Friday, July 3, 2009

How to become my friend for life

1) After I've boarded the Belmont bus heading west, damp and wilted from a nighttime rainstorm, say, "Has anyone ever told you you look like Julie Christie?"

2) When I turn to rebuff you with, "Nope. Never heard that one before," smile and say, "I'm not trying to pick you up" with such straightforward conviction that I instantly believe you.

3) Say, "Not Julie Christie across the board, just in McCabe & Mrs. Miller," which I admit I haven't seen. Tell me it's great. That I should see it.

4) When I mention my favorite Julie Christie movie (Don't Look Now), scratch your head at first until I start filling in details and we both in unison say, 'That little girl in the red raincoat!'

5) Tell me you're a playwright. You've been working at it a long time, first in Los Angeles and now in Chicago. Ask what I do for a living.

6) When I tell you I work in affordable housing, smile and say that's good work, and that you've lived in supportive housing for years.

7) Start filling in details of your own life, including the fact that you have a history of drug abuse, mostly heroin and cocaine. Tell me you used dirty needles and now have HIV and are dealing with all that baggage. Tell me all of this with such composure and gentle intelligence that I have to question all my old assumptions -- ones I didn't even realize I had -- about addiction.

8) Tell me about your play, that it's a monologue about these very experiences that ran in a little storefront theater for a few weeks in April, and you're hoping to put it up somewhere else soon.

9) After I congratulate you on the play and ask how long you've been clean, completely disarm me and say, "I'm not clean."

10) Talk about the frailties of American recovery programs. Agree that there's too much Jesus and not enough self-determination.

11) When my stop comes up (long before yours does; you're still heading west), look me warmly in the eye and wish me well. Have a firm handshake. Use my name when you say good-bye, even though I've shamefully forgotten yours.

12) Get stuck in my head for the next few weeks. Remind me there's more than one way to be a good person.


Adriane said...

Beautiful Christy. Moments like these keep us in touch with our own humanity and that of others - as well as reminding us that every person has a story. Happy Independance Day!

Diana Sudyka said...

A friend just lent us her copy of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" a few days ago. I've never seen it. Sounds like you and me have a movie night coming up!

Leslie said...

Wow. You really do look kinda like Julie Christie!

tracy said...

Beautiful! What a good experience to have stuck in your head. I always fear that if people loop me in their heads, it's for being a know-it-all or a harpy, and not a kind, assumption-busting human. Your new friend is a good reminder to be on my best behavior.

Christy said...

Just back from a few days at the beach, and mercifully away from the computer. Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. And Diana -- yes indeedy! I love the idea of movie night (of course combined with a little Thai food if we can handle that much misadventure at once) :-).

Christy said...

Thanks to John for pointing out my typo of 'heroin.' I'm clearly out of my element (he is too, but spent more time listening to Patti Smith than I did as a kid) :-).

Berdawn said...

Lovely post!