Yesterday, I sat all day in the hot sweltering sun down at the railroad museum next to the tracks watching trains. I did have some shelter and shade from the tall wall behind me as the sun hung lower in the sky as the day progressed. I was all set for a day of train watching. I had sunscreen. I had a little mini cooler of ice cold water. Lots of Model Railroader and Wired! magazines to read while waiting on trains. Plenty of cigarettes. And I had packed a lunch of ham sandwiches, granola bars for snacks, and potato chips. I sat on the bench behind the bank where Ferret would always sleep in the summer when he was homeless years ago. I kept thinking of Ferret as I sat there wondering whatever happened to him. Last I heard, his grandfather had gotten him an apartment and he was on Social Security disability for his mental illnesses. I wonder if he ever got sobered up? He was an irascible drinker. So was I. I could probably out drink Ferret on one of my good days.
My psychiatrist said earlier in the week I needed to try and get out of the house more to overcome my anxiety and agoraphobia, and I took his words to heart. It was a gamble that I might have an anxiety attack, but I soldiered onwards and left the house. I saw many long, varied trains and was overjoyed. I would watch with anticipation as the signal down the tracks would slowly turn from green, to yellow, and then red signaling a train was on the way. I was finally chased away from near the museum when some really big storms blew up which also thrilled my soul. These were some nasty storms yesterday knocking my power out for an hour. The lightning and thunder was almost constant. The rain torrential. My grandmother would call these heat storms and would say it’s “coming up a cloud” at the sound of all that thunder. I was glad I had plenty of Coast to Coast AM shows loaded onto my iPod for that hour of idleness. I noticed a lot of Union Pacific engines yesterday which are usually only seen in the West and Midwest. I wondered if CSX, the railroad that owns the line near my house, had a locomotive exchange program with that railroad. I was lamenting the fact that my camera is still out of action.
“Coffee, baby?” Florene asked me as I sat in her kitchen after all the storms had passed.
You could still hear the rumble of thunder distantly as I sat at the kitchen table. I had driven over to take care of George’s two cars. To crank them and see if they needed gas or their batteries charged. George had written to me in a recent letter from jail pleading with me to be sure and do this for him. He knew I would forget. Both cars needed washing badly, but I just didn’t feel up to all that yesterday.
“I can’t have so much caffeine,” I replied, waving off the mug of hot coffee she had poured for me and handed my way. “I am honestly trying to cut down. Anxiety, you know? I get the nervous jitters.”
Mrs. Florene had just cooked a pot roast she was going to save for Sunday dinner with her sister’s family and it smelled wonderful in her house. She is always cooking it seems. The house also had the wonderful smell of caramelized onions and it made my stomach protest. I was hungry.
“Your lasagna was absolutely fantastic,” I told her trying to make small talk feeling socially awkward without George there. “I ate every last bit of it and Maggie liked it as well.”
“Did you really like it?” Florene asked, beaming with pride as I told her I thought it was some of the best lasagna I had ever eaten.
Last night found me feeling extremely, extremely well. I paced the floor slowly as I watched TV – a nervous throwback from my less than stellar days when I would pace nervously for hours wracked with mental illness. I felt wonderful, but still felt like pacing. My mind works in strange ways sometimes. I watched Medium – a show which I am also growing to love. I would laugh giddily I felt so well as I paced in the den – a stereotypical maniacal madman it seems.
Dad and I took my medications late, late last night. He didn’t arrive until after 10. He was in good spirits and extremely glad to see Maggie.
“Why are you smiling so?” dad asked looking amused as I sat in my Lazy Boy.
“I feel so freakin’ good,” I exclaimed. “That terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach has gone away. I don’t have any anxiety whatsoever.”
Dad looked wary – saying he was wondering if I was on a manic high much like my mother will do. I just smiled and told him I loved him and that I was okay. I just felt good for a change and it was a magical, wonderful thing. We then did Maggie’s food and water ritual. I wish you could see her as we do this. Dad pours out her day old food and refills her bowl with fresh Purina One. I pour out her day old water and refill it with clean. Dad makes sure I pour the water outside and not in the sink saying dog’s stuff doesn’t need to be mixed with people stuff. Maggie watches on, vigorously wagging her tail as we do this – waiting impatiently to eat and drink. She has become spoiled by this little ritual.
I lay in the bed sleepless until 1am last night feeling the effects of my medications coursing through my veins and body. I kept thinking of Kevin “The Homeless Guy” Barbieux and his life. He is such a tortured soul. He seems to spend all his time in McDonald’s using their Wi-Fi to protest modern culture and politics. I feel we have some parallels to our lives in that we were both homeless and mentally ill causing me to feel a lot of empathy for him. He had recently written on Facebook about dismay with his life even though he has a home and an income now – all things he had been trying to obtain after decades of homelessness. “Can some people never be happy?” I thought. “Am I like that?” I don’t mean to be that way. I can be happy most times when my mental illness allows me to be so. I am very appreciative of all I have. A wonderful house. A car. My Mag dawg. Plenty of good food to eat. The Internet. Alcoholics Anonymous. I have all the basics for a good life covered. The only thing lacking is a more vibrant and active social life which I would probably complain about if it got too active.