I can show you sadder poetry
Than you ever dreamed there could be.
I know all the saddest people
Most of them are dead now.
– The Magnetic Fields, Save a Secret for the Moon
This town is full of horrible pain. The dying junkies sit with their dogs and line the sidewalks, offering nothing in exchange for the spare change and cigarettes they desire. Wild-eyed tweakers scream at passing cars and are run off by the sudden and inevitable appearance of sleek black cop cars. My kin, my fellows in schizo, mumble and duck their heads as they board the city buses…they don’t have phones so they can only hope for chance meetings with their friends as they travel with no destination in mind. And here I sit, privileged but knowing.
My friends are hurting now too. I know their problems, their official diagnoses and addictions and horrible family-of-origin stories. I get frantic emails, the random guy from Tinder doesn’t want to see them again, their cat’s died, their kid is violent and got expelled from school. I sat on the patio last night, trying to get fresh air while my panic attack subsided and this skinny teenage girl approached me. She was apologetic.
“I live in D7,” she said to me, “I got locked out, is there anyway I could plug this in for a moment?” She had one of those portable asthma machine things, I don’t know what it’s called.
She was red-faced, gasping for breath. She had no shoes, just a pair of wooly legwarmers in the 80 degree heat. Her legs were a mess of self-mutilation wounds, slashes of angry red lines everywhere, all up and down from ankle to hip. I plugged in her machine in the outlet beside the door, she loaded it up with a tube with a prescription label on it and sat quietly, sucking on the mouthpiece.
“Do you need me to call someone for you?” I asked. She shook her head, reaching into the pocket of her shorts and pulling out her phone. She held it up to show me. “I can go to the office,” I said, “They might be able to bring a key.”
“My mom’s on her way. She went to get me more medication,” she told me. I sat next to her. “You promise you’ll be all right?”
She nodded. Geoff came home; we soothed the cat as the girl headed home.
I got an email from a friend who said she thought she was dying, that she had aneurysms in her heart and they might explode and that’s why she’s been behaving so erratically lately.
And I sighed, swallowed my Serax and lay down on the bed. I stared at the little bottle of letrozole on my nightstand. Is this what I’m meant for? I’ve been plagued with deep philosophical thoughts: maybe the reason I’ve been through so much is that I’m here on Earth to help these sick and hurting people. Maybe that’s my job, and why I’ll never have a baby.
“Leave this town. Just gtfo,” my therapist had said to me, before leaving for her annual August vacation.
I close my eyes, feeling Geoff’s presence next to me. I’m not completely alone, and for that I’m grateful. With thoughts of existentialism swimming through my head, I fell asleep.