The last time I saw my brother, he was blind in one eye, unable to move. My two sisters and I drove to see him in a brain injury hospital. A brain injury implies that he could be rehabilitated but his brain was riddled with a growth that inch by inch was robbing him of his humanity.
I had driven from Toronto to Ottawa, but the visit got cut short. It was exactly six minutes.
It had been cut short by an argument broke out. I wasn’t a part of this disagreement that broke. Not this time. It could have been me, but this time it wasn’t.
Without getting into detail, we had to leave and I drove back to Napanee, dropped off my sisters, and I should have stayed, and rested but I wanted to be in my bed.
Around Belleville, I got off the highways and took a detour to Prince Edward County. This is a beautiful part of Southern Ontario full of rolling fields, and the well-known Sandbanks Provincial Park was where I went to sit on this cold bright winter day. My dog Gus tucked inside my coat, I gazed at the ice, my breath and heaving ice were the only two sounds.
After an hour or so I was on the road back from the county, cranking George Jones and imagining myself running back to Nashville to become a country singer when at a stop sign I rammed a car. Within short order, a cop arrives and issues me a $400 ticket and a citation that said I had lost six points.
About an hour, out of Toronto, I had missed my pit stop and needed to pee. The traffic had slowed down to a crawl. I was inching along, doing my Kegels.
I looked at my dog Gus, sitting next to me in the car. He’d be absorbent but no that would be wrong.
I did chants. I am not going to pee my pants. Life will not take me down. I have survived, divorce, premature baby, teenagers, I will control my bladder.
I yelled at my smartphone, “Siri. Where is the nearest coffee shop?”
“Sorry, I do not understand.”
Then, I saw a turkey roasting pan in the back seat. It was still there from Thanksgiving.
I couldn’t reach it.
“Siri, throw the roasting pan into the front.”
Siri shot back, “I do not understand.”
Wouldn’t it be a useful skillset if Siri could throw me the items I needed? Now that would be a smartphone.
Up ahead, I saw the exit to Avenue Road. I squeezed my ass then slowly edged onto the off-ramp.I saw the beacon to Harvey’s Hamburgers. I sang their theme song, It’s a beautiful thing.
I can do it.
I couldn’t do it.
But traffic wouldn’t allow me to get even close to the hamburger joint, so I was forced to pull over on a side street. And I covered myself with my coat, then pulled down my pants and placed the turkey pan in its proper place underneath my haunches.
And there was a slow, gentle rain. Oh, a gentle heavenly, Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah kind of storm.
It was the worst and best thing all at once.
Then suddenly, a horrible thing happened.
The angle of the dangle wasn’t right.
When I was younger, I was like an assault rifle. Now, I’m like a sawed-off shotgun.
It was spraying everywhere. I would have to detail my car.
Eventually, I got back to my apartment, I called a friend and told him of the kind of day I had.
His response was,
“What is the universe trying to teach you?”
“To not call friends like you?” I wanted to say.
For two years, I’d been running back and forth from Toronto to Ottawa, trying to hold back the flood.
Then, when I gave up on that, I tried to predict when it all would end.
My eyes were exhausted from trying to see the future.
The universe wasn’t trying to teach me a Goddamn thing.
This is from my book Windowshopping for God. If you would like to offer support to me as a storyteller, please click here.