Back before my life became a Telenovela – which may or may not be an insult to Telenovelas everywhere – I’d signed up to do the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Walk in Chicago.
In case you’re unawares, I’ve been working with mental illness-y stuff for over two years at Band Back Together, trying to reduce the stigma of mental health and other traumas through the power of written word and appropriate resources so that we may all grow, learn and heal.
So this NAMI walk, winding through some of the most beautiful parts of downtown Chicago (not a dead rat to be seen anywhere!), I’d completely forgotten about, what with the impending move (which may or may not occur two weeks early), the dissolution of my union, packing, and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity (shut UP, I am sorta sane). Thankfully, our ever-present hero Dawn was around to remind me.
Dawnie, July 27: “Do you want to just go from my house? You can drive here and we’ll go.”
Me: “Huh? Your house? Sure! Can we order pizza?”
Dawnie: “You don’t remember?”
Me: “I remember pizza!”
Dawnie: “THE NAMI WALK!”
Me: “Isn’t that next year?”
Dawnie, August 8: “So you’re meeting me at my house and we’ll go park downtown and walk to the area of the walk.”
Me: “WALKING? Should I wear my fuck-me pumps?”
Me: “What? They’re a PRETTY shade of blue.”
Dawnie, September 1: “So Erin and Maggie are meeting at my house on the 15th. We’ll carpool.”
Dawnie: “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
Me: “Nope. Will there be cake?”
Dawnie: “You’re fired.”
Me: “Second time I heard that today.”
My pea-brain can only handle so much information at once, so it’s safe to say I didn’t TRULY remember the NAMI walk until Thursday, when I was all, SHITFUCK how did I forget that? and both Dawn and The Guy Formerly On My Couch reminded me that my memory is like a block of Swiss cheese.
Which is why, on Saturday, not one, not two, not three, but at least 15 people reminded me to wear “sensible” (read: boring) shoes for walking a 5K. The Guy Formerly On My Couch went as far as to come over ahead of time and made sure I was not wearing gaudy flippity-flops or those awesome Strawberry 4 inch heels. He just subtly put my running (HA! LIKE I RUN!) shoes in front of me and stared pointedly at me until I put them on.
We arrived at Dawn’s with enough time to notice this:
It was a good thing we were walking for mental health.
On the way to the city, I performed my dramatic re-readings of various emails, much to the delight (read: horror) of my car mates, which made me wish I had some old crappy love letters to do this with – it’s one of my favorite things to do at a party, besides yell randomly, “NO I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT YOUR RASH.”
When we got downtown, we made a beeline for the NAMI 5K, held somewhere in Grant Park.
While I’ve never been one to walk (or run) for a cause, I have to say that it was pretty empowering, even if there were no snacks to be had. (WANTED SNACKIES!)
Mental illness is one of the only illnesses in which you’re actively judged for having. It’s our job – high heels or not – to reduce that.
I think we’re off to a good start.