We were both quiet on the way down. The apartment in the city became ours today and we were picking up the key and dropping off a few things. We drive a Volkswagen beetle and what with the wheelchair in the back, there's not really a lot of room for other stuff. In a big bag behind Joe's seat were a few things we knew we wanted to have. A kettle, some tea bags, two cups, toilet paper and the like.
Arriving we had to sign a whole wack of new papers then go up for an apartment inspection. The guy walked Joe around the apartment ticking off the various rooms as clean and damage free. The whole place has been redone. New floors, new kitchen, new bathroom, so the inspection took only a few minutes. I sat in the front room looking out the windows at the view. We are only on the fifth floor so the view isn't spectacular but it is nice. On the way out, the superintendant told us that our neighbour also is a wheelchair user and is 'very nice'. I think he thought we'd be comforted to know that the cripples had been placed near one another. OK, well then.
After he left, we made a cup of tea and I sat sipping it as Joe went downstairs to get other things from the car. Alone in the apartment, hearing every movement echo in the empty rooms, smelling the freshness of the paint, feeling the fear of change, I pondered. How had we ended up back here. Apartment living in Toronto. No more land, no more private residence, instead a place smack dab in the center of the city.
I moved my chair around, careful not to slop hot tea on me, and checked the place out. I had a sense that we could be very happy here. That this apartment gave us the chance to regroup and think about our future, where it would be, how it would be, and what it would hold. Suddenly I felt too old and tired to be in transition, but I knew that I was and that was that. There is no choice here.
In teaching summer school I realize that I still love lecturing, teaching, inspiring, challenging and learning. In talking to the folks out in BC about my return lectures in September and, of course, New York in July and Colorado Springs in August, I still feel the excitement of travel and the opportunity to influence and change. Going into work at Vita I still feel the challenge of everyday kind of organizational change and challenges, I still feel the value of what I do and can see, clearly the path I'm on.
But something is indeed changing. I feel a deeper need to see the results of the work, to see projects through to completion and to know that things are different because I was there. That I mattered, somehow, in the long run. I imagine that all of us who get older think these things. Wonder about the purpose of their lives. Hope that they have mattered and have made a difference.
Sitting in the empty apartment, mentally placing my desk here, my computer there, the couch over there ... I wished I could arrange the future just as easily. We still face the question, if this is short term, where is long term? If not here, where?
Oddly, I was sitting in my wheelchair thinking about my future and my wheelchair wasn't even part of the equation. It didn't matter that I was sitting, rolling. What mattered was that we had rented an apartment and thereby bought time to think, to transition, to take control of the changes that our lives would face.
We left the apartment and went over to the movie theatre, a block away, to catch "Mongol" a movie I'd wanted to see for awhile. On our way out we ran into an old friend we hadn't seen in years. The greeting was warm, the hugs warmer. There were no questions about me being in a wheelchair now, there was just expressions of genuine joy in reconnection. We mentioned that we were moving and got an immediate ...
And suddenly, I knew, it would be OK.