After starting ketamine treatment my productivity skyrocketed. There were all of these basic things I had been unable to do before, mired as I was in the haze of depression, and now I could do them and do them with a euphoric gusto that bordered on religious fervor. I prayed at the altar of the to-do list, checking tasks off one after another, aglow with a sense of triumph and accomplishment the likes of which I’d never experienced outside of dominating at foosball and Scrabble games (my true life’s calling). Within a couple of weeks, I had feverishly cleaned out my apartment, applied to, interviewed for, and been hired at two jobs, started a daily meditation practice, and begun studying Spanish and botany. I even went so far as to create a Tinder profile under the misguided notion that perhaps I liked people now. I don’t. I really don’t.
I also began the process of preparing to go back to school–a place I left at sixteen, a detention slip for my too-short skirt still crumpled in my fist as I thrust a celebratory middle finger in the air on my way out the door. Good riddance! Or so I thought. That jubilant sentiment of, “Fuck the man, I’m free, baby!” remained for some time until ketamine reawakened parts of my brain I feared I had lost for good. It reminded me that I do, in fact, delight in the gleaning of knowledge, (something I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, but hadn’t been able to feel for some time), even if it requires journeying back into the belly of the beast. (But, still–Fuck the man. Some things don’t change.)
With a reinvigorated sense of curiosity and thirst for information (as well as a restored ability to focus, bordering on a Ritalin high), I began spending my evenings huffing ketamine (as prescribed) and binge-drinking tea, hunched over a botany textbook while enthusiastically wielding a colored pencil with all the fine motor skills of a ham-fisted toddler. (Coloring inside the lines is hard when you’re chemically impaired, okay? And before you ask, “What do colored pencils have to do with a science textbook?”–It was a coloring textbook. Yep, I fully drank the Kool Aid on that trend. Adult coloring rules, age-appropriate societal norms be damned.) Reveling in the newly-absorbing world of natural sciences was the highlight of a day otherwise occupied with mindless, menial labor, which led to the realization that returning to school would allow me to focus all of my energies on this thrilling pursuit, uninterrupted by the need to strip rose thorns or sit behind a reception desk watching people beat the shit out of each other. (My jobs are weird, I know.)
So here I am, six months later, in the midst of navigating this exciting, utterly terrifying prospect. There are daunting changes on the horizon–obstacles that might as well have U-turn signs plastered to their seemingly insurmountable bulk. (For example: Why does every apartment rental in Prescott have such awful carpeting? Who, while decorating an apartment, thinks, What this place really needs is an aesthetic that screams “sea of vomit that has dried and cracked like the Sahara desert!” And while we’re on the subject, let it be known that there’s a special place in hell for people who carpet kitchens and bathrooms. It’s almost as vile as the surface of the El seats being fabric. I understand that the CTA was probably hoping to absorb the frequent puddles of urine that are an integral part of that public-transit charm, but I would really rather know that I’m about to be marinating in someone else’s bodily fluids so I can make an informed decision not to.) But, ultimately, I am grateful to finally be embarking on a new adventure after years of stagnation that I had fully accepted as the inevitable state of my life from which I might never emerge.
There are a few i’s left to dot and t’s left to cross (at least there might be if people still wrote by hand–do I have to take notes on a computer now? Is that what the kids are doing these days?), but barring some egregious flaw in the plan, I will be winging my way toward Prescott, Arizona come August and diving back into the murky waters of institutional education amongst a sea of fresh-faced 18 year olds to whom I’ll have to explain, “I may look your age, but I’m older and bitter beyond your wildest dreams, so please keep your blissful, doe-eyed naiveté at a ten foot radius.”