Autobiography · Mental Health


Tanya said she saw him stumbling around the city last night. Could have sworn she saw him hanging out with a bunch of unhoused kids downtown last week. I haven’t heard from him since he was in the hospital. Not since Corey and I sat by his bed for days. Got him transferred to inpatient care. Made sure he was set up with resources when he got out. He hasn’t called since then.

I’m learning not to blame myself for it. Not to say I could have done more. Not to make up stories about all the different people I could have been. Ones that would make him want to get back on his feet, make him want to stay clean. Learning to tell myself I did all I could. That we did more than anyone else was willing to.

It’s a lot like forgiveness that way. The ability to realize I can’t blame myself for the things in my life that don’t work out. That it’s not my fault Derek seems to be falling back through the cracks. Not my fault my marriage ended in divorce. Not my fault I’m depressed. None of this is my fault. It’s all about what I can make myself do with it.

It’s a lot like acceptance that way. The ability to realize there is no great flaw in me that makes me incapable of saving these things. The ability to finally look around and see that all the people who really know me still love me completely. The ones who have crawled through the dirt with me. The ones who have watched me fall back down over and over. They never quit. They never give up on me. And those are the ones who matter. The ones who stay.

So I hold up my end of the bargain for them. I keep asking for help when I need it. I keep my appointments with psychiatrists and therapists and medical doctors. I find ways got get involved in my own life again. Ways that make me feel like I have something good to accomplish.

I stay on track. I stay. And I thank those who stay with me. Who help me every day. And to the ones who believed enough in my ability to keep going they were willing and able to help me out monetarily: Amara, Andrew, Julie, Julia, Tara, John, Alexis, Veronica, Feiya, Mason, Bobby, and Pat, I thank you. For showing me I’m a cause worth believing in. I will not disappoint. I will stay.

Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.

Autobiography · Mental Health · Relationships · Writing

On and On

My mood goes in and out like the tide. Eroding me even when things are good. Emotions in general exhaust me and I try to spend more and more time avoiding being alone. Don’t feel it. Whatever it is. Don’t.

In the middle of the night I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to take a walk with me. A friend I don’t know well takes me up on it and we trudge around The Hill and talk about nothing of consequence. Life is simple, beautiful, goes on.

Days later we get back the light. The perfectly cloud-dispersed echo of sunshine. It shone off V’s face, danced in his eyes as Andrew drove us south. Hands out the windows the three of us took deep breaths at the sight of our mountain. A reminder that life is simple, beautiful, goes on.

Back at their apartment V leans over the stove. Stirring and inhaling deep. I like to watch him cook. It feels like a metaphor for what we are all doing here. Making something new. And we all sit down at the table and eat the dinner we prepared together. We’re building something. Learning to trust it.

Andrew asks me if I have a blog post geared up for Tuesday and I shake my head. V tells me he doesn’t know how much it matters what he thinks, but that my writing is “really good”. It’s just the kind of nudging I need to not give up on me. So I sit down and write this while Andrew draws and V finds music to play us.

So I think maybe life goes on. Maybe we keep building even when we think we’re not trying. Even when we don’t think we can. Life comes at you. On the express lane when the light is perfect and the windows are down. Hands at two and ten. Our lives in Andrew’s possesion without even considering it.

We already trust. Let’s build.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Harutaka.


Somewhere Easy

"left alone" © Marco Monetti, 2014. CC BY-ND 2.0.
left alone” © Marco Monetti, 2014. CC BY-ND 2.0.
Two men slide into the office as the day is winding down. One approaches the desk slow, head down. The other skips up and slides to the right, pointing to his friend with both arms and a leg, “HE’D like to take a look around PLEASE!”

Our office is silent and my laugh bounces off the corners of the ceiling.

“You like that?” His giggle joins mine as we nod our heads at each other. Placing a hand to the corner of his mouth, he leans toward me and whispers loud, “He’s shy.” He draws out the end of the word to insure his friend hears him.

The other man blushes and toes the ground, tilts his head down more, and hides his eyes behind the bill of his baseball cap. I wait until he looks up again, lock eyes, and smile.

Some people are just easy to be around.

During the great breakdown of November 2008 I stood on my parent’s back porch and smoked with my dad. He reached in his wallet—exhaling a cloud of cigar smoke and warm breath into the chilled air—and pulled out a credit card. He pressed it into the palm of my hand and I curled my fingers around it, tilting my head to one side and raising my eyebrows. “What’s this for?”

“Take your time, but get home safe. Always make sure you can get home.”

I pointed the hood of my Toyota Corolla down Interstate 5, headed south. This was back when I could do the drive from southwest Washington to Tucson, Arizona with only a quick nap around Sacramento. In less than twenty-four hours I’d crossed fifteen-hundred miles. I stood on a doorstep, everything I owned in a black duffle bag at my feet, and knocked.

Bryan opened the door and pulled me inside quick. “RUBY!” He held out his hand in a fist, palm down. I mirrored his gesture, extending mine open and palm up. Pills. He picked a bottle of André brut champagne up off the coffee table and handed it to me. After I’d taken the X and pounded enough of bubbly he gave me a hug.

Colton stayed seated, but gave me a toothy grin, eyes crinkling, and kicked his head back in greeting. “Good to see you, kiddo.”

They didn’t beg me to fill them in on what was going on. Didn’t hammer me with questions about the unfaithful boyfriend I’d left with a half-empty house and a broken lease. Didn’t ask me what I planned to do now that I’d dropped out of college for the second time. Didn’t demand I tell them about all these doctor appointments and consultations with surgeons.

Instead they asked if I would be moving in. Told me how they could rearrange the apartment to accommodate all three of us once I had decided.

Some people are just easy to be with.

My co-worker gives the two men a tour of our space and I stay seated at the front desk. The mid-February sunset streams in through the big open windows. I catch myself squinting in the once-again silent office. There is always somewhere safe, but you never know where it will be.