I had a really interesting experience on Friday. I went downtown to mail off a couple of packages and check my PO box. I was standing in a line of about 7 or 8 people, 3 or 4 in front of me and 4 behind me. There was only one clerk working but a supervisor was just standing in the other window posting up. One guy in front of me looked at him and said, "hey wouldn't be more efficient if you helped us?" The supervisor responded with "oh I'm a supervisor I can't take money, plus he is a union rep" gesturing to the clerk. I didn't have a clue what that meant and neither did the guy who asked the question but it shut us up in an awkward way. Just then a girl came popping in the door jumping around and shouting "did you just feel the earthquake 20 minutes ago, did you just feel the earthquake 20 minutes ago!?" going down the line to each person. She was about 5'7" with long blond hair, thin build, she was wearing a large white mens t-shirt that had some graphic on the front but also had green sharpie pen drawings or signatures on it as well. She had khaki Dickies cut off pants and green flip flops. Her hair had not been brushed but she didn't look dirty as if she were homeless.
Immediately after her rant about the earthquake she began to rattle off something about a show or an event that was happening downtown that night. She started naming all the bands that were going to play, the sponsors, and who would be there. Then she broke out into aspoken word style train of thought poem about everything famous in Chico. I heard mention of Ken Grossman owner of Sierra Nevada, The Mother Hips, all the way down to John and Anne Bidwell, it was quite mesmerizing. As the guy in the front of the line finished he tryed to walk by her and said "excuse me I'm trying to work here." She smirked and laughed at him as she backed herself up to the counter and put her hands up to let him pass freely. Once he passed she looked at everyone as though he was acting ridicules and laughed.
She turned and pounded on the counter shouting "give me my mail!" and then rattled her PO box number. The Clerk, by the way he spoke to her sounded like he knew her and said that she would have to go get it herself and she responded politely "oh ok." She turned back around to us and started back into her train of thought rant about pretty much everything. Every once in a while she would turn around and flash us the large tattoo of a marijuana leaf with a Grateful dead bear in the middle as if it were some kind of badge. She would walk backwards holding her shirt up for everyone to see it as she spoke. As I got closer to the front of the line she disappeared momentarily over near the self service PO boxes. I turned to the guy standing behind me and made eye contact. He raised his eyebrows and kind of gnashed his teeth in reference to the whole experience. I said "you know what's really crazy is that I knew her when she was completely normal." He was surprised and asked what had happened to her. I really never knew what happened to her. I had heard that she had changed her name and started obsessing over the Grateful dead but I had no idea that she had gone completely schizophrenic.
She came back over and started back into her train of thought rant about what not flashing us once again the tattoo on her back. I noticed she did have some odd scaring on her arms and legs maybe from picking at herself or burns. She started twards the door and just as she placed her hand on the handle she froze. Turned and looked at me straight in the eye and said "whats your name?" as she pointed her finger at me. I half smiled honestly shocked that she had suddenly recognized me after looking at me nearly 10 times while she was in the post office. I muttered my first name under my breath in hopes that she would not recognize it. She came back by shouting my full name first, middle, and last in its entirety. She was now storming towards me with a huge smile on her face again jumping up and down. She shouted "I wanted to loose my virginity to you when I was 13 but my dad came pounding on the door!" as she laughed. The guy next to me turns to me and says, "you left that part out." She comes up from behind me and wraps her arms around me and picks me up from the waist. I nearly drop the two boxes in my hand and grunt to hold my frame composed as she plops me back down. "I can bench 200 what are you up to?" she says. I respond embarrassed "uh I don't know." She pulls her sleeve up exposing her randomly bruised arm and flexes her bicep. "feel it!"she says. "feel it!" I shift the boxes in my hands in order to allow one free hand to reach up and squeeze her arm. Her muscles do seem extremely tight, and her skin is thin. I thought of those photos of that 70 yr old man that is really muscular. She went on to tell stories about some woman trying to eat her and all the times that she was taken away. I asked her how long she had been locked up for and she said from 2001 to 2005. I have a friend that is a police officer and over dinner we had discussed that this girl had lost her mind and had been arrested multiple times. I"m not sure if he himself has arrested her but I know he's had to talk to her more than once.
At this time it was my turn in line so I walked up to the counter and set my packages down. As the clerk turned the box to read the label and address she emidiatly turned it back around so that she could read it as well. "Brian in New York huh? you sending stuff to my buddy?" I pulled my money clip out with my ID and my credit cards. She snatched my ID out faster than I could even blink. She takes a few steps away as if to stay out of my reach and says "is this really you?" She starts reading off all of my information to everyone in line. Full name, address, Date of birth, everything. Then she starts to add her story, man you were a good one, she looks me up and down, "you turned out good." She gives me my ID back and then starts pulling business cards from her pocket. "I've got a card" she says. She pulls a business card for some tattoo shop in town, puts the card in her mouth and bites it as hard as she can making a perfect imprint of her teeth. She hands me the card and says take this to them, they'll know what to do. I don't take the card because it's covered in saliva which at the moment looking at her skin was kinda scaring me. She pulls another card for a taro card reader, bites it, goes to hand it to me, I don't take it so she sets it down on top of my mail that I have to eventually pick up. She repeats this a few more times. I go to pick the stack of mail up and I let the cards slide off onto the counter. She picks them up in a stack and says "here, don't forget these." I reluctantly take them from her and try not to touch the wet parts.
I finish up my transaction and walk over to my PO box, "oh you have a PO box?" and then shouts out the number repeatedly. "I have a PO box! i'm going to sing you a song" She starts belting out her song which admitatly her voice is pretty good. I grab my mail and head for the door, she follows singing adding in lyrics about how I am not listening to her. As we walk out the front doors she abruptly stops singing and says "do you have a dollar?" I said no, I don't have any change. "Is that your wife in the car?" pointing twards my wife sitting in the car with the window cracked about 3 inches. "Yes" I responded reluctantly. She takes off running towards the car slams her hands into the space in the glass and says "hi." My wife was quite composed and said hello in return. "Did you get him?" she asks my wife. "Yes." she replies. "Did you get him good?" "yes I got him good." My wife says. At this point I am in the car and have started the car. She asks if we will come across the street and meet the man that she will marry tonight at the music event that she was ranting about when she first walked into the post office. I kindly decline telling her that we just don't have the time. She says that if we come to the show she will call us up on stage and we can kiss. She peels a metal bracelet off of her arm and drops it into the car, "don't ever take that off" she says as she slaps the hood of the car. We pull out of the parking spot and onto the main street. She starts running in front of the car yelling someones name into the park across the street. She turns around and gestures for us to honk the horn but i slowly follow her with amazement. My wife is laughing a little in disbelief at this point. We are halfway down the block and she is still running in front of us. She pulls her shirt up to flash her Marijuana Grateful dead tattoo one last time along with about 2 inches of her but crack. She runs off of the road into the park and I gave a little beep beep on the horn.
I met her when I was about 15, I think she was 13 at the time. She was very beautiful and I was very smitten with her from the first time I saw her. I think we went on a handful of dates, she wrote me a bunch of love letters with perfume and pictures and pressed flowers. She never showed any signs of being unstable at all. So I started wondering. Is it drugs? does schizophrenia not come on until your 20's? This is the second person in my life that I have known very well in childhood and have grown up to be schizophrenic. I feel blessed and lucky to have my sanity, my life, and my memories. Something I guess I don't always acknowledge.