It’s the hottest place in hell you can imagine: not knowing what you are,” Jerri Sousa declares. She’s been there. Born a woman, wishing, and fantasizing, and finally believing that she was really a man trapped in a woman’s body, Sousa had her breasts removed in 1969. Five years later, she underwent a complete hysterectomy and also had parts of her vagina removed, then sewn closed. She lived out the fantasy of being a man through the 1970s but then returned to living as a woman in 1982.
Now she says the whole process was a mistake based on illusions nursed through an alcoholic haze. It was a harrowing trip to hell and back, after which most people would.be proud to have survived. "I’m not proud, I'm grateful,’’ she says. Fifty years old now, she still uses makeup to cover the last traces of a once-full beard. "Sometimes I wonder if I really did survive it....’’
In the summer of 1969, Sousa was. living on Saratoga Street in Ocean Beach with her newborn son Andy and Phyllis, her female probation officer. Andy was her third child, the result of a final attempt to prove to herself that she was an attractive, feminine woman. Though it wasn’t apparent yet, Andy was born with physiological deformities that would cause him to become as addicted to pain-killing drugs as Sousa was to alcohol and other women. Andy would one day be the catalyst that turned Sousa back into a sober woman, back into herself.
But for now, Phyllis and Jerri were lovers, and drinkers. Jerri’s two daughters from a broken marriage were living temporarily with Sousa’s sister in Barstow. Jerri’s 30-year struggle with what was then fashionably described as "gender dysphoria” was reaching a critical point.
Throughout the country there were a dozen respected medical institutions, led by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, that had embraced the '60s notion that you could be anything you wanted to be, including the other sex. Sex-change therapy was a $10 million growth industry, and Sousa was a prime candidate. Not only did she not know what she was, sexually, she didn’t even know what her real name was anymore. She had taken the name Susan Lee Chapman, swiping it from the pseudonymous author of a book entitled I Am a Lesbian.
Even as a homosexual, Sousa was confused. It wasn't just that she desired women sexually. She wanted something more. Something beyond just the sex. She wanted to play the role of a man in order to treat her lover as the woman Jerri wished Jerri was. But she didn’t know that at the time. All she knew now, in the summer of 1969, as she nursed Andy, was that she was not truly a woman, and the one thing that could change that was transsexual surgery. ‘‘These feelings get so screwed up you can’t trust them,” she says. ‘‘But they seem so real.”
She and Phyllis pored through the phone book, looking for a name Jerri would take as a man. Jerri favored Roger, the name of her brother, who was stillborn. She had felt utterly rejected as a child because she was not a boy, the boy who would take the place of dead Roger. Phyllis thought taking that name was creepy, and she talked Jerri out of it. When Jerri became a man, she would be, simply, Jerry.
Sousa actually had begun the process of changing her sex two years earlier in Los Angeles, when she had been given a battery of psychological and physical tests by doctors who wanted to screen her for a sex-change operation. She had lived for a time as a cross-dresser, and her desire to change sexes was evidently sincere, in the estimation of the doctors.
“I was a mess taking the tests,” she says now, "but they came back as ‘mentally sound, highly masculine responses.’ Gender roles were so stereotyped in those days.” After coming close to having the operation in 1967, Sousa had a change of heart and swung back to being a very feminine Susan Lee Chapman, with frosted hair, a lot of fancy clothes, and a job creating an education project she conceived for women in prison.
Sousa had spent three months in the California Institute for Women at Frontera for writing bad checks in San Diego. (Her record was subsequently expunged.) By the time she was released, in early 1967, she had developed some ideas for ways to reduce recidivism rates by training the convicts to increase their self-esteem. Lyndon Johnson’s "Great Society” offensive was underway, and a high-level official in the Justice Department’s Joint Commission on Correctional Manpower and Training came out to California to study projects like Sousa's. Eventually, Sousa and this man Rudy had a one-night stand, after working together for a year. They went to bed one time, and the condom broke. "Story of my life: get drunk, write bad checks. Get drunk, jump in bed with somebody,” she relates. When she informed Rudy of her pregnancy, he would have nothing to do with her. Although he never saw his child, Rudy did pay for both Andy’s delivery and the subsequent operation that removed Sousa's breasts.
In the early months of her pregnancy, ”I didn’t draw many sober breaths,” Sousa recalls. She fell into bed with Phyllis, her second homosexual affair. The first had led to the breakup of her seven-year marriage. For Christmas 1968, Phyllis gave her a copy of the autobiography of Christine Jorgensen, the Bronx carpenter’s son and ex-GI who set off a media storm when, through sex-change surgery and hormone treatments, he became a blond bombshell in 1952. The book rang true for Jerri, who became convinced that, living as a woman, ”I was living a lie; God had made a mistake, and I was going to set it right.”
By September of 1969, she and Phyllis had moved from Ocean Beach to the San Francisco Bay Area. Jerri began dressing as a man and taking male hormones, playing daddy to Andy while Phyllis played mommy, and consulting with doctors in Stanford University’s gender dysphoria unit. They referred her to a plastic surgeon on the teaching staff of the University of California at San Francisco, who spent many hours examining her and talking to her about her sexuality. He became convinced that she was, indeed, in the rhetoric of the time, a man trapped in a woman’s body.
The plastic surgeon sent her to a gynecologist, who performed a pelvic exam. Sousa felt strange taking off her male clothes, then climbing onto the table and putting her feet in the stirrups. The gynecologist, based on his examinations and discussions with Sousa, declared that she was really a man. When the team of physicians announced to her that they would perform the breast-removal operation, it was good news, but — “If this didn’t work,” Sousa remembers thinking, ‘‘the only thing left would be suicide.”
When she checked into the hospital the evening before the operation, she was stone drunk, confused, frightened, and haunted with misgivings. What about her children, nine-year-old Lori and three-year-old Mindy? What if the operation didn’t work and she wasn’t transformed into a man? What then? Sousa felt like a total failure as a woman, worthless, riddled with guilt and self-hate. “I didn’t feel adequate, loved, or lovable as a person,” she explains. Her only hope for achieving those things was to become the man she thought she should have been. But even though she’d been taking male hormones for two months, biology had a last cruel laugh; the day of the operation, Jerri’s period started.
Waking up after the total bilateral mastectomy, ‘‘the pain was unreal. It was more pain than I could believe. I thought, ‘If I’d known it was going to hurt this much, I’d have never done it.’ ” She watched the machine suctioning off blood from her chest and thought, ‘God, what have I done?’ Before that day, alcohol and sex were her higher powers. But everything had suddenly changed.
‘‘I left my heart, half my liver, and both my breasts in San Francisco,” she says, only half joking.
Lori was ten years old the first time she saw her mother dressed as a man. She hadn’t seen Jerri since Andy was born, and the signatures on the letters she received had recently changed from “Mom” to “Me,” but Lori was too young to be suspicious. Lori was living with her grandparents on Melrose Avenue in National City in 1970 when this strange-looking couple walked in. ‘‘My grandfather says, ‘This is your mother,’ and it’s a man with a beard standing there,” recalls Lori, who is now 29 and working as a Seventh Day Adventist missionary in New York City. “My brain kind of overloaded.” Lori had known nothing about her mother’s gender confusion. That day, Jerry was with another transsexual, Canary Conn, a man who had become a woman and who, like many early transsexuals, had gained some national notoriety. Both of them were drunk. Lori remembers noticing that Canary looked like a man in drag, but she absolutely didn’t recognize Jerry as really a woman, much less her mother. Lori went to her grandmother and whispered, "But where are Mommy’s breasts?” Her grandmother, Jerry’s mother, responded, ‘‘Why don’t you ask her?” When Lori asked, Jerry broke down in tears.
He explained to the girl that Lori’s mother never really existed, that she was really a man, and that from now on she was Lori’s daddy. In the mind of a ten-year-old, the implications were grave. "You look at your parents as your creators,” Lori explains. “And if your creator doesn’t exist, then maybe you don’t either. And if my mother turned into a man, would that happen to me too? Would I wake up one day and be a man?”
After seeing his daughters briefly, Jerry disappeared again. “She’d tell me she’d be back in a week, but she’d be gone for a year,” Lori says. Lori blamed herself for her mother’s behavior, thinking she must have done something bad to warrant being abandoned.
Meanwhile, Jerry had returned to Northern California and had begun to feel comfortable as a man. He had rushes of euphoria that told him he had done the exact right thing. He had become the person she knew she really was and came to regret not having had the operation sooner. He was living the fantasy she’d always harbored, and as long as he put off going to the bathroom while he was out partying, he was happy. But when he finally had to go to the men’s room, the fantasy slipped a bit. He couldn’t use the urinals, of course, and when he went into the stalls, he would be reminded that certain parts of his anatomy were unchanged. Checking the mirror on the way out, he had to reassure himself that he really looked like a man. He’d catch the eye of a waitress and give her a cocky wink just for the self-assurance.
Jerri had never had trouble finding a good job, and now, as Jerry, he signed on as a salesman of home-study courses for LaSalle Extension University. He bought several suits and ties, wingtips, and other male accouterments. His body had changed dramatically with the loss of female breasts and the ingestion of male hormones. He became extremely hairy on the face, arms, chest, and legs. His shoulders broadened and his hips slimmed down. Jerry felt that people took him more seriously than they had taken Jerri, because he was a man. But after a few months of living like this and continually drinking, he became depressed. After one drinking binge, he walked away from his job, as Jerri had done many times before, and moved with Phyllis and Andy to Los Angeles. Jerry and Phyllis, who planned to marry, drank and fought their way to a separation. Finally, Jerry realized his drinking was a serious problem. “I was still an alcoholic, still a job hopper, nothing had really changed,” Jerri says. He began to regret the breast-removal operation. "This is the reality of transsexualism: people don’t really change between the ears.”
In Los Angeles, he entered counseling and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He’d get drunk before going to the AA meetings. But his therapist seemed to help him, and he found another job, this time as an admissions director of a private school. The therapist encouraged him to get sober, which he did, and the result was a realization that he was playing charades. He quit his job again, moved back to San Diego, and resumed dressing and living as a woman.
In 1972, Sousa and her three kids lived in a rented house in Chula Vista. On one side of Jerri’s closet were her woman’s clothes; on the other side, her man’s clothes. For almost three years, she stayed sober and lived as a woman. She started an educational program for women in the San Diego County jails and faithfully attended AA. But at the meetings, she met a woman she was attracted to, and this attraction led to an obsession. “I was still so homosexual, but I knew I couldn’t stand to live in a lesbian relationship,” she recalls. “The lesbian affairs I’d had were so pathetic, no substance. Just sex, booze, and illusion ’ Still, this homosexual attraction pulled at her, and she was beginning to miss the automatic respect she had been given when she was regarded as a man. She had discovered first-hand that it really is a man’s world. People seemed to like Jerry more and take him more seriously than they did Jerri. And on top of that, she says in retrospect, ”I was winding up for another big drunk.”
Eventually, Jerri stopped going to AA, stopped going to church, stopped seeing her counselor. For the last nine months of her sobriety, she never knew in the morning which side of the closet she’d choose her clothes from. She started alternating, dressing as a man for two or three days, then switching back. The neighbors were confused, the kids were reeling. She finally began drinking again, banishing the two girls out of the house all day while she drank. Dinners went unprepared, and Lori remembers having to steal laundry money from atop the refrigerator in order to eat.
Sousa again began seeing a psychiatrist. He saw her as she alternated between dressing as a man and a woman. She developed a kind of dependency on him in the same way she had grown dependent on many other people to tell her what reality was. One day, she showed up at the psychiatrist’s office sporting Elvis sideburns. He said to her, “Jerri, you’re as much a man as I am. Why don’t you just face it and accept it?” Jerri took the advice.
Her decision to become a man again was also prompted by her meeting a beautiful woman who was a teacher in the alcohol studies program at UCSD Extension. Ann was a PhD psychologist, heterosexual, strong, gorgeous, and fascinated by Jerry. “On one hand, she was everything I wanted,” Sousa says. “On the other hand, she was everything I wanted to be.” Ann saw Jerry dressed as a woman only once. With the hormone treatments, Jerry became more and more masculine as he and Ann became closer. Jerry wanted her so much that he decided, finally, to go forward with the hysterectomy in early 1975. (He looked into the possibility of having a penis surgically created but decided it wasn’t worth the $20,000. He saw pictures of these artificial organs, which couldn’t become erect naturally, and decided they weren’t well enough developed yet.) Shortly after the operation, one of the sutures in his sewn-up vagina popped loose, and he began bleeding profusely. Lori watched in horror and confusion while her mother, dressed like a man and bleeding from where her birth canal used to be, was taken to the hospital.
Jerry and Ann were quite a handsome couple, judging from the photographs Sousa keeps. Jerry started going to Jack LaLanne’s gym in Clairemont. He had "body hair like an ape,” and the hormones, which are steroids, helped build muscle quickly. Taking a shower with the guys didn’t blow Jerry’s cover; like many men in public gyms, he simply kept his underwear on in the shower and changed in a bathroom stall. In the mid-1970s, Sousa was a kind of spy on the male gender, and he was having the time of his life. He had realized his greatest fantasies.
One thing that surprised Jerry was how men speak so little about sex. She now says women talk about sex much more often, and in greater detail, than men do when they’re in packs.
Sex with Ann, who was 15 years older than Jerry, was not a problem. Sousa says she wore a prosthesis for a penis. And apart from the sex, Jerri and Ann had a great time together. They even discussed marriage, and Jerry gave her an engagement ring. Then one day in 1977, Jerri discovered that Ann had another boyfriend. “It blew me away,” she says. “I just couldn’t deal with it. My worst fear was that I wasn't, quote, a ‘real’ man and that Ann would go back to one.”
After walking in on Ann and her boyfriend, Jerry drove around San Diego for what seemed like hours. She had a bottle of phenobarbital capsules in her purse. She finally parked in the lot near the information booth at Mission Bay and swallowed three handfuls of the pills.
After a few minutes, she got out of the car and immediately vomited all the pills onto her shoes and pants. She went home and slept for three days. It was the beginning of the end of her final period of manhood.
AIthough Jerry didn’t know it at the time, the whole medical rationale for transsexual surgery was beginning to unravel. A study was underway at Johns Hopkins University to determine whether the surgery really helped people attain a true sexual identity. Other studies had shown a high suicide rate among postoperative transsexuals, and the American Psychiatric Association was deeply divided over the relative merits of surgery versus psychotherapy for transsexuals. The Hopkins study, conducted by psychiatrist Jon K. Meyer of Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, analyzed 50 transsexuals who had been treated at the hospital. Twenty-nine had undergone sex-change operations, while 21 had received psychotherapy or no therapy at all. Meyer concluded, “The study shows that surgery serves as a palliative measure, relieving some of the patients’ symptoms of discomfort, but not necessarily improving the individual’s adjustment in life.... It does not cure what is essentially a psychiatric disturbance, and it does not demonstrably rehabilitate the patient.” In 1979 Johns Hopkins began phasing out its sex-change operations, and many other hospitals followed suit. Locally, the gender dysphoria unit at UCSD's University Hospital was disbanded in 1986, after about 25 sex-change operations. “The whole thing just kind of faded into oblivion,” comments a UCSD medical school spokesperson.
After the suicide attempt, Sousa checked into a psychiatric unit at a local hospital. As a get-well gift, Ann gave Jerry a copy of the book Compassion and Self-Hate by Theodore Isaac Rubin, and Jerry began to realize how much self-hate she harbored. “For the first time, I began to question this whole transsexual thing,” Sousa now recalls. She also began to feel duped. “If I wasn't a man trapped in a woman’s body, then I was a woman who had made some grave errors, with the help of the medical profession.”
It also began to dawn on him that he had pul his children through great ' tiardship. “I failed my children so miserably,” she now declares. “I was the epitome of selfishness; I never considered how this would affect my children.”
She's now scarred by guilt over the 1988 death of her son Andrew, who was just 18. He began to develop a serious illness in 1974, just after Jerry became a man for the second time. Andy had developed a form of strep throat, and some sort of allergic reaction had led to kidney damage and progressive kidney failure. Sousa blames herself for damaging the boy’s immune system by drinking heavily while she was pregnant with him. She says now that as Andy became sicker in the late 1970s, so too did her own sickness grow. Eventually, Andy needed full-time care, and in order to provide this, Sousa had to stop drinking. “I would not have hung up the jug, except that Andy’s life depended on it,” she says. And without the booze, she could no longer hold onto the illusion of her transsexuality.
But other factors were also involved. One day in 1978 Jerry was rummaging through a South Bay junkyard searching for a part for his car. He was about to give up when he spotted a provocative old junker and went over to give it a final glance. The trunk was open and filled with empty beer cans, but underneath the mess he spotted a book. He fished out A Scream Away from Happiness, by Daniel H. Casriel, M.D., and came to believe God led him to the book. He eventually traveled with Andy to the Dan Casriel Institute in New York, where he screamed his way toward a new female identity.
In group sessions he would scream, “I am lovable!” and “Love me for me!” like chants. He participated in such workshops for two years, alternately screaming at and being hugged by Casriel and other group members. By 1980 Jerry’s attraction to women had severely diminished, and in 1981 he stopped taking male hormones. In October of 1982, she stood staring at herself in the bathroom mirror one morning and was repulsed by her hairy body. “My God, what have I done,” she thought. The chemical cobwebs were gone, and she didn’t like what was revealed. She started dressing as a woman again and began the process of removing her facial hair.
She had come to believe that homosexuality is a form of addiction to another person who supplies a missing identity. She says now that she was attracted to women in a mirrorlike way but that guilt and self-hate generated by the homosexuality helped animate a lifelong fantasy that her family would truly love her if she were a man. She had believed that as a girl, she wasn’t lovable but as a boy she might be. Through therapy and religion, along with the cessation of drinking, she realized that the surgeries hadn’t made her a true man, they had just been the tangible results of her drunken illusions.
When Sousa finally woke up to this newest reality, she didn’t enter a new dawn of happiness. She had a very sick son on her hands, a son who was also her best friend now. Andy had begun regular kidney dialysis in 1979. About the same time, he began using large amounts of pain-killing drugs, to which he eventually became addicted. Sousa admits that she asked, even begged doctors for these drugs, and she’s filled with regret over her role in abetting Andy’s addiction. But she blames doctors, in particular Dr. Gordon Skeoch, her family’s physician for many years, for continuing to prescribe Nubain, Talwin, and Demerol after it was clear Andy was an addict. In a poison-pen letter she wrote to Skeoch in April, Sousa railed, “Yes, I gave him the injections, a fact that is eating me alive... but you, Dr. Skeoch, ordered that devil juice for him and kept ordering it and ordering it, beyond reason and safety."
“I wouldn’t give five cents for most of the doctors we came across,” Sousa declares. “Human caring went out the window when high-tech medicine took over. You’re in a double bind in hospitals: you need to believe in them because your life depends on it, but the reality is, doctors are in it for the money and the prestige.”
But Dr. Skeoch, who is 73, refutes Sousa’s criticism. “Andy’s care was absolutely perfect,” he says. “He used a lot of pain killers because he had a lot of pain. We moved heaven and earth for the boy, but it was just a lost cause. Jerri’s angry at the whole world, and she projects her own failings on everybody else.” Skeoch paid for Andy’s burial, and he also provided the money for Sousa’s self-published autobiography, Bailing Out of Homosexuality. "To have her turn around and stab me in the back with that letter was the most shocking thing in my life,” Skeoch continues. “My wife and I were probably the two best friends she had in the world. I went the second, third, and fourth mile for Andy because Jerri was a friend and got peanuts for it. I feel sorry for her.”
Skeoch says Andy was indeed a drug addict, and the doctor “begged [Jerri] time and time again” to get Andy into a pain center and eventually get him a kidney transplant. “But she had such an abusive personality, she became persona non grata every place she went.”
Sousa’s daughter Lori, who is now “best friends” with her mother, says she thought Andy was bent on killing himself. “He hated himself, hated the life he was living,” Lori recalls. “He had a compulsion to take drugs, and he’d pester my mom unmercifully to give him drugs, and she’d pester the doctors for the drugs. She’d go from one emergency room to another, because Andy would cause some crisis to get his body to react so he could get the drugs he needed. I don’t know how many hospitals refused to treat him because of the whole sick thing. The two of them fed on each other and made each other sicker. And she'd always end up saying the doctors were trying to kill him.”
What affect Sousa’s switching back to womanhood might have had on Andy is unclear. He grew up calling her “Dad,” and he was about 13 when she gave up being a man. Photographs of Andy and Jerry, and Andy and Jerri, appeared in the National Enquirer in 1983, along with the story of her rejection of homosexuality and transsexualism (Sousa was paid $5000 for her story), and Andy looked like a cute, loving kid in both pictures. But what was he feeling?
Lori says her mother’s decision to become a woman again made Andy “extremely upset. She did the same thing to him that she had done to us when she turned into a man. We had lost our mother, he lost his father. He lost his role model.”
Andy's health deteriorated through the 1980s, and it became apparent that his only hope was a kidney transplant. University Hospital had wanted to do such an operation in 1979, but Sousa had refused, mostly because she didn’t trust the doctors there, and Andy was extremely frightened about it. In 1987 Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco had turned him down for a transplant, announcing in a terse letter to Sousa that her son was an “inappropriate candidate.” Sousa interpreted this as meaning “they didn’t want to give a good organ to an addict.” In January of last year, she and Andy, then living with her parents in National City, tried to enter the Reach Out program for drug addiction at Harbor View Medical Center. “We wanted to interrupt this downward spiral of dependence and co-dependence,”
Sousa explains. She was injecting Andy four or five times a day with 40 milligrams of Demerol. On the application to the drug program, Andy wrote, “My mother and I constantly fight. Ninety percent of the time over drugs. We need family counseling.”
The application asked how much family income the Sousas had. The answer was $456 a month, which was Andy’s Supplemental Security Income. Without explanation, Harbor View rejected Andy’s application.
Sousa called the University of Minnesota and had an appointment on April 14 there for work-up on a possible kidney transplant. But that was the day Andy died.
On March 13, Andy had gone into seizures, probably drug-induced. When the ambulance arrived, Jerri insisted that they take her son to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista, but she says Dr. Skeoch ordered the ambulance to Paradise Valley Hospital, just a few blocks away. Skeoch says Andy had to be taken there by law, since it had the closest emergency room; Sousa claims that it was illegal to take him to Paradise Valley since Andy was unconscious, and
Paradise Valley had no room in its intensive care unit for him. Plus, Sousa knew of Paradise Valley’s recent troubles. Many emergency specialists had quit working in the emergency room there. More than half of the patients who end up at the Paradise Valley emergency room are indigent, and specialists were not getting paid for their services.
Medical records show that Andy lay in the Paradise Valley emergency room for 18 hours. Though doctors and nurses were treating him, at some point while he was unattended, he threw up and inhaled his own vomit. He went into cardiac arrest, was revived, given drugs to reduce his blood pressure, and again went into cardiac arrest. The next day, X-rays showed that his right lung was beginning to fill with fluid, and physicians noted that this was probably due to his inhalation of his own vomit. He was moved into the ICU and remained unconscious for three days. He was transferred to Alvarado Hospital on March 22.
After a doctor’s abortive attempt to withdraw fluid from around his heart with a long needle, Andy developed some trouble breathing, and he was put on a ventilator. At Alvarado, nurses refused to let Sousa perform Andy’s dialysis, which she had been trained to do. Sousa feared Andy might contract an infection if the procedure wasn’t done completely by the book. He did, in fact, develop peritonitis, an infection in the abdomen, which spread to his lungs and other organs. Sousa blames this infection on the hospital. He became jaundiced and suffered severe pain and begged his mother to get him out of the hospital. Andy finally died because “the lung situation was just overwhelming for him,’’ according to the attending physician, C.B.M. Chapman, in a letter of sympathy to Sousa. She claims that poor hospital treatment created this lung problem. But Dr. Skeoch maintains “it was multisystem failure. His whole body just gave out.”
In the 15 months since Andy died, Sousa has been haunted by nightmares in which she’s running through a hospital corridor begging for someone to help her. Her son’s screams of pain and entreaties for help resound through her head almost daily. She's given up ideas of suing any doctors for malpractice, after having no success in finding an attorney who would take her case.
She says she’s been too stricken with grief to work. Religion has helped her survive, and so has a rapprochement with her two daughters who, before Andy’s death, appeared with her on some nationally televised talk shows. Her own body is a daily reminder of the damage that the combination of illusion, confusion, alcohol, and doctors can wreak. Her hair is still a little thin where it had begun to recede when she was a man, and she’s beginning to hunch over with osteoporosis, the result of years of hormone treatments. In the quiet since Andy's passing, she sometimes marshals the courage to read through his medical records. “It demolishes me,” and she feels drawn to the bottle and the middle span of the Coronado Bridge. “I’ve lived ten lives already,” she muses. “How many more can there be?”