Atlanta and Old Loves
Picking up where I left off ~ I did forget one thing I wanted to get into yesterday’s post we did go to Emory Hospital, well at first the wrong Emory Hospital, but Sandra and I did a lot of that yesterday. We went there to visit the other Tracey Jackson. Some of you know about my name mate. She lives in Atlanta and has been getting a ton of my email for several years. It got silly at one point and she ended up knowing so much about my life and I knew nothing of hers. So I finally demanded a long email filling me in on her and her life. We ended up meeting her in Florida with her partner and hung out. I saw her in New York once when she came up. We struck up a friendship and since this trip includes people from my past or those I met online I had to see her and between us I would have snuck her in anyway. But she has been really sick and in Emory Hospital for two weeks. The good news is she is on the mend. Sandra and I spent about forty minutes with her late in the day. She is a very special person and the funny thing is she is bossy like I am so maybe it goes along with the name.
THE OLD BOYFRIEND PART OF IT ALL
I left off yesterday when we got to Hogansville to see my old boyfriend Patrick Terrail. A few people, Taylor included have asked me what is that like, what is it like seeing someone after so much time? And it is such a multi-layered answer. The first part is when you go way back into your life, using Sandra as an example, the last time I saw her we were kids sneaking cigarettes and hoping not to get caught. Then the fast forward is so forward in the story line, we pick it up now when our kids are older than we were the last time we saw each other. A lot of change takes place in those decades.
With Patrick, he was 34 and I was 18 when we met. The last time we saw each other I was 33 and he was 49. People don’t change in the same ways in those years as they do from childhood to middle age. So the personality and the life is sort of in it’s place.
I think the most interesting thing with old boyfriends is the past and not the present. He has a nice present, he has been married for 14 years to a lovely lady named Jackie, they have a small son (gorgeous baby) Gabriel, he lives much more simply than when I knew him. They live in a small town in Georgia and the man about town, public figure, playboy I knew is now an older, calmer, I would have to say nicer version of the man I dated way back when. Jackie and his new life have done wonders for him. It was nice to see him content and peaceful. He was frantic when I knew him. Which is not an insult in anyway as I’m still frantic. I think I shall die frantic. But let’s go back as that is where the story is really more fun.
THE ROMANCES YOU REMEMBER
In a life where I didn’t find the love of it until I was 40 and having the nature I do, I went through many relationships. People work out their issues in different ways as soon as I could, I decided I would attempt to work mine out through men.
The first big love, serious love I’m meeting up with on Saturday. And I’m not sure I could say Patrick was a big love, or that we were ever in love with each other, not in the real sense of the word. But we had a relationship of a unique sort that went on and off for six years.
Certainly in my life five relationships stand out in my memory and without question Patrick is in that list of five.
He told me today I was in his top five as well.
Patrick started the restaurant Ma Maison that in it’s days, which were the late 70’s, and early 80’s was the only place to go in LA. There was nothing like and I don’t think there ever has been again. It’s where Wolfgang Puck got his American start. Every day it was filled with everyone from presidents of the county to Warren Beatty and Orson Welles, top models to heads of studios and States. It was a club, it was a scene, it was the only place in LA people really wanted to go. It was the Studio 54 of food on the other coast and he started it when he was 32.
I moved to LA after high school and too brief a stint at The American Conservatory Theatre. Let’s tell the truth here, I was doing pretty much nothing. My grandparents were supporting me, which is a family tradition, though I broke it at 29.
No one asked me to do anything and I spent about five years looking for my life in all the wrong places.
But that being said, I had some real fun.
While my other chums were all in college I was ensconced in a condo in West Hollywood. I was pretending to be an actress, but I spent most of my time focused on my love and social lives.
When I first got to LA my friend Margaret (who those of you have been reading this for a awhile know I met up with in Milan earlier this year) had a party at Ma Maison. I had never been before, but I was quickly aware that this was the place to be.
Patrick was wandering around, he was always there, a bit aloof, he would admit that, charming in that French way, funny, distant, yet approachable, gruff, yet warm. He is a mix of many things.
But I paid no attention to him and he paid no attention to me though I would later learn that I was his “type.” He had many girlfriends, during the period we saw each other, and many looked a lot like me.
When I showed Glenn the photo of Patrick and his wife, he said she looks a lot like you. I said, “He has a type.”
This is going to get name droppy here, but I have no choice it’s just the cast of characters that were in the scenes.
I have been friends with Olivia deHavilland my whole life. She was in LA for a few weeks and we made a plan to have lunch, I decided to take her to Ma Maison. Getting in was not easy, it had an unlisted phone number, Patrick did not take just anybody, and he choreographed where people sat as if he were Balanchine doing Swan Lake.
So I called one day shortly after Margaret’s party and asked for a table for lunch. I dropped a few names, as I knew I would not get in any other way, but did not tell him I was bringing Olivia. He barked, (he barked a lot) I could come in at one forty five.
Being raised the way I was I understood from an early age how these things work. He thinks he can bark at me, well I will show him. What is odd about this is I was maybe 18 at the time. For all of our sakes we will say I was 18 at the time, but I was not over 18.
So I show up and the place is packed with every celebrity in town; but Olivia is Olivia and there is no one left in her generation like her.
We walk in and his jaw drops, he was so not expecting this. And I knew this would be the response and was totally delighted by it. He was going to sit little nobody me upstairs in “Siberia;” but now he had to scramble to give us a main table. This ultimately meant bringing in a table and asking Jack Lemmon if he would mind scooting over and sending Jackie Bissett a bottle of wine so she wouldn’t mind her table being picked up and moved. He probably had to pick up Golide’s check so he could ask her to move over. Come on it was the late 70”s. They were real stars, none of this Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian shit.
But that was not the beginning of our relationship; it was merely the moment he started paying attention to me. I brought a star into his orbit and I was his type.
I went there a few more times in the following weeks. He didn’t move tables for me but I could get one and that in itself was an accomplishment.
Then one rainy Saturday I was meeting my friend Waldo Fernandez for lunch. I think I was actually going to work for him at that point. So I get to Ma Masion and Patrick is at the door, he says, “Waldo is stuck in Trancas with Barbra Streisand you have two choices you can either go home or have lunch with me.” And that was the beginning of that.
And we began our own unique, dysfunctional at times I have to say, but weirdly constant in the most inconsistent way relationship. We were never exclusively seeing each other. We would both get hot and heavy with others and then either keep seeing each other or drop each other and then come back. Remember it was the 70’s. It went on from the time I was 18 until my mid twenties I moved to New York and still saw him. I broke up with him and then saw him. He would fall in love with someone for six months then come back to me. We had our own set of rules, probably dictated more by him than me; but I was sort of used to that. I think I would have signed up for fulltime, certainly in the beginning. But that would have ended quickly, we would have had a sprint, instead we had a marathon with many stops along the way.
There was this one great or miserable moment that is worth sharing. He wrote about it in his memoirs but I told him he got many details wrong.
Like I said we weren’t exclusive but there were times when we were more so than others. And I don’t remember the year but we were in a kind of we’re seeing more of each other than anyone else phase or so I thought.
One night there was a big party at my friend Margaret Hartley’s house in Santa Barbara. In those days I went running home a lot. Now he had only come up there once with me and he worked in LA all weekend or so I thought.
I’m at Margaret’s, wearing this giant yellow satin dress, having a fine ole time, big fancy party, filled with people I knew in my hometown. I look up at one point and in walks Patrick with this gorgeous girl on his arm. She was so gorgeous she was a former Miss America, Tawny Little. Now I have to take a moment and say I have never been the prettiest girl in the room, especially in those days and by LA standards, forget it. I got attention for being funny not pretty, plus it was my zaftig phase. So I was always very self -conscious that I wasn’t’ good looking enough.
So to have him walk in with her not only took me by surprise but floored me. And then he announced they were getting married. It’s bad enough to be dumped in public but to be dumped in your hometown and for a former Miss America. Ouch. That hurts.
Everyone in the room pretty much knew that I was involved with him and at that moment they were very much on my side. He was yelled at right and left, especially by my mother, she was on my side in those days. She went right up to him and started screaming in his face. And then I don’t know what happened. I remember my friend Jack Lowrence going to get me a big drink. I remember Patrick staying at the party for about ten or fifteen minutes as he figured out this was so not the right place and that he had made a social faux pas of enormous proportions. Then I – this is totally true, my life what can I say ~ I didn’t write the script I just lived it ~ I crawled in Robert Mitchum’s lap and cried for two hours. He just let me sit there crying and he didn’t seem to care as long as people kept refilling his drink. He was the type of guy who knew there was nothing on earth he could say. And in his day I’m sure many women crawled into other people’s laps crying over him.
We totally broke up after that. I was miserable for about two weeks then while walking my dog one day fell in love with my neighbor, that didn’t work out so well. So I moved to New York for two years and at some point Tawny and Patrick broke up and one day the phone rang and enough time had passed and we picked it up again…. That’s just the way it was.
Needless to say that kind of relationship is hard to forget.
We always saw something in each other, though we knew we were never right for each other.
But we had some good times, and in the tapestry of my romantic life his is a long and brightly colored thread.
It was great to see him happy. It was great to see him tamed. It was great to see him period.
I love this picture because it brings together two very disparate parts of my life and the essence of this journey. Here is Patrick and Sandra. And Sandra is now gong down to Hogansville for the Hummingbird festival and Patrick has invited her to the annual party he and Jackie give in October and all comes around in a weird, wonderful circle.