I am sitting on the orange couch, nibbling a string cheese. Self pokes her head in through the doorway from the kitchen.
Self: Hey there.
Self: So. [pause] How’s it going?
Self: Yeah. I know. [long pause while she watches me type.] Whatcha doin’?
Me: This. Typing. Eating cheese.
Self: I thought you were going to yoga tonight.
Me: Me too. I forgot my clothes.
Self: Yeah, I saw that. You dropped them on the floor right before you walked out the door this morning. What was that all about?
Me: I have absolutely no recollection of that. None whatsoever. [pause] Why didn’t you say something?
Self: I don’t know. I thought you knew what you were doing.
Me: Clearly not. Do you realize I packed my black shoes in the bag and wore my boots to school? Not that that’s news or anything, but I didn’t even realize I was wearing my boots until after lunch today. What is going on with me?
Self: You’re elsewhere.
Me: No kidding I’m elsewhere. I’m on another planet altogether.
Self: Which planet is that?
Me: Planet Whatthefuck.
Self: [chuckling] Oh yeah? What goes on there?
Me: I have no idea. That’s what the planet’s all about. No one has any idea what’s going on.
Self: Sounds a little like Earth, my friend.
Me: Hm. Maybe.
Self: So. You okay?
Me: [pause.] Well, what should I say? All the cliched things that ever existed: “I could be better.” “I’ve seen better days.” “Fine.” “Life’s a bitch.” “It all happens for a reason.” “God’s got a plan.” “Think positively.” Fuck all those things actually. Right now I feel a little like throwing up, a lot like going to sleep, and half like eating a bunch of Hershey Kisses and curling up with a book for eleven days in a row.
Self: Sounds like depression.
Me: No! It’s not! It’s being in a place—both physically and emotionally—where I can’t DO anything. It’s not having any control, it’s being far away from my mom who is my entire world and not being able to stop any of the shit that is going on inside of her and not being able to do anything that has any kind of result at all. That’s what it is.
Self: Yeah, but…
Me: No. No “but.” I am perfectly entitled to feel this way. I am absolutely able to feel the way I feel and lash out when I want to lash out and not talk when I don’t want to talk. I have every right to cry whenever I feel like it and I have every right to say what I want to say and not say what I don’t want to say.
Self: But wait. Please.
Self: [gently] You know this isn’t about you. This time it’s not about you.
Me: [choking up.] I know that too.
Self: And that makes it harder. If it were about you, you’d probably be okay with feeling however you wanted and not be worried about defending your feelings like you just did.
Self: And you feel you have to somehow find strength in you. And you don’t know if it’s there.
Me: [sobbing now]
Self: It’s there, Gina. It’s there. You have to find it and you will. You don’t have a choice in this matter. As much as you need your mom, your mom needs you more.
Me: But I don’t know how!
Self: No one knows how. You’ll find a way. You have amazing support from other people!
Me: But that’s not fair to put on them.
Self: First, stop. You’re not dealing with this alone because what we’re here on this planet to do is to care for one another. You care for your mom, and others care for you. It’s called Humanity and you’ve got to believe in it for once. Second, breathe.
Self: Breathe deeper. Take another breath. A big breath.
Me: Mom says that all the time.
Self: Well, she’s right.
Me: I know. [rolling eyes] She’s always right. [breathing again, calming down.]
Me: For now I guess.
Self: You mentioned Hershey Kisses earlier.
Me: Yeah, they’re right there. [Pointing to a half-eaten bag on the couch.]
Self: Jesus, Gina. Half the bag? You just got these last weekend.
Me: [grinning] So it’s been a rough week.
Self: It’s gonna be a rougher bathing suit season if you keep this up.
Me: Ah, so sue me.
Self: I just might if you sit on me by chance in the next few weeks.
Me: Okay, okay. Enough out of you.
Self: Seriously. You’re so lucky they don’t sell these things in Brazil otherwise you’d have to check your ass as extra baggage on the flight home. Airlines are charging even more these days for that kind of weight.
Me: No, really. I’m feeling much better. You can cut it with your humor.
Self: You’re sure? Because I could go on. I’m on a roll.
Me: Nah, really. I’m fine. Thanks.
Self: Okay! Just let me know if you need some more laughs. I’m full of ’em.
Me: Sure. [pause, glancing at Self] And thanks. I mean it. You’re not so bad sometimes.
Self: Aw, shucks, kid. I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.