As usual, I was up with the denizens of the night after a broken sleep. I pushed aside my covers and sat on the edge of my bed in the pre-dawn dark yawning. I turned on my bedside lamp, stretched, pulled on my athletic shorts, socks, and then shoes, and sleepily walked into my kitchen to pour a glass of orange juice to take my morning meds. My head felt fuzzy this morning and very busy with images and thought. That is what caused my broken sleep overnight. Schizophrenia can be a tenacious mistress not easily fought off by these wondrous medications I take these days. She is like a nagging wife that is asleep; always there under the sub currents of my thoughts and waiting to be awoken. All it takes is a trigger such as stress.
I opened my backdoor and stepped outside to a surprisingly cool and foggy dawn. The first birds of the day were stirring and calling and a few squirrels were already scurrying in the backyard looking for breakfast. I put on my little Sony radio, pulled my backpack upon my shoulders, and started out for today’s early morning walk.
I walked past the newspaper office down to the back of the shopping center. Dumpster Diving Dan was busily sorting through last night’s trash in search of treasure than only he could love.
“Hey Dan,” I said as I walked up.
He poked his head up and out of the dumpster startled. He didn’t hear me walk up. Dan’s hearing isn’t what it used to be. Dan must be in his late sixties these latter years.
“God, you scared the shit out of me,” He replied. “I thought you were the police.”
“They still give you a hard time about scavenging these dumpsters?” I asked.
“Well, not much lately,” He replied. “But I do get paranoid about it.”
Dan was holding what looked like a not-so-fine specimen of cabbage. He pulled off several layers of leaves and showed it to me grinning at his good fortune.
“See?” He said with a smile. “Perfectly good after some creative readjustment. That will make some fine cabbage, onion, and ham hock soup for lunch and supper.”
Dan then went back to diving and I walked on. Dan doesn’t have to dumpster dive as a means for survival. He just likes to do it. He is just one of those obsessively frugal people whose obsession with saving money has caused him to not give a damn about what other people think anymore. I would be terribly embarrassed to be caught digging in the dumpsters behind the grocery store for my lunch. I admire Dan though and don’t see anything wrong with what he does.
I walked down to the tracks to find the signal shining a bright red. I fumbled in my backpack to pull out my camera. “Damn,” I muttered. I had left it at home and forgot to pack it in. It left me feeling naked without it. Before long, the long wails of a train air horn came roaring around the corner as it approached the crossing guards protecting the public from tons of moving steel and locomotion. The ground shook beneath my feet and I smiled like that child I remember that was me as a youth.
“God, you need to grow up Andrew,” I said to myself as the train rumbled past. “You don’t see adults hanging out down at the train tracks watching trains like a child.”
The train disappeared off in the distance down into the far off rail yard. I left downtown and walked back home hoping my camera was sitting on my computer desk. I thought of how due to this illness of the mind that I never grew up. I never became an adult. I am forever frozen in the mind of that young man that was overcome with schizophrenia at an early age. It can be a blessing and a curse.