The Story of Goo & Gull by Shellie Long Kendrick

Sometimes I feel like I have an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders...

          Sometimes I feel like I have an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders.

The angel goes by “Goo” and the devil is named “Gull.” It’s actually spelled “g-l-e,” but Gull changed it about 4 years ago. Being a total hipster and all.

Gull: age 40, freezes his jeans instead of washing them, brings his typewriter to Starbucks, wears kilts to special events, only drinks green smoothies for breakfast… the list goes on and on. He’s kind of a weird devil but I’m stuck with him, so oh well.

Goo didn’t change her name but she does correct people on the pronunciation. “It’s not 'goo!' like a three-month-old baby, it’s 'Goo…'” Here Goo will softly exhale her name like a French model smoking her cigarette into a navy midnight.

Goo & Gull, or as some people like to call them by their Supercouple nickname GooGull, are pretty much separated at this point and are not on speaking terms. They disagree about a lot of things, the biggest one is about their guidance over me.

Goo knows my heart the best. She loves me even though I’m very awkward and strange. When fear strikes she listens without saying a word, nodding slowly, her Adele winged eyes never leaving mine.

After I’m done telling her all my worries she doesn’t speak for a while. The silence is filled with smoke shaped Os heading up into the night.

“Shellie… Mon Chèrie...”

(Oddly, for being a French model this is the only phrase she knows. She isn’t quite sure how to spell it either, so don’t ask!)

“Shellie…,” she begins again. “When your mind starts wandering, when it goes to the land of afraid of missing first moments, missing milestones, missing their hugs, their kisses, their love, and then when you keep running until you end up in that land of worried about being forgotten…”

Don’t go there.” Her hand squeezes mine, “Stay here. Stay in this place of smiles and backpacks, brown paper lunch bags, and dancing in your car. Stay where you are loved and kissed and hugged. Stay where your feet are.

Then when Goo feels my body relax and my heart again beats in peace, she flies away. Her wings edged in glitter and diamonds twinkling their good night to me.

Sometimes after Goo leaves, my spirit finally at rest, Gull will suddenly show up.

He’s not a mean devil. He doesn’t make me rob banks or steal Easter eggs right out from underneath chubby little fingers trying their hardest to fill their baskets.

He’s just a very narcissistic one. He thinks he knows everything and doesn’t mind telling people so.

Gull is also a wonderful listener. When I’m ready to talk, he’ll put down his typewriter, changing it for an antique pipe he bought on eBay but tells everyone a Scottish man gave to him on the “rolling emerald hills atop steep, craggy cliffs that reminds one of a time long ago.” (His words not mine.)

He chews on the end of his pipe, his dark brown eyes intense in understandment as I spill everything out into the open. I share deep thoughts and questions, my voice growing louder and faster with each one. I don’t even care if the whole coffee shop overhears.

Whenever I stop talking Gull waves his hand in the motion for me to keep going. So I do.

Soon I’m crying and yelling. I rub my eyes over and over until all my makeup has come off. I look at the back of my hands streaked with tears and brown makeup and know that my eyebrows are gone, or at least smudged all over my forehead.

Actually you know what… Gull is mean! Because when I look like this, (which I often do when I get into conversations with him) my eyebrows bald, my lashes missing, my face blotchy, and my head bare, Gull tells me how ugly I am, that I look like Gollum (“my precioussss” he likes to quote) he tells me that my wigs look fake and that no matter how much makeup I put on, underneath it all I still look like a freak.

The weird thing is… I totally listen to him. I nod my head in agreement. I keep silent as he critiques and complains. I believe him!

I sit there crushed, but I still feel the need to confide my biggest fears: of cancer spreading, of being in pain, of my eyes final closing and only seeing dark, worried that my mistakes will keep me from heaven.

Gull nods. “Yeah I can see that, I know where you’re coming from, those thoughts are completely valid,” he likes to interject as I ramble.

He brings up stories and tales of other people who think the same things I do. They had the same symptoms I told him about and guess what? They died. Gull tells me these things with his smug, all knowing attitude killing all hope I have left.

And then suddenly he stops talking, picks up a book about holistic farming and purposely unpurposely ignores me.

Tears run down my face. I’m so scared that I can’t breathe and I start gulping for air.

I pull my phone out of my purse but I’m not sure who to call for help. I rack my brain for someone whom I know not only loves me but also won’t be scared to hear me cry. 

I can’t type in my passcode. Seven more tries until all data is erased.

6 — 3 — 8 — my hands are shaking so hard — the phone hums an incoming call. I recognize the area code of 404 being Goo’s.

“Hello?” I pitifully cry out.

Her calm voice is on the other end.

Stay where there are Swedish fish and Netflix binges. Stay where you finally don’t care that you’ll probably never fit into your skinny jeans. Stay where there are board games and upcoming camping trips. Stay where you can braid a little girl’s blonde hair and where you have to constantly buy new shoes for a boy’s ever-growing feet. Stay in the now.

My throat is stuck and I can’t swallow the lump.

“Can you do this for me, Shellie, Mon Cheriè, can you stay in the now for me?”

“Yes.” I sniff.

“Yes.” I answer again with conviction.

“Good. Very good.” Goo sighs in achievement.

“Je t’aime,” she whispers and hangs up the phone.  (Looks like Goo knows how to say 'I love you' in French too!)

I look up to see that Gull has been listening to everything. His mouth opens to give his opinion. I can’t even look at him now.

I wipe my eyes, pick up my purse and walk away. Get into my car and drive home.

Dancing the whole way.

THE STORY OF GOO & GULL first appeared in Issue 3: New Normal, July 2016.

This essay first appeared on the blog Darn Good Lemonade. It was re-published here with the author's permission.

Shellie Long Kendrick

Diagnosed at 31. Stage IIb. Diagnosed age 34. Stage IV.

In 1993 at 13 years old I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In 2012 at 31 years old I was diagnosed with Breast cancer, stage IIb. In 2015 I found out that my breast cancer had returned and I was now Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. MBC is when breast cancer has spread to other organs or bones in your body. Mine was found in my liver, lungs, femur and spine. Why I wanted to start a makeup/hair blog/Instagram account: When I went bald for the third time I was upset that once again I would look like a cancer patient. Been there, done that. I just want to look like me again. So I put in some more orders at @voguewigsofficial for some new @fywigs (they are the best!) and started looking for YouTube accounts / blogs / pins that would help me create more styles with my wigs and not just wear them down. I didn't really find much. So because I see a need that I wanted for myself... I wanted to fill that need for someone else. I'm not a makeup artist or hair stylist. I'm just a girl who feels you should feel beautiful in your skin.