Thursday, February 27, 2020

Hearts and Thoughts

"I don't see her ever completely going away," the psychic tells me, concerning Billy.

My name is still on Billy's bank account.  The only way to remove it is for us to close the account and for her to open a new account on her own.  She usually has less than a $100 to her name. I have not pushed for her to start the process until recently.  Before, the switch would just complicate her already complicated life but I have come to realize there will probably never be a good time. It has been five months since the last time I saw her. Sunday we set up plans to meet.

Billy:  So I got my payments switched over.  So how about Thursday we go to the bank then grab something to eat?

Bathwater: Yes Thursday works for me.  Everything okay?

Billy:  Yeah you?

Bathwater: I am getting by.  Sometimes I am not sure where I am headed though.

Billy:  It's okay not to be sure.  We will talk more later this week.  Feel free to call me whenever.

Bathwater:  I am looking forward to seeing you.

Billy: I am too.

We received several inches of snow throughout Wednesday. When Thursday finally arrived, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up making the roads icy and being outside unpleasant.  I picked out a dark blue shirt and black pants for work.  I wanted to look good for our meeting.  I am not sure what it would achieve or whether Billy was thinking about how she would look, or whether she was as nervous about meeting as me.

We meet up out side a branch of her bank.  Billy came straight from work.  She wore a heavily stained khaki colored Carhartt jacket and pants.  Clothes bought for her by me over a year ago.  She is still thin.

We gave each other a quick hug before hurrying into the bank to get out of the cold.  An female employee greeted us and had us take a seat when we told her that we were there to close an account.  We shared pictures while we waited.  I showed Billy a picture of my youngest new bald head.  He shaved it last week after a home haircut gone wrong.  Billy showed me a picture of her bruised and bleeding thumb that she had hit with a hammer earlier in the day.

"Gosh Billy, your hands look terrible,"  I remarked.  Her hand were dry and calloused.  The hands of a construction worker.

"I know.  I have to start wearing gloves."

"I have been telling you that for ever!"

Closing the account went effortlessly.  Billy and I continued that catch up while the woman worked.  Our conversation comes easy, two friends falling into familiar patterns.  She tells me the latest on her job and I fill her in on dealing with my dad's estate.  We pick a restaurant across from the bank and once we order food we continue to talk.

Billy faced is thin and prematurely aging.  She does not smile while we are together, but occasionally I catch a glimmer of the playful lively girl I knew.  Often during the meal, I pause mid sentence to compose myself and hold back tears.  Billy was holding back tears of her own.

"I have gone out a few times," I say.  "But it doesn't go anywhere.  I still compare..."  My words trail off. 

Billy frowns.  "You always were picky."

She tells me it is okay not to know where you are headed.  She reminds me she doesn't know where she is headed.  I encourage her to find a doctor and just surrender to the process.  "It is time for you to think about yourself.  Just like it is time now for me to think about me."

"We should talk on the phone once a week," she tells me.

"I don't think your boyfriend would appreciate that."

"It doesn't matter.  He is young.  He doesn't understand."

"No you are right," I reply more animated than I intended.  "He will never know what we went through together.  He will never understand what it was like."

"Our time together was some of the best and the worst in my life," I tell her, rocking my hand back and forth to illustrate my point.  "They were never ordinary." 

Billy understands.  The same is true for her after all.  We lived on the edge, one step away from death or ruin, straddling ecstasy and pain until we cocooned ourselves together so deep we never saw what we were missing. Only my oldest readers remember those days.

Billy comes around to my side of the booth and holds me tight.  We are both crying now.  "I still love you as a person,"she says. "I want you to be happy."

"I care about you too, Billy.  I am always here for you."

She talks about hanging out together again.  I know she needs a friend.  Someone who understands her.  Someone who is there for her.  I am not sure that can be me.  Not yet.

I do hope she gets better, but she tells me she has to stop at the ATM after she leaves and I know, without asking, she will be heading into the city to buy her drugs after we say goodbye.  While I will go home and write this post and remember the girl she used to be.

I can't get my feet up off the edge
I kinda like the little rush you get
When you're standing close to death
Like when you're driving me crazy
Hold on as we crash into the earth
A bit of pain will help us suffer when you're hurt
For real 'cause you were driving me crazy...

I can't find the best in all of this
But I'm always looking out for you
'Cause you're the one I miss
And it's driving me crazy
, After Midnight, Blink 182


  1. you know I adore your writing style, right?

    for dry cracked hands, use O'Keeffe's......sorry, I live my life based solely on commercials, tv shows, and film, I need to work on that...

    you know that is something I never thought of before but you brought it out brilliantly with your writing, the closing of the bank account is like signing the divorce papers

    1. Thank you. I have been told it is like viewing an on going drama. These days life is not as filled with drama though. I think closing the bank account in this case is like turning a new corner in the relationship.

  2. You've detangled yourself from spying on her financial situation which is certainly a step forward. Not knowing where you are going is not too concerning, but I think you know there are things you want in your life. Figuring out how to get those things and making those moves is going forward. Addicts have a way of really getting their claws in deep with people. I feel like Billy has always had this lure of men wanting her, and giving a perception that she is theirs, but she will never belong to anyone but her addiction.

    1. She has, you are right but those doors are closing on her. She is attracting less and less desirable men.