I stopped at the Chase bank branch on Christopher Street to deposit the check from Tom. Although my professional career as a glorified secretary involved much effort at book keeping and managing paper work, when it came to maintaining my own affairs, I was like the Cuckoo bird that does not build a nest, but lays eggs in the basket of others.
As an employer, Tom used a daily pay cycle to pay the men who worked for him. I knew if I didn’t deposit the check I would forget about it until my account ran dry. Instead of cash, Tom used personal checks so that our salaries could be written off as business expenses. If I was scheduled to work a minimum of two evenings a week with Tom, the trail of personal checks would surely become burdensome, as I am one who has always received direct deposits from employers and use the ATM machine to conduct all my banking needs. Considering my personal financial sloth, I deemed it necessary to take advantage of the ATM machine along the path home.
My mind, although no longer manic, was still reeling in the afterglow of mild psychosis. Unlike John Nash’s beautiful mind, mine was one not good with numbers, but rather with letters. I was driven to states of near insanity when trying to balance a checkbook, so I simply stopped and trusted the balances on my ATM receipts would come out with happy endings.
Even with two jobs, New York was out of my price range and I doubted I could continue to afford to live there, even with the supplemental income from the old, gay man coming in. It was best to ignore what little money was coming in, compared to what was owed out. It only made me crazy to think about and worry of it. There were little things I could do to survive here, but I considered housewives who clip supermarket coupons as obsessive-compulsives, and those who had the patience to mail in manufacturers rebates as sheer lunatics for coin.
I simply didn’t care about the little things in life anymore, nor could I, really. Life in New York had become, in my view, like a horrific version of the board game Monopoly where all other players had purchased green houses and red hotels and all I could do was pray at the roll of each die that my horse and man would land on either community chest or chance.
The state of my mental health oozed into painful depression. I felt a little better with the new job—at least I could stop worrying so much about credit card bills. If ever I were to fulfill the tasks of my full-time professional job however, I would have to come off the medication that I was on just to think straight. The pills made me forget everything—even things that happened just moments before– and prior to taking them, I was never lazy when it came to keeping track of my receipts.
I went without sleep for three nights after once losing my wallet. It was only after the toilet overflowed that I remember where I had hid it. I felt the best place to keep $800 in cash in Bed-Stuy at night was under the plunger in the bathroom. In my crazed state of panic over paperwork, I hid it under the plunger and forgot where I placed it—going as far as to accuse Jamal of stealing it from me. The funny thing was—the toilet in Brooklyn never overflowed. I assumed that God was watching over me and decided that I could do and concentrate on just one task at a time, and never would I worry again if I lost something.
I had not the strength, nor concern for keeping track of things in my personal life. Work exhausted me to the fullest. All I wanted to do was to walk away from it all—live on a beach somewhere and eat coconuts like Stephen and Jose had planned. But I could never walk away from New York for I had no real way of escape.
I confronted my paranoia that returned after coming off the pills with a simple meditation technique by saying one simple word to myself over and over—
I would think of nothing else. Just that word and all the confusion would end.
A miracle it was to think of that word and meditation in the grips of such confusion.
My hands were shaking ferociously as I picked up a pen from a black Formica table inside the bank. Of course the pen did not work and it only made the shaking worse
LOVE I thought and spoke to the stranger standing next to me—
“May I borrow your pen?”
“I quickly endorsed the check, filled out a deposit slip, pausing briefly to recall the date, and placed all necessary paperwork inside an envelope, reserving the pink copy for myself.
“Thanks,” I said, handing the stranger back the pen, although I was sure the pen came from the bank for there was a chain where an eraser on a pencil is.
“Ain’t I seen you someplace before? Let me think…” He said.
“John Cena,” I replied, answering his thoughts.
“Shit, that’s it dude. I bet the bitches are into that look. Just hold ‘em down and pin ‘em like a wrestler when you fuck ‘em, right?”
I smiled, showing him my chipped front tooth, pretending that was exactly what went on in my bed.
“Hey dude, I own a club. It’s called the Trailer Park. Come check it out,” he said, handing me a business card…