...The next day I also saw my doctor again. This time he crushed my hopes of getting out early and going to the Babyland show I had been waiting since August for. I got really upset at this, because he claimed a concert wouldn't help my "recovery" or "stabilisation". I got furious, and told him that doctors were a curse and that Dr. Olowin was the devil. He laughed at me and made the nurse come in and take me to my room. I started screaming at him and calling him a bastard and everyone on unit heard me screaming and crying, even though the nurses put me in my room. Later, they approached me with wide eyes, asking what exactly it was that my doctor had done to make me scream like that. I told them that my doctor was making me miss a concert I had been looking forward to since August. The girls I roomed with all agreed that this was a good enough reason to scream. The staff probably thought I was off the deep end. We had a pretty tame night, and we watched the Final Fantasy movie, which I hadn't seen before.
When we woke up the next morning, Jessica A. was very excited because it was a possibility that she would leave that day. I tried to be happy for her, but the fact that she was leaving and she'd only been there a day before me made me feel like a caged animal, and I hated that feeling. I smiled and wished her luck. My stomach dropped to the ground. Lori took it especially hard when Jessica A. left because she'd been there for six days and had seen four people come and go already. After we got out of Creative Therapy we went back to our room and Jessica�s bed was bare, and she had left the "I Love You" balloon that her parents had brought her on my bed, and the flowers that she brought on Lori�s nightstand. This was sweet and lovely, but still made us very sad. That was a quiet day. That was also the day Marina came. I hadn't been on the ward long enough to eat in the cafeteria with the rest of the kids because I was still on Eval, and when I came down the hall to go into the Day Room to eat dinner, I saw a girl with green hair standing there. She had bangs and two ponytails on the sides of her head and the rest was shaved. One of the staff people saw me introduce myself to her and said, "See, this is the girl I told you about. Y'all is friends already."
Why is it that adults always assume that like will only attract like? She could have been a Gap salesperson and I still would have introduced myself. True, haircolour has always been an effective conversation starter, but that�s not why we became friends. She was fourteen and had overdosed on Neurontin. We ate together and I introduced her to Lori. Lori and I both agreed that she should be put in our room because it was too empty in there. Of course, their initial reaction was, "Yeah, right."
After a few days, Marina and I were off of Eval, and were allowed to go and eat in the cafeteria. I was scared to eat in front of Lori, because she never liked the food, and though it wasn't tasty, I still ate. Just because it was there to do, and because I didn't want to get slapped with the label of having an eating disorder. Some days, we were all really hungry, and others we could do with eating nothing. We were all on heavy sleeping meds by that time too, but were still awakened nightly by the staff who guffawed loudly, blared the radio, danced, and yelled at ungodly hours, when we were supposed to be resting. If we got out of bed to complain about the noise, we'd get in trouble and our hopes of leaving would get pushed out further. We all had headaches in the mornings. Whether it was the meds, the yelling, the harsh lights, no one could be sure. We'd complain to the day staff about the night staff, and vice versa. Sometimes they would tell us that they would talk to their opposing staff in order to make our voices heard, and other times we were told to get over it.
Saturday night, I was steaming because I was going to miss the Babyland concert because of my cunt doctor, and one of the nurses who was leading our afternoon group said, "I'm excited because I get to go to a costume party, but y'all have nothing to be excited about �cos you ain't going anywhere."
"That�s not our fault," protested Marina.
"Yeah it is!" The nurse said, "Y'all are the ones that put y'all selves in here." And then she cackled. She was cruel and tactless, and I didn't see her after that. I was only there for three other days, but I hope she got fired, or was put on a different unit. You don't remind prisoners that they are prisoners. They will snap.
Saturday was also the day that Adrienne came. Tall and beautiful, and bitter and angry at the situation, she didn't have much to say at first. She and Marina were moved into our room, and the four of us were the happiest of the bunch. Lori and I discovered that we could stick artwork and other papers that we wanted to decorate our room with to the walls with toothpaste. It made everything stick wonderfully, and made our room smell minty and look pretty. It was starting to look more like a college dorm room that the room of a looney bin.
In all of our boredom, Lori and I also found that you could fit inside the armoires, if you curled yourself up carefully. We both crawled in there and closed the doors, and then came out after reading the graffiti on the inside. "We should actually hide in them sometime when the staff is doing checks," I said, with a grin.
Lori nodded, but you could see in her eyes that she was in her own little world. No matter how big she smiled, she still had that look of distance in her eyes. It was sad and a bit scary. I could never know what was going on in that head of hers.
Since the four of us always hung out, and there was a shortage of single rooms and showers anyway, they put Adrienne and Marina in mine and Lori�s room and it was a big party from there on. Since the four of us were now roomies and did everything together anyways, we created a sound-off:
I would say: "Kawasaki!"
And then Lori would follow with: "Walkie-Talkie!"
Marina would follow that with: "Let�s get chalky!"
And Adrienne would finish it up with, "Dr. Aki!"
As soon as we had all become used to doing this sound-off, (which was about ten minutes after we created it) we'd do it to every nurse who'd get close enough. We also wrote our individual parts of it on the ceiling above our beds. Our sound off rang through the halls through out the course of Sunday. Everyone�s meds were working, and we were all less antsy and more happy, treating the hospital as though it were one giant slumber party rather than a prison.
This pissed off the night staff because that meant that we were all trying to give each other hugs and high-fives, and that wasn't allowed. There was no physical contact of any sort allowed on the ward. There was also no smoking, but that was easier to deal with than no touching. If someone was crying her eyes out, we weren't allowed to go hug that person or hold their hand. Kenneth, one of the evening nurses, had just gotten through yelling at us, saying that if he caught one more person touching another, he'd give us all room programs, which meant that they would put us in our rooms and not let us come out, and we'd have to eat our food in there. In mine, Lori�s, Adrienne�s and Marina�s case, this wasn't a bad thing, because as long as we all shared a room, any punishment could easily become a party. After he gave us his whole schpiel about how terrible it was that we touched each other, I raised my hand and said, "Kenneth, I have just one thing to say... KAWASAKI!" I heard the girls giggle behind me.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Teriyaki." Kenneth said. We thought that was genius. We hadn't yet thought of teriyaki. Later on in the night, a girl named Michelle who I was quite fond of got her seat stolen by a girl named Ashley, who I wasn't so fond of. Michelle made an angry face at Ashley and said, "Teriyaki!" Ashley moved. Michelle sat next to me, looked at me and said, "Teriyaki? Chicken? Micken!"
By the end of the night, we had the whole ward speaking in rhyme. It was magnificent.
The no-touching aspect of the ward was especially annoying when I had visitors. Stefan and Aaron came to see me and they put us in the day room on separate couches. "Sit in there and talk, but don't touch each other," the head nurse said, as she fervently tried to dial my mother�s number to see if it was ok that two post-adolescent males had come to visit me. My mom said it was fine but they still imposed their stupid rules on us.
It was even worse when Lindsay came to visit me, a bundle of roses in hand. "You're not 21," they told her. "And we don't supervise visits."
She got that angry Lindsay look on her face that meant hell was about to burst forth and the flames would engulf all that stood in her path, and then I poked my head out of my room. I called to her and she got this really sad look on her face when she saw me. I had to ask to give her a hug, and the people behind the desk took the roses away to be investigated for any contraband before they gave them back to me. They gave us all of three minutes to talk, and then they sent her away. It was infuriating. You'd think a visitor would be therapeutic. Apparently not.
One morning, since we were all awake as usual because of the noisy night staff, Lori and I decided that we should all hide. Marina went into the bathroom, Adrienne went into the shower, and Lori and I went into our armoires. Through the cracks, I saw the head nurse come in, and then stop dead where she was. She went back and turned on the lights, and her breathing came faster... Why were there four empty beds? She opened the bathroom door, and Marina was sitting in there on a chair, and Adrienne poked her head out of the shower. I heard the head nurse say, "Oh, there you are Adrienne and Marina..."
She didn't ask where Lori and I were. She looked around the room again, and then I heard the other armoire door slide in its track.
I heard the head nurse yell, "Lori! Get out of there! RIGHT NOW!" Then I opened my armoire and looked at the nurse with a grin on my face. She didn't think it was funny. She yelled at me too. She stormed out of the room, and when Selam, an aide who we were quite fond of came in to give us our towels, she was knocked out of the way by the head nurse who had gone to get another nurse to lecture us. We had to listen to two mid-forties women yell at us on a Sunday morning about how it wasn't funny at all that we hid, because they take escapes very seriously.
We tried reasoning with them: "It�s Sunday," we said. "Let�s keep it light. It was a game, a prank. Don't you think it�s funny at all?" They didn't.
Selam liked us. She smiled and shook her head. I think it was because of her that we didn't get punished. She took our money and snuck us candy during quiet time. With her help, all the girls in my room ate three bags of M&M�s apiece and had a wonderful sugar high on Sunday night.
Sunday, though it was spent in a prison with a bunch of other troubled people, was one of the best days I�ve had in a long time. Lori made a poster that said all of our names on it and had the sound-off written in the middle. By each of our names, there was a different coloured star. Mine was blue, Lori�s was black, Adrienne�s was yellow, and Marina�s was pink. Thinking about that day will always make me happy. It also helped that it was my last night there. The air danced with the medicine induced love and happiness, and the high spirits that were partly sugar and partly just loving life. That night we all had trouble falling asleep, and the next morning we didn�t wake up to the noisy night staff. We all had trouble getting up, but were still happy.
My doctor came, and he signed the papers for me to leave, and called my mother. I went up to say goodbye to Lori, who had been there with me the whole time, and I felt so bad leaving her, though I was excited to go. I was allowed to give her a hug. I gave Jessica B. a hug, because I had become very fond of her. She was this beautiful Phillipino girl from San Francisco who was confused about life, and never had anything bad to say. If we spoke of people fighting with other people based purely on aesthetic differences, she would cry.
"It makes me sick," she�d say. "I can�t stand that people fight! Why can�t everyone just love each other?! I need to leave, I can�t hear this..." and with that, she had a nurse escort her to the Quiet Room so that she could calm down.
I said goodbye to Marina and Adrienne, and left my address with them, and when my mom came to get me I felt weak in the knees. Was I ready to handle the outside? And if not, would I be able to survive in the hospital until I was ready? I held my breath and packed my things. I didn�t want to talk, but all my mom wanted me to do was tell her everything. When I left, I left the "I Love You" balloon on Lori�s bed, along with the hospital polaroid of me (she wanted it, and she had Ivey�s as well), and a rose. I left a rose on Marina�s and Adrienne�s pillows as well, and I left the lyrics to "Watch TV" posted on my wall. I wrote them a goodbye letter, and then I was out of there.
The natural light of the outside made me squint and I didn�t speak as I loaded my things into the back of the Durango. Was I going to cry? Did I have any strength left in me? I held my breath.
As soon as the hospital was out of eyeshot, I took a deep breath and my shaking hands stilled. All at once, I was a flurry of words, and stories, and sighs of relief. We went to Safeway, and the outside seemed so barren and forbidden. I wanted to touch everything, I wanted to pick sharp things up and hold them.
My mom took me out to lunch at Fresh Choice and I heaved a satiated sigh as I took my last bite at the table. Never again would I let myself far as fall as I must have to land myself in the looney bin. On the ride home, I closed my eyes, relaxed, and savoured the sounds of the CD that was on the stereo. I was on the outside. This was truly where I belonged. And for the first time in a long while, I felt happy. Truly happy.