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Black and White
You want to know what it's like? How it feels? How the world smells and sounds and looks?
Smells? No smells.
Everything is unnaturally quiet.
All I can hear is the darkness of my room.
What can I feel? This. This is what I feel.
But what is it that "this" is? What is it that I'm feeling?
I can feel my back pressed up against the door and the hard wood floor I'm curled up on.
I can feel each individual vein, pulsing beneath my skin,
Every tightened muscle,
The combination of hot and cold,
Tension clashing with relief.
I go through these feelings, one by one, slowly in my head; finish, then start over again.
Each new cycle of emotions beginning with the most prominent feeling...
The skin on my hips and the piece of salvation clutched in my hand; cold and hard.
The pavement under my feet is dark and damp; it must have rained last night, I was just in too much of a frenzy to notice. Did we really park so darn far away? The walk up to that small white building seems to take forever; I'm falling backwards with each step I take. We have to buzz ourselves in so someone will come open the door, then they lock it behind us. The memories of that first day are short and choppy; being shuffled from one exam room to the next, signing piles of paperwork, getting blood drawn and having tests run. All of my obedient actions are due to the fact that I've switched myself to Autopilot. Simply walking where they tell me to walk, doing what they tell me to do, and staring back with blank eyes.
I can’t believe I’m here. This place goes against my every want with its pure and silent insanity, presented with a smile. A place created for those of us who have turned to this, seeking light through a sickeningly dark window.
The admission process takes five hours, despite the assurance every hour or two that, “it will only be a few more minutes". After that comes my ride up to the big white building that's obnoxiously visible to anyone that drives by. I am taken unwillingly into a van along with three strangers who were told to watch my every move; all my belongings were now theirs; now a prisoner of my own fate.
In the doors and up the elevator; level three. A ride that I would now be taking, down and then back up again, four times a day.
You’re dragging me back down, breaking these borrowed wings.
Now through another pair of locked doors, only accessible with an employee badge slid through a scanner. We're let into a relatively large room with pale yellow walls and windows letting in light, giving off a seemingly peaceful atmosphere. On one end of the room is a counter attached to a fridge with a table not too far away. On the other lies a collection of couches and chairs placed around a big screen TV. A girl, the only one in the room other than me, walks in from the hallway to my left. She's the kind that would make an adult uneasy; black hair, black clothes, black nail polish, black eyeliner, black, black, black. Not only did she simply appear dark, but she had that look to her that would make any person passing by suspicious. She goes over to one of the chairs, only a few feet from where I stand. As she sits down, she pulls out...knitting. Are you kidding me? KNITTING? I just stand there, staring at this girl who could clearly kick my butt if she wanted to, knitting. She looks up and smiles, making me realize how visibly awkward and out of place I feel. "Do you want me to show you how?” she gestures to the string and needles in her hands. "Uh...sure.” it comes out as more of a question than an answer. I sit down and she exchanges the usual pleasantries required when meeting a new person, "Hey, I'm Cassidy, I'm 17. It must look pretty weird that I'm knitting, but trust me, within three or four days, you'll be addicted. We all are. Oh, and I'm here for attempted suicide, mainly schizophrenia though. I tried to do things to people in their sleep; how about you?"
I'm here for no more than five minutes and I already know a violent suicidal schizophrenic. Well then, this is going to be interesting…
My throat begins to tighten. I've gone too long.
Too long feeling fuzzy around the edges, like a broken TV screen when all you see is gray.
With shaking hands I fumble through my pockets, my bag, ANYWHERE. A voice, probably what remains of my rationality, mocks me. "It's been what, half an hour? And you're already stumbling around, trying to find a rope, a ledge, anything to hold onto? Ha! Pathetic."
I shrug it off, brushing it away like an annoying fly, buzzing in my ear. My frantic search resumes.
My conscience continues to nag, throwing a shadow on my thoughts. Because such an immeasurable amount of freedom often results in blindness; sending you over the edge, oblivious to the fall.
I soon find out that the reason for the deserted feel to this place is due to the fact that everyone else is across the street at the gym. At five o'clock they return, heightening my anxiety. They walk through the door and almost instantly congregate towards me, reminding me of an exhibit at the zoo with the parents scolding their kids for sticking their fingers in the bars of the cages. It dawns on me that I soon will adopt their pathetic excitement in someone new coming in; providing a temporary moment of change and amusement in this quiet little environment provided for them.
I'll spare you the details of that first day, not because they're particularly explicit or offensive, but purely because I remember every single thing about it, and I don't intend on boring you to death. After that one day, the rest just became blurred together; a general memory composed of late nights, an embarrassing number of Disney movies, long talks, knitting, no cigarette breaks, and watching the biggest snowstorm of the winter with our noses pressed to the window (I told you, the people there jump at the littlest chance of excitement, even watching tiny white flakes drifting from the sky). The most entertainment of each day was getting our vitals taken in the morning. The only thing we had to look forward to, and knew was to come.
So where in this place does the "journey" come from? Surprisingly, it's born from the little things. A fourteen year old sat across the table from me. I look at her face, reflecting an innocent sadness; the purity of it causes me to stop taking notes and write about her…
A little girl,
Sitting there with a dusky shade of hair and a tainted view of the world,
amid a haze of blackened faces, burnt at the edges.
Angels are everywhere, hidden in broken faces,
You just have to look.
Maybe it’s going such a long time isolated from what got you there in the first place; finding sisters in two girls that you didn't even know a few weeks ago. Laughing as we walked outside, holding sticks between our two fingers and bringing them to our lips, simply for the need to have some sort of action that mirrored our mutual bad habit.
And happiness? Happiness comes in hand with smiles, and we shared plenty of those.
So hey, maybe we did find happiness.
However, the journey actually begins once you're kicked to the curb and abruptly dropped back into the real world.
Once I was home, I still had my disdain for the experience in general, left with the lack of desire to change. The only thing keeping me under control was the loyalty to my new family; we all kept each other in check, desperate to not disappoint one another.
It’s funny really,
when people truly need a savior, the ones that live in muted shadows reach out for you instead.
A rope gently sewn by their selfless souls winds around me, twisting gently, holding me afloat despite my protests.
(Love can’t actually be described, it’s too pure.)
Five months and three relapses later, I realize with a startled shock that…I’m glad? Glad I went, glad I changed, glad that now I WANT to change. When did this happen? What happened to missing those long nights, writing in the dark leaving my secrets smudged across the page, trying to capture wordless thoughts; tiny car crashes.
Now I have joy in the fact that I’m furious at myself for slipping up, falling back. This stubbornness to regress shows unexpected and unintended progress.
I’m on the floor again, lying on my back.
No hard wood, but a carpet.
I laugh while talking to my friend (the one that stayed with me through it all; my inspiration, my motivation.) as we toss Play-Dough back and forth in our hands.
It’s late and I begin to search for something; dropping my Play-Dough as I roll over to look harder.
I find it.
And let the mouse crawl onto my shoulder.
Soft and warm, it scuttles back down to my hand, curls up in a fuzzy little ball and falls asleep. She looks so peaceful, lying there on my smooth white skin.
Such a satisfactory color after three years of vision tainted with darkness;