One of the main people I went out to see in Portland was Jesse Hadden. We have a bumpy past. We dated when I was finishing up at Reed College and over the summer following graduation. And I fell stupid giddy in love with him. I would literally get sick to my stomach when he showed up. It got to the point where he would call me on the phone and I had to hang up almost immediately because I wanted to ralph. I also recall trying to say goodbye at the PDX airport at the end of the year and not being able to hug him because I was so nauseous. Like my father, I hold my heart in my stomach. And it sucks.


Young love. Coney Island 2005, right before big J left for Russia.

Jesse went on to move to Russia for a year and I got involved with a Russian rock star. Yeah, you heard me. Denis was a drummer on tour in NYC in October and I was a grad student at SVA. I didn’t think much of our initial attachment, I had some butterflies in my stomach, but I was already sold on someone else. Plus I already had a ticket to visit Jesse over Christmas in Russia that I bought before I met Denis. I was really looking forward to it. It was a present from his parents – my ticket to visit him. I flew to Russia and spent a couple days with Jesse but found myself thinking about Denis. I will spare you the crap details of how I broke Jesse’s heart and left him. To make a long story short, I lived in Russia for two years with my Russian boyfriend, but it didn’t take long before it occurred to me that I might of made a big ugly mistake. Jesse is the kind of person you don’t come across twice. A magical individual.



New Year’s 2005-2006 in St. Petersburg, right before the shit hit the fan.

I hadn’t realized how much I loved him and how amazing he was until I screwed it up. I spent a lot of time in Russia burning a hole in my soul and holding onto the possibility that maybe, one day, I could get Jesse back. I was more or less convinced that he was “the one” and that I had thrown it all away. It was like a bad children’s story or a bittersweet country song reminding you not give up the guy next door for the glamorous rock star. Everytime I heard one of the 5 billion songs about lost love, I was immediately brought back to my situation. I made bad mixes for him. I wrote long desperate letters and didn’t send them. I made my friends uncomfortable talking about him. I hurt my boyfriend. Eventually Jesse had to break off contact with me. It was a pretty unhealthy time of my life.

After Russia, I came back to the states with the intention of being alone and getting my head together. Moving on. Focusing on my photography. Loving life again. You know, learning how to live again. My friend Rushina told me to write down on paper exactly what it was that I wanted in life and I got it: I got hired to work in Egypt, where I am living today.

This brief trip back to Portland was big for me because I was able for the first time ever to just be Jesse’s friend. I still get choked up sometimes, still want to vomit on him, but I think for the first time in years, I can say with strange confidence that we are better as brothers. I love the guy and I want him in my life forever. Like family. I’m feeling good about things because I think they are headed that way.