Monday, October 17, 2011

Flip Flop

When I was 25 I moved from L.A. to San Francisco. I managed a makeup counter at one of the grand ole' department stores in Union Square. It was equally parts exhausting and amusing, exhilarating and soul-sucking. But it was the job I had so that was the job I did. I made friends with the manager of the cosmetics counter across the aisle from me. During the cold rainy holiday hours we would start work at 4:30 AM. There is nothing as overwhelmingly obnoxious as the sight of a department store at 4:30 in the morning and we were left with plenty of time to talk before the customers slowly trickled in with dawn's winter rays. She was a wild French woman and we quickly became friends because if you are interesting or unique I usually want to be your friend. Wild and French makes for interesting and unique. So everyday, right around the time it actually started getting busy  with the noon lunch-hour rush bustling in, we were off of work. Completely deliriously exhausted neither of us were racing home to go play housewife. No, we needed to repair our suffering.

Instead we would plant ourselves at The Gold Dust Lounge up the trolley track from the store, dragging a rotating cast of other disgruntled and eternally exhausted co-workers along for the ride. $2.50 glasses of champagne, need I say more? Lets just say we drank away plenty of lunches, dinners and foggy evenings tucked into those red crushed-velvet booths. We bitched and moaned and complained about work but more often than not we spent the afternoon laughing. At each other, ourselves and of course the other patrons reflected back in tacky gilded-gold framed mirrors. Her husband would usually come pick us up and interject some sanity into the situation, yet not too much, for he was the wild French lady's husband after all and frequently the party would carry on. My spitfire French friend was a Leo, as am I, and we tend to be on the  passionate and emotional side. Well I will be darned if this man did not have the funniest expression to describe his wife's rapidly cycling mood changes, as anyone who has ever loved a complicated woman is more than likely well acquainted with. "Flip-flop," he would say, taking his hand and placing it flat in the other palm, flipping it over rapidly back and forth. "That is what she is, flip-flop!" We would all laugh because me oh my, it was only so true! 

Lately my husband and I have been delving into the damage chronic sickness and the good old-fashioned game of living life has stamped on us. We are working with every beat of our hearts to start to mend the past, repair the damage and rebuild our life in a way that sustains health. In this process there is a lot of pain and anguish coming to the surface. I frequently find myself reminiscing about life before I got sick, when consequences were minimal and the future an endless canvas with which to paint the life of my dreams. The memories are bittersweet, for I am glad I had that time but so sad it, and the rest of life as I thought it would be, is over. Now I could interject here how much chronic illness has made me who I am today, brought out a better person, taught me what is important in life. And all of that is true, but I am not in a phase of appreciation right now. No right now I am in a phase of destruction and rebirth and am really pissed off all this has happened to us. As I feel these feelings on their way out the door of my life I can find myself having rapidly cycling mood swings. But pretty quickly my memory of that wild French lady's husband with his "Flip-flop" will come to mind. It turns my poor-little-me frown upside down as I giggle and laugh at my memories, beyond grateful I have them. Something so silly that describes the ups and downs of life perfectly, especially if they are flipping and flopping every four minutes or so.

Thanks for joining,

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