kids love me.
i have no idea why.
it's like they never got the memo.
["go away. i never wanted you. you freak me out."]
but like bad boy syndrome, they want what they shouldn't have, and i appear ever more delicious, leather-clad, straddling my harley, flicking my butt their way.
friday was dark.
cedars days are always dark. the theatre is closed, rats scurry along our barren stage as i improvise through the a.m., break-festered l.a. streets. i run lines, silently, protesting too much against any potential scenario about to be cold-called my way.
"share the magic, not the germs", reads the sign above the masks, next to the sanitizer, ironically beside the "donate to cedars-sinai!" sign.
"fucking adorable," i think, as i begrudgingly affix a mask to my germy mouth. and sigh.
10 months later.
["what's a girl gotta do for a handful of xanax?...oh, right...lose everything...]
unfolding up from a series of lap coughs, my gaze lasers clear across the waiting room to a dozing emt., with his empty gurney. a dialysis gurney. and my head sinks right lap down into fits and starts of terrified hacking.
so once again, dr. k and i come to verbal blows. me with my big mouth, double-sided list of crazy side effects and 30 + years of experience brought to the table . dr. k. with, i don't know, like, a degree or something? scheech...
"these are your options. you either live with no kidney and dialysis. which we all know you did not tolerate well."
"or you learn to deal with these medications and their side effects."
["hmmm." (pause.) "did i just get scolded?"]
"cellcept and prednisone will not be further reduced. with years of new research, we have found underimmunosuppressing, typically assumed to cause less toxic harm to the kidney, actually allows for antibodies to cunningly build up over time; allowing for a much earlier rejection of the kidney. on the other hand, overimmunosuppressing staves off these antibodies for years longer, unfortunately increasing the lifelong side effects as a trade off for a longer kidney life."
i saw henriette's adult face for only 9 years. between 1999 and 2008, i was not on prednisone and i finally got to see what i looked like as an adult. a woman. no moon (face) on monday. but now the plan is to keep me on the world's craziest drug forever...
so there's that.
and as dr. k. explained all this to me, his strict, professional, md tone began to tremble in favor of a sympathetic friend,
"i feel bad for you"...
"i am trying," i sighed,"the worst side effects are the inability to get to sleep and stay asleep. the swelling, twitching and constant itching. and the abdominal distention that causes g.i. issues (read: poop problems.)"
[get me the fuck out of here...]
and by here, i mean my head. that hot, churning swamp; images sopped off the floor after the spaghetti is thrown against the wall to see what sticks. left over plans. dead end fantasies. and insanity replayed over and over and over again.
i exit into dark. and the only light, through slitted slats, reveals shadows of a future i'm not sure i want a part of.
acquisition of sobriety is still in escrow.
and i am a body i can't stand to stand.
head hanging low, i comfortably traverse the path of self-pity, avoiding eye contact, assuring all isolation. once alone, i confidently chug into the dark.
the dark side of the moan.
i was never afraid of the dark.
it was there i could escape when all options seemed to vacuum seal shut behind me like a panic room holding all my loved ones; leaving me stranded to face the incoming pandemic...
"i'd love a glass of wine..."
[a glass of wine. who are these people? how precious. a glass of wine...]
by the end of friday, i wanted a frozen quart of siberia's finest clear; burning my throat, luscious lime and scalding, soda bubbles scraping my tongue off, as i chugged into calm. staying up until 5, 6, 7 in the morning, passing out on my music, my mac, my couch. who cares. it all sounded fabulous to this black whole.
[a glass of wine...fuck. off.]
and then there was izzy.
i pulled up our roller coaster drive and began to unload groceries, knowing k. was just wrapping up his shoot with a 5 year-old girl. cool. just grab the bags, get inside and flee to the bedroom before they see...
a voice squeaked from behind the car.
i came around to meet my match.
"i just finished taking pictures."
[hmm. precocious. my favorite kind.]
"cool. what's your name?"
"isabella. but people call me izzy."
"i'm henriette. but you can call me hen or henny."
[izzy looks at me with those big, KID eyes. says nothing.]
"did you enjoy your shoot with kevin?"
[izzy ponders this.] "yes."
[izzy ponders me. fingers her pigtails.] "we have almost the same hair color."
[fingering my own pigtails.] "yeah. except mine has a lot more grey in it."
[HUGE, self-effacing laugh.]
[izzy ponders this.] "i have some stuff to make my hair blue."
"cool. i dyed my hair black in high school. for like a week."
"yeah? that's cool."
"so why don't you dye your hair blue?"
"well, 'cause we can't find it..."
"ohhhh. well, you better get on that..."
yes, suddenly i had a new friend. she asked me where i got my groceries. and i asked her if she missed her dogs in south carolina. she asked me if she could have some blueberries. and i asked her if she liked her little brother, cannon; who had decided to play mix and match with the salad dressing bottles on my open fridge door.
and in 60 seconds or less, izzy had uncovered my secret. kids love me, because they know i love them right back.
i will never shelve this little red haired girl.
and i love the dark too much not to shelve it.
for this little red haired girl is innocent enough to believe there is something greater than her. like izzy, who was innocent enough to believe that i could be a great friend, if only for a few minutes.
because sometimes a few minutes is all we need to keep us out of the dark.
[thank heaven for little girls...]