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Location: Dallas, Texas

oh, I'm still making art in the urban forest

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tomas was dying.

Melinda told her at the Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth where they all met for a birthday lunch. A cast of six women. They’d had a wonderful time doing the show – twice in fact, it was such a success…..and still met to mark special occasions, watch each other in new roles, celebrate a cd release and the like. Once they performed together at a dinner – when Debbie’s father was inducted as president of the Kiwanis Club. Silly fun stuff like that. While none of them were ’best’ friends and their lives spread all over North Texas, they still managed to hold on to their ensemble, their circle, those oddly casual yet close friendships that only women know ….their little group will fall apart eventually; these things always do. But for now they remained bonded, the Cowgirls.

“I’m glad I’m here, I’m glad you’re here, I care about you, I know that I know.”

That was a little ritual prayer they all recited together before every show. Every show without fail. She’d found it in a magazine years ago, Mademoiselle she thinks – some interview with a New York actress, maybe it was Barbara Barrie –there were tips on how to defray stage fright, those first night nerves, and this little prayer. Now she recites it every night before she goes on stage, every show, wherever she works. Theatre people. We have these powerful, protective, utterly harmless rituals.

Melinda, it turned out, had made friends with Tomas’ wife Cerelle back when the two of them joined a La Leche group, way back when their babies were still babies. Early 80’s. About the time that she and her (now ex) husband were busy raising THEIR babies…..and they just didn’t get together anymore….after college their lives and families began to grow, and in different directions. And they lived on the far sides of two cities separated by so many suburbs….and it was such a drive…..well, you know how it goes.

So when Cerelle turned up to watch Melinda’s performance, the world became small once more. Cerelle didn’t think she’d remember – but she did, instantly. They hugged and hugged and laughed and talked about their kids in college and oh how they’d grown so fast and did you know we divorced and they promised to re-unite.

But that was months ago.

Now Tomas was dying. It was huge. And it hurt. Tears started to her eyes, she reached for her phone, throat caught, hands shaking, pushed the heavy wood door open and walked into the hot Texas air. Sat on an incongruous wrought iron bench in front of the restaurant. Why in the world was it there? It just didn’t fit. Unconscious of the heat radiating from the metal, she sat, eyes blinking hard against bright July sun and called her ex-husband. He wasn’t home. She talked to her daughter, her tall, beautiful, sensitive teenager who said oh mommy, you better call him on the cell. So she did. And still had to leave a message. Horrible message. Tomas has Grade IV metastasized lung cancer. It is treatable but not curable. You might want to call.

And then she went back inside and was grateful that Debbie owed her a lunch because she was unemployed that week. And got through it just fine. Melinda was Unity all over the place and she totally bought into the positive affirmations. It’s going to be all right. Tomas has got lots of time. He’ll going to fight it. Everyone’s okay. Peace and Love and light and all of that.

For months as she put off making the visit, she totally bought into the love and the light. Didn’t even call. Still feels the guilt.

And wondered how to find him.

From here it leaps back to 1968.


Blogger Movie Lover said...

Touched by this, and reminded of my own guilts.

2/2/06 4:51 AM  

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