Little Bits of Pixie Dust

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thourougly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!!"

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I thought she was beautiful, in a fragile, waifish kind of way. She wore a green hooded sweatshirt and had bleached blond hair. I met her in the psychiatric ward.

When I was in high school I fell into a deep depression and after therapy and medication and no relief, and my mother sleeping on my bedroom floor in case I got up at night, I was sent to the local Children's hospital, seventh floor. The crazies. I was terrified.

She was already a patient when I got there. At my first group, I noticed her, and she gave me a small grin. A breath I didn't know I had been holding came shooting out... someone that looked normal, not the drooling zombie I had pictured being in the psych ward.

We made ridiculous clay sculptures in Art Therapy, and weaved each other friendship bracelets. We giggled and drew inspirational posters to hang on our walls, as instructed by someone. She told me about her boyfriend and how much she wanted a cigarette. She seemed glamorous to me, someone who had experienced things that I couldn't even imagine. I watched her apply meticulous make-up every morning, smoothing her fingers across her cheeks. Piece by piece, her story came out in group, and she only grew more mysterious to me.

I got sent home on Partial, meaning that I got to go home overnight but had to spend all day at the hospital. She asked me to bring her some blush and a pen. We were only allowed to write with pencils, with soft lead tips that couldn't puncture. I agreed to bring the contraband, thinking nothing of it. I gave her the pen the next day, and she broke it apart and scraped the sharp ends over her wrists.

It was taken away from her and she had to spend the afternoon in the Quiet Room. I was shocked at this betrayal of our friendship and also at my naivety. I had forgotten for a while that we were in a mental hospital.

Eventually we both got "better" and were sent home. I lost touch with her as soon as we left, but I hung up the signs she had made me, wore her friendship bracelet till it broke, and thought of her often.

A couple years later, I saw her at a local pizza place. She looked skinny, but well. I watched her laugh and toss her head back, noticed the flush on her cheeks. I never said anything to her, not sure if she would want to be reminded of a difficult time. But I was so glad to see her, to see that she had made it.

I still think of her often, and hope that she is still out there somewhere smoothing liquid foundation like a magical paintbrush over her fevered face, and safe.


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