This cute picture of gigi has nothing to do with this story
One of my favorite days was the weekend I was released from the eating disorder ward and visited a girl who was let out earlier and had her own apartment. Visiting her as well was some guy who said he was a brother of the nurse on our floor, and, knowing I was a newly released mental patient, thought I'd be an interesting afternoon.
He told me he was an angel.
He was very serious and had an elaborate story, which I don't remember because I had not eaten solid food for two years and mustard on my finger was lunch, but I wasn't crazy enough to believe him. I know though that having been on a locked ward for 32 days with girls pouring protein drinks into their socks, or marathon jumping jacks I witnessed in the bathroom, after spending most of my time closed in an orange "Quiet" room with a plate of food I was terrified to swallow, I was ready to pretend for a cute boy who wanted to pay attention to me, that he was just about anything.
I left with him and in his van we drove all over town. He talked to everyone out his window. He waved at other cars while we were driving and at stop lights he'd have full conversations. Amazingly, people talked back.
Not being able to leave my house for 6 months prior to rehab without a brown paper bag to breathe into, I wanted to be this guy. He was socially fearless. I remember sitting in his car and feeling like I had discovered a truth, an elusive key to unlock every quiet room I'd be faced with for the rest of my life. This guy had freedom.
When you have severe and chronic anxiety, you are never free. Nor are you free if you are in chronic pain, if you are clinically depressed, if you don't know what to do in your life and you are expected to, by now, what is wrong with you? You are not free if you don't know how to trust, or if your heart is broken. Even the rare people with stable emotions, the ones with marble topped kitchens and happy kids coloring peacefully, those people aren't free either. They dream of more too, and think, "Is this really it?"
No one I had ever met was as free as the angel.
He took me to a park and we sat on the grass. He said he was sent to save me, and as he told me some shitty story I was thinking how creepy he was, a young, good looking guy, my age or maybe a little older, having nothing better to do than get a mentally deficient girl to believe some crazy thing. He thought I was vulnerable. What I was, however, was a swaggering, literature loving drunk. A heartbreaker. A counselor to both my parents since I was 12. A rebel. A joan jett worshipping runaway. A 20 year old with dissapointment deep in her pockets. I wished I was mentally deficient enough to not think of things. Like how boys coax your virginity then break up with you the next day. How the abortion doctor makes you bring cash into the surgery room. How drinking from 11 in the morning until 11 at night does not erase anything, but how you keep drinking hoping it will. Believing in a living angel sent to help me was what I wanted more than anything in the world.
When it was dark we kissed in the back of his van. It wasn't long, just a few minutes, and then a struggle when I didn't want my clothes to come off. I jumped out of the van and ran to my friends house and he didn't follow. He let me go, I see that now. How lucky I was.
But the idea of what he was, a glimpse into something I had never thought of before. That the world does not have to be an unfriendly place. That you can talk to everyone and it doesn't matter what they think. If you are entertaining enough they usually talk back. Time can also be your own. You can spend days off grid. You can make your own rules. You can love thy neighbor. You can live without fear.
Just don't get into a van with anyone crazier than yourself.