Kaysen writes that most of her fellow patients got out of McLean eventually. She and Georgina kept in touch, and occasionally visited one another. Georgina lived for a time at a women’s commune, but eventually married. Once, Susanna and her husband travelled to visit Georgina and her husband on their farm in western Massachusetts. They spent the day cooking, refinishing windows, and playing with one of the farm’s goats. When Georgina used a sweet potato to force the goat to do tricks, Susanna became agitated and sad. Eventually, Susanna writes, Georgina and her husband moved out to Colorado, though Susanna has no idea what happened to their goat.
In this passage, Susanna and Georgina figure out their connection to one another and the roles they will play in each other’s lives now that they are out of McLean. On the visit to Georgina’s farm, Susanna is perturbed when Georgina teases a goat with the promise of food. Susanna perhaps sees Georgina’s dangling a reward in front of the goats as a kind of reminder of their time in McLean, where privileges were rare and true joy was hard to come by.
A few years after Georgina left Massachusetts, Susanna ran into Lisa in Harvard Square. Lisa introduced Susanna to her child, and both women marveled at how “crazy” it was that she’d become a mother. Susanna notes that Lisa looked exactly the same out of McLean as she had inside. Lisa told Susanna that “everything changes” when one has children. Susanna, who had by that point in her life decided not to have children and was on the verge of a crumbling marriage, fell quiet. Lisa lifted her t-shirt to show Susanna the sagging, accordion-like flesh of her abdomen, explaining that having children changes one’s body forever. Before the two parted ways, Lisa asked Susanna if she ever thought of McLean. Susanna answered that she did. Lisa said she did, too, and then said, “Oh, well,” and descended into the subway with her small child.
Susanna and Lisa’s chance encounter is a surprise for both of them, and Susanna is shocked to find that the wild renegade has become a mother. Lisa, however, has been transformed by motherhood—not just in terms of her mood and temperament, but physically, as well, and she is all too eager to share these changes rather joyously with Susanna. The two women connect over their shared memories, but ultimately, the time at McLean—which had seemed so vital, dangerous, dramatic, and even life-or-death at times—has come to feel remote for both women, and especially for Lisa.