“Joy” : Day One of Retreat

Featured Image: Joy made us breakfast and went home without saying goodbye. She left us this.

Joy wasn’t feeling herself lately. “Stuck,” she would call it. She wanted to talk about it, you could tell. And when she did, you could see her eyes get lost in the story. She would wander the room as she spoke, using her hands in every which way. She would change the subject, hoping to keep your attention as she could tell when you wanted to walk away.

“Now look at this,” she pointed to a painting. “Isn’t it just fabulous.” She squinted as she tried to read the artists name at the bottom right corner. “Ah! Steadman!” She scurries over to the other side of the lounge and points to a large red book, clearly a collection of his other art, Proud Too Be Weirrd. “I’m proud to be weird. Because I’m weird, but not that weird,” she looks at me, “I hope.”

I smile encouragingly, and commiserate with her, “I, too, feel like that. It’s good to be weird. Just enough weird to be interesting but not too weird to creep people out.”

You see, Joy was sent here by her husband. Pulled a “Streetcar Named Desire” on her, you could call it. I could imagine the scene now. Joy being ushered into an Uber; whose coordinates are the retreat. Joy, crying because she knows she needs this but saddened that her husband thought she needed this. “Oh God,” he’d say, “What have I done to my wife?” and their daughter would comfort him, “You done the right thing, the only thing you could do.”

And now, just as Blanche, Joy is depending on the kindness of strangers to help her, as well as some good ole isolation.

“I’ve brought a little bit of him,” she says, quietly, “you know, his ashes” she mimes a small container. “I brought some feathers too; my father always really liked the Indians.” I nod along with her story. “I’m going to take them to the James River sometime this week. I think it would really help.’

“I think so, too.”

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