Iridescent Erin

photo of woman covered with leaves

A memoir

Lisa Verdekal 

     The last time I saw her she still lived in London, still crimped and colored her hair. Rich purple out of a tub of Plum Directions.

     She still worked the coat check at the same long-standing Goth club. Dabs of speed, cans of pilsner or better glasses of snakebites, up past dawn when everyone emerged paler and blinking into the morning work rush.

     Her fingers and arms were still heavy with chunks and slips of silver. Attentively polished bracelets and rings. Bats, skulls, snakes and dragons, a flash of amethyst. Some pieces mementos from the countries she’d visited, many from Camden Market.

     Her room was still a mess, just as it had been when we’d shared rooms, first renting and later in squats. Her stuff overflowing onto my side. Tights, tops, skirts, mostly black, some purple, bottles of alcohol, bottles of pain killers and in time, other medication, cigarette papers, piles of tobacco mixed with hash, pint glasses, jewelery, tissues, so many tissues, balled up dotting the carpet. She had allergies and lots of pain. She bled a lot too. Not just uterine issues, but from cuts along her arms under her bracelets. She used to drip the blood onto paper and create tiny pieces of abstract art. She used to black out in toilet cubicles and stumble down London lane-ways. Laugh about it. She met life with equal measures of humour and woe. And a steadfast resourcefulness, holding down several jobs, finding places to live. When we first arrived in London, she found the crowd and clubs we were looking for.

     The last time I saw her she was still her unique self, wacky, intelligent and living her truth. Still funny, still gregarious, a talented singer and a great listener. Yes, she was addicted and disorganized, always the last one ready, rummaging through her things looking for a misplaced item, either in a panic or irritatingly nonchalant. One year after visiting me, she missed the airport night bus and had to take a taxi across Ireland to get to Dublin in time for her flight. Wherever she settled, the floor around her bed filled up with pill bottles and packets, and the table space before her with hash, tobacco and alcohol. As she chatted, she rolled joints and tipped large amounts of whiskey into coke. She had been like this for so long, to me, it was just who she was and I never really questioned it. Maybe I should have.

     After her parents died, her brother and his wife convinced her to go back to L.A. and into rehab. I received one letter from her while she was inside but never saw her again.

The last I heard she was clean, engaged and training to be a counsellor. One evening after work in some kind of rehab coffee shop, she was walking to her car and dropped dead in the parking lot from a heart attack. She was buried with all her jewelery.

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Born and bred in Los Angeles, Lisa ran away to Europe, first settling in London, then Berlin and finally Ireland.

2 Comments

  1. I more than like this, I love this.It’s poetically magical and I couldn’t stop reading and feeling this work of art.

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