California

“…and it’s California, where everything is powerfully strange. Everyone wants it to be home.  Everyone left where he or she was from with dreams of transformation.  Everyone runs away to California once, or at least all the lonely, hungry people do.”  “Madness: A Bipolar Life” by Marya Hornbacher

California, I can’t say it is where all my problems started, but it is where I started to experience the most prominent and life changing events of my existence.  My move to California was preceded by my two best friends moving out there.  One, with his growing family, to San Diego followed by the other and her new(ish) husband to the L.A. area.  Before those two moves, California never occurred to me.  But I visited him in San Diego and drove out to L.A. with her and I guess it was just a matter of time before I was on my way West.

Now, it’s not as though I wasn’t leaving anything behind.  I had lived Virginia Beach for seven years, my parent’s were in Southeastern North Carolina and my sister and her family were in the Washington D.C. area.  On the other hand, Northern California from Sacramento, to Petaluma, Elk Grove and well all over Northern California was packed with relatives.  Let’s see, two grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, a third cousin twice removed or, I don’t know, just a load of relatives that I never spent a whole lot of time with.  There was that opportunity as well.

So, my friend talked to some people he knew, and then I talked to those people and after a bit of time I was on my way to San Diego.

Virginia Beach is a Navy town.  Everything is geared towards the Navy.  There is a Naval Air Station there.  Jets fly directly over the beach, and houses and the mall.  Right next door is Norfolk, a Naval Base, the across the river is Newport News and Hampton, where Navy ships are built.  To me it was a big place with a small town feel.

San Diego, on the other hand, is a Navy City.  There is so much more going on there than Navy or Marine Corps.  San Diego is where “Top Gun” was set.  The Naval Air Station is now a Marine Corps Air Station.  I think the biggest shock for me was how big it was.  There were so many freeways, 8, 5, 805, 15, 163.  So many things to do.  Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, I could go on and on.  That was just San Diego.  The other friend I mentioned had moved to the L.A. area.  You can just imagine how overwhelming could get.

I was a bit overwhelmed and to add to that I had a brand new job I had to excel at. (I don’t think I knew any other way to work)  Not to mention, I was looking for a way to transform my life.  I was hoping I would find something in California that would be different, better, something else.  I was looking to escape some of the horrors Virginia Beach held for me.  My friend J, overcome by breast cancer, my own bout with cancer, starting to deal with depression.  It was time for me to leave.

After moving and finding a place to live (I stayed with my friend and his family for a few months) things started to settle down.  Work was good and not too hard, I started exploring the city some.  I was getting to know the people I worked with.  We were going out to bars and restaurants, pretty much having a good time, I didn’t drink so I was commonly the designated driver.  At the time, I had a blue Ford Expedition and everyone loved to pile in.

A few years later, my friend and his family have moved away, my relationship with my friend in L.A. has soured.  I was spending too much time at work and with the people from work.  The next couple of years are a blur to me.  When I concentrate hard on what went on in those two years all I get is working way too many hours at the office and at home.  I see going out a lot, in spite of all the work, and I see my mentor and now friend being diagnosed with cancer.  The cancer diagnosis is very clear in my mind, the rest is just a flurry of activity which ends with me in the hospital having just come through a psychotic episode.

Some days I have clear memories of sunny skies, a light breeze and a feeling of well-being.
Others are roller-coasters of faces and noise that are completely terrifying.  Those days I feel like California, at least San Diego, chewed me up and spit me out.

I loved living in
San Diego but it did
not like me at all

Closure

I am constantly searching for closure in everything I write.  Sometimes it works out, other times, most times, I start but do not finish.  But I had a thought.  My writing is not the only place I strive for closure.  I try to find it everywhere in my life.  What I am learning and trying to live is that life is infinite in it’s possibilities.  Gaining closure something I have aspired to for many situations in my life but it happens in fewer and fewer places.  So, I have to consider alternatives.  Maybe what I need is an answer, not necessarily the answer.  That would certainly go a long way towards answering questions I have about things in my Bipolar Life.  I don’t know for sure, and I may have mentioned this before, I believe that my encounter with Bipolar Disorder started on St. Patrick’s Day, 2003.

I know, I know… this again.  I think the fact that I lost my life for seven seconds on March 17, 2003 and that I started having bouts of depression after that may be an indication that something inside my brain took a hit that day.  Somewhere in the process of dying and being brought back set me on the path I find myself on now.  This is something I will never know the answer to, I will never find closure here, but I have to believe that I am on the right track.  I do find it puzzling that it took four to six years for the mania and psychoses to start but that will have to be a footnote to the story.

What does all of this have to do with getting closure in what I write?  Well, I think that it will be easier for me if I don’t always put the pressure on to finish what I’m writing.  Maybe what I’ve written is done without an extra paragraph, stanza, verse or line I’ve been working on for hours.  I’ll try it out and see how it goes.  Please don’t hesitate to call me on anything.

bulbs buried deep

when the bulbs buried deep
learn of the bees that will visit,
do they change their minds
about growing and flowering

no more than I made a choice
about studying and graduating
when I heard about mental
illness in psychology class

it will happen to some, it may
happen to others, but it is
nothing to keep someone
form their natural course

— GB

I see

I cannot pretend to see what it is
there is a color to everyone’s time
it’s a lifetime of blue
a moment of yellow
all yesterdays sparkle in flurries of gold

I cannot pretend to see what it isn’t
rumors shine pale and gray
nothing can ever change that
just lean back and make believe
this is the way dreams are really made

What I see is the violent clash of the gray
guidelines ushering around the rapturous
colors to fill the designs of our lives
squares of green, triangles of red,
trapezoids of orange and turquoise
join me in viewing the way our
lives might fall into place

— GB

frenzy of movement

the beat pounds me into a frenzy
of movement that I did not know I
was capable of
your eyes drive me wild when
the melody kicks me across
the dance floor
when our cheeks press together
skin sizzles
bodies melt into a single being
the crescendo of light and sound
collide
sending us
buzzing and trembling and weeping
tasting our essence
holding it together until the
convulsion subsides
the pulse has slowed to a very
low rumble
light builds a cathedral above us
we fall away from each other still
holding hands
trying to keep the orgiastic event
close at heart and mind
there is a struggle but sleep
starts to take us
we crumble to a couch at the
edge of the floor
wrapped in each other’s arms
we are content to slumber
as long as we can

— GB