"Yes, I have a friend," I said.

It was 3 a.m. Many people won't understand why I did what I did. I'm not even sure I do. But heading back to Jay's seemed like the only solution.

He answered the door like nothing was unusual. Homes burn down every day.

I slept on his lumpy sofa, and the next morning Jay made me coffee. We read The Times and carried on. Just an ordinary day.

"Of course you can stay as long as you like," he said.

"That's nice of you."

"By the way," he said, "you slurp your coffee." He winked.

In two days we learned that we had much in common. Broken homes, broken dreams. My heart cracked open.

I knew we had come together out of a kind of desperate need — two halves making a whole. I told him that my family had disowned me when I moved to Hollywood. He said we should live together.

Within a month of combining our households and mismatched belongings, he started bringing in all sorts of broken things. First, there was the stray cat missing a leg, then a wild green parrot that had lost its ability to fly. Soon he moved on to humans — runaways and pregnant heroin addicts.

I eventually missed my old life. Clean. Organized. Predictable. But just as I was about to make my exit, we encountered a broken condom.

Jay was adamant about wanting to make our little family work, so I went along to the Self-Realization Center, to the Buddhist retreats, to the couple's therapist who lived in a tepee — all efforts to fix us. None worked.

By the end of our journey, there was the admission of defeat. But there also was one magnificent prize: a perfectly unbroken son. And for the first time, I understood what love was.

L.A. Affairs chronicles romance and relationships. Past columns are archived at latimes.com/laaffairs. If you have comments to share or a story to tell, write us at home@latimes.com.