I came up the stairs from the 36th street trolley stop and walked towards 3535 Market, where I needed to get some paperwork signed. As I walked down 36th street with my headphones on I noticed, for the first time, there was a florist’s shop on the corner. I’ll get myself some nice houseplants on the way back, I thought. My plants at home were either dead or withering from overwatering, possibly. Well two of them were fine, the ones that were a gift from the 2008 Peer Specialist class in North Carolina that I had trained. They had been with me through thick and thin, those plants. And the little cacti were OK. Anyway, I continued to walk down 36th St, expecting to see the candy and nut man on the corner across from 3535 Market. My mouth watered in my imagination, as my imagination anticipated biting into a sugar-coated spearmint gummy taken from a little plastic baggie full of such spearmint gummies. But no such luck. He wasn’t there. I entered 3535 Market and rode the elevator up to Penn Behavioral Health on the 2nd floor. I walk through the familiar frosted doors.
“Hi. I have paperwork for Dr. Baldassanno. She’s expecting me. I said I’d be here between 9.30am-10am. Thanks.” The time is now 9.50am. I sit in the waiting room on the chairs with the golden-copper cushiony-ness. The t.v. is blaring in front of me, up on the wall corner. Some hideous show is on. I realize that it is the show my boss is always talking about when she introduces herself: “I’m Wendy Williams, not from the t.v. show.” I never knew what she was talking about. And there I was watching the Wendy Williams t.v. show. How ironic, or maybe synchronistic, as I was there at the psychiatrist’s office to fill out a form so I could return to work. I put on my headphones. About 30 minutes pass. Dr. Baldassano comes into the waiting room through the frosted doors with something from what looks like a Wawa snack in her hands, sees me, acknowledges me and the need for her to fill out paperwork for me. I point her to the receptionist who has my paperwork. She goes back to her office. Awhile passes. The receptionist finally comes to me with the form and returns to her station. I look over it, and of course there is a mistake. My date to return to work 3/1 /12 was filled out by the receptionist on the line that says “cannot return to work from:”. Argh. I go back to the receptionist, she whites it out and puts it on the right line.
“Thanks!” I say. And I finally leave with this doctored looking form (signed by a doctor!), some of it in my handwriting, some of it in Dr. Baldassano’s handwriting, some of it in the receptionist’s handwriting, some of it not filled out completely, white-out. Awesome!
As I am walking back I grumble to myself. Dr. Baldassano, who I hadn’t seen in 2 months since our brief encounter just now, is responsible for verifying that I can return to work. She completely missed my most intense altered state which I was in for over 2 weeks. She didn’t see the state I was in the in the hospital recently. And she hasn’t seen me recovering. She barely even talked to me today. I mean it’s good she signed the form, but it just doesn’t make any sense. What a stupid bureaucracy.
Grumble, grumble, grumble. I make my way to the plant store and buy two plants from a very pleasant lady with a thick accent. One she calls a snake plant, though it is labeled a, “tropical”, but it does look like a snake. The other is an African Violet, my mom’s favorite. I am so happy with these plants. These plants are so beautiful and perfect. I meander onto Locust Walk of Penn’s campus and my mind is flooded with memories as I walk. Like the time Alex and I went to see the author of Maus at Kelly Writer’s House but it was too crowded and we didn’t have a reservations or something? The time I was making out naked with my boyfriend Lincoln at Civic House, the student social justice center there, and we almost got caught.! (That was 10 years ago!) Memory after memory after memory. My music on my mp3 player also seem to dictate the pace and pattern of people walking. As I listen to “Fuck the Police”, people are afraid of my rebellious nature, and the crowd thins around me.
And then for some reason, my mind thinks I want to eat at Qdoba. I never want to eat at Q’doba. But I know there’s one nearby. And I can visualize myself sitting at the cushy booth. I keep walking, and straight up ahead, and there in the horizon is Q’doba. I didn’t know it would be directly in front of me. OK. It’s still kind of early. But I could go for some nachos? Hmmm….Doesn’t sound very healthy. I get to the door. It’s opening at 11am, in another 10 minutes. What can I do for 10 minutes? Window shop at the Natural Shoe Store? Eat something else at the Greek Lady or Fresh Grocer? Looks at books at Last Word? Nah, not in the mood to look at books. Nothing seems to be open anyway. I go back to Q’doba, turn around, and there’s the fruit stand I like. Maybe I was actually meant to get some fruit. Maybe I’ll get an apple. But I need something that doesn’t involve washing off the pesticides. Maybe I could peel and eat an orange. I get to the stand. Oh blueberries. Yes, I had ran out of blueberries for myself as I had set them out at Andrew’s surprise party. You know what I really want. A banana. Yes that is exactly want I want. Ohmigod this is perfect. PERFECT. All I wanted was a banana. This is the best thing that could have happened to me. As I’m eating this perfect banana, sitting on the bench on Penn Campus, I sent out the text that said, “Following my intuition is magical” first to Will, then to Andrew, then to David (even though I had a little hesitation that I didn’t understand, sending it to David), three influential men in my life right now, my therapist, my boyfriend, and my mindfulness coach. I get up and start walking. Which way should I go. Follow your intuition. OK. And I’m walking. I’m walking to the beat of the music. I have so much energy. I want to run. Run with this energy. But I’d look silly running in this fancy coat. I want to dance. I switch the song to “Everybody Dance Now”. I walk faster and faster. You know what I’m going to walk to the Rotunda. I had e-mailed someone about ecstatic dance there after I saw a flyer. It wasn’t up and running then. But they had mentioned the late morning as a possibility. The more I walked toward the Rotunda the more determined I was to have it have ecstatic dance there. I bet it’ll be there. If not OK, but I bet it will be there. Everybody Dance Now! Then as I’m chasing after ecstatic dance, this guy runs into me, right before I reach the Rotunda: Remember me? I’m James. I used to work at Consumer Satisfaction Team and am a Peer Specialist. I remember you, you’re a trainer for the Peer Specialist Initiative. I’ve seen you around a bunch. We talk. He recently was released from the hospital. (How is that random Peer Specialists I don’t remember right away always end up in my altered states?). In December he had gotten out. I tell him I was recently released on February 17. He wonders if Consumer Satisfaction team keeps track of the number of people like us who are hospitalized. He asks me where I work now. The Department of Behavioral Health, I tell him. He now goes to Chestnut Place Clubhouse and receives housing and mental health services from the Consortium. Both places I’m familiar with because I work in the field. I walk with him to the post office and say goodbye.
On to the Rotunda! Get there.- “The Rotunda is Closed”. Darn. Continue walking. I’ll find the next thing. Put on my headphones. Follow my intuition. David texts back. I can tell he’s worried. I’m worried too. I’ve been following my bliss a little too much. I’m worried now. I ground myself by clenching my fists and ripping my headphones off. OK. Just walk and find something that will ground you. I’m tired all of the sudden. I enter into a café. Café Clave. I order a seltzer and a black bean and platano empanada. I flirt with the barista. I scarf it down. I order a tamale. I scarf it down. I pretend to read the Tao of Psycholology: Synchronicity and the Self, but I don’t have the concentration. Will texts me back, “Yaayyyy!” We text back and forth. I tell him sometimes it’s better to wait then follow your intuition or your bliss or magic or God for that matter. I had been lala land. My feet had been flying. Who knows where I would end up in the magical state of oblivion. He texts back, “Ah yes –waiting is following too! Keeping feet on ground important for flying—” I can’t help but find this endearingly cute. It makes sense too.
Austin who I’ve been coordinating with to hang out today arrives at the cafe. It’s so good to see him. And once again, all is good now.