As glad as I was to have almost miraculously been introduced to another expatriate American who successfully lived in London and seemed to be having a great time (Gervaise was around 40 years old at the time, dating a younger, handsome guy named Gary, a Cockney who sounded alarmingly like Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins), all was not well.
I might as well fess up and admit: I’ve been waging war with depression most of my life, along with (un)healthy amounts of anxiety. This may be why I work so hard at everything and rarely relax. I am driven by a force that’s part terror, part high energy nervousness. Sure, I love most of what I’m up to, but you can be sure I have a lot of darkness I’m trying to avoid, meanwhile.
But in general my outward mien is cheerful, optimistic, and funny. In fact, after meeting Ms. Soeurouge and staying with her a few days and nights when we’d go to north London to catch Nick Cave’s band The Birthday Party and a few other cool London bands (we also needed to go over stuff at the flat for the few months she’d be out of town, get to know the kitties & such), she blew up at me:
“Do you HAVE to be so damned cheerful? You’re like Mary fucking Tyler Moore! It’s insufferable, really. Knock it off, Lauren!” I guess I should have laughed, but I was stunned and hurt. Overcompensating for my darkness resulted in an overdose of sweetness and light. Ugh. Of course I apologized profusely -- a reflex action, like a gag reflex -- which pissed off Gervaise even more.
LUCKILY, she was leaving the next day, cute boyfriend Gary in tow, to work on a documentary or something in the U.S. and so I wouldn’t be getting on her nerves much longer. But before going, she showed me her stash of “good acid” in the freezer. “Feel free to trip, I have plenty,” she commented, breezily.
Oh yeah. I’m nearing suicidal with worry and deepening depression, and here’s this erstwhile hippie telling me to go ahead and drop some ‘cid. Oh really.
But three days after they’d left, one of the kitties had a new litter of babies -- which lightened my mood, considerably. I mean, how can you be depressed with such cute little mewling babycats?
And then came a knock on the door from a neighbor, a little old man who called himself “Alfie”. . . .