-53-
31 December 2007

Dear Lorne,

Owning any kind of store can easily become quite the comedy of errors, let alone the quagmire of product and services we had on offer. Yet in spite of all the fun being had with customers and employees, I was broken on the inside. My babies were on the other side of the world. I could sense how much they missed me too. Within a week after my ex returned with the kids to her parents' house in France, her father had a fatal heart attack. I later heard that at the French school, my eldest daughter would sometimes just sit at her desk and cry.

They never got to see the living window display. All the fun surrounding me meant nothing if it couldn't be shared with my children. Somehow I had to find a way to make enough money to bring them back. But the pain was greater than my self discipline. Almost every night I partied. My beer glass was a pitcher. My apartment was on the top corner of a building at the top part of downtown Seattle. I could throw a water balloon and have the window shut well before it splattered on or near the crack dealer waiting by the street below. I had the good fortune to know some quality women, but being such a loose canon, managed to squander any lifeline to contentment. The bathroom and entry doors were adjacent. Twice I somehow managed to lock myself out of the apartment in the middle of the night, naked. How would you have handled such a situation?

Christmas eve I was finally able to get away to France to see my kids after over a year. Although they had grown a bit, it seemed somehow like we had never left each other. My ex was due to give birth the following month. Her boyfriend, who was later referred to as the bad memory, said to one of my daughters that I was the father in the States and he was the father in France. Her immediate reply was: "You're not my father."

New Years Eve I had made plans with someone in London who I had met when they came into my store in Seattle. This turned out to be pretty much a wash out. I had more fun crashing a random party found walking back to my Bed and Breakfast. Almost midday New Years, out wandering around, I followed the distant thud of a techno beat to an abandoned railway roundhouse where the rave was still in full swing.

These people knew how to party.