Monday, May 12, 2014

A Visit to the Edge...and Back

Needless to say, we were all sort of shellshocked for awhile. Kurt fared better than I did because he and Mark were awakened by the neighbor's smoke alarm before the fire spread too far. They grabbed their cellphones and wallets, Kurt's ipad, a few nicknacky things, and even some clothes before heading ouside to check on the neighbors. Kurt actually had a disaster plan in place for just this very thing. He keeps a filebox behind a table by the door. It contains copies of all his important papers, medical records, credit card info, passwords, everything. He tucked that under his arm as he left the apartment.

Mark called 911 while Kurt made sure the neighbors were all awake. I was almost an afterthought. Mark ran around to my bedroom window as the firetrucks pulled up.

Luckily, no one was hurt. The fire started in the wall between Kurt's apartment, number '3', and the neighbor in '2', who wasn't home at the time.

After being checked by the paramedics for signs of smoke inhalation, we drove over to Marks place to sleep for awhile before regrouping. Of course, I had no renter's insurance, unlike Kurt. The upside is that I didn't own much and besides my photographs and the Barney papers, which wouldn't be helped by insurance anyway, everything else was replaceable. I think I mourned the crafts we'd made more than anything else. They represented so much - friendship, hope, budding creativity - not to mention countless hours of work. That part really made me heartsick.

But, time lurches on and within a few days we'd made all the necessary phone calls, Kurt met with his insurance adjustor, and Mark was back to work at his job. For the first couple of days after, I slept on Mark's couch and lived in my jammies - a ratty old tank top and flannel pants with martini glasses printed on them. The boys finally made me shower. Mark thrust an old pair of his Levi's and a tshirt through the bathroom door and tossed my filthy, wadded-up pajamas in the washer. I still have that old tshirt. Its a lovely, washed out blue cotton, vintage 1980s, with 'Balboa Bay Yacht Club'  embroidered discretely over the heart.

I was gripped in a state of lethargy. I slept a lot and read Mark's old paperbacks into the wee hours. My brain felt pumped full of concrete and I had a hard time participating in conversation. I just wanted to be left alone on the quiet couch to read and sleep for the rest of my life.

After about a week of this, the boys decided an intervention was in order.  Mark came home with an armload of shopping bags-Macy's, Sephora, CVS, and Designer Shoe Wearhouse. They sat me down on my beloved couch, each taking one of my hands, looked lovingly into my eyes, and said "Bitch, this shit has to stop right now!"

Kurt whipped out the bags and started dumping the contents in my lap - a pink Juicy tracksuit, some of my favorite skincare products from Sephora , a cute pair of jeweled thongs, shampoo and hair products from the drug store and last, a $200 prepaid VISA card.

They told me all the tough-love crap that you're supposed to tell someone who has been traumatized and lost her grip. It was time for me to rejoin the land of the living and start fighting to get my life back. I think one of the reasons I felt so spun was that I didn't feel like I had much of a life to go back to. "Perfect!" Kurt cried, "Now you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself!"

"Yeah," Mark piped up, "It's like what Burt Cooper said to Pete on that episode of Mad Men where he outs Don - 'A man is whatever room he is in.' You need to build another room. We can't afford to completely restock you, but this is a start. Pay us back sometime, or just consider it a gift,  but girlfriend got to get up offa the couch and carry on because this house ain't big enough for three!" He was working his neck like a black girl and I started to laugh,  which became great, wrenching sobs. I bawled for a couple of minutes but when it passed I felt better, clear headed. I was back, thanks to a cheesy TV quote and a good cry.

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