It had seemed like an eternity, like decades upon decades had passed. When I turned 26 I was surprised to find that I really was turning 26 and not 46 because that is the length of time that seemed to have gone by since I first noticed the aching, empty, concrete lined void in Alan. I had been living with someone who couldn’t move, who couldn’t eat, who didn’t smile, who couldn’t go inside a mall or even bear to sit at a table inside a restaurant. I focused on food, mainly trying to get him to eat some of it.
Then one day, his first 2-week chemo cycle ended and he began a week long reprise from swallowing all those many pills. The doctor had increased his anti-void meds and then something amazing happened. Alan came to pick me up from work on Tuesday, and I found that after I got in the car, he did not immediately crumple into despair. He even suggested that maybe we could go get some sushi and then my jaw fell off my face. At the restaurant, it was almost like old Alan had come back from a very long vacation away. He had such an amazing glow, and I could only imagine the beauty of the beaches he had seen and the sun he had drank in.
The next day, I came home from work and Alan had a friend over. I hadn’t seen Alan with anyone else but his sadness for a long, long time. They were sitting on the couch, Alan all relaxed like, with a button up shirt on, the sleeves rolled up. (A habit he must have picked up from that island living).
With old Alan back, we all decided to go to this benefit at a swanky hotel to see what there was to see. One of the sponsors of the event was a modeling agency, and naturally, had some of their models in attendance. Nathalie and I walked around gawking at them all, these beautiful creatures with superior stature and willow like frames. The boys, the girls, they were all so pretty. And they seemed to only talk to each other — their fellow lookers — or to their significant others, men who looked busy trying to plan their weekend yacht getaways. But it wasn’t just their looks, it was also in the way that they walked. They held their heads high, more above their shoulders than normal, and while making sure to keep their heads perfectly still, did a relaxed strut with the rest of their bodies. It was like we were in the Lion King, and they were the graceful giraffes and everyone else the petty hyenas.
After we left and said goodbye to everyone, I thought about the recent Alan and the old Alan, and I hoped old Alan was here to stay. Then I thought that if Alan could go change his looks with a new shirt and a brighter outlook on life, so could I. And if I was going to, then I wanted to be a model. I told him I was going to lose 40 pounds and grow 6 or 7 inches. He smiled in a way that said either “Sounds like a plan!” or “Haha! You hyena, you!” (I like to think it was the former). I figured losing 40 pounds would be the hardest part, so I immediately set my mind to it. I’d start eating all sorts of health foods, lots of seeds, lots of fish oils, lots of —
“What do you want to eat for dinner?” Alan asked.
“Tacos,” I said.
And as we walked to the taqueria, I tried my best to imitate the giraffe walk, looking down at all the small children hyenas that passed by.