I rented a house overlooking the ocean in Santa Monica. The noted documentary filmmaker who owned it was in England interviewing serial killers; with its weather-beaten windowpanes and porches, a mishmash of ceramic pots and plants, and shag rugs doused in coffee and wine stains, it had a timeless appeal. The house begged to blare Joni Mitchell and smelled of huevos rancheros. It gave me the urge to compost.
The only upside to being slightly depressed, for me anyway, is that I lose weight. I don't binge-eat like my friend Polly, who when given any piece of upsetting news will drown herself in a box of White Castle burgers. I just don't eat. That summer I smoked and smoked and smoked, and then, because I turned into an insomniac, I smoked more and at weird hours.
Ari sent me funny news articles or left interior design books and trinkets at my door. I could tell he was anxious for this period of disengagement to be over. And was kind at a time when he should have been asking for back rent, in every sense of the word.
I started blending smoothies (something people who are emotionally constipated do), beach power walking (without the Nike gear), and even had a couple dates. And by dates I mean I went out for a drink with an acquaintance, and if they even tried to hold my hand I would scream rape. I wore bohemian shirts and cropped jeans and bought only organic food. I tried Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, Rolfing and Reiki. Acupuncture, hot stones, Mayan wraps, and algae masks. I drank holistic ointments. I wrote in a leather journal, tried to meditate (which was difficult with Jerry Springer on), and read Rilke. Like every white person with dreadlocks and a pierced tongue I saw at the farmer's market, I had become another soul searching for cilantro and myself.
After a month, communication with Ari became sporadic. And when we did speak, he was cryptic about his life or hinted that he couldn't talk because "someone else was there." Suddenly, his detachment from me wasn't sitting well. Yes, I know, I left him, but he was supposed to take to his bed for years until I figured out what I wanted. For me, absence had made the heart grow frantic.