An award-winning nonfiction writer explores the personal roots of a powerful and destructive love/hate relationship she shared with a married lesbian.
As a child, Febos (Creative Writing/Monmouth Univ.; Whip Smart, 2010) suffered from separation anxiety and nightmares, and she sleepwalked whenever her sea-captain father was away. When she was awake, she routinely “counted all the dangers my father might meet” and feared that she might be found unlovable enough that he would never return. Febos took solace in erotically charged stories that, as in the 1986 film Labyrinth, merged fantasy and horror. But in her teenage and young-adult years, her escapist tendencies took the forms of sexual obsessions with men and women and a drug addiction. When Febos met Amaia, a beautiful married lesbian who lived on the other side of the country, the attraction was immediate and intense. Amaia wooed her with expensive gifts that reminded her of the gifts her father would bring back to her. She writes, “each object was a promise, something I could hold when I could barely remember her face.” Caught in a web of obligation and desire that was as pleasurable as it was disturbing, Febos began a cross-country relationship that, in its secrecy and impossibility, was profoundly erotic. Her lover made Febos feel worshipped; Febos, in turn, found herself idolizing her lover. Yet at the same time, the author also experienced a primal fear of abandonment that came from Amaia’s physical, and at times emotional, unavailability. Her understanding of the relationship was heightened by her own coming to terms with the part–Native American, substance-abusing biological father she never knew growing up. With Amaia, she experienced both the paternal genetic legacy of addiction as well as the traumatic “legacy of abandonment, of erasure” that was her birthright as a Native American. Erotic and dark, the book is a courageous exploration of love as the ultimate form of plenitude and annihilation.
A lyrically visceral memoir of love and loss.