At the time I was too busy lying to myself to pay attention. In my defense, no one wants to admit that they wasted 13 years being faithful to a man who became a meth-addicted prostitute, living on the streets of Hollywood.
His email was like punch in my gut. That was a year ago when he was on a meth binge, roaming L. It was in our high-school English class when I first saw Chace. I was a transplant, a raver who wrote dramatic short stories about dropping acid and being anorexic. Chace was shy and still a virgin.
A year later we dated. Chace read me stories over the phone until I fell asleep. I taught him to drive a car, and he taught me to roll a blunt. When he broke his leg skateboarding, I gave him sponge baths.
I loved Chace like I thought no one had loved anyone before. I smashed the first glass pipe I found in front of him.
Call me naive, but I thought that demonstration would scare him. It was just the start of his addiction. One night Chace became violent, choked me and demanded money.
I distracted myself by juggling three jobs and maintaining a 4. Then he called, claimed to be sober and we started a long-distance relationship. In , I graduated from college and moved back to L. At the time I believed Chace was clean. Once when I confronted Chace, he ripped the cabinet doors off the hinges. The neighbors called the cops, who busted into our apartment with their guns drawn. I told the cops he was having a shit fit. They told him to leave, cool off somewhere, and removed the cuffs.
Chace moved back with his mother, and we stopped talking. The day after Thanksgiving in he disappeared longer than ever before. I was busy pretending to love single life, swigging cocktails on weekends with friends, and on the weekdays alone at home.
A week ago, she said. I knew where Chace bought drugs and promised to send a search party. Months passed without any word from Chace. His mother filed a missing person report. Every face I saw on the streets looked like Chace. My sister got a psychic who used coconut rinds to communicate with the dead to give me a reading.
Now, your lucky numbers are 7, 10 and 4. The first time Chace disappeared, he got high using benefits he cashed out after being fired. He called me crying when the money dried up. It was wintertime and he was at a payphone, sporting only a pair of shorts, and a gash around his eye where someone smashed an ashtray against his face. He would disappear and reappear so many times I lost count.
One night he took off his shirt to reveal white patches covering his back. He liked to manipulate me, so he could feel loved. They got hundreds of emails a day, they told me, and rarely responded.
I was told how to trick Chace into going on TV. But then Chace reappeared, sick with a fever. I told the producers we were rehab-bound. They told me not to lose their number. In the ER, his mother and I hugged.
He promised to enter rehab. We stupidly believed him. Instead, after regaining his health, he opted for the street life and got arrested several times. The last time he served over two months in jail for possession. He was released before ever getting the birthday letter I sent him. Chace was tweaked out, calling me non-stop. I changed my number. That was last year. For a long time I felt responsible. Domestic violence was normalized in my family. My dad used to beat my mom before she, pregnant with me, pulled a gun on my him and eventually left.
I knew Chace was a meth addict, and that he hung out in an area frequented by gay men. But I never thought he was having sex with them. A year after we stopped talking, I found out he was prostituting himself when he accidentally forwarded his Cragislist communications. I closed his email. There were other emails he sent me. I drafted many responses, but sent none.
If I knew I could help Chace, without hurting myself, I might have responded. The last email I wrote sat in my draft box for months until recently. You gave me a lot of writing material that I could've lived happily without.
For years I felt like I failure because I couldn't help you. Try harder, love more and you can saaaaaaave him! But who the fuck was saving me? And I realized you didn't want my help. Shit, I didn't even know you. For ever I let people treat me like crap because I thought I deserved it. But and maybe I say this to the Chace I knew I hope you learn that you deserve more. I pray you're clean and happy today and for the rest of your life.
I still believe in you. I used to put people before myself. Then I learned to love myself. I stared at the email with tears dripping down my cheeks before deleting it.