage driver. He runs a stop sign. Totals Jasper’s car. Blood on her man’s dress shirt. She calls me crying from the hospital. I I race to her side. Not knowing how badly the accident crushed her vanilla cupcake frame. Burnt skin fried to waffle cone lace. In the Lyft, I realize it doesn’t matter. I will be there for her. I am relieved to find only her fingertip mangled. Stitched up. The car accident sets off a domino effect of financial strain. Despite her full time job at Tesla.
The car my dearly beloved domestic partner left me sits in the side yard. Covered with snow. Or cherry blossoms. Never to be sold. Sentimental reasons. A steel monument to her. Frozen rapture in her arms.
A few years ago, I realized taking the psychiatric medication I required to stay alive? Driving during Nevada’s opioid crisis? Makes me an automatic DUI. Sober from alcohol and drugs. Yet forever mad. My disease escalating as abilities drop away. Too disabled to drive, I voluntarily took myself off the road. Use Lyfts to pick up medication. Go nowhere else on my own.
A Lyft driver asks if I need a private driver. I need a lot of things. A bodyguard. Chauffeur. Cleaning lady. Companion. Caretaker. As I fade into madness. I live within my means. That Disability check my sole income. Gone to Kitty litter. Toilet paper. Bags of frozen chicken breasts. Honey Crisp apples. Nuts. Cinnamon rolls. Molasses cookies. Wi-Fi. Not staff.
Connecting the freckle dots. On Jasper’s Irish arm. in the hospital gurney. I connect the dots to a win/win. Helping us both. Long ago, I watched an HBO documentary about Liberace’s gay lover. Driver. Protégé. Living and performing with the closeted singer. Jasper idolizes Freddie Mercury. Another performative glitter queen. She desperately needs a car to get to work. To Tahoe. To hike. It is her first ever car accident. Twelve years my junior. She weeps inconsolably, in shock.
“I won’t always be able to solve all your problems,” I whisper close to her ear. “But I might be able to fix this one.” Several trips to the Reno DMV later. We get my car’s paperwork legal in both our names. The car’s title was lost in the death of my domestic partner. Stern decisions made between parents of both parties to leave it to me. Without a will or suicide note to work from. Five hundred miles and almost a decade ago. With Jasper at the wheel, the car has a new life. As with my first wife? I am in the passenger seat whenever I want to go anywhere.
In late April, Jasper is evicted from the downtown Riverwalk Studio she can no longer afford. She joins me sleeping on this heirloom bed of our madness. Shipped to my North Hollywood apartment. When grandma Janet went into a home. Her sister Theda outfitted the house in Queen Anne cherry wood furniture from Italy back in the day. Before it was Janet’s. Before it was mine. The Burrus sister’s traced back to Plymouth Colony via Utah Mormons. Beginning and end of America’s sick fever dream. One nation burning while we fuck the pain away. Between the four carved posts where great-aunt Theda and Katie died.
Apple and cherry blossoms in the backyard. I wander beneath the verdant trees. Press my hand to the bole of a trunk. Seek to ground myself deep like as the plant’s root network. Visualize a screwdriver beneath me boring into the earth. Millennial band The White Stripes has a song that goes:
“Hey little apple blossom.
What seems to be the problem.
All the folks you tell your troubles to,
They don’t really care for you.
Come and tell me what you’re thinking,
And just when the boat is sinking,
A little light is blinking,
And I will come and rescue you.”
Jasper and I tan on a Tahoe beach. I visualize our duvet as a disk. This imaginary screwdriver screws us deep down into the hot sand. Rockets up up and away over the clear cold water. To the moon. I am over the moon. Engaged. Moonstone ring from a Genoa antique shop haunting my finger. Bejeweled hands pull Jasper in for a kiss. She takes me to Freshies for dinner. Eats half a tempeh taco plate. Beans and rice. I slake vegetable malnutrition in a kale and baby spinach salad. Miso dressing. Pickled cucumbers. Bean sprouts. Stuffing leafy forkfuls into my mouth. Ravenous for greens.
MidMay. Full Blue moon in Scorpio. My mind is clear. Reborn as lesbian housewife. VCR reset, to use archaic metaphor. Transparent joy like a child. Jasper fiddles about arranging her altar. Putting folded men’s shirts and slacks in my dresser drawers. A silence descends on the House of the Rising Sun. The Wi-Fi is down. Nothing works. I lay down. Drained. Spiritually. Sexually. Mentally.
Witched out from a water ritual the night previous. A spell to allow me to love again. My beloved first wife is never coming back. I prepare to take a second. Butch bae Jasper draws me a hot candlelit bath. To get through the grief. Adds coconut oil and rose petals for renewed ability to love. Sage for peace. Rosemary for protection. Lavender for peaceful sleep. Dried herbs from my sisters garden stacked in the pantry’s white shelves.
Butch and femme both manic tonight. Working together as a fluid bound Coven of two. I set raw rose quartz on the bathtub rim. For unconditional love. Dip one foot in. Then the other. Lay back with a deep exhalation of release. Jasper leaves me alone in the dark water. I pile crystals on my submerged body. Charge them with my body’s essence. Voice Latin incantations. Take four samples of holy bathwater in vape cartridge containers. A yellow rose petal at each vial’s seal. From a gas station bouquet Jasper bought me on a manic errand spree. Dark mirrors above pink tile.
I set a pretty pink rock at each of the four directions. Invoke the elements. Air. Fire. Earth. Water. Spirits above. Spirits below. The ancient ones. The Paiute. Washoe. My paternal ancestor Myles Standish started Plymouth’s native slaughter. Pioneer’s delusion of entitled manifest destiny took routine killing to the West Coast. Thanksgiving genocide gravy in my thigh’s stored fat. Genocide erased in elementary school. Pilgrim and Indian hats of colored construction paper. Taped frail as the fallacy. Cultural moments passing for forty years. Uncovering like Salome’s veils. Revealing the vile core of America’s rot.
White Guilt for the white adjacent. I press mestiza ass to the bathtub porcelain. Unbaptized heathen. Last century I dropped in amniotic fluid into this fading empire. All these sins remembered in my DNA. No absolution for original sin. Product of an interracial marriage. Bloodlines combining white colonizer with Latinx.
In Nevada, my passport and birth certificate are zipped into my purse pocket. Biracial deportation insurance. Even with immaculate passport and ID? Last time I ventured to my maternal grandmother’s Baja California, I almost wasn’t allowed back into the USA. A Tijuana Border guard thought I was a hooker. High peep toe heels. Light brown skin. Black hair. Red lips. Brown eyes.
I lie prone underwater. Sheltered by blood money over native corpses deep down in America’s permafrost of forgetting. Close my eyes. Visualize a corkscrew boring through the bathtub into stolen land beneath. Washoe Valley. Once part of Mexico. Then conquered Viceroy of Spain. Utah Territory. Made state of Nevada on Halloween 1864.
I plug into the the bone remains below I can never repay or repatriate. Visualize blinding spirit light illuminating the room. Like a flesh light bulb channeling electric death.