"Most of the sad patches are over for you. Your mission is to not become a big hard shell. It's your blueprint for yourself. You are testing your own mettle and it seems sucky but apparently you are reaching your spiritual goal early in this lifetime, which means more time for the good stuff. In February you will have a REALLY AMAZING connection that will open a major door for you. You won't know it when it happens but its like flicking on a switch and having the light come on a couple seconds later. You will have a Homer Simpsonesque comeuppance so don't forget your friends. You won't stay the year in California and that is a good thing in the long run."
As usual, his 2005 predictions were correct. I did leave California before the year ended. I broke up with this amazing person I considered the great love of my life for someone who sparkled a little louder. I'll call them Big. Big, I'd decided, was the real great love of my life. We actually just said fuck everything and ran away, knowing there was no safe way out, no net to catch us. We'd both survived so much trauma that nothing seemed scarier than boredom. Big and I ran some scams, bought a tiny pop-up camper, and left Oakland forever. And we couldn't stop moving. We skipped sleep so we'd never miss the next big thing. And when you have two traumatized queer hedonists with questionable values scamming their way across the United States, it's really just big thing after big thing.
Big and I passed through Chapel Hill on our way to a non-scandalous political action. Chapel Hill is where I introduced Mateo to Big. Twenty minutes into our meeting, Mateo dragged me out the door and down the street. He was shivering.
"If you don't get away from this person quickly you're going to die. I'm not fucking around, Nikki."
"Shhh," I said, worried that Big would somehow hear us from the apartment a block away. See, Big had anger issues. And what made Big the most angry was when someone other than Big told me what to do.
The Big thing is a whole other story, man. One day.
I fell out of touch with Mateo, and everyone else I loved, soon after we left. Big and I got a place in a new city. Big ordered me not to tell anyone where we'd moved or what we were doing to stay alive. I fended off those pesky calls from Mateo, who'd always demand I go somewhere alone to talk to him. He didn't understand that I was never alone. Big didn't let me go anywhere without them. When Big was home I had to do what they were doing. If I tried to get out of bed as they slept, they'd wake up and... oh wait, a whole other story.
One night, Big passed out on the kitchen table in the middle of screaming at me. I took that opportunity to check my email. There was a long one from Mateo, detailing everything he knew was happening in our apartment. He had it all mostly right, and there was no way he could have heard about it from anyone else.
So yeah, the 2005 prediction letter. That whirlwind began in February and ended in May 2007. I can't say I had a "comeuppance" but I did check way out, and I did forget about my friends. Including Mateo.
Mateo and I met in 1999 but didn't grow close until 2001. When I met him he was TRICKY MARTIN, a young Cubano drag king living in the deep south. He was a Virgo, a prolific zinester, and an avid collector of autographs from the casts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everyone's favorite sci-fi daytime soap opera Passions.
These are some of my favorite autographs from Mateo's collection. I wish I could share them all, but most were written to a name he stopped using some time ago. That's why you are not seeing my favorite of them all, which is obviously David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder.
|the cast of Passions|
|pre-attack siegfried and roy|
In addition to bonding over a bunch of things I could never type here, we also bonded over Freestyle music, which set the soundtrack to both of our childhoods--his in Miami, mine in Jersey City. Our mutual love for Cynthia and Johnny O led us to marathon hangouts, copious pot-smoke, road trips, shit talk, and getting caught drinking at riot grrrl conventions. I crashed on his couches so many times that each of his apartments felt like a second home, even with years between visits.
Mateo introduced me to karaoke when I visited him and his at-the-time partner R in Memphis. We went to this weird lesbian bar called Madison Flame, to a karaoke night that kicked off when the summer sky was still bright. I think it was 2001. R and I climbed onto an actual stage to sing "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica to a crowd of 5 or 6 older butches in theater seats. Mateo sat by himself a few rows back, cheering us on. As we sung, we noticed our front-row butches sat tight-lipped and angry, arms crossed at their chests. At the last bridge, the butches stood up and started yelling, booing, giving us the finger, all of that. We stumbled through the final chorus and then, as we realized they'd been reacting to us because we were femmes singing about boys (oops! invisibility!), we changed the words to "The... Girl... is Mine" without missing a beat.
The butches cheered and we scuttled the hell out of there.
According to the internet, I sent Mateo this message full of references to one of his favorite songs, "Two-Way Freak" by Three Six Mafia, on December 23, 2013:
"So I'm listening to the soundtrack for CHOICES and I tried to find your number because I was going to send you these TWO-WAYS: 1. You was on my mind. 2. God damn 3. I wanna fuck. 4. What are you doing? 5. Who's beeping you?"
He called me that night and we talked for four hours. We caught up on gossip and he brought me to speed on his health issues. I was having health issues as well and it felt so good to talk to someone wasn't sick of my bullshit.
We hadn't talked in over a year. I'd moved up to Portland, he was in Raleigh with his new husband. They had the type of relationship where they were up each other's asses all day, every day, and were still passionate. Like, the two were on fire for and about each other. No secret resentment, no underlying guilt or indebtedness, just powerful, heart-melting adoration. I never thought a love that close could be a happy love, and still, to this day, I've never known another couple happier than those two.
We talked about New Year's Eve plans, as the holiday was approaching the next week. We both planned on doing the same thing: Being our introverted earth sign selves, avoiding crowds to get stoned with our sweethearts. He promised to get started on my 2014 predictions a few days after the new year.
On New Year's Eve, Mateo texted me at 9:02 PM PT (12:02 AM his time):
"Happy 2014 Sweet Nikki! xoxo"That night, at the very last minute, my girlfriend at the time went out with a friend instead of keeping our plans. I wasn't invited. Newly planless, I half-heartedly tried to figure out where my friends were and then settled into bed, feeling disposable. Mateo's text lit up my phone at just the right time.
The next morning, I randomly found a (physical) photo I took of his old cat Officer Friendly who had the worst fucking breath. Officer Freshbreath. And, according to the internet, I put it on Mateo's Facebook page on January 2nd.
He never responded. And I never received his 2014 prediction letter.
Mateo and his husband died not long after I received that message. They died in their sleep, together. Their bodies were found days later in their bed. They were holding each other as they died, remaining entwined into the week. I'm told the physical death process wasn't painful for either of them, that they felt nothing but the sweetness evident in their sleeping position.
Their death wasn't intentional, but it happened. Mateo, Tricky Martin, my Psychic Friend, fell asleep with the love of his life and he's still sleeping.
I think about those 3 AM cold-reading phone calls when Mateo visits me in dreams. I understand the urgency now. It's not like I can just turn him away. And though most of his dream-visits are just him singing Mellow Man Ace or Pajama Party, they feel like predictions. I'm hearing what he's saying and I'm paying attention.
Last night was a doozy.
I got the message, my friend.
I'm on it.