Are there Hotels in Hell?
My psychologist kept reminding me that she would be away the following week, that I would have a different therapist. “Next week?” I asked. “Am I going to be here next week?”
“Well, we don’t discharge patients over weekends, and Monday is Memorial Day. So, if you were going home before Tuesday, we would have to start the paperwork… today.”
“Then we need to do that.”
“Okay. You should let the psychiatrist know.”
As soon as our session was complete, I was a woman with a mission. The pills were working. I could not sit for another four days, drawing, begging for a lousy thirty minutes of supervised guitar time per day. I needed to clean my apartment, to figure out my work situation, to see Victor…
I found Dr. Swan at the nurse’s station between patients. He was doing his best to stay on his schedule, and I knew what I was about to do was inappropriate. I had observed several patients try to engage him ahead of their allotted time before, but I could not care. I had to get the ball rolling if I was going to be released before the holiday weekend.
“Excuse me, Dr. Swan. When you have a minute, I need to talk to you, as soon as possible.”
“Okay. What do you need?”
“I need to start being discharged.”
“Okay. Is there some reason?”
“It’s time for me to go home.” The moment I said it I knew it was true. Instantly I realized I did not belong there.
The crisis was over. It was time to start facing reality again.
Dr. Swan was skeptical at first, complaining that I did not have a good support structure available to me in Philadelphia. I nearly laughed and cried at the same time when he suggested my going to stay with my parents in Airville… Where guns are readily available; where my depression began in my adolescence; where my creativity was stifled. I assured him that my brother, Sam would come if I asked.
In truth, I knew that Sam could not leave the babies for long. I had him show up in case there was paperwork to sign. Then Rolex took over babysitting me.
“You have me for the weekend,” Rolex told me. “Then I have to go back to Florida.”
When we walked into my apartment, I was distressed to find Patsy’s food bowl nearly filled to the brim. The litter box that had resided at Victor’s was in the middle of the living room, spilling onto the carpet. His metronome, his drum, his PA system had vanished.
Before Sam left, the three of us went to eat lunch. Rolex ordered a beer and went to the restroom. I looked at Sam,
“I am about to get very mean. You should go. Rolex will take care of me.”
“I really can stay. Or I will go after lunch. It’s fine.”
“Sam, really- I am about to be very mean.”
As I sat and listened to the two of them talk, all I could think about was whether Victor had made his choice clear in swapping back our belongings, or whether he simply panicked. I had tried to call him from the hospital only once.
It rang and went to his voicemail. I did not leave a message.
I watched Rolex inhaling his usual chicken sandwich and several beers. I evaluated Sam’s choice of attire; a pink v-neck t-shirt under a lavender zip-hoodie. Then the mean started to pour out, “Could you dress any more gay, Sam?”
Sam simply laughed, “Oh, you should see me when I take the girls to the park. Aliyah likes to put on our matching princess necklaces… and look.” He pulled a pink and purple pacifier from his hoodie pocket. “It matches.”
We all laughed. Sam had a wonderful way of spinning almost anything.
When Sam had left, Rolex and I made a plan for the weekend. I told him that I wanted to stay at my apartment and clean with his company to keep me on task. He said that was fine, but then he started calling for hotel rooms, claiming his cat allergy would kill him if we stayed in my apartment too long.
It was difficult, given the holiday, but he found a room in a nice hotel near Rittenhouse. We dropped off our things then wandered out, barhopping, as is his M.O. He asked me if I wanted a drink at each stop, despite my consistent declaration that I was not supposed to drink while I was taking the anti-depressant. Rolex was more interested in researching whether it had any recreational purpose. It did not.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I was aching to bathe. I stripped and got into a tub of hot water. With the curtain closed, Rolex came in and talked to me from atop the toilet seat.
“You have to tell your little girlfriend about all of this, you know. I am not going to be anyone’s secret anymore,” I demanded. “I was in her shoes once. I know how it feels to have my boyfriend hanging out with his exes behind my back.”
“I will when I see her. She’s in Europe with her mom, and I haven’t heard from her in over a week,” he sighed. “It’s just complicated right now. She just finished college, and I want her to come get a job in the north, where I can see her more often.”
“Well, if you want her to move in with you, you’ll have to propose.”
“I want to- just, after she’s made up her own mind.”
My mind wandered back to Paul, of the pain he caused, of how I could not find the courage to leave him. I thought… Perhaps I was being punished then for what I am doing now, bathing with someone else’s boyfriend in the room. We also shared a bed. It was large enough that we never touched. Given our history and my single-minded heartache for Victor, I was not tempted in the least. The very thought of any other man touching me made my skin burn.
The rest of the weekend spilled slowly; Rolex dragging me to nice restaurants and bars around the city, long walks, long talks, and shopping- just like our hay days. We both purchased new sneakers. When I attempted to use my credit card without my identification, the clerk called a manager. Rolex said he would vouch for me.
The manager eyed us, “Who are you, her sugar daddy?”
“No… I used to be,” Rolex laughed. “I can put the shoes on my card, if you won’t take hers”
I blushed at this lie. I knew he thought it was funny, but it was not true.
“You want him to be your sugar daddy again?” The manager smirked.
“No, thank you,” I was bracing myself, tempted to leave the shoes, leave the store, leave Rolex right there and then.
But the next moment, the clerk had completed my transaction, and we were leaving with our purchases.
I took Rolex to Garland of Letters, a new age bookstore. I helped him select an edition of the I-ching that he would enjoy. Later, upon asking it several questions, I found the courage to contact Victor. He did not answer my call.
He did not respond to my text message. Nearly a day later, he responded by email, saying it caused him anxiety to hear from me. He was restricting our contact to email. It sounded hopeless, and I caught myself thinking of high buildings from which I could jump.
A little later I would realize that I had been reading the I-ching coins wrong for nearly a year. One simple mistake had made a hundred readings wrong.
As Rolex watched me toss coins, he expressed concern, “I don’t want you to put too much stock into that book.”
“You wanted it… and you read the Bible. It’s a book.” I was distracting myself, “Besides, it mostly advises me to have patience. “
“Look, I think Victor should be here right now, but he isn’t.”
“You don’t know what I put him through… Or maybe you are the one person who might. He isn’t like you. He has never seen depression. This is all new to him. It’s traumatic.”
Even as I made excuses for him, my heart cried, fearing he would never hold me again.