I have mentioned the poverty I endured while living alone for a number of years, suffering from schizophrenia.
Another unfortunate reality was that, on Olanzapine, like many people, I gained a lot of weight. I was up to 280 pounds for awhile, and had only 1 or 2 pairs of pants that would fit.
During this period, I took a trip to Chicago, where I went to college. A number of my friends still lived there.
I have always valued my college friends. They are good people, and represent a connection to better days.
There was an event of some sort, and I was invited to meet with them at a restaurant.
When I showed up, I was wearing my green polyester pants– practically the only pair that fit. I had a ten dollar bill in my wallet.
My friends were sitting around a long table. They had really come far, already, several years after college. They were wearing silk shirts and designer slacks. They were ordering steak cutlets and similarly expensive fare using their comfortably full debit cards.
I looked down at myself. What had I become? I felt that I was no longer one of these people. I could not even afford to order a side salad at this restaurant.
At this point, I can think of only 2 things to mention.
One is, my friends were still gracious. They told jokes, were fun to be with, and helped to pay for my salad.
The second is, that things eventually did get better for me. I got a career, got married, and moved into a nice home.
It was hard to sit at that table and see how my schizophrenia and resulting poverty set me apart from the rest of the people I knew. But maybe that was, in part, what drove me to try harder to get back into the swing of things.
And. . . people could have been meaner. They were successful, but they were still my friends.
A Poem By Thomas Park
The wind hits hard
Called “The Hawk”
Memories blown, currents of air
Twin lions protect the museum
Find your way by the Lake
Its waters your reference
The world can be seen
In a few blocks,
Neighborhoods Chinese, Dutch, African American,
Where I went to school, tried
To escape family
Years later, roaming the streets
Miles Davis in my head
Struggled to assemble change
To buy noodles, cigarettes
Almost every street I have seen
Many with friends from the University
Now city of
Black-shod hipsters, businessmen
In tunnels of wind
Hardly looking, never slowing
Yet, I will never completely forget
The smell of grills in many diners
The sights and smiles of good friends
In younger, better days