Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time Flies (A Thanksgiving Story)

(note - the names of the individuals in this story have been changed to protect their privacy)

It was Thanksgiving Eve 1984. I was in the midst of a full-blown manic episode – delusions and everything. I had walked to my friends Joanne and Frank's place in the Elmwood Village in Buffalo. When I arrived my then my then girlfriend Laurie was there. I asked if I could take Joanne and Frank’s pet Doberman Sally out for a walk (I actually don’t recall if I asked for permission). It was mid-afternoon.

From there I walked with Sally to North Buffalo, up and down the side streets, all the while thinking that she and I were communicating telepathically (did I say I was delusional?). The air was crisp and clear; the sky sunny and cloudless. I was having a great time.

We then went on to Buffalo’s Delaware Park where foolishly I proceeded to let Sensi off her leash. Mind you, I had been around Sally enough to be able to give her commands that she would obey (not telepathically however). This still didn’t convince the guy who saw her loose and screamed at me. In retrospect I suppose if I saw a loose Doberman I’d scream too.

It eventually became dark, and sometime around 7 pm we made our way back to  and Tony’s apartment. When I knocked on the door Joanne answered and was so relieved that we had made it back. I remember that Sally was so tired that she immediately crashed on the floor. The Buffalo Sabres game was on TV.

The evening went on and eventually it was time for me to return home. I was still living with my parents. Joanne drove me there. When we arrived my parents were already in bed. There was a strong aroma of chittlins (a Southern dish that even today I can’t stand).

Nancy left and I went to my bedroom. Sleep did not come easy as my mania was in full gear. I don’t even know if I slept at all. Eventually at around sunbreak I decided I would walk to Toronto to the on-air studios of CFNY-FM (The Spirit of Radio). I had it my mind that I would show up there and see if I could get a job. At the time I was a Broadcasting major at Buffalo State College. I loved radio. So I laced up my shoes, put on my coat and started on my way.

But something happened after I started my trek. I quickly changed my mind and decided to walk to my friends Hank and Freda’s house. They lived about 4 miles away in North Buffalo. Record albums in hand I made my way there. When I arrived it had to be around 8 am; early enough that Hank and Freda were still asleep but their son Kenny was up and let me into the house. I proceeded to make my way to the living room but would not speak. I was under the delusion that I could not communicate my plan. Kenny had an early version of a video game that was basically designed to simulate shooting down things of some sort. So I sat down and set out to save the free world from international invaders.

Eventually Hank and Freda arose and came downstairs. I still wouldn’t speak. Now, they both knew my history so they knew something was up. But they let me stay there even until their Thanksgiving meal which was, interestingly enough, lasagna. They had invited a friend who I’m sure was wondering, “What the hell is going on with this guy?”

Now comes the fun part. After dinner Hank called my Dad who came over and they both proceeded to take me to Buffalo Psychiatric Center where I had been hospitalized twice before. When we arrived we were greeted by a security officer. This is where divine intervention steps in. For whatever reason, that I will never know, I was not allowed to be admitted there. So they then took me to the Buffalo General Hospital Community Mental Health Center where I was admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit.

While this experience was 32 years ago, I remember so much of it vividly. It’s like it was yesterday. I find it fascinating how some events or our lives can be so easily remembered whereas others can be hidden away for an eternity. One thing I do know that despite my flight of fancy I believe that my Higher Power was looking out for my wellbeing. So many things could have gone wrong. I could have lost Sallyi. I could have tried to make it to the Peace Bridge only to be held by Customs Officials. I could have been admitted to BPC where my fate would have been incredibly worse than it had been at Buffalo General. I also could have been shunned by Joanne, Frank, Hank and Freda. Somehow they found it in their hearts to help me when I really needed it.

This story brings tears to my eyes when I realize that over the course of my life so many things have happened that cannot be explained through conventional wisdom. So many so-called twists of fate or “coincidences” that defy description. I’ve chosen to believe that the God of my understanding helped me through these times in order to do what I do today.

Therefore, in this season of Thanksgiving, I have to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have served as guideposts on my journey. You do not know how much it means to me.

Be well.

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