Tempest Jade

She was upside down, standing on her head, and talking about how when she touches her toes together up in the air, it’s the only time she feels perfect balance in her life.  The rest of the time, she has troubles.

I knew that.  She told me about her troubles before we even started filming.  After 24 years of living, she decided that it was time for her to track down the woman who gave her up for adoption.  She wanted me to document the journey for her… maybe turn it into some kind of documentary.

There wasn’t a plan really.  I thought we’d just feel it out and see where this thing was headed.  In mere hours she’d be standing on stage in front of a packed house, wishing more than anything, that her birth mother could see her.

And so she’s upside down in perfect balance, talking to me through the camera’s lens, about finding balance in life… and she’s upside down!  Great metaphor.  I’m starting to see where this is going.  And we’re having this great conversation through the camera.  It’s really starting to flow now.  I’m thinking about composition and exposures and shutter speeds and keeping the conversation going and then she asks me if she should drop the bomb… the big reveal… the whole point of the documentary.  I say yes.

“I have an eating disorder, and I’ve had one for 14 years.”

Silence.

The camera’s rolling, framing her in close-up as tears form in her eyes.  A million things race through my mind and none of them make any sense.

More Silence.

I’m still holding the camera and I feel like I have to say something.  I have to say something.  She’s looking through the camera to me for words to come out my mouth.

Suddenly this isn’t a documentary anymore.  It’s two friends standing on razor thin ice, and every word about to come out my mouth from this moment forward has the potential to end badly.

I’m a writer.  I’m a filmmaker.  At this moment she needs a psychologist.  And the camera continues rolling and I have to say something.  This exact moment will never come again and I need to be someone I’m not for her.  There’s no one else in the room.

I’ll have to go back to yesterday’s tape to recall exactly what I said, but I think I mentioned something about how I have my own demons.  I could feel her drawing closer to me with her energy.  I took a deep breath and I told her that I spend hours everyday playing backgammon online.

She laughed hysterically.  We were off the thin ice.  The words after that weren’t as supercharged with potential danger.  We talked about balance, and being, and flowing, and searching for answers that only lead to more questions, and how everything moves in cycles, how everything is gonna be alright if we just move forward, one little step at a time.

She told me that my words were the best words anyone ever said to her on the subject.  Better than any psychologist she ever talked to.  I was more relieved than gratified.  Don’t know where those words came from, but I’m just happy I didn’t fuck things up worse.

And somehow, I managed to keep the camera rolling through all of it.

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