uu 4 – blue without showing it

blue door

27 July 2015 – Dad’s back to work today. Odd not having him around. Piping in with one or another tidbit he’s read online. Mountains on Pluto. The mass recall of cars with hackable on-board computers. Cecil the lion. Batteries to power the home.

He’s a civil servant. Like his old man was. And like his old man he’s practical, sensible. Not generally given to considering the messier issues generated by the world we happen to live in. Nor stricken by striving for experiences broader than the compass and penknife he keeps in his pocket.

For him work is something you do to have a home and a certain amount of flexibility to do as you choose outside the office. He doesn’t think about liking or disliking his job. Or whether or not he’s doing enough to fulfil himself.

He likes the social dynamics of work and the structure it provides. The daily chatter, the weekly routine. From 8-4, five days a week, he knows who he’s going to see and where he needs to be.

The routine, as he lived it, continued after work. He’d drive home, park the car, then walk to the gym for an hour of exercise before heading back home, making and having dinner and getting on with whatever renovation project he had going on around the house.

There were variations and exceptions of course. But in the main his days were active and full. So being a layabout in his own home hasn’t sat well with him.

Until the last month or so he hasn’t been able to do much more than look at the goggle-boxes (TV and computer) and try to find lying/sitting/standing positions that don’t aggravate his hip.

He’s been anxious, fractious, short-tempered. In turns bored and downright blue. He’s considered his own human frailty. Wondered if his body failing him is just the beginning of what he can expect of getting older.

To which I pointed out that he was holding a pair of reading glasses. ‘Snarky devil,’ he said.

Seems he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

I tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. That he’s in sound health, doing very well for a man in his mid-50’s.

He cringes at the mention of his age and tells me to stop using my x-ray vision on him.

Nor has he lost his playful sarcasm.

Which, from my perspective, suggests he enjoys having someone in the house with him. Not to look after him so much as to just be good company. A companion.

This has weighed on my mind for a long time. The fact that he’s alone in his home. I suspect he would like to share his life again. But it’s not something we talk about. He is after all a man of his generation.

Blue without showing it.

Some doors needn’t be pried. They’ll open at the appropriate time.

That’s about as he’d put it. Mister Roll-with-the-punches.

One of the reasons his recovery has taken so long is that once spring hit he got his annual dose of lawn fever and had to go and get the aerator out of the garage. He got it onto the front lawn alright but went and strained a few muscles trying to start the damn thing.

While having to keep his distance from the lawn was a downer, the thing that seemed to put him in the deepest dumps was not being able to go on early season fishing trips with ‘the boys’.

Ah, the boys…. It’s always amazed me that he and his set of lifelong friends have managed to stay so close after all these years. They grew up together. Started careers and families and bought houses around the same time. Some have gone away and come back. Others have lost what they had and started anew. But they still play on the same same beer league hockey team and get together to watch sports.

And go on fishing trips.

This past weekend Hank and Chuck and Blair were over to finalize details for an upcoming 4-day fishing odyssey in mid-August. Dad was in his glory. Telling stories of his retreat. Hanging with a bunch of old phoneys and getting his yoga on.

He also mentioned seriously considering the purchase of an RV—what he called a retirement villa on wheels.

I teased him by saying maybe it would become a romantic vessel.

The boys got rowdy. Dad raised eyebrows and dimpled a cheek.

He’s back. And as of today the structure of his life, and a large part of his contentment, returns to full-on normal. He was like a kid this morning getting ready for work and preparing his exercise kit for afterwards.

Eager, happy, excited.

I went to the front door with him. He looked over his freshly mown and edged lawn and nodded to himself.

Yup. He’s back alright. You’d never think he was gone.

uu 3 – pho room on nome

Ford Mercury pickup truck

19 July 2015 – The things you hear sometimes. Twice in the last week I overheard young women say that someone they know has Asperger’s. Both times the someone was a he. The first diagnosed by the declaration that ‘all he ever talks about is himself’; the second with, ‘He never listens.’

Another woman. This one a fully fledged medical professional. In the hospital foodcourt. Telling a male colleague, who’s all eyes and ears with her, about her ‘depauperate lovelife’. That it’s hard to find someone who isn’t either stoned all the time or wanting to be.

Man on phone in hallway. ‘You aints lissnin is you? I said I gots me pho room on me nome. Capiche?’ The last word said, ‘cap-ee-chay’.

A patient’s mother stating with absolute certainty that her boy has ADHD. Because he never sits down and won’t ever listen.

‘Whoever they are,’ says one intern to another. ‘The owners of the world lord it over us like silent kings and queens.’

Speaking of queens. Walking to grocery store last night passed two older ladies who’d stopped to pet and talk to a cat laying about stretching on a shady lawn. On the way back I saw the same ladies stopped out front of a house across the street. They were smelling white flowers and without batting an eye each snapped off three or four of the flower heads. As they started to walk away, slowly, I noticed they both used canes. I kept watching and saw them stop again. One of them passed her flowers to the other and pulled something from her pocket. She put a joint in her mouth and lit it. Blew smoke. Pocketed lighter. Took another drag. Blew smoke. Took flowers from the other and passed the joint. I stopped watching.

Aggravated insults and designated sitters.

Chasing visions.

Talking visioning exercises with Clara the other day. She laughed at her devotion to the practise. Having found that her sessions are more like a hobby these days. She’s so used to doing them it’s like daydreaming. I said I did them as a kid. Cut out pictures of things I wanted from magazines and posted them everywhere. In my mind’s eye I walked through spaces I wished to inhabit. Envisioned my future husband. Saw what I’d be doing for a living and saw my older self riding horses and hiking in mountainous places and driving up to my own private hideaway.

Wasn’t til after Marcus died I took visioning more seriously. As means to setting goals and planning my future. The first Sunday of every month I’d sit down, clear the head for wandering, then write everything out. It seemed to work wonders. Gave me a chance to stop thinking about Marcus. Kept me focused. Got me to going to school, got me through school, got me to working and even got me to moving out west.

But I never foresaw G—the man my projections summoned had a darker complexion and more penetrating eyes. And visioning didn’t prepare me for how I’d feel. About him, about the time it would take for us to happen, about the flood of insecurities that came with opening myself up. I didn’t imagine the house, living together, Liz, his dad. None of it fit the scenarios I’d envisaged. It was so much better.

And I miss it. All of it. But mostly my G.

Who tells me he loves me at least twice a day.

I have to shake my head.

Was a time there thought about ending us. Because it seemed sensible—why postpone the inevitable. But then he came out for Christmas. Was so caring and supportive. Stayed two weeks. Took him out to see mom. Hoping he might bring her out of her stupor. They got on fine but mom has made her blinders permanent. He tried though. And didn’t put up a fuss. So I got to thinking maybe we just might make it through however long.

And now that however long is looking like it has an end. We talk about me going back. Maybe as soon as my trip in August—return ticket be damned.

Just off phone with G. I read to him the above. He listened without interruption and said he loves it. Especially the ‘aggravated insults’ bit. Because it sounds like me.

He told me about work and the drought and taking his dad to the Avengers and seeing an old red and white Ford Mercury pick up truck in the parking lot. And then he told me about his morning with the rat. How he’d gone out to water the plants and from between pots on the back porch saw the long tail of a rat. He jumped back. The rat moved but only slightly. He looked more closely. The rat was small and appeared to be labouring. He moved a pot. The rat underwent a kind of instant seizure, screeched terribly and went onto its side, paws up in defensive posture. It was badly injured somehow, its eyes pleading to be left alone. Maybe it was waiting to die peacefully. G didn’t know what to do with it. Decided to leave it be and went about watering. He checked on it a few times. Still there, in the same position he’d left it, its eyes seeming to acknowledge G as a kindred spirit. He went out front to water. At one point he heard a squabble of crows but didn’t think anything of it. When he next checked the rat was gone.

He’s been thinking of the rat all day. Wondering what its final moments were like. Perhaps a feeling of being lifted into the air, sighting the house and the street and the trees and now higher the sky and at last the sun blinding those dying eyes.

uu 2 – nothering the bother cots

forestfire sky

06 July 2015 – Don’t it just seem we’re all so frightfully busy all of a sudden. Clara, an HCA I’ve befriended, said this. In reference to a guy she’s been seeing. Matt. Who’s forever cancelling out on dates. Saying he’s too busy. Clara doesn’t buy it and has decided to let him dangle.

We went for a drink after work. Something I don’t do too often. Not because I don’t want to but because I tend to consider the after effects (getting home, my head in the morning) and what I’d be missing (chats with G, being there for dad). Today the timing was perfect. It’s my Friday. Dad’s off on a weeklong physio retreat. And G, well, there’s never really a problem there—being three time zones ahead has some advantages, at least on the calling side of things. Doesn’t make up for the physical distance, but I can be as late as I like, or tipsy as a heavy wrench, he won’t raise a fuss.

Clara’s 33. A single mom with an 8 year old named Dustin. She doesn’t have anything bad to say about his dad, who’s still in the picture, takes Dustin on the weekends, and otherwise helps out however he can. But she does go on a bit about the smaller stuff. Grey hairs creeping in, getting her nails done, vacations in the sun, meeting a hunk. It’s weird. She’s such a strong and free-spirited woman. Very independent, confident, determined. Likes to have her fun. Is brazen and spontaneous. Outgoing, flirtatious. Yet sometimes it sounds like she’s disappointed about only living half the life she wants. Almost as though she regrets the past that brought her to now. That she didn’t get to where she’d hoped. I know she’s just ventilating. Saying aloud what’s pressing on her chest. To someone she can be open with. Someone she trusts. A friend.

Talk and listen. This is what friends do, I guess. When it comes right down to it. With Clara I listen more than talk. I do talk of course. And Clara’s good about trying not dominate the conversation. Catches herself when she’s gotten herself going. Waves a hand in front of her face like it’s too hot in here. Exactly what she did after ranting on Matt.

We switched tracks and had a long discussion on busy-ness being the new norm. I’m not sure we came to any conclusions on the matter. To be honest, it twists the mind to think about it.

Or, as I put it to G this evening when I got home: it nothers the bothering cots.

He had a great chuckle at that. Said I should write it down. Then asked how the notebook was going. Which is why I’m at scribbling now, after ten, on the back porch.

I haven’t gotten around to making this, this jottering, a part of my routine. But I do think about it. Quite a bit actually. Been taking notes on my phone. Mostly a bunch of nonsense. Or stuff I’m not sure what with to do. Like this, from earlier in the week:

A woman without hands, a man missing an eye. Dozens in wheelchairs. The injured, the maimed, the addicted, the obsessed, the misshapen, the diseased, the conditioned, the broken. All in the course of a day. In the course of a day, all.

I wouldn’t know how to form a narrative around this. Yet it exists. A condensed and suspended expression on what one sees working in a hospital.

Many’s the time I leave work utterly drained and haven’t the energy to do much more than check in with dad, prepare a quick meal and plop down in front of the computer and watch Netflix. Any desire to put passing thoughts to ink evaporates.

Here’s the thing about being busy—it doesn’t have to be productive!

Inside now. Past 11. Getting ready for bed. Put on the latest G-mix CD. Reminded me of coming home last week to see the car in the wet sudsy driveway. Freshly washed and shining. A nice surprise.

Dad was in the garage tinkering. Loitering, really. He wanted to be there when I arrived.

I rushed up to hug him thanks. For getting the car, for washing it. The smile on his face taking me back to younger days.

‘There’s more,’ he said.

On the hood of his station wagon a package. From G.

In it the mixed CD, a pressed flower, a short letter, and copies of two sets of plane tickets. One for him to come thisaways in late July. The other for me to head out there late August.

Um.

And just now, last but not least, a photo from G. Texted with the message, ‘tonight’s sun in my forestfire sky’. Followed by a sloppy wet kiss good night.