Friday, January 16, 2009


The Heathcliffe story is this: When I was 17 and living with my 30-year-old-married-drug-addict-artist-boyfriend in his house on Venice beach, I wasn’t exactly what you might call "emotionally mature". Nor was I really what you might call "stable". I was, however, what you what you might call "high out of my f-ing mind at least 96% of the time".

To give you an idea of what constitutes being "high out of my f-ing mind at least 96% of the time", our one kitchen cabinet consisted of oil paints and thinner, and our other consisted of mason jars filled with every drug known to man. Neither cabinet had any food in it. When the drug cabinet was empty, we usually resorted to huffing the paint thinner. Those were good days.

Since our household was pretty much identical to every other house in Venice, and almost all of our neighbors were in the same constantly drug addled state as we were, it goes without saying that all of my friendships were pretty much identical to the relationship between Julianne Moore and Heather Graham in Boogie Nights.

Of all of these relationships, the only one that consisted of anything more than coked out declarations of undying love (my relationship with my boyfriend included) was my relationship with Heathcliffe. Heahcliffe was our next door neighbor and I met him when he attended our Summer Solstice Ecstasy Party. I was instantly in love. He was tall, dark, brooding and handsome, he brought a guitar and played us all some songs he had written while we were peaking. Maybe it was the Ecstasy, but it was some of the most beautiful music Ive ever heard... I distinctly remember the sand applauding him when he was finished playing.

Of course he was gay. And not, like, kind of gay, like full time job gay, like a day he didn’t sleep with a stranger didn’t count as a real day gay. Regardless, we spent every waking second together. While my boyfriend was out selling his art on the boardwalk (seriously), I was at Heathcliffe’s, being his "muse", as he put it.

Being a muse, in case you’ve never been one yourself, consists mostly of smoking pot, complaining about your relationship, napping on the sundeck and paying for lunch.

When things with my boyfriend (miraculously) didn’t work out, Heathcliffe and I got in my car and ran away to San Francisco together. We spent a couple of days living out of my car, openly laundry listing the things that were wrong with our lives. We didn’t have any money, so we charged gas, and mostly stole food. It was amazing.

Since we didn’t have any money, we also didn’t have any drugs, which meant, for both of us, sobering up for the first time in well over three full months. An overly emotional gay guy and a hormonal adolescent girl going through withdrawal while living together in a Volkswagen bug... If one were given the task of visually depicting the phrase "rock bottom", Im pretty sure a picture from that week would be more than sufficient.

That was it for me. I bounced out of Venice and crawled back to NY within a week of returning from that road trip. Heathcliffe and I stayed in touch for a while after I moved, but eventually we lost touch. That was 1999, an Ive been trying to find him again ever since. He wasn’t of Friendster, or Myspace so my assumption was that he was either dead or had never really existed.

Finally, I found him on Facebook just this summer and wrote to him. I never heard back. Finally I got desperate and started emailing his friends on Facebook, one of whom was kind enough to inform me that he was dead.

I was crushed, of course. I was going to tell Big Big about it, but I assumed her response would be "Awww, that’s so sad! I know what loss feels like. I lost my Chanel purse once and I didn’t think I would ever love again." So instead I told my fiancĂ© the story and he said "Oh, that’s really sad. Did you hear how much the market was down today?" Which I thought was insensitive until I told my father the news and he asked me "Are you talking about that cartoon cat?".

I thought was pretty much as insensitive as it could get until I told Alabaster the news and he said "That guy you lived in your car with? Of COURSE he’s dead. I still don’t understand why YOU aren’t."