Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
Subscribe and Save up to 45%
I have bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by rock-bottom lows interspersed with occasional bouts of manic hyperactivity. After some tweaking of my antidepressant cocktail, this maelstrom, too, will pass. I just have to lash myself to the mast and wait.
I counted because I had told myself that if the count was right, my mother would be spared. My father would not die. My older sister, Jeanne, would make it to high school. But only if I kept the count.
Six weeks ago my wife walked into our living room to find me curled up on the couch, sobbing. In our twenty-one years of marriage we had experienced a lot of griefs, big and little, but she’d never seen me cry like this.
No one would admit that they’d stolen my phone, so Manager threatened to call a juju priest to settle the issue spiritually.
Drugs can make us do stupid things — though, to be fair, drugs can also help us meet formidable demands. Meth can make you work hard as hell, the way my mom did, doing a full-time job at a farm-equipment company on weekdays and part-time retail jobs on weekends, until it all came crashing down.
A middle-aged New England lawyer, you were dressed like a cowboy. This, as much as anything else, underscored that it was over between us. A suede-fringe jacket. Snakeskin boots with stacked heels. An oversized Stetson. What, I said, no spurs?
Being in remission is like air: you only appreciate it when it’s gone. After four years of not appreciating it, I’m back on Vancouver Island, where I work at the university as a cafeteria dishwasher.
I wasn’t good at sports, like he was, but when it was just the two of us, he liked to play pretend. That, I was good at. Whether we were knights or ninjas or mountain men or astronauts or soldiers in Vietnam, he listened with his whole self — intent, leaning in — to whatever story I was telling.
The wolf has traveled a thousand miles in two months. A director of a wolf-advocacy group said his arrival here is “something akin to the [first] moonwalk.”
I add thirty-eight points to Dad’s side of the scorecard. “You’re kicking my ass,” I say. He gathers the cards and begins to shuffle, his hands clumsy, the cards slipping out onto the table. “Let me,” I say, but he says he can do it, that it’s his turn.