I’ve paid for sex.  Happily.

I was in Bangkok, Thailand, for a summer.  It was the summer after my first year of law school and I had arranged to participate in a study abroad program.  I had an interest in international law and the curriculum offered included classes in international business and international contracts.  Additionally, Thailand was an inexpensive place to go so I would be able to use my student loans so there’d be enough money for not only me, but also my husband, to stay there.

We had been married in September of the previous year, but hadn’t lived together since.  We had lived together for three years prior to me moving to San Francisco to attend law school, but had decided it would be best if he stayed in Altadena with Otter, our dog, so I could concentrate on my first year of law school.

After a long search I moved into a Tenderloin studio apartment with a futon couch for a bed and no tv.  This was during the Dot Com Boom so landlords could get away with overcharging and being ridiculously picky about qualifications, which I, as a student, did not have.  Finally, I found a landlord that seemed to be clueless about the state of the economy at the time.

I walked the few blocks, from my place on O’Farrell between Larkin and Hyde, to school, UC Hastings, at McAllister and Hyde.  Some days I walked home for lunch.  One day in particular was tough–on my way home I saw a man bracing himself against a wall as he took a shit.  It was midday.  When I got home I called the person who would become the Ex and cried.  I was horrified by how disgusting people can be.  I was also overwhelmed by law school.  And by urban living.

I lived on the first floor of my building.  My windows looked out onto a courtyard to which no one had access.  No one except the huge rats, that is.  I hadn’t seen such bold rats since I’d been to New York, over fifteen years prior.  I saw people throw trash and furniture out their windows into the courtyard, and could hear a guy who was clearly suffering some severe respiratory issues.  I played my music loud in an attempt to mask the sounds of the coughing and hacking.  Still, when I hear Porcelain by Moby, I recall that courtyard and the incessant coughing.

My immediate next-door neighbor was a drug dealer.  Only I was way too naive to figure it out until I saw him actually standing on a local street corner looking, uh, like he was selling drugs.  Apparently the numerous people who mistook my door for his and banged on my door in the middle of the night hadn’t clued me in.  I still don’t know  which drugs he was selling.  I had no idea that I was living a neighborhood that was quite so “urban.”

After figuring out that my neighbor was selling drugs, I told the building’s very fat, very dykey, manager of my suspicions.  She was nice enough not to laugh in my face, but made it clear that I was not telling her anything she didn’t already know.  I miss the sweet, innocent me of those days.

When I wasn’t disturbed by the neighbor’s clients, teen residents of the building hung out in the building’s lobby.  My apartment was on the first floor, through the lobby, up a very short flight of stairs and to the left.  The carpeted lobby had a clear “no smoking” sign that the teen residents ignored.  They smoked and put their cigarettes out on the lobby’s carpet, which was riddled with cigarette burns.  That, and they were fucking loud.  Charming.

Several times I walked out to the lobby in my pajamas to ask them to be quiet, which they did, every time.  Good thing, as I wouldn’t have realized if they were toughs with designs on maiming or killing me.  I soon realized the teen residents lived with their families, in my building, in apartments that couldn’t have been much larger than my studio apartment.  No wonder they’d rather spend their time in the lobby.

We had married in early September, in Las Vegas.  We each flew to Vegas from our respective homes, me from the scary building in the scary neighborhood in San Francisco, he from our unit that faced an alley in Altadena, where we had the occasional crackhead offer to sell us our own broom.

We met in Vegas, got married, and then returned to our respective homes.  Not very romantic, but it was practical for us at the time considering he still had work in Southern California, and I still had to attend school in San Francisco.

Three months after we married I found myself in a bar in the Tenderloin with some classmates.  I may or may not have been drinking quite a bit.  I may or may not have said to a guy with an Irish accent, “I fucked a guy because of his accent.”  Apparently this comment came across as a come on.

The Irish gent may or may not have found himself in my shitty studio apartment with his cock in my mouth.  He may or may not have asked me to tell him how his cock measured up.  Then, as now, I had no clue how his cock compared to other cocks.  I recall it was relatively long, but kinda skinny.

That was the first time I cheated on my husband.  Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers reminds me of sucking on that skinny, uncircumcised, Irish dick.  Especially “Otherside.”  Oh my fucking god.  In the three plus years we had been together before we got married I had flirted and had mini-crushes, but cheating had never been something I even considered; I loved the guy so much I wanted to marry him, not cheat on him.

Thereafter I endeavored to be a good wife.  I went to every class.  I studied.  I didn’t go out drinking.  I joined a gym and often worked out twice a day.  I cleaned my apartment including removing the heroin-cooking spoon and eliminating the urine odor from the kitchen.  I cleaned my apartment again.  I went to the salon to have my hair dyed “back” to my natural color.

I had been blonde for years.  I had no problem using my student loan money to pay to have qualified people at pricey salons bleach my hair.  Bleach.  I was Kelly Bundy-blonde.  It really was silly, but I didn’t realize how obsessive and crazy I had gotten despite being told that I had Barbie Doll hair, more than once.

About a year before I’d cut my hair to a reasonable length, but it was still white blonde.  I was still going to the salon about every three weeks to have my hair maintained, as I was very aware of my regrowth, and thought that black (well, brown) roots were tacky.  I loved having my hair washed and being able to just sit there for the hours it took for my hair treatment, which was definitely a factor in my frequent salon visits.

So I was a studious, occupied, brunette.  I was able to keep that up for a while.  I hung with a friend, Jason, to whom I was not particularly attracted.  He was the first person I knew who had Netflix, back before they’d gone public.  Jason and I spent a lot of time together avoiding studying and watching movies.

Through Jason I met his friends, all of whom were third years at Hastings.  They had completed the worst of law school, and were just going through the motions.  Dean was one of those brilliant fuck-ups who never went to class and didn’t bother to buy any text books.  His strategy was to get his hands on an outline for the particular class for which he was to take a final, stay up all night studying the outline, and get an A or a B on the final.  Sam, on the other hand, clearly did not give a shit and spent most of his time under the influence of any number of psychotropic substances.

Through the school year we got to know each other, hung out, avoided studying, etc.  My first year of law school was the first time I had the luxury of not working whilst attending school; through junior college and university I always had at least a part-time job, and usually worked full time.  It was also the first time that I lived so close to campus.  I was having a belated college freshman experience–using my time rather unproductively since I had no one telling me what to do.

The night before Jason, Dean, and Sam’s graduation I found myself alone with Dean in his shitty Tenderloin studio apartment.  We kissed.  We made out.  Then Sam showed up.  Sam would not leave.  Which, of course, was probably for the best.  The three of us spent the night bullshitting.  They were freaked out about graduating from law school without jobs lined up, anxiety I would not truly understand for two more years.  I was excited about my trip to Thailand.

The day of Hastings’ graduation ceremony for the class of 2000, I walked home from Dean’s shitty apartment to my own shitty apartment.  I discovered that my shitty apartment had been used, without my knowledge or consent, as a conduit to get into my drug-dealing neighbor’s shitty apartment.  From what I gathered from the very fat building manager who was not particularly forthcoming with facts, my drug-dealing neighbor hadn’t been paying his rent so they were evicting him.

Only he had changed the locks so the manager couldn’t get in without breaking down the door.  Doors being expensive, the manager instead opted to let the sheriffs in my shitty apartment, out onto the fire escape, and into the window of the drug-dealing neighbor’s shitty apartment.  If I had been home I probably would have let them do exactly what they did, but at the time I was taking criminal law and knew that my rights had been violated.  I didn’t do a damn thing about it; I was too excited about spending the entire summer in Thailand.

I had arranged to sublet my apartment to a law school student from New York.  Subletting was not allowed according to the terms of my lease, every word of which I read because I was in law school after all, so I needed to arrange for my rent checks to arrive in a timely manner each month.  This was before absolutely all financial transactions were conducted online, and I doubt the landlord knew what an electronic payment was anyway.  I also needed to get my apartment keys to my subtenant, who was arriving in San Francisco after I left for Thailand.  Jason gladly took my rent checks, properly postdated, and my keys, and I gave him my subtenant’s information.  He promised to take care of everything, including getting my keys back from my subtenant at the end of the summer.

[To be continued ….]

I swear.  True story.