By the time Liza and I got home from our marsupial moment we were wax versions of Gretchen and Penelope oozing out onto the driveway leaving a mirage of ourselves in every step. I dripped to the house and up to top of the stairs desperately trying to free myself from my clothing on the way. Stairs and undressing are a bad combo. . Memories of the pool. My hair was again stuck in my shirt and my pant leg with twisted back around my kneecaps
"Help!! Air! "Liza found me splayed on foyer flailing. Mostly gasping.
Liza was of quick help peeling me out of my sticky ensemble as she was raised in the spit on the wash cloth wipe your face - the band aid off with the scab- zip hoods into chins and if it doesn't fit use a hanger or a stapler school of dressing. So she snapped my shirt off and did that groovey one hand bra snap. Snaps ndeed! Free free at last!!
But three was more than one snap. Both our heads spun to look at poor Ethyl.
Wow. Not right at all.
Lumpy. White hard swollen pulled so tight. I could see - Peter Paul and Mary really were killing her.. She was so sweaty and I think possibly crying. I know I was. I gently coaxed her from trying to hide in my belly button. We turned to snuggle into Liza.
"Ew. Get off of me. You smell like boobie cheese!""
She waddled us into the shower and walked away. I think mine and Ethyl's tears were louder than the spray. Myrtle slipped into my armpit to give Ethyl and I little one on one time with the poof and the Irish Spring. That and I think she was embarrassed that I was still wearing pants. I turned to look in the mirror something I do quite often. Not as a habit of vanity but one of self talk.
My mother allways said " No matter where you go - there you are. Now look at yourself and love yourself. Just the way you are. I do"
I could't help but sob. And laugh. And sob. I am a mess. We are a mess. I made a giant soap bubble nose for myself and pasties for the girls. I put the pouf on my head pulled my wet pants up mom style and stuck the girls nipple to nipple on the steamed glass shower stall. Ta das!
"Well mom. Here I am. One cancer ridden clown!"
Ethyl pried her face off of Myrtle spat off the bubbles and in a rare moment spoke. ( she usually sings broadway Merman style )
"Ummm before you go completely off the rails - and before I get hacked off - do you think I could have a picture. A proper picture - because if this is my last memory of myself - a lot more than sun shine and roses are going to be coming up.. and perhaps out your nose."
I wiped away the soap and the snot.
"As you wish Ethy. I will get Liza to call Suzi. Right now I have to get my pants off and the soap out of my eye. - and maybe call my therapist. Or a circus."
"Ummmm Kelly? Stop talking. Even Myrtle - who by the way is turning blue - thinks you should."
" Yes. Of course."
Always listen to your boobs before you become one.
Waiting. I suspect neurotypical people wait. A lot. I suspect they do if for years on end. If I googled it - I am gonna guess about 3 to 4 years depending on where you live and whether or not you drive on the Don Valley Parking lot. Or take the TTC. Otherwise known as tedious and time consuming - or Take the Car -which could put you on Lake snore Boulevard. Driving is crazy making. Driving in Toronto is just crazy.
My ADHD brain just not get the concept of simply waiting. Although once about 24 years ago I came really close. Really close to getting myself tossed out a window onto the street. Really close to getting my socks stuffed into my mouth by my classmates. And really, really, really close to giving my acting class professor an aneurism. ( not that you can give them out but if I could I do have a short list)
The lesson - which I have since stolen and adapted was to learn about being in the moment. To be present and accepting - not just stand there and wait for your turn to say a line. This of course was super obvious to my brain - I have always said to myself and others -
"Where are you? HERE. What time is it? NOW. Does anything else matter? NO."
So as my brilliant teacher ( not sarcasm) was explaining the concept of the moment I had a rather smug look on my face. Apparently too smug. So I was selected to go sit on a painfully solid wood chair placed in the middle of the room. No reason no words just gestures to get to me to go sit. Silence. More silence. Fascinating. Soooooo interesting. I could not stop smiling. The entire class was just sitting there. Staring at me. Bliss. The committee had a big meeting in my head. So much to think about and all the space in the universe to imagine, play, plot, plan, dream, which I do both asleep and awake.
Then the Prof said - and I have no idea of how much time had passed - as I do not get time - in a hushed tone - " Ok - let me know when you know what you are doing."
I brought my attention as best I could to focus on the faces of my classmates. Woa. Nasty. Now mind you this was Trent in the 90's. Purple might have been the official colour of things feminist and lesboinc but I was not expecting so many faces to be bubbling purple. There was one gal who looked positively Elizabtheanly Talyorish.
Two hours. Two hours had passed. Two hours had passed since he asked the weird question. This I noted by the clock tower. Which I think many people in the room were about to go. I was so taken aback. How had I missed all this frustration and anger?
" What?" I asked - shattering the silence like flatulence at a funeral.
" Well Kelly - do you know what you are doing?" "Nope." - pretty sure I had no chance of explaining myself. Pretty sure I had just sucked two hours of peoples life away. Pretty sure I should just drop the class and run. I scanned for my shoes then said - very quietly through burning salty tears of shame -
"I am just sitting here. Being myself." My Prof walked up to my hanging head and lifted my chin. He looked me right in the eye - right thru to the back of my swirling head.
"Exactly." He said still in that hushed tone. "You were the only one not waiting."
- So please, don't wait. Don't wait to live, Don't wait to die. Don't wait for an absolution that will never come. (Titanic) find your moment and be in it.
Oh look a chicken.
There may be some swelling she said. Oh and some bruising. And it will hurt more the second day. Truer words were never said. Thank goodness Liza had arranged baby sitters. Surprise babysistah's.
I stirred from under my pillow fortress to find Liza dressed for work and hovering at the end of the bed holding a tube in her hand - Looking very serious...
"Wake up .You have to get up. Cdubs and Muffin are on their way. Hurry they will be in here in 30 minutes. And you have to shower your hair is on sideways. And yes you are allowed to shower and you can swim today too. but first this" I was half asleep and so very very confused.
"Yes to cover the steri strips now sit up and hurry up!"
Do we have a cat?
"Yes. in an urn in the closet. Why?"
Because there is fur on my tongue.
"Kelly Dear sit up now and take off your shirt before i saran your head."
But I - eeeeyowww!!
Arguing with Liza is pointless. She reaches into your brain and you end up arguing with yourself. Kinda like how a certain champagne sipping auctioneer i know gets me to bid against myself. Awesome another 300 dollar gift basket to never re-gift. Not doing as Liza says is also pointless. It is hard on both your ears and your self-esteem. Kinda like listening to the clerk at Bikini Village tell you 'But it is an extra large top' as your nipples surf out over it. Awesome another day swimming in six bathing suits and a T-shirt.
"OMG" says Liza as i finally sit up and peel off my sweat soaked t-shirt."Ethyl is black. You look like an Oreo and a Floatie had a baby." She peeled off another foot of saran wrap and embalmed Ethyl. "No time for a shower - just get your b-suits on and go downstairs-the girls are here."
"Yay gay people!!"
And indeed they were. Dressed in different but identical short and t-shirt combos, sensible shoes, short cropped hair do's perfectly styled, all shiney nosed from sunblock
and staring at me like i was a car accident.
Now to put the following exchange in context - we have been friends on and off for well over 20 years. Sometimes really off and now thankfully - more on than ever.
"You look like shit. "I feel like shit."
"Why are you so pale?" "I probably have cancer"
"Why are you so pale?" " I already had skin cancer"
"Oh that sucks." - pause - " i think this might suck more"
Now please picture an episode of Ellen that has something to do with dead puppies, lost kittens, and the guest is Celine Dion. Keep imagining. Bette Midler makes a guest appearance and sings wind beneath my wings.
"Girls. Enough. ( said with 3 E's) Stop crying. Open the Veuve and get in the pool."
"Finally Kelly, someone who gets you."
"Yes" i said meekly. "Kinda like you guys do."
So i have had the biopsy - lunch on the best patio - with the best people - and on the way home Liza tells me " Yes really, all the sisters are coming over later - All three of them.- And yes i will get more tylenol."
I have a biological sister. But i use that term lightly. I think she may be part machine. There may be absolutely zero things on the planet that she has not seen, tried or done. All of which she does extremely well. I'm bored i think i'll get a math degree. Oh then a Masters. Egypt? sure lets go - learn to paint - ok can i teach it now? Sports? Sure - umm why are you putting a band aid on your tennis ball? Oh your leg is bleeding too? No problem i worked in Emerg for centuries. Pass me that trombone - but don't step on my shooting trophies - or else. Cancer? That sucks. Call me when you need me. Love you.
Actually, in loving retrospect, i think i do know one thing my beloved sissy - who is also my oldest living relative - can't do - and that is -
Sneak up on a Lear Jet. Mind you i can't either…and my family nick name is mouse.
Sisters have an energy about them. Liza's have an energy about them that if harnessed could stop the need for freaking fracking. Liza alone is a bizarre combination of Oprah, DonaldTrump - with way way better hair and Chelsea Handler. Oh and a little Dr. Suess.
So in preparation for the sister invasion Liza has me wadded up in towels and ice, seated in the recliner, juice box ready. Now remember, Ethyl has just been attacked by a box cutter, a knitting needle, and a back hoe. Swelling they said? Myrtle, who was always the big sister looked like sloppy floppy tiny piece of pale pepperoni pizza and Ethyl - well an over-inflated volleyball with the bladder and the pin hanging out. Hot.
Enter the 3 sisters. scene: a blonde - with now a ginger - a brunette and a black curly haired rake. All incredibly smart, athletic- two at a world class level, artistic, super humans - three of which are away from their kids and the husbands. I hid my juice box.
For the next 3 hours - they lasted 6 more - i was overwhelmed with the power and the gentleness of sister love - and yes it got creepy when one said i was like the 5th sister - 5th wheel in the corner yes - and sistah for sure - but - but what i was missing was that they were trying to make me feel like family. To include me - scary thing is - i liked it.
For hours they talked at me, with me, to me, about me, and shared stories and emotions with each other that i cannot even imagine having. I am not straight. i am not married. I have never lost a pregnancy. I never shared a room - nor been arrested - but
i too have been depressed scared sick angry lost hurt lonely worried pained and alone. In fact i am kinda feeling all those things right now as i type this. Tears in my herpes. ow
So after my Juice box, and a tylenol from each them i had the courage to answer the question "What can we do for you?"
I want to be "Auntie Kelly."
It is always Auntie Liza and Kelly. I act like - live like and love like i am Auntie Kelly - so i wanna be. That is what i want. I need. To really feel that my relationship is real. That all our relationships are real without having to be married.
It was a little hard to say. It was a little hard to hear. Different values. Different Ideas. Different pain tolerances. So i faded away to sleep not really knowing… weeks passed..
But then it happened. - While in Vegas - We bought little safari outfits for the kids. Hats vests - classic Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom style - and took them over to one of the sisters. As the bags emptied onto the deck and hats popped onto heads - i heard in squealing delight -
"Thank you Auntie Kelly!!" - now that is what cures cancer - and puts a grin on a face that not even cupcake hugs on a brand new Lacoste can erase.
After a horrific fall - all puns intended - a mid winter break of Liza's knee and 23 weeks of non sick days as an Eagle - not even so much as a sniffle or headache - on the last Friday night of June, celebrating the most successful semester of my life - I nearly drown myself in our pool.
It was a simple accident fueled by vintage Rioja, excessive handstands, a pool noodle and the fact that given my stature and my painful fear of my own body - To frolic in water I wear a sportsbra, two bathing suits, a neoprene turtleneck and a sticky rubber hat to protect my 1989 hair do.
During a move I now like to call downward facing lucky moron I got tangled up in myself. Essentially an underwater self jerseying. In attempt to save myself I yanked the turtle neck all the way up and over only to have it stick to my head. In another move I call half laughing flailing bubbles I pulled one arm out of the shirt and threaded it through the shoulder strap of one suit successfully sewing myself together with my arms crossed over my face.
It is important to note that I am still upside down, the noodle has now wedged itself between my knees and my face is banging on the bottom of the pool as my butt bobs in the air.
Sadly unable to breath through my ass I start to panic and begin to air pedal in attempt to free myself. Liza finally realized this was not pool yoga and reached in to put me right side up.
However, given the tangled mess I was in - the only things available to grab onto were Ethyl and Myrtle. Myrtle was fine with being twisted sideways, Ethyl was not.
"Mow mow fowow - " I mumbled from inside. "Frart thursts" Liza had not yet let go and was squeezing the hell of Myrtle.
"What is this?" asked Liza. I stood stalk still. I knew right away. Liza gently pulled me out of my rubber tomb and we did a breast exam on the deck. Well not on the deck - the deck is fine - It was me that was - rather is not okay.
Lying down the lump was really hard to feel. But when I stood up, and let the girls dangle it was right there under the skin - hard, round and terrifying.
Funny - I nearly had to die to find out I just might.
After years of being told I behave like my father- a snide quick witted silver tounged fox with a penchant for ladies- who always had a joke or one liner that would leave people gob smacked or wanting to smack him -
it seems I am my mother's daughter after all.
Big bad Bill who smoked a belvedere in three drags and single handedly consumed more beer than the Navy lived to be 80.
Mama Dear - loved by more people than the Navy employs - made a wretched exit alone in the wee hours of late March 1989 - wrapped in Laura Secord French Mint sheets - dignity gone- taken by the ravages of breast cancer. She was just 62.
I intend only to be my mother's daughter in that her sense of humour was wiley, wise and witty. In that her love filled entire rooms the way the Beatles filled living rooms. In the way that not once in the 2.5 year battle she fought did she complain.
I want to be like her in that she was the most amazing warm human who always had a pork chop for my friends and who lived and loved by the saying - km as long as I have a dime you will always have a nickel in you pocket.
Well Mom, I have about 287 dimes as I keep finding them everywhere- so that means 287 of the people I love have nickles but I love a couple thousand more people so I am gonna need some more time.
And no offense Ma- as much as I miss you - as much as my heart aches everyday just to hear your ole southern drawl- you are not going to see me anytime soon.
It is time now to be the best combo of both my parents. After all if wasn't for them I wouldn't be here it all.