Its beginning to slow down in the hallways of my medical compound. The announcement that always comes to early, crackles from the ceiling. "Attention all visitors, in fifteen minutes..." it will be time for you to get the hell out. Yeah, we know your friend is sick, but leave. At least that's the way the voice sounds. Its as if they are closing down a department store. "Please, select your remaining items...", so Kevin packs up, and heads out. He leaves the radio, and the CD's for me. However, they aren't in my lap, and in my case, that means they are out of reach.
I'm expecting the usual changing of the guard, when I see a long time friend of mine. She is about to walk past my door, and sees me. She greets me with a big smile, "Hey, DWT!" My reaction time to situations like this are still extremely slow, and off. I think that she is just in the hospital for some other reason, and just happened to notice me.
"Hey! What are you doing here", I ask, enthusiastically?
"I'm here to see you, dumb-dumb."
I laugh at myself, "Oh, that's right. Thanks for the visit."
I really need to stop doing that. I've been in here at least three weeks. More or less.
My friend, I will call her "Hippie", has been a close friend of mine for almost nine years. We met while working together at a popular restaurant in Charleston. In the years before I knew her, she toured with The Dead, and lived in California for awhile. She is probably the most aggressive hippie, I've ever met. By that, I mean she was laid back about everything cool, as long as you didn't upset her. "Fuck those bitches" was a common phrase heard, when I hung out with her. If someone disagreed with her, that's how it was. However, this was actually quite charming, and a lot of laughs.
Hippie used to hang out with us a good bit. She was always there for our Sunday Funday, get togethers. All day at the beach, and then whipping up a nice meal in the evening is the protocol.
As of late, Hippie has stopped drinking. She is done with it. With that, she isn't with us every time anymore. We all understood, as she had recently found a great boyfriend, and in the process of "just getting her shit together." On top of that, being sober around people, who have been drinking all day, is generally not much fun.
One of the last times I saw her, was at one of our cookouts. When she walked in the front door, I stood up from the couch to give her a hug, and I caught my sandal on the throw rug. Even though I didn't think I was staggering drunk, I fell on my back. I completely wiped out on the coffee table. It was absolutely embarrassing.
I would have just forgotten about the incident, but she reminded me of it the next time we saw each other. "Are you going to fall down on the table, again," she asked me? I just dropped my head, and put my hands in my pockets. I had no reply.
So, this reunion is in the hospital. I am dying from extraordinary alcohol abuse, and I look like a 65 year old man with a spray tan, gone horribly wrong.
"You tried to tell me," I tell her.
Hippie pulls a chair close to the bed, and sits. "I know. I'm not here to say that, though."
"I didn't think you were", I say.
"I just wanted to come see you, and see how you're doing, babe. You know I still love you, right," she asks?
I nod, "Yeah, I know."
"I still love all of you guys. I just couldn't be around it anymore. I've always had fun, but I'm just over it."
"We all know that, Hippie. We never took anything personally. Its not like you stopped speaking to us or anything."
In typical Hippie fashion, (her name, not the mantra) she says, "Now, you're done drinking." This is not a question, this is a command.
"Yeah, I am. I mean it. There is no way that I am going to drink, again."
I don't say this to appease her. I mean it. To my surprise, I still haven't had the slightest hint of a craving. I am very sick, though.
"Good, because you ARE going to get better, and you know that. And you will, not, drink."
"I won't. I promise."
"OK. I will kick your ass DWT." She means this, too.
We only have a brief amount of time to speak, and after just a few more minutes, she has to go.
She hugs my neck and says, "OK, babe. I have to go. Keep getting better."
"I will. Thanks so much for visiting. I mean it."
We say good night, and I slouch back into my mattress.
I have a small grin on my face, and I relax.
That visit was a pleasant surprise.