We were late to everything, and everything was late. And even before the waiting and the catching up, C was having a meltdown kind of day. It was the kind of day when all the anticipated hurts come calling, all the feared possibilities come to pass, and all relief is distant and improbable.
As his housing worker, all I could do was be with him, and escort him through the mundane drudgery of schlepping back and forth across town in the wintery spring rain, looking at low cost housing and filling out applications, while all the while his insides were eating him through, as his mind conjured all the other multitude of things that would certainly go wrong before day’s end.
I, on the other hand, am in a spot of almost total contentment – the world rubs softly against me these days. The things I must do are things I find easy to do. Yes, even being with C today, generates a quiet satisfaction. The things that bend me, that force hard choices, deprivations, trade-offs – those things are distant during this particular passage.
Memory and empathy only do so much. They do not press the issues inward. Instead they lend a blessed air of freshness, of lightness, almost the opposite of the oppression I know that C is sitting with, as we ride the streetcar across Queen St. to our appointment.
I know that, whatever the stresses of the next six hours, I will be seated at my kitchen table within a few hours, having a glass of wine, indulging in the luxury of expanding outward into the soft space around me.
C on the other hand, doesn’t know where he will lay his head tonight. Internally, he faces that pressure of emotion telling him that whatever the world is imposing is wrong, does not fit, will squelch and stamp out the very pieces of him that he’s been trying to let breathe. And the pressures of these emotions will not be contained, will not be quelled, lined up tamely in a row. They won’t be understood, even by himself, the cauldron in which they are stirred. And externally, there is only weight, and little light. Always the sense of impending distress. Always the sense of others encroaching, with their wills, their prejudices and biases, their willingness not to see or know what he is feeling – about the parts of him that scream out.
A charged powerlessness, humility, a bizarre dynamic of acceptance are among the tonics fed to me this day. C and I ride the streetcar in silence. Somehow, when I smile at him, he smiles back.