“I am dying” I say, when asked. My friend Sarah and I are on the phone and she asks me how I am and my off the cuff response is I am dying. This was not yesterday or even two years ago. This was ten fucking years ago and I was convinced of my impending death. The problem was I had a mild head cold that was making it difficult to breathe through my nose but I was dying and my friend Sarah knew before I did about my head cold because of my response. Apparently I died or suggested death when I had a head cold or if I was tired or had any slight discomfort. Believe it or not, I did not realize that I am a women of extremes. I am shocked when she points out that I vacillate from one pole to another so quickly and confidently that my vacillation almost feels like a lie. My conversation with Sarah was really the first inkling that I had that I was dramatic; before you fall out of your chair with laughter, I knew I was dramatic but I also knew that I had every reason to BE dramatic. If anyone ever questioned my drama I would daftly list off my childhood troubles and my single working mom woes as a justification for said drama. So I wasn’t shocked when my friend Joe confronted me once again with the drama piece of my personality.
I am in L.A. sitting with Joe in his magnificent dwelling and we are drinking champagne as all of the elegant people do when he turns to me and asks me how I am. Now keep in mind that the slightest discomfort on my part kills me, so I proceed to tell him I am a fucking mess, I am dying, I can barely get my life together etc, etc, etc. Joe takes a long drag from his Marlboro and looks at me as he does. He says nothing and I begin to feel tension, mainly because I want to maintain and possibly even expand Joe’s adoration for me. Still silence as I stare into his eyes wondering what is going through his brain. He finally blows out the smoke and says “Ive made an observation about you, may I tell you what it is? Oh God, the voice in my head is screaming. I know he is going to tell me that it’s time for me to move on from this widow shtick, he’s going to say I need to be a better parent, he is going to confirm my fear that my kids are indeed going to die of scurvy, he is going to tell me that I will never look like Beyonce and I should stop suggesting that, even in jest. Whatever he is going to say will be bad, I know it.
“OK, sure” I say. “ I’ve noticed when I talk to you and when I read your blog…”
“Wait, you read my blog?” “Of course” he says. Oh my God, Joe reads my blog, he is as cool as the opposite side of the pillow and he reads my blog.
“Of course, you read my blog”, I casually croak out, “My blog is totally worth reading” Way to go T, that sounds real nice and natural. “Anyway, you were saying?” At that point I put my hand out, palm up and held my imaginary cigarette between my pointer and middle finger, once again playing everything real cool.
“You’re not really a fucking mess”
“No”, he says. “you’re here and you got here, your children seem to be clean and well nourished” Yes! I say to myself, my kids seem clean AND well nourished. Fuck you scurvy!
“And” he says “you look great”
“Beyonce great?” I ask, he humors me and nods his head in the affirmative.
“May I say something else?” I am still smoking my imaginary cigarette because now I am a sophisticated lady and that’s what we do.
“I’ve noticed that you are either, fine,fine, fine or dying and you don’t seem to be either”. I look into Joe’s eyes and see his genuineness, compassion and love for me and every care I had about being cool to him is released. He sees me as I really am, a person living life. No more no less. Tears begin to fill my eyes and I am now breathless. It is a very rare phenomenon to see someone, to truly see them as they are, not what you want them to be or what you think they are but to truly see them. My friend Joe sees me and I see him. People throw around the word blessed like used Kleenex but this day, I was truly blessed by my dear Joe, even though he refuses to let me make out with him, I know I am blessed. My constant inability to just “be” has always been a struggle for me. The fact that I have to be dead or perfect is as troublesome as it is amusing. I may never be able to just “be” but at least I know someone, somewhere has the ability to see me between my vast lines, dead or perfect.