He stood on his hands in the hospital hallway and I knew. This is my person. This is my missing half.
He absolutely intrigued me. He was more skinny than trim. He had short dark hair and sparse whiskers on his chin and cheeks.
We were both patients at the psychiatric facility. I threw myself at him.
I had been at the hospital longer than most. Other patients came and were discharged shortly after. I was certain that I was going to have a seizure. Moved my mattress to the floor. Refused medicine. Taken to court to be forced to take medicine.
I was angry with my mom. She would drive for hours to see me at visitation and I would refuse to see her.
So back to this boy. He was set to be discharged before I even had a date set. I gave him a letter to send to a friend once he was on the outside. I wanted to leave with him. I wanted to jump the fence and jump into his step dad’s truck and live happily ever after.
When I got my release date, I did leave with him. He drove with his step dad to pick me up. We headed to Ypsilanti in the truck. I did not tell my family where I was going.
The boy lived in a one-story home across the street from a big park and a lake. He had a mattress on the floor with a large stain and sheets that did not fit (or match). There were two dogs. There was a reptile that he fed mice.
I told the boy about fracturing my skull during welcome week at the University of Michigan.
“The doctor said if I hit my head any closer to the temple, I would be dead.”
I touched my temple and felt my skull and felt the groove left from the injury. I cried about it for the first time.
I stared up at the boy’s ceiling and pictured the floral murals that I would paint. I walked through the park to the dock over the water and pictured myself, the bride, reaching my groom to say our vows on that dock.
I woke up while the boy slept and picked up pieces of debris from the floor, not knowing if they were trash or something he would try to smoke.
I stood in the shower with him and was mesmerized by him. My King David.
The boy and I talked about buying a trailer and starting our life together.
I was assigned a case manager from a community mental health clinic. He came to review where I was staying. I did not know how to get to appointments.
My mom and step father and grandparents came to Ypsilanti to extract me. I went into the bathroom after my grandfather and there was urine all over the seat. I spat on my grandmother as she tried to reach me. They took me to the University of Michigan Psychiatric ER. I informed the staff that I was not wearing underwear.
I refused to leave the next psychiatric inpatient hospital with my family. Going home with him to Ypsilanti.
The boy and I took a Greyhound from Ann Arbor to Minneapolis. My beautiful apartment in Minnetonka was hot. It looked exquisite — the same windows, french doors and West Elm furniture I had abandoned in 2012 when I left with my mom and started my short-term medical leave in Michigan.
My car in the garage below the building was unrecognizable under a layer of dust and dirt. The boy and I drove it back filled with what we could fit. We were rear ended and decided not to exchange information. We drove back through Chicago. Met my brother and step-father for a meal and kept going.
My mother applied for guardianship. I was staying with my grandparents for a night when I was told court was the next day, not the next week. I borrowed my grandmother’s clothes for the hearing.
I sat next to my mother in the packed probation court courtroom. I had nothing to say to her. I was angry, still angry. We sat waiting our turn. One case after another was called while we sat.
My mother had a document with her. She said if I signed it we could leave. The document stated her terms if I wanted to leave and not go forward with the guardianship. One of the terms was to leave Ypsilanti and not return.
I signed it.
The boy called. He said he wanted to marry me. He sent messages to my mother. Eventually he stopped.
The journey back to myself, it turned out, was farther and harder than going to Ypsilanti with the boy in his dad’s truck.
I learned the hard way no boy could save me or make me happy. It took more than a decade to realize and then internalize that healing and happiness would be the fruits of my own labor and perserverance.