Cloverdale. The small town north of the San Francisco Bay Area which I suppose it's true to say that I am from. Cloverdale, which back in my day lacked the charm of neighboring Healdsburg, the quaint hipness of Geyserville. It was simply a pit stop of a town that boasted the Owl Cafe and an annual Citrus Fair. Cloverdale, with Highway 101 passing through it, slashing it like so much a dull blade in an aqua-tinted Safeway sugar coated birthday cake.
When we lived in town, we lived in one of those houses that's completely comfortable and never a head-turner. I remember it well. It was the house next to an empty corner lot. My brother and I knew all the kids in a 5, 6 block radius and we played with most everyone, in the way that kids will – best friends in one moment and sworn enemies the next. Our allegiances would turn on a dime, maybe even for a dime – we loved cash to buy candy.
I remember playing hide-and-go seek, waiting behind something in the breathless anticipation that the game induces. I remember Sourgrass, chomping on it as I'd wait to be found.
I have no idea what the actual name of Sourgrass is. But this "grass" – fleshy, light green stalks of startling tartness – rises up out of beds of light clover in a northern Californian Fall. I'd grab it by the fist fulls and eat it. Other kids would tell me that it was sour because dogs would piss on it – but I didn't believe them. Not from any kind of careful deduction or logic; I simply didn't believe them because I didn't want to – I didn't want to have to stop eating it.
Sourgrass in it's surpassing tang. The sense that I was having fun imbibing something that was a little bit wrong.
Yesterday I picked up my first prescription for an anti-depressant. I felt a little thrill go through me as I did, wondering if I was enjoying this because it was something that was wrong – or was it? The whole 'Just Say No!" campaign had had its way with me, all right. I have never been much for drugs, always scared of my brains curdling up and frying in the pan like the sizzling eggs in the commercial. All drugs. Not just the standard ones, all of them, including medicinal. I avoid everything except Tylenol and ibuprofen.
But there is a point in which even I can step back and take a look at my sitting in one place all day, crying, and know that it's a straight path to a place called No Good. In which even I can admit that I need help, and if help right now comes in the form of a pill, then maybe that's what I need. Maybe I can take a deep breath and give it a shot.
As I walked home, I saw that Sourgrass is once more in season, lining the fences, nooks and crannies wherever and however it might.
Like the tartness of depression, it springs as often as it's allowed.
Like depression, I feel the urge to pick it, crunch down on it, feel the sour bite course through my mouth.
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.