I really didn’t intend to hook up with my Canadian friend — let’s call her Natalie. I didn’t think that option was even on the table, frankly. She came to town and wanted to hang out. So, we hung out at my place and watched Napoleon Dynamite which was — at the time — still relatively unknown and hadn’t hit its cultural peak, and especially not its cultural over-usage. She loved it, and when she talks about that first trip out here, that’s one of the first things she mentions. Afterwards, she wanted to party. I said “let’s go to The Dragonfly!”.
It was pretty empty when we got there, but it picked up soon enough and we walked the halls of The Dragonfly while the perverts and weirdos and gropers and spankers flanked us on all sides. Natalie was loving it. She was the social butterfly type, filled to the brim with charisma. She made about 100 friends that night. One such friend was a drag queen with this awesome classic car, who gave us a ride home. When we got into the room, we drank a little more and passed out. Sometime in the middle of the night, there was making out and groping and clothes flying away. She said she didn’t want to have sex, cause she still had a boyfriend back home and she didn’t have the heart to break up with him before coming out for her visit. We messed around quite a bit more after that, and she kept thinking out loud about her decision not to fuck. I didn’t get involved in that debate, cause I was having a good ol’ time with just the oral and hands we were swapping. She said “next time… next time we’ll fuck”.
She lives here in LA now, and we’re still friends. There never was a next time, and at this point it would probably be awkward if there was. We both laugh about it now.
When Lauren returned from San Francisco, she called me and said “I need to just be honest with you — I can’t do this anymore”. She figured I hooked up with Natalie — which I neither confirmed, nor denied, but that wasn’t the crux of her argument. She said while she was in San Francisco, she felt lonely and abandoned. A feeling she didn’t like. Her ex, who texted her pretty regularly anyway, offered to fly up there to meet and be with her. She agreed. When he arrived, he proposed to her. I have no way of proving this to you, but… I actually had a dream about almost that exact thing happening while she was away. I told my friend Jim about it on our drive home from work, the day before she returned.
She offered to hang out “just as friends” that night and I didn’t really feel like it anymore. My friend/neighbor was over and his girlfriend said “idiot! that’s your chance! go!”. So, I called Lauren back and said “turns out, my friends wanna see a movie tonight instead so.. I’m free if you want to hang out”. By this point, she said she’d already showered and her hair was wet and it would take an hour to dry and she didn’t feel like staying up that late, but we could hang out the next day instead.
When we hung out, she told me she still hadn’t given her ex an answer about the proposal. There was also some business about moving to Texas, which is apparently where the to-be-husband had a new job, and why he flew to SF just to propose. He was on borrowed time before the new job started.
She said “I just can’t see marrying him”. I told her I wasn’t going to come in here and marry her instead. But, if she’d like to have an actual monogamous relationship — I wanted that too. She agreed, we “sealed the deal” you might say, and I tucked her into bed and went home.
We had plans that Friday night to go to this underground club in an alleyway in West Hollywood. She was gonna drive to my place, and I would drive us there. We’d planned to head out for dinner around 8pm. At 7:30, I hadn’t heard from her. I realized I hadn’t heard from her since our last email exchange around 3pm that day. I knew, in the past, her company email servers would get funky towards the end of the day on Fridays1. I texted her. No reply. An hour later, I texted her again, just asking if we were still going or if I should meet her there? No reply. I left around 10pm, texting her when I arrived at the club to say “Okay, I’m here, let me know when you arrive”. Again, no reply. When I got home that night, I still had no replies. I was a bit worried, but I didn’t text again cause at this point it was obvious I was trying to get ahold of her.
When I woke up the next morning, I had a missed text message from her. It was sent around 6am. She said her mother had collapsed as a complication of her cancer treatment and was in the hospital, so Lauren drove out to be with her and the reception at the hospital was shit. She said she was going to stay with her for another few days, but she’d make it up to me and that we’d go out the following weekend instead.
The following Friday was a repeat of the same. We made plans, I waited for her to arrive, I received no replies. I, again, remembered that we hadn’t continued our email exchange past 3-4pm earlier that day. I texted her with “is everything okay? I’m worried”. No reply. Again, I went out alone. Again, I returned home with no word from Lauren. The next morning, I was jarred awake by a flurry of text messages. As best I can recall, it said…
“I’m sorry I didn’t text you back. My mother collapsed again while staying at the hospital and I rushed to be with her. She didn’t make it through the night. I’ve been crying too hard to say anything to anyone. I need to get her affairs in order. I need to take care of her funeral plans. I’ll be going back to our home city in Oklahoma for about a month to take care of things. I’m sorry I can’t be with you right now. I love you”
I texted back, asking if she needed anything, if she wanted me to come out to stay with her. Denied on all accounts, she said she appreciated it but that she needed to do this alone.
I talked to another friend of mine who’d lost their mother, and asked how I should help. She told me that, when her mother passed, she told everyone the same thing : just leave me alone. But, a few of her closest friends didn’t listen and just came over anyway. And that made all the difference — she loved that they did that, she just didn’t want to ask anyone to do it. I decided I should try the same thing with Lauren. I stood out in the rain, talking into the intercom to her apartment, “hey, we can just sit and… I’ll hold you and… you don’t have to talk, I won’t talk… whatever you want to do”. No reply. No answer. No sound. I was pullin’ a real John Cusack over there.
A few days later, she called me and said that since Valentine’s Day was the following week (I looked it up and we exchanged gifts on February 9th), while she’d be out of town, she wanted to give me my gift before she left. I bought her a little teddy bear online, but it hadn’t arrived yet, so I told her that her gift was still on the way and I’d have to get it to her when she returned. She said it was fine, and wasn’t even expecting a gift.
When I went to her place, she was going through some papers for her apartment complex. Did I mention she also managed the complex where she lived? Anyway, she was wearing glasses this time. I’d never seen her in glasses. I liked her in glasses. She said she’d just been crying too much to bother with contacts. I remember thinking her face didn’t look puffy, or eyes red, which are both things that happen when you’ve been crying for several days straight. Or even crying at all, within a few hours.2. We ended up fucking with her bent over her couch doggy-style, while she kept her glasses on (cause, again, she knew what the fuck was up) and she thanked me for “feeling something other than sadness for at least a little while”.
She left 2 days later, and said she’d keep in touch. About a week went by before I got so much as an email from her. It was a simple “send me something funny to cheer me up”, and we exchanged a few emails back and forth before it went radio silent. For another week. By this point, I was moving out of my apartment3. I kept my laptop connected directly to my cable modem until the very last minute I had to leave, just in case Lauren sent another email. She didn’t, until I was practically moved into the new place.
It had been almost 3 weeks since I’d so much as heard her voice, about 2 weeks since the last email, and I had no idea how she was doing, when she was coming home, or what I should do. I kept remembering my friend’s advice, and I checked in with that friend about how I tried to handle it. She said it was, and I quote, “very strange that she’s not talking to you”. It was also pretty rude, considering my mom was going through cancer surgery during that same time, and I kinda needed someone to talk to about it as well.
Since Lauren had told me her friend “Alan” (aka Spongebob Costume) was taking care of her apartment while she was gone, I decided to hit him up on MySpace and ask him how she was doing. The message I sent was something like…
“Hey, I don’t mean to pry into Lauren’s life, but… she said you were taking care of her apartment while she was out of town. I just wonder how she’s doing, and if she’s holding up okay, considering everything going on. I’d appreciate any news you might have”
What he sent back knocked me on my ass4 :
Honestly, I haven’t seen much of [REDACTED] in the last month or two. She recently got engaged, is getting married in April, and is moving to Texas in June. I’m pretty bummed she’ll be moving since, yes, she is a good friend.
I don’t know if you had any idea about this. It all seems to have happend quite quickly, but she seems extremely happy and excited about it. I’m not sure where you mean returned from? She was in San Francisco for business, then Texas and then Miami. She also had a brief hospitalization, but was fine. I just don’t know how up to date you are on things with her.
I was in shock. And skeptical. I thought maybe he was the slightly-affeminate male “best friend” who was just fucking with me because he wanted Lauren all to himself. I had so many questions. He provided answers. This little rabbit hole went fucking deep.
or so she said, which applies to everything she’s ever said, and will ever say, throughout this story ↩
When my own mother died about 4 years later, not only was my face puffy from crying for about a week, but I don’t think I had more than a night’s sleep worth of sobriety for almost a month ↩
yes, that’s his exact message – verbatim – cause I rarely delete shit ↩