Pam was only 10 years older than me but to my naive view, she was impossibly mature and wise; her cynical and witty words on life, relationships, and the world were the words of The Ages.
She had a boyfriend named David who was an on again off again bad dude in her life. An addict, a user, and a liar. He had some story about how he'd stolen some lead from a radiological clinic to sell, melted it down and became sterile but somehow mysteriously got her pregnant after telling that lie. (all of that just to get out of wearing a condom, what a guy.) She didn't keep David's baby. I guess he eventually ended up in jail, prison or dead. I don't remember if she told me what happened to him, or if she knew. She described him as this impossibly beautiful, golden-tongued god of a man...I was disappointed when he came to a party at my apartment behind the bookstore and he was just this stringy hippie. She said he was as smart as she was, but I didn't see it.
The first time I went out to her place (I think she lived out in Lakeway?) I remember she had two cats, a Siamese and an orange tabby. I think the Siamese was named Valentino. Her cats' fur smelled of her perfume. I think I remember him fetching bottle caps. If I don't remember that correctly, then I will just say that I do. Her home was cosy and dark and mysterious, full of her fragrance (YSL Opium) and, it seemed, treasures from many lands and many exotic places lived and loved. Dim lamps draped with silk scarves. I want to remember the quote she gave me about how every woman should have a beaded lamp but I cant, quite.
She drove a Jeep-like car but smaller. Suzuki Samurai? She drove with an open tallboy can of beer in the cup holder and a menthol cigarette between her long delicate fingers, only paying passing attention to silly things like traffic and red lights as the hot Texas wind whipped her long blonde hair around & she shared her wit. She was the most bad-ass woman I'd ever met in my life.
I thought she was the most sophisticated, intelligent, amazing person I'd ever met. I wanted to be Pam when I grew up. Of course, time wore the shine off my infatuation; I quickly learned that Pam had a tendency to pick the worst men, the most self destructive and negative thoughts & behavior...she was a pessimist, a cynic, and yet she always had a perfect literary quote to sum up all the bad times, bad men, and bad choices, and managed to always laugh bitterly at it all.
I remember that laugh, and no one else will ever have it; usually starting with a cough, smoky, snarky, as rich and bitter as the finest cup of coffee.
I remember kissing her at a party; we were drunk as hell.
I remember her imitation of Nancy Spungen from the movie "Sid and Nancy,"--"But Siiiiid, what about the farewell druuuuuuuugs?"
I remember the title of the biography she was always going to write: Why I Hate My Miserable [fucking?] Life By Pamela Miller. It was the refrain for many of her updated tales of male perfidy.
I came back to Austin to visit after I left Bookstop for college in Indiana. I know we hung out a few times. There was always talk of a Bookstop Reunion that never quite happened.
we reconnected some years after my Bookstop Days; I was with the guy who is now my ex and she was with a guy who eventually became her ex, a retired military guy. They lived in a trailer in Dripping springs on some acreage; she ran a little bookstore out of a storage building. Mostly online, I think.
We lost touch again; next time I saw her, she hinted that her retired military ex husband had used her badly, become an addict, and so on and so forth.
She came to my 'throwing out my ex/changing the locks' party. She gave me a CD of music, a playlist for just such an occasion, entitled "Bitch Goddess #1: Music Dealing With Feminine Rage"
Thax and I met her in Austin on Guadalupe one afternoon, "The Drag," where we stood across the street from The Scientology Building in our "Anonymous" masks or bandannas or faces concealed "T-Shirt ninja" style, with silly signs and taunted the khacki & polo-clad Scientology employees as they came and went. Then we got Thai food at Madam Mam's down the street. She paid; she always paid, she was always the one giving, and that was what attracted the users. It was almost as though she felt people wouldn't spend time with her unless she did...I will always feel that money warped her life in some terrible ways.
She had mysterious family out somewhere--wealthy, estranged & dysfunctional, but somehow stil connected; her life seemed to be an attempt to break free of them, but also prove herself to them by making it on her own--waitressing, cashiering, bookstores, banks, whatever--and whenever her life got too upside-down, she could 'always sell some stock' and buy a new car, house, whatever. It was very glamorous but also very sad to me.
I met her brother once or twice; he was quiet and intelligent in that aspie computer guy way. He died of cancer. Her father died of something awful, too, and her mother was last to go. I don't know if she ever felt loved by any of them. She spoke so admiringly of her mother's intelligence, and watching her mom's intellect decline with age really upset and frightened her. She didn't call her mom 'mom'..she called her by her first name.
We reconnected again, via Facebook I guess, and I remember going out to wherever she lived. She had put out a spread of goodies and wine to welcome me; other than the wine none of it was for her--though she loved to cook, she didn't eat much. or sleep much.
I talked her into going on vacation with me and some other folks, a cruise out of Galveston. She brought along a male friend. Another user? At least he was somewhat charming...I had fun, and there are pictures of us dressed up and smiling, but in hindsight I'm not sure how much fun she had. Then...or ever, really.
Friday July 28, she decided to end her stay on planet Earth. On the cruise she'd talked a lot about walking out onto the Glacier so I knew it was on her mind even then. Her dog Nali was the reason she gave to stick around. Nali died a while back. She'd gotten another dog. I guess I hoped that was enough.
I don't know what else to say; I wish I remembered more. She was smart, cynical, beautiful, amazingly funny, miserably sad, and so fucking angry. It was a fire under her skin and in her eyes. I always knew she was going to leave this disappointing world on her terms, it was just a matter of timing. She was Intergalactic Royalty and I hope she's found her throne and the love and light she needed in life and couldn't find or allow herself to have.
I listened to the Bitch Goddess #1 CD today on repeat/shuffle. I heard a song I don't remember ever hearing before. Janis Ian's "From Me to You," and it was the perfect goodbye. Wherever she has gone now, I hope it's not a disappointment.