I was probably seven the day my dad dropped me and my sister off at home and my mom came onto the porch and told my dad he would never see us again. I don't have kids and I have never been divorced so I do my best as an adult not to judge these actions. My mom was trying to protect her kids and she was also angry. But at the time I just saw my dad begging for my mom not to keep us from him. Begging, pleading. crying. We went swimming that day, it was really fun. He was wearing a purple shirt.
I didn't see my dad for a few months. At the time I didn't know why. My dad would call, and say he was sorry but he couldn't see us. He would try to see us soon, but not this weekend. Not this month. Why I didn't see my dad for a long time isn't the story. The story is the distinct feeling of knowing that one day someone can be there, and the next day they could just leave. That can happen any day. I started wearing a pendant on necklace that had a picture of my dad in the Air Force. I wore it around my neck 24/7. People asked me if he was dead. I often felt silly telling them no. But to me, leaving felt the same as dead. I didn't tell anyone else that though.
I wore that pendant around my neck for years. Long after I was able to see my dad again. When I wore it so long that the glue softened and the picture fell away from the mounting I became afraid that my dad would leave again.
When I was in the fourth grade I went to live with my dad and my step mom. At the time they were fostering high school kids. One kid named Carl came to live with us that year. He smoked cigarettes. He dyed his hair. He did drugs. He was so cool. And unlike my older sister who I grew up with, he didn't talk to me like a little kid. He just talked to me like a person.
Being twelve is hard enough. When you spend most of your fifth grade year in a wheel chair, having a cool older brother that treats you like you are cool is everything.
Soon after moving in with my dad, I quickly realized that my step mom was not a nice person. She was manipulative. She resented that she couldn't have kids and we bore the brunt of that resentment. Carl became my favorite person in those years. Mostly, because he didn't take her shit. I was constantly scared, and constantly apologizing, trying to anticipate what would make her mad. The day he told me to stop apologizing was one of the most important days of my life. I never knew that you get to decide how you let people treat you.
Side-note: I will always have a soft spot in my heart for people who don't apologize. This is why I date assholes.
I learned this lesson just in time. We were in the process of adopting Carl, he was my partner in crime during this time in my life and I believed as long as he was there, I would survive my step mom. Despite some mistakes, Carl was still a 17 year old kid. Seventeen year old kids are very dumb and before Carl was adopted, my step-mom found reasons to call off the adoption.
One night Carl found out he was going to be sent to another foster home. He asked to use the phone in my bedroom. He called a friend. When the friend showed up he grabbed a few belongings in a trash-bag and left. He left so fast he didn't say goodbye. He was just gone. I lost my best friend, my brother, and my only ally. And he never looked back. I never saw, heard or talked to him for 13 years.
I remembered that horrible feeling when people leave and you don't get to see them anymore. I didn't have a necklace to wear this time.
My stepmom left five years later. Sometimes its good when people leave.
In college I worked at hardware store. I made a friend named Kellen Dance. He was from Texas. Very charming. Cute guy. But too cute. I don't like dating people who are prettier than me. So it wasn't like that. But I don't want to discount any detail that would tell you how magnetic he was. He was an amazing writer too. As I write this, I wish I was as good a writer as he was.
At this time in my life I was secretly dating my boss. I was IN LOVE WITH HIM. He treated me bad and he wasn't available. My type. I later found out this guy was dating plenty of women at the store. But since we were all sworn to secrecy no one found out about each other. The day that boss/boyfriend came to me and told me he was moving to New Mexico next week, he got a promotion, that normal sick feeling of being left returned.
I was devastated. I never hide emotions well. Even though I knew this man was terrible and I still felt like wasn't worth someone sticking around.
Kellen was there. And he was so kind. Pulled me in for more hugs. Went out drinking. He was an alcoholic. He wasn't even trying to sleep with me. Just trying to be a friend.
Me and Kellen spent a lot more time together. Mostly, because we were both sad. I missed the man who left. He missed his kids. We both liked to drink. It felt like I had a big brother back.
The last day me and Kellen hung out we went fishing. He just wanted to sit quiet by a river. He didn't catch anything but it was a beautiful day. He loved fishing and I am glad this was our last day. That night we made dinner. I'd slept on his couch three times that week and that night we stayed up talking until late. I woke up in his bed the next morning. He fell asleep on the floor next to me. I felt very safe. I got up, told him I would see him at work in a few hours and I left.
Kellen never showed up for work. He didn't answer his phone either. After three days I stopped by his house. His roommate told he left. Of course he left. His roommate bought him a bus ticket to rehab and he wouldn't be back anytime soon.
I never saw Kellen again. He did call me about six months later. And six months after that, and six months after that. He was always somewhere else. Always a different city, always a different number. When we talked it would always be for a few hours. I'd always try to call back a few weeks later and the phone was off. I would just have to wait for his calls.
Last year I found out that the calls would stop. Kellen died. I went to a bar that and drank so much I got cut-off. After that I didn't drink for four months. Sobriety became the necklace I wore. I don't know what happened to Kellen. But I wish my phone would ring. But, like I know too well, people leave.
Since then, I've lost a lot of people. I even dated a man who left for rehab (again) and I never saw him again. I've had friends die. I have had even more friends and loves move away. I find myself not wanting to make friends. If we've become friends its because you tried really hard, or you were someone who was never really here to begin with.
Last week a man I have been dating didn't have service for four days. I assumed the worst. I put on the necklace he left at my house and prepared to start mourning him like a death. He eventually called. I played it cool like I don't have 30 years of emotional baggage. I can't explain to him that I was so terrified because people leave. And sometimes they don't come back.
Someone told me I am the Forrest Gump of Denver comedy. All my friends either die or leave me. It was a joke. It's a dark joke. But we're comedians, this joke is acceptable. It's also true.
Did you know comedy can never leave you? It won't ever just bail. If I show up. So will comedy. Its very dependable. Even when I have lost jobs, or friends, or loves, or my wallet; I can still find a microphone to speak into. Every day. Every night.