Tuesday, September 19, 2006

There's A Place Called Home

We have taken Tim back in.

Earlier this year, we closed the Mosher Dwyer Home For Wayward Actors. When we did, I spent some time thinking about the last 20 years that Pat and I have been a family. I did a little rough math and came up with this statistic: in the 20 years that Pat and I have been together, we have been alone for 3. Ok. Maybe 4 years we have been alone but no more than that. When we lived in Denton, Texas, during our first year, we were allowed to live alone as a couple. Once we moved to Dallas, though, it was all over.

All of our friends are artists, mostly actors. Most of our friends are crisis junkies. Many of our friends are homosexuals. Between those three categories, there have been any number of people who have needed a place to crash, a room in which to flop, a temporary place to live. We have hosted people overnight and we have hosted people years. We have continued to be called the Home For Wayward Actors, even though we have housed a florist and one or two other civilians. Some of our friends have lived with us rent-free and others have been tenants. It has been an interesting road, usually rocky, and it has put strain on many friendships. Some of our friendships have ended because of this practice, while others have been made stronger. It's all unique to each individual and to each circumstance.

The last person to live with us left me mentally and emotionally unstable. For that reason, we decided that the hotel would have to close, forever. After years of feeling unappreciated for our generosity, taken for granted, used....I told Pat that we had to say no, from now on. After the last border left here in a blaze of drama and unappreciation, it was clear that we needed some privacy and that I needed to be left the f#*k alone. We began, actually and actively, saying "no, you cannot stay with us, I'm sorry--not for a week, not for a night." We had gone from the parents, the caretakers of our circle of friends, the safe haven where everyone could go, to the crystal fortress. Friends who had keys to our home found thier keys being confiscated. Locks were changed, phone calls avoided, requests ignored. After a year of spectacular crises with not only our border and his histrionic girlfriend but with other friends who could not seem to step out of the drama chamber, we built a moat, filled it with lava and hired a team of trolls to protect us. We would be impenetrable.

There was no room at the inn.

Recently, though, Pat and I were talking and reflecting on the role that we adopted, years ago, within our family of friends. We realized that this is what we do. We are the hub, the caregivers, the protectors, the saviours. I don't want to be a saviour anymore. I don't want to rescue anyone. I don't want to take care of anyone, I don't want to save anyone, I don't want to babysit anyone. It goes beyond not wanting to. I can't. I cannot.

I'm reminded of two sentences connected to two movies:

THE SIXTH SENSE has a scene where Toni Collette says "I'm tired in my head, I'm tired in my heart, I'm tired in my body." That's me all over the place.

When the movie THE ROSE came out, the ads featured the sentenece " She gave and gave until she couldn't give anymore." I feel like that a lot of the time. I cannot listen to one more whine fest from the friend known as Moaning Myrtle. I cannot listen to one more litany of reasons why life sucks for certain friends of mine--or the list of things that it will take to make certain people happy. I find myself, physically and emotionally, unable to process their energy. It's them or me. I have to protect myself by saying "no. Sorry, I didn't order that whine with dinner."

Tim showed up at our home last night. He rang the bell at ten pm. He didn't call first. Does anyone who knows me want to explain for those who don't know me, what that does to me? Allow me. It is true that I have a list of rules by which I actually expect my friends to live. I can be flexible but on one or two matters I am implaccable. Do not come to my home wearing perfume. Please try not to be early for any date or appointment with me--late is fine but not early. Please do not come to my home unannounced; use a cellphone, the phone on the corner, a telegram, a homing pigeon--whatever it takes--but do not ring my bell and expect to be let in, without calling first.

Tim doesn't have a cellphone right now. Tim has hit the bottomest rock bottom there is to hit. I don't want to invade his privacy with a lot of detail in this story. All I will say is this: his family has turned their back on him and he is completely alone and without job, home or resource. He came here last night because he is ill (not hiv related, for those who might wonder) and hasn't slept in two days because he has nowhere to sleep (he is clean and sober, for those who might wonder). So when he rang the bell and the voice on the intercom said "it's Timmy", I buzzed him in. When he walked in, he began to apologize and inside of fifteen seconds I said, "Tim. Cool it." His face and Pat's face registered relief.

It has been me saying no to everyone. I say it in person, in print, over the phone or through Pat. No. I'm sorry, it will not be possible for you to stay here. No. That's not going to work out. No. The answer is no.

Pat feels a strong responsibility for Tim. I try to feel no responsibility for anyone anymore. I admit it. I am broken. I have been broken by society and by the people in my life who have lessened my self esteem by their crimes against me. Pat has been terrified that Tim might need a place--REALLY need a place--to stay and that I might say no. But something inside me last night, maybe the Peaceful Warrior that I so want to be, calmly and peacefully and lovingly said ok. It's ok. So I told him. You may stay here as long as you need. We are your family and you have come home. Your blood relatives have turned their backs on you but we will not. So, like a parent (and at this point, he needs a parent) I told him to shower and get ready for bed. He would be awoken in the morning for breakfast, there would be no drug usage while he is here, if he went outside to smoke a cigarette, he would shower again when he came back into the apartment. He would live here but he would be productive, he would get up in the mornings and he would be active. No drugs, no booze, no cigarettes, no online activity. We will help him get his health and his life back. We have become the Betty Ford clinic.

And you know what? It feels right. We are his family. He has hit rock bottom. We will not turn our backs on him the way his parents did. He has been operating these last few weeks with God and he has survived. He has kept himself (mostly) clean and sober (I can forgive the occasional beer or toke) and he is ready to start the uphill climb again. We will help him. And, as I write this, it feels right to have him sleeping in the loft above my head.

This is what we do, Pat and I. Whatever else is or is not true of us, this is what we do. When one of our own needs us, we will be there to care for them. This is their home as well as ours.

This is our life.

This is what we do.

please note that, not feeling comfortable using photos (in this story) of anyone's face, I have chosen to use a picture I did for the PMS Kookie Kompany. Anyone who has been in our home will confirm that this photo sums up what it is like to be in 2A. This is a typical scene in our kitchen....


Anonymous annalisa said...

i must admit that when i read the first line of this entry, sitting here at 8:30am at my desk, my first reaction was to say outloud: "WHAT?" i remember vividly the last time tim was left alone in your home and i get nervous for you guys. i know that you are the home for all, in so many ways, and i think that's amazing. it takes a lot to be the caretaker to everyone and the fact that you and pat continue to take on that role for all of your friends is really a testament to you guys. and i know that you are (slightly :)) older than me, and much wiser and know what you are doing. and i'm going to hope very strongly that tim really is ready to go down the path to recovery and that nothing bad happens. and because i love you and pat very much, i'm going to continue to worry. but i guess that is what life is all about (not to get philosophical this early, i'm only half-way thru my coffee so you are warned :))... loving people as much as you can and having the faith in those you love.

8:47 AM  
Blogger StephenMosher said...

I knew you would have something to say about this. You are one of my protectors. And I appreciate it.

I admit. I'm nervous. I'm a little scared. I just got my home to feel safe again. It's been drama free and the Happy Room has been my safe haven. I'm scared of losing that safety and the happiness.

But we're talking about one of our family members being sick, homeless and out of work. I think there's been enough toughlove all around. It's up to Pat (the kindest man we all know) and me (I'm not sure what I am..) to do this little thing.

And may God have mercy on us all..

9:09 AM  
Blogger jungle dream pagoda said...

Be careful,darlings.Love the blogtography!

11:36 AM  
Blogger jungle dream pagoda said...

Be careful,darlings.Love the blogtography!

11:37 AM  

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