I met Norman when I was four years old. Shortly thereafter, the Tyrells moved left the west-side Vancouver home to move to West Vancouver. Twenty years later, I began working with the Arts Club Theatre, and ran into him again. He’d become a very talented actor. (I also met Bruce that year, and discovered that he, as well, had lived in the same neighbourhood. We probably met. I just don’t remember.)
Norman’s is now very ill. We had a long, long talk on Saturday. It was extremely rewarding for both of us. He is not going to recover, and I feel very sad. Maureen died two weeks ago, Norman is so sick, and our mutual friend N. has been extremely ill and is only slowly recovering. Being old is feeling like life did in the eighties, when so many friends were sick and dying of AIDS.
Today, for sure, I start memorizing more lines. I’m going to memorize 350 words (my first bit memorized was 534 words), so this shouldn’t be too difficult. And it will take me to the middle of the script (850 words); I’ll have memorized half of it. Tony, one of the directors, has sent me a link a playwriting opportunity, but I think I’ll pass on that. But man-oh-man do I have a good idea for a short play. One character is based on me, and the other is deaf and mute. They say, write what you know. All my ideas now are about disability.
|Malabar multicoloured squirrels are three feet long!|
I’m going to be very busy, for a very long time when it warms up. Another huge branch has fallen into Pinecone Park, just missing my beloved Laburnum tree, and there is forest fall everywhere, and tons and tons of it. That’s going to keep me too busy to do any writing. I just want to read, go for long walks with Sheba and host friends here—plus do my clinic work.
Soon, the wood will come and need to be stacked. But I have a plan.
Three years ago, the man behind me in line at the grocery store dropped to the floor. I did the only things I knew how to do, I tried to feel a pulse but couldn’t. However, I didn’t know whether he had no pulse or if I just couldn’t find it. I opened his caller, loosened his belt and trousers, and then I noticed that he wasn’t breathing.
The cahier called 911, and the store brought me a defibrillator and what happened will be a feature scene in a comedy I may write some day. I asked the cashier to call over the PA system for someone who knows how to do CPR. I didn’t want to start, only to have a seizure. And then Robin arrived; I was profoundly relieved. But as he crouched down beside me, he said something to the effect of: “I’m fucking terrified. I’ve never done this before. I just took a course.)
So, he started, and I kept calming and encouraging Robin, and Robin revived him. Soon after, the paramedics arrived, and I was able to go. I took my coat from under the man’s head as the paramedic replaced it will a pillow, got up and found myself drawn to Robin. So I went to see if I could see him in the story and I saw him. Then, when he looked up, he immediately came to me and we hugged each other. I cried. The whole thing had been so brutally intense.
Point of story: Robin is now running a handyman service and on his list of things he does, is ‘stacking wood.’ High five.
Living on an island is suited to my life with FND. As a castle has a moat providing security, we have the Salish Sea surrounding us. On a small island like ours, community is actual as well as the invisible force bring us together. Our community has a very clear boundary. And here, I feel extremely safe. I am known by quite a few people now, and others know of me. I’m the guy who can’t talk.
It's this invisible force and physical boundary that gives me such a strong sense of safety. The whole island is my comfort zone. I feel here better than I feel anywhere else. I am quite fluent here. I am really good at brief exchanges with strangers on the trails, and people are used to me in all the stores. The pharmacist, the post office workers, the people at the clinic, and the people at the restaurants all understand.
Going anywhere is thrilling, but it also terrifies me all the time leading up to the departure. That happens every time I go to Nanaimo, Victoria or Vancouver. Plus, I’ve got so many medical things going on, I don’t want to stray. I am settled here for as long as I can be here. I think a lot about the future now.
So… Here I go, off to memorize 350 words. I’m ready and I’m stoked.