I can’t afford what would fix me

Guy: See you!
Girl: See you!
Guy: I love you!
Girl: You are killing me.
Guy: I ought to kill you.
Girl: What?!

34th Street Station, B Line

The best thing I overheard recently was a girl saying, “Hell, I’d fuck your dad for money.”

A blind man on the bus, laughing every time we stop, glad of the sensation like a kid on a circus ride. “Hey guys, what stop are we at?” I glance outside, looking for street signs, “We’re at second.” “Thanks!” Back to my book, I wonder briefly if anyone else would have bothered to reply. I speak up again when it’s my stop, “This is Broadway.” “The near side or the far side.” “The near side.” Then I’m gone, footsteps snapping away on the pavement, out of ear-shot, now invisible.

I can’t help but wonder, with a sunken feeling in my chest, if I should practice with a white cane now rather than later, when it will be more difficult. I’ve cut down on my reading and learned a couple of tricks that slow my eyes from degeneration, but I can tell they’re still getting worse. I close them sometimes when I walk with people to discover how far I can get only listening for the ends of sidewalks, for traffic, for other pedestrians and bumps in the road. I keep my hand tightly around their bicep, or tautly in their hand, and I listen, and walk, and I worry.

One of the more exclusive shows at HIVE2 placed the participant in the role of a convict at a prison. (One woman came back crying). To apply to take part, you wore an arm-band. When they came for you, (the audience was picked two by two), no matter when it was, you had to go or you forfeit. It looked as if it would be harsh, a nasty, hard-core experience, but really, the main body of the experience was ritualistic sensory deprivation. You were dressed in anonymous orange coveralls and a matching orange tuque, then sound dampeners and a blindfold were placed on your head. A rope was put in your hand, and you had to follow, passive, pulled, blind, unable to hear. Hands would reach out, solidly, and guide you through doorways, pull you up stairs. I had been expecting fear or an uncomfortable feeling of powerlessness, but unexpectedly, I smiled, warm and confident in the artificial darkness. “I do this already, minus the barked orders to sit, to stand, to go up a step. This is fine,” I thought, “though there’s no way the other person feels the same way. I hope she’s okay.”

There’s levels and layers to all of it, though. I was alright at HIVE2, solid and strong, but that was mild, a safe visit to a possible future.

My friend Mishi was paired with a seeing-eye dog recently, a sweet and exuberant black Labrador retriever. She says it takes 6 months to a year to become a smooth, seasoned team, which makes me smile, glad that she’s finally got her guide, but shyly, as I try not to imagine too closely what it must all be like.