The following is a sneak peak from the upcoming memoir, Free Tayco. This comes from Chapter 10; Hallelujahs and Hocus Pocus, a chapter about being admitted inpatient in a psychiatric wing, recovery from insanity, and relapse.
My first memories came from one of my roommates. She was an older woman who would cry out late at night that someone else was in the room with us. At first she was annoying; I hated having to hear her. But quickly she became somewhat of a comfort. She was someone I could take care of. I would ease her back to sleep at night, to not disturb the night crew. I would sit with her in one of the tiny common rooms. She liked to crochet (how she was allowed a crochet hook, but not a plastic fork was beyond me). It brought me peace to watch her. She had outdoor privileges too. I never knew her story; if she ever told me I was too drugged up to remember. At the time, I thought she had it worse than me. She seemed blissful in her delusions. I was too blind to see that I was as well.
The next memories came with two boys who were admitted shortly after me. The first boy was across the hall. He had come up north in a camp program, and all I knew about him was he was schizophrenic. His story didn’t matter so much to me. He had a low southern drawl, and was handsome. He believed in the good lord, and his faith was his happiness. Somehow in our fucked-up scenarios, he found strength in the words of Christ. He was stronger than most of us. I sometimes thought about if the situation was different if we could have loved each other, but would immediately feel an overwhelming sense of guilt at the thought of emotionally cheating on Mateo. The second boy to be admitted was another Southern, but without an accent. He was stationed in Groton for the Navy, and tried to jump off one of the buildings on base. He was a firecracker; he wanted to get the hell out of Pond House. He and I would stay up late talking about our escape plans, and where we would go next, as our bible thumping friend would shake his head and smile at us. We were all nineteen years old, and called ourselves The Nineteen Club.
The last memory was in the main common room (smaller than the size of a waiting room). My Jesus Lover had a weak day. He was ready to die, he told us. He was going to kill himself the moment he was released. He lost sight of his faith. I felt guilty; The Sailor and I were usually the ones ready to die, and Church Boy was the ones to lift us up (even if it was with a bible passage). But here he was, broken. The Sailor (who was mostly emotionless) started singing. His voice filled me and I joined in, as we both sang to our friend the song Hallelujah. It must have been the first time I had sang since high school; my soul was on fire as we went through the verses. I didn’t even realize I knew all the lyrics or harmonies. The attendings watched us, and allowed us to hold our friend. It had been so long since I could have even touched someone. I wanted to cry. In this awful place, this deadly sickening, pathetic accuse for a hospital, I experienced true beauty. My heart was touched. The other patients watched us, and nobody spoke a word about what the room witnessed. It was the first time I believed in real magic.
I was released six days after, on July 3rd. I never got the names of my fellow brethren in The Nineteen Club, and I never saw them again. But every time I hear the song Hallelujah I cry, and am overwhelmed by the love I still have for the two men who held me together in my weakest moments.