Ignition

So long, Iowa.

Thanks for giving us eleven years of sanctuary and for teaching me how to live bipolar.

Next stop: Muskogee, Oklahoma.

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Countdown to Muskogee . . .2

What to rescue from the Merry Movers tomorrow: cleaning supplies, cat supplies, overnight supplies for one more night in the (empty) apartment.

Last minute chores: prescriptions, laundry, clean out the refrigerator, final trash run, take the modem back to Mediacom (so long for now, Internet).

Breathe.

Countdown to Muskogee . . .3

It starts with a blast, like a 7th-grade tuba player. The door slams open. In flood the Lists, the Forgottens, the Hangnail Details. Tumbling like Bingo balls in the brain’s wire cage, rattling, spinning too fast to grab.

The bed gets too hot. All the achey body parts fight to be heard. Cats, sensing weakness, put on their high heels and wait on tender shins.

So, up. Grab the phone and drown out the din with Sudoku. Never let sleeplessness add to the chaos. Just let it in. Let it wear itself out.

Soon enough, the fuzzy drift starts. The bed, cooled off now, waits; the pillow, reshaped, whispers—delicious after starvation.

Countdown to Muskogee . . .7

Last session with my therapist, Megan.

Tears and gratitude.

Countdown to Muskogee . . . 8

“. . . the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

—David Whyte

Countdown to Muskogee. . . 11

Tomorrow is the last day of my membership at the Y.  This has been another place of deep learning and deeper acceptance.  Here, I began to move for the sake of my brain and to worry less about the shape of my body.  Here, I watched my tolerance for noise, people, inconvenience and routine rise and fall with my symptoms.  Here, I experienced joy again after a long siege of unhappiness as the water buoyed me up.  

I grew stronger.

I am stronger.

 

Countdown to Muskogee. . . 13

My last appointment with Sarah Beattie, my nurse practitioner.

Really.

This is it.

Countdown to Muskogee. . . 15

Last week I went to my old sanctuary—the Cinemark 20 in Jordan Creek Mall in Des Moines.  It was the first place I felt really safe when I moved from Minneapolis to Marshalltown.  Those years when I was so sick and ill equipped to deal with it, the hour-drive would start to ease my mind.  But it was the theater itself that gave me a place to rest.  Dark, contained, I could distract my conscious mind with the stories onscreen, the music, the beauty, the art.  Often I spent the day going from one movie to the next with no interference from the staff.  I stayed as long as I needed for my mind to settle or shift.

Jordan Creek started my bipolar education—to know for a fact that my moods would shift and to wait for it with less fear, to appreciate the need and use of distraction, to contemplate acceptance of this terrifying part of myself.

I sat in the newly remodeled lounger seats filled with gratitude for a place that held me when nothing else could.  Memories of movies experienced rolled between my fingers like prayer beads.  I said good-bye with love.

 

Countdown to Muskogee. . . 16

 

You can only say good-bye so many times.

Then, it’s just a matter of waiting.

Countdown to Muskogee. . . 17

As a liberal Northerner, I have some preconceived beliefs about the South.  When I started looking at them, I realized I needed to bring all of the ugliness into the Light if I was to be happy there.  It was uncomfortable work.  I know enough about belief and selective perception that this work will be ongoing—to be mindful of looking for evidence that supports what I already believe and ignoring evidence to the contrary.  I want to be open to the beauty, the charm, the kindness and good manners of Oklahoma.  I want to love it there.

So, the Work begins.

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