I watch them starting.
I see the show pulling together.
I listen to the dialogue, the talk of remembering.
I watch the red blinking lights if the headsets.
I feel the anticipation, mixed with both tension and excitement.
And I remember.
It's been one year exactly [although I use show schedules instead of dates, and events then more than months and such].
I remember the look of the stage. I'd been given the chance to finally wear the monumental headset...a rite of passage for directors and techies. The show sprang into sudden life and believability. And then my pocket vibrated. I didn't have to look, I knew who it was and what she would say. I answered anyway, knowing. Piping back into the headset, "goodbye all."
I didn't know yet that this goodbye was so much more final than I'd ever have wanted to believe.
Those two weeks are just snapshots to me. Quotes, pictures, physical pains.
Shaking violently in the hospital emergency room. Wrapped in heated blankets, pretending to watch MythBusters. Doctors and nurses ran everywhere...and I waited.
"That's impressive," she said. "Sometimes the stomach can't physically handle that."
Katie's face that first visiting day. I was so excited my mom had brought her along. She knew the right questions to ask, and her quiet confidence was easier to face than my mom's tears.
The first night, 11:30. Cold, metal detecting wand pressing against the thin, cotton gown. Searched, prodded, measured, noted, recorded.
White brick walls, a door locked from the outside, a small pane of shatterproof glass. I stood and watched my parents backs as they left, watched them leave. No one explained that I couldn't follow them anymore.
Desperately alone. I wanted so desperately to cry, but the tears wouldn't come. I stared instead at the ceiling, desperately awake. Each of those first 24 hours felt desperate.
Walking into that room. Down the long hall, into the reception area, a left to the next hall, the second or third door on the right. Green and tan. It was much newer, more welcoming wing. The view from the window showing trees, a much needed relief from the cement buildings and highways our wing showed. Two emaciated young women, a sweet grandmotherly type woman speaking to us, asking us to stand up and stretch. Her guidelines were so much like the theatre warmups that, no matter how hard i tried to hide it, I broke down and cried. It was supposed to be my opening night.
An intense pain on my inner arm, already black and blue. I was used to it, but I remember the clock reading 6:30 and the lights thrown on. The pain, then back into blissful sleep.
"I was going to stay up to meet you, but I guess I fell asleep. My names S******. I got here yesterday."
"My name is Gordon, but everyone kist calls me Gords. I don't usually get cases like yours, I don't know all of the ins and outs of that. But I'm going to do my best, but I need you to help me."
Gym time. All twenty-some of us and two flat basketballs. Those games of lightning were intense. I won one, finally. Volleyball was the favorite. Jumping on chairs to hang the net...being watched like hawks, because obviously with 20 kids and three supervisors, we were going to find a way to hang ourselves with it.
We were all different athletic levels, but no one cared. It wasn't the game, it was the impression of freedom in that room. Of togetherness, of space to run.
Walking into the room and seeing a brown paper bag at the foot of my bed with my name scrawled in pen on he side. That feeling was the best feeling; you knew someone at home was thinking about you. Seeing the slippers, mom picked up for me. It was like Christmas, only with so much more thankfulness.
The doctor's demeanor. I can't remember his voice, his face...I don't doubt that I've blocked it from my memory. It took me a full day of wondering to remember even his name. But I remember hating him. Cold, aloof, stern, and uncaring. His response to my begging for a release date: "You don't actually think you're going home, do you?" he paused and studied my hopeful face, only briefly. "you'll be here at least through the weekend." He then turned and walked out of the room.
Watching that same doctor look up from an industrial scale tell an eating disorder patient coming back in to their partial program, "You've gained weight since you went home, and that's not good."
Six red roses in a shatterproof red plastic vase, a card stocking from it bearing my name. My family and some of the staff had to push for it to be allowed in my room. A reminder of the show I should be closing.
Afternoon journals I wrote, three days in a row, begging to be excused from my afternoon groups. After explanation and pleading, I was freed from the torture in the far wing...allowed to stay with my group of friends.
Gordon's icebreakers. Picking out paint samples with names and shades that described our personality. Of explaining what flavor of ice cream we were, and drumming circles using empty cottage cheese containers.
Coloring our reasons for strength, and at the same time missing them so desperately. My camera, my own out of tune piano. Friends I longed to hold, voices I hadn't heard in days.
The show was what broke me. Being gone from home was easier than missing rehearsals. I cried internally for the first hour and two interrogations after I was told I wouldn't be going home. The nutritionist finally broke me, by simply asking what was wrong. Her demeanor was so much like that of a grandmother that everything hit me at once, like a brick wall. I cried out my story in a rocking chair under a weighted blanket, then wrote out four pages of cramped chicken scratch about everything that I was experiencing.
They had told me I wasn't expressing a full range of emotions. What was I missing? Anger. For that hour, I gave them anger. I yelled like a maniac at the brick walls, my crying sounding more like ragged breaths escalating to screams. More swearing than I had ever done in my life filled that paper.
Carrying stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows through the adult ward to the gym. We laid down on gym mats while our on call nurse read relaxation stories. Shelby's was our favorite voice, sending us into a drowsy trance of exhaustion. Those were the most treasured moments, the only moments we truly felt safe.
When my daddy came to pick me up...I believe it was a Monday morning. It was so incredibly bittersweet. I threw my things together on the morning, not knowing when I would leave. Seeing my dad walk through the locked doors was beautiful. Saying goodbye was like losing a family I never knew I had. They searched our things for contacts to each other...last names, phone numbers. I left with two, but with a family of people I loved so much.
I blasted country music the whole ride home. I didn't have my phone back, but unused my dads to text anyone whose number I had or knew. I sat barefoot with my feet on the dash. It was hazy, but beautiful...as was my outlook.
And as has been the journey since then.