As the train exits the tunnel in Queens, I look at my cell phone. There is a voicemail message from my mother. Her voice is calm and she sounds fine.
Until I call her back.
Her voice is quivering as she tells me that Lenny, one of my childhood friends, is about to be taken away by ambulance. It turns out that he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his family has staged an emergency intervention. She starts to cry.
She goes on to tell me that the whole family is out on the street, watching every corner so that they can find him and urge him to seek medical attention. They are joined by several police cars and an ambulance.
As she names the people she sees outside, I realize that there are a lot of people I haven't seen years out there. This is not a good time for a reunion, I think.
Besides, someone will probably ask me how I've been and my instinct to talk all about myself will kick into overdrive. I'll start yammering on and on about my mosaics, the upcoming street fair, and my apartment renovations - anything to avoid talking about the drama of the moment. Remember, I don't know anything because I don't live here anymore.
You know what? I don't want to be around when Lenny's eventually found and taken away. What if he sees me watching? How bad would that look? As far as I'm concerned, this is a private family issue.
So I tell her that I will sneak in through the back door, but she tells me that they are monitoring the alleyways too.
Great. Now, what?
I call my sister, hoping that she can help me dodge this 800-lb gorilla in the street, maybe pick me up in her Mercedes (pronounced: Mer-CHEN-deez in Greek), like I'm some superstar dodging the paparazzi. Of course, the one time I call her, she's not home.
Remember when you were a kid and you wished that you had the power to become invisible? It's amazing how the feeling is exactly the same when you're an adult.
I make a detour at Dunkin Donuts. This, I assume, will make me appear more casual - and oblivious. All is normal inside Doofus Donuts, which is disappointing.
As I walk down the block, I pretend like it's just a typical Saturday. I have no idea what I will face.
Thankfully, I have my sunglasses on. They will help me avoid eye contact and double as a disguise. There are just a few people outside, but they don't seem to notice me. It turns out that I won't have to hide behind a car until this blows over.
I finally rush up the stairs and fumble with the key to the front door. Oh, fuck. Which one is it? Why couldn't she leave the door unlocked? She knows I'm coming.
Once inside the house, I tell my mother to "mind her own business." I don't say this to be mean, I say this because she can not afford to get stressed out and upset at her age.
Of course, this is usless, because as it turns out, she's been stressed out for a few days now, and it has nothing to do with Lenny.
To Be Continued...