51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life

BOOK: 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life
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Table of Contents
To mi famiglia
Definition of 51/50
5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes the person a danger to himself or herself, and/or others.
It is also the name of a Van Halen album.
I am single.
I am thirty.
I am an alcoholic.
And this was not supposed to be my life.
I admit to being an alcoholic once a day, on average. But I am much more than that.
I am a secretary with a fancy college degree and more books in my kitchen than cooking ability. I am the only child of an incarcerated drug smuggler and a woman who won’t even steal pens from the office. I am the granddaughter of a woman who regularly insists I should just marry rich. I am the niece to two adoring uncles who never had children themselves. I am a transplanted Los Angeleno with a questioning belief in the great powers above and an awful sense that I have more solo Saturday night trips to Trader Joe’s and Blockbuster in store.
Back when I still participated in drugs and alcohol, my need for a boyfriend had been fleeting. Cocaine was my boyfriend, and he was all I ever needed. Like Uma Thurman in
Pulp Fiction
, I would cut my coke on some bathroom sink, roll up my dollar bill, blow the line, and exhale, “Goddamn. God. Damn.” I would watch the blacks of my eyes expand, feel that deep breath, the warm drip sliding down the back of my throat, and know that I was home. And though, at times, there were real men too, I would always end up back with cocaine.
Things had changed since then. Because long gone were the days when I saw that 115 pound wreck staring back at me in the mirror. I was now sober. I was now sane. I was now a most unfortunate twenty pounds heavier. And I thought it would all be different—that men would see me as an excellent candidate to be their wife, and love would come easy.
But it didn’t.
It had been five years since a man told me he loved me. Three years since there was anyone close to a boyfriend. A year and a half since I last had sex. And after going on only three dates in the last two years, I knew something had to change. Because at a certain point, it stops being strange to be the last single woman on the block. It just begins to hurt.
So I figured it was time for a new kind of 51/50. I would go on 51 dates over the course of 50 weeks, and I would write about it, and I would finally get the life I thought was supposed to be mine. Because more than anything—more than a different job or a dashing boyfriend—I just want to be in love again. I want to hold someone’s hand in the movie theater. I want to put their name down as my emergency contact at the doctor’s office. I want to slow dance and cook dinner and have someone pull me deep into their chest after sex and tell me that I am beautiful.
I didn’t get sober to watch myself shut down, stop waxing, and retire to eating ice cream sandwiches by myself. So I decided I would give the middle finger to fate. I would go out and find him myself, because I had very little faith that the universe was going to figure this one out for me. I had given it plenty of chances. I prayed and I meditated, and I did all the things we’re supposed to do in order to let go of loneliness and fear. And all I found was more loneliness and fear.
They say that if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plan. But I am willing to risk it. I think this plan might be much better than the one destiny has been offering.
Because at the end of the day, though I might always be an alcoholic, I’m going to get me a shot of being someone’s girl.
Date One: First Impressions
“Do you want a cookie?” Richard points to one of the delicious, decadent pieces of heaven sitting safely behind the glass case. I do want a cookie. Desperately. But I am playing someone else tonight. I am playing the girl who doesn’t want a cookie, who doesn’t gorge herself on sweets, who smiles instead, and says, “No, just tea for me, please.”
Bullshit. I try to be normal. I try to be the type of woman I think Richard would like. And I have to say, I’m pretty good at it. I didn’t think I was going to want Richard’s attentions prior to going on the date with him. In fact, I had planned on getting a pretty massive piece of cake at the café where we had agreed to meet. It’s outdoors. It serves coffee and wine. It also serves cakes, and cookies, and brownies, and I like those things. It’s kind of romantic without being obtusely so. It’s where white people with decent jobs and Priuses go on their first date.
Historically, I am not a dater. I went on my first date when I was twenty-six and only because my boss at the time set me up with a friend of hers, and I had no other choice. High-pitched Marcus was surprised by the fact that I had made it that long without a date, but I wasn’t. At one point in my life, finding a boyfriend had been easy. I would just get drunk, have a one-night stand with one of my friends, and then never leave. In some instances, I would stay in their beds for a good year or two. Sure, there were fights and fun and family vacations, and all the conventional things that come with a relationship, but none of them had actually started conventionally. I took breaks in between, and though I worried about when the next guy would appear, within eighteen months, he invariably would. That is the beauty of one’s early twenties. There are so many of us who are single and looking for the starter romance that it seems as though love is always around the corner. But then people start getting married, or they come out as gay, or they settle into a bachelorhood that becomes far more interesting than any relationship, and the numbers grow slimmer as the streets between this love and the next grow farther apart.
Richard came to me by way of former co-worker Katie, which takes us back to 2006. I relapsed in 2006. It was a short three-week jaunt into what I thought was my old party life, except the old life had once been kind of fun. Instead, my relapse felt more like a bunch of naps caught between boring lines of cocaine and me vomiting in a toilet. After three weeks I was done, and I went back to being sober, and looking for a new job. The temp agency called me with my first assignment on a Friday afternoon. It was one of those moments that never leave you. The sun burns brighter, sound becomes clearer, and everything slows down because life is about to change. I would be sent to a nonprofit downtown which, from what I could tell, helped low-income kids of Latino descent. I would be someone’s secretary, and it would pay me enough to eat.
I met Katie on my first day. We were the same age, but Katie was a manager, and I was a temporary assistant. I normally would have hated her for this. But Katie was a good egg, which is why when we recently got together to catch up, and she asked me how the love life was going, I told her the truth.
BOOK: 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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