Learning to Let Go

Holly Randall
One of the most interesting things that come with age is perspective. When time distances you from the dreams, experiences and follies of your youth, it's like a different person was living your life back then.

Barely 22 and having only just been in the adult industry for less than two years, I was full of hopes and expectations. I was naïve, inexperienced and intimated by everyone around me. But since I was born to a mother named Suze Randall, I was immediately ushered in the back door to the private rooms of the "in" crowd of porn. I felt unworthy, and people only remembered me when I told them who my mother was.

But then the manifestation of my dreams of power and fame showed up in the form of an older man. Proud and arrogant, he carried a business card that named him as CEO of one of the biggest and most-respected adult companies. He soon became my boyfriend: someone who I was sure would carry me to the cusp of success, so that I would be worthy of carrying the name Randall. Together I dreamed we would become the power couple of porn.

I had never dated an older man before, and everything about that age difference was so exciting to me. Though he had almost exactly 11 ½ years on me, I rounded it up to 12 because that sounded so much better. This guy was a man — someone who stood next to my father and didn't look like a meek little boy. His friends were older; he already had three kids, owned a house and even a boat. He always paid for dinner and he always drove. He would even offer me his credit card for a little self-indulgent shopping spree; and though I never accepted, it thrilled me to know that I could.

When we went together to the AVN show in Vegas, he rented a huge suite in the Venetian just for the two of us. He held business meetings in the room while I took a bubble bath, sipping on champagne and calling all of my friends from the tub, gushing at how lucky I was to be dating a real man.

But it wasn't long before it began to fall apart. Sometimes he wouldn't take my phone calls for days. He'd make plans with me for dinner and never show up. He was very secretive, and when I caught him in little lies, the red flags began to wave frantically at me. But I chose to ignore them because for once I really loved someone and I didn't want to let that go. But then his relationships with others got ugly — he left the company he worked for and thus the porn industry altogether. Finally I had cried myself to sleep too many times, and with all the strength that I could muster, I left him.

The next few years were just awful. My drinking, which was already excessive, spiraled out of control. Every other guy I dated afterwards was subject to the rage I felt at having my heart broken — I purposely sought out men whom I knew I could manipulate and control, because I couldn't control my relationship with the one man I had really loved.

Every time I heard Madonna's song "Tell Me," it brought back painful memories. The time it came out was when our relationship was taking a turn for the worse, and I would play it in the car on the way to or from his house, mouthing the lyrics and trying to find meaning in them: "Tell me love isn't true. It's just something that we do." For years, I cried when it played on the radio.

I'm 28 now and I rarely think of him. But I never forgave him, and even convinced myself that I still loved him. I felt that if I ran into him on the street, I would tell him how he had destroyed my idealism: my belief in true and unconditional love. I imagined all kinds of dramatic encounters and prayed that I would never hear from him again.

But he called me two weeks ago.

Out of the blue I received a phone call from a blocked number. I let it go to voice mail. When I heard the voice on the message, I froze.

For about a week I ignored him, but finally I couldn't resist and I responded. After I bitched him out for treating me like crap, I let him persuade me into meeting him for dinner. He promised me that he'd changed, that I was the love of his life and he'd do anything to win me back. He told me everything that I would have died to hear back when I was 22.

Everyone I told strongly advised me against it. But true to my nature, I decided not to listen to anyone and I went.

Though he knew of my struggles with alcohol and my fairly new resolve to never touch it again, he got drunk at dinner. He was rude to the staff, he immediately claimed me as his own and he tried to coerce me into staying the night with him at his place. Six years ago, I would have done whatever he wanted. But now, disgusted by his behavior, I refused him.

I went to see him for closure and I got it. I had to see him because I needed to know what I still felt for him, and it was nothing. All the love that I'd felt for him had faded with the inanity of youth. That infatuated little girl was gone and before me was a lonely old man who had called simply because he had run out of options. Finally with ultimate clarity I saw him for the egotistical, undignified and inconsiderate person he was — and I saw the miserable fate that I had so narrowly escaped.

Today I got in my car, and that Madonna song came on the radio. And for the first time in years, instead of escaping into my sad little state of a love gone wrong, I rolled down the windows and with a smile on my face, cranked the volume up. And I'll be damned if I didn't rock out.