Original air date: May 23, 2021
After a troubling dream finds home health aide Eladio reaching out in the middle of the night, Brooke reestablishes boundaries as his therapist. Later, when Eladio requests medication, Brooke switches her focus to his history of insomnia.
* * *
(stops ringing, vibrating)
(puts down phone)
Eladio (on phone): Sorry. I-I know it’s late.
Are you okay?
Yeah, yeah, I’m okay.
Just this fuckin’ dream, yo.
Like, it’s winter, and I’m in a field, holding hands with a… a little girl.
Supposed to be my sister or something.
Starts to snow, I’m excited, so I catch some on my tongue. All of a sudden, my throat, it’s on fire. It’s ash.
A wing from a plane falls to the ground next to us.
I turn, and my sister’s face, it’s gone.
Jesus, mamita, I-I don’t wanna tell you the rest, man.
It’s only gonna make you worry.
Brooke (on phone): If I worry, I worry.
You don’t need to protect me from my feelings.
Am I allowed to worry about you?
What do you mean?
I didn’t expect you to answer so late.
I have no other explanation for being awake other than…
“The agonies. The mad midnight moments.”
“A Grief Observed.” C.S. Lewis.
Well, N.W. Clerk, if you really wanna get all technical about it.
Dude was an Anglo-Anglican problem, to say the least.
But he did write some meaningful shit on loss.
Do you cry?
I can’t… I can’t picture you crying.
I’m the same way.
You remember that girl I told you I dated?
She had this mode she could switch into that I fuckin’… I don’t know, lack.
We would get into a fight, and it was like a dam bursting open. She would just sob.
It looked so freeing, like she fucking went some place.
One time, she said, “El, you ever consider that maybe you’re just a cold person?”
But I’m not a cold person! (Scoffs)
You’re not. Far from it.
I told her. I said, “Look, when you cry, “when you become a fuckin’ river, that’s how I feel.” (laughs)
I wanna point to it because that’s that’s how I feel, but I just don’t know how to get there. I never have.
And, you know, it
Hey, shit, sorry. I gotta go.
Real quick. Do some deep breathing before you go to bed.
Um, in for four, hold for seven, out for eight.
(speaking Spanish) You’re the best.
(puts down phone)
Brooke: Hi, James.
It’s Dr. Brooke Taylor. I got your message about having to reschedule this afternoon.
I have an opening tomorrow and another next week.
I’m heading into session now but give me a call and we’ll discuss times.
(birds chirping outside)
Hey, mamita. Can you give me two seconds?
We just runnin’ a little behind over here.
I just have to give Jeremy his seizure meds. Is that okay?
Yes, of course. The time is yours.
Okay, cool, cool.
(light piano playing)
Aight, we good. Thanks.
No worries at all.
Yo, these motherfuckers really think they running a Ritz-Carlton up in here.
The kitchen? There’s less marble in the fuckin’ Vatican.
And the espresso machine? Victoria Arduino.
I’m not familiar.
Yo, it’s like a $20,000 machine, bro.
All the medical bills for Jeremy, and they still got enough left over for some fuckin’ copper.
This shit is nice.
Eladio, I need to apologize to you.
(puts down cup)
To me? For what?
I shouldn’t have answered the phone last night.
No, I’m glad you did.
Scary dream and all.
In that moment, in another life, I’d call my mom.
What would’ve happened if you’d called your mother instead of me?
Well, it’d be 5:00 AM in Florida.
She’d still be stocking the grocery for another hour.
And when was the last time you spoke to her?
Like four, five months ago.
She got COVID.
Doctor at Tampa General called me and was like, “Yo, your mom’s real sick.
Not like ventilator sick, but sick.”
So, uh, I started looking at flights.
The DeMarcos weren’t cool about me traveling, but…
Well, anyway, it-it ended up not happening.
You know, by the time I got my mom on the phone, she was like, “Oh, don’t come. I’ll be fine.”
Must’ve been hard, her not wanting your help.
I want a relationship with her, yo.
That’s my moms.
But, it’s gotta run both ways.
You know, we both gotta want it.
Brooke: And what’s her relationship like with your sister?
You-you hadn’t mentioned her before.
Is she older or younger?
Oh, from my dream.
Uh, I don’t have one.
My mom had a stillbirth before she had me.
She shared that with you?
Not until a few years back.
But, one day, I was, like, 6, and I walked into the kitchen, and I asked my mom where my sister was.
My mom said, “You don’t have a sister.”
And I was like, “Oh, I remember. She’s dead.”
What made you say that?
No fuckin’ clue.
You know that… that woo-woo shit that people are like, you know, kids are closer to the other side?
Well it freaked my mom out, so she kinda kept her distance ever since then.
And you think that’s the reason.
I mean, I like to think it was because of something dumb I said, rather than she just didn’t like me.
What I mean is when we’re children, we don’t always understand everything going on in our parents’ worlds.
So if a mother pulls away from her child, it likely has very little to do with who that child is or anything he’s done.
Well, what are you gonna do?
Well, listen, in the future, you can call me off-hours in an emergency, but let’s just keep it to that, alright?
Yo, don’t do that.
Don’t do what?
Slap me on the knuckles or whatever.
Like, you told me to call you if I needed you, and I did.
I apologize again.
As your therapist, it’s on me to delineate the boundaries that are appropriate, and I will be better at that in the future.
You know, I think I might just need a referral.
You gotta know a good psychiatrist, right?
But why do you think you need a psychiatrist?
The nightmares, the fuckin’… I haven’t slept in six days, yo.
What about last night?
Did you try the breathing, in for four…
Yeah, yeah, I tried it, okay?
It-it worked, until it didn’t.
We can try something else.
I just need to be able to function, yo.
Alright, my job’s not nothin’.
If I f-forget Jeremy’s pills or I take my eye off the ball when he’s out of his chair…
I just feel like medication could help.
I mean, I nap.
You know, couple hours here and there, but it’s it’s like snatching a song out the air. It’s snippets.
And you’re afraid that that lack of sleep may affect your job performance.
Look, I can do this job in my sleep.
Aight, I can talk you through this shit over the phone from a fuckin’ internet café in Pakistan on some Morpheus shit.
Wake up, get Jeremy out of bed, get him into the chair, breakfast, watch “Rick & Morty” or some shit together till the PT guy shows, and so on.
I’m not worried about all that.
Not to sound selfish, I’m worried about me.
I don’t feel good.
Brooke: Well, you may need medication, but after only two sessions, I don’t feel I have an adequate picture.
In order to refer you to a psychiatrist, I need to know more.
There’s something at the heart of your sleeplessness.
I like that.
You want lyrical. Okay. Jung said, “There is no coming into consciousness without pain.”
I like to think of that quote in relation to insomnia.
Maybe it’s not about the difficulty of falling asleep.
Maybe, we stay awake to avoid the moment we have to come to in our lives.
Where the dream world falls away, and reality sets in.
Is everything okay?
Yeah, Mrs. D, she wants me to look at the cable box after this.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.
Is that part of your job?
I know you’re Jeremy’s home attendant, but I thought that was primarily in a medical capacity.
Eladio: It is.
But, you know, these are my people, yo.
Like, they look out for me.
I mean, I couldn’t afford this in a million years.
The DeMarcos, they provide me with the esteemed Dr. Taylor because they know I can’t sleep and I mess around with the DirecTV.
But I need to be clear on the meds front.
I know a lot of therapists in this city, they’ll make sure you’ll get Valium for a stomachache, but I don’t do that.
So, if this is some kind of angle…
I’m in pain.
I already told you. I… I don’t sleep. That shit’s serious.
Insomnia is the fever, not the malaria.
It’s a symptom, okay?
And I’m not against medication. Not at all.
But when prescribed indiscriminately, it can be like fog on a mountain road.
You understand where I’m coming from?
But I need you to be patient because this work, it’s not sexy, it’s not fast.
But if you trust the process, it
you have two decades of wiring of behavior and neuroses and triggers and pathologies all tangled up.
Why would that be simple?
Does it sound simple?
Of course not.
That’s why these things take time.
This isn’t a results-orientated practice.
Wait, is that true? Because I’m pretty sure motherfuckers go to therapists all the time seeking results.
“Oh, my husband died, so now I’m too sad to work the forklift.”
It sounds like you understand healing only insofar as how it relates to your job productivity.
Mamita, the DeMarcos respect what I do.
You know, they coulda asked any of the other aids to quarantine with them, but they didn’t. They asked me.
So I wanna be able to do a good job.
So what do you need from me to get at the heart of my sleeplessness?
Well, for starters… I need to see more of you than just a floating head in a virtual backdrop.
What, you don’t like the Café La Habana?
In Mexico City?
Have you been?
But it’s like a mythical place to me.
A literary, you know…
All those guys used to hang out there…
Márquez, Bolaño, Octavio Paz.
A dude-heavy bibliography, but the myth of it still moves me.
I took a class on Márquez in college.
“Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother” gutted me.
Look, he could write. There’s no argument there, but I can’t relate.
You know, there’s no magic in my world.
If I were to get stabbed in the heart today, my blood wouldn’t fuckin’ wind down an alley and across a river and land at my mother’s feet.
I’d just bleed out.
That’s an unsentimental view.
Fuck that. Yo, I’m the most sentimental motherfucker you ever gonna meet.
“The New Yorker” had this beautiful article about him that began with the phrase, “And then, I never saw him again.”
He introduced you to a character, rendered with such detail and compassion, and then two pages later, gone.
And it wasn’t a gimmick.
It was just how he experienced the world.
I can relate to that.
Sounds like you’re talking about abandonment.
I don’t know if it’s all that.
Why do you do that?
You shut down at the mere mention of the size of your burden.
I mean, worse things happen to better people.
I mean, you do the same thing.
Last night, you mentioned grief and then you went like silent.
I lost my father recently.
You’re drifting out of the frame.
It used to be Jeremy’s room.
Before things degenerated, he could still walk a little, so they, you know…
Uh, anyway, now he’s on the ground floor in a tricked-out suite, and I live in the museum.
It’s like, I don’t know they’re very sentimental people.
Just like you.
I-I know I’m being kinda enigmatic.
Eladio: You’re not wrong.
Judge (on TV): Negligence or irresponsibility.
Man: Your honor, 10 years…
Judge: I’ve already read your contract
(quietly): Fuck it.
When I was in college, I was diagnosed Bipolar 1.
And so, I’ve been on and off lithium ever since.
And whenever I can afford it, I get it, and when I can’t, I don’t.
I know you’re supposed to titrate, but I don’t have that luxury.
You wanna call it drug-seeking behavior, fine.
Without the lithium, that’s the only way I ever get any sleep at all… (knocking)
Mrs. DeMarco: Hey, El! Mr. DeMarco’s on the phone with the London office right now!
Would you mind turning that down?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! My bad!
(shuts off TV)
(puts down remote)
(whispers): Look, the DeMarcos are like family to me.
It’s not a diagnosis people like to hear when you’re taking care of their son, so…
They don’t know.
And you said you were given this diagnosis in college?
What type of behavior were you exhibiting?
(scoffs) No clue.
What led to the diagnosis?
How far back you wanna go?
It’s up to you. Where you wanna start?
(laughs) How much time you got?
You let me worry about the time.
I used to work at this place in Tampa.
Seniors, old as dirt.
They were amazing.
You know, like, high school kids, they don’t have stories.
Shit hasn’t happened to them yet, but these motherfuckers?
They had stories. Like, there was this one old lady.
She told me about an affair she had with Frida Kahlo for, like, five years.
No, I mean like Mrs. Morales was out here talking about sucking titties and shit. No disrespect.
I fuckin’ loved her, yo.
We used to laugh like you don’t even…
I remember I used to go into her room to change her bedpan, and she would act like she was dead and shit.
You know, it was mad funny, like…
And as soon as I went to go get the nurse, she’d open up her fuckin’ eyes like “Night of the Living Dead,” and she’d say, “Did ya miss me?”
And then one day, it was real.
And then I fell in love with Mr. Robinson, I fell in love with Miss, Miss Farooqi, and on and on.
They left me in the night.
So, you know, I just… I got used to it. Trained myself to-to not think, “Oh, this is such a beautiful new friendship!”
Just take it for what it is.
Here today, gone tomorrow.
And were you having sleep issues back then?
No, I don’t…
I mean, now that I think about it, I used to volunteer to take the night shift because… I couldn’t sleep anyway.
What made you ask that?
Sleep disturbance is a core symptom of bipolar disorder, and, as this is where you chose to start the story of your diagnosis, I wondered if there was a link.
When you put it that way, I guess the next time I remember struggling to sleep was Sikander.
Was… I’m sorry, what?
I fell in love with this Pakistani dude.
He used to design video games for, I mean, I don’t remember if it was Rockstar…
He was a genius, but he was an addict. So
Uh… Wait, it’s Mr. DeMarco.
I mean, I don’t have as good of a rapport with him, so I just usually answer this shit. Sorry.
Supposed to remember to turn on the jacuzzi for him, and I always forget. (clicks tongue)
(puts down phone)
Done. I’m with you.
Looks like a lot to handle.
Nah, nah, it’s all good. But anyway, Sikander was, like, the first person I actually love-loved.
I mean, he had the most beautiful fuckin’ brain.
I wanted to swim in it.
But also, like, ketamine is just bad.
You know, I’d spend weekends reading to him, like, glossy-eyed in the tub.
And we got through all of Clarice Lispector, all of Patricia Smith, almost all of Octavia Butler.
I mean, it was all kind of soothing, until it wasn’t.
I mean, he was already in a never-ending fuckin’ K-hole, so…
One night, you know, I buy a pound of animal-style In-N-Out, and I show up to his apartment, and the fuckin’ locks are changed.
Like, he’s not picking up his phone.
And a couple days later, it doesn’t even go to voicemail anymore, and, well…
“And then, I never saw him again.”
So I stopped sleeping.
My bipolar diagnosis came four days later.
Well, I… I can’t formally speak to that yet.
But your insomnia makes sense to me.
What do you mean?
Sounds like you’re haunted.
You okay, El?
I am right here with you. Right here.
I’m going to help it be okay.
Are you gonna take care of me?
That’s what I’m here to…
No, I mean really.
I know I said all that shit about wishin’ I could talk to my mom last night, but I called you.
Y-you feel like her to me.
Not in real life or anything.
I know you’re not my mom, but you you just do things a mom should do.
You pay attention. I talk to you, I feel like I matter.
So maybe can that be what this is between us?
You know, therapy, but also, like, I don’t know, this is gonna sound ridiculous f-family?
Eladio: Yo, Jeremy! Jeremy!
Jeremy, bro, you good?!
Sorry. We had a little bit of a…
Th-this was good, seriously.
I’ma hit you next week, okay?
Yeah. No problem.
All this talking about the past, and psychic wounds and shit.
I haven’t slept better since we talked last.
I slept worse.
♪ (INTROSPECTIVE MUSIC PLAYS) ♪
It’s a lot living with the DeMarcos?
Like, my life in this house is predicated on fiction.
I know that.
I’m not their friend. I’m the help.
That’s a lot of anger, Eladio.
ELADIO: It’s more than that.