• Tish Burns

Mercury Gatorshade/The Empire State Building

Winter 2012 I was at the tail end of my second year of sobriety. The first year had been weirdly wonderful. I hated counting the first 90 days and being nudged to go to a meeting every day but I loved the strange new spiritual adventure I was taking. I'd stomp through blizzards to get to Perry St for a 10pm meeting and hear stories of West Village depravity and recovery that made my hair curl as I laughed and I cried and I identified and began to become a new person. The Arab Spring sprung just after I quit drinking. It was a magical time that was not without it's delusions and insanity. I had reservations like if my mom or my dog died I would drink. I thought I would just try the program for a year and if I still wanted and needed to drink after that I would. Fuck a day at a time! And I had an agenda: I wanted to meet a man, get married and have a baby. Or two. I was 36 years old. The clock was ticking and I was a fucking time bomb.

After the Norwegian disaster I found a dream job as a pastry cook in a fancy fish restaurant under the Prada store in Soho. It was so cool working on a line, bonding with the guys. Mexicans are the most hilarious and tender hearted people I've ever met. The chef would run through the kitchen and scream about somebody wearing a blue Yankee hat when the uniform was black Yankee hats. Being a girl I did not have to wear a Yankee hat. Other than Yankees hats I never really saw the chef do much but schmooze with celebrity customers in the dining room. It got wild in that place, fucking in bathroom stalls, drugs of course, Lindsay Lohan. I so wanted to go out and give her some literature. But I probably woulda got fired. It would have been worth it though if it took. I could go on all day and night about who ate at my jobby but who cares? (If you care write me and I'll send you a list.) As I slowly released my grip on the Norwegian dream my life got good? It seemed like it was getting better.

As I settled into the new routine of working in a real kitchen and spring and summer whooshed past I began to look around me. Who could be the father of my unborn child??? I didn't know how to date. I clearly still don't know how to date. But I needed a baby, I was sure of it. I had wanted a baby my whole life. I loved baby things, small things. I longed to have something small growing inside me, something all baby mine. I'll save the story of my one pregnancy for another time but I liked how I felt when I was pregnant. Fierce. With big boobs. It was awesome but not meant to be.

Anyway, looking around I saw this friend of a friend/co-worker who had just broken up with his Russian girlfriend. He was 32, he was from Atlanta, he had a masters in poetry and was working on a second masters in linguistics, he was missing a tooth. He seemed perfect. So I went for it and made no bones about my agenda. I said to him, "Hoyt, I want to have a baby, that's what I'm here for." And he went along with it. But something was wrong. I didn't like him! I actually did really like him as a person. But I didn't like him as a boyfriend. He needed way too much attention and he always wanted to have sex! It was annoying. I know. I was supposed to be having a lot of sex with him so I could get my baby. But I just couldn't really conjure much passion for him. And I got really depressed. Which I'd never done sober before. It was awful. I lay in his bed for four days and nights in his Batman footie pajamas over Thanksgiving. In the dark, snuggling my dog, watching The Sopranos.

There was also the issue of Natasha (not her name, can't resist) his Russian ex. She would call him in the middle of the night crying and he'd always answer. And once she met Ruby my dog while Hoyt was babysitting her which I just didn't like. Ruby was really my baby but I was too determined to give birth to a human baby to realize she gave me everything I needed. And saved me from the agony of childbirth. I did not need the ex who actually liked and even loved Hoyt to be meeting my dog baby. I was jealous. I am jealous. That's one thing that's become abundantly clear to me in my train wreck of a love life. I don't believe in monogamy because I cheated on my boyfriends in my 20s when I was drunk and high all the time and I'd get bored and I'd get infatuated with someone else. I always thought an ideal relationship would be monogamous at first and then it would open up like a fucking flower and there could be others but you and your partner were number one wife/number one husband. If I could ever pick a man I could stay with for more than two months I'd be able to eventually test drive this theory.

Hoyt was my first boyfriend in sobriety and he was the first to establish the two month life span of my sober relationships. One morning he woke me up trying to have sex with me again. I worked nights and I wanted to sleep. I rejected his advances. He went to the kitchen and put on really bad punk rock music and started banging pots and pans really loud. I thought he was doing this on purpose to keep me awake and punish me for rejecting him. When he got in the shower a few minutes later I got dressed, got my shit and my dog and walked home. It was a long walk, like a death march. I never really want to let go of a thing so I wasn't admitting to myself that this was it. We decided to take a few days apart to think on things. It was the holidays and my mom was in town so I hung out with her. He hung out with my mom and I the first night before the separation began. We got pizza and watched An Affair to Remember on Channel 13. I'd never seen it before and I was so struck by how crazy the playboy and the night singer were about each other. Hoyt left and I took Ruby for a walk around the park. I was still remembering the Affair to Remember and thinking how Hoyt and I just weren't that crazy about each other. We were not in love. We liked each other ok but that was about it. And I wasn't getting pregnant which was really bumming me out. As I thought about me and Hoyt and love and how I wanted what Terry and Nickie had, I wanted to be nuts about a guy who was nuts about me and meet him up on top of the Empire State Building! I was picking up trash from the ground as a way to turn Hoyt and my relationship and baby angst over to God as I do not understand It. I picked up a pamphlet to throw away but wait! It was from the Empire State Building!!! I had technically been praying and it felt like my prayer had been answered! Hell yeah.

Hoyt went back to Natasha that night. He admitted he had slept with someone else but said it was just some girl he met at a bar. I, being jealous, being sacred, could not tolerate this and we broke up. But then tried to get back together or rather I tried because that's what I always do and he didn't want to. I engaged in the FaceBook stalking and saw a photo of her in his Batman footie pajamas stomping through snow banks after a blizzard. In all the photos they looked like they were having the time of their lives. They looked happy. But it felt like it was at my expense. This time I was outraged because I thought Hoyt wasn't good enough to reject me. I should have been rejecting him! But none of that is true. Hoyt and I just weren't ESB material but Hoyt and Natasha were. I sent a lot of poison emails. My sponsor told me to stop doing that, I look crazy. But I said, 'I don't care if I look crazy, fuck him!!!'

As they say, if nothing changes nothing changes.

Bringing it all back to today which is the fucking worst day I've had in a very long time, nothing changed. I was only able date Rob for two months. I'm using his name and I'm doing this despite a few things he said to me like, "Take it easy on me in your blogs." Which I really think I've been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I've been trying to own my shit. But he sees this as some kind of fucked up narrative I'm telling myself about bad choices I make in relationships and that it's not true. He said I looked at the world through "dirty spectacles." I thought I was just writing my experience and how it is reflected in and affecting my experience today. I tried to own the fact that I was perhaps not being fair to him by mistrusting him as I had been. Because I didn't really know the truth. I just smelled a rat but it was like dead behind a wall and I couldn't find it. I looked. Everywhere. I blocked him on everything to stop myself from looking. I asked direct questions and got denials.

We started to fall apart after things got real between us, after he said he loved me, was in love with me, said he was my boyfriend. After he called me his God one day and I knew he was either full of shit or completely insane or both at that moment but I ignored it. He's cute and endearing and dying of cancer. It was easy to overlook the red flags. The open admissions to lies he told in the past regarding his recovery, his other relationships. He concealed the fact that he's terrified of commitment until after I started to expect him to act like my boyfriend, like someone who loved me as much as I loved him. We had that ESB magic at first but he turned to look elsewhere when it got hard and I got hurt because he canceled plans on Valentine's Day or I expected him to ever just follow through on his shit. It has been a nightmare ever since. The only time it was good was when we were together. The world stopped. I told him everything. And all he can do now is read this raw and honest account of what happened and what it's like now and think of himself. He doesn't get the takeaway. And called me a narcissist asshole. I'll accept asshole but I don't think I'm a narcissist. Am I? I think maybe he's looking in the mirror when he says that.

Long story short he has been dating other women, yeah, which I hate but he told me he wasn't sleeping with anyone else. Today he finally admitted he has slept with someone else. And he keeps denying that he ever lied to me or betrayed me. But won't tell me when he slept with the other person!

Point is all my instincts are on point. Point is I need to listen to them and trust myself more than I trust a damn man. Point is I think he's sick and suffering and from far worse things than cancer. Point is I'm certain he's lied to me about all kinds of shit. Point is I don't think he even knows what's going on. Point is I don't believe he's sober. Point is who cares, he has cancer but it's terrible to pretend in the program. Point is now that I wrote all that I feel less angry and I feel bad for him. Point is I don't pity the fool enough to ever want to have anything more to do with him. Point is he broke it and he refuses to buy it. Point is having a terminal illness is not a license to fuck with women's hearts and minds. Point is he's not the OSS and this isn't Vietnam. Point is I have't slept or really ate in I don't know years it feels like. But it's been since Saturday morning and it is now Monday night.

I had to put my cat to sleep today. This rage and outrage has made it a little easier but my God what a fucking stupid country song of a day. I wish I could drink beer real slow in the bar around the corner. But I'm not going to do that. I have learned so much and I think (hope) that it will take this time. I dread ever dating again. I didn't really want a boyfriend because it always ends up in some version of this. I am never enough for them. There's always more and I'm not more. I'm also too much.

I have not practiced any restraint of pen and tongue today. I don't give a shit right now either. Fuck him.

Hoyt and Natasha broke up again when she decided to move to San Francisco. He and I made a couple of vain attempts to reconnect but he was always doing something to make me feel weird and mad so it never worked out. One night I was walking Ruby and she saw him on his bike across the street. He came over and she freaked out, she was so happy to see him again. We hung out a couple of times after that and he offered to babysit her anytime. I tried to get him to once but he didn't. Then she died really suddenly and unexpectedly of a stroke basically. Two months after that Hoyt von Hoyt got struck by a sanitation truck while riding his bike in Long Island City. He died there, by the projects but with the 59th St Bridge in view across a park. We had made some kind of peace before he died and I was grateful for that. I like to think he and Ruby are playing somewhere together in the afterworld.

Maybe Rob and I will be able to make peace before he dies. I don't know if there's enough time for us to ever get on the same page though. Or if it's even possible. If not I'll summon the ghost of Melvin from hell to attack him and pee all over his afterlife.


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