Jo is a mom of two stereotypical loud chihuahuas and has no qualm calling out misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.
Mark and I spent almost everyday together for three months. We would go out, grab dinner, visit the Silverlake reservoir with his dog, spend nights at the beach, check out the gorgeous LA sights and on lazy days we would stay in and watch a movie. I met his sisters, his uncle, his friends, and had even grown on his father.We talked a lot about my aspirations, family, interests, but he was always reticent to share information about himself.
He wasn't working so I paid for every outing. Some of our nights in included working on his resume and searching for jobs.
A routine was developed. I'd text him when I finished work and let him know I was on my way. The nights we couldn't see each other we talked on the phone. He'd become a staple in my life. For the first time I thought about introducing someone to my family.
I fell in love with him. He was sweet, caring, funny, and he texted back. He also made me feel beautiful. My confidence soared with him, he made me feel wanted. Sure we'd had one or two fights, he'd lose his temper and say something rude, but an apology always followed.
The first time we went out was to Pasadena. For those unfamiliar with the area, there are a stretch of bars on Colorado in Old Town Pasadena where the drinks are cheap, the music is bumping and, for the most part, the entrance is free.
Mark and I took an Uber, danced for a while and ended the night in a small bar. He had been surprised at how well I could dance. I had been amazed at how much he could drink. By the time we entered that last bar I would describe myself as happy. It had been a fun night. I had partied during my college days, but had stopped once I entered the "real world." It was the first time I let my hair down in a while.
I ordered drinks from a cute bartender and I could hear him huff behind me. I turned and saw the annoyed expression on his face. I asked him what was wrong.
"You flirt a lot," he remarked. I asked what he meant. "You've been flirting with people all night," my confusion must have shown on my face because he sighed and told me to forget about it.
I did for a while. We talked, he made me laugh, and then I went to order another round of drinks. When I came back to our table, drinks in hand, he was upset again.
"I know you like girls, but you don't have to flirt in front of me," he whispered angrily at me. I was taken aback. Not really sure how to respond he continued. "My ex did the same thing, she cheated on me you know."
He explained two of his previous girlfriends had cheated on him and how he has been cautious ever since. He admitted to cheating on a girlfriend as well. Stating it was only a moment of weakness and that he had felt guilty afterwards. I reassured him I had never cheated on anyone and expected fidelity from him as well.
That first outing into the bar scene set up a precedent that I didn't recognize had been created. Mark liked to drink. A lot. We had drank twice within a week of meeting, but we hadn't touched alcohol again for weeks. When we did it was only a drink or two. Following our first night out in Pasadena the amount of liquor escalated.
We went from having a drink to drinking every Friday and Saturday night and more often than not on a Thursday night. We rotated between Pasadena, Hollywood, and places in Silverlake within walking distance. It started slow, we'd go out on a Friday night and then it was three times a week. I went from spending $50 to almost $150-$200 a night on drinks. I would stop when I hit my limit. Mark didn't have a limit. He couldn't say no to another drink. For the most part, he could handle his alcohol. There were a handful of times when I had to help him into bed.
Another routine started up. Some nights we'd have fun and go home without arguing. Then there were the nights when Mark believed he saw me flirting with someone and accuse me of cheating on him.
He smoked and would leave me alone at the bar. In the 10 minutes he stepped out someone usually approached me and I'd have a conversation. Friendly, nothing sexual, I'd always let them know I was waiting for my boyfriend who was out smoking. Mark would come back in and I'd have to reassure him I wasn't flirting with anyone. Most of the time he would relax and we'd continue dancing, every once in a while things would escalate to fight and we would have to leave.
We went to La Cita once, I should say we attempted to go to La Cita, we made it to a public parking lot before we started arguing.
I remember going to Pasadena on a Thursday night, the bars were relatively empty, I was at the bar waiting for Mark, he'd gone to the bathroom, when a woman approached me. She saw the bartender had served me a drink, but apparently had refused her. She asked me to order her a drink, she had cash and would pay me, I ordered her drink, accepted the money and handed it over to the bartender. I was doing her a favor. I didn't see any harm. I also failed to see Mark standing nearby watching misinterpreting what had transpired.
He approached me. Called me some unsavory names and began to walk away. I reached out to stop him, he turned around quickly, digging his fingers into my forearm, leaving a bruise, and told me to stop making a scene. After he let go, I looked down and saw the indentations he left on my skin, I rushed out of the bar, turning a corner and waited for an Uber.
We talked and texted while I was in the Uber. I'd have to see him again, I'd left my car outside his home. We sat there in silence for a moment. I was crying; shaking. There was some yelling shortly after.
It was the first time we broke up.
© 2019 Johanna Sanchez