December 06, 2004

Part One

This is a story in two parts.

In the mid-nineties, my world fell apart. I lived, then, in Los Angeles, working in a field that brought home plenty of bacon and cast me into daily, nauseatingly-close contact with stars, agents, admen, and retinues of hangers-on. I was engaged to be married to a man just shy of completing law school whom I loved very much, a rakish, world-traveling devil who was still living where I come from, down in the southland, back at home; he promised to bring me back to the land I am made of just as soon as he passed the bar. I did not possess wit enough to realize it at the time, but I had the world by the tail.

I longed for home, though; this southern girl was not impressed by most of what California (no offense) had to offer, and I wanted to get out of the industry in the worst sort of way. I wanted to (no offense) work with normal people, with normal egos, and commensurate senses of self-importance. I wanted to be near my family, and I wanted to be with the man that I loved. I cried in the Cala Foods when the Muzak version of "Georgia" came on; I began to strike up hopeful conversations with people wearing mullets and driving pickup trucks, just for the tinge of homey nostalgia involved. It was sick.

Mama called on a Wednesday. She was in tears; she'd had a mammogram, then another mammogram, and finally a biopsy. She had a lump in her breast, and was frightened to death. Now, know this, so that I may not be accused of dragging it out, my mama is fine. She's hale and hearty lo these many years later; the lump was removed in one -ectomy and has never reared its malignant heads again. She didn't die, she didn't lose a breast. But when she called, I got just as scared as a whore in church. I sat still for a moment, my mind racing with possibilities...but in my heart, I'd known, as soon as mama hung up, what I had to do.

I quit my job. I packed my shit. At the end of the week I rented a U-Haul, attached my car to the back of it, and drove home to see my mama, dammit. She needed me. I had to come home.

Well, in retrospect, of course I was using the lump for my own ends, at least in part. I wanted to be back south anyway, longed for it, longed for sweet tea and people who said "hidy" to people they didn't know, for lightening-bugs and thunderstorms. As soon as I had an excuse I leaped on it, and ran back to where I came from, tail bristling like the Jim Dandy Dog. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love my mama, or that I wasn’t genuinely concerned. I only mention this realization because it was to serve me well in the weeks to come.

Why? Well, three weeks later, mama was lump-free, leaving behind all medication at the end of ninety days, and my fiancée had dumped me for a female law student from Venezuela. I suddenly found myself with no job, a car I couldn't afford, living at home with my parents, who did not need me in a physical way - and not living in a nice southern city like Charleston or Charlotte or Atlanta or Birmingham, either, but in a tiny town out in the middle of nowhere. No friends. No fiancée. No life. No nothing. Boom - all in three weeks.

I went into a sort of shock. I sat on the couch for a month and stared at the wall. Finally, I came to the realization I mentioned above. Then, I got up, got my ass in gear, drove to the nearest city, and found a job. That's when I met Chris and Mary.

Posted by Queenie at December 6, 2004 08:57 PM
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