We live in the real world - not a fairytale. And in the real world, we mere mortals don't get to live happily "ever after." Only Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella have that luxury. Down here on earth, if you're lucky enough, you might just be able to find some one to have and to hold, for better or for worse. And not ever after, but only till death do you part. And if you live in my fair land of not so far far away, you arent even promised the assurance of happiness either, only the pursuit of it. Oh and the divorce rate is around 50%. Pretty sure Rapunzel never considered that option.
I've been wondering if MrU could be that person. That I get to share a lifetime with. To love with my whole heart, as long as it keeps beating. Hoping and hoping and wanting so badly that I of all people might get to be that lucky.
But we must not kid ourselves. Remember - it is not so very hard imagining a life with someone - when things are for the better. Its far for more challenging to commit yourself to another living, breathing, human being - when things are for the worse.
Or to expect someone to do that for you in return.
Because when you really think about it, it's really and truly an astronomical, unthinkable request.
New relationships are fragile and unstable. The love required for such loyalty and support necessary in a crisis of the worse is likely not yet born. In our case, I dont know exactly what number "date" it was, for me and my unicorn, but I'll never forget where it took place: The George Washington Hospital Emergency Room. Here is what happened...
I got off work early. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him walking across the street to meet me where I stood waiting for him, in from of my office. It was warm out. So warm in fact, that it felt like the first day of spring. Just like our romance. Light and easy and full of possibility. Mr. U was telling me about some home renovation he was doing as we walked down the busy, crowded sidewalk on our way to the movies.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in the top of my left arm. And then numbness in my whole arm and tingling in my left hand. At first I wasn't too concerned because I figured maybe I had been sitting weird or for too long or something. Also, I was trying to listen attentively to Mr. U tell me about his day, so I was half distracted from the weird sensations. I tried to shake my arm. Shake it off. "Ugh" I was thinking shaking my whole arm violently. "What is this? What is this?"
Then the numbness and tingling got worse. It moved to my chest and the left side of my neck. My chest felt tight. Right around my heart. And then it got much worse. It moved to my face. My face was numb. The whole left side of my face! "Don't panic. Don't panic." I told myself. "Breath. Just breath." I started breathing in and out. In -1-2-3-4, Out-1-2-3-4. I tried counting my breaths while I continued shaking my arm.
This wasn't going away. This wasn't right. I turned to Mr. U. "Um, so I don't want to alarm you or anything. But I'm feeling a little weird." "I'm glad you said something," he said. "Because you are acting a little weird. What's going on?" So I told him. He said we should sit down. So we did. We looked around for a bench or something but there was nothing. So we sat down on the sidewalk in the middle of K street downtown. He put his arm around me. "Just tell me a story," I asked of him. So he did. Something about West Virginia. I have no idea. Because truthfully, I was beginning to panic. Which wasn't helping. "I just need to calm down." I said. To myself. To him. To no one. "I just need to calm down." But I wasn't calming down. And I began to feel flush. On my arms. On my face. On my back. Bumps grew on my face. I could feel them on my back too. And the tightness in my chest and my throat was heavy with pressure. I felt them slowly caving in on me.
"I'm so sorry," I turned to look at him full of worry. In the midst of this physical misery, all I could think was "dear god, he'll think I'm nuts. dear god, he'll dump me now for sure." "It's okay," he smiled at me (looking very concerned). "I just like being with you." "Even when I'm having a stroke or something?" I said back to him (only half kidding). "Even then," he confirmed and softly laughed. (Unicorn. Unicorn. Unicorn. He is a unicorn. If you didn't believe it before, believe it now people.)
"Do you have a doctor you can call?" he asked. I did. I called him. The on-call receptionist said he'd call me back. Shit. shit. shit. So I did the next best thing - I called the Walgreen's pharmacy. No joke. And spoke to a pharmacist there. No joke. "Um...could you maybe talk to me about some symptoms I'm having." "Sure," the lady said to me. (Really? they do that? who knew? I don't even shop there or get meds there. Craziness.) "What symptoms are you having?" she asked. I told her. "What medications are you currently taking?" I told her. "What did you eat today?" I told her. "Maam," she said to me, and then paused. "You aren't in front of me, so I don't know exactly what your situation is, but my best medical advice at this moment, is to get to your nearest hospital." "Seriously?" I asked her. "Right away."
I looked at Mr. U and said "where's the nearest hospital?" Without hesitation he stood up, hailed a cab and we got in. "GW hospital" he said to the cab driver. Luckily we were only a few blocks away. "I just wanna get there, I just wanna get there." I kept saying slightly rocking myself back in forth in my seat. It wasn't so much that I felt so terrible but more so that I knew that something was terribly not right. Mr. U put his arm on my shoulder and squeezed it twice. He kissed me on the side of my face. "You'll be fine. You'll be fine." He tried to comfort me. "I want my mother," was all I could say. (Because I'm a complete fuckin wuss if you must really know). So I called her. And she was on her way.
And then we arrived. GW Emergency Room. And I have to say - they are getting. it. done. over there. I was checked-in, triaged, registered and testing began. And then more testing. And more doctors. Who spent time with me. Who asked me a billion questions. And then more questions. Who noticed things like my single teeny tiny tattoo and even asked when I got that because it could be related. Who asked about my family history (unknown I'm adopted - ugh), my coworkers, my friends. And were nice to me. And reassured me. And made me laugh. And though it was very likely that I had just had a severe allergic reaction which they treated they checked my heart (EKG), my chest (X-ray) and my lungs (blood labs). They even screen everyone for HIV (because DC has the largest percentage in the U.S. I think. Sad. All negative for me though. Good). And then I started to feel better...poked and prodded. Needled and medicated. And don't forget HIV free. I guess that was something...
Meanwhile, Mr. U met my mother in the lobby. How mortifying. How awkward. What a way for them to meet. In the emergency room of a god damn hospital. Because of me. In between tests I came out to the lobby and introduced them. It was weird. "You should go home," I said. He stood up and grabbed his things. "You're in good hands. With family," he agreed. He said goodbye to my mother and then he left. It just felt... weird.
5 hours after my allergic reaction began, I sat partially collapsed in a chair against the emergency room wall facing the opposite wall lined with beds and privacy curtains. I could hear one woman shouting crazily: "They can take my boobs. Just let me keep my feet." A little girl sat next to me, waiting for her mother, I think. She didn't speak English. I looked down at the hospital bracelet on my left wrist and the pricks in my arm from all the blood tests. Then the doctors came back one last time to explain everything and give me instructions before they discharged me to go home.
As I walked through the hallways out to my parents waiting in the lobby, all I could think of was the movies. At 6pm - all I had wanted, was to go to the movies with my boyfriend. Was that too much to ask? But now, at 11pm - all I wanted was to go home, go to sleep, wake up okay in the morning, and still have a boyfriend at all. I don't know why I thought I wouldn't. Maybe it was stress. Maybe it was fatigue. But it had just felt like too much too soon. It was too real. To much drama. To much worry. To much neediness on my part for him to take care of me. All too soon - in our new and fragile relationship.
When I got home I looked at my phone for the first time in hours. There were texts from Mr. U. "Thinking of you. Do you get to go home? Feeling better? I can come visit tomorrow." And so I responded. "Starting to feel better. Sorry that I put you through that. But I guess it was the right thing to do." He wrote immediately back: "Totally right thing to do. I am happy to have been able to be there. Get some rest."
I don't know why this didn't make me feel better about us. Something was wrong. Something was off. We felt derailed. I felt depleted. I climbed into bed uncertain about our future. He'd said all the right things and done all the right things. But things didn't feel right. I couldn't worry about it though. I had to go to sleep. I had to get some rest. It had been a nightmare of a day. And I would just have to see what would happen with us - once upon - another time.