'I'll bet you thought he'd abandoned you.'
I was telling a story about being on the ferry over to the Island. We had gone up to go outside but I felt that the lip between inside and outside was simply to risky for me and the chair. Instead, Joe came down with me and I pointed that I was going to go to the Sitka coffee shop on board, pull up to a table and read, or gaze out the window, or both. We'd meet there later. Joe took the elevator back up, I rolled along the hallway to the table.
At the table, I reached over, picked up a chair and moved it over. I noticed the glances. The forever interest in how disabled people move into spaces made for others, is ever present. Chair moved, I move in, put on brakes, reach back behind me unhook the bag and pull it up and on to the table. I rummage in it and get my book. I think the eyes were disappointed that someone so different pulled out something so pedestrian as a book. So, show over, their eyes found other things to look at - though few chose one of the world's most spectacular views.
I alternated between reading a book that begins with pimps, prostitutes and rent boys in 70's London, and looking out at the ocean. That contrast was too much for even me, so I set the book down and simply enjoyed being on a boat and sailing over blue water. The time passed. The time passed. Joe's not back. This is odd. We always make a point of going back down to the car before others as it take time to get the chair into the car. Now they are making announcements to get off the boat. Still no Joe.
At this point in telling the story to my friend, she said, 'I'll bet you thought he'd abandoned you.' We both laughed. Then I had to say, in all honesty, 'No, I never thought that.'
Over the years as our relationship changed, as Joe had to add care providing into our way of relating to each other, I don't think, though I feared the loss of many things - I never fear the loss of him in my life. I'm very lucky. Very lucky. So I can laugh at the idea of loss because loss is simply absurd. Perhaps my positive attitude towards my disability, and this is a realization I'm writing and thinking for the first time ever, comes from his positive attitude towards my disability. Perhaps being around those who love 'you' not the physical you, not the financial you, not the social you, but 'you' is a powerfully positive experience.
So, by the time Joe showed up, as I knew he would, I'd figured he'd gotten disoriented on the boat. I'm the navigator in our relationship, and he'd lost his way. I guess it's poetic that I help him find his way, and he, most definitely helped me find mine.