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  1. And the loveliest of all was the unicorn.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012


    by Helene Growly Bear Gresser



    Funny, for an insomniac, I sure hate this time of night. Specifically 2:45 a.m. It is the time of night when I feel the solitude of my life and question all my choices that led me to be here. Why am I single? Why did I choose a zigzag approach to a career destined to leave me penniless in my old age? Why am I smoking inside my minuscule apartment when I hate the smell of smoke on things, especially myself? When did I give up on trying to keep organized? Why do my exes always seem marry or at least settle down with the next girl after me? Why haven't I written my ubiquitous one-woman show yet? Why did it take Tom Wopat to inform me of the meaning of "ubiquitous?"

    I have isolated myself for a few months now -- I am not promptly returning phone calls from friends, I have not made enough effort to head outside and get sun and air, I am letting things slide further and further into disarray -  I am in my "cave," as I call it. It is especially cave-y at 3:00 a.m. Manhattan is strangely silent here in my Upper East Side/East Harlem-esque neighborhood. One does not wander far alone outside, unless one wants to tempt fate by walking near Central Park in this stillness. It's fine at dawn, almost bustling. But here I sit, getting as dark as the night outside, in my mess, writing this, feeling slightly nauseated from the newly-acquired Camels habit and my looming responsibilities. I paw feebly away at my invisible cave door, looking for a shaft of light, a way out.

    It's there. I know it is. I can hear some voices on the other side. Sometimes the clawing wears me out so I retreat to Facebook and Twitter and search for signs of Out There. Maybe these other night owls or Australians or British or Californians can draw me a map. Or they might show me some blueprints that reveal the magic button that unlatches the entrance to Out There. Maybe a text, usually the sexy-text, will shine a beam - but that ray of light always seems so short-lived. So quietly electronic. It's not the Sun. It's bluish-greenish and dings softly, and then stops, eventually, always too soon. I strike another match and light my nicotine torch.

    This morning I read a couple of pieces by Mandy Stadtmiller, a comic and writer and blogger like me (except she is well-known and far more successful.) In these writings I saw that she, too, wonders at her status as a friend, and questions her choices and is filled with self-doubt that can paralyze or lead one to drink to blackout levels, or have meaningless sexy-trysts, or feel ugly and ignored and alone. I happened to read these pieces because a friend on Facebook said to all his Facebook friends: Read This Now. What struck me to my very core was the second piece that he told me, specifically, to read, after I had praised the first.

    Stadtmiller wrote: "...When I was getting divorced and was blacking out from drinking too much and sleeping with strangers and thought I was completely worthless except for my crazy stories in 2006, a comedy writer who I had never even met in person, Evan Gore, emailed me one day and said, “Keep going. You’re doing everything right."  I think of that email to this day. (Happily, Evan and I did finally meet and he even helped me load up my U-Haul from LA to San Diego a month ago. Thanks, Evan!)
    His two-sentence note was another version of telling me, “You are valuable, Mandy.” It was telling me that unconditional love was possible outside of the often brutal, many times crushing and reactionary world of conditional Internet attention followed all so often by the swift “you-should-die-and-are-worthless-and-ugly” backlash of modern-day Internet communication....” http://www.xojane.com/issues/xojane-causes-facebook-shut-down-resurfacing-creepy-most-beautiful-teen-site

    Evan Gore is the Facebook friend who told me to read Mandy's blog.  He is the older brother of someone I've known since middle school,  someone who came back into my life a few years ago at a high school alumni event, and who, like his older brother Evan, knows just what to say to make the cave door open and let the Sun in.   (I will have to write another blentry to describe my wonder and awe for such people as the Gores.  How do they do it? Where did they learn it?) Dan Gore is also the person who would help you load up a U-Haul to move to San Diego, when all other friends have bagged on you.  Dan came to the rescue in big and small ways for our alumni events, just by saying "I'll be there to help."  And then he actually did what he said he'd do.

    Monday night he sent me a clip from the film Bridesmaids to remind me of what my friends are for. My friends are there, wrestling me, biting me on my ass, telling me to SNAP OUT OF IT, get my ass off the couch, and open my eyes. You see, the cave has no door. I just had my eyes closed tight, shutting out all light, and all friends, and he comes in with nine puppies and slaps my face with my own stinky ciggie-hand, making me laugh.



    Jesus, I think, how wonderful is that Sun? And to mix my metaphors: like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I wake to find my friends and family standing around me, all smiles and furrowed brows and concern.  A few of my comic-buddies have heard me talk of Dan, and we came up with a nickname for him.  He is a unicorn. The Unicorn.  The Hebrew Bible uses "re'em" but the King James Bible translates it to "Unicorn:"

    "...To his firstborn ox is [given] glory. His horns are the horns of a re'em. With them, he will gore peoples together [throughout all] the ends of the earth..."
    Devarim - Deuteronomy - Chapter 33 

    (Thanks, Wikipedia and Chabad.org -- I am not religious, but c'mon, how often does one come across a Unicorn. It makes you think things. And LOOK, it uses the word "GORE!" It is a sign.)

    "You've got a friend in me," says Dan. And he'll listen to me when I tell the ugly parts of living this life, this choice-pile I've made for myself and called home,  and he says "Keep going."  I don't quite know how I will begin, but now that I once again see the cave door, I can at least crawl to the light and get my Vitamin D and gather my strength to walk, then maybe even run, into Out There.


    You've got a friend in me

    You've got a friend in me
    When the road looks rough ahead
    And you're miles and miles
    From your nice warm bed
    You just remember what your old pal said
    Boy, you've got a friend in me
    Yeah, you've got a friend in me

    You've got a friend in me
    You've got a friend in me
    If you've got troubles, I've got 'em too
    There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
    We stick together and can see it through
    Cause you've got a friend in me
    You've got a friend in me

    Some other folks might be
    A little bit smarter than I am
    Bigger and stronger too
    Maybe
    But none of them will ever love you
    The way I do, it's me and you
    Boy, and as the years go by
    Our friendship will never die
    You're gonna see it's our destiny
    You've got a friend in me
    You've got a friend in me
    You've got a friend in me



    -HG
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  2. 2 comments:

    1. I'm still marveling at the fact that you spelled "minuscule" correctly. And for that, I value you, Helene.

    2. You are a beautiful writer. And as a writer, you let us into the cave. I'd love to hear your comedy. I know some of my funniest shit started as painful circumstances.

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