I have been meaning to take this picture for over 2 years.
I do not remember which number stay this was, 5th maybe 6th, high enough in number that the nurse on duty said ‘welcome back, lauren’ when I was wheeled in from the ER. Baltimore City Public Psych Ward, where they put the uninsured. All I had were the clothes I was wearing,( there are always people with suitcases in the psych ward which baffles me-how did they know to pack?), anyway the clothes I was wearing were dirty because this time I had been found lying in the street. Never did find out what happened. So they brought me to the closet, it’s where all the things that have been left behind are stored and there is a bin of clothes (laundered) left behind. The nurse and I were rooting through the bin and I saw this dress. An expensive dress, brown crushed silk with little spaghetti straps, and it struck me as terribly sad. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to the girl that wore that dress that caused her to end up here, or worse what caused her to leave it behind.
I have never forgotten that little brown dress.
But we found a pair of sweatpants, very large, and they were bright pink. Then we turned up a sweater that would fit me, also pink, but a clashing shade. So I took them and put them on and while walking the hall during exercise time I caught a glimpse of my reflection in one of the security mirrors on the corner ceiling. A bent version of myself in my new outfit. I looked like a big pink nightmare, (not unlike Ralphie from A Christmas Story), and as I was at this point back to myself I had to marvel. I was walking the psych ward dressed in a big pink bunny suit. All that were missing were the ears. Really.
I laughed out loud for the first time in weeks.
I wore the suit for the duration of my stay (less than a week this time) until I was stabilized and then I got to wear it on the walk home because I did not have money for a cab or anyone to pick me up.
That was a long walk, through the streets of Baltimore. But I think I did it proudly, happy that I had survived once again. I marched on home, head held high- in my big pink bunny suit.