Grace chuckled and walked me over to a table with a half-completed jigsaw puzzle on it. She pulled some forms out of my file and explained them to me. One was to make sure I voluntary admitted myself, another was for giving away my phone and wallet etc. I signed a number of forms without reading most of them. There was an elderly man sitting in an armchair, talking with a middle aged man in the chair next to him. I didn't pay much attention to what they were saying, Grace showed me my room. To my great relief, the room was a single occupant one. With a bed, a night stand, a table-thing and a closet that was supposedly always locked (it never was the entire time I was there). Grace handed me some hospital pyjamas and blue slip on coverings for my feet. At first I was puzzled as to why I had to give up even my normal clothes. No one ever told me, but I figure it was to: a) let the nurses know "hey I'm the new guy!" and b) prevent me from leaving. Grace also gave me a purple pamphlet to read over. I sat at the table while she went through a checklist with me.
"Why're you here?" I was feeling unsafe.
"Do you have any history of mental illness?" Yes
"Do you have any allergies?" Just penicillin. The questions were pretty normal procedure, any special diet, medical illnesses to be aware of...until:
"Have you had any trouble with the law?" Yes, I said jokingly, and hastily explained my joke. "Any impending court dates...your not trying to get out of a trial, are you?" obviously I wasn't...would someone actually admit to that?
Grace left to go file some paperwork, and so I sat a the desk and flipped through the pamphlet. It wasn't exciting or anything quite like that, but I read it over and over, memorizing the visiting hours, the different levels of patient observation, and meal times. Eventually I couldn't prevent my tears any longer and some escaped and rolled down my face. I huddled up on my armchair and rocked gently. Great, now I probably looked crazy! I just made the biggest mistake of my life, I needed to get out..and get out NOW. When Grace returned I wiped my tears and put on a smile, which she obviously saw through.
"Its always scary the first night, It's a really weird place in the beginning...if you need to talk to me, I'm usually just at the desk." Grace took me on a tour of the wing. The area just outside my room was spacious and bright, the puzzle table was there, as was a colourful armchair beside a table with balloons saying "Get well". The ceiling was dominated by a large skylight, which only reflected the scene below that late at night. There was the large desk where nurses and staff sat working, a space with a long table and more couches, and a T.V room. There was only one T.V. for both units...I was hesitant to join the small group there and stuck with Grace. I felt severely out of place there, everyone seemed older and no one laughed, spoke with much force, and all seemed to walk in a rather dolorous shuffle. I turned to Grace, smiled and asked with I'm sure, a pleading look in my eyes.
"Is there a piano?"