"Keep to a routine"... That's what they tell you when you have bipolar disorder.. " Keep your surroundings calm.." Of course I take that advice to the nth degree ... Everyday the same as long as I can remember.. One day blends seamlessly into the next.. I rise at the same time each morning, long before dawn.. gulp down a handful of pills to fight off the anxiety that grows the closer I get to work time.. wear a path in the rug.. bedroom .. hall.. bathroom ..kitchen.. repeat backwards.. Each area has its own light that casts a circle of illumination.. I never, or almost never, stray from the light. This morning was different though, if only very slightly.. I made one of my rare deviations from the routine.. Just a few extra steps to the shelves to find a book I know I once had..
The living room was dark so I switched on a long unused lamp on the end table. My eyes found the book I wanted right away but as I picked it up I disturbed a deep layer of dust that seemed to cover everything.. In that moment I had the distinct feeling of disturbing a long dead crypt.. another life buried from the eyes of the world..
I looked around the room ... pictures in frames of babies that haven't been babies for years.. wedding pictures of a marriage long dead.. loves long gone.. religious icons from a faith long lost..cobwebs.. dust.. On the floor a basket of (what was once) freshly washed toddler clothes waiting to be put away in the dresser.. another basket lies across the room full of toddler clothes still waiting to be washed.. a basket of videotapes.. Barney... Disney Sing-A-Longs.. Power Rangers.. a few children's toys scattered randomly about looking forlorn. A single child's sneaker.. A feeling of disturbing what shouldn't be disturbed comes over me and I quickly switch off the lamp and rush back to the safety of the light..
Eventually the pills take hold and I'm able to pick up my softside briefcase and begin the trek into town from the burbs. I ride the bus.. Seattle only has one freeway that feeds the town and the bumper to bumper drive is maddening.. I hate the bus and try my best to sleep, or if not sleep, at least keep my eyes closed for the entire trip.. If I open them, the things I see anger and disgust and sometimes scare me.. This morning a stinking bum smelling of sweat and urine and unwashed clothes shambles on with his filthy blanket wrapped around him and finds a seat close enough to me that I'm shaken from my fugue state. The bum..young.. a smack addict no doubt.. infected sores on his face and arms.. coughing and hacking lord knows what germs into the air around us.. the bus is on the road now and I'm trapped aboard for at least a half an hour.. theres no getting away..
As I search the bus with my eyes looking for another empty seat (there are none) I spy a woman with the the face of a wolf near the front... She's starring at me with those cold black calculating wolf eyes.. I expect to see her bare her fangs in a snarl dripping with saliva at any moment, but she just stares.. I stare back briefly but she's not intimidated.. To my right a pig holds a newspaper between his hooves and appears to be reading.. A llama a few seats in front of him... I tell myself that these perceptions are all in my head, but its hard to argue with your eyes.. I close my eyes again and try my best to will myself to sleep.