The time I left the hospital & ended up alone at the airport
There’s a first time for everything
Oh, there are so many great “firsts” to choose from! I could tell you about the first time Neboh went to this hotel, and he met … Well, that one might be for another time. Since we are all just meeting him, why don’t I tell you something a bit more inspirational? Say, the first time Neboh traveled abroad on his own.
I know, I know, it doesn’t sound all that exciting. Lots of people travel alone (yeah, the loners!). Traveling alone is daunting, exciting, and challenging enough for most people anyway. But let me connect this first to another first. See, back in the day, Neboh had some serious emotional “tendencies,” we’ll call them. He self-harmed, he had anxiety attacks, I mean, things were rough. So rough, in fact, that his choices and neuroses lead Neboh straight to the emergency room. He was given the choice to be admitted or released and, more curious than anything else, he decided to be admitted.
Curse you, curiosity!
Of course, this led Neboh into a near 6-year bout with psych wards. Listen, there’s a reason I’m telling you this;
Soon after spending his 20th birthday locked behind those same pale walls, Neboh decided to commit to something other than himself-inside-of-a-hospital. He recently met a woman online who was learning English, and he spoke that. What a coincidence! Better yet, he always wanted to learn Portuguese, and … shhh … she spoke that! Oh, my word. Naturally, they linked up and started liking each other, then started to “like-like” each other. You know where this is heading.
Soon Neboh decided to get a plane ticket and export his behind out to Brazil. But wait; it couldn’t be that simple. For one, Neboh didn’t have tons of money sitting around. In fact, due to spending much of his last 6 years in and out of psychiatric wards and group homes, he’d never even had a job. Okay, what else? There was the question of never having traveled overseas by himself. Neboh knew a chunk of Portuguese, but by no means was he fluent or even conversational. Taking away all of the logistics, Neboh was taking medications and still suffered regularly from crippling anxiety, depressive episodes, and psychosis. What a lovely cocktail that must have been, eh?
Somehow, he did it. Don’t ask me how. In some way, he found temporary work, figured out how to pass up his meds, doctor's appointments, learned how to cope just enough to set foot on that airplane. And best believe the evil forces were trying to steer him away. Neboh’s girlfriend’s (let’s call her Sara) ex was trying to contact her again. People in Neboh’s neighborhood were questioning whether Sara was being honest or just wanted to trick him. Maybe steal his organs? You know how people’s minds get when they hear you’re going overseas alone. For a young man who’d never done it and was just coming off a series of the most paranoid neurotic years of life one could imagine — it was not encouraging, let’s just say that. As I said before, somehow that little Neboh did it. That’s kind of a funny name, isn’t it?
Anywho, all that he went through before made his meeting with Sara that much sweeter. Neboh was still nervous as heck, as can be imagined. He had gas the whole flight over. With a layover, the process took all of about 20 hours. 20 hours of pure gas. But he made it! Neboh put on his deodorant (much needed), brushed his teeth in the airport bathroom, and ran out of Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo to hug and kiss on his new girlfriend. All the worry and emotional havoc were relieved in those few moments. He was now a new person in a new world where everything was vibrant, exciting, and a little bit shocking.
Of course, this was no happily-ever-after, at least in the fairy-tale sense of it. Things like the language and cultural barriers still caused him great amounts of anxiety. He still had some accidents with self-harm, hopeless moments, long sleepless nights he’d wish not even on his worst enemies. The point, I’d like to add, is that these experiences led Neboh to be a better and stronger person.
Neboh’s first trip abroad on his own took lots of courage. He went to the park, had fun with Sara, and became exceedingly immersed in a brand new culture. At times he felt like trying to escape it, and other times he contemplated never going home. Like most first times in a new country, the experience was filled with enchantment and moments of awkward confusion. For someone who just that year had been locked up in the crazy bin, going to Brazil and being immersed into an entirely new world certainly shook Neboh’s own world. The trip lasted only a week, but — I’m sure you could tell — it was an event that would turn his life completely around.
Thanks for stopping by and reminiscing about that time …