Monday, December 1, 2003

Room 477

Last time I saw Ike Reilly the world was a whole other place. Last time I saw Ike, Elisabeth Filarski wasn't a co-host of The View named Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Last time I saw Ike, my blue-eyed friend didn't have a college degree. Last time I saw Ike, I didn't have a black cat sorta seeking luck (of any kind) and a tripod companion to neutralize whatever feeling that was supposed to inspire. Last time I saw Ike, my tasty interior designer didn't have a baby grand piano or baby to deal with. Last time I saw Ike, our newest taxpayer hadn't posed nude. Last time I saw Ike, the saunterer hadn't taken a fall and gained a scar (or two). Last time I saw Ike, that same saunterer hadn't lost her grandmother and her mentor. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't seen Scarlett ask Bill if it gets any easier and Bill replies that it doesn't. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't enjoyed this morning's cinnamon scone. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't had my most recent (and last) public meltdown (right here at First Ave!). Last time I saw Ike, Jazzy and Pumpkin had a loving mother/roommate and the roomie's mother hadn't written me a nice card thanking me for my memorial donation (including a 'more questions than answers' admission/reaching out) while trying to figure out why her daughter would take her own life. Last time I saw Ike, I wondered if she'd come the next time, because of all we shared music wasn't something we discussed.

Writers, education administrators, and secret folk rock stars, all hanging out in a downtown bar...


I've been working a lot of hours. Not because of any due compensation or sense of accomplishment. Sometimes you just need something to take your mind off things or keep your mind on anything else. The only thing I allowed a distraction from the long work hours was the ticket in my desk drawer that would admit me to Ike Reilly's appearance at First Ave this past week. So late one evening when I finally got home I gathered up my day's mail and while expecting something wholly different I saw a small envelope with unfamiliar personal handwriting scribbled on the outside. From previous experience (a time or two) I knew the insides contained some type of card though I knew not who it was from since there was no return address on the envelope. Weary of tricky junk mailers I nonetheless anxiously opened the baseball card sized envelope. Inside was an obviously somewhat thought out about card thanking me for a recent charitable donation I made. It was the least I could do and my eyes clouded up when the writer admitted to me, a complete stranger no less, that she had more questions than answers about why her daughter would take her own life.


We only saw each other one time. A friend of a friend of a... When I finally called her up I was in the middle of watching my dear feline friend gasp for the last breaths of his life. I wasn't exactly in the mindset of meeting someone new yet I needed something to distract my mind (catch a recurring theme here?) so I dialed the number I had tucked away. She seemed friendly and somewhat enthusiastic to meet me and we set up a time to get together. I didn't tell her what was really on my mind because how do you know how someone will respond to the revelation that your pet is dying and you are out of your mind and yet you know that you must do the human thing and remain somewhat social? Our first meeting I called to cancel because I had just brought Mr. Max home for the final time and I couldn't devote any less time in watching him and trying my darndest to make him comfortable knowing that really wasn't on the agenda anymore. She was OK with that, and after I told her what was going on she even seemed sympathetic.

A week after Max died we got together. She was kind enough to ask about him and I told her the news and she comforted me and I quickly changed the subject less I started to bawl my eyes out. But she then confessed she had a couple of cats and she couldn't imagine making the decision I had to make. She encouraged me to think about getting another cat or cats because there were so many in this world in need of a good home and having seen mine she knew what I needed to do. We didn't see each other again after that night, though we emailed and meant to get together again. Months later when I did indeed adopt a pair of cats I meant to tell her that her encouragement played heavily in my decision. Then the news came down that she took her life and I thought about how she could do that, how she could, at the very least, leave her two cats alone in this often times cruel cruel place? Should I have called? Could I have made a difference? So then recently I found the tribute her Mom posted on a cat care web site about how her daughter had devoted much of her life to taking in and taking care of lost cats because she had this kind kind soul and couldn't bear to see her intuitive friends suffer at all. And that's when I sent in my donation because I didn't know this side exactly and yet maybe, just maybe it's why we met in the first place and yet maybe I'm reading more to the story and I'll never know. Or maybe soon I will.

This time... it really no longer is about whether one is an angel or a whore or whether my friends are wasted or not or whether Commie drives a Nova or a Crown Vic. My head is bangin' and it has nothing to do with the music anymore. So just when is garbage day anyways?

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