Crazy Looks Like Me, Crazy Looks Like You

It’s raining sheets, like unfolded plastic wrap falling from the sky. The clouds overhead are not dismally gray or black, nor are they white and cheerful, they are just the background for the rain, a neutral color of uncertainty.
.
My younger sister, Shelly, sat at the kitchen table in the dining room, alone, her head down, her eyes unfocused. She had a tiny silver spoon in her hand and she was stirring her coffee, over and over again. I don’t think she even realized she was still doing it. I said “Good Morning” to her but she never answered.” She wouldn’t speak to any of us.

 

Shelly was wearing her same  blue striped pajama bottoms, the dingy white tee-shirt and a pair of thick, pink socks. She hadn’t brushed her hair, it seemed, for weeks. She wanted to just stay in bed and be alone, the only thing she would say was “I’m not crazy, do you think I’m crazy, because I’m not.” I bit my lip.

I wasn’t trying to be mean, honestly, but I had begged her to see a therapist and our parents forced to talk to someone and she went with them once, kicking and screaming the entire time. She never even went inside.

 

 

I didn’t know what to do, but I did know that this was not helping her. Staying in bed all day, getting up only for coffee or her one meal, a bologna and cheese sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise  that our mom would leave her in the fridge. Shelly told all of us “it was none of our business” but of course it was our business, we loved her and hated seeing her fall apart, a little more each day.

I didn’t know how long I could take looking at the shell that was my little sister, curled up in bed with the light off and no life coming from that room. She slept all the time. Once, I started playing music in my room, music I loved and thought she loved too. I thought she might enjoy it but she screamed and moaned for me to turn it off in such a violent, out of control way, that my parents immediately came and scolded me, they turned my music off. It was upsetting Shelly.

She needed help, she desperately needed help, she was getting worse and my parents and I couldn’t handle her anymore. Now, she was not sleeping at all and roaming our apartment at all hours demanding attention. I had a full-time job as a Customer Service Representative and I was already in trouble for missing too many “sick” days. Our parents were older and not in good physical shape and our little brother, Josh, was just eight, a mere baby himself and, of course, troubled and confused.

For a week we whispered among ourselves to arrange for an intervention, we knew something had to be done.  Time moved quickly, it was 4 pm on Tuesday and the day had come. I sat in the corner, biting my nails. I wanted my sister to get better but I did not want to be part of the intervention. My parents made me so II also felt like an accomplice and hated that feeling. I hated being in the middle of everyone.

We were all assembled in the living room, Shelly was in her room, sleeping. The people from Edgehill Hospital were waiting right out side the door. They decided that our dad should approach Shelly gently by first calling her name and asking her to come out of her room. She refused.”I’m tired” she murmured.”Maybe later.” After several more attempts and being exasperated, our dad asked her to come out again but I could hear the strain in his voice… Finally, in a fit of rage, he broke the door down, and started yelling at her. He screamed for a couple of minutes, his patience worn and suddenly stopped to find Shelly on the bed, still, not breathing, and cold. He called 911 immediately but we knew she was gone.

She died from an overdose of pills that she had accumulated for many years. We found two empty bottles of alcohol on the floor next to her bed. The note that she scribbled with a purple pen said this: ” I hate my life, it’s all black an” that was the end. She couldn’t even finish the sentence about her young life.

No one could speak after the initial gasp of horror, we each sat in our own corner, after the ambulance came and pronounced her dead. No one  spoke to each another, harboring our own guilt, our own excuse, our own irresponsible part we had in Shelly’s life.

All of us thought we killed her. I know I did, for sure.

 

 

 

The Day After Robin Williams’ Died

I sit in shock even as the news about Robin Williams’ death is sweeping the country on every possible news outlet. Shock moved to sadness and even though I didn’t know this marvelously talented man or his demons, I am feeling his pain. Everyone’s pain. The world is so fragile right now, you can feel it in the the heaviness of the air, the full moon,  in the tension of the world. For some of us, called Empath Intuitives, we feel more deeply, we take on other people’s pain as if they were our own but I am trying hard to separate this one.

I wrote this in response to my friend, the great Jenny the Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson on her wonderful post about the death or apparent suicide of Robin Williams. Please take a look at Jenny’s site (I reblogged it here if it worked) to read the whole thing, if you don’t know Jennifer Lawson, you really should. My goal in life is to be mentioned on one of her side bars one day! She will cheer you up, crack you up and has been one of my inspirations. She has really creepy (sorry Jenny) habits/hobbies like taxidermied animals but she also does beautiful things for others and that makes you want to be as awesome as she is.

Not to mention, you have never really met the true Beyonce that we, in the Jenny Fan club know. “Knock knock Motherfucker.” You’ll see. It makes perfect sense.

Jenny wrote a heart breaking and heart warming post about suicide and mental illness and all of our challenges in life. This was my reply to her:

I’m usually good for a laugh or a witty response but sorry, I just can’t this time and that’s okay. I know I will get it back but Robin Williams’ suicide hurts in a place where childhood was, we grew up with him. WHY DOES MENTAL ILLNESS STILL HAVE SUCH A NEGATIVE STIGMA, IT SHOULDN’T. WHAT IF CANCER WAS SUBSTITUTED FOR MENTAL ILLNESS? I don’t understand. It is an illness like any other illness and needs to be treated by a professional. I have an anxiety disorder and take meds for it, like Jenny, and it is treatable. Sure, there are some bad days but there are some bad days for everyone. Isn’t it time that mental illness can come out of the closet and be accepted by everyone instead of being a hushed secret? Come on, people, give those of us who struggle with something different, ( I have an anxiety disorder) an encouraging word, a smile, a chance to say “I feel sad/anxious today.”

More money is needed for mental health providers but I’m sure Robin Williams could have provided that for himself. PLEASE, talk to each other or call a suicide hotline. If not for yourself, then for your children, your mother, brother, best friend, your partner, your pet, for me and for Jenny. There’s always someone waiting to listen. I promise. Signed, your friend, Laurie F. hibernationnow.wordpress.com

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Search results

  1. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

    “Because Hope Is A Marvelous Thing” by me.

FWF, Kellie Elmore. Fire.

 

 

HER

 

Everyone says that teenagers are moody.  I’m not. I’m depressed or nothing. My shrink says I’m in a “Clinical Depression” my parents say I’m very depressed. I don’t care what they call it, I just don’t want to live anymore.

I’m 15, I hate my life or well, I used to, now I just want to leave and not exist. I have no friends.

 

Her

Her (Photo credit: Forty Photographs)

 

Not that anyone would miss me, my parents just wanted to commit me to a crazy hospital and lock me up or drag me to church, every single day and night. My little brother, Billy, well he is okay, he’s five and to him I am,  everything, silly jerk. He didn’t think I was as crazy as a bat but what did he know, he still sucked his thumb.

 

I wasn’t the shrieking, breaking- glass bloody kind of crazy you see on television, or the raging mad screaming in the streets throwing knives and pulling out my gun, feeling ugly angry. Nope, It’s like I lived in the air. I existed, I blended in with the beige lockers in the middle school hallways. http://magicinthebackyard.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/campfire.gif?w=290&h=290&crop=1

My secret plan kept me going, it was the only thing I had looked forward to for over six months now. Today was November 11th, my favorite day and I knew where I would be  tonight. I knew where I would go tonight after dark. I had the place, I had the alibi, people didn’t care about me and I didn’t care about them anyway. I didn’t feel loved or hated. I didn’t feel anything at all. I read that’s the worst kind of crazy-bad or maybe it’s something my shrink said. I don’t remember.

She once said that if I could have cried, “released my inner emotions” maybe it would have been better but I had no inner emotions that I knew about, nothing that I was hiding, no conflict or cover-up, no tragic past. I felt nothing, bad or good, I didn’t complain and I didn’t want attention. I was just empty, all the time.

All I wanted was to go to sleep forever, and I loved playing with fire. I wanted to leave this world in a way that made me disappear for good. I wanted a quick death so months ago I stole a can of lighter fluid from the hardware store. My plan was to spray my clothes and jump, go poof up in flames.

The fire was still burning strongly, I opened the can of lighter fluid, smelled it and it made me cough. I hadn’t squirted it on my clothes yet. I walked closer to the fire, just a tiny bit. The long hem of the left leg of my jeans caught on fire as I edged closer accidentally but instead of jumping in all the way I instinctively fell to the ground and smothered the flames.

What the hell just happened?  I didn’t know, why did I do that? Why didn’t I just go into the fire as I had planned 1,000 times and burn to a crisp? Couldn’t I even get death right?  I really was a loser, I couldn’t even succeed in offing myself.

 

Ian's Big Boy BedI had been waiting all along for a sign WHEN to jump in. Could that have been the real sign? I told myself, that if I was supposed to die I would have. I wouldn’t have instinctively dropped like my old doll, Raggedy Ann, on the ground to get rid of the fire and save my life. THAT was the sign! I started feeling strongly about this. I moved away from the fire and after sitting there a while, I made sure the fire was out. I was not feeling happy but I was feeling something. It was a lot more than what I started out with.

 

I felt like I was in a daze, confused but I knew deep down I think that I wanted to live. I started walking up the hill, eating a granola bar that was in my pocket,to get to where I parked my car. I sat there for a few minutes.  I took a few deep breaths and drove home really slowly. Before I got to my room, I opened Billy’s door, he was wearing his favorite cowboy pajamas and yes, still sucking his thumb. I tiptoed over to him and ever so gently, kissed him on his head.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline – The Samaritans

samaritansnyc.org/24-hour-crisis-hotline/

  • The Samaritans of New York
     

    Samaritans 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (212) 673-3000. With the goal of helping people in distress and preventing suicide, Samaritans free, confidential.

  •  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Name Is Nobody

When my sister and I still lived at home, many years ago, we would look at each other sadly and randomly say: “Nobody cares.” It is in fact, true on some level. People don’t seem to care the same way anymore or maybe they are just too busy. Too busy to show that they care? Yes. Sorry.

Life

Life (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

I used to be Somebody but not anymore, I don’t feel like Anything or Anyone anymore. I just Exist.

A very long time ago I was a little girl who played dolls, went to school year after year and I was a Student. I was known for always Smiling by my teachers but I seemed invisible to my classmates.

When I was in college I became a Young Woman, an excellent student, also able to cut a class for an outdoor concert with good friends, under the sun. My camera draped around my neck like jewelry, it did not get better than that. Of course I didn’t appreciate it then, does anyone? No, there is no frame of reference until you look back. Those WERE the BEST years of my life.

I always worked, every summer during high school,  I started working right after college but my world was still centered around Me. That wondrous place in time, the narrow window of fun, between college and the real world, now in today’s world fraught with unemployment. I had my apartment, I learned from good experiences and bad; mice running over my arm and leg at night or crawling in the walls and utter fear to getting frozen at knife point by a gang and the guardian angel who saved me. I learned that sometimes it is easier to say no, than it is to say yes. Eventually, I moved.

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a wi...

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a window. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to travel for barely nothing, to visit a friend, to fly across the ocean, to visit different countries. I was lucky, Dad worked for the airlines. Then, I was a Traveler, a Tourist. I learned to eat new food in Greece, jumbo shrimp staring at me with watchful eyes, lemon-egg soup, and everything tepid, I loved that. Food was not served burning hot. I walked up winding white and blue steps in Greece on a tiny island, where there were no cars, just donkeys. My family traveled to Portugal and I refused to eat sardines that the fishermen just caught. But, our family drank wine together outside in a beautiful garden, near a forest.

I learned to trust MY instincts, not my sister’s, the daredevil, with no common sense. We ended up on a canoe, going to on an island with two fishermen.  I had never been so scared in my life. No big deal, she shrugs it off, grinning. Yeah. Right.

Then, I was a Working Wife and Mother, I had a title again, a meaning for my Life,  the most special one. Being a Mother did not feel like a job but it fulfilled every one of my dreams, it was all I wanted to do my whole life. I wanted to have two babies, a boy and a girl and bring them up to be good, conscious, wonderful people. In that, I know I succeeded; I did my job well, I am proud.

My life has no meaning anymore. You can’t argue with something that is true. My kids are adults, they don’t need me anymore, my husband and I are very best friends, he could manage. My friends, the real ones who care, are sincere but have their own lives.

I need a new Life. I am so sick of the old one. I want to peel off my skin like I peel bananas for the banana bread I bake. I need to do something new with the second half or even quarter of my life. The end of my life, where did the first half go?

It left like whispers in the air, silent passages of time, I blinked.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Love Grows, Life Changes

Toothbrush, photo taken in Sweden

Toothbrush, photo taken in Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It takes but a minute for everything in your life to change your life completely.  It hits you with a tremendous blow, shock, grief but you can get used to that since you have no choice, you are completely unaware. No choice is not a world I want to live in either.

When I travel now, I usually forget to bring my blue toothbrush and white bristles, so too, the tooth paste. I never needed it before, it was a silly tradition, I know, but one that delighted me. Knowing that I could always use your toothbrush when we were away together. That was the type of intimacy that I knew about. Silly things like that.

Now, I can’t. I understand that you didn’t want to leave me, that your heart was very sick,  clogged arteries that were too far along to be saved but I wished for it anyway. I was in the in-between place of hope and reality. “Please, please, please” I would murmur under my breath in a chant as if maybe God would tune in faster or adjust his schedule but nothing changed.

It was your time, my love, and you knew it as well as I did. Imagine, trying to cheer me up when you were about to die and leave me hanging here like a piece of dangling thread blowing softy in the sunshine, back and forth, back and forth.

We came in together, arm in arm, walking slowly through the mushy gray snow and yet when I left there was nobody beside me, nobody to take my hand, nobody to put their arms around my shoulders, to reassure me.

Our children called but they were not here, they had their own families and excuses now. I understood completely how their husbands and wives did not want them to cross to the other side of the country as well, to get soaked up in my misery and the lost of their daddy. Nobody knew that more than I.

Yet, I thought death would come, most certainly, in the middle of the night, my naïve silence and undisturbed sleep, awakened by the shrill of the old yellow phone I still used by the bedside. But now, in reality, it didn’t work that way, I was right by your side, as you took your last breath and calmly closed your eyes.

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a wi...

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a window. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“That’s it?” I thought to myself? Death could slip in on soft kitten feet and steal away my husband with no big fanfare at all? Steal his loveliness, the color of his lips and cheeks and joy for life in a matter of seconds, while I stood there watching, watching the blood drain from him?

I put my head on his cold chest and I cried but I knew his hands couldn’t comfort me, or hold me like they had. From now on, I was no longer part of a couple, I was alone. My name was now “Widower.” It stayed that way for a very long time until I too decided it was time enough to join your father, there was nothing useful about me without him. He was my life.

I said goodbye to all the children and grandchildren with a long good-bye and gave each special hug.

It took too many weeks to get my affairs in order but I would know when the time was right. One day they all came in for Christmas, I saw each child and grandchild. After they left, I knew it was my time to go.This has been planned before the death of my husband Harold, he would do the same if I had died first.  It wasn’t hard at all but it was something we needed to do, I was only sorry that I had postponed this day for so many long weeks. Let’s face it, I had no regrets. Ever.

I had no interest in living a life without my other half. It was like living empty, physically here yet without a soul. No, I didn’t want that at all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

FWF Kellie Elmore

Annie looked beautiful when we first landed in the Caribbean for our honeymoon. We did nothing but eat and drink, and relax in the sun. I had worked 80 hour weeks back home, this was heaven.

We went snorkeling in the afternoon to see  glowing yellow and orange striped fish, in the aqua water. The only decision we had been what to order at the swim-up bar in the pool, a lime drenched mojito or a sweet mai thai served with a wedge of pineapple and a fake red cherry.

Dinner was late and I ordered a bottle of champagne and we ate roasted vegetables,  chicken with spices and loaves of thick, crusty bread. There was dancing so we decided to join other people.  Annie wore a bright flowered dress and soon after Annie suggested we go for a swim, we both loved water, especially Annie. We raced into the water, holding hands.

I admit I wasn’t as good as a swimmer as she was, I loved watching her as she laughed and I could see her head, like the flash of an automatic camera, her blond hair in the warm waves, happy she was having fun.

After about twenty minutes I called to her to come back in, I was getting tired of waiting and started yelling for her to come back, I still heard her laughter but it wasn’t funny anymore to me. “Annie, come in,” I shouted as I was approaching the shore.

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & ob...

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & obt’d Image:Plongeur bouteilles.jpg id’d there as (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat on the sand, I saw other tourists looking puzzled and  they pointed first to me, then to Annie. The tide was getting rough.  I kept yelling over to her but she would wave and keep going.

I talked to the people on the shore and told them my story. Someone went inside for help, I was getting nervous. The manager offered the use of his own boat and lifeguard. I knew Annie would be mad but I was so worried that they raced into the water on their boat, if she ran into trouble or was possibly sick.

I sat on the beach, like a statue, rocking back and forth. I could not stop crying. Someone offered a blanket, another endless cups of strong black coffee. I saw the coast guard and his team looking with flood lights.  A whole day went by. Finally, the coast guard said they would have to end the search. Someone had called the police as well as emergency vehicles. I was so weak from crying and not sleeping, I could barely speak.

“I’m sorry Sir, there is no body in that water.” We searched everywhere, scuba divers with advanced equipment came and we found nothing. She was not on the property at all, last night we did not let anyone in or out of our community and she definitely is not in the water. I’m so sorry, Sir.”said the head of police.

Finally, I let out a blood curdling scream, “she’s out there, you have to find her” but they shook their heads firmly. Later, everyone walked me to our room and the manager unlocked the door. I looked around, inside, there was not a single item of Annie’s, not her clothing, her make up, her tooth-brush, nothing of hers was there. I saw them look at each other, frowning.

“What did you do to her?” I screamed to the hotel and the police. She WAS here, ask anyone, at dinner, at the scuba diving lessons.” They started to cuff my hands.

“We did, Sir, we did that last night, there never was anyone with you named Annie, you arrived alone checked into this room alone and stayed by yourself. We even called the airlines and you were flying alone there was not an Ann or Annie on the flight.”

I fought with them, I told them she HAD been here but they insisted on taking me to the hospital to get checked out. “But what about Annie? I sobbed. “Perhaps she is waiting for you at the hospital” one police offer said, they gave me a shot and I let them take me, to see Annie, so that they would believe me.

I’m still at a hospital, a different one. Here they also said Annie was not real, over and over again. They call me delusional but even now, after all these months I know that Annie had been with me, for real, even if she had only been in my mind.

That counts, right?

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Enhanced by Zemanta

Kew Gardens’ Own Bob Dylan

In Memory of Al MayoAlMayo

There is an official obituary about our friend Al Mayo that was written in the *New York Daily News and it was very accurate. However, I just don’t want people to remember him that way alone. It feels wrong to me.

The person who died, from my childhood neighborhood, was a lovely man, an old friend that passed away in January. A friend of mine called to tell me the horrible news of Al’s suicide. This was no ordinary death, it was a violent, brutal, grisly death. I don’t want this kind soul, the friend of everybody to be known by his suicide, or his obituary instead of his life, his cheery personality, his effusive grin, his loving and peaceful self.

I refuse to think of him in any other way than the newspaper’s photo that was published. It was a wonderful photo (above) where he is grinning, a twinkle in his eye, kind and sweet.  Al was all about peace and love, not violence, not to anyone. In his last years his body was ravaged by cancer, he couldn’t eat, talk, swallow; he had no life, he took his life, violently.

He said hello to everyone and he was like a fixture in our neighborhood, you knew that if you walked around the block you would most probably see Al Mayo smiling, leaning against a store, grinning widely, resting on his cane.

He didn’t have an easy life, he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was young so he was probably in his late teens but nothing stopped him. He accepted what happened and moved on. He would be smiling and talking and spreading good cheer to all the neighbors in our little town. His lifelong friends stayed his lifelong friends.

Everyone was utterly shocked by the news but my friends M. and H. and I were shaken at the news, not as much that he had committed suicide but how. For a very peaceful man, he committed death in a very violent way, making sure that no one else would be hurt. Al, only wanted to end his life, never anybody else’s life. He wouldn’t harm a soul.

Al had cancer for a few years, unbearable, painful cancer that left him unable to eat, to swallow, to lead a normal life. If Al couldn’t lead a life that was close to normal, there wasn’t any Al left, he tried so hard and went through so much.

Now this sweet soul, friend to everyone is gone forever. We will all miss you Al and we will always remember your bright, warm smile.  We will miss our own elected “mayor.” You were Kew Gardens’ own, Bob Dylan, that’s how important you were to us, will always be.

Al Mayo, Rest In Peace.

Special thanks to Harry Klein, my friend and best friend of Al Mayo.

*Click on photo for NY Daily News Article

Enhanced by Zemanta

Haiku Heights

USELESS

Snooze, dear old man, gramps

children gone,

all alone, sad.

rock your empty chair.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Typical Finnish wooden rocking chair.

Typical Finnish wooden rocking chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blink, joy, blink sadness

numb eyes drool, lips shake, quiver

Alone is black-gray.

******************************************

Enhanced by Zemanta

FWF Kellie Elmore

“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” — Louise Erdrich, TracksPain Teens (album)

I was weary, weak beyond anyone’s mind could see. It wasn’t just my physical pain that had failed me, I was used to pain. It stayed with me like a shadow every day and night of my life. This was different, this was emotional, mind pain that wrapped itself around my neck and pulled tight. I knew I could breathe but I felt like I couldn’t, like some evil demon was choking me, I could practically see inside myself, red, raw lines around my throat from the choke marks. This would be my undoing. I hoped it was.

I knew I couldn’t fight and the hysteria that I felt came bubbling up like a spring on a hot, dry day. I was out of control, lots of pills, lots of pills. Weed too. I could see the water but I couldn’t taste it or feel it. As much as I knew that logically, it didn’t prevent me from continually trying, again, the pain getting deeper, the vice holding my throat deepening every second. I was only thirteen but I had lived a thousand years already, I wanted to die, I was not scared of death. That was not a fear I had.

I knew what I was up against, I already had been living on the streets my whole life. It didn’t matter. No pills I bought from the street, that I dry swallowed, could lessen that inside feeling of feeling out of control. It was a horrible feeling, so I tried more pills, pink, blue, white, lots of colors. Like in a magazine, little pretty children wandering alone, not being able to find their mother in the middle of a busy city, constantly calling out, yet nobody would answer them. They were lost but not found. It did not have a happy ending. All these children could do was cry and be afraid and the story would finish just the way it started. I knew better than that. I kept popping more pills, nothing was happening to me. Yet.

Sometimes that’s the way the world works. Not everything gets tied up perfectly with a pink, lace ribbon, curled on the ends. Not everyone is a tiny ballerina on stage, showered with perfect red roses after a performance on their pointed pink ballet shoes. No, that was for dreamers and I was no dreamer. That was for people, the very tiny amount of people that lived in the rich life I never came in contact with but I heard about or read about it. My mother was a junkie, she lived on the streets, sometimes but not with me, no. I saw my mom who I called “Destiny” shooting up heroin in a corner, on a street. We didn’t say hello to each other. Usually she was so out of it she wouldn’t know me. When I recognized her, I pretended I didn’t. Me, popping pills, her doing heroin.

I was a street child, a crazy one at that. I lived here and there, whatever place I decided was mine for the night. The only name my mother ever called me was “gutter-child.” That’s the only name I knew.

FWF Kellie Elmore: Junior High

English: View of Davey Elementary School in Ke...

English: View of Davey Elementary School in Kent, Ohio. The building opened in 1922 and was first home to Theodore Roosevelt High School until 1959 before serving as Davey Junior High/Middle School until 1999. It was renovated from 1999-2000 and reopened in 2000 as Davey Elementary School. Originally uploaded 3 February 2007 to English Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my first day of Junior High School I was nervous, excited and scared.  I walked from my apartment building with a friend, up the steep hill, passing the red brick elementary school I had graduated from and the gray cemetery that lurked on the right side. It was at least a 25 minute walk to our bus stop which was in front of the big, smoky subway station.

I was overwhelmed by the sensory overload in the morning: noise and stimulation, many people bustling about, headed to trains or buses, to the coffee shop, The Pastrami King, the pharmacy, or the courthouse. Everybody walked so quickly, rushing to their destination.

Finally, our bus came and we piled on pushing and shoving trying unsuccessfully to save a seat for a friend. There were four seats in the last row where the “tough” kids sat smoking and blowing their smoke in our direction.

There were smells on that bus from an array of  both food and people: tuna fish sandwiches, the sugar sweetness of  French crullers, sweat, body odor and smelly feet, potato chips. There was always one “bad kid” in the neighborhood and of course he was there ready to make himself known as if we had forgotten him after six years of elementary school.

We passed the bank clock and it was always 8:32 am, every single day, in bright large numbers, in yellow-orange against a black background, that always cheered me up.  I marveled at the accuracy of the bus each morning. That was the highlight of my day. It was, after all,  Junior High School, you were almost required to be moody and miserable, it’s just the one thing they didn’t pass a handbook out for.

The real change was recess which was not held in the comfortable basement of our school like it was in elementary school but rather outside in a cold, cement area marked with high wired fences. It looked like a prison. There were no trees in the back, not a blade of grass or flowers.

It was the first time where we changed teachers for different subjects, moved with the same students, from class to class. It was fascinating and new, odd and strange. Junior High School is not a great experience for many people, probably due to our age. It’s an awkward time, the guys and girls wearing acne, boys’ voices were in the middle of changing, the girls were in a huge range of maturity and we were all uncomfortable and self-conscious, everybody hated how they looked.

Socially, it was a new world, new girl friends, a larger and diverse crowd than elementary school. I hung out with a new friend who introduced me to smoking menthol cigarettes while chewing gum and drinking Fresca soda on a huge rock that we scrambled up in the big, bright park after school. Her name was Susan and after my phase of trying to be bad, I gave it up shortly.  Judy, was my best friend with bright red hair and a twin and we sat next to each other in class, trying to desperately hide our laughter. We had a horrible teacher who made angry spots on the blackboard with his chalk and every time he did it we would burst out in hysterics. At the same time I stared at a classmate who picked at her hair for an entire hour and a half. I couldn’t stand to look yet I couldn’t look away.

It was a world unknown and new yet very stressful and depressing. It was on the very same bus, going home, that I heard one of my friends, since childhood, had committed suicide. She overdosed on drugs after her mother remarried a classmate’s father. I couldn’t stop thinking about that, I never forgot about it either.

Her absence, in Junior High School was far more memorable than any day I sat in class. I can still picture her face, her long black eyelashes, the intense blue of her unwavering stare. This is in memory for you, Lori B.

Enhanced by Zemanta