Friday, October 14, 2011

Gone Fishin: Cake Means I Love You

I am having one of those " off" days. Ness has been at work all day and I decided to take up my housewife burden and get some cleaning done. I sat up in our bed, and Jack- my sweet puppy vomited all over the floor. I made my way into the kitchen and managed to clean maybe 2 dishes and then I stepped on a glass shard. The shard punctured deep into the heel of my foot, yet I felt no pain. I was surprised that it didn't hurt. I lifted my foot and pulled out the offending shard and blood began to flow. Alot of blood. I limped back into the bedroom ( leaving a trail of bloody footprints) and Jack jumped up on the bed and vomited again...and again.....and again.

I clacked out a brief email to my spouse. In my email I tried to keep a controlled voice...what I wanted to say was " I AM SITTING HERE BLEEDING PROFUSELY, JACK IS THROWING UP EVERYWHERE AND YOU ARE AT YOUR JOB LAUGHING IT UP WITH YOUR BUDDIES, KICKING BACK A FEW BEERS." I didn't write that, but I wanted to. I felt like a mob wife.

Lately,we've been fighting a lot. Ness wants to stay in LA to work at the restaurant; I want to move back to Baltimore. We need to develop a solid plan. Things seem chaotic and out of control. In 9 days we'll face our 1 year anniversary. We did a really small ceremony on the beach, followed by legal formalities downtown with California's Secretary of State, I believe. It was some state office. I remember sitting in that office shaking from nerves. I don't know what I was afraid of, but the legal formalities felt like a march to face the firing squad or something. The security guard was really nice and allowed us to cut in line when we explained that we were filing partnership/marriage papers. After we got our paper, the next day we went to social security administration and took care of business there.

I'm a Coppola now...and I feel like it...bloody foot, sick baby-dog, husband/wife at the restaurant...who will come home later smelling of beer, and will fuss at me for something. I'll fuss back.

I thought of Kellie today. For some reason, I remember sitting on the floor of my therapist's office telling her- " I have this horrible sensation in my heart..." It was inexplicably painful, even then- before I knew that my best friend had died. I felt the severed connection in my gut, the frayed pieces of me, flapping against themselves like a flag in the wind. I knew even before I knew. When I read the letter from her husband, I sat down in a laundry basket. It was as if my body just folded in on itself. My limbs became heavy and I felt as if I was in a terrible nightmare. On that evening, I had already promised Mercedes that I would make a cake for Adam, and so, I dutifully attempted to finish the cake. Through tears I mixed batter and rolled fondant. I dropped the first cake on the floor and had to start over. While the new cake baked in the oven, I lay in a fetal position on the floor....screaming...literally just screaming and gritting my teeth together. My fingers were clenched back in tight fists and I breathed in gasps. The cake suffered greatly because of my grief. I still feel so guilty about the state of that cake. It looked like a half-baked armadillo... and yet the effort that went into that cake was my love for my friends. I baked the cake in a post-traumatic haze. I ruined things about that cake that I can normally do effortlessly....and yet nothing about it came out right because even my hands seemed alien to me. It was as if I had tried to bake the thing on an acid-trip. It really looked like the work of a crazy person, and yet my friends expressed such heartfelt gratitude. Adam and Mercedes have always been very dear to me, but I think this was the moment when I really knew they were good people, good friends....people that would eventually become very dear to me.

Kellie's death changed a lot of things about me. The changes have happened in stages. The first and most obvious change was my sudden desire to marry. After a lifetime of citing the evils of marriage- after referring to my married friends as chattel and subliminally jabbing their husbands in provocative articles and threads, I caved. I met Anissa and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I love her. I even love arguing with her. I love the way we laugh, the ways in which we tease each other. I love that I have spent my day nursing a sick puppy and a bloody foot, and that I am laying here hoping....yes hoping that she'll pick a fight with me tonight. At some point I'll squeeze her around the waist and breathe in the scent of her hair, and I'll know that life is good....or good enough to bear.

I suppose that I was resentful of my girlfriends as they married themselves off because many of them instantly merged into these scary codependent existences with slimeballs. Both of my best childhood girlfriends married men I didn't like ( for varying reasons). I really resented that I had no choice but to put-up with these men or to lose my friends forever. Ironically, I did lose both of my friends forever. One was lost to death, the other was lost to stupidity ( if you ask me).

Mercedes and Adam kind of heal all of this bullshit for me. Tiff and KC do too.

It's nice to see your friends married to really good people. It's nice to see people treating each other well.

I'll never forget what Kellie said to me when she returned home from Kristin Mitchell's viewing. She was sobbing on the telephone saying " She looked like she was sleeping. I just wanted to wake her up."

When I stood in front of Kellie's corpse at her viewing, I thought ( and said outloud) " You asshole"....and I meant it.
Kellie was my best friend of 23 years and she killed my best one way or another, she killed herself.

Kellie and I made many cakes together. We were in disagreement about when a cake should come out of the oven. Kellie liked the baker's standard, and I wanted mine nearly burned to a crisp. When we were children, Kellie thought that funfetti cupcakes were pretty and I thought they smelled like play-dough and tasted like dog-shit. Kellie was with me when I got into my first car accident ( on the way to visit my mom in the hospital). Kellie was in my life when I lost my two front teeth, when I received my first girl scout patch, my first perfect attendance award, my first honor-roll listing, when I lost my training wheels...when I received my junior ring, my freshman medal. She was there when I lost other friends, when I lost my virginity I called her...Kellie knew virtually every one of my secrets. When I taped my underwear onto my body before senior prom ( a pathetic ploy to keep my virginity in tact) Kellie was there to help cut me out of layers upon layers of duck-tape. When I decided I wanted to make a Blair Witch-esq film, Kellie allowed me to paint her face like a ghoul and she filmed me as I thrashed around in a bathtub filled with fake blood. When my mother fussed at me to clean up the mess, Kellie helped. When our little click decided to take vinegar shots ( because we were afraid of using actual vodka), Kellie took something like a total of 13 shots of vinegar. She was the only one who didn't throw up afterwards LOL. Kellie and I got lost in a cornfield. We had so so many adventures and memories.

When I stood in front of her casket, I couldn't help but ask myself " What now?" ...and " What will happen to all my secrets?"...
and " What should I do with all of your secrets?"

I showed Katie our favorite hang-out, but the rest of the secrets will remain with me.

It was hard for me to walk away from her casket. I knew I would never see her physical body ever again. Maria held me in a tight embrace and I sobbed. I couldn't stop crying. I knew that I had to leave her there.... but I didn't know what that would mean because for 23 years Kellie was only just a phone call or a bike ride away.

I dream about Kellie fairly often. Maybe it's just my mind's way of finding closure, but maybe she is somehow telling me that it is okay to go on. I don't know. I may never know. But I hope that when I die, Kellie comes to get me. I picture myself wrapping my arms around my friend. I imagine what it would be like to hug her, to hear her voice again. When we were kids, we did a play and Kellie was an angel...I was an animal in a pasture. After the final line of the play was delivered by Laura Spicer, I gave the audience this huge stupid wink. My well-meaning father had given me a pep-talk beforehand about how it was important to be the best lamb I could be. I was a weirdly overly zealous lamb that seemed to be parodying the play with my final wink. When Kellie and I graduated from kindergarden, she took a photo with our teacher gracefully, and I managed to throw up all over myself. I remember getting into a tiny little argument with Kel's dad in the 3rd grade because he wanted to buy me a slurpee from 7-11, and I wanted to pay for it myself. Kellie had a thing for cheese sandwiches, and I preferred to bring exotic things in my lunchbox (one day my teacher asked me if I was eating bird food). At my 5th birthday party, Kellie helped me open my gifts. When Kellie came to visit me in Los Angeles a few years ago, we went swimming in the pool and had fun diving to the bottom. We had a great time. Before her wedding ( I was a bridesmaid) I asked her " Are you sure you want to do this? We can get out of here if you don't want to do this"...she said she was sure.

We laughed so very much. We cried a few times. We watched Beaches. We even took bets on who would get married first, who would have sex first, who would die first....

but I don't think any of us really believed that we would actually die.

After her funeral, Katie and I went back to the room in which Kellie died. I wanted to curl up on the spot and go to sleep, but instead I sat on the floor. I took a shirt and a pair of pants. I keep them in a box next to my bed.

After Kellie died emotions ran high. I wrote an ex-mutual friend Q, a letter about how I cared about her, but about how I did not attend Q's own wedding because I thought she'd made the mistake of her life. In my mind, I had lost enough friends because of their attachments to people that I felt mistreated them. But I suppose that being around such evil is contagious because she now behaves just like him. Q, the girl I grew up with doesn't exist anymore. I know that my viewpoint is unpopular, but I don't care. I know that XYZ have plenty of nasty things to say about me and I don't care about that either. My ex-friend deserved better. She deserved more respect and love without being constantly berated and invalidated. And I should have said this to her face from jump-street. She deserved more dignity, and a life of peace and compassion. Attachment and ownership don't equal love. It wasn't the choice I would have made, but it's her life. She's the one who has to live it...

As for me...there will be birthday cakes for my children- past, present, future. There will be celebrations of victories and failures. There will be arguments too- and most of these will somehow be worked out and repaired.

Regardless of what has happened, I believe that most people are good at heart. I have many more cakes to bake....but in some way Kel, every one is for you.

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