Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The happiest moment of my whole life

The happiest moment of my life occurred at 1:13am on an early Tuesday morning inside of a Walgreen's. The happiness was artificially induced, buts its inauthentic origins did little at the time to diminish my state of euphoria.

I should have been disconsolate. First there was the fact of me being at a Walgreens at 1:13 in the morning, having just been released from the hospital where I'd lay alone for many a doped up hour.

Even worse,  I'd spent the last three days violently voiding the entire contents of a week's worth of food up my wind pipe and out of my mouth, over and over in a desperate, bent-kneed, eye-watering, gastronomical attack. In public. At the beach. In front of the boy with whom I share a rocky history and whose affections I was trying to win back. His eyes, as I staggered back towards him on the sandy path, wiping my eyes, held the wide-round horror of the "I know I should support you but that was really gross" variety.  

To compound matters, I'd just put him on a plane back to New Mexico, where, like clockwork, he'd come down with the virus. On the plane, not in New Mexico. So he was gone and I was missing him and hoping he wasn't too resentful of me for causing him such a wretched ride home.

But still, I was happier and full of more pleasant tidings than I can ever remember. When the bored, poker faced pharmacist told me I'd have to wait fifteen minutes for my prescription, I was thrilled. I had fifteen uninterrupted minutes to wander along the joyful aisles of a Walgreen's, how often in life are we given that opportunity? (A lot.)

After I'd put Will on the airplane, I'd choked down a bowl of soup, thrown up the bowl of soup, and then fell asleep. The next morning wasn't looking any brighter. I went down to the beach to try and heal myself with the fresh sea breeze and some rare self portraiture of me looking pale and skinny. The pale and skinny part of that sentence is what makes it rare. For once it didn't cheer me up; instead I puked quietly and despondently in the sand. So I trooped over to the hospital. They put me in the same room where I'd been less than week earlier when my shoulder bones began their trial separation.
Photo by Chris Forsberg, if I don't say this he'll be after me. He seems to know his rights.

The nurses gave me an IV and pumped me full of wickedly good stuff. I don't know what it was. I'd been feeling mildly stiffed that I'd had my hands on some Vicodin for my shoulder and it went to waste. I don't engage in mild altering activities and I hear vicodan gives you a pleasant high if it doesn't make you barf your head off. I was excited, and then I got the virus and barfed my head off anyway, so the Vicodin never made it to the correct receptors. Whatever they gave me that day in the hospital more than made up for it. I fell blissfully asleep, only not fully: I was just awake enough to be aware of how blissful I felt now that the pain was gone and I was floating above my body on a big white cloud.
The first two days of Will's visit were nearly as cheerful and peaceful as my drug induced high. For some reason, despite our checkerboard past and not having seen him for over a year, I was completely at ease. I expected my heart to be in my stomach when I retrieved him at the airport, but that wasn't the case. I am completely, utterly unselfconscious around him, which came in handy when I threw up on the door to the shower (not the inside of the shower either) while he was making toast in the other room. 

To get you over that image here is a picture of hometeam being held like a baby:
Those easy first days, we went to the beach and the huge park near the shipyard, walked through a terrific windstorm with our heads ducked against the gale, searching for glass and shells. We slept in and went out for perfectly crafted espresso at Fiore. I took him down to the yard and pointed out all the boats in my fleet except the Endeavour, which is wintering in Baja. Those two days swirl together in my memory, but they were sandy and windswept and happy. I got stuck in his eyelashes a few times. We were sort of entranced by one another.
We had dinner with Steph and Ammen, who held the permit to our grand canyon trip where it all began. They are the very reason we ever met. As always they fed us well, and we talked about cabins on the ocean we could rent for the weekend. I had originally planned to fill every second of our time with outdoors activity, which used to be the only way to keep him sane. Skiing, hot springs six miles deep in the woods, snow shoeing. Those plans evaporated the second my shoulder hit the snowy ground before the rest of my body, and so my next attempt was to whisk him away to the isolated coast to the West. 

On the way home, Will told me he didn't need a trip to the ocean. That the Puget Sound was ocean enough. "An isolated cabin with you would be great, but my life right now is completely isolated. I'd rather do city things? Like.... museums?"
His voice inflected into a question because he knew how shocked I'd be. I couldn't believe it. The city craving side of a man who lived entirely in and for the wilderness.

That night I drifted easily into sleep, thinking about all the ways I'd show off my city of a decade, the raw and colorful Pike Place with their flower bouquets and dusty magic shops and flying fish, the gum wall, a ferry out to Bainbridge island. I thought about the science museum and the aquarium and the sculpture garden at sunset. Simultaneously, somewhere inside, the virus was planning its blitzkrieg. I awoke in the morning and I knew it was all over. I ran into the bathroom, bypassed the preferred receptacle for vomit (not enough time to lift the seat) and threw up on the shower door. The cat observed silently from the sink.

For the remainder of his visit I was bedridden. Except for the unfortunate beach trip. It was really sad. He took care of me, along with my roommate, but there wasn't much they could do. It was one of those painful stomach viruses. If I moved, it hurt. If I sat up, I'd throw up. The second night I  burned up in bed with a fever and Will rubbed me down with pieces of ice. It was like the grand canyon sickness take two, only not as dramatic. Or traumatic. Or memorable, or storyworthy. I've gotten a lot of mileage telling that story live, but this one, how my crappy immune system ruined his once a year visit, I'll only tell here.

I was so fucking mad. "Will," I whispered after I'd been lying in the same position for 12 hours, "I must tell you I've become a very independent, vibrant, sporty and can-do person since we broke up." I paused. "You may not know that by looking at me now."

Will rubbed an ice cube on my forehead and said, "I know, Lina." He was bemused. Seventy five to eighty percent of the time, I bemuse him.

Then the airport, the soup, the hospital. The sweet, lapping waves of something good hitting my seratonin receptors. I was there for about twelve hours. Then, for the second time in a week, they  filled my discharge papers and asked, "Are you here alone? Because you can't drive after what we gave you." And, for the second time in one week I responded with a stiff upper lip, "It's okay, I'll just walk."

I didn't mind. I didn't mind anything in the world because right before I left they emptied a whole second vial of the stuff into my arm. It went right to my head and it made me deliriously pleasant to be around. The best way to describe it is that I felt intensely, bizarrely cozy inside. And so, script in hand, I marched down to Walgreen's at midnight, beaming at the empty streets and the few passing cars.

If you ever get a dose of this stuff, go to Walgreen's. There is no better place for you on earth. Besides all the helpful boxed remedies, there is shelf upon shelf of cheap, inexcusably flimsy, wasteful stuff, which, when stripped on the labels of cheap, flimsy and wasteful, is actually just a bundle of plastic joy. The store was decorated prematurely for Easter (they mowed right through St. Patrick's day) which is the world's happiest holiday, strictly in terms of decoration. I just stood there and smiled back at all of it, completely blown away by the amount of fun surounding. Fuck me, is that a bunch of peeps skewered on a stick? Chocolate carrots wrapped up in orange foil? An M&M full of M&Ms? A pastel M&M wearing a basketball cap with legs filled with real M&MS?

So wondrous. All was right with the world.

I guess this is why people do drugs.

I can honestly say I felt as happy and blissful dreamily content as I've ever been.

So it was probably a good thing when my insurance refused to cover my script on the spot, and the bored looking pharmacist pushed the papers back at me and shrugged. I'm not sure if the medicine was the same stuff they'd pushed into my veins at the ER, I didn't think to ask, but if I'd had a whole bottle of that stuff for myself it may have ruined my life. In the most blissful possible way.

Which is sort of what Will did, because he lives so far away, with no prospects of moving here in the near future. He completely wrecked my Seattle life in the most windy, blissful, lovely way.
Annnd now for something completely different: the winner of the winter photo giveaway. Thanks for all the winter time survival tips, they were fun to read and a lot of people mentioned that they scrolled through and looked at all the comments to get some good ideas. The winner (chosen my random.org) is.....

Jacki said...
Something about that Irish Boat just grabs me - beautiful!

My surefire way to beat the winter blues is to take a four-year-old sledding. I would imagine any winter activity with an enthusiastic young pal would do, but my boyfriend's son + sledding = instant cheer.

And on days when my sledding buddy isn't available, hot chocolate and lighting a bunch of candles around the house.

Congrats Jacki! Irish boat coming your way. Email me at: melina (dot) Coogan (@) gmail.com


SmithShack71 said...

Love this story. Love your story telling. Totally appreciated the pic of Hometeam ;)
Be well.


colleen said...

oh for f#cks sake you threw up on the outside of the shower...so that's what woke me up...On that note today as I happily showered I noticed your loofa on the ground and picked it up only to realize it was hiding barf chunks...yes barf chunks. Don't worry I cleaned it, then drank some lysol. It's what any good roommate would have done. Oh and I left the loofa on the ground, figured it belonged there now.

Melina said...

dear colleen

your comment makes me look soooo gross i wish i had the guts not to publish it.


ps i threw up twice. both sides of door.
ps. so sorry.

Catherine said...

OMG! Your roomate... Really... Barf chunks? Blahhh....
So, are things over with Will?? Will we hear more about him?

colleen said...

dear lina,
its cool guuurl, I once barfed at a dinner party I threw ( in maine) then proceeded to fall asleep hugging the toilet. I was found hours later when everyone suddenly had to pee. (clearly I was not the life of that party!)

ps once my brother barfed on my head. so you've been outdone. <3

Sarah said...

Love your writing Lina!!

So glad you're not still vomiting in weird places. I can honestly say I've never puked outdoors. However, when I was 12 and got my period for the first time EVER I was at my best friends house. In a blizzard. Her dad had to drive me home (in his plow) to my mom because I thought I was hemorrhaging. It was a very awkward drive. Lol. I then proceeded to get the flu the same day, and landed in the hallway leading to the bathroom, bleeding, with massive diarrhea, and vomiting. All at once. Lol. I looked up at my mom with a horror in my eyes, and said "Is this going to happen every month?!?" I was so relieved to know that I wasn't going to feel like complete death every month!

I guess everyone has at least one good puke story!

Diary of Why said...

What a lovely, lovely post. The beauty of it really caught me off-guard, what with all the vomit in it. But somehow you manage to tie it all together in the most wonderful way.

Lorri said...

I love your writing and story telling! I should probably admit that I'm the kind of person that finds puke stories funny rather than gross. Although, I did appreciate the well-timed Hometeam pic. Catastrophe in general can usually pretty damn funny if you let it be.

B. Holmes said...

So cool you got better and could make it to Andy Cline's art show! I saw you on Nici's blog...

Anonymous said...

oh lady friend, I am so in love with your words. even when they are about vomit. this is priceless. he seems like a wonderful man. keep writing....following with bated breath to see what comes next!!!

Anonymous said...

This post ought to rocket you into stardom. I love how fearless you are as a writer, and how you show the whole picture and don't get hung up on trying to make everything seems beautiful and perfect. I feel like the majority of blogs fall into that trap. Not you. Makes you an all around great writer and probably a lot of fun to be around!

Meganstrata said...

Hi Melina,

I've been a reader for a few years now. I have to admit, I was worried for a while that, as your blog started to get big, you might fall into that trap of only writing about the beautiful, 'magical' things. It would not be difficult- you're quite pretty and you do seem to have a magical life! After posts like this, and the 'shitty apartment' post (my fave) I'm really not worried any more. I love the way you keep it real. Entices me to come back time after time.


Tonya said...

I really really enjoy your stories. You draw the reader right in. I was equally grossed out reading about your puking and blissed out reading about your lovely drugged euphoria LOL I have never experienced a stomach bug like that, I hardly ever throw up and when I do, I think I am dying! I really would have thought I was dying if I got as sick as you were. As for the drugs, they shot me up with some demerol after the birth of my second child, and I can't remember ever feeling happier or more content before or since LOL I was already ecstatic with my new baby and the drugs intensified it a million times. Some awesome stuff that I try to stay away from, cause I can totally see how people get addicted LOL Oh, and I like Walgreens stone cold sober, so I am sure it is wonderful high : )

I hope somewhere down the line you and Will work out, he sounds awesome, in a very real and human way.

Rhett said...

You're a great storyteller, Melina, vomit and all. Your roommate is too funny. Glad you're feeling better.

Lee Timmons said...

First of all, I LOVE the new blonde beard on Wilbur.

Second of all, hilarious post (much laughter), but I do hope you're feeling better.

Third of all, if Shwilburstein coming to Hood River doesn't finally get your ass down here to play, I'll... I dunno, be extremely disappointed, or something.

Fourth of all (I don't think I've ever gone that high in the "of all" list), I will eventually make it to your area. In a plane. Piloted by a tall, handsome young man to whom I may be attracted. So, let me know if you're interested in beach hopping via tiny airplane. I mean, we could probably pick you up. No big deal.

Sydney said...

I'm just sitting here hoping intensely that I don't catch that terrible virus. That sounds just awful. I wish you'd had a nice visit with Will. I hope you two will meet again soon healthy and happy.

B. Holmes said...

Awesome to see you as a guest post just now on ETST... I have about 4 blogs on my favorites list; you, kelle, nici and serena (farm chicks). That's it, I don't even facebook if you can believe that... Your children are waiting in the wings and trust me it's worth the wait for that perfect father for them too. I was very much like you when I was single, a bit younger and not yet a mom. Keep enjoying the freedom you have and be patient for the next chapter, it's not yet written but will unfold & your right it could be around the corner...

Jacki said...

Oh man...I was nodding and cringing along...a few years back I had a similar virus and treatment except the meds left me full on hallucinating. And those blissfully life wrecking boys...well, yeah...they are something. I hope your story has the ending that makes you both happiest :)

And yay, I won the photo! I'll email you today :)

Liz said...

i'm ELATED this morning that i've found you. (thank you kelle hampton.) i don't read many blogs, but this, i will. partly because of the myriad images of bearded men you have (small obsession, husband knows. . .totally cool.) mostly because your writing sucks me in. i love those instances on the internet when we stumble across someone that seems to be writing just for us. . .although are lives may be completely unparallel. the excitement and adventure of MY current life, includes a full nights' sleep, babysitters, and the moment i drop my kids off at school in the morn.:) regardless, i feel connected and inspired by you and your post about wanting to be a mom. . .wow.
i am SO excited to read more and soak up the nuggets of insight from you. if you ever find yourself in a brief moment of boredom, come say hi!!! http://www.lizwesterhausblog.com/
where i write about raising children in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota.
again, keep sharing. absolutely love it.

Britta said...

I can't believe your writing keeps getting better and better and better. And your post on Kelle's blog today was knock out beautiful and self aware and [insert amazesauce adjective here].

Blaze that trail.

Christy said...

Sister, I love your writing! Not all contrived and 'flowery', it's like you are talking out loud....just adore that! Anyway, I've never left a comment on any blog, but I've just spent the entire morning reading your posts (I really should be working!) and as such, felt compelled. I now want to be twenty-something again, become an outdoors-woman and work 3 jobs, alas I'm 41 (today...yikes), have 3 kids, work in Corporate America and live in the Heartland....so I've decided to live vicariously through you....I'm sure you don't mind! Oh and I'm a serial exclamation point !!!!! over user...you can look past that right?

J9's Happiness in the Every Day said...

Fab story - popped over from Kelle's blog. Am your newest follower! J9 x

Amy said...

I like Colleens comment.