When she was twelve she said:
"I can't wait to get out of this town. I'm going to New York City where people are weird."
Her mother and sister affectionately call her, 'that creepy little kid'. We see you, Elizabeth, bring out your weird. And sometimes she does. But mostly she channels Holly Golightly with a green dinosaur egg balanced on her head. This can be done; it's a matter of cosmic balance.
Sometimes things happen so fast we don't have time to properly process the events that shape us. We are unaware that we have changed. If you balance a green dinosaur egg on your head long enough, that's all you'll notice, just the egg on your head. Everything else is perfectly fine, as long as the egg is in place. She walked back and forth across the lawn, she drank from her glass and smiled. She winked at Tyler and kept right on walking. She'd survived the bullets and developed an edge; we should all be so fortunate.
2018 kicked our collective asses and didn't bother taking names. It dished up event after event without pause. Not everything was transparent; maybe if it had been we'd, have done a better job caring for each other. Almost all of us grew up on the Outer Banks. The water is sacred and salty and the surf will take your life for what might seem to be the slightest bit of disrespect. If you think it's slight, then you haven't been reading the ocean. We were a family that took great pride in reading and weathering storms. We were self-absorbed and didn't see the sky.
In a single three hour session, Elizabeth's mother's life was laid bare. It's an odd thing, you can tell the same story over and over again and nothing changes until someone picks up a different sort of light and blows the entire myth to shit. This never would have happened if Elizabeth's mother's doctor hadn't abruptly retired leaving her without the sort of care that can't be delayed. In her search for a new doctor she got herself on a waiting list for the Bipolar God of Connecticut. It was a seven month wait and he did not take insurance. Insurance will not cover a ninety minute session. It will cover fifteen minutes, which is just enough time to review the diagnosis of the original doctor that briefly examined the patient sometime after midnight and sealed her fate. Ostensibly.
Elizabeth's mother had already obtained a doctor she referred to as The Vending Machine. He could continue to write the prescriptions that kept her alive, but he could not diagnose or adjust. It was good enough for now. When the Bipolar God sent a text indicating a cancelation, she jumped at it. Ninety minutes and $700 is at least an insight to something that happened ten years prior and followed her like a junkyard dog.
Ninety minutes into her session, the Bipolar God sent someone out of the waiting room and called another to reschedule. They continued. At the end of three hours, the Bipolar God said, good news! You are not bipolar but you do have a problem.
PTSD of the long term sort.
Elizabeth's mother thought about everything that had come out of her mouth and suddenly, after all the tellings, her experience of the stories turned on its head. The Bipolar God referred her to a woman who couldn't help her and in the mean time, the back of her head blew off.
The explosion happened at the client site. She locked herself in a collaboration room and practiced breathing... In: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Out: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... begin again. When it was time to leave, she went back to the hotel and hit another wall. The evening FaceTime session with Elizabeth was not going to happen. The facade had cracked and the floor was awash in mercury. She called the sister and explained. The sister was on her way toward 'Psychiatric Nurse' and surely would understand. Please call your sister this evening because I cannot. My head has exploded and all those lead lined boxes I kept in the garage have burst open. I don't know what to do.
Just breathe, Momma.
But, Lucia, your grandmother, she did this thing...
The moment you tell, the world ends. It isn't the victim that cannot eventually process and cope. It is the spectator who eventually loses their perspective and shit entirely. Nobody wants to hear this. The cost is way too high. This is the preface to 2018, the rendered judgement of The Mother, and everything that comes after. While the mother worked at staying alive, the children were up to their knees in the rest of it, which is really just a series of events. Nothing unusual, nothing that can be declared unexpected, and certainly nothing traumatic, although trauma is subjective.
At the beginning of June, Elizabeth's mother and uncle received a series of email communications regarding the condition of their father. He wasn't well enough to communicate via email or phone and Sarah held the weight of it in her lap. Look up stoic in any dictionary and Sarah's face pops up. There is no other like her, but like all carbon based lifeforms, she can only take so much. Elizabeth's grandfather was very sick and no one knew why.
Elizabeth's grandfather is a piece of work. Good luck telling him he can't do something. Elizabeth's grandfather is terribly sentimental. To miss a graduation is a heart break. To miss a week or two at 'the beach' with his children and grandchildren unacceptable. Life is too short. He wasn't willing to give an inch. To miss Lucia's wedding was more than he could bear. All three of these events were stacked, one week after another.
In the end, her grandfather made a break for it. The words, someone has 'escaped' from a hospital sound melodramatic, and possibly silly. The truth is, the man escaped from the hospital. When Elizabeth's mother finished speaking with her father, she expected to find sanity on the other end of the line with Sarah. What she got was resignation. And sadness. And fear. And grief. And exhaustion. Elizabeth's mother called the local hospital supply company and obtained one of anything that might be helpful. Sarah drove her husband south.
Elizabeth graduated from Weston High School on June 22. Her grandfather could not stand unassisted. This was not the man she understood. Her mother wasn't breathing, Sarah wasn't breathing, but the world appeared to be moving forward anyway. He grandfather declared that he WAS going to the beach, fuck all and everything and be damned and all that, and all three grand-children rescheduled their lives and drove south.
Elizabeth's mother made a 36 hour round trip visit to ensure that Sarah was to have no responsibility for anything and as much personal time as possible. She left Michael and Elizabeth in charge. Lucia, a bigger life force than ever, just needed to get the hell out of the way. Elizabeth's mother spoke with her son on the way out the door. Please do not allow Lucia to drown your grandfather. That is all. She drove north, checked back into the Hannover Marriott, slept a few, and went back to work. After all, cash is king, no?
On July 14, Lucia's event was survived by all. Including her mother. There was nothing left but the summer.
That last summer between high school and college is sacred, one way or another. After all, it is the demarkation between our lives with our families of orientation and the lives we make for ourselves. It is the time of letting go and the time of reflection; and even if we are moving at light speed, we are aware of time passing. The clock has a mind of its own. Elizabeth was moved into the dorm at SUNY Purchase at the end of August.
There was a great exhale on both ends of the phone. If there were tears, they were private. What came next belonged entirely to Elizabeth. What was happening in the background was just static, as it should be. 2018 wasn't over but Elizabeth had, and does have to this day, a green dinosaur egg balanced effortlessly on her head. We should all be so fortunate.
Should you happen upon a green dinosaur egg, pick it up, and place it on your head. It could change your life.