Her baseball cap hung low over her brow with her hair pulled up underneath. She was sitting next to me on the bench. She was dressed in a very old and faded Sponge Bob Squarepants t-shirt and some faded blue jean shorts. She looked just like Rosa always does.
"Tell me more about your past and your illness," she asked, drinking her soda and smoking a cheap cigarillo.
"Well," I replied, "when I was married, I would just disappear into the woods for weeks and live homeless."
"You're shitting me," Rosa said.
"Rachel would drive way out into the country, find me, and coerce me into coming home. I wouldn't take my medications then."
"What did you eat?"
"I lived mainly on beer, beef jerky and freeze dried meals. I would pump water through a filter out of the pond to drink."
"I can't imagine you doing stuff like that now. You are so responsible," Rosa said as she scoffed.
"I think about it every day," I replied. "I want to walk out my backdoor with my big backpack on and just disappear, leaving my life behind. I have to fight the urge."
The sky had grown overcast, threatening rain. I grabbed Rosa's hand to pull her up and urged her to walk home with me.
"You know what I would always dream of when I was homeless?" Rosa asked as we walked.
"What?" I replied.
"I would dream of a nice husband, two story house, a car in the garage, and kids. I would get clean for a day with those dreams in mind and would find myself smoking my pipe by the end of the day, fucked up and broke."
"Addictions can rob us of so much."
"They robbed me of getting to see my little girl grow up," Rosa said. "Momma raised her while I was out partying and fucking around."
"We need a magic pill," I then told Rosa, "a pill that cures my schizophrenia and alcoholism. I want a normal life."
"But you wouldn't be you!" Rosa exclaimed.
"Yeah, you are probably right," I replied, but it wasn't much solace or comfort.
I am still searching for that elusive magic pill, but the cynical side of me knows it will never come. It is far more profitable to treat mental illness and addiction than to cure it. Whole industries would wither and die without them for we live in the land of the almighty dollar. Until then, I will take comfort in my friends and the support groups that have come to mean so much to me. And there is always today for we must take life one day at a time – a mantra I have come to live by.