The next day, I was institutionalized.
Twenty years later, I’m still trying to thread together the in between.
I remember meeting with my music teacher because Rob snitched to him after he saw the blood on my hand and I implored him to do otherwise and I remember feeling weird about napping on disconcertingly chipper man’s couch. I remember the school nurse gasping as I lifted up my sleeve and the dean putting his firm man hand on my shoulder and breathing deep through his moustache. I remember going with Mr. Driscoll for doughnuts and chocolate milk and wondering why my nemesis was being so goddamn kind to me.
I don’t really remember how I got to the ER but I’m pretty sure he drove me.
I remember there was a suicide watchman who had to accompany me into the toilet every time I took a shit, kindly staring into the corner when I informed him that I had performance anxiety (which I didn’t). I remember the aged junkie’s detox screams on the other side of the curtain from me and wondering out loud to the bored nurse at my bedside if – perhaps – this might not be the best place for someone they categorized as a risk. I remember doctor after doctor after doctor all asking me why I had tried to kill myself and how genuinely puzzled they appeared when I calmly explained that I hadn’t and really didn’t want to die at all but that I’d just had a bad day and that this whole thing was just some big, dumb misunderstanding and couldn’t I PLEASE just go home.
I remember talking to my dad out in LA and assuring him that everything was going to be okay and that there was no need for him to hop on the next or any plane East to come out and take care of me. I remember him hearing and trusting me. I think I remember my mother’s tears but – honestly – there have been so many. I remember her not hearing my pleas and resolving to see me. I remember talking to my some friends. Olivier, maybe? Rob, definitely. I was on the phone with him as they strapped me into the gurney. I remember referring to the experience as “trippy.”
I don’t remember why they wouldn’t let me call Maisie.
I remember being confused when they took the phone away and secured the bindings. I remember wondering why I was moving. I remember asking the staff where I was going. Over and over again. Glibly, at first and then, frantically. I remember no one said a word or so much as looked at me as my voice grew louder and I started to writhe and the lights of the ER gave way into what I remember was a crystalline New England winter’s night.
I don’t remember getting into the ambulance and I don’t remember much of the ride. I remember the cabin was dark but the EMT was kind. I remember him telling me I didn’t look “crazy” or “dangerous” or “like a calculable risk” or something like that. I remember assuring him that I wasn’t and his face shading belief. I remember asking him where we, where I was going and I remember him explaining, ruefully:
“I’m sorry, but if they didn’t tell you then neither can I.”
I remember silence and fear and being ushered into a lobby. I remember a room full of pajama-clad teens eyeing me suspiciously. I remember a fat black woman caressing my head. I remember straps on my bed. I remember more doctors. I remember the view from my window was a graveyard. I remember the panic that set in when I realized my windows wouldn’t open. I remember my mother appearing. I remember screaming and clutching her hips, begging her not to leave me.
I remember she left.