I had a really nice watch. Very expensive. A Cartier. It was given to me by my employer when I had been with the company for 20 years. It was a wonderful perk. The company sends you to this fancy-pants jewelry store on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and you get to pick out a watch.
They gave out the watches to all the 20-year employees at an annual dinner. I was in the darkest throws of a depression, skin and bones, unable to work and on disability. But I would be damned if I was going to miss that dinner.
So, I shined myself up as best as I could and went to the dinner with my daughter. I said nothing, ate nothing, got the watch and left. I gave the watch to my daughter. She deserved it as much as I did, considering how much time I spent at the office while she was growing up.
I have “issues” with time and a watch only reminds me of where I was or where I need to be. When I am depressed I am not in the present. I am not singularly “here” and “now.” I am in the past – reliving something awful that has happened or I am in the future – “things will never get better, it will always be like this.” A watch encouraged my thoughts to ping-pong back and forth between the past and future.
When I was in my last depression, there was only one thing that could pull me back to here and now: Jasmine. During those long, sleepless nights I walked the neighborhood with my dog. It was springtime and the Confederate jasmine was in full bloom here in south Florida.
Confederate jasmine has an exotically sweet fragrance. It is a potent scent that sneaks up on you a block away: “Wow, what is that?” As you get closer it gets stronger and sweeter. It is a vine and it is intoxicating. Your sense of smell is overwhelmed and you are fully present.
So there I was, in the middle of the night, in search of jasmine. When I found it, I shoved my nose into a cluster of the white flowers and breathed long and deep. And for a fraction of a second, I felt good. But the feeling left as soon as it came upon me and I would find another bloom, stick my nose in it and breathe long and deep again as my dog tugged on the leash.
I did this over and over. I knew which houses had jasmine wrapped around their mailboxes or fences. I stood there, 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, huffing jasmine. It was like a narcotic. When my depression finally lifted, I planted jasmine outside my bedroom. Every spring the sweet scent fills my bedroom at night. I instantly flash back to that depression and then back to my bedroom, the crisp white sheets, my dog sleeping beside me and think of now. How wonderful my life is…now.