May 24, 2008


“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” – Hemingway


January 23, 2008

age: 47
location: Boston, MA

Finding out about my condition didn’t change anything. It put a title to a story but never affected how the story would continue. Or how it would end. My story is on the streets. I’ve learned that there are many ways to make money and there are many ways to die and there mostly are ways to die making money. And it is here that I group people into one of two categories: having control and being captive. You know what? It is all just grey. – you and me and the concrete. I can’t say I like it particularly. I do like the unafraid. Unafraid of what stands still, unafraid of those at will, unafraid at nil. Nothing. It cracks me up. The weather, the seasons, the rain, sun, sleet, wind, breeze, crying snow. Buying layers to cover up its hold on the lesser beings. I’m not on anything, I promise – but no one believes. Oh I promise. With the sky above, I sure do wish it holds a promise. And really, all I’ve ever wanted to know, the only question I want to ask, ever want answered is how do you escape when there is no way out?

I dole out his medicine that’s all. It’s not a matter of how high a dose, Frank will always come back to me. He will not get better, and in the meantime, I will keep doling out his medications.

Working in a psychiatric ward, Frank has come in and out since my time here. As a patient, I have lost him. At the same time, I cannot stare in his eyes for too long. I need to break the gaze. When I do, though, his delusions pull him out the door.

“Why do you prefer the streets, Frank?”

“I don’t prefer the streets to here because that would mean I had the gift of preference. If I had that, I would not want to be on the streets. I have been robbed. My house was taken from me. If you had no house, where would you go?”

“Frank, you have not been robbed.” He gets up from his chair and switches to a seat across the room.

“Yes I have. I see houses that were mine. I see people wearing my rings. My jeans.”

“What do you do to these people?”

“I take my stuff back.”

“Frank, why don’t you stay away from these people?”

“They will rob me again. I can’t hide. Things don’t go away.”

“What things?”

“People. The ones that are always watching.”

“You mean God?”

“No, I am God – not God as in Jesus Christ. I am a prophet in the way everyone could be a prophet if they wanted. We can speak, that’s all. Listen to what I am saying and tell me I’m not God.”

“Frank, you’re not God.”

————–
I cannot clock out. Coming home from work, my mind still reflects on Frank. I look into my daughter’s eyes and compare them to the madness I see in the hazel set belonging to him. It’s strange to think of Frank as a child – untainted by disease, with sickness stirring inside. His eyes, I bet, were not so much pure as ignorant. I wonder if he knew.

My daughter responds, “Can you help me with math, Dad?”

I tell her to try her mother instead.

The weather outside blurs between rain and snow. I hope for spring to hold off. Not because I like the winter. It is like when my daughter plays her wonderfully joyous music and dances, and I have to turn away. It is not out of distaste but rather; I cannot listen to what I cannot identify with. In that way, the spring is a stranger, with its blooming flowers and subtle rain.

Washing my hands at the kitchen sink, I wipe the moisture off on my pants, too tired to reach for a towel. I cannot recall when my energy started fading, when the internal fire inside me began to slink into the corners of my mind unseen.

I think of how, when it comes to human nature, we praise the just and the righteous but cannot reason why one must do so. Why abstain from sleeping with your neighbor’s wife? Because the Bible says so. Because it is the right thing to do. Because of that voice inside your head.

I need a better rationale.

I used to not need any reason why but now it’s the only question I ask. It brings me back to Frank. Everything. How the things we do without reason make us who we are.