I’m taking Amtrak to see my friends Megan and Colin for the weekend. It’s a really nice, leisurely ride through some beautiful scenery, you don’t even notice the three hours gone by. I’ve taken this ride a few times, loved it each instance. SO SO SO much better than a bus. My Greyhound days are behind me, that was enough weirdness tto cover the rest of my lifetime. I don’t know WHAT it is with me and public transportation, why I attract the strangeness. Luckily Amtrak is immune to that. Yay!
I got a little preferential treatment..or different treatment this time. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on Amtrak, this is the first time since the diagnosis. I was asked if I needed help out to the car; I said I did not, I walk with a cane, but I’m still walking, you know? I was hoping he’d put me in a single seat, because that’s easier to get out of, but that’s alright. I’m not yet so far declined that I need that, just..it’s nice to have.
While I waited, I sat beside this lovely woman. She asked if she could sit beside me, and I told her of course. She explained she has Parkinsons, and that her disease makes her tire easily. I told her I know something about that and smiled; she did not recognize “ALS” but she knew “Lou Gehrig’s”. She said she was really sorry, I was so young, and that…was pretty much it, which is awesome. No dwelling, just acknowledge and move on. I don’t at ALL mind questions about it – please ask me ANYTHING! – but the conversation tends to get dark when they dwell on it. There’s a difference between curiosity and just..awkward. Instead, we talked about nail polishes and kids and traveling, and how stupid it was that everyone was lining up to get on the train when we had assigned seats.
“I’m waiting right here,” she told me firmly.
“I’m with you,” I grinned.
When we headed out, we got a club car ride to our cars. OH MY GOD so awesome. Seriously if you have to have a disease, it should have some perks, and apparently club car rides to your train car are part of that. Front door service, man.
I did, however, have a HELL of a time getting on the stupid train. The steps are steep, and I basically had to grab the hand rails and haul myself up. It was…not easy. For a second I wondered if I was going to be able to pull it off, but I did. The club car driver was careful to wait and make sure I got on okay before he drove off with the other woman.. I won’t be able to do this much longer. Mark one more thing I am losing.
But fuck it! I can do it for now. So for now it’s fine. I’ll take it. The lady and I wished each other a happy life.
The point of the trip is to put together a cookbook of my pastry recipes while I’m still able to use my hands. I think it’s a great idea, I’d really like to document my stuff, and I have a lot of fun writing the recipes out, so why not. Colin and Megan will take pictures and typeset the thing, we’l all bake delicious things and eat until we’re fat and sassy.
It’s been a really strange shift in mindset – “while I am still able”. It’s hard to think of things in those terms, and I have a really strong sense of pressure to do as much as I can, while I can. I am though, inherently lazy and I just don’t wanna. So it’s a constant fight between “do this because you won’t be able to later” and “hey let’s curl up in bed with the cats and watch How It’s Made all night”. There’s a balance there, I haven’t found it yet. It’s the same fight with “I want to fit into my clothes” and “EAT ALL THE THINGS! FUCK IT! I’M DYING!”
Just like the balance that the universe seems to be deciding on for me, between being helped and what ALS is taking from me. So far, ALS is winning, and it will continue to, but that’s alright. The universe is mostly balancing it out by showing me just how much people are willing to help me when I need it. And even when I don’t. I don’t have to ask – folks just show up and ask me to let them help. It’s overwhelming and awesome and I’m sorry it took a terminal disease to show me how many amazing people I have in my orbit. I’m still learning that whole “let people help” part, that’s hard.
So uh, this post really has no point. Like most of them. Just, hi. This is what’s going on. And I kind of wanted to get something else up here to move away from the talks about assisted suicide because MAN that was hard to write and I know it was really hard for you guys to read.
But again. You guys overwhelmingly showed me support in my decisions and thought processes. Even those of you who disagree with Death with Dignity, still voiced support in whatever I chose to do. I love you. I literally could not face this without support from you all, and I am incredibly grateful. I’m grateful to the conductor who asked if I needed help getting on the train, I’m grateful to the club car driver who saw the cane and offered me a ride, I’m grateful to the lady with Parkinson’s for keeping me company for a little while.
I appreciate the special offers, even if I’m able to take advantage of them for a limited time only.