I look at two pictures tonight, each taken 366 days ago. One features my dad. Four days later, my father died at a hotel in St. Augustine, Florida where my family was holding a surprise birthday weekend for my aunt, my father’s younger sister. Medics were able to bring him back and transport him to a hospital several miles away where he died a second time on an operating table, a team of cardiothoracic surgeons working tirelessly to save his life. The men and women who attended to him on that day —well into the night— preformed nothing short of a medical miracle.
366 days ago marked the beginning of my fall from grace.
354 days ago, I found a letter from my biological mother. A letter of whose existence I’d hadn’t a clue. My best friend loved me through it as we theorized. I cried. A lot. He was patient. To this day I can only name one person who’s been able to make me smile and laugh even as I sobbed. I confronted my parents. My best friend consoled me some more.
And then came that fucking phone call. My questions were no longer of any importance. Instead I was thrust in to finding insurance cards, wills, personal numbers for attorneys, gaining access to various bank accounts.
Did you know that Delta Airlines will fly a body home for burial? I didn’t at the time. BFF wondered if they would have to inform you as to how many they were carrying if you asked. Neither of us followed through with actually asking a rep.
The handful of family members who contact me are few. Those who do tell me that it’s my job to be strong for my mum. So I lie. No one knows it takes me five hours to leave the house or that I haven’t eaten in days. They don’t know that I can’t figure out my home security system or that I think about downing that entire bottle of Ambien. I scare myself. But I am not that person. I don’t need attention. I’m not weak. So I lie. To them. To myself.
I begin living out of a weekender. Hotels are home to me now. I spend hours in a trans-like state. Diana brings me apples, cut in to cubes just as I prefer. Sarah tracks down oyster crackers, bland and plain, something I won’t throw up. Jeremy and Kurtis gift me a robe, a beautiful scarf. Kristin makes sure I’m never without the comfort of my favourite throw. They become my support system, a bizarre family in a way.
I fly to Los Angeles for a week. My spirits lift a little, hiding in the sanctuary of the Ritz-Carlton, a heavily tinted, midnight black E-Class at my disposal. I stay in during the day. Friends come to me rather than the other way around. I smile. I offer brief updates. I lie. Lie some more.
At night I am honest. I race down Venice Blvd. Push the Benz to it’s limit as I whip through the street hills of Silverlake, the narrow, winding roads of Los Feliz. Some times I run the trails at Griffith Park. It’s dangerous. I’m taking a risk. It doesn’t matter. I am a ghost. Nothing more.
Eventually questions come about money. My Delta Reserve card has hit its bonus miles threshold. Twice. My mother pays it without much of a word. The next account transfer has more zeros this time. Too selfish, stunned, immature, whatever… I say nothing. Instead I play God. I make it rain on Rodeo.
I don’t spend more than 6 days in any one city for the next 3 months. Nothing is permanent; I know it then… my own dysfunctional coping mechanism. Whatever someone wishes to call it, in my mind, it’s merely survival.
I fall deeper in to my rabbit hole. I retreat. I’m apathetic to life. I live in words now. My own. Sometimes in M’s. No matter how dark, M loves me all the same.
I meet TFF in April. April fools day to be exact. I’ve never believed in ‘love’ at first sight, but I wholeheartedly believe in connection. I see something in him the moment his eyes meet mine. I see sadness in his clear blue eyes, not that he’s put it on display. He’s here on business, yet that’s all I see: my eyes, myself looking back at me. I’m drawn to him. His confidence. His charm. But at the end of it all, it’s his sadness that draws me in, keeps me close, brings us closer. I never tell him so, but what he’s been through, what he’s seen… the way he can’t bear to be in one place for too long… I’m pretty sure it’s fucked him up.
I wonder if perhaps he’s in my life to show me my fate.