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Coaches, Nurses, and Lisa

November 22, 2007

In my mid-twenties I had my first real relationship. We’ll call her Lisa. I met Lisa on the local wheelchair transit bus on my way home from work. She was young and beautiful and I couldn’t help but look at her, sneaking glances every chance I could. The third time we were on the same bus, the driver tied my wheelchair right next to hers, and we started to chat. I was shy, but she was very forward, and the next day I was visiting her in her apartment. She was a very troubled young lady and we were only together 3 or 4 months. While she was very attractive and fun to be with, she was not the sharpest pencil in the box. But she was, umm, aggressive, and at that age it was enough to make me want to stay in the relationship. Her unstable episodes were frequent and often disturbing. And they got worse and worse the closer we got. Then she dropped the bomb on me. The reason she was in a wheelchair. A failed suicide attempt. She had tried jumping off a bridge, and lived. I didn’t know what to make of all that. I remember leaving there that night not knowing what to think or feel. I decided I wanted to help her, to make her see that life is so worth living, even given her new challenges. But it didn’t last. She decided she didn’t want to be with me, and I was left wondering if there was more I could have done to help her. As far as I know she is still alive, I saw her two summers ago downtown. She has aged and looks worn out, but other than that she is still the same. Still forcing that fake smile. Still fighting her demons.

The other night I once again had some pretty strange dreams. In the first one, I was just getting out of my van as a group of twenty-somethings was approaching. In the middle of them was a woman in a wheelchair who I quickly recognized as Lisa. Lisa was being pushed towards me and encouraged to say hello by these young people. They were all giddy with excitement. She wanted no part of it. She was shielding her face and doing everything possible to avoid any form of eye contact. When they were right in front of me I said “Hi Lisa, how are you? Great to see you!” She muttered hello and wheeled away quickly. One of the young ladies with her explained that Lisa was having a hard time and that maybe I could do her some good, take her out, cheer her up. I explained that I could not. That I was on my way somewhere and besides I am in a wonderful relationship now, but that I wished them all the best, that she is a great person and that I was glad they were helping her.

In the other dream, I was sitting at a card table with big burly men. Men’s men. Git ‘er done kinda men. Smoking cigars, playing poker and talking football. Before too long I realized I was sitting across from John Madden. Now, in real life, I know very little about football. I know enough to recognize John Madden, and that I should probably bet against the Lions, but other than that, not much. So in the dream, I felt like I had no right to be at this table. The other men were all successful Pro football coaches, and they were talking the talk. They included me in the conversation, as though they knew me and I was an old friend, an equal. But I had no idea what to say. I got by with a lot of nodding and grunting and laughing along, but the whole time I felt like a huge impostor who was about to be discovered and thrown out.

The third dream landed me in the hospital. It was the same hospital I was in as a child. Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. I was feeling well, but I needed help with everything. As an older black nurse came to help me, I felt a bit of disappointment. She was quick and efficient and knew exactly what to do, but looked at me and said, “you don’t want me do you? You want one of them young student nurses don’t you” I hemmed and hawed enough for her to understand that I was saying yes. She pointed to a pretty blond haired woman. “That one right?” I nodded.  The young blond student nurse came towards me shyly. (Insert porn music)  But she knew nothing. I had to instruct her every step of the way how to help me. I woke up in the middle of that one. (I wasn’t going to tell you anyway, but I really did wake up)

It took a lot of talking with Kelly but I think we did a good job analyzing these ones. They stem from my desire to be the caretaker, the solutions guy, the reliable one. And how on that particular day I felt as though I was failing at that. I was not feeling well, and had come home early from work. I had decided to take a day or so to take care of myself and work from home.  This clashed with Kelly’s work ethic, and even though she did not say a word or make any motion or movement that would indicate disappointment, I felt it. For the split second where she was struggling with it, I felt it.  I had wanted to talk to her about it, but thought I was imagining it. By the time I decided that I needed to talk to her, she was already asleep. And so the dreams…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2007 5:43 pm

    It will be interesting to learn what Kelly thought about your feelings about the “work ethic”. I’m wondering what part of you thinks its not okay to come home and work if you aren’t feeling great? Or for what ever other reasons you may have had to want to be at home rather than in the office. Nice to have that option it seems to me.
    Interesting early relationship and interesting dreams.

  2. November 25, 2007 7:10 pm

    Certainly, Sylvain, what you and Kelly came up with sound like good interpretations to me. Not that I know a ton about it, but most dream interpretation is pretty straightforward…at least, my own seems that way.

    For many years, I have had a version of your “pros around the poker table” dream, and I think the diminishing of that one type of dream has as much to do with building my self-confidence as anything. I used to dream I was in the locker room and was supposed to be suiting up for a football game. Only, I had no clue how to get all the stuff on so that I would not get killed the first time I was hit. The dreams never went further than that: just not knowing how to put on the pads and uniform, and no one realizing I needed help. The undiscovered incompetent!

    By the way, thanks for commenting on my post today about my daughter–I relish those comments as much as I enjoy bragging on my kids, I have to say.

  3. November 25, 2007 11:27 pm

    Is there a strong work ethic in Canada like there is in the States?

    I’ve always thought a relaxed work schedule, not more than 4 days a week, not more than 8 hours a day, was the most humane schedule. Most people slack off at work if they can’t take time for themselves now and again.

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