I don’t really know what I was doing in New York that summer. Visiting friends, I guess.
Things started to get messed up when I was at my friend Laura’s house and I started to communicate with her cat. That was the tip-off that something wasn’t quite right. The cat and I were having a conversation through my gentle hands. I was petting him, but I believed that I was talking to him, and he was talking to me.
Laura said that the cat never acted that friendly to anyone before.
The next thing I knew I was on Long Island at my friend Mary’s house. I was lying in her spare bed. In my head I could see a tunnel and I was on an unseen object speeding through the tunnel very quickly. Faster than a speeding bullet. I couldn’t turn it off. It was one of my first and only visual hallucinations.
Oh, I remember why I was there. I was researching a novel I was writing. I wanted to end the novel at the Statue of Liberty, but I’d never been there before. So it was my mission to go to the top of the statue.
The next day got worse. I found myself at the Statue of Liberty waiting in line to go up. I saw two perfectly white doves whom I thought were the embodiment of God. It was a truly holy moment.
And now it gets really crazy. In the statue, as I was making my way up the stairs, I was surrounded by dozens of tourists just like me. Only they weren’t going crazy.
I started with the delusions. I saw a boy whom I believed was a reincarnated version of a boy I’d been at Auschwitz with in another life. Then, I saw a man whom I thought was the reincarnated version of my father.
What was happening to me was very spiritual, to say the least. There was communication between animal and woman, God, reincarnation, life after death.
In a crazy swish, I made it to the top of the statue.
Then, I was in Mary’s car and she was driving me to the airport. I couldn’t stop giggling because the announcer on the radio of a local New York station kept saying my first and last name. He was talking directly to me. I was terrifying Mary. I just couldn’t stop laughing. She kept saying, “What are you laughing at?”
The next thing I knew I was at the airport. My suitcase burst open and all my clothes spilled all over the floor. In my condition it was nearly impossible to have the where with all the bend down and gather them up. Some kind soul saw me on my hands and knees and came over to help me.
Then, in the airplane I kept drinking Sprite. Can after can. And I kept burping. Loudly. It was like the grandfather and Charlie in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” They burped to come down from the dangerous spinning fan at the top of the smokestack they were in. I thought if I could keep burping, I would “come down” from these “heights.”
I had to know something was very wrong. I knew I was very “high.”
Burp. Loud burps. One after the other. They must have thought I was a real slob.
And then, I got home and couldn’t sleep for exactly eight days. Oh, there was my version of the Last Supper and a huge delusion involving the bathtub and water that “never overflowed.”
At the end of the eighth day, my mother and brother drove me to the psychiatric hospital where I was admitted. On the way there, I was reading names out of my address book. I believed that if I spoke people’s names, they would be “saved.” I think I thought it was the end of the world.
It had been a long journey. That trip to New York.
My trip to insanity.
And it was just the beginning.