Saturday, January 6, 2007

Orange Light Dancing on the Horizon…

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.


Amanda said...

As you might know, I've never allowed myself to be formally diagnosed.

The closest I've ever had to a real diagnosis was, when I confided to with father's girlfriend. I was 17 or so. Turned out she was a childhood psychiatrist. She told him that I'm schizophrenic.

I have good reasons to believe that she's dead wrong. But I still have to wonder whenever I identify with one of your posts. Which is like...all the time.

abbagirl74 said...

That child is in all of us. I still catch myself doing things that I loved when I was a kid. Like going outside when the leaves are changing color and taking in that heaveny scent of fall. I still go outside at night to walk after the first snow. You don't need a flashlight because the glistening white stuff has made the world a winter wonderland. And I still love going down the school supply aisle in August and touching all of the supplies. I just loved school supplies when I was younger.
So you see, you aren't alone. We all have our moments. Thanks for bringing back such great memories today. Feels good.

latibug said...

That child in all of us is always revived at certain times. For me it is with certain smells....especially with perfume that reminds me of my grandmother.


Jay M. said...

Andrew, I think this world would be a much better place if all adults could remember certain moments in their lives that make them feel that way. Imagine the effect if most adults took time out of their day to take a morning walk down to the tracks, close their eyes, and listen to the train rumbling by.

Maybe everyone would be a little less stressed. Less angry. Maybe it would give people a little time to remember what is important in their lives.

Proxima said...

I love to watch trains go by and last summer to my embarassment I was caught "stopping to smell the roses".

"How cute, I didn't know anyone actually did that." said a woman from behind me. I was completely startled, I swear I looked to make sure no one else was around.

Also, if you haven't already seen it, I would recommend renting the movie "The station Agent", I think you would like it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what jay m said. I know lately I feel stuck at the age of 14....Liz aka mosaic mind

M said...

I think there are organized groups of train watchers. It seems to be a popular hobby in Britain from what I can tell of the British television shows I have seen.

I rented this wonderful movie called the Station Agent. It is a small indie film about three kind of lonely, lost people watching trains. Great movie.

When I watch a train go by, I like to look at the graffiti on the cars.(if the train is going slow enough!!)

Corliss said...

Andrew, your enjoying the trains is an innocent and edifying experience for you and your sharing your story inspires an enthusiasm for life that all too often gets squashed and lies dormant in most of us! I would encourage you to not honor every scolding thought that comes along that tries to ruin the enjoyment you get out of this! Your inspirational and heartwarming writing about your experiences is a well-valued gift! Thank you so much!

grad007 said...

I also felt like I never grew up, as if I were a sixteen year old in a thirty-something body. My therapist suggested that this feeling comes from the nature of my relationship with my mother.

Keep up the excellent writing!

Summer said...

I think I'm stuck at around 16. Feeling lost, trying to find my way. Looking for a little Bob Dylan on the radio, hoping for a meaningful song from Peter, Paul and Mary. Wanting to just blow this popsicle stand and head to the beach. What happens to people like us? Do you suppose that when we're 80 we'll feel the same way? That thought makes me smile...

austere said...

Likewise. Much more fun than being austere, stern and serious at forty-something.
Will be the same at sixty, eighty, hundred. So there!
(just like that)

Melanie said...

nothing wrong with liking to be down by the tracks! it's among my daughter's favorite places, although she's really not supposed to ever go down there for reasons i'm sure you can imagine. when i spent my year living in a tent, it was right across the river from a line used many times daily to haul coal through the mountains. it got to the point where i didn't drift off to sleep until i heard those rails singing.