Friday, February 08, 2013

What matters

I almost couldn't believe it when JoAnne told me she was really going to move here, that her mother thought it was a good idea, that she would pay for the ticket but nothing else. She didn't want to give JoAnne any money, since the last time she gave her a thousand dollars and JoAnne spent it all on heroin. JoAnne actually agreed with her mother, she said I shouldn't give her any money either, that she couldn't be trusted.

            So I said I would pay for everything for two months, since I knew JoAnne would need some time before looking for a job. I think she just thought I was offering to pay rent and then she would have to figure the rest out, but we already know that didn't work the first two times. Sure, that was in San Francisco, but still.

When I first made the offer JoAnne actually said no, she didn't want to be dependent on me. What if she failed, would I think she was a horrible person? She didn't want to endanger our relationship.

And I said I'm sure I would be angry, but I wouldn't think you were a horrible person. I know all about addiction, right? You're the one who keeps telling me that.

So then she thought about it and eventually said okay, as long as I can pay back.

And I said no, I don't want you to pay me back, and she asked why. And I said we both know how horrible it is to find a job, and I don't want you to be in more stress because more stress will just mean more heroin.

And she started crying and I wasn't sure why exactly, and then she said okay.

Thinking about all of this is making me edgy. No, thinking about it is making me excited, but then waiting is making me edgy– should I take a Xanax or a Valium? Luckily Ned has so many pills it's a joke. Everything. And that first night he said take what you want, take anything, and then my eyes rolled back.

The best part is that Ned goes to bed around 10 or 11, and I’m rarely ready before 3 or 4, so really I only have two or three hours of lying in bed with him when I stay over, two or three hours before he gets up to get ready for work and then I can really sleep. 

            Wait, I can't believe it, the plane’s here. I almost don't notice, but then I realize I’m looking at new people, not the same ones who have been sitting here the whole time, and some of them actually look like humans. Like that skinny punked-out woman with bleached hair and junky makeup, she even smiles at me in kind of a shy-but-not-so-shy way. Do I know her from somewhere? Mattilda, don't be ridiculous. Where's JoAnne?

I wait till the very end, but still I don't see her. Could she be on a different plane? Just when I think I better call her mother, I realize that woman with bleached hair is still staring at me, she has nails in her ears like JoAnne, and then I realize wait, I'm an idiot, that's JoAnne!

            And she says: I didn't think you were going to recognize me.

And then we're hugging and she feels so small. You look great, she says — your hair is amazing. I start to say you look great too, but she says don't even try it, I know I look like a junky mess. I've lost like a hundred pounds.

I can't believe you're here, I say, and then we both start crying and we're hugging each other and she says: I would say let's get a cocktail, but I already know we have rules.

And I say yes, rules.

And we look at each other and it's all so hard to believe.

            And she says: You live near here, right?

I say yeah, in the airport. I live right here.  

And JoAnne says: It looks like a nice neighborhood.

And I say: Don't even try to pretend that I didn't warn you. Let's get a taxi.

            When we walk into the apartment, JoAnne starts jumping up and down and giggling, laughing at my lists on the wall and saying it's beautiful, Mattilda, it's beautiful. You're beautiful. Then she puts her bags down in her room, and comes back out with some sage: Do you have somewhere where I can burn this?

You are not burning sage in this apartment.

Mattilda, I have to burn sage — I need to clear the energy.

Let's open up the windows then. That New Age garbage needs to stay on the West Coast.

Mattilda, it's not New Age — it’s a Native ritual

And you’re Native now?

I can't believe we're arguing already.

We are not arguing. You can burn sage in your room, but not in the rest of the apartment.

Mattilda, we are arguing, but I love it. We’re arguing about what matters.


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