Thursday, August 11


So, Norma is a woman who suffers from compounded paranoid-schizophrenia and dementia who lives on the behavior hall. The doors are locked for resident safety, and today she wanted to go home. She was exit-seeking all day, and though she always mumbles, she was so flustered today that her speech was nearly indecipherable. Towards the end of the day, though, she approached me in the dining room, looked me directly in the eyes and asked with stunning clarity, "Do you know how to leave?" When a person has dementia, you enter the world in which their mind has entangled them instead of trying to bring them back; reality only confuses and upsets them. With this in mind I automatically replied "No, Norma. I only know how to stay."
Even as the words danced in smiling and comforting deceit out of my mouth, the irony of speaking them to her on my last day with her stung my lips.
I do know how to leave... i know very well how. I constantly and perpetually leave; it seems more now a force of habit or a way of life than anything else. For me, to leave is to stay - to change is to continue in the same way.
The question is not "Do i know how to leave", but instead, "Do i know how to stay?"
I haven't kept a job for more than six months in over four years. I have had nearly every different hairstyle and color i can think of. I have traveled to ten of the fifty states in the last three months. I have moved five times since January, and plan to soon live across an ocean. Have i ever learned how to stay? I can see where the value of staying would be immense - this nostalgia and homesickness for more than one place is overwhelming... not to mention the promotions that can be had if you continue to work with the same employer.
all of that aside, though. When i get very caught up in leaving, i have an aching desire to find a place that draws me so strongly downward that all i can do is stay. Who knows, maybe i'll never be that type of person, and i'll have to learn the disjointed contentment of the uprooted, the stationary heart on the shuffling feet of the nomad. Maybe what i long for is so otherworldly that it can't be found in a windowseat and a basement. Maybe i should let an evolving settledness replace the way that i feel tonight.
tonight i feel frustration, and unsettled uncertainty.
Norma, I'm sorry for every lie I have ever told you.
I do know how to leave.

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