April 2008, Albuquirky, NM
I wish I could relate that the following day I popped out of the bed (that was not mine) renewed, refreshed, rejuvenated. Up, and at ’em, ready to do something constructive. But, of course that is not the case. That outcome goes with someone else’s story, with a life that is, you guessed it, not mine. The truth is I don’t remember what happened the next day, nor for the next two weeks. They are, as people like to say, a blur. My next memory is of lying on the couch, crying. But don’t get the impression that I reclined for a few minutes and had a good cry, and then got on with my day. No. I mean, I sobbed. With great big snot globs hanging from my nose. It wasn’t a few minutes. It was a few weeks.
Mostly, I let the snot globs hang. I didn’t bother to use tissue very often. It felt good to cry; for the first time in nearly two years, I felt safe, physically, at least. I felt I was crying out of an enormous relief, and I reveled in it. I’d lie on the couch, morning, noon, and night, marveling at the way I felt. The couch was keeping me grounded! But God it was ugly. So, I’d laugh at its hideousness, with its background of diarrhea-after-a-bug brown, and its foreground of black Kokopelli figures, yellow Zia symbols, and green chiles. And then I’d choke on a heaving snot-glob-sob of gratitude, and run my hands up and down the material, stopping to rub the rough, raised spots of Kokopelli flute, Zia symbol edge, and green chile top. Rub, rub, rub. Oh God, I’m safe, I thought. Safe! I don’t have to worry about one person overdosing, and another one blaming me. Rub. rub. Oh God I’m safe. I don’t have to worry about crazed men breaking down doors, in sloppy pill/alcohol hazes. Rub. Rub. Oh God. I’m safe. Rub. Rub. Rub.
Basically, I flipped the fuck out.
And, kept flipping out. There was no job search, from this place that was not mine. There was only the couch. And somehow, I made that mine. Probably because I never left it. Memory after memory swamped my cranium, and day after day, I was plagued.
Woosh. There it was, the time I’d spent with the Scottish man. I shouldn’t have stayed with the Scottish man. Oh God I really shouldn’t have stayed with the Scottish man. That fossilized red-headed giant really did believe he could get me in the sack. I’d asked him to drive me to Mexico, if I paid for the gas, so I could buy the penicillin that I desperately needed for my skin. He took me, as asked, but then proceeded to buy several bottles of Viagra. The ride home was dreadful. Why had he purchased all of those pills? I found out the answer when we got back to his place. “Are you sure, you’re sure you don’t want to get in the tub with me? We can wash each other. It will be fun. Let’s make bubbles!” I thought if I stayed any longer, he might try to force me to make those damn bubbles, ick. What told me that, I didn’t know, but I listented to my instinct and left the next morning. But that meant I’d had to ask another guy I shouldn’t have been spending any time with for a ride. Ugh.
Bam. There it was, the time I’d spent with the Indian man. In a whisky-induced rage, he’d ripped a gold necklace from my neck, and threatened to beat me for being too rich. We’d been sitting in a park, smoking cigarettes, having what I thought was a good conversation when out of nowhere he jumped up and yanked off the expensive chain my grandfather had given me for some birthday or another. “Bitch,” he said. “Stupid, white, filthy rich bitch. That’s a decoration for you, you stupid white bitch, it’s money for me! I should beat you. Stupid white bitch!” Somehow, I’d managed to run away, in the dark no less, and back to the shelter where I was staying.
Smack. There it was, the time I’d spent with the older woman. I thought she was my friend, but no, she was not. Her daughter had stolen several of my belongings, and when I told my (ahem) friend about it, she told me that I could get out, thank you very much, because her daughter would never steal from anyone. “Get out,” she’d screamed so loudly that my bowel contents curdled! I’d ended up calling the sheriff to guard me while I packed, she was so enraged. The cop was just as mad as she was and kept yelling at me to hurry up.
That couch. That sinfully ugly couch.
As I cried me my very own creek, that couch became my friend. It had help me up, so far, yeah, way better than any person I’d ever known.