I went back to reading my book and looked up again. He was still sitting in the same spot but this time when I looked he appeared to have a bloody nose, tissue hanging from his nostrils. That still didn’t seem too strange because I’d seen it before. I felt sympathetic because I have had a bloody nose in an airport before and felt very self conscious and helpless. Then he started rocking himself.
I am a rocker and always have been. My mother tells a story of us living in a two story apartment when I was a toddler. I had a red rocking chair with a separate foot stool that matched. It was a platform type, meaning it sat flat on the floor and rocked. I would rock in the chair so hard that the platform would come off the ground and bang on the ceiling below. They complained.
Usually if someone rocks in public it’s subtle. He wasn’t. He had his arms crossed tight across his body and rocked himself to where he came out from the seat back, almost touching his knees then moved back to his original position. Over and over he rocked. My first impulse was to see if I could be of some comfort but I decided against and stayed where I was.
He had a backpack and a cell phone and he made a call. But he had the phone on speaker and spoke loudly to the recipient. It was in his lap. I couldn’t hear the whole conversation but did hear him say, “I love you too Papaw.” Again, I went back to my book.
The next time I looked he was gone. I checked my phone and continued reading. Someone came up to the chair beside mine and when I looked up, it was him. He had two pieces of what seemed to be sweet and sour chicken. I came to that conclusion because there was a Chinese food stall across the way. He took one of the pieces of chicken and sat it on the table between the chairs. There was no napkin or paper or anything. He sat it straight on the surface while he prepared to sit in the empty chair.
He settled, then picked up the chicken and popped it into his mouth while wiping his hands down his shirt. He rested quietly but he was fidgeting, twirling his fingers together. I read this was a sign of autism and I wondered if he was on the spectrum. I didn’t know but felt there was some kind of mental problem.
After a while he stood and walked in a tight circle in front of his chair while he spoke. The lady across from us was working on a computer but when he started the pacing she noticed. She watched him intently and when she and I made eye contact I shrugged to say I don’t know what is wrong.
I went to the restroom and when I got back someone was in the chair I had occupied. He was still there however, walking and speaking, but had increased the circumference of his pacing. I waited at the end of the row as it was almost time for boarding. The woman who was in the chair directly behind him stood up and looked at me. She asked if he was on the phone as he was speaking loud enough for people to notice. I told her no, that something was wrong. She commented, “And he’s getting on our plane”.
It was time and I boarded the plane. His pass had a number that was after mine and I was thankful that he chose a seat near the front. The flight landed in another location but I was a through passenger and stayed on board. He got off the plane and I didn’t see him again. That was Friday.
Fast forward to Sunday when I traveled again. It was another through flight with a stop midway. I got on the plane and when we landed at the first stop, moved closer to the front like we are allowed to do after a through count. The new board was a full flight and my row had all seats occupied.
I heard someone behind me asking the lady beside him if the book was about Arnold Schwarzenegger. She replied it was and the plane took off. We landed and as we taxied to the gate and people could speak on their phones I heard someone say very loudly, “hello”. Evidently there was no sound from the other side so he spoke again, louder. Then he said, “I love you mom. I’ll see you when I see you”, still speaking loudly, enough to be considered shouting. He repeated, even louder than before, “I said I’ll see you when I see you!” The person on the receiver at the other end still apparently did not hear so he said it again, screaming, “I’ll see you when I see you!” People were looking around and snickering, glancing with embarrassment at the poor guy. I stood to disembark and turned to see who had the difficult phone conference. Guess who it was? Yes, the same sad guy that has conversations with himself in the airport. What were the odds of that?
The whole incident was funny but not in a humorous way. Mental illness isn’t funny. And, we all live with our own bit of crazy. That's how it goes...
Mental wounds not healing
Several studies have been done recently on the benefits of knitting. The stimulation knitting provides your brain can result in better memory and attention span and also increase your problem-solving abilities. Besides all that, the gentle rhythm of the needles moving with the yarn brings relaxation and causes a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. It’s been said it also helps with the symptoms of depression.
So we continue with the knit-along. Progress is being made but with all of us being so busy it could take a while! It’s funny how Kerri, Miya and I all have our own take on this project. It will be fun to see the finished products.
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train...