She was a waitress when we met. A server at a local Mexican restaurant which also had a stage for bands at night. At that time she had a twelve-year history of out-of-control alcoholism and was living in her car, but of course these aren't things you can read on people's foreheads. It was several weeks before she confided in me, several years before I fully understood.
I'd moved from a small apartment on the ocean to a small house in the woods. I needed room to be loud. There were songs in my head which I wanted to record, and I wanted to record them at home rather than a commercial studio, to be free from clock-stress and to work at three a.m. if that's when the fingers were ready to rock. So I needed space, and I moved, and I was terribly excited.
We bonded over dinners, once or twice a week. Cheese enchiladas and Negra Modelo, my favorite and usual thing. She always seemed happy to see me. We'd talk, she'd make me laugh. She's brilliant, and wickedly charming.
She was lovely, then. Beautiful, truly. Subsequent years of alcoholic damage have destroyed her figure and her face, but at that time she was striking: tall, strong, lean-but-curvy. Brown hispanic skin, dark eyes, black hair, charisma. It was difficult to not look at her. Think Lucy Lawless as Xena, only Mexican. She moved with grace and you wanted to drink beer and watch her because she was far more compelling than anything else going on. As she bent to place plates on tables her cleavage showed and the tattoos on both arms peeked like slave bracelets from beneath short ruffled sleeves. Around the room jaws would fall. She knew, and she liked it. She was pure sex and pure badass: little did I know.
She liked me. She'd spend more and more time hanging at my table, smiling her light-up smile. I don't think she realized I was twenty years older than her. At that time my hair was still black and I looked fifteen years younger than I was. Or maybe she knew and didn't care. Bless her heart.
It was a long time since my last relationship. I'd lived with untreated depression for many years, and recently, the last year ish, had been sliding more and more definitively into an agoraphobia I hadn't yet begun to process. I was nervous around people, especially crowds. I'd spend most of my free time at home, with my guitars and my private ambitions, not sharing my life, and not sharing my bed.
I was terribly, crushingly lonely. By nature I'm gregarious, extroverted, demonstrative. The depression made me inward. I felt that people only accepted me if I entertained them, when what I wanted was to be understood — certainly the most twisted rationale for self-isolation. It was a downward spiral: depression, inwardness, isolation, more depression, where loneliness was my major depression trigger, and the depression left me more and more lonely.
I think, some part of her understood this, whether in an unconscious or a calculating way I can't say. People desperately in need of rescue know a human lifeboat when they see one. She saw my loneliness, my vulnerability. I'm certain her interest in me had as much to do with the resources I could bring to the table as with any other attributes I may have possessed.
That's actually terribly unfair, to us both. She did like me, and once we started talking it turned out we had core interests in common. She's brilliant, mentally and physically gifted, a book-reading brainiac who went to college on a basketball scholarship. She has the most encyclopedic knowledge of rock-and-roll music history than anyone aside from me I've ever met. We like many of the same authors, we're both avid photographers, we love Monty Python and South Park and while she loves Austin Powers I find that forgivable. We love the same cities, we love road trips, we made each other laugh. She was beautiful, curvy, tattoo'd, badass: I was powerfully attracted, for the first time in years. Seemingly she was too, 'cos once we started having sex she wanted it all the time. We talked, we were close, my belief was that we were loyal. That was of course me projecting, but it took a good while to suss that out.
We agreed to have dinner. She said yes, with a big smile. It was fun. We had Chinese food, she accidentally ate a chili from the Sizzling Rice Soup, her eyes ran, her brown skin turned flush and, laughing and crying, she had to disappear into the bathroom for a time. That was legit: she really had swallowed a pepper and her eyes ran for realz. But when she returned from the loo her breath smelled of cinnamon schnapps, which should have been my first clue.