I met Ray in the summer of 2014 while I was visiting my father in Greece. My father had moved there six months prior, after his tumultuous divorce from my mother, to finish his novel – a novel I assumed would be all about his failed marriage. I wasn’t particularly excited to see him, but he had paid for the trip and I was desperate to leave Los Angeles. I was dreading conversations and interactions I would have with him, conversations that would end in screaming fights and interactions that would get colder as the days went by. I begged my sister to come with me but her relationship with my dad was worse than mine, she said that if she came she might kill him. I arrived in Mykonos on July 4th.
My father told me that he was lonely and that days were spent working on a novel he knew would never get published and when I asked him what the novel was about he said it was about family. I looked through his apartment, finding pictures of my sister and I scattered across his desk as if he was hoping to prop one up but ran out of time. I saw a picture of my young mother, carrying my newborn sister in her arms, smiling, she looked like me except she seemed more pure and naive. I envied her for a moment then remembered that her life was nothing to be envious over. My father and I exchanged some small talk before I lied to him about meeting some friends and left the apartment. That’s when I met Ray.
I walked past him and he complimented my purse. I was carrying a box-like silver Ivanka Trump purse, I smiled and thanked him for the compliment. He said the purse looked like a briefcase and that I reminded him of a beautiful government spy, (I fell for it and him, then and there). In letters he would write me years later, he would mention the Ivanka Trump purse as a moment of importance in our relationship and by the time Donald Trump became president I wished that I never bought the bag and never met Ray.
That day we talked over ice cream and coffee, I explained to him why I was visiting Greece. He told me that he, too, was working on a novel and that most children hated their fathers. Years later, I wondered if Ivanka hated her father too, (I hoped she did). Ray was also from the states and it excited me to know that we were scheduled to fly back the same day. I fell in love with Ray within days of meeting him and by the time I fell out of love with him the world around us had become so dismantled that my feelings for him seemed to disappear alongside human rights. We spent two weeks together and on my flight back to LA, I cried like a little bitch and spent the next two years pining over someone who would change his mind about me once I was no longer around.
Ray had a girlfriend back in New York City, which explained his gradual disinterest in me after we parted ways. That didn’t stop my desperate obsession with him. I associated everything with him; and my purse, which he loved so much, would become an accessory I would never touch again and an accessory I could never dispose of. And when Donald Trump & co. began destroying my country, I knew I could never carry anything with the Trump name on it again, but I also knew I could never throw it away because Ray loved it so much. It became the hiding spot for my weed and pills during my relationship with a girl named Lindsay. Lindsay hated that I smoked weed and took a recreational pill here and there, so I had to do it in secret. Ivanka Trump’s purse seemed like the perfect place to hide my bad habits.
In 2019, Ray texted me telling me he was visiting LA as part of his book tour. He had finished his novel and he told me it was about me. I had just broken up with Lindsay, (irreconcilable differences, by which I mean I couldn’t stop cheating on her). I thought that maybe Ray and I could have a real shot. I met him at a coffee shop in Silver Lake, he walked in more beautiful than ever. He hugged me and kissed my forehand. He handed me the book, and there I was, an illustrated version of me with the same outfit I wore when he first met me, and there it was, the silver Ivanka bag, illuminated, with no mention of Ivanka anywhere. I held it and fought my tears back and assured Ray that I would read it as soon as I got the chance. We talked over coffee and pie, he told me he was still with his girlfriend. I asked him what she thought about the book and he told me she assumed it was fiction, I laughed. I left the meeting knowing I’d never see him again. That night I thought about the materiality of memory, the ways we cling onto things and project our memories and desires onto them, increasing their value. I could finally destroy Ivanka’s bag with pleasure.
Ani Tatintsyan is an Armenian-American writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. She received her MA in Aesthetics and Politics from the California Institute of the Arts and her BA in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Southern California. She is the author of two books of poetry: Letters to Strangers (2013) and Everything is Magic (2016).