At that point, things admittedly got a little dark. Not so much because I was depressed but because I was SICK! My Cuban vacation had been great for my heart and mind but my body hadn't fared so well. I fought and denied the encroaching illnesses for a couple days to attend a few Christmas parties and enlighten (aka annoy) my friends with all my newfound wisdom about the superiority of everything Cuban to everything Canadian. The parties and the Christmas cheer turned out to be exactly the opposite of the medicine I needed, three days after my return to Toronto, I crashed hard. I was coughing, sneezing and barfing up parts of myself that I didn't know existed, my head ached so bad I was left crawling around my house in an attempt to have the least amount of gravity possible pressing down on it, my mouth got so sore and cracked that I could barely even open it.
My parents (who lived 3 hours away at the best of times) had left the
country weeks before to spend Christmas with my expat sister and her
family. Most of my close friends had also already fled the city for
their various homes and vacation destinations. My cousins invited me to
come for Christmas and to recuperate with them...but then changed their
minds when they realized the newborn baby in their midst should probably
not be exposed to whatever this mystery illness was that was eating me
alive. At the beginning of my descent into illness, a co-worker had brought by
care package of soup, crackers, ginger ale and other assorted get-well
goodies. But soon I passed the point of being able to get those into my
mouth. That was when I realized, I was most likely going to die! Alone!!
On Christmas!!! Knowing that the end was near if i didn't get some nutrients into my body, I dropped all pretense of pride
and sent out a desperate facebook plea, begging for someone to take pity
on me and bring me a straw
About an hour later, a new(ish) friend of mine showed up on my
doorstep with a bag of pre-bottled health smoothies and a box of straws.
We'd met a few months before at a poetry event and bonded over grammar
and inappropriate jokes and had been hanging out off and on since then.
We had the same taste in books, the same taste in music, we ran with the
same crowds, worked in a similar industry. He had a cool rockabilly
style combined with a stable, well-paying day job and, beyond that, he
sent me constant, funny emails and made me great mixed cds. Since we'd
met I'd been looking for the spark that would convince me he was the
perfect guy for me to live happily ever after with.
When I answered the door wearing a set of flannel penguin/polar-bear print pyjamas and a hospital mask, he greeted me with the sweetest smile of affection and
sympathy...and I felt nothing. Well, admittedly I was overjoyed to see the straws
because I was knew I would die without them, but in the feelings-for-him department I was out of luck. I thanked him for saving my life, warned him not to risk infection by coming too close, said goodbye and slowly crawled back up the stairs to my apartment where I wrapped myself in blankets, self-pity and the thought that there was one man out there, on a beach in Cuba, who could somehow make me feel better.