The following is the first pages of my book in progress, tentatively titled Emma in the Corner: A Spiritual Quest of Someone Living With Schizophrenia and Alcoholism.
This book follows on the back of Mind Without a Home. Much of Mind Without a Home was written when my brain felt sick. The writing is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid. In this second book, my mind feels healed. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like “there is a plate in my head I need to dial into.” And yes, the other realities still exist.
When I write my mind feels healed. I have not been in a psychiatric hospital for seven years. I have held my same job with the library for five years. I have been in a relationship with one person for fourteen years, and am just recently newly single. Guy left me for someone else and I did not fall apart.
Because of this change in mind, my writing is more lucid, hopefully not to the point of being boring. Here is where I don’t necessarily know the difference between chaos, lucidity, and freshness. I really ask myself if I’m misrepresenting myself as having schizophrenia and alcoholism because I am doing so well. Then I am reminded to take it back a notch and remember that I have two illnesses that tell me I don’t have them.
If you are meeting me here after reading Mind Without a Home, welcome back. And if this is your first experience of me, hello and I’m glad you came.
Emma. I named her Emma. The baby giraffe stands poised at eight feet, 250 pounds, in the corner of the psychiatric hall. I see her as clear as the lines on my palms. She is not able to hide among the Mimosa trees from which she eats. Her body, camouflage. A spotted stick at rest against a peeling barn.
Trees do not pop up from the gray industrial carpeting. I am the only one to see this stately, serene presence at rest in this tumultuous world: the world outside this psychiatric unit with its loud honking cars, kids on the playground bullying the fat boy, adults bickering over bills, hate crimes inviting real artillery, artillery being used in seemingly random acts of violence.
My brain is dialed in. Emma is beautiful. I believe she winks even though I am fifty yards away at the other end of the hall.
Emma sees farther than other creatures. The Egyptian hieroglyph for giraffe means “to prophesy,” to “foretell.” I’m sad that I won’t always be dialed into Emma. But I will remember how she made me feel safe, feel cared for, feel loved. A ninety-year-old woman having her toes clipped by her granddaughter.
It is giraffe magic the way Emma can disappear among the trees. In the open, Emma stands out like an exclamation mark. It is too bad others are not dialed into seeing her. They too would feel a tremendous amount of peace radiating from her tail.
Emma’s cloven hoofs the size of a dinner plate can kick a death blow. However, giraffes almost never harm another being. They are devout pacifists with neither aggressive or territorial inclinations. They never lock the door to their home they do not have.
Giraffes have no tear ducts, but have been seen to cry.
Emma can spot a person more than a mile away with her bewitching softness of eyes, high gloss and sympathetic, framed by movie-star-lashes.
She moves as a galloping mare, and as silent as a cloud. I imagine her nibbling on stars when not taking care of me. I grow calm looking at her; my smile as large as a split watermelon.
She’s a symbol for people who just don’t fit in: they may be too tall, or too eccentric, or simply too different from everyone else. She’s my omen of good fortune.
My six foot body reflects off her eyes. I am in love with Emma.
The nurse announces medication time. I will leave my vision, step into the common reality, assured that Emma will be in the corner when I need her.
I will be here when my brain rights itself.
Emma, me, we will live free.
The facts about giraffes I retrieved from the book Tall Blondes by Lynn Sherr.