The Halal Guys

Monday, July 18, 2017, 7 pm, Houston, TX (Allen Parkway & Montrose areas)

My philosophical moments come unexpectedly, and, not often enough. It was early this evening, and, after reading between the veiled comments of text messages, I realized that my friend had once again fallen into a lifeless position on the couch unable to move and unwilling to reach out.  After digesting her situation, I surveyed my living space and snapped mental pictures of what is not yet prepped and packed for my Dallas work trip with a departure drive time of 6 am.  “At least three hours of packing to do,” I sighed under my breath.  “Wash, dry, & pack the coconut oil dispensers, pack clothes, clean the kitchen, return the incoming text messages about appointments, reorganize my office backpack, plan my meals and pack the cooler…” I whispered as I pointed toward each station.  I had a feeling that my sleep requirements would be curtailed.  But, she is my family and her wellbeing supersedes all.

I dropped everything and raced over to her home. In route, I was inspired that the only solution to the situation was to remove her from her living space for however long she needed. I arrived and found her as expected and surrendering to her fourth day of debilitating mental illness. She had kept this from me for three days. “How did I not see it?”  And, while to many, this situation may seem troubling if it happened to someone they loved, her current condition is light years more healthy than it was nearly two years ago.  And, one day, I will write about that.

I sat and tried to be present and quiet. And, though that was my intent, I was questioning, challenging, and mildly disagreeable.  I raised the issue of leaving the house, and, I was met with resistance and a cracking voice.  Finally, she agreed.  I proclaimed that her departure required shoes, a water, and any necessary medications.  She complied with slumping shoulders, slow movement, and a lifeless resolve.

As we stood inside her front door ready to leave, water was gathering in her eyes and I waited for her head to fall into her hands and expected her diaphragm to cue in rapid convulsion. But, she didn’t cry. I could tell she was trying to be strong, not wanting to be seen as weak or to worry me.

We went for a long walk on the bayou down by the Dunlavy Restaurant; then, to Amy’s Ice Cream, and, just before exiting the car for my FAVORITE ice cream location in all the world, she made a quite surprising suggestion:  “Do you mind if we dine across the street to have ‘real dinner food’ first?”   “You’re hungry?” I asked.  “When did THAT happen?”   Inside, I sighed…my fat cells required regeneration – it had already been weeks since they had been fed by the high cow we call Amy.

After gathering our food, drink and silverware, we sat outside on the patio to feed the mosquitos, but, mainly to avoid the PTSD-inducing sound explosions of metal spatulas on thick metal pots.  I wanted to say, “Is that what that Broadway show STOMP is like?”  But, my thoughts and shovels of food into my mouth were interrupted when she said, “I think this is helping…getting me out is really helping with this bombshell of restraint.”  I looked up in surprise.  Her posture was more animated, her voice sounded like it was powered by her diaphragm, and, though the sparkle in her eye wasn’t there yet, I could tell it was on the way.

She was mostly finished with her meal, but, not before exclaiming several times how amazing our food was.  And, it was very flavorful and completely filling.  I paused the food shovel and blurted out, “well, you know, if you can’t change ‘how’ you see the world, change ‘what’ you see.” Both of us looked up in surprise at the wisdom of those words. “OMG!!  I can’t believe I just said that. It’s so deep and so true and so very simple,” I said. She concurred and asked me to repeat it.  We changed her physical point of view from a routine one to a colorful and moving one.   At the beginning of this story, she never moved her eyes from the white wall across from her.  I wondered what movie she had cued up from her past to project on that white wall.

Tonight, as I type this story, I reflected on that sentence.  And, I wonder, if the wise words we speak to those we love are really the words we want to speak, (or have spoken) to ourselves. For me, it was the spontaneous articulation of my own minor victories  when I faced overwhelming depression that I’d never acknowledged until that ‘A HA!’ moment with her.

The title of this post is the name of the restaurant where we ate.  I love the name.