Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coco Higgins - Liberation

The story of my summer vacation really begins with events that transpired over a year ago. In the spring of 2009, I ended a 5-year relationship. If we were heterosexual, one of us probably would’ve gotten knocked up and we would have thus entered into a contract of holy matrimony. Despite our inability to repopulate the earth, in my eyes this was indeed a marriage, and therefore I am indeed a divorcee. There was property involved, joint finances, and even a custody battle over the cat (which I won, and I thank my lucky stars that I still have Mr. Weatherbee).

But enough about the old ball and chain. The point is: free from this oppressive relationship, I was finally able to do with my life what I wished. In the months between then and my “summer vacation,” I took some night classes (on top of my full-time job as a manager of a construction firm, a job I loathed), got my act together and applied to some top art history graduate programs. It was a return to my first love, what I intended to do after getting out of undergrad before I got sidetracked by love and resentment. I managed to get accepted, despite having been away from the art world for five years. With my future secure, I resigned from Shattered Dreams, Inc. and thus began my extended “summer vacation” in March 2010.

I don’t know if this is characteristic of all lesbian relationships, but we lived under a rock. For the most part, outside interaction was limited to work friends and controlled time with family. So what I was really craving was human interaction outside my condo. With all this free time, I sought out the experiences I felt like I missed out on during my 5-year hiatus from life. This meant reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and spending as much time as I possibly could with my extensively large, boisterous, close-knit Filipino family.

For the first time in years, my best friend from college and I were living in the same city. The mark of a true friend is the ability to reconnect like no time has elapsed even if you’ve been separated by years and physical distance. This was the case with Anthony. [He made me promise that if I were to ever write about him, I needed to portray him as “a little bit taller, and with a more active sex life.” So for the record, Anthony is a 7’ tall man-whore.]

Anthony and I were quite the pair, rediscovering Los Angeles together. We ate Brazilian, Argentinian, Cuban, Mediterranean, Lebanese and everything else all over town. We even went hiking! I, the laziest person I know, who refuses to stand any longer than she has to: HIKING! Anthony and I also had this inexplicable urge to relive our high school years by rekindling this fascination -- nay, near-obsession -- with Courtney Love. We were compelled by an homage to her on VH1’s Behind the Music (yes folks, she really did Live Through This), listened to Hole non-stop, tracked down an elusive copy of The People vs. Larry Flint, and even went to Frances Bean Cobain’s art show. Call it a yearning for the nostalgia of lost youth, or the actions of a madwoman. It matters not, because it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys -- whatever that means.

Above all, what I enjoyed most with Anthony were the endless nights sitting on my balcony -- cigarettes, beer (or other) on hand -- reminiscing about our days in Berkeley and musing about our futures. We hadn’t skipped a beat and it was just like “the time before.”

In the same vein of friendships, I found new ones in the most unlikely of places: the Interweb. This can be quite embarrassing, but I may as well own up to it now because the truth is, I’m happy it happened. So here goes. Ahem. Hello, my name is Jessamine, and this year, I was an American Idol fantard. There, I said it. Cue the closed-mouth snickering and finger-pointing. It’s okay. Even I laugh about it. For if we can’t laugh at ourselves, life just isn’t as enjoyable.

I became enchanted by the vocal prowess and charming personality of one Siobhan Magnus, and I hesitantly entered an utterly incomprehensible and sometimes downright absurd world of internet fandom. Let me tell you, there is a never-ending supply of people who are a few corn dogs short of a picnic in this world. But I found a select group of like-minded people with whom I shared many episodes of laughter. I even saw Siobhan perform live three times (she’s amazing, by the way), and met her twice. Heck, I met Josh, someone I now call a friend, because of Siobhan and Twitter. Without Siobhan, I never would’ve met Josh, wasted afternoons at a cafe, gone to some low-budget comedy gig in the Valley, and above all, never rediscovered my love for writing. See, being a fantard isn’t all bad. You should try it some time. Or not.

And finally, I remembered what it was like to belong to a large and loving family. I spent many a night with the Fauni Poker Club: aunts, uncles, cousins all in one place, playing cards for $10 and bragging rights, boozing it up and laughing all the while. Jokes and playful insults flew across the table along with spilled alcohol from drunk, upended wine glasses. And the Faunis are serious about the poker, kids. There are statistics of wins and losses, average points for placement and elimination, and even an annual Tournament of Champions. As intense as it all sounds, poker was just an excuse to get the family together and have a good time.

More significantly, my brother became my best friend. Separated by eight years, we never shared any common ground growing up. During that formative time, we simply had separate lives and whenever they intersected, he was just a jerk who existed purely to antagonize me. Back then, his idea of fun was to fart in his hands and blow it my way, or chase me around the room with our dad’s medical books opened to grotesque pictures of diseased and decaying bodies. The latter was quite traumatizing for a 7 year-old. Then when I was a teenager, he would steal my car and leave me stranded on nights when I had plans. See? Jerk extraordinaire, that guy was. But now as adults, we bonded over the comic relief known as our parents, our common experiences in failed relationships, and life moving on. It took 28 years, but I never felt like I had a brother until this summer.

Now my vacation has ended and I have moved halfway across the country to go back to school. I survived a 1,400 mile trek across the desert in my trusty little Corolla, and even faced near-deportation in Arizona. Joking to myself of this possibility, I listened to the most Middle-American thing I had on my iPod: Carrie Underwood. This little ruse DID NOT WORK. The cop pulled me over, asked me to get out of my car in the middle of the highway, requested all my documentation, and, when it was apparent I was a legitimate citizen of this fine country, explained that I was “following too close.” We all know though that I got pulled over for a DWB -- Driving While Brown.

Now here I am getting settled in a new town, making new friends and starting my career as an art historian. And it took some clich├ęd chicken soup soul reflection and this essay to finally, truthfully, definitively, proudly say that I’m over her.

Jessamine Fauni is an aspiring art historian, post-hipster, obnoxious Twitterer, proud owner of delusions of grandeur, has a knack for remembering useless trivia of all kinds, all in all an extraordinary machine.

4 comments:

  1. The last line of this piece totally rules.

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  2. Calling that party a "low-budget comedy gig" is being incredibly gentle. That party was an unmitigated disaster, and one of the weirdest, most awkward nights of my life.

    I refuse to believe you and Anthony had any kind of fun at all. (Anthony, who is actually about 6'11", for the sake of accuracy.)

    Hooray for meeting people on the internet!

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  3. I'm with Meg. That last line is so powerful! Really nice piece. :)

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  4. Thanks Meg and Katie.
    And Josh - the roof nearly collapsed at that party. How is that NOT a good time?

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