Happy birthday dear Seedy, CD, Clay. This is how I remember you. Wearing my coat, taking my clothes, reading my books, listening to my music. I remember dancing with you at Cats, watching movies with you and Randy, visiting Ronnie with you, going to Marcy Mendelon’s art show with you, you drinking with Fawn while I was in New Mexico at my grandmother’s funeral and you knocking a beer bottle into her face, chipping her front tooth. I remember how you offered to go to the funeral with me and you patiently walked me through the whole ritual. You asked me to bring you rain back from the desert and I did.
I miss the way you’d furrow your brow, the way you rubbed behind your ears, the way you’d play with your septum ring, and the way you’d push your hair to stick up. I miss your typing away at my shitty PC that was close to dying. I miss the sound of the ice hitting the glass as you poured yourself a drink. I miss the notes you’d leave me in large gothic scrawl, written in pastels. I miss waking up to finding a new painting. I miss that smile that took over your whole face. I miss you being in my life. I miss you being alive. I miss you.
Happy birthday MF. There’s so many other stories, but they’re not enough.
After college I returned to the Bay Area a club kid. I was no longer who I used to be and needed new friends. I started going to bars and clubs, searching for connections. I became a regular at Cat Club. I had my regular bartender, Randy. I only went to him. I saw a tall thin pale boy with an A-line haircut working the floor. Always wearing all black. Always ignoring me. I seemed to always be in his way when he was pulling glasses. But he’d just reach past me as though I weren’t there. And I really wanted him to see me. I looked for him every time I walked through that door. I was 21. I hoped he’d be there. And he usually was. Eventually, after what seemed forever, we had some polite interactions. He’d give me a crooked smile as he reached past me. I was no longer invisible.
Months later, I was at Cats and I saw someone tall and skinny wearing a black baseball cap that read CORONER. He had Joey Ramone hair and was wearing aviator sunglasses. I was immediately enamored. I was 22. He came up and smiled at me. It was Clay wearing a wig. And all of a sudden we were making out.
Our relationship began with that kiss. The history is important. The crush that lasted over a year. The hope of seeing him. Being seen by him. Him kissing me. All those moments turned from memory to our story.
We dated only 9 months. We were very happy. The first time he gave me a ride home, there was a body in his van. Henry. Clay had stopped by Cats with the work van. He offered me a ride. We walked to the van and people were breaking into it. And then he yelled at them. “I’m a mortician, there’s a body in that car!” They looked at him and ran away, terrified of this skinny kid with the wrinkled suit and the body in the van. Without hesitation I got into the van. Clay introduced me to Henry. I was 22.
I went to work with him. He was a mortician. I helped him pack a body in ice to take to the airport. I went with him to pick up another body. I wore a tasteful dress and cardigan.
For Randy’s birthday dinner I arrived just as Clay had taken a bet. Snort a fat line of chili peppers. He did and then he promptly ran to the bathroom and vomited. That was my boyfriend. He came back and scooped up the money from the table. And bought me a drink.
His roommate initially hated me. She screamed at me through the bathroom door when she tried to get ready for work and I was in there. My friends loved him. They adored him. My parents met him. My mom hated him. My dad was happy I was happy. His roommate ended up loving me. His friends liked me. His brother was surprised to find out we were dating.
He was a writer—always writing poetry, working on a novel, writing a play. He was a painter. Always painting. Scrawling little gothic characters next to his letters to me. I have stacks of his writing. A box of his letters.
He used to stay at our (his brother Randy) apartment while I went out with friends. He’d sit there typing away. I’d drink and dance and come home. I don’t remember many breakfasts with him. I remember a lot of day drinking though. A lot of reading, painting, writing, dancing, talking, letters, phone calls.
We housesat with Fawn one weekend. Although she had better stuff, he drank all her Aunt’s cheap Early Times whisky. Because I loved Andy Warhol, Clay excitedly shared David Bowie’s “Andy Warhol” with me. We listened to it on repeat that weekend.
We went to a party someone in my grad school invited me to. He told me he loved me. My friends and I didn’t fit in at the party.
He proposed to me. We’d move to San Jose where he’d attend mortuary school. I loved him so much. I wanted him to want to marry me. But I didn’t want to get married. I was 22. I was a grad student. I said, “that’s not how all the great writers do it. They live in sin. We need to go to Paris and live there a while. Then we can get married.” He laughed and hugged me. And after that, all marriage proposals were akin to saying I love you, I want us to be together forever. And they never stopped. They continued when he moved to southern California and after his accident when he moved to Arizona.
He drank too much. I did too. We were 22. He was an alcoholic. I was a club kid. It began to wear on me. He’d disappear. He became distant. He didn’t realize how much time he’d lost. I thought he broke up with me. He didn’t. I went on a date with someone and later found out Clay still considered us together. I was heartbroken. So was he. But he couldn’t stop drinking. And I couldn’t stop being hurt. And somehow we were no longer together.
I never stopped loving him. I just couldn’t be with someone who drank so much they didn’t realize how long it had been since we spoke or saw each other. I missed him. Even when he was present.
He had his demons. And I’ve written about them before and I will again. But on his birthday I want to remember the good stuff. And share that with others. No one would believe he was without flaws. He was the kind of person people loved or hated. No one was neutral about Clay. You either were ecstatic to see him or thought, oh crap, it’s gonna be one of those nights. He and Randy would fight it out. Clay would hurt my feelings. That’s normal human interaction. That’s family. That’s being in love. That’s friendship.
Sometimes I get so sad for seemingly no reason. I feel like something’s missing, oh yeah, that’s right. He’s gone.
More about Clay aka CD Wofford aka Seedy aka Ceedy