Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shake, Battle, and Roll

This story took place nearly eleven years ago. If we talk often, you've probably heard it before, but for me, this one never gets old so I wanted to share it here.

After Christmas break my freshman year of college, I came back to find I had been assigned a new roommate - Lara - and would no longer be living alone. It would take me hours and hours to explain how it happened, but against all reason and all my expectations, this bubbly former-sorority-girl and I became BFFs within a year.

One afternoon, we were sitting around our room chatting when my dad called and asked if we wanted to go to a reenactment of the Battle of Aiken. I was in the middle of declining when Lara, the kind of Southern girl who could make Scarlett go green, picked up the other end of the Swatch twin phone and declared that we would LOVE to go. This was how I ended up cold and cranky and trudging through mud at seven in the morning just a few days later. In contrast to my crabbiness, Lara was downright jubilant, skipping ahead of me and then doubling back to breathlessly report on what she had just seen. "Oh look, a rabbit purse - I want that! Hey, sassafras soda - I want that! Look, a petticoat - I want one!"

A few minutes later, she interrupted her recitation to grab my arm and drag me away from my parents, dramatically explaining that she needed a cigarette but that good Southern girls don't smoke in front of parents. As my mom and dad continued on, Lara and I cut through several tents and she fished around in her over-sized purse for a cigarette. "The ground is jumping," she calmly announced as she searched for her lighter. She stopped to light her cigarette as I continued on, expecting her to catch up just a moment later. It took me about four steps to notice she hadn't, so I turned to see what was holding her up. Lara stood still, her lit cigarette clutched loosely in her fingers and halfway to her mouth. I noticed she was making a weird face - one eye was bigger than the other and one side of her mouth drooped down. Assuming she was making fun of some hapless Aikenite, I giggled and turned to see who her target was. I turned back just as she stiffened and headed for the dirt. Somehow, I got to her before the ground did and grabbed her as she fell, dragging us both down into the mud. Once on the ground, Lara stretched to her full five-and-a-half-foot length before balling up and violently twitching her way through the first grande mal seizure I ever witnessed. Not knowing what to do, I crouched over her and tried to hold her down while screaming at her to stop as she spit blood and foam.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up as a tall and hugely bearded man dressed in gray pulled me off of her. A shorter but equally-well-bearded man dressed in blue blocked my view of Lara and the two went to work on her. Nearby, a woman in a hoop-skirted-dress pulled a cell phone from her bodice and called 911. My parents showed up just a moment later, drawn to the crowd. I ran to them, screaming that Lara was dying, because what other explanation could there be. I'm pretty sure that seizure remains the scariest thing I've ever seen.

A few seconds later, the seizure was over and Lara's eyes were slowly coming back into focus. As the haze cleared from her brain, one of the two men crouched over her asked, "Do you know where you are, honey?" Lara looked, wide-eyed from one bearded face to the other before bursting into tears. "I don't even know WHEN I am." (A love of Southern history and a vague belief in reincarnation are a bad, but entertaining, combination.)

A four-wheeler pulled up and the men got Lara and I loaded on the back, as she didn't want to go without me. At the front gate, she was loaded into an ambulance, but again refused to go until she talked to me. Stepping into the ambulance, I leaned forward. "Get my fake ID out of my purse so they don't think I'm the wrong person," she whispered before laying back dramatically, possibly with her arm thrown across her forehead.

My parents and I followed the ambulance to the hospital, as I clutched Lara's purse in my hands and concentrated on not throwing up. We waited a little while before we got to go back to see her. Sitting in the hospital bed, flirting with the young doctor on duty, it was hard to believe this was the same girl who had been twitching and spitting foam just a couple of hours earlier. Feeling better, she was more concerned with getting her hair brushed and going to lunch.

Later that day, we left the hospital with a diagnosis of epilepsy and a bottle of extremely strong medication - Dilantin. The next day, I drove the two of us back to Berry as Lara sat next to me, bouncing along with each bump of the car. Her medication, before the dosage was dropped, made her feel "like a boneless chicken" (her words to a confused professor as she walked out on a philosophy class the next week.) Soon enough, though, we both got used to the changes, and months later she began to randomly make the seizure face to freak me out - her revenge for me making "dead hands" at her in the middle of the night. She also used the diagnosis as an excuse to make me drive us to Taco Bell and Waffle House in the middle of the night, hinting that if she went alone, she might seize and wreck the car - but I can't say that I really minded. More often, I imagine I was happy for the excuse to go for a snack.

Though scary and stressful, Lara's sense of humor and drama eventually turned the episode into a story we loved telling and I have to admit that the line, "I don't even know WHEN I am," still makes me laugh every time. There are many more bizarrely-charming Lara stories, but that's enough for one night. sweet dreams!


Jürg said...

I know it's kinda totaly offtopic, but I wanna see one of these reenactments one day.

I'm sure they are overwhelming and that it will give me goosebumps all over.

Miz K said...

If you ever end up heading back to the US and need a tourguide, I can probably set you up!

Jürg said...

to in the next few years I'm afraid.
the money for that is kinda missing. :) :(

but thanks for that, I'll definetly go for your guide when the time has come. :)

Sally Carter said...

oooh how terrifying for you (and not all that brilliant for your friend either I imagine!) Hey are you nanoing this year Miz K? And are you on FB?? Salx

Miz K said...

Yes to both - so excited about Nano yet again. Are you? And are you?

Sally Carter said...

Well I always sign up and give it a try.... I will write the perfect story one of these days!! Doing a little editing / writing work too though so depends how it goes. Would love to email / FB / chat?! I'm on as Sally Carter - will you friend me? Meet you somewhere in cyberspace soon!