Here and There

How strange that I haven’t felt like writing for a week.  Or maybe not strange at all.  Either way, here I am.

Lots of stuff has happened and I’ve vaguely said, “I should write about this tonight.”  And then tonight fades away in the rear view mirror.  After that, the topic seems stale.  I like writing fresh.

So what to do?  I think I’ll give you some snippets from the past seven days and then see what beckons me tomorrow.  Can I create “fresh” by doing this?  We’ll see.

***

I went to a brunch at the Belmont Diner today.  Near me at the lunch counter was a mom and her young daughter – maybe 5.  I enjoyed watching her colour and throw her hands at mom, all with a vibrant smile.  After we had eaten, “Brittany” sidles over to the chair beside me and eventually says, “You came into my classroom.”  And I guess I did, on a day a few weeks ago when I read Stanley At School to a whole bunch of classes.

My new friend bubbled away about the two plastic Easter eggs she had in front of her.  She shook the small one near my ear.  No sound.  “No surprises.”  Then the big one.  Something was rattling inside.  “Surprises!”  Opening it up, Brittany pointed out the chocolate yummies and the “hay” – little turquoise strings of plastic.  My job was to get the strings back inside so she could close the eggish lid.  I did okay, and together we got the job done, with just a few strands sticking out.  “Look!  The egg has a beard.”  So very cool.

Then Brittany launched into her counting skills.  After a bit, we were doing it in unison (70, 71, 72 …) with each of us watching the other person’s mouth form the words.  How wonderful that a short young person can create such joy in a taller, older one.

***

Thursday evening was momentous.  For the first time in at least ten years, I didn’t go to bed with a sleeping pill in my mouth.  With the help of my pharmacist, I’ve been weaning myself off the nasty little things.  Thursday was the beginning of a new two-week pattern – “Nothing, half, nothing, half …”  And I was scared.  What if I got no sleep at all?  How would I survive that?  Well of course I would, but I didn’t have to.  I awoke amazed after seven hours of shuteye.  How could that be?  Chemicals going into my body for maybe 4000 nights and then sleeping well without them.  Thank you, o powers of freedom.

Last night was the second “nothing” experience.  Surely it would be a piece of cake.  Surely the first night would be the worst.  But not so.  I struggled to get four hours.  After Thursday, I told myself to forget the schedule, that I was already free, with never a Trazodone to enter my body again.  But a wiser voice let me know that I needed to stick with the program, to be nice to my mysterious physical existence.  I’m glad I listened.

***

After school on Wednesday, I drove to New Sarum to see the Grade 6 girls play basketball.  I volunteer in their class.  I took a seat on the stage of the gym and waited for my friends to arrive.  And here they came.  Some of them saw me, smiled and came right over to sit in front of and beside me.  And there we chatted as two other teams took the floor for the first game.  It was special for me to sense that I was important to many of those young people.  Makes me wish I had kids.  I would have been a good dad.

The next day, at recess, some of the girls and boys wanted me to see the fort they’d built at the far corner of the schoolyard.  I was ushered into an airy wooden structure and offered a seat on their padded bench.  All seemed pleased that my weight didn’t collapse the thing.  I got to sit there and smile about the private space they’d created for themselves.  It was a privilege to be a guest.

***

On Good Friday, I went for a bike ride.  Sunny and warm.  Eight kilometres in, as I approached Harrietsville, I got a flat tire.  Boo.  I had to be back at 1:00 pm to go with my good neighbours Sharon and John to a gospel music concert in Kitchener.  As I stared at ta-pocketa’s plight, I realized that I’d forgotten how to change a tire, especially the more difficult back one.  “But Bruce, here you are preparing to cross Canada on your bike next year and you can’t even change a tire?”  Yep.  That’s true.  So humbling.

I started walking my bike and saw from the cycling computer that I was going 5 kph.  A quick calculation revealed that at this pace I’d return to my doorstep at 1:05 or so.  Good enough.  So on I went.

My trip home was sprinkled with sadness.  Probably 80 vehicles passed me.  Many no doubt thought it strange that here was a man walking his bicycle.  Did they wonder if I had a flat, or whether I was injured?  The net result was that no one stopped to see if I was okay, and maybe to offer me a lift home.  At least 15 pickup trucks came by.  Plus several vans, although I don’t know if they had room for ta-pocketa and me.  I felt sad that this particular slice of society didn’t respond to someone in need.  Oh, I wasn’t hurt, and with enough walking I would make it home just fine, but still …

***

Happily, I arrived home in time for my neighbours and me to join other folks on a bus leading to the Collingsworth family – mom, dad and four young adults (a son and three daughters).  Could they sing!  And the thousand of us in the audience were moving and grooving (some on the outside, some within).

The star of the show was mom Kim.  She sat at the black grand piano and blasted us with her virtuoso playing.  If only you could have heard “How Great Thou Art”.  During the fast parts, she was bouncing on the piano bench, head back in ecstasy as she belted out the words while her fingers flew.  And the best was watching her daughters nearby as Kim played.  Here was a mom expressing herself with every fibre of her being, and the girls were loving her for it.  They smiled, they nodded, they stared at their mother.  And all was well.

***

1100 words?  Cool.  Just a few more now:

The banquet is laid out every single day
How delightful to partake

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