Monday, October 29, 2007

Sleepless in the Valley

Couldn't sleep tonight.  Restless, I awoke at 2 AM and set out for my morning walk.  Soon, I was down at the train tracks as a big CSX freight went roaring and clamoring by.  I noticed the beauty of a street light across the way as it faded in and out between the railcars as they passed.  The aural ambiance of the train was also appealing -- sounding like a rhythmic, metal drum beat. Was also startled by a big man wearing an even bigger backpack with a big black lab dog in tow.

"Got a cigarette?" he asked. seeing me smoking.

"Sure," I said and handed him a little cigar as I shook his rough and leathery hand.

He was a traveling man dressed in a heavy green woolen coat and tattered jeans, and said he and his dog had walked all over the South.  He was in search of work, was headed for Atlanta, and was looking for the road to LaGrange, Georgia just up the highway thirty miles away.

"Take highway 29 and it will take you all the way to Atlanta through LaGrange," I told him. "It is safer than the interstate."

"Do you know of any odd jobs around here?" he then asked.

"I wish I did," I said. "I would be working one of them."

People live such strange lives.  Here I was hanging out down at the rail yard past midnight, and this strange fellow comes up to me asking for a cigarette.  He was living a life I would like to try, but I am unsure if Maggie would be so obedient on a leash. I was worried about where he would sleep for the night.

"There is a great little motel just up the road," I told him with memories of when me and my girlfriend would stay there in high school in my more sexually active days. "Twenty bucks a night."

"Thanks," he said pulling on his cigar as he spurred his dog on and walked off towards Atlanta. 

It made me feel so lonely seeing him on that empty road headed for places unknown. It would be so scary just to strike out on your wits like that.  Never knowing where you will sleep or where your next 20 bucks will come from. I admired that rough hewn looking fellow. People never cease to amaze me. There seems to be an underclass in America that is rarely seen or talked about, but they exist.

Last night my father came by to give me my medications as is typical for us.  We talked for a long time about my side effects and my schizophrenia -- my father being the consummate pharmacist and arm chair physician.

"What is your biggest side effect?" my father asked.

"Sexual dysfunction," I replied. "You know it is normal for men to relieve themselves regularly and I haven't done so for ages.  I have no desire for sex, whatsoever. I probably haven't wanted sex in a year. It used to would drive Rosa crazy. I haven't even looked at porn in forever."

"But you've done so well on these medications," he said pleading my medication's case. He fears I will quit taking them because of the side effects.  "You've done better than you have for years."

I sometimes grow aggravated with the eagerness with which my father forces these medications upon me. It is almost pathological.  I am supposed to ignore the side effects and act as if everything is hunky dory. Never rock the boat in my family.

"Compliance," I replied. "It is because you are giving them to me and I am taking them on a regular basis.  I never could take pills on a schedule."

My father was also watching the replay of the Auburn game on television.  Auburn scored and he jumped up and cheered loudly.  Football is serious business in my family. Maggie grew excited and started to jump up and down at my father's lap. I smiled at the pair.

"You've really done so well this past year," my father finally said, sitting back down. "I am so proud of you."

I beamed with pride.  There is nothing like your father heaping praise upon you.  Especially when you've lived an interesting existence such as I.  I gave dad a long hug and then walked him to the door.  He had made my night.  I resisted the urge to ask him for access to my money again fearing it would instill anger in my father.

The night ended talking to Annabel on the phone.  She has such a mid-western accent and I know I sound so Southern.  We talked about our days and she told me all about her job and what she does.  I was so excited to be able to talk to her being very lonely last night.  I really needed a friend and she was there.  I can be kind of aloof when talking on the phone, but seemed to handle last night's conversation well.  I felt so at ease with her.  Thank you, Annabel.

Today is my job interview at 9 AM.  I am already so nervous wondering what that manager of Burger King will ask me. "Mental illness?" Yes, I have a disability. "Sorry, we can't hire you. You would be liability."  I have so many scenarios swimming around in my head.  Tomorrow, I go talk to my therapist for an hour and can't wait to get to talk to her.  I have so much to share and tell.  It has been a busy week.   


Summer said...

Good luck today!

mapiprincesa! said...

Thinking of you...and yes, we all suffer those sleepless nights as well, for all our different reasons. Must say, I hate them.

Cheryl said...

Was it frosty this morning? It's in the 30's here, the coldest morning yet. Emily woke me up looking for her coat. Brrr. It felt good sleeping under my blanket.

Best of luck today. Interviews are always nerve-wracking.

Jenn said...

Good luck!!

justLacey said...

I was up at 3:30 myself. Will be a lonnnng day here.


like I've written before but what is it about us that yearns for that acceptance from our parents?

I have to say the comment you said in your post about the "underclassmen" is so dead on...they are forgotten they want to be forgotten? Or is that just what happens when people stop caring about them?
It makes me want to cry.

I'm glad that you had someone to chat're lucky to have Annabel!!ha..midwestern accent..we have accents? what do we sound like? :)

Annabel said...

You're very welcome. I will try to call more often.

Portia said...

what a great post! i loved the story about the big man and his big dog:) i used to know a lot of people like that - not quite as nomadic - but they seem to just survive and float around, kind of like free spirits. bartering to get by, moving from friend's to friend's, and then making more friends. they never have a car but the ones i knew always seemed to have a buzz;) it is interesting, the choices we make.
it was good to hear about your good connections with your father and Annabel:)