Thrilled, and having the need to do something, I scurried down the hall to the phone. I called home first to tell Mom the news, then I called Charlie. “Guess what? You were wrong! They’re letting me go home tomorrow!” My voice was filled with playful, egotistic delight.
“Oh. Well. Congratulations!” Charlie was obviously preoccupied with work but managed to throw in his salutation. Or was he just surprised and disappointed? “I was wrong. Bet you’re quite happy.”
“Very much so. I was going to go crazy any longer in here.” I spotted Rhonda hovering to my left, who was obviously waiting to sit at the chair directly under the phone. This was her spot. “Anyhoo, I just wanted to let you know. I’ll talk to you later.” I hung up the phone.
A nurse rounded the corner, with Rhonda at her heels. “Just a reminder that you are limited one phone call per every couple hours,” the nurse scolded.
Rhonda, you tattletale bitch. “Sorry, I didn’t know. It won’t happen again.” Because I’m outta here, ya mothaf**kers!
Charlie came to visit me again that night. He joined me for Open Gym time. After gym time was over, Charlie grew bored rather quickly. I could tell he was itching to leave. I wondered if he realized we wouldn’t be alone together after I was released from the hospital, because I had to live at home for a week or so, per the conditions of my early release. Would he make the effort to come visit me as often as he could?
I felt desperately alone once again, both during his visit and after he left.
The next day, I tried to pass the time reading one of the books Mom had brought when she visited to give me something to do. Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please! was both a humorous distraction and a discouraging spiral down into a pit of regret for not having taken more independent risks growing up.
Mom came to bring me home early at one o’clock in the afternoon. Before we left, the head nurse on staff sat down with us to go over a “Safety Plan” to ensure I wouldn’t “end up back here again.” I had to go over specific plans of action for times when I felt most depressed. “Go to the park.” “Call a friend.” “Read a book.” “Go to church.” “Knit.” “Throw cheese at the wall.” The nurse told us she was confident all along that I would get to go home early. Sure, okay, like you really paid any attention. “You are obviously eating well and not isolating yourself, which is a good sign. We keep an eye on things like that.” You just don’t answer the f**king intercom.
We gathered up my things from my room, and like a breath of fresh air, the glass doors to the ward opened, like Heaven’s pearly gates.
I waited outside (it was so heavenly to be outside) the front entrance of the hospital while Mom went to retrieve the car. What now? Even though I had no intention of ever attempting something so stupid that would bring me back to this seclusion of self-inflicted insanity, I knew the shadows of regrets and “should-haves” would continue to simmer. There was no way to change anything; that fact would always remain. It couldn’t be fixed. There was only “moving forward,” people kept telling me. But what was the point of moving forward if the “happiness” of doing so was permanently inflicted with the virus of the past?
The green minivan pulled up to the curb. Eager to get out of the cold, I rushed to the passenger door and quickly snuggled into my seat. I glanced at the car radio.
Thank God, finally a motherf**king clock.