Friday, October 28th 2016 – 7:26 am
One day ago, I was again carpooled to the comforting confines of Marylhurst and was a little less shaky and a fraction more able to speak and just a hair less forgetful than I had been in weeks. Good timing. There is no time or timing anymore.
One hour ago, I woke up and the shaking is so much worse again. It comes and goes when it pleases, traversing time and space, cross country crying, zigging and zagging and coursing and carving into my gray and grayer mush. The train tracks refuse to align on a useful schedule anymore. Nobody is in charge. Jesus guys, who’s at the wheel! The grass begins to grow and weeds are starting to show. I feel so sick almost all of the time.
One hundred fourteen days ago I lost power to drive anywhere, anytime. God help you if you have no friends or family that will. If you have none who drive or if you are too broke for a cab, make yourself comfy with a shitty shut-in show. Pray the ubiquitous “they” (that also love to be the ones that “always say”) will put you in a corner that doesn’t smell too bad or reminds you of ghosts of your past. Oh look jello again today. Gross. How many stories down to the ground do you think it is from this rehab window?
Twenty six hours ago I thanked Judy for opening the handicap accessible door in the back of the library. I forgot she was Judy yet again. She has always been Judy, I believe. I keep trying to remember. Kayti runs the front desk. Or maybe it is Katie with a C? Kaydee only took four tries and stuttering name requests and memory based apologies to remember the sound of Cadie but not the spelling. I hope I remember the other gal is Judy again in six days. Assuming I have not grown out of canes and walkers and back alley entrances and elevators too small to fit all my friends. They are wonderful and close by. I ask Jenna afterward if the floor is bouncing up and down and she reminds me the elevator aggravates my vertigo and creates these flashbacks. I can’t look at the floor for a little bit, but I have to. I don’t know how far away my feet or the ground are from my eyes in my head, unless I look down. I don’t feel the rest of my restless legs quite as much as I used to.
One month ago I was told Conversion Disorder meant we could hope I might get better. I may have brain damage, but I can tell when I am stupider than usual. I’ve not gotten better. I’m a different man once again and it is not so pretty and no longer poetry or philosophy or inspirational tales of wonder and woe and whoa and WTF… it is a dissolving shitshow of forgetfulness and flaming Sisyphean fucking frustration. Let me get off this broken carnival distraction. I miss being me. Pat was the coolest when he could drive. I hate the newer older versions that keep showing up each morning, pocketful of useless and superfluous car keys to the kingdom and nothing short of diminished capacity.
Two months ago I began this website to journal this jerkoff of a journey. That sounds redundant, really repetitive even. But now I’m repeating myself. Hey, speaking of which, did I already tell you about the time I asked you if I told you that already? Again? How many times? How many fingers am I holding up? Five. Always five. Some of them are just folded. Or not.
One year ago today was the last day I drank for the rest of my life and maybe it will kill me. Time will never tell. I’m dying to tell you about it. Oh shit here we go.
Seven years ago I flew to NY to drive a now strangely identical looking wobbly old man in the mirror to my daughter’s high school graduation. Along with my brother and mom. Dad didn’t know who I was much of the time. At the worst point, we could not drive more than an hour with his restless and crawling legs. The math did not check out. One country, three thousand miles and almost a decade ago, we only had four days to make it and it was not looking good. The restless rest is history and mine. Back then, dad could still walk. He could stroll the rest of the way into a rest stop restroom. Just never rambling unattended. He was too weak. Too childlike in faith. Too open and honest in his hopeless helplessness and too starkly starving and too visible in vulnerability.
He would ask if he could drive. I would soon lose my temper and then he would later secretly tell mom that my language got “a bit salty.” They taught me how to say “fuck” at three. Don’t try to put that shit on me. I would laugh when mom recounted his old-timey phrase, because I had to release the anguish somehow and I was still not allowed to cry. The screaming rage was still potential energy, forever fated to unfold and the echos flame and flit and follow for another four hundred miles.
I refused to cover old ground or history, but in plain English, I brought up the always correct math.
He accused me of sabotaging the trip.
He said that I “didn’t really want them to make it to Brittany’s graduation anyway.”
I blacked out for a second or two or three or who’s counting or six or uh oh and came to while screaming my voice raw with obscenities at fifty five, sixty, “Slow down, Pat,” seventy-five, “Pat, I said slow down,” eight-fucking-five-HOW!!!-FUCKING!!!-DARE!!!-YOU!!! YOU MOTHERF-ninety-five, “PATRICK! STOP! STOP!” Stop? Stop? What? I finally heard my mom’s voice. My dad looked terrified. What have I done? We were going over a hundred miles an hour.
I had just screamed at my dad who was suffering deep brain trauma and his earliest stages of dementia and paralysis. What a great guy I am. Everybody loves Raymond, but Pat is an asshole. Good role model. Salty language. One of my most shameful moments. I hope nobody ever hears or reads about it. Could you imagine?
“No way, you can’t drive, dad. You’ll probably never drive again. I’m sorry. Stop asking.”
“Okay. Wait. Where did *she* go?” my father replied.
I ask him who is he is talking about and he gives me a girl’s name I never will recognize.
“Wait, who is that? Dad?”
He starts to nod again.
“Hello? Mom! Who was that?” I yelled toward the back seat.
“Oh. Never mind,” my mother said. “That was a girlfriend of one of his friends when he was younger. I think. He has not seen her since before you were born. Um… yeah… he is not really mentally here right at the moment. He is back there. In his head. Back then. Probably just let it go.”
“Where are we going?” dad asked again. And then again and again. And again and again. He never asked yet, so he must ask always and then once more again. (Wait, have I already asked you…?)
New York to Oregon. Pedal to the metal. Prescott can maybe drive once we get out of Idaho oops just kidding I lied and anyway I cannot surgically remove my hands from this steering wheel until we pull up to my house because I just can’t chance it and oh thank GOD with every letter capitalized for emphasis, we are both almost home again.
“We’re going to Brittany’s graduation. Remember? I’m sorry I yelled and cussed at you yesterday. Just… just hang in there. I’m going to get you there. We’ll make this trip together, dad.”