Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Story of Bonnie....

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"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was;
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it...
Ecclesiastes xii 7.

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It's been years since I talked to Bonnie.

Bonnie was my college roommate for four years. We lived at Tropicana Village, an upper class, off-campus student residence for students in California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. "Tropicana", as it was called by us students, was a lah-tee-dah student residence for the privileged, located about one mile from the campus of the University.

Tropicana had a bus which left on the hour for campus, to both take and bring back students from campus so that we didn't have to walk or drive. They even had a 2-story bus like they have in London, England. Many snobby students in Tropicana looked down their noses at those who had to live in the on-campus residences. The on-campus dorms were no-frills, 2-bed cinderblock rooms. Whenever I made bad grades in my course work my father used to threaten to transfer me to the on-campus dorms. That was usually enough to make me work a lot harder at my studies....

We at Tropicana enjoyed many luxuries including living in 3 bedroom, 2-story apartments which looked out over the three sparkling swimming pools and whirlpool sauna baths. We were allowed free scuba diving lessons in the pools. And we also enjoyed free tennis lessons on the residence's numerous tennis courts.

Bonnie and I lived in one of the 3 bedroom apartments with another girl. Our apartment had mirrored walls and even one wall with decorative wooden shingles. The carpet was sumptuous. And our cafeteria looked out over our section's swimming pools.

Anyway, Bonnie and I were best friends. I guess nowadays it would be called being BFF. We went on double-dates with boys. And although I was a cheerleader, I hung out with Bonnie instead of my cheerleader buddies. We went to the favorite local bar called "The Graduate" with our friends after football games. We helped each other with homework. We were inseparable.

After we graduated, Bonnie and I moved into our first apartment together in the area and tried out our fledgling selves in the job market. I went to work for a local airline and Bonnie went to work in restaurants, since she had majored in dietary science.

And then, as do many friend-sets in college, we lost touch after awhile since I ended up moving to the east coast and she stayed on the west coast. We'd call each other every couple of years to catch up, but the gap of time between those calls got longer and longer.

Bonnie had always had a troubled life. She had always had a hard time finding satisfying relationships with men and so she'd take up with anybody she could get--- usually worthless assholes who didn't treat her with much respect. Part of that maybe have been because Bonnie was drawn to bars. She loved to go to bars and drink --- and meet men.

Anyway, as time went by, I became an RN and began my career a couple years after I had graduated from college. I went to nursing school in the east, in Pittsburgh, PA. (See the stories called "Who Ya Gonna Call", beginning with Part One here.)

And, 20 years later, my hard core alcoholism began to take me down. And I was trying desperately to hide my mental problems as best as I could by being the most absolutely perfect RN I could be. During this time period, the last time I talked to Bonnie was in 1997, just before I went to Damascus, Syria, to live with my mother who was stationed there in the Diplomatic corps (and we were both almost killed in an anti-American event.)

After returning to America, my life was filled with functional periods alternated with attempts at getting my alcoholism under control by going to alcoholic treatment centers, over and over, with doctors scratching their heads over why I couldn't get better by following the AA 12-Step system. It wasn't until I moved up here with Blaine, and got hooked up with the very personal, aggressive psychiatric professionals who are seeing me now, that my mental problems were finally diagnosed correctly. And, with my family's help, I then began my current therapies for all the many debilitating mental conditions which had heretofore enslaved me (and which contributed greatly to my alcoholism, since I drank to numb the symptoms).

And so it went today, a nice leisurely Saturday, that I thought of Bonnie---and thought I would surprise her by calling her after all these long years. I didn't know where Bonnie was but I knew where her parents were and found their phone number.

Her mother answered the phone and I explained who I was and that I was hunting Bonnie down to regale each other with stories of our salad days.

Her mother said slowly: "Honey, Bonnie is dead." And she told me the whole sad tale.

But...long story short......Bonnie had died very young of complications related to alcohol abuse.

Why, Lord? Why didn't I call her sooner? Perhaps I could have helped.....

Like Forest Gump said..... "And that's all I have to say about that".....

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8 comments:

Cindy/KS said...

{{{HUGS}}} I'm so sorry Bo!

Bo... said...

It was a shock, Cindy. You could have knocked me over with a feather. And I feel bad over how much she suffered.

SRR said...

That is so sad.

Bo... said...

SRR, I just keep telling myself that she's not suffering anymore and that she's in a better place...

Deb said...

So sorry for your loss. That was a real kick in the head. You know that could have been you & that's what makes it so hard, too.

Bo... said...

Deb: Thank you. And you are so right. I thought of that quote: "there, but for the grace of God, go I".

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about calling my friend,now I'm scared to

Bo... said...

Anonymous---definitely call your friend. I wish I'd called Bonnie a long time ago.