It seemed logical at the time.
The sky was brilliant with stars, so I perched on the edge of a lawn chair, the chair wobbling which to me seemed affect and nothing dangerous; I half jumped to the roof, my elbows scrabbling on the tar paper in search of grip. One leg, then the other, and soon I was home atop the attic.
I tucked myself against the apex of the roof and got lost in constellations, one step closer to the sky.
When I was a kid, I got told that the sky went on forever, and it frightened me, just like the idea of heaven. Though a church-going kid, I didn’t want heaven because forever seemed too long; in the meantime I just liked stars. Could name every constellation that was in between earth and the beyond, as if the stars were stopgaps on the way to an unbound Paradise, with gold roads and gold haloes. I never wanted anything gold; I just wanted the novas en route as my particular street lamps. Were I to have a halo, I’d probably want a dimmer switch to accompany it.
Your mind races when you’re manic; you forget danger. You’re invincible and the fact that the lawn chair doesn’t give out serves as proof. You’re on the roof and you’re closer to the stars. You acquire bruises you can’t explain; you fall asleep blissful—just for a wink—before waking up again, blinking at the sight of constellations that have moved a short distance in the short time you’ve nodded off. You watch the airplanes come in, their green and red beacons closer to earth and in deep, moving contrast to the spiraling sky.
“Why are you on the roof?” comes the voice of reason, my wife at 2 a.m.
“Um.” There are things that can’t be explained. Short-circuitry I suppose: the lizard part of the brain looking for happiness without the front of the brain to stop it. I suppose it’s good we’ve developed cortices, but the back of the brain is instinctual and why lizards crawl on rocks to be close to the sun, and why sometimes I crawl on the roof to be close to the stars.
“You certainly suffer from bipolar disorder,” Dr. Jaffur says, and quietly I take offense at the verb ‘suffer.’ No one suffers from mania, which is the diagnostic tool necessary to discern manic depression. Mania is pure joy, unsourced, and highly addictive.
Dr. Jaffur’s office is ugly, with white leather, and she has instructed me to a chair where she believes I can be most comfortable. This is the sign of a perhaps bad therapist; good therapists allow you to choose your perch.
She redeems herself by asking questions in a clip fashion, with a Punjab accent. I answer as quickly, because I want this over with. I’d rather be on a roof somewhere, else at one of my late night haunts on the canyon where I can sit and think without the faux comfort of overstuffed chairs.
“You will need a mood stabilizer.”
Already knew that.
“I can take over your pills for you, yes?”
And I acquiesce: ‘yes.’ <sigh>
I sign my mania away to the tune of a new scrip. Fuck.
Dr. Jaffur is confident: “The mania should be gone by next week.”
Jenn’s with me on the drive home and I’m hiding behind sunglasses. My eyes are most likely glazed. Addictions are hard to give up, happiness without a trigger perhaps the hardest and most confusing.
“Do you take marijuana?”
“Narcotics such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or heroin?”
An emphatic no.
I just want to be closer to the stars, and when the stars land in your bloodstream, override the system and provide you with their hydrogen overload—the stuff we’re already made of—it’s hard to transfuse that out of your body.
These new pills are supposed to take the stars right out of me and I miss the galaxy already.