October 1st I woke up hungover and went to a hot yoga class, as I do every day in Nashville. Hungover Hot yoga takes a special kind of self-loathing, I’m a great fit. 

I got a guest spot on an outdoor show at Yazoo brewing company. The show was small but those who were there wanted to be and after doing a lifetime of bar shows with unexpected audience members caught off guard by p*ssy jokes, this was a great thing. The show went smoothly, I sold some T-shirts, no real complaints or passive compliments.

I went to meet friends at a bar in East Nashville, we were exchanging buying rounds of drinks and when I went to grab mine my ex-boyfriend approached me. The last time I saw him he left me screaming and crying in a van in New Zealand after telling me to go f*** the people I did in high school, knowing full well those were traumatic experiences. Let’s call him Tommy.. Tommy would tell me I was stupid for trying things, he would cut me down for pulling out my DSLR camera while we were hiking, scoff if I complimented myself or claimed to know something, and be outwardly surprised if I did something well. All the signs and I just didn’t want to see it. In the end, I am grateful he left me in that van. I definitely wasn’t perfect in our relationship, I made a lot of mistakes I’m truly embarrassed about; but none warranted what came for me. He made me believe I used and hurt everyone I ever met. When I started reaching out for help he said I was just scrolling through my phone trying to figure out who to use. 

I left New Zealand in April 2019 and I ended up in Puerto Rico giving up on life in the worst way. I convinced myself I couldn’t hurt anyone there and I would wither away in a paradise. Then my friends in Nashville called me to pull me out. I met them because I had moved to Nashville for Tommy in 2018. It was the first time I moved in with a man. Well.. the only time. Clay, the very friend I’m staying with in Nashville today, picked me up from the airport in June 2019. I had met Clay working at a bar in Nashville and he offered me a couch and my old bar job until I figured it out. At this point, Tommy was sending me mean messages about how I am a sh*t person who is just going to bang my old job’s bar owner. That email is when I started to realize he wasn’t right about me.

I didn’t want to get on the plane after reading his emails, I wanted to curl up in my studio apartment in San Juan where I lived next to an awful elderly man that would try to get me to crack open his iPhone store with dirty passwords like “pussy licker.” But Clay talked me into it and greeted me, a 15 pound underweight shell of human being, at the airport pickup in Nashville. I asked him to take me to a bar but he took me to a surprise party with all my old friends in attendance. I ugly cried on everyone, it was beautiful. I spent the next six months with my beautiful misfit family in Nashville. Even though I have other places to stay in Nashville I’d rather go to Clay’s, I think you can see why.

Back to the present day where I’m looking at Tommy for the first time in just over two years. He was nice and said he was worried I was still mad, I said “Yes well, you were so mean.” I couldn’t even make eye contact when I said it. 

But I did look him in the eye when I told him we could be cool, and I meant it. I am pretty sure he just wants that because he fears I will scream in public but I don’t mind. I believe making amends with someone who took so much from you gives you the power to get it back, or maybe I just want to believe that. I have a lot of people in my life I should have let go of sooner, but I kept them because I couldn’t imagine life without them; little did I know it was better. I have since learned that letting go doesn’t have to be pushing away, it’s just stepping back. When you step back you don’t have to waste any energy pushing away, and it is liberating, try it some time. 

We exchanged some kind words about our lives, it felt nice. I wanted to be happier for him but I guess that takes time. He wasn’t as beautiful as I used to make him out to be in my mind and his voice sounded weird. I used to have his picture on my phone background and play his songs before I slept. I am ever so grateful for this change in taste.

The next day I woke up at my friend Mitch’s house, in a bed alone. This is weird because I had been sleeping on a couch at Clay’s and woke up very confused. I want to blame the ex encounter on how drunk I got but I know who the real culprit is; Nashville. Just kidding it’s probably me, but if I am the bomb then Nashville is a short fuse and all my old bartending friends are the flame that sets it all off. I am so ready to leave.

My pilot buddy got me a free stand-by flight out of Knoxville so I took a greyhound after Craiglist and Facebook failed to get me there for cheaper. On my bus ride, I was spending my first day sober since coming to Nashville five days prior. I was in a box with my own thoughts and cheap headphones, it was not a pretty sight. Michael called to check up on me and asked if I wanted some company on my journey across the US, I told him I would think about it. 

I was thinking about it really hard and called Michael. I don’t know if it was the bus ride where I loathed being in my own skin or seeing someone that caused such travesty in my life, but I just wanted to be held. I think that even if it ends badly I feel like right now I need to try. I was looking back too hard on an awful man but it made me see how great mine was. I thought about how Tommy would use my past against me, making me out to be a terrible person by picking it apart in an unrealistic way. I thought because I had spent so much time being around Tommy he would have to know who I was, he couldn’t be wrong. So I believed him. I’ve known Micheal for 15 years, there are some parts I don’t even remember but he does, he’s never once questioned my character for who I was outside of the present moment. Michael only sees how far I’ve come and who I am right now. I’ve learned not to find validation in other people but there are times in life when you lose yourself and endure it. I want to come home and feel comfortable, a euphemism for all things permeable.

But instead of saying any of that I blurted out that I saw my sh*tty ex and I don’t want to date anyone else ever again, but I didn’t know if that was a reason to say yes or an excuse. He laughed and said, “there’s only one way to find out.” So I guess we’re doing this.

I left the greyhound for the airport. I love the stand-by flights through my pilot buddy because the crew treats me like I work with them and lets me take all my stuff apart on the scales to weigh out the optimal bag size to carry. Even though my pilot friend lectures me about showing up looking professional because I am representing him, I feel like they don’t care that I haven’t slept in a few days and show up high. The entire trip I was planning my escape to get out of Las Vegas but now that I have landed I feel comforted being here, I freaking love Sin City. I say that but then I find myself never wanting to leave my room because I am so stoked I have one, it’s got a freaking bathroom attached to it!

I lay in my room at home like I thought I would. I got so much Work done; made logos,  built websites,  wrote blogs, worked on my favorite passion project puddlerugs.com, and I caught up with everything I needed to do for the first time in a long time. It felt good, I felt good. I was slightly scared to leave the house, thinking I might spiral on the same bender as Nashville, but fortunately, all my bartender friends have left Vegas and degenerate comics can’t afford shots.

On Tuesday I went to the Artifice, a show run by Shawn Fitzsimmons in the arts district in Las Vegas. It feels gratifying to do good here because half the room is comics that come to support Shawn, and for good reason, he is wonderfully nice. I got to see Mike Faverman again, my best buddy here in comedy, it made me feel like things are gonna work again. Mike and I talked about all the sad shit we’ve been going through, we’re lucky to have each other. 

Liz, a newer comic in Vegas came up to me saying she wanted to book me for her first open mic. She said she was too nervous to ask me and asked someone I knew to do it. At the time when they asked me I was absolutely flattered that they wanted me to open their new mic, and was as skeptical as someone with imposter syndrome. It turns out it was a younger female comic and figuring that out meant so much to me. I think women are funnier as comedians, personal preference I guess. Women comics are like the WNBA, just as good but no one gives a sh*t. We need to make women more interested in comedy to make more female comics. I was humbled to have her support and admiration, I hope she stays in the game, as I do every female comic I meet.

There’s something about leaving a town that makes you love it. I thought I was done with Las Vegas, but every person that I saw I gave a long hug to, I never knew if I would see them again. I realized in that moment that how much I would miss them is how much I love them. Is it weird for me to express my love to someone that I haven’t seen in a while and only knew for a few short months? I wouldn’t know because I didn’t tell them. I just hugged them extra long. 

I love Las Vegas, the 1st time I came here I was 19 years old and I came to be a clothing buyer for someone I was very close to in DC. I decided to go to college instead and came after with my college roommates in 2016 and began my nomadic journey. We lived in a 9 by 9 at La Quinta Inn near the strip because I thought since we only had one car it would be for the best. It was not for the best and if I had known what I know now we might have lived here forever. I loved that time so much, even when it was hard. I wish I did things a little differently but who doesn’t? If you don’t think like that then you’ve learned nothing, right?

Back in reality, I went to the midnight open mic next to my rented room in Vegas. Someone came up to me with praise and talked like we knew each other. This happens a lot, so I act like I know them as well. I picked out certain parts about what he said about me to narrow down where we know each other from, but it will never help me remember their name. 

I made fun of the host, Bruce Banner, for sounding like Bevis and butthead. He thanked me for not saying Krusty the clown like everyone else and even complied when I made him do a Cornholio impression. It was hilarious. I made fun of Trash, a guy that stole my brand and fell asleep during everyone’s set. It was a typical midnight mic in Las Vegas and a great way to send me off.

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