[I did not hit publish on this one lightly. I'm not proud of everything you are about to read. But I own it. It is a part of me, of who I am today.]
I don't remember what year it was. It was 1998 or 1999.
I was back in Pittsburgh, "better" we thought, from a scary depression which had started in March, gone through April, and into May. And now I was back at work, in Pittsburgh, and it was June. The Stanley Cup Finals were about to start.
Innocuously, a co-worker at Fox Books asked me why I was still living in Pittsburgh.* And because I didn't know I was on the verge of a manic spree, I thought the reason must be my ex-boyfriend. All of a sudden, I had an obsession with all things yellow. Post-it notes, the colors on the Newsweek cover that featured Michael Jordan (my ex's hero) and before you could say "crazy like a fox," my shift was over, I was out in the rain, over to Burlington Coat Factory to buy some sneakers, because the weather was iffy and I needed shoes that I could wear if it continued raining. I was chatting up EVERYBODY as I got on a crosstown bus, brandishing my copy of Newsweek, (or was it Sports Illustrated?) telling them that tonight being the first night of the Stanley Cup finals, my ex would be so glad to see me. As I walked towards his apartment, I noticed that his roses needed pruning. I just pushed into his apartment, without even knocking. I suppose if this had happened today, I would have warned him with a text.
He was NOT happy to see me, he was on his way out the door to see someone he was dating. I convinced him to drop me off at a nearby shopping center where there was a Fox Books, not the one I worked at. I remember going into a now defunct restaurant, Abate, where I ate some pizza and watched the game. I talked up the waitress, discovered it was a good place to work, and did everything short of applying for a job. Eventually, I called a friend (this was in the days of pay phones) who came and picked me up just as the Fox Books was closing. I tried the patience of many friends that week, as I unraveled.
Eventually, a few days later, in a not so pretty way, my boss walked me out of the door of the Fox Books where I worked, and said, "don't come back until you are better." I fled again to the South Side, to my boyfriend's apartment. He wasn't home. I thought I could prune his roses. I bought blonde hair dye at a drugstore, almost got run over as I crossed the street, picked up free pamphlets about the Catholic Church in a thrift shop. I was thinking about that thrift shop today, since I no longer own a rosary and find myself a revert to the Catholic Faith. I was an adult convert in 2003, and in 2005, I was at a healing workshop where the Catholic Church was reviled and because I liked carrying my rosary beads in my pocket, they were with me. I threw away my beautiful pink rosary beads in the bathroom trash. Eventually I got rid of the other rosaries I had--one with baby blue plastic beads that a friend had given me in college and one with navy plastic beads that I chose out of Sister Bernadette's box of rosaries. Sister Bernadette was the nun who conducted my RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, how you convert to Catholicism these days.) I couldn't attend the group class because it was on Thursday night, when I worked, so she worked with me individually on Wednesday evenings.
That boyfriend got engaged later that summer, that boss came into my library a few months ago with her husband and brand new foster sons, two brothers. I couldn't tell you who won the Stanley Cup that year. But I can tell you this. The madness I experienced that week was the beginning of my sanity.
Madness is never just madness. It is a way of coping when sanity will no longer do. --Renita Weems
*(It's a vapid hobby of people who don't realize that this town is a
diamond and not so much in the rough, people that have lived here all
their lives and wish they were living in New York City.)
1 week ago