~For Ansel~Tonight's episode of The Office reminded me of a happy rehab memory.
I know. Weird, right? None the less, here we go:
By the beginning of December 2008, I was halfway done with my 28 days. I'd found my posse, I'd established my turf and after a particularly rough Morning Peer Meeting, people knew not to fuck with me. Things were going well.
One evening, one of the counselors called me over to a huge pile of cardboard boxes.
"Hey Beth S. These are the Christmas decorations. Do you want to be in charge of decorating the Lounge?"
Fuck yeah I do.
Much to my surprise, the entire populous of rehab wasn't as thrilled with this opportunity as I. But 5 or 6 of us got permission to borrow the front desk's boom box, listen to music and decorate the shit out of the Serenity Lounge from 9-11pm. My number one rehab gay, Ansel and I were the obvious creative directors of the project. And surrounded by our assistants, we opened those boxes.
We discovered what appeared to be plastic parts of several different Christmas trees. They were different color greens, some faded, some with last year's tinsel still desperately clinging to the branches. Kevin, new to the unit and a stoic Iraq war veteran, was assigned the task of building the tree from existing parts. The ornaments were the standard shiny balls and the lights, both colored and white, were unsurprisingly tangled to hell. Bizarre holiday flare was included as well. They had wreaths and snowmen and tons of extra lights.
Ansel and I laid everything out. And then we got to work. The folks that were into it were really into it, Ansel and myself included. A couple of recovering drunks and junkies just sat and watched, but I didn't care. I was just thrilled to finally be doing something that was very...me. (Bossily decorating a Serenity Lounge in rehab with a gay drug addict is very, very me.)
Needless to say, by the time 11pm rolled around, that place looked like a holiday-themed European discotheque. At least as much as the lounge could. I mean, we only had so much to work with. But even so, I could sense that this was the first time the provided decorations had been utilized to their full potential. If I say so myself, it was goddamn beautiful.
The hospital and rehab staff were floored. And I'll admit, I was a little offended the higher ups were so shocked. I mean, they went on and on; about how they decided to trust that we could handle the project, that the lounge looked so fabulous, that this was the best rehab decorating that had ever happened in all of rehab history. "It came up in the hospital-wide staff meeting!"
Ansel and I were like, "Thanks, I guess."
It was a tree and lights. Based on their reactions, you'd have thought Stanlee Gatti and Simon Doonan had swept in and tricked that place out.
Actually, that's what I liked about rehab. Low expectations.
Anyway, decorating that lounge was the first time I saw light at the end of the tunnel. It was the first time in what had been a horrible, painful, exhaustive process that I got a little confidence back and remembered that, Oh yeah. I'm a fucking loudmouth fag hag.
I lost her for awhile there. I guess Jesus brought her back...