Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reflection and recovery

Due to the snow I was a good half hour late arriving at the group home.

Grandpa Munster collapsed into the front seat while Foxy D. folded and wedged himself into my puny back seat and we inched our way back westward. Twenty five minutes later we’d crawled into the down town area normally only about four minutes away.

“I should have taken the bus,” said Foxy.

“You still would be stuck in this same traffic!” barked Munster.

“No I wouldn’t. Buses can go through red lights.”

“No they can’t.”

“Yes they can. I was on a bus the other day and it went through two red lights in a row and a cop pulled us over and said it’s okay, you’re allowed ‘cause you’re a bus.”

Gramps rolled his eyes. Foxy drives him more nuts than ever now that they’re neighbours.

After an eon or two we hit the west end Hortons where we’d planned to hang out for about two hours before proceeding to the Circles Christmas dinner celebration. Instead we spare only fifteen minutes.

In that time we drink decafs and Gramps gives me a Christmas card which I’d taken him to the Dollar Store to acquire a week ago. In it he’d sweetly written: “For a dear friend.”

Does he mean that sincerely or is it a means to garner material support? (Does your dog rest his chin on your knee to comfort your knee?) I don’t need to know the answer to that. It’s fine either way. But could I bring myself to write the same endearment in a card from me to him? I don’t think I could. I wouldn’t know if that was honest either, and in that case it would matter.

Foxy takes this opportunity to whip out an envelope addressed to himself and claws at it until it finally releases a battered holiday card which shows ample evidence of his attack. The card contains it’s stock greeting, a brief personal message and a photo of a man whom Foxy proudly states is his friend. As he shares the photo he crumples up the envelope and card (unread) together, into a tight ball and shoves it in his coat pocket.

At the church banquet room the priestly types and their spousely types are seated together; the best dressed. Core members and volunteers are scattered about. My riders gravitate to a table which is shaping up to be the designated slow table. It’s unusual for this community to arrange itself so cliquey. Perhaps it is more or less a random phenomena this time around?

I decide to be generous and take a seat between Gramps, who smells terrible - perhaps a seven on his Personal Reek Table, and a silent man whose name I still do not know, who never takes off his coat which smells like he has smoked a million of the world’s most evil-smelling cigarettes in it. The combo is slightly ghastly but I decide that the taste of dinner shall overcome it, and that’s that. Sometimes I have the power to make these kinds of decisions, where I just make peace with a circumstance and that’s that. Not recently so much but perhaps this is a good sign.  

I talk briefly across the table with skinny Mr. Chief, more stone-faced and dead-eyed than ever. He is still working at the bottle recycling plant and still does his jigsaw puzzles. He has twenty completed ones taped to his walls. I don’t ask if he’s still on the court-appointed drugs which have essentially substituted for shock treatments for decades.  

Later the Noble Punster, who is too great a guy for me to describe immediately (I will share his story some day), takes one for the team and sits with us also.

After a fabulous traditional Christmas dinner and some clean-up we migrate to the oddly-shaped vaulted sanctuary where I like to think I receive my only authorized Christmas present every year (Mom spoils me despite my occasional protests); which is the singing. The words are patently ridiculous to me; every song rejoicing in some one or two of the sum five-or-so brief concepts which defy logic and any but the most ungrounded flights of fancy the human mind ever convulsed…

But the voices!

How this unlikely crew of misfits manages to form such a choir blows my mind every year. I guess they really dig it. I guess they’re pretty inspired. And there are a few with rare talent who know how to belt it out and lead the way. And the acoustics of this seemingly awkward room structure is the real deal.

Still the magic has faded a notch this year, perhaps because the storm dealt us a smaller crowd.  

Driving home with Chilliwack’s Fly at Night a welcome gift from the radio, I am thinking about Neo and how, after a crisis and reunion, our friendship feels stronger than ever. There is more to figure out and I look forward to that. He spoke to me with a new kind of confidence it seemed. He has endeavored to be generous in accommodating the gap between our perspectives and I certainly intend to bend likewise. I suppose that that gap may have just about closed at a conscious level. Perhaps it’s more how we bring things together logistically that is the challenge. And there I can afford to be generous.

I reflected on much in his absence and gained needed clarity. I’m pretty sure he did the same. Interestingly I feel little relief or specific joy over this, but more of a calm strength from a valuable bond which no longer invites any peril or liability.

It’s quite wonderful but I’m taking it in stride. I’m not wondering where the lions are.

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