Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.
I sit on a worn chair in the waiting room of the local government-funded mental health center—our county’s Medicaid destination. Will comfort be found in such a place? The lone potted plant languishes, badly in need of water. A wall poster of a fierce-looking young woman with tattooed biceps admonishes victims of abuse to find a Safe Zone. Patients check in and quietly sit and leave the room as therapists summon them. They seem overly careful of every step, as if falling down is a contingency they are not prepared to handle. Most wear broken-down shoes and odd clothes. No-money-for-luxuries shoes and clothes. I glance into the streaming eyes of a young man with a red, oddly twisted face. My eye contact seems to wound him. Someone else implores his caseworker to understand how really fast he used to be able to run. An old man clutches multiple zip-lock bags of medications in his lap while a nurse asks personal questions within sight and sound of the entire room. The man’s face twitches at every juncture of orifice and skin. His mouth kneads his tongue as though trying to coax moisture from it—the incessant thirst of the medicated. I need more Lexapro, I can hardly function right now, he says. I lose interest in my book. I pray for the patients—for blessing, stability, something. What would Jesus do?