The Art of Rebound

14 Nov
Rebound  [v. ri-bound, ree-bound; n. ree-bound, ri-bound]
1.  To bounce or spring back from force of impact
2.  To recover, as from ill health or discouragement

Almost two years ago, I moved to New York City and consequently broke up with my boyfriend of three years.   Our relationship had reached a plateau and I didn’t anticipate that it would recover from the blow of my decision to move away.  Although I cared for him immensely, he was one of the most apathetic people I’ve ever met and he had the sense of humor of a fossil.  Three weeks after I dumped him the fact that I had lost someone I loved finally hit me.  Not only were we no longer together, but he totally cut me out of his life and stopped talking to me.  Admittedly, it killed me at first.  I hadn’t been single in years and didn’t quite know where to begin!  I thought about what people do in these situations and the word “rebound” came to mind.  I did what I could to forget about my ex-boyfriend (see The White Russian and Clay Aiken) and a couple months later, I found my rebound in a most unlikely place…

I’d known “Jeff” since I was ten years old.  He may be my oldest friend that I am still close with.  He also happens to be one of my best friend’s ex-boyfriends and I lost my virginity to his older brother… who another close friend slept with a few years later and who is now dating the first friend’s sister.  That friend also slept with Jack when I had a thing with him as well as a couple of our other friends.  And I accidentally hooked up with her other ex-boyfriend before he was her boyfriend, and Jeff’s brother was there and karate-chopped the bedroom door down.  You follow all that?  Me either.  Our group of friends has been so incestuous it’s exhausting– it seems like everyone has hooked up with everyone and their sister (literally).  Anyway, Jeff was cute, funny, and effortlessly talented in a sort of lazy, stoner-y kind of way.  His hobbies included dressing like a skeleton, collecting unicorn-related paraphernalia, and lacquering dried dog poop.  Hey whatever gets you off, man.  He was also in a funk-rock band with a guy who had been in a few mainstream films.  Because of his band mate’s fame, their band had acquired a following and they were doing a series of tours to promote their album.

Last year, sometime in mid-July, I spent the day drinking at the beach with my roommate and her boyfriend.  Jeff called me to say that he was in town playing at The Gramercy and he’d put me on the list if I wanted to go.  I went to their show then to an after party at another bar, but my memory abandoned me back at The Gramercy.  I honestly could not tell you how it happened if I tried, but the next morning I woke up naked and confused… with Jeff laying next to me.  I was shocked and horrified all day.  How did that happen?  Should I tell my friend?  They had been broken up for a long time and I had never thought of Jeff in any way other than a brother.  Suddenly it wasn’t like that anymore.  I decided I would keep what had happened to myself since I didn’t even remember it anyway.  As I stumbled out the door to go to work, I noticed Jeff had emptied the contents of his pockets onto my dresser: three personalized guitar picks, two girls’ phone numbers, and about fifteen Mexican friendship bracelets.

His band played a show in Asbury Park the following night, then came back to New York for a movie premiere they were involved with.  I joined Jeff at the after party (at Justin Timberlake’s barbeque restaurant) and brought up what had happened between us.  He told me his relationship with my friend was old news, that us hooking up had nothing to do with it, and I shouldn’t worry.  He then abruptly changed the subject, wondering aloud why I had stopped doing music and theatre because I’m “so attractive and talented, how could (I) not be successful?”  Well, I melted in my damn barstool… and felt like I had just been slapped in the face.  A good slap, that wakes you up and makes you wonder where have I been the past three years?  I tried to remember a time EVER that my recent ex-boyfriend had complimented me or even told me I was pretty.  To be fair, he may have complimented my cooking once.  For the first time in three years, I felt like a young, desirable human being.  Again Jeff came back to my apartment with me and I wasn’t inebriated this time.  After he left to continue touring with his band, I was smitten.  Not with him per say (although I did love him as a friend, I always will)… but with the idea that I could be inspired and passionate again!

So there we have a cute, albeit slightly scandalous tale.  But hold on– it only gets weirder.  Throughout the next few months, I went to a couple other of Jeff’s band’s concerts and spent time with him in Florida and California.

A visit with my dad in Jacksonville happened to coincide with his band’s show there.  They played in a seedy venue that allowed scantily-clad young mothers in vampire costumes to smoke while watching the show and wrangling their children.  As I sat at the bar casually drinking a beer and half-watching Jeff feed off the admiration of his fans, a pair of Asian twins approached me.  They had seen me behind the venue getting onto the band’s tour bus and wanted to meet me and be my friend.  Whoa.  This nerdy kid that I grew up doing community theatre with in the Midwest had groupies?  After the show, the band, their entourage, and yes, the enraptured twins walked alongside the Jacksonville River from the venue to the hotel.  Apparently I dared Jeff to jump in the river (incredibly toxic, not to mention dangerous) which to everyone’s shock, he did.  The next day we got breakfast and continued our binge drinking.  The owner of a sleepy diner in downtown Jacksonville informed us that we were his first customers to ever order a bottle of champagne with our eggs.  After that, we met up with the rest of the band for more drinks, and watched dolphins jumping in the river while lightening flickered behind them like a freaking Lisa Frank book.  The rest of the day becomes blurry at this point, but I do recall something involving a stolen cactus, a swimming pool, and a lot of nudity on the tour bus being involved.  Not ten minutes after I had re-dressed on the bus, I heard the door violently swing open and a familiar voice frantically yelling my name.  Oh my god, it was my dad.  I had forgotten that I was supposed to meet him at a certain time and apparently he had scoured the city’s hotels looking for me, and even called my sister back in New York threatening to call the police and drop my suitcase off at the airport.  Suddenly I reverted back to a bratty, whining teenager, humiliated by my dad ruining all the fun.  At the time I was embarrassed and angry, but in hindsight, the scene we must have caused is pretty hilarious to imagine.  I do feel bad for being a jerk to my dad, though.

The next time I saw Jeff was a few months later while I was visiting friends in Los Angeles.  He lived with his band mates in a huge, nice house up in the Hollywood Hills.  His bedroom, however, was barely furnished but for a smelly cot on the floor and a desk in the corner with nothing inside but a wooden box holding a torn-up picture of a margarita.  Much of Jeff’s time was taken up by band practice, so I wandered around LA with various friends, new and old.  I probably visited every tiki bar in the city with an old friend from college, then picked out tutu fabric with a flame-swallower I had met at the band’s show back in Florida.  One of the best days I have ever had was during this trip to LA.  After eating at the same diner Jeff went to every morning, we stopped at a flea market to look around.  I think we probably spent forty minutes digging through a gigantic pile of random discarded photos, selecting the most obscure ones we could find– An old drunken eighties lady passed out on a stained mattress (Jeff’s favorite), an alert frog in the middle of a grassy knoll (my favorite), a large tribal man with paint on his belly and a dollar bill in his mouth, etc.  By the time we had each purchased a handful of photos, I was laughing so hard I was crying at a picture of a gender-ambiguous person with a mullet giggling in a waterfall.  Later on, we got free tickets to an Arctic Monkeys concert at The Hollywood Bowl, where we drank a bottle of wine in one of the boxes in front of the stage.  When it started to get chilly, Jeff suggested we leave and go see a “real show.”  What he was referring to was a dive-y restaurant with a tiny stage that by day was filled with old people eating soup, but by night was filled with the jazzy characters of the city.  On the way, we stopped at a corner stand so Jeff could buy cigarettes.  “Do you actually sell those condoms, man?” he nonchalantly asked the man behind the counter as he lit his cigarette, “They’re so old and sun-damaged.”  Jeff had a way of saying things that was blunt, yet so innocent.  I’ve never been able to be angry with him the whole time I’ve known him.  The show Jeff was taking me to was a “glittery crackhead with a microphone” as he put it.  Jeff had memorized all the guy’s songs, and even the point just before his set where he went around the corner to do some crack.  Needless to say, it was almost more excitement than I could handle in one day.  I returned to New York a couple days later hungover and broke, but happy and alive.

Jeff and I don’t have the same relationship as we did before we hooked up or the same relationship as we did while we were hooking up.  We’re close– yet I know where the closeness ends.  After my aforementioned friend told me that she still had feelings for Jeff, I admitted to her what had occurred (something I should have done much sooner).  Although the situation surrounding that was a bit damaging, I think (hope!) we have all moved on.

The journey from when I first moved to New York and broke up with my boyfriend to where I am now was a long one– filled with mistakes, adventures, and yes, a lot of booze.  But it was vital in reminding me that I am an individual; creative, talented, imaginative.  I had forgotten those things for three years, working as a retail robot and being a girlfriend to someone who went through the motions of life rather than living it.  I’m excited by my prospects of creativity and expression… and it only took one sentence in the basement of a silly barbeque place to snap me out of the grey cloud of my previous relationship and back to reality.  I have to give Jeff some credit for that, as he gave me something much more than a superficial rebound from my ex (the eighteen year old Russian kid just didn’t cut it).  I may not be perfect, or responsible, or even sane… but I got myself back!


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