Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just to keep this on track, timewise, and to set up for future posts, I'll briefly comment on the holiday and then move on to the bulk of what's on my mind:

I had a great Thanksgiving. After being worried and feeling pathetic that I'd likely be spending it alone, an old friend of mine from back in the day came out of nowhere and called me. I haven't seen this man in over 20 years; when I say "back in the day", I mean REALLY back in the day. I met Cary when I was 15 years old! He was always so cool and slick, and up to all kinds of mischief, and if you were lucky, you'd get to be there when it happened. He threw the best parties, and some of my best memories are of those parties and of seeing his rockabilly band play on Saturday nights and dancing like crazy.

He called me and said, " I didn't think you'd remember me. But I messaged you anyway." I said, "Are you kidding? I thought you'd think, 'Oh, who is this little girl ( he's 6 years older)? Do I know her?' " He laughed and said, "Well, we didn't get to speak or hang much, but I know who you are! I know all about you! Do you still have that dimple in your cheek when you smile?" I flushed like a schoolgirl, I swear it. "How do you remember that?? I.....I don't know! I...." I couldn't even answer. 20 years later and it's like I'm 15 again. But in a good way.

Anyway, he lives in LA and just got divorced, and had no Thanksgiving plans. So I offered to cook and invited him over. SO, he did, with his roommate Sally. He's as charming and as sparkly and silly and adorable as he used to be, for the record. We had a grand time eating, watching "Iron Man" and having the kind of holiday that it should be, which is full of fun, laughter, lots of food, and relaxation. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

AND today, there was Black Friday to be faced, but it went better than I expected. While a roller-coaster stream of customers appeared in a super-busy-now-we're-not-okay-now-we-are-again kind of way, it was very managable and people for the most part were friendly. There was free cake and pie in the breakroom and we got out of work early because management had scheduled for such a rush of sales they had a glut of employees closing the store. I can't complain, I really can't. First time for everything, eh?

Then I came home and was settling in, and the phone rang. In a matter of a few minutes, everything turned on its head. Life, I suppose, is just that fast and unpredictable, but I swear I just don't know if I'll ever get used to it. It seems to me it was never like this before this....this era in my personal history. Maybe it's always like this: a roller-stream of up/down/up/down in ever-surprising and shocking ways for everyone. I don't think so, but then again, I don't know what else to think these days. Honestly, I don't. NO hyperbole. No hyperbole needed. I just....really don't know.
So here it is. It speaks for itself. I don't have much to say at this point. I can't really know what to say or do.

I can't even believe this, but it happened. And very overwhelmed.

My friend Sandy is 26. He's like a little brother to me. My own brother is 28, and I adore him, and it's sort of funny that Sandy is younger than both of us and fits right into the spot chronologically and in my heart where a little brother would go. I met him when he was all of 15 and too bright for his school and his family, even though they tried. With his dad's permission I became his mentor and stuck around to see him get through so much shit -- a suicide attempt at 17, a hospitalization, a drug addiction, finally getting it together to get a good job, and recently, apply to Oxford Law and GET IN-- and as an adult now, we're close like blood. I can't explain it, but I guess I just tried.

Lately I hadn't heard from him in an exceptionally long time. This was weird, and I began to get worried. After awhile I got mad-- what was that little shit doing that was so important he wouldn't return my calls? It got so bad that this weekend-- his birthday-- I was going to call his dad and insist he get on him to fucking CALL me. As the last I heard from him in April, his plan was to move to Glasgow to be with his fiancee ( she'd been in STL on a fellowship at Barnes/Jewish hospital; she's a Ph.D biochemist; they met at the pub he works at and fell in love. Her fellowship ended and she had to go.). I was to fly to see him before he left and then....nothing. I was so pissed.....

So when he called tonight, the first thing I said was, "Where have you been, motherfucker? Where are you now????" We argued and he said, "You want to know?? Huh? I'll tell you."
It all came out in spurts. I had to coax him at times. I had to cajole and wait in silence, but over an hour, he managed to get it all out. In horrible, vivid detail which I will spare you, but the story is this:

His fiancee, Sanja, came to visit. Sandy's visa was taking so long to get proccessed to he could come and join her, she decided to take a break and come to see him. They were out one night at his pub with 4 friends, and they were on their way home, laughing and talking like any other night. Sandy lives within walking distance, so they were all out in the street, making their way to the house. It was a good night.

A car pulled up, full of guys. It didn't just drive by, it stopped. And before Sandy and his friends could even blink, there were bullets flying everywhere. His friends were killed instantly with gruesome precision, and Sandy was hit 14 times. 3 times in his head. Sanja was hit only once, but it was enough to do the job. She died in his arms. Worse enough, she had just told him she was pregnant that night, and Sandy, the one who never wanted kids, was over the moon. Instead of it ending like the story it should have been, he ended up watching his friends die and losing his love, and walking ( !!!) to the ambulance for an extended stay ( 3 months) in the hospital. ( I'm so fucking pissed his dad didn't call me. San says to leave him be. But I really am so angry....)

Sanja's parent flew over from Dublin to collect their girl. They never liked Sandy. He was just a "barman" to them, one who had no future and who fought like an animal ( Sandy has several belts from UFC.). When her dad walked into his hospital room, he punched Sandy right there, while he was laying in his bed, repeatedly. Six times, I'm told. Sandy reacted without thinking, and as large as he is ( he's about 6" and over 210 lbs), did some serious damage. The defensive attack took out dad's eye completely ( as in: nothing in that socket anymore). Needless to say, security was involved, and there isn't any reconciling that.

Sanja's last wish was that her ashes be scattered in Tanzania, where rhinos herd and live ( she loved them and had "adopted" one the year before. She had also done some work in Africa during her Ph.D and had grown to love the country.). It was in her living trust, and as it turned out, mom and dad didn't get to be involved at all. Sandy just went. He took a helicopter to a herd, and asked to be let down. He told the pilot "If they stampede, let me go. I just don't want to fight it. " By all rights, it should have happened. The herd, ironically, was headed by a mama and a baby cub, surrounded by several other rhinos. Instead of being threatened, they stood and watched him, only watching him, as he scattered the ashes at the mama and cub's feet. He said he cried and bowed to them in thanks for their allowing him to be in their presence, and the baby cub looked him in the eye. He got on the helicopter and went straight home. No stay. No anything. Just mission accomplished.

He called me today, 3 days later.

He's a mess. A fucking mess. He's got 8 bullets so close to his spine the doctors won't take them out. He's in pain, and because of his history with addiction, he's refusing all narcotics. He's gone back to work in order to get some semblence of control back. When I talked to him, he would pull away from the phone to cry. I cried too, so grateful that he'd been spared. But he doesn't want to live. He says he wants to be with Sanja and the baby, and is filled with pain and rage. I told him "You're allowed anything at this point. No one will judge whatever you do or need to do next. How can we?" He said he feels like he's lost his soul and turned vicious. I said he's lost his sense of meaning and this is how he's expressing that, and that that was okay, too. But that I would hold open the possibility for him to someday not be in this vicious hateful place and find a better, more peaceful place. I would hold it open for him because he couldn't hold it as a possibility for himself.

He listened. And he cried. And finally, I asked him what he wanted. I asked him , do you want me to come? He mumbled unintelligbly. Do you want to be alone, do you want me to stay away? I'll do whatever you want. WHATEVER, San. Okay? Whatever you want. Do you want to call me in a couple of months after this is less fresh? Do you want me to hang up the phone now and let you go and hide and I'll catch you on the flip side?

Nothing was clear in what he answered. There weren't even words there. Finally I asked again, "Sandy. Do you want me to come? I can come. I WILL come. " Something came out like "mmmhmm." I said, "I'm coming. Okay?" And then he said, "I have to go." And hung up. It was like he'd been reduced to this pile of....numbness and stunted speech. I have never heard anything like that from him. I have never heard anything like that, anywhere, period.

I'm so worried I'm practically sick to my stomach. I can't bear that some animal tried to kill my boy. MY GUY. ( Additionally, I am enraged at Sanja's dad-- I cannot even express the anger I feel. If I saw him, I'd....I don't hit people. I don't get violent. I don't believe in it and it's not a choice I really support. But I feel it in me like bile-- I would haul off and hit that man so hard I'd probably break a thumb-- I don't really know how to throw a punch, LOL. For the love of god, hitting a boy and blaming him for the loss of your daughter in senseless killing, while he's got 8 bullets in his spine, and 1 just dug freshly out his skull?!? Despicable. ) I got down on my knees in my kitchen after the call and sobbed and thanked God that he'd been spared, and begged that he would survive this tragedy, and asked for the means to go home. I have to go home.I have to see him. I have to put my hands on him and know that he's safe.

I have to be there, help him. Hold him and sit with him, even without talking. I have to. I just DO. I cannot explain the need to do so, or the urgency behind it. In some ways, I feel selfish in it. It's not just for him, its for me, too. Is that bad? Is that in his best interests? I prayed and prayed: Please, God. Please, Goddess. I'm turning this over to you. Take care of him. Offer his fiancee and his child safe passage into their next resting place. Help me to know what to that is best. If it is to go, then help me to get there. If it's not, help me to know what to do. Help me get it done.

I don't have two nickels to rub together. I'm going to have beg, borrow and...well, not steal, just put my pride aside and beg and borrow if I want to get there. I suppose I will know that going is what's needed if the means are presented. I don't have much else to measure it by.

I don't know what tragedy can possibly be defined that is in any way more defined by this. I just don't know.