Self Re-Invention or Mental Breakdown?

Once upon a time in a crumbly sublet co-op apartment complex where most of the tenants worked at a nearby shopping center, there I was on the first floor with Renee* as my neighbor. Now there are some things to mention when describing Renee. She was petite, had short hair, and kept to herself to the point that it was almost standoffish to try to interact with her. What I did know about her personality was that she was from the Midwest, she was in her early 20's and that she was a little bit of a slob. Still, in the relatively minimal time that I knew Renee, I never expected her to take the route in life that she did. This is what happened to my timid friend.


Due to the neighborhood being more on the rough side of things, many of the apartment complex's tenants would meet up in the morning and walk to work together. Although I often invited Renee along she always declined, preferring to walk to work alone. In the shopping center, I never bumped into Renee unless it was at lunch. Later this struck me as odd because I was a janitor at the time, who was busy being just about everywhere in that shopping center each day. I saw everyone from our building at least a couple of times a day working, but never Renee. There came a day when Renee seemed extra morose while eating alone. I thought it would be nice to strike up a conversation with her and see if I could help her in any way, Renee however completely brushed me off, something she did regularly. Taking the hint, I left her to herself, but I was still worried about the girl. It was as if not a person in the world was there for her. I simply could not tell if that was intentional on her part or some sad turn of events for her.


In the days after that, no one saw Renee anywhere. People were starting to ask questions that ranged from "is she okay" to "she hasn't hurt herself? Has she?" Some of those who knew her well would knock on her door every so often to see if she would answer and ease our concerns. I was worried that I had not helped her when she was having some sort of trouble. When I did see her I was beyond relieved. Renee from a distance was visibly changed in her gait and her disposition. She was smiling (something she never did) and she had an actual bounce in her step. Renee came up to me for once, I have always initiated conversations before then. Seeing her closely I found her to be bizarrely upbeat. When she spoke it was clear something was not altogether right. In a heavy, terribly executed accent said " "ello, I'm from jolly old England, me across the pond home." I was dumbfounded at that exchange, but before I could respond she sort of skipped away.


I had no idea what to make of it. Did she forget that we had met many times before? Was she method acting? Was she trolling me? Was this some form of a mental breakdown? Was she really from England and hiding her true identity until that moment for some reason? Did she do drugs that had this as an effect? For days on end, Renee greeted everyone who knew her in the same manner "'ello I'm from England!" in a thick strange accent and then merrily went on her way. As hard to understand as it was what that caused Renee to have this sort of self re-invention, it was hard to confront her on it too. Not only because she was more of an acquaintance than a friend, but also because she was happier than ever before. What kind of people would we be if we tried to take that away from her?


I like to pretend that she lived an exciting life after that as an actress who nailed her accent for her role. More likely though was that she was probably having some type of psychotic episode. I really wouldn't know though because Renee moved away in the short weeks after, still keeping to herself except to announce England as her place of origin. It does bring up the point if someone is happy does anyone have the right to interfere? Something wasn't altogether well there that's for sure. Renee was able to care for herself outwardly, she wasn't unwashed or seemingly hurt in any way. I knew she was eating still from seeing her eating at the shopping center every day. Let's hope she didn't have a stroke that caused this behavior change and hope that it all worked out for her whatever was going on there.


*names changed for privacy