Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall... Part One

I’ve lived in my apartment on the northwest side of town for almost a year and a half now. I actually consider this to be quite an accomplishment given how unstable my home life has been since moving to Las Vegas. It’s the first place I’ve really felt comfortable calling “my home.” 

I get my decorating flair from my mother. She has a talent for making any house look like a home. When they first moved to Las Vegas from Washington State, they took over as apartment managers for this dumpy little building in Naked City, directly behind the Stratosphere. My mom has told me before that when they first pulled up after their 20+ hour drive, all of their belongings and dogs in tow, they took one look at where they would be living and my mom suggested to my dad that they just keep driving. 

However, after only a few months, my mom took that little one bedroom hole in the wall with it’s low ceilings and even lower square footage and made it into their own little sanctuary. The walls were covered with family photos and little pieces of art that my mom either made or picked up somewhere. As you approached the building, possibly intimidated by the drug dealers, drug users and prostitutes that were lined up and down the street, you could step into that little two room living space and actually feel comfortable. Quite a talent, if you ask me. 

They have since moved twice and every house just gets cozier and cozier. I don’t know how she does it... but every time I walk into my parents’ home, I am safe and sound. I love that feeling. 

I’ve moved seven times since I first showed up in Las Vegas in October of 2005. Each time I moved, I got rid of more of my things. So, by the time I finally had a place all to my very own, I had very little to fill it with. I took advantage of this at the time and used my first few months to paint and hang some pictures that I had left. Other than my bedroom set and some random dishes, my apartment sat painted but empty for many months. 

This was useful last February when my friend, Travis, moved in with me for a while. The living room basically just became his bedroom so I didn’t really worry about how empty it was. Travis stayed with me for about six or seven months before he moved in with his girlfriend, leaving me, once again, wondering how I was going to fill my space. 

I had started to collect a few things even while he was staying with me, but hadn’t really put anything together that could be considered a “living area”. After he moved out, I decided to get serious about making my house a home. 

I rearranged my bedroom to make it more accommodating and cozy. I picked up a cheap pub table and put it in my dining space so I actually had somewhere to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. 

As apartment managers, Mom and Dad are always coming across household items that people abandon. Someone had left a hideous looking but fairly new couch behind that I simply fixed with a nice faux-suede couch cover and suddenly, I had furniture. 

Travis’s girlfriend was kind enough to give me an old entertainment stand to give the television that Travis had purchased for me while he was living there a place to rest. I set up my drawing table in the corner of the living room, hung a few more things on the walls and before I knew it, I was walking into my own little sanctuary. 

Between all of my new house things and Bailey peeking her head around the corner when I walk in, I really feel, for the first time since living here, that I am “home”. It’s quite nice. 

There are still two unfinished projects in my house, however. The large wall in my bedroom next to my bed is still blank. I never hung pictures because I am still planning on painting it but haven’t gotten around to it. All of the other painting sort of burned me out I think... 

The second is getting to work on what I’ve been calling my “friends and family wall”. 

My apartment is on the second story. However, it’s misleading because my door is on ground level. My poor brother, whether we were getting along at the time or not, has helped me move almost every single time I changed residences, even when I lived in California. It has gotten to the point where he has cut his packing time in half, knowing exactly how all of my things fit the most efficiently in my dad’s truck. 

When he pulled up to my new place in December of 2009, he made a comment like “at least it’s on the ground floor” just as I was opening my door to reveal a set of carpeted stairs that went straight up to the second floor. He sighed. Here we go again. 

This particular hallway has always been kind of “cold” to me. I like that I have my own little staircase in my apartment, but without anything hanging on the walls, it just looks like any other random staircase in any other random apartment building. I wanted to make it my own. 

So, I decided that it would be nice if I started going through my old pictures of friends and family and getting frames for them. I would take my time and just start hanging the photos that made me smile the most. Pretty soon, every time I walked into my house, it would be like all of my friends and family were there to greet me. How perfect would that be? 

I had this idea towards the end of last year. Maybe around Thanksgiving I think... since then, can you guess how many pictures I’ve hung? 

One. I’ve hung one up. I put together a nice little collage of my brother, sister-in-law and nephew with family pictures they got done around Christmas time. I hung it proudly at the top of the stairs. And it did what I thought it would; every time I look at it when I’m either coming home or leaving, it makes me smile. 

I have some good pictures of Mom and Dad, but it’s been sheer laziness that has prevented me from collaging them together and hanging them as well. 

It’s when I start thinking of what friends I’m going to hang that I sort of get stuck. 

I have had lots of friends over the years. Unfortunately, I don’t consider most of them to be all that close. It seems like I meet people, we hang out a lot, I even get pretty close with some of them, circumstances change and I don’t seem them anymore. I know that most friendships are like that... but for some reason, reflecting on all of my relationships when I come across photographs of the “good times” puts me in more of melancholy and morose kind of mood. I certainly don’t want to have those kinds of emotions when I come home. 

So, I thought I’d start with the easy ones, like my friend Nancy of course. Especially since she has moved away from Vegas to start another new chapter of her life in Boston with her husband. Yes, definitely Nancy, that’s easy. 

Jeremy too, for sure. I love these pictures of us in Hawaii. As stated previously, Jeremy and I have far too logical of a relationship to ever let drama get in the way. 

Matt gets hung. He was one of the first people I really got to know in Las Vegas and our on again, off again relationship has never interfered with the fact that we simply just get along. I don’t see him much now that he found that whole “love” thing, and this is good. His woman is lucky to have all of his attention. Well, all but what he gives to Maggie, his Shepard. 

As soon as I remember to get a good, recent picture of Travis, he’ll get a spot too. 

There are three other people that have just made their way onto the wall. They are actually who this and the next two posts are about. Consider everything above just a lengthy introduction. 

After Eric and I broke up in early 2005, I stayed with Nancy and our other friend, Mary for a few weeks before getting my own place. I think I’ve mentioned that before.... what I haven’t mentioned is that in the few months before I moved to Las Vegas, I was spending a lot of time with a new friend in my life. 

His name is Landon. We hit it off right away as we both had a very similar sense of humor. He worked at the Hyatt as well so we got to see each other every day for a few minutes at a time. At first, it started out with friendliness and jokes... but one day, after a barbecue at Nancy and Mary’s house (after I had gotten my own place), the two of us ended up back at my house in bed together. And in bed the whole following day. 

After that, it was a little hard to keep us away from each other. We went all over Los Angeles and Long Beach, checking out the sites, laughing, joking, being silly. Some nights he would stay with me and some nights I would stay with him. This was during the time where my bank account was reacting as if someone had just poured a whole bottle of Drano in it. I knew that I was going to have to make a change soon. 

We never really called ourselves “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. We always talked about the different things we wanted to do in life and they never really included each other. While I didn’t consider him to be the same kind of “anger partner” as I did Eric, we both certainly held grudges against the world and bonded in our own frustration of how things were in our lives. 

I made the decision to move to Las Vegas one afternoon. Just like that. The next day, I went into work and quit. When I told Landon, he didn’t say anything at first, as if he wasn’t sure what his next move should be. And then he quickly regained his composure and wished me the best. Within a few weeks, I was gone. 

We maintained a friendship for a while after I moved. He even came out to Las Vegas once or twice to visit. I went back to California to visit as well but the more we did this, the more awkward it felt. 

The worst part came when I went through that Leadership program and tried to convince Landon to attend. I knew that it had worked wonders for my views on responsibility and general outlook on the world and I thought maybe he could find some answers he was looking for. Unfortunately, like so many of my other friends who I talked to during the time I was involved in this program, my actions were not taken how I intended and I received my very first “fuck you” from a loved one in a long, nasty email that I got from Landon after many conversations about that program. I felt that not only was our friendship over, but perhaps it wasn’t really that close to begin with. 

Years went by. During this time, I was always kept up to date with what he was up to through Nancy. I knew he moved to Florida to be closer to his dad and took a job with the Hyatt in Key West. Shortly afterwards, he met the girl of his dreams. It was then that I started getting some “pokes” of communication from him. He started sending me emails to reconnect. He friend requested me on Facebook. If I didn’t respond to his email, he would wait a while and then write again, always polite, always happy, always updating me with how wonderful things were. 

Recently, he married this woman. They moved to Washington State where he ended his career in hospitality and began one as a police officer. They have their first child on the way. 

In the past few months, I started responding to his emails with bits of information. We became friends on Facebook and he started getting my blogs. He sent well wishes to my family on the holidays. My mom has always loved Landon and was thrilled to hear that we were communicating again. 

Last week, I posted a “poor me” type of status update on Facebook in the vulnerable and pathetic moments between too much wine and head on pillow. The next day, Landon called me. 

Just hearing his voice brought back so many strange memories. I was overcome with emotion but, in the typical Tina fashion, I spoke clearly and as confident as possible and while he could hear I was not in a great mood, I doubt he could tell that I was lying on my couch in the fetal position with tears streaming down my cheeks. 

The truth is, I am so happy for him. I have met few men in my life that hold a place in my heart where Landon lives. I think back to what he and I could have been if I hadn’t been so stubborn and self-absorbed. I wonder why I never took our relationship seriously and why I considered our friendship to be so disposable. I wondered why he kept trying to contact me after being ignored time and time again. 

I wondered why he called me, out of the blue, to remind me that he is still my friend. 

On the wall he goes. 

I wonder when I’ll learn...


  1. Among my random stumbles, foraging, and wanderings through the great wasteland that is the internet, I came across a little thing that struck me. I dont know if its considered advice, an anecdote, or what but it rings true every time I think about it.
    Someone had asked "How do you know when you love someone?" And the reply was "When they're gone." And there ya go.
    I dont know if that goes along with what you were talking about, but it was the first thing that sprang to mind.

  2. The apartment looks great. It's a good feeling having a place you call home with all the time and hard work you put into it. The wall of family and friends is a great idea.

    When I moved up to Portland OR after high school I had a very similar wall in the making. I was far from the place I called home for fifteen yrs and didn't know anyone. So I had a section on the wall that I put up pictures of friends and family that made me smile the most.

    Great job bringing together past relationships and sharing how and why these people have impacted your life.

    I'm pretty confident that I have no clue what I'm talking about 99.9% of the time. The different feelings of love and the energy that you feel with certain people can be pretty powerful.

    Through family, friends, or companionship ... there will always be those few people that have a place in your heart and you will never forget.

    You're walking proof of that :)

    The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

  3. Thank you to Nicole for giving me permission to post this comment:

    So Tyler and my apartment didn't look like a home until Ryder came into the world. I finally hung my paintings up and decorated our apartment. But when it comes to hanging up pictures of our little family I have a hard time bc when I was 8 months pregnant Tyler and I broke up and I am still not sure if I should put the pictures up... It's just hard because I feel like it's a fake family when I don't want to be a fake family If that makes any sense. I also have a really great friend where the timing has never been on our side and it probably will never be so I know the feeling like you have with Landon:/

  4. So glad to hear you're in touch with Landon again, you guys were always incredible friends :)

    Landon, if you read this, whattuuuup?! Is your belly still "teeming with aquatic life" ?? That's one of my favorite quotes about food to this day.

    Oh, and your house looks great TV, wish I coulda stopped by!

  5. What up Danny! Yes, my belly is ALWAYS teeming with aquatic life! The sushi up here is AMAZING! Hope you are doing well bro.

    T.V. - It's the hard times that make us stronger and better, as individuals and in our relationships as well. The same has been true with us.