On Sunday we called a friend that we hadn't spoken too for awhile. We'd begun our relationship as work mates but it had transcended over time into a friendship. I think it was the night in the bar in Newcastle Upon Tyne that did it. We had loads to catch up on, losts of gossip to swap. Then, as it always did, the converstation moved on to the health and whereabouts of another mutual friend.
"He was doing well there for awhile but he keeps losing his battle with cocaine and he absolutely refuses to go into rehab."
"I feel sorry," I said, "Mostly for his family, but also for him. If it's possible to feels sorry for a stupid jerk."
We moved on to other converstations, away from pain, my upcoming lecture trip to the UK, some of the gigs I'd be doing, getting together at Paddy's Goose. That kind of stuff. When we hung up, it felt nice managing to keep in touch and maintain a friendship across the miles.
Our mutual friend though. Who probably needed my call more than ever. I couldn't do it. Not today, a Sunday. But then realizing my selfishness, I called, got voicemail. He's on another tear.
Oddly he had reacted the worst when I first landed in the wheelchair. His pity for me washed over me like an unwelcome wave at a water park. It seemed, though, that he was almost enjoying my disability. As if it had happened to him, not me. "Oh, poor me, my friend is in a wheelchair, why does everything happen to me."
But that's egocentricity for you. He once blamed me and my disability for a drug binge that lasted nearly a week.
After a short spurt of sobriety, he's back on the drugs. Disappearing for days no one knowing if he's alive or dead.
Put us two beside each other. Me, in the wheelchair. Him, freestanding on two feet. Me, slowly pushing myself to my destination. Him, quickly running to wherever he chooses to go. I'm sure that people would see me as the one with the 'problem'.
They'd be wrong.
Incapacity has nothing to do with disability.
Right now he's incapable of getting through the day.
I'm incapable of getting through to him.
It is only in these moments that I feel, ultimately, disabled.