I met another woman weeping on the street last night. The last one was sitting at the bus stop, and she just wanted a “time out”. This one was from that same complex, as it turns out. Spyglass Hill. I remember I nearly rented an apartment there years ago. I decided against it and I’m SO glad. It seems east Denver’s pit of despair.
It was about 2:30 am or so, just after “last call” in retrospect. This girl was wandering down Monaco, barefoot with a light sweater on, huddled in on herself and weeping. If you saw her, would you have helped her? Lawyers, you know? You don’t know what’s going on. Best not to get involved. I don’t understand people like that.
In any event I started talking to her quietly while my lovely partner took the dog back home and went to fetch socks. I always carry a variety of street-legal weapons with me, and considering my height, weight, and batshit status I don’t fear many things on the street, regardless of the hour. So when her boyfriend buzzed us a few times in his Bronco it didn’t bother me, even when she freaked out. After some conversation we decided to relocate to our stairwell so we could sit and talk where he couldn’t see us, but without freaking her further by bringing her inside a strange house.
She’s very pretty, willow thin with long flowing black hair. She told me that mom’s a full Ute while dad’s Hispanic. She has the best of both, apparently. She looks 18 but said she’s 24 and mother of two. Sadly, my bullshit meter redlined within minutes of talking to her. Nothing the girl said made sense. She gave me three different names within five minutes (Crystal, Lisa and Melissa) and was in a significantly altered state. That she was drunk was obvious, but there was something working underneath that was hard to pinpoint. In any event by the time I got a coat around her Steph had once again ducked inside to provide water, Kleenex and a scarf.
Crystal Lisa Melissa was very unwilling to go home, or to contact anyone she knew. Given her state it was hard to figure out if she was frightened or embarrassed. She claimed fear, but it didn’t ring true. I tried to encourage her to head to a shelter at least for the night. But she declined in a vague way, and spoke of her mother, her aunt and more of her boyfriend, without being able to remember where any of them lived, unable to recall their phone numbers, and having no real desire to speak to any of them. Truly a lost soul.
By the time she sobered enough to ask to use the bathroom I was weighing my options, most of which boiled down to calling the cops. She couldn’t stay with us. It wasn’t a question of being unwilling to shelter a stranger. If I thought she was telling the truth I would have helped more. As it was she stayed in my bathroom for a few minutes and I was compelled to check the medicine cabinet and my jewelry box. She didn’t take anything, but she did try to put on my sweat pants as a jacket.
When I helped her back into her own coat it must have weighed about 10 pounds. I asked why, and she produced two river rocks from her pocket, one the size of a cantaloupe and the other about grapefruit sized. She said she wanted a rock to speak to her mother – she could “hear” rocks, but these weren’t the right ones. She was very sad she couldn’t find the right rocks.
By then I figured that we’re not dealing with a drunk, though she was drunk obviously. A drunk Ute is a very bad thing, but her boyfriend later confirmed my suspicions. She’s severely bipolar and a habitually self-medicates. She’s also, I’m guessing, mildly psychic and can pick up on vibes in rocks. Most of us seek out special crystals but if you’re just starting out a river rock will do. She drinks to put the Beast to sleep, which works until it wakes up again. Meanwhile, being Native American, she’s also now a bona fide alcoholic. Oh, joy. The “undercurrent” I was picking up, which at first I thought was a weird drug, was the Beast, watching. Waking up. Assessing the situation.
I pulled one of my old coats out of the closet. I was going to donate it to Coats for Colorado but this seemed a much better use. Steph grabbed an old pair of shoes and we got her dressed for the cold, and then took her home to the “abusive boyfriend”, who pulled in almost immediately after us. She had wandered upstairs to see if she could get back in without keys, so I took the opportunity to speak to him. No monster this, just a very tired, stressed out and worried young man, with deep black pools for eyes. He had one of her two kids in the backseat. Not the “dead beat” she described, he was her best friend from high school and had been dealing with the Beast for the last 6 years. He loves her, but not as a boyfriend, and he wasn’t the father of the kids. I tried to be calm and supportive while offering what advice I could about dealing with bipolar, but I really had nothing to offer. This guy has been in the trenches for years. He knows everything I do, and he’s at the end of his rope. She’s been committed twice already, but the moment she gets out she goes off meds and back to alcohol.
I looked into his eyes and saw the same conclusion I had already come to. Unless she saves herself she’s going to die. And she’s not going to save herself. At that point she came storming back out, and I saw that the Beast was fully awake and in control. She was furious and defensive, seeing me talk to him. I assured her that I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to attack her (as she had said) before letting him go up. Caught in the lie, the Beast lashed out. She attacked him, and then snatched the keys out of the ignition before darting off again into the night. While upstairs she had taken off my coat, and Steph’s shoes, and was once again in a light sweater and barefoot. I let her go.
In retrospect it’s hard to say I made a difference. Her problems are profound, and no amount of gentle speech and common sense will help her now. It took me 10 years to tame my beast and that was with constant support. With a limited support network, two kids and alcoholism in her hand, it’s hard to see how she’ll win this one. She has my phone number and I won’t turn her away if she calls, but I won’t seek her out again either.
So here’s what I really took away from this. My ex-husband and I wanted a family. Had we gone down this path, my eldest would be about her age now. Perhaps just a little younger, but not much. She spoke constantly of her mother, who’s name is Lisa, and who was born in 1966. Perhaps the universe wanted to show me what my own daughter would have become, had I been so foolish as to pass on my damaged genes to another. I didn’t really need confirmation, but there it was anyway. So really, I’m just sad and thoughtful today. I can’t help her, him or them. But I wish I could.