I left the hospital with my mother holding tightly on to one arm and a kind orderly holding the other. I couldn't have escaped if I'd wanted to. But my mind was on other things. I had to get back to flying. My San Francisco doctor had prescribed a series of steps to get me there. I had to go home, live with my mother, learn to drive so I could get to the airport where United Airlines had a base, take my medicine, and see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. I was instructed to eat well and regularly exercise.
As I sat in my first class seat, I was almost excited. Even through the haze of the drugs, I felt something was starting to move forward and that the worst might be over. The things I'd been doing to get away from my past had been eye opening, initially exciting but finally destructive. Without knowing who I was, what I believed in, and how I wanted to live my life, the sex and rock 'n' roll had left me empty, as empty as I'd been before going west for the pure adventure of getting away. Now, having gone through periods of great confusion and darkness, the trauma of my childhood had to be exorcised; the errors of my shallow, runaway thinking had to replaced with something more.
It was a dinner flight. After dinner the lights went out, the movie came on, and I was alone in my thoughts. Only I and the man above me on an aero-stretcher felt present. He was there, hanging from the overhead bin, struggling for his life with broken bones from head to toe from a ski accident. As I contemplated our failed adventures, he yelled out, "Get me a f--king drink." I remember thinking how lucky I was that my body was still intact, that I'd be able to walk off the plane, look normal, and maybe even act normal if I behaved myself. I began to consider that all I needed to do was to follow the advice of my doctor. And if I did, I might be able to fly again.
In a few minutes, a gentleman in a nurse's uniform stood up with a needle in his hand. As I imagined him giving the man a shot of sedation, it felt like I was approaching a new adventure. I went to sleep.
To be continued ...