Sunday, September 20, 2009

Early on a bright and clear Sunday, in a late Parisian summer, a young girl proceeded stiffly up a walk. The close observer might have noticed the anguish on her face, but most would only have seen that she was naked. She banged on a door, it opened briefly then shut. She knocked again and again and then moved to the next at which there was no response. She crossed the courtyard and as she reached the next door, it opened and an older woman guided the girl to a seat in the hall. There were others about, children and a man, someone place a blanket around her.

Policemen arrived they tried speaking with the girl but she had forgotten her French, confused exchanges were made in stilted English. Soon an ambulance arrived and one blanket was exchanged for another and the attendants led the girl to the vehicle.

At the hospital the girl couldn’t remember her Father’s phone number and gave the nurse her sister’s in New York. The girl was placed in a room that contained little but a chair and bed. A short time later the nurse came in and said that her father had called and he would be there as soon as possible, but that it would be four-five hours. With the nurse was the psychiatrist who spoke with the girl. She like him and immediately trusted him as she desperately felt the need to trust someone, so when he asked if she would take some medication, she agreed.

When her father arrived she was sitting in a common room, wrapped in a hospital robe, staring through the wired glass window and heavy screen, watching the trees sway in the breeze. She looked back when she heard her father’s voice and went to him. He held her closely, trying to comfort her as she sobbed apologies and asked that he take her home so she could be with her mother; the girl forgetting for the moment that her mother was dead.

Her father’s wife arrived with clothes for the girl; she dressed and then rejoined them. As they sat together the girl mostly babbled apologies that she was sorry if she was a bother and then finally in a flood of tears, that she didn’t want to end up like her mother.

Eight days later I was discharged. Dad and Juliette took me to there home. That first afternoon I sat in my room, considering the wreckage of my life that I was a failure before I even got started. All I wanted to do was go home, but I didn’t have a home. The last place that I’d felt secure was the city where I went to college, except for Christine, the people that made that place home, had scattered. Chris and I spoke again and again over the next several weeks; she let me know that I’d have a home with her, but reminded me why I hadn’t stayed there in the first place. Her support convinced me to try again. Knowing that I had a place to go if I fell, I began again in this new and strange city, but beautiful city, where I could lose the thread of the language and whose social customs bewildered me.

The next morning I had an appointment with the psychiatrist and later in the week a therapist. Dad accompanied me and waited for the hour or so while we met. I liked him, he was honest and supportive and best of all he told me that in his opinion my anxiety was transitory and shouldn’t rule of my life, that my mother’s fate wasn’t mine. That afternoon I tired of my room and went out to walk in the neighborhood before returning to help Juliette with dinner.

My walks became an exploration of Paris. Each morning I’d pack a lunch and take my maps and go off, using a Metro station as the locus for that day’s walk. One afternoon, I passed a closed nightclub that had a hand scrawled sign in a window that I was pretty sure said bartender wanted. The gate was halfway up as a deliveryman was leaving and I asked if the bar manager was around and he told me that he was inside. Ducking in I called out and a voice answered from a cellar door. Under a bare bulb at the bottom of the stairs, was a handsome man in his early thirties. I told him that I was interested in the job and he instructed me to wait by the bar till he came up.

He asked if I’d ever tended bar and I had, for a couple of years in college and offered that my old boss would give me a reference. We talked some more and he asked about common drink recipes, which I knew. I gave him my old bosses email address and while we talked he sent an inquiry, conveniently a reply came in a couple of minutes; “Hire her!! And tell her if you don’t, that she should come back and work for me.” I got the job and I’d start that night. A couple of days later Juliette gave me a heads up on a couple who had a spare room they wanted to rent. It wasn’t much, an attic room in a space that was a decorative tower with the access being by a ladder in the living room, but it didn’t matter as it was my space.

Neither worked out for long, the bar closed when the owners BF, who was financing the place, kicked him out and the apartment couple began having problems. But in the meantime, I’d met Janna, who was sleeping on a couch and we found another room for a few months and I picked up some contract work for a promotions company.

My life was kind of like this penguins.



Anonymous VJ said...

Mmm, very interesting Kim, thanks for the insight here. Me, I've not had parents to come to my rescue in decades, but it must have been a harrowing experience. Happily the only things I'd come close to on the subject of 'temporary madness' is while drunk. Something that also really has not happened in decades.

Still, the wife reminded me at dinner last night that I've repeatedly tired to kill her recently. 'Piss posh!' I said. It's true of anyone who drives with me, just ask! She admitted as much. It's part of the 'contract of carriage' as it were. Nothing too deliberate at all about it (in actually wanting to kill someone else). It's just the way I've always driven. Then she reminded me only now we've got much larger & faster cars too. Right that. We'll fortunately most of the time I'm only driving a 2.4L 4cy. It still does not prevent me from being tailgated @ ~ 150KPH on our local freeways. I blame local NASCAR fans for this... Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kimberly, Very V-e-r-y interesting
Still waiting to see what you look
like,I already know you are
Gorgeous. . . .
blue being

5:59 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Dear Kim:

Saddening yet hopeful. One sometimes forgets that bad things really do happen to good people.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Pete from Cal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Pete from Cal said...

so that was how it started... never knew how you got to be where you are... glad you persevered and are doing well now. good to reflect about the past and be reminded how far you have come. thanks for sharing it with us even though it must not be easy.

btw, how was Monte Carlo? hope it turned out well. I miss stories about Jacques. :)

take care.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous VJ said...

I was thinking later on after I posted that I was hoping that this was a 'non violent'/involvement incident. So there's various different interpretations about what might have been going on here. But we're glad you're here now & in a better place, right? Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

9:29 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

VJ. To confirm, this was a psychiatric admission, anxiety and depression as a result of events occurring in the months preceding my move to Paris. Capped by the stress of the move and a job and living situation falling through when I arrived.

Pete, Monte Carlo wasn't with Jacques and I haven't seen him since our car shopping excursion.


4:57 PM  
Blogger Gillette said...

Those who reached out in your story touched my heart.

Thanks for being brave and sharing this part of your history, Kim. Damn, life can be hard at times.

I am glad you refound yourself.


3:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize that this episode likely disqualifies you from being elected President.

6:25 AM  

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