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being nessasary

a quirky look into being

Category Archives: adventure

Chicago is being hammered with snow, ice, and its infamous gusts.  I am on my journey home, and am not really thinking about how my bus was delayed because of said weather or the fact that my new UGGs are prematurely aging.  My heart is focused on a wheelchair-bound woman.  She lacked the bottom half of her left leg, but her spirit – that was completely intact.

She initially chatted up my boyfriend as we waited at a bus stop. Finding refuge in a used bookshop’s storefront, we huddled close to hear the lady talk about the weather, and her keen ability to use swears (swears that no one’s daddy can even imagine, she said).  She won me over right then – I knew she was the kind of crazy I relate to.  After all, you have to be a little nuts if you’re disabled, and as I came to find out, sick.  I gathered that she was around seventy years old, having been born and raised on the streets of the Chicago.

We got a good taste of what her life was like.  I could tell she was into her God and the holiday season.  She couldn’t be too poor off considering she was dressed well, didn’t have an odor of any kind, and she lacked that stressed, sad look that some folks have when life has them down (or maybe she was crazier than I perceived).

Conversation flitted from topic to topic until I saw the bus through the falling frosty air.  She rolled herself onto the sidewalk while I made sure the bus stopped for us (we had attempted to catch an earlier bus, but it blew past us as if we were yellow snowmen).  When it stopped, the personality who had delighted my boyfriend and I with several laughs and smiles, paused.  She could not move herself over the icy mound obscuring the street curb.

I know stubborn.  Yet, with all my health issues these past few years, I have learned when to accept help.  This woman was on that page with me, though I am most certain she got there much sooner than I.  She lived independently, yet knew when to accept my offer to push her forward.  Thankfully, when the tread on my boots didn’t allow me the traction to push her forward without the terror of spilling her into the gutter, I asked my kindly escort to step in.  He pushed her over the threat, and helped her up the bus’ wheelchair ramp.  It was quite the feat considering she asked the crowed bus to give the driver and us nice white folk a round of applause.

The passengers were a bit confused by her merry behavior, but it did not seem to faze her.  We stood behind her as the bus did its business.  I noticed her fidgeting with a long pink ribbon on the handle of her wheelchair.

I’m a nosey cancer survivor.  I ask when I sense another troop.  She smiled up at me and questioned how I knew.  I pointed at the ribbon and smiled while saying, “I’m one too!”  She didn’t do the whole, “Baby you’re to young,” speech.  She grabbed my hand in the most congratulatory manner I have ever felt (forget those two graduations I have gone through) and said, “We are survivors! We are here to prove things can be done!”  If we weren’t on a crowded, slippery bus, I would have hugged the lady.  What a woman.

She continued on to talk about my dimple, and how she wanted one when she was little.  She used to stick her fingers in her cheeks hoping the dent would stay.  When she asked her mother where dimples came from, she replied, “They came from angel kisses.” Like all curious children, there was a second question along the lines of, “Well, then how come you have them and I don’t?”  Her mother playfully answered, “Well, God just must love me more.”  She laughed.

As my boyfriend and I prepared to get off the bus she wished us a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We returned the well wishes.  But after reflecting upon this woman, I demand that she is Happy and Merry.

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I am stubborn, almost destructively, really.  When I get an idea of what I want, and there is some sort of urgency to it, I won’t quit the chase until I get it, or at least, until I find something better to tackle.  College was easy, I wanted good grades and an English degree.  Check.  Cancer was easy, I wanted to set fire to its pimply ass, and stay alive in doing so.  Check.  Writing, well, let’s say it is always a work in progress, and someday that book will come flapping to a store near you. Quasi-check.  Career – I have trouble spelling the word at times.

I have tried teaching, but with my medical issues, did not have the stamina to keep up with student teaching and the coinciding classes.  Tutoring high school kids:  I was told to be easier on kids while writing their senior papers (which I believe is doing them an injustice), and also, once again, was held back by a medical issue.  Interning in the advertising department for a magazine:  I am pretty much an ornament with a rare talent in data entry and proofreading.

Stubbornness V Career Setbacks = More Stubborness.  I have met with people regarding my resume, applied for retail positions, even looked on Craigslist for dog-walking gigs.  But in this economy, a BA in English from Indiana University is just not enough for any of these positions.  I need experience. The irony lies in the fact that no one is willing to provide the opportunity to gain experience.

So, a stubborn young woman swallows her pride for months. Eventually December arrives and the Christmas lights ignite!  Bright colors, Yellow! Green! Red! Blue! Orange!  Why doesn’t this cancer survivor, who absolutely loves massages, aromatherapy and natural remedies return to school to study said practices?  Brilliant!

After I met with the nearest college that provides a massage therapy program, I found myself and found myself smiling as I sipped on a frost topped Diet Coke.  I am finally making a change I like. This is cool – this whole trying something completely different:  it is liberating.  I won’t even need to check a bag.  I can carry a change of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a notebook in my satchel!

I believe that the joy of learning and the near-promise of really having a career are enough to keep the cancer goblins at bay – or even make them run further from my beautiful body and brain.  Without even starting this new path, I feel loads of mud letting me go.

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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I am sitting in the backseat of a bus:  I finally know what it feels like to be a cool kid in middle school.  The MegaBus has become my primary source for long distance traveling (if you call the journey from Indianapolis to Chicago long distance).  The fleet offers routes beyond the highway I’m on right now, however, the bumpy 3-hour ride is plenty long enough for me.  I’d rather do my airport routine:  get there 2 hours early, go through check-in and security, drink a delicious beer, take an anti-anxiety pill, and board my plane in gooey-bodied bliss.  I usually sleep the whole time or make a plane friend.  Getting on a bus is not as exciting as a plane – a plane means far away, someplace exotic, new and unfamiliar.  Bus means the Midwest. There will likely be corn and soybeans blanketing each side of the highway.  It means I’ll disembark, feel the same damp fall air, see people swathed in flannel and denim;  accents will not be accents. People aren’t as eager to make new friends because no one is really all that “new.”

It’s not that I am ungrateful to have such an easy way to get to and from Chicago, or even that I am not delighted to make the journey.  The boy who makes me Giddy lives in the city.  There is such a lovely prize at the end of the road!!!…..Trust me.  Plus, Chicago is a pretty neat city.

By living in Ireland and traveling as much of Europe as I could, I give myself the proper credentials to give an educated opinion on travel options.

Go ahead, meet strange and different people!

  • Planes:  Despite understanding the physics, the fact that these obscenely heavy objects actually fly through the air, while housing mini ecosystems regulated in a metallic tube terrifies me.  If the engines let go, you’re pretty much guaranteed ruin, unless Sully is in charge. Luckily, the chances of becoming a smear in the dirt or being hunted by a smoke monster are pretty slim.  Air travel provides a quick, relatively easy way to get from far away to another far away.  Plus, there’s SkyMall!
  • Trains: Why doesn’t the U.S. have more of them?  We really screwed up when we decided highways and one-person fuel burning machines were the way of the future.  I have only been on one train in the U.S. and that was on a field trip in kindergarten.  In Europe, I was able to see unfamiliar land, read without getting a tummy ache, and get somewhere for a relatively decent time and price.  It was the best!  There were, at times, food cars offering everything from tasty salmon dinners to Cadbury Crème Eggs.  Of course alcohol that is not $5.00 for a mini serving.  Only faults?  Occasional delays for late/early arrivals and the eerily normal track jumpers.
  • Cars: I drive an SUV and I am an environmental freak.  Hypocrite much?  I have no real excuse other than that I enjoy the safety a large vehicle provides me.  Good for short distances, but like the bus, longer than 3-5 hours without any change in scenery makes me want to hole up in deep in the woods and invent a teleporter.
  • Blimp: just kidding.
  • Boat: I grew up on a lake, so my opinion is a very happy one.  I am soothed by the rocking and occasional jab at the lower back the boat-water relationship provides. I wish cruise ships gave in more to the sea than they do. People that get seasick can get over it, or vomit on me for being such a snob about my affection for aquatic adventures.  I wish transoceanic travel were as lovely as it once was.  I have only been on a Disney Cruise.  I was 6 and Pluto didn’t dance with me at the party – I’m not bitter…

There are so many ways to get around.  No matter what, the idea of moving from one place to another brings me a special sort of joy.  Some people think it is a dangerous thing to be a young and feisty woman filled to the brim with wanderlust. I happen to know danger and adventure hold hands.  I refuse to let fear hold me back – I have seen death, shaken his hand and told him I’d go on that date in about 70 years.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

.it’s nessasary.

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