I lay like a dead thing for nearly eleven hours, except for that one time I got up to pee. Struggling out of my stupor, I tried to orient myself. “Where am I? Oh, yes. I’m on the couch at my friend’s house; the bathroom is down the hall.” I got to my feet and nearly fell. “My God, it’s like I had surgery.” Utter lassitude – no strength. Hands so sore that even turning the doorknob hurt. The harsh bathroom light revealed the extremity of my physical condition – fingernails dirty and broken, bruises dotting my arms and legs, banged knuckles and sliced fingertips trailing dirty Band-Aids. Blessing my hosts for their clean and comfortable home, I made my way back toward the living room, holding on the wall for support. Flopping down onto the sofa, I dropped back into oblivion.
The morning sun shone onto the money plant on the sideboard, gentle breezes lifted the sheer draperies, as the sound of traffic on the nearby Brooklyn-Queens Expressway filled the room. TC stood near the couch. “You ok?” I dragged myself up from the crazy dream that had me half-paralyzed, thinking “If the bags under my eyes are as bad as the ones under his, then I’ll be avoiding the mirror.”
“What a night,” I say to him. “I will never do that again, as long as I live.”
“Me, neither,” he grins.
There are many moments from my recent move-out that are burned in my memory, and that is one of them. I nearly cried from the gratitude I felt for him, for his hard work, his steadfastness, his passionate commitment to our friendship. It is a great thing to be loved and to have friends like that. I have often said that if the shit ever really hits the fan, that I want my friend TC to be with me. “I want you in my foxhole, should there ever be a war,” I’d say to him, in half-joking acknowledgment of his loyalty. He had just proved it. The war was my final push to exit Stage Left, and TC was my buddy.
Such stressful times bring out the best in people, and this one brought out the best in many of my friends. KC Weakley showed his mettle. He was my houseguest as I tried to pack a month’s worth of effort into two weeks, and he worked long hours and self-directed. He helped my neighbor take my outside plants, and cleaned up my balcony while I shed helpless tears in the kitchen, too overcome to watch, and too hurried to take in the kindness from him and Mary Lou, who was taking my beloved flowers to care for. Two days later, he urged me to give in to the exhausted weeping that overtook me when I could finally take it no more, that last day as I piled clothes into a suitcase. “You’ve earned this meltdown. Take it.”
I have been told that it is my being such a good friend that caused everyone to support me so completely during my move from NYC. I have been told I deserve it. I suppose I believe it, but it doesn’t lessen my amazement at the depth of friendship that was demonstrated. Cynthia Keane and Jack McKeane, jet-lagged from a trip back from the Netherlands, came to assist, repeatedly. Good friends dropped in to encourage me, and to help me pack. Arlene Karno, staying with me the last 10 days, packed and moved and humped boxes, and took professional photographs of the process, and of the last week’s worth of performances in the space. Karin Kearns carried boxes too, and videotaped the process. Nearly a dozen friends came back over and over again, and worked hard in the summer heat to move out all my stuff. And I worked nonstop. Worked so long and so hard that I became delirious.
Now I feel like I am emerging from recovery. I have babied myself, like a good patient. I have slept and eaten and showered, and not demanded anything else from myself. I have driven south from New York in increments, staying in quiet hotels and with friends, who have treated me as an honored guest. I have accepted their largesse and enjoyed being grateful, enjoyed having all that desperate packing and moving behind me.
I am coming into my own again. Today is the resumption of my Writing Your Heart Out Workshop. Elise Feldman, in CT, and I, in Savannah, are writing and sharing, via the internet. Composing this blog post, I feel my creativity returning. I look ahead into a future with time to write, time to rest, time to see who I am without the burden of managing a theater. Time to be Cheryl on the road. It’s the loveandworktour. I am grateful to be so loved–and to resume the work.
And I’ll always be grateful to Scott Slavin, Valerie Hager, Marlene Nichols, Darryl Hell, KC Weakley, Arlene Karno, Cynthia Keane, Jack McKeane, Jim and Mary Lou Pietsch, Dolores Corwin, and TC Corwin, the best war buddy a woman could ever have.