Laundry night came right on time so I only had two small loads, one light, one dark. Really, separating them isn’t necessary. I use cold water so my clothes won’t shrink and I don’t use bleach, but habits like dividing lights from darks die hard. But who cares?
Should I talk about feeling superior to my brethren who drive because I can dip in and out quickly while they have let the laundry pile up into a project which will last for hours? Maybe other people’s smug is slightly better word fodder than the specifics of laundering clothes, but not by much. And it’s still not relevant to this post.
I'm just giving you what I was doing last night, walking the five-ish blocks from the Treehouse to the coin laundry, when life happened.
Andi spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital. Allegedly the peritonitis was related to an infected appendix and not to her dialysis, but I could tell you stories of hospital visits over the years which would amuse, astound, and disgust you. I imagine her rattling off the symptoms as well as she could, the staff dragging their heels with tests while her pain intensified. Hospitals are very cautious about abdominal pain. The staff never listens, event if peritoneal dialysis requires you to be your own doctor, even if the symptoms are as familiar as your face.
They removed Andi’s appendix. At least next time she presents with peritoneal infection, they can rule out appendicitis immediately and get her one step closer to antibiotics and pain medication. Or maybe this was a perfect diagnosis. I wouldn’t know because for the first time since she was diagnosed with a kidney disease, I wasn’t in the hospital with her. I wasn’t there to fight for her, or to comfort her.
It’s a choice we’ve made. More accurately, a consequence of earlier choices which we should have seen coming.
What’s the etiquette, when someone you’ve loved most of your life but to whom you’re not currently speaking is hospitalized? If this was a movie or a TV show, it would have been time for a tearful reunion. Regrets would have been expressed, truths uttered, wrongs forgiven. Whether the scene leads to reconciliation of friendship or reparation of a relationship depends largely on whether the show is a comedy or a drama, or how long the writers want to extend the storyline.
Maybe Andi would have asked me for a switchblade, telling me it was time to get even with the Socs. “For Johnny, man. We’ll do it for Johnny.”
I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there. I sent her a text message.
Walking to the coin laundry, I wondered how she was doing. I’d gotten secondhand reports, the same way I learned she was in the hospital, but I wanted to find out from her. One street from my goal, I saw a silver Aveo blocking the sidewalk. I slowed down as I approached. Andi’s car always looked like every other, which was the big joke at malls and movies. This couldn’t be her car because she doesn’t know anyone who lives in my neighborhood. Then I saw the faded Micky Mouse antennae ball. I saw the sea turtle hanging from the rearview. I saw scratches on the rear fender from where I’d leaned my bike.
Seeing her car completely out of context to the life we shared felt like a dream, when you think of a place and you’re there, or a person and they appear.
Her car was parked at a house that looked like a house in Coral Gables close to Eighth Street. A good size, homey, well-landscaped, pretty. Nothing to distinguish it from the others, nothing special about the other cars in the driveway.
I couldn’t really see inside her tinted windows, but every shape and reflection and shadow seemed filled with secret life. It’s not that she doesn’t know anyone who lives in my neighborhood, it’s that she didn’t know anyone who lives in my neighborhood. Now, who knows who she knows? It’s all fun and games when you picture her sitting at home, pining for you, face carved in lugubrious lines while she brews bitter tea with the tears of her regret.
Or, you know… sad.
It’s a different game when the fact of her moving on is in your face.
I got to Laundromat and texted some friends to calm myself. With the laundry going, I realized I want both Andi and myself to be happy. Ultimately, it would be good if we could be friends again. Becky is proving to be something of a miracle in my life; could I begrudge Andi the same happiness, in this too short time on Earth? Once the weirdness of seeing her car subsided, I realized I couldn’t.
I still took the next block up on the way home.