I was not full-blown psychotic during this time of my life, but the barbs of insanity were sharpening, lengthening, and slowly poking holes of weakness in my mental state. I was beginning to wrestle with the challenge of coping with paranoia. And I noticed the gnaw of suspicion easing into my every thought, no matter how banal or innocuous.
A junkie of mobile technology, I was constantly downloading the latest apps. Especially intrigued by social networking apps, I downloaded and tested them as quickly as they were released. Back then, mobile social networking apps were unchartered territory, not widely used by the mainstream. But as a futurist thinker, I could envision how revolutionary the smartphone would become. So when it came to social networking apps, I explored every single one.
While innocence and curiosity fueled unrestricted exploration, I connected to hundreds of anonymous chat partners. These faceless friends would ultimately come into play and fuel maddening paranoia running rampant in my psychotic world. In the end, I would have determined that these apps were part of the larger conspiracy and were the preferred methods of communication for the government. And all those random, anonymous chat friends were actually secret agents using this new technology to deliver instructions for secret missions or provide clues to my next assignments.
On this particular day, I was roaming around Washington DC, just killing time and enjoying the fall weather while checking out stores, architecture, and people watching. Hitting a threshold of hunger and psychical fatigue, I found myself in the colorful neighborhood of Chinatown. I found a cute little restaurant, requested a table, and was comfortably seated next to a window overlooking the touristy district when I learned of Steve Job’s death. It was October 5, 2011.
I was chatting on one of my apps with one of my anonymous contacts when they broke the news of his passing. I was devastated. I idolized Steve Jobs as a visionary of technology and design, inspired by his impressive turn around of Apple. He redesigned their products and culture, elevating their status in the market as the preferred manufacturer of computing products for the creative class. My machines of choice were the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
The shocking news set me back to remember and contemplate. While mulling over the sad news, I suddenly realized that we had an inordinate concentration of Apple stores in the Washington DC area. I was curious to see if the stores did anything to honor the passing of their beloved CEO. So I decided to embark on a pilgrimage to visit each and every one. I told my faceless chat friend my plans to remember and honor Steve Jobs at his stores and he responded with “High Five . . cool, that’s an awesome idea. ..High Five!!”
Each of the stores were beautiful and moving. Fans had traveled from all over Washington DC to pay their respects and leave items honoring our celebrated, cultural icon. Flowers were placed at storefronts, store windows were decorated in colorful post-it notes messages, handwritten letters were stacked up under the flowers, and elegant hollowed out apples flickered and glowed as functional, fanciful candle holders.
I took several photos for Instagram and Twitter. But as I took the photos, an unsettling awareness lingered throughout my body. In the near future, this uneasy discomfort would evolve, intensify, and become a part of my daily existence. It was one of the first samplings of what it feels like to live with acute psychotic delusion. Nevertheless, I carried on with my project. And as I photographed the mourners, I was certain that someone else was watching, photographing and following me from store to store.
At the end of the night, I stopped into a Mexican food restaurant for dinner and a drink. I was sitting at the bar alone when an Irish gentleman approached and asked if he could join me. I said sure.
He sat down and we started chatting. I shared with him stories of my pilgrimage to the Apple stores. As he listened to me an viewed the photos on my phone, his reaction was over the top and curious. Inordinately excited and rapaciously interested, he expressed his delight by exclaiming the same words over and over . . . reaching his hands over his head to connect with mine while howling the popular and too familiar cliche over and over . . .”High Five!!!! High Five!!!!”
The changes both my chat partner and my new Irish friend regaling my expedition to the Apple store with duplicate acclamations of “High Five” struck me as more than coincidental. I perceived it as deliberate. And I quickly convinced myself that both of them were secret agents assigned to influence and watch over me.
These types of people, meaning people appearing out of nowhere, begin to surface wherever I went. They behaved consistently with each occurence engaging in repetitve behavior like sharing or repeating key words, common phrases, talk of interests or events, and casually mentioning obscure notions.
I didn’t know why this was happening but I accepted what I was hearing and seeing as reality. No amount of contemplation or internal sleuthing produced any answers.
Filled with frustration, fear, and roiling suspicion, I could only attribute these interactions as covert activity originating from government. And because I was dealing with secret missions and undercover agents, this must be the only permissable way to communicate.
It began to all make sense. These unexplained interactions must to be a form of code. It was clear they were trying to communicate with me.