Friday, April 01, 2011

A Voice Well Lived

Some people just get me high. I just plain like being around them. It's like they emanate some chemical that gives me a rush. She is one of them. I met her when she was living in the institution. The mere fact that I've told you that tells you something big. For those, the last to be freed, that I went to meet - I went because there was REASON for me to go. Long histories of problem behaviour, long lists of why everything was going to go to hell once the move occurred, huge files filled with a forest of paper. From the moment I saw her I thought, WOW, this is someone who lives big. And she does.

Her voice is a bit Marilyn, a bit Marlene. It's a torch singer voice, with a flame thrower attitude. Some, who hear me present, think I am prejudiced against thin people. I'm not. I don't understand them, but I wouldn't want them to have to live on their own island or anything, although you could get a lot of them on it. I am prejudiced, however, against people with thin souls. I think souls should be abundant. Let me tell you I meet a lot of people who's souls need an extra pudding or two. She, the woman who makes me grin. She has a big, ol' plump soul.

Today I was chatting with one of Vita's supervisors when she arrived. She came in and joined right in with a new conversation. I started grinning right away. I've not seen her for awhile and it was like I had been thirsty but didn't know it. I mentioned that I liked the purple in her hair. She brightened up and we talked about purple hair with an intensity bordering on ecstasy. She likes what she likes and she likes it BIG.

She had to go off and be part of interviews for staff. A job that she does for the agency. She waved goodbye and set about heading to where she was going. I reflected on the difference between this woman, the one freely heading down a hallway to participate in the life of the organization that serves her - and the woman I saw who had engaged the force field of fear in order to keep others at bay. What a change. What an honour to see.

Later she dashed back into my office, she appeared and disappeared instantaneously. She came with a message, like she'd thought about it a while.

'You know what I like about my purple hair? No one said NO.'

The word 'NO' lingered in the air like a ghost from a past best forgotten. She, in four words, outlined why she lived happily now. She is finally the mistress of her own destiny. She will have purple hair and blue nails. She will colour her own world. She waited to be listened to - and now her voice, battle worn, speaks of a life finally at peace.


Kristin said...

She's a woman after my own heart. I love my purple hair too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

are you aware, that to some people you may be the one they love to hear from and enjoy being with?

Well I guess I have to explain this thought a little bit more; I came to your blog about two weeks ago when I was very sick and had to stay at home from work. I am one of the first "surviver generation" of people with complex congenital heart disease.

I was born with a very different constructed heart. But due to improvement in the medical field today I am 37 years old and only people that know about this condition can actually see my disability.

There are times when I am so exhausted because I constantly try to "make up for all that I lack".

Reading through your website help me come to terms with some of my inner struggels. (And in addition I loved how you described your life with Joe. I am the best friend for a gay man since university and my therapist - long story - is gay too.)

Since I live in Germany, without your blog I would never have heard from you and your ideas. But since the first day I came here I revisit every day and I simply think, that I would love to meet you once and get some of your good vibes.

Take care
and keep up your wonderfull work


Susan said...

Love this Dave. Today I'll paint my nails blue just because I can.

Andrea S. said...

People who want purple hair and blue nails ... ought to have purple hair and blue nails!

I was a teenager in the days when the idea of purple hair, or blue, or pink, was brand new and outrageous ... teens fought with parents for the right to have uniquely colored hair. I wasn't one of those teens myself. But I could never understand why some people made a fuss about it. I think when its done right, with the color carefully chosen to go with the existing hair color, it can look really pretty. And even though purple hair wouldn't be "me", I do still admire people for whom it is!

I like that no one said "no" to her either. That's how it should be.

Tamara said...

I had a boss years ago who, when I told him I was going to dye my hair purple, said he'd fire me. I never did dye my hair purple. Dang. Good for her!

Rachel said...

I wish I could get away with blue hair but it's against the dress code at work -- in my department we're not terribly strict about other aspects of it, but blue or purple hair would sadly go over the line. Oh well.

I have, however, done the blue nail thing. With silver sparkles on top!

Robyn said...

This is why I started homeschooling my DD son this January. He may only be 7 but the people who tell him "No" will form who he will always be. Possibilities are endless and no matter what his development is my Seth will always know this.

Noisyworld said...

The ability to define who you are(purple hair and all) is something that is sadly missing from many disabled people's lives, it's brilliant she's got that control back :)

Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
When I started using a motorised wheelchair, I discovered that a lot of people think that everyone who uses a wheelchair looks alike!
I was mistaken for women with whom I share nothing except: female, wheelchair.
So I decided to fix the problem. Purple hair. I have not been mistaken for anyone else since I started dying my hair purple.
I heartily endorse interesting colours for hair.