Friday, January 7, 2011


The assignment was the write about nuts.  Finally, a topic I’m fluent in.  Until I finish the paragraph…nuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts…

Nuts are my people.  They are my roommates in treatment centers and my co-conspirators in psych wards.  They are the reality speakers blinded by truth that join me in alternate worlds, none of us knowing how to slip back into the life we abandoned long ago.  Nuts are my people; the alternative clique donned in depression, anxiety, ocd, bi-polar disorder, borderline personalities, addicts, and eating disorders.  We carry cards of identification marked by psychotropic drugs and bonus points for seasoned veterans who have done stints at multiple sites.  There is a hierarchy among the sick with the incurable reigning as Kings and specialness determined by number of diagnosis. I can spot my people in a crowd, set aside by the disease of normalcy and self-sharing that induces listeners to scan for an acceptable escape excuse. 

We laugh at the stories of prom and all-nighters, silently adding our own escapades: ‘it was hilarious. When I was 16 and living in a locked psych ward while in an eating disorder program, Sarah and Megan were my best friends.  And we would play bunko every afternoon and paired completed crossword puzzles with hidden lunch scraps in the couch cushions.’  Snapshot: summer afternoon in Scottsdale Behavioral Health inpatient unit.  Four adolescent anorexics eating lunch outside with our warden/nurse.  Sarah, needing to gain weight to earn parole, next to Megan, whose only goal remained disappearing, gulped down her fish entrĂ©e while I watered the ficus tree with chocolate ensure.  Oh, we had some fun that summer.’

 I can do cocktail parties, holding my own in the vortex of weather small talk and extroverted talent. I can mingle while smiling pretty, but I hate it. I hate the awkwardness of moving on to someone new because I simply can’t handle talking about the weather any longer with my current conversationalist, half listening as I scroll thru acceptable excuses to move away, seeing as how ‘I’m bored with you now’ not so much making the list.  I hate the inevitable high school flash backs of lingering on the clique’s edge, emphatically not cool enough. Abnormal in a sea of my peers, my ears prick up with the hint of a fellow nut.  I catch the stammering explanation of late graduations or the awkward pauses when questions skirt perceived shame.  I sidle up; confident I have enough craziness to spread around, relieving the pressure off a more private compatriot. 

We’re all around, having swerved off the ‘Good Child’ track, leaving muddy tracks behind our trails of darkness.  We’re there in the midst of turmoil sure that a coat of concealer will magically transform despair.  It’s the lucky ones that show up after the rain has dried.  We come with tales of new lands and fresh eyes, comic adventures and epic bruises. Jealousy still creeps into my purse at these cocktail parties, wishing I had managed to stay on the ‘normal’ track.  I long for the Ordinary in these moments, and stuff my wounds in back pockets.  But there’s also the air of superiority among my crowd, tilting our chins down at the masses who haven’t been tested yet, haven’t had to sift through the meaning of life and claw their way out of cement holes.  We know trouble, and us lucky ones learn to weave crazy as entertainment, using scars as inspiration. 

These are my people, my nutty, crazy posse. If you want to chat about the weather or the latest Oscar nominees, I’ll stand there for a minute. Then you’ll see me scanning the room, searching for fellow nuts because as much as I might want to fit into the Normal mold, frankly I’m just bored…

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