Last day in Dublin

A sock fell out of my shirt at breakfast, right in front of the coffee machine for all to see. As we he closer to home I feel an impending doom that my anonymity is gone, I’m afraid people who know me will see me. I am not sure what is up with this. Most people would be happy to run into a friend. Why am I afraid of people and so embarrassed of myself?

I’m feeling this feeling then reasoning with it. Telling it all the reasons it’s not a thing to fear. I think it started in high school as survival skill when I was being bullied. See a predator, get out of there. I’m not sure. But it’s still a dread I feel when I’m at home for some reason. I’ll ask my therapist to investigate this. For now I’ll just witness it and reason with it. I’m telling myself to sit tight.

The waitress kept coming and taking one item at a time as I finish with them. She tried to take my napkin but I said I wasn’t finished with it yet. I was certain she’d have taken my coffee out of my hand if I loosened it. Anxious to turn the tables I guess. And so am I. I have an idea of what I’m going to do when I get home, I’ll let how I’m feeling dictate it. I got the call for the second Phase of my therapy program. The first phase was only women and learning about what is going on on a scientific level and unpacking it. I had to do a presentation at the end. A five page presentation on what might have happened to me to make me this way. There were a lot of things I’d never said out loud. In reading it I cried for the girl in the story but I am that girl.

The second phase is reintegration and learning healthy relationships, it will be coed which scares me to be vulnerable in front of men but I’ve had a lot of success with this program so far. I’ve read being vulnerable is just the bridge to build connections. They saved my life. So I’m sticking with it. I don’t think I’ve been integrated into society or myself for a long time if not ever. I’m interested to know what that involves. Another life with more time and I would have liked to studied psychology but I’ll take this opportunity instead. I am lucky though, most people never get to face their own shit. And with the help of professionals. My challenge is to not be consumed and become it. I don’t want to spew psychology at all my friends.

It was overcast and cold again in Dublin. I hope for better weather when I get home. I still have some swimming and nature time to get in. I’ll need a trip out of winter this year. Our long winters has been hard to get through. The long wait. I’m done waiting for things. So I’ll regroup and make it a priority to go somewhere this year. I have a wedding coming up in the car skills with people I love a great deal and booked a trip alone to New York because I’ve never been. Something I would likely not have done before this trip but I welcome it. I think it’ll be some quality me too in a place I find inspiring.

We spent the day in and out of bed, strategizing our airport plan, the shuttle and packing so most bags can be checked and we will carry only what’s necessary to Douglas’ comfort on board and a safe travel. Mom will need hands free to push him in his commode wheelchair and to lift him into his seat, the eagle lift not being an option. I will be ready to assist her and quickly take the cushion from under him into the plane seat. I will ask for safe use stickers on the breathers as instructed for the flight attendants to let us use them and ask for a harness to hold him to his seat. If this isn’t available I’ll ask to sit behind him to hold my scarf around him to hold him up so mom doesn’t spend the whole five hours bent across the seats. We have cushions to hold his feet up. I’ll carry the electronics of his wheelchair than I will remove before it is checked and tape it up with bags and bubble wrap and the breakables after taking them off and a knapsack with his hand breather, his urinal, his cords and a tool kit for his machines. I also put straps to hold his legs together and to put around the seat. We weren’t allowed to do this last flight but maybe if I’m the passenger directly behind his seat. We are hoping it’ll be on the right side of the plane because this is the side mom needs to lift him on to not hurt herself or drop him. I hope they can accommodate us. We are remaining optimistic and open to new strategies and going three and half hours early to do this. We have everything charging already. I’m going to do a final blog post to end our trip with him on the plane to keep his mind off the travel. We will recap the accessibility of each stop on our two month journey.

I am anxious for him. I’d normally be anxious for myself travelling but it’s him I’m concerned for. I will need to stay calm to ease his worries. Project a calm, confident energy and listen to his worries and instructions carefully and communicate them to the staff assisting us so he doesn’t get hurt. He and I went for a walk in the park when the weather cleared to clear our heads. We are ready to go home.

Posted in travel | Leave a comment

Back to Dublin

Mom tried to tie Douglas into his berth on the ship. That didn’t go over well with him. We all laughed. I thought you were suppose to get your sea legs not loose them. I was like a drunk person this morning unavoidable swerving from side to side walking down the hallways. Or like I was on GHB. Something I’ve had slipped in my drink twice unfortunately over the years, rushing to get to someone safe. Once carried home by friends a dead weight after they fought and snatched me away from a man holding me up who did not know my name. I’ve heard to many stories of this happening to female friends as well. It’s likely an epidemic. I often feel a rise in anger when reminded of it, at the local police announcements to watch your comportment to avoid it as a women and not reminding men of the criminal punishment for it.

We saw about twenty dolphins for a quick minute leaping out of the water passing the boat. By the time I found my phone to take photos for Douglas all that was left at the head of the boat were the flock of sea birds that followed them looking for food. Any discarded left over fish guts likely. My sister at home is a good fisher woman. She spent her youth, her wild sap styled blonde hair in her face, a grin with one blackened tooth with the cute chubby belly of her bathing suit covered in fish guts.

Getting Douglas’ equipment packed up I put the commode in the bathroom, the tiny cabin with him now in his chair and Mom: for some reason the shower was on a sensor and started with me fully clothed under it. Douglas was yelling about his equipment, Mom was trying to help but in the way. I was trying to swing the commode around with everything on it but one break was on. It was pandemonium for a minute. I was left wet and trying to towel dry off his equipment bags with water in my ear.

I took Douglas out on deck to see the views. A man with a British accent helped me get him out the door and helped me reposition the ramp. We saw a rescue training in a helicopter by the Irish coast guard. Coming in a child jumped onto the ramp with my finger under it. We got off the boat easily, well because Douglas of landing a pretty steep ramp facing a wall successfully. We walked passed a beautiful beach in Rosslare to the train station. A simple unmanned platform to the train and hoped we’d be able to get on, no ramps or assistance in sight. I sat cross legged on the ground, woozy from missing my iron pills and the sea travel and enjoyed the sun and desolate nature. Douglas announced our next adventure will be Iceland. I’m okay with it. I’d like to go as far as Finland.

Children with an Irish’s accent is the sweetest thing. “I’m fet up as well” a five year old said in her thick accent. Then went on to lecture her mother on the train.

We passed beautiful countryside, scenes from medieval artwork, pastures and rivers, the ocean side. We kept thinking the train was calling itself “Here nor there” in Irish and it would be a fitting name. We were neither here nor there. I kept calling bails of hay, hails of bay. Rolling into Dublin we got roof top views of the city. There was a rain storm when we exited the station. We covered Douglas in his rain ponchos. He couldn’t get his chair onto the bus, strangers stopped to help us but the wheels were wet, the ramp was broken in a strange angle and his hand was too cold to drive the chair in, he said “I can’t sit his today,” and backed out, so I got on first with the wheelchair of luggage and he and mom took a break and got on the next bus. Both wheelchairs couldn’t fit at once anyway. The drive was long and through so much of the city and suburbs. It was a nice tour. I listened to two elderly Irish women complain about everyone they knew very heartily.

A couple was chatting as if their conversation was an Academic job interview. But you could feel the prelude to sex. It was bizarre. I wondered what kind of conversationalist I was in a relationship or during wooing. I wasn’t sure. I debated all ways of being as a female in that dynamic. I felt like I was Michael Scott from the office likely. An awkward but well meaning human.

I had had a realization on the boat, I cannot live in a tiny house. I’d have to delete my Pinterest board for that. I also had a moment in caen in an art installation, you had to climb in and exited from under the sink in a tiny house. I couldn’t get out fast enough. I can’t live in a tiny house. One more dream rationalized. I know I want land on a beach though. I’ll build my own house one day.

I kept calling Douglas “Darling” in a southern accent, I don’t know where it came from but keeps happening. We went for dinner at the hotel next door and off to bed. We stayed in bed the entire next day. It was raining and cold. We wrapped Douglas in all the blankets around his head and everything. He has trouble staying warm. He was having chest pain. To calm him, I told him about the many times I’ve been to emergency for the same thing and it being nothing and listened to his heart for a bit. One time scolded by a friend who waited with me for six hours. “You made me wait six hours for them to tell you, you need to burp!!!” Mom said you can’t die on us now Douglas. He agreed. Two more days and we will be home. Mom said the adventure will come to an end, Douglas corrected her and said, oh no, the adventures won’t end.

Posted in travel | Leave a comment

Caen to Cherbourg and out to sea

I think disorienting yourself is excellent therapy. For mental alertness and attuning your natural instincts. Much like in my niece’s physical therapy; spin her around, hang her upside down, she needs to get her balance and use all her mental and physical faculties in concert to get her bearings. Travel to new places, that moment you step out of a station in a new place and need to pull it together to orient yourself and build a strategy in the unknown. It’s good for your brain.

We had ourselves worked up over encountering our bully from our train in to Caen again. Douglas said it felt like having to go to school and hoping your bully wasn’t there. He wasn’t. We had excellent help into the train. In the train from Caen the Cherbourg we talked about the memorial exhibits. One photo of a man killed by “friendly fire”, we discussed how many must have died that way. And how the phrase is an oxymoron. Firing a weapon is never friendly. I had to change the subject and have a break from the topic and look at the scenery for a while. It was raining. A sideways long rain drop like home. The closer we get to home the more the weather resembles it. Overcast and drizzly. Even the foliage is starting to resemble it, dinosaur aged ferns. We are on our way home! We still have an 18 hour ferry and a couple hours on a train and a five hour flight, but this time next week, we will be home. We passed fields and fields of free roaming cows enjoying themselves, horses and donkeys, old stone farmhouses like ruins still used and maintained. There is a huge drop in temperature from a few days ago.

Cherbourg was beautiful. We walked for about an hour through the docks to the ferry. Lost on occasion. But we got there. It was closer to home. The ocean smell, boats, fish smells, even the rock and their lichen. The buildings were a lot like St. Pierre at home. Seagulls sounds. We found an Irish pub in the terminal, and beer and cider for douglas. I stirred it periodically to dissolve the bubbles for him. Two hours and twenty minutes to kill. I didn’t dare tell Douglas about the sign about washing your hands and the Ebola virus.

There was an exhibit in the terminal, Cherbourg being close to the beaches and on the coast line that was invaded by allied forces to over take the Germans, and about operation overlord to land their equipment on the beaches. There was a photo of a paratrooper hanging from a church tower. He hung for hours pretending to be dead to avoid being shot down while the battle took place beneath him. Many paratroopers missed their target landings due to the winds but this worked to their advantage to disorient the Germans. The history is thick here.

There were lots of cute puppy dogs getting on the ferry too. We have a cabin for the night and arrive at 11 in Rosslare then take a train to Dublin. For our last few nights.

The cabin wasn’t what Douglas saw in the photos online: a small room with only two small flip down beds, a smelly mildewy room straight out of 1987 when it was built showing its years with the same curtains and blankets. We surmised in it’s hay day it was the swanky ride to take. They were all on cocaine in glittery dresses and big hair popping bottles of rose. We decided not to use the pillows likely the culprits of the main stink. We decided to pretend it was the eighties and it is plausible based on the mini box tv and the old channels and the Décor everywhere. A museum for the time. There’s a steakhouse, a fine dining restaurant in the 80s Art Deco theme, a piano bar, I asked mom to go ask if they’d let me lie on the piano and sing. A cafe, an arcade, multiple bars, and a kids rubber room play area. I swear I passed and a kid had one high in the air in a wrestling move and flung him at the wall while two spun their legs like the road racer and ran up the walls, others cart wheeling, it was a mad house in there.

Douglas trying to have a nap in the cabin was non stop talking. And singing. I wonder if we could anything in my radio out here? I don’t know where that is. Could you live on this boat for a year. No! Surprise we are here for a year! We’re going to Africa and… on and on. Oh. Taking the piss outta me.

If the boat sinks what are we doing? I’m going to carry you. Is the life boat accessible? Can I wear your leather jacket? Singing. Let’s go out and meet some ladies. I’ll be like sup. Are we going to Die? What’s that sound? I think it’s a kids running around. I don’t like that! Is it raining? Is it stormy? No it’s not even Loppy. I think mom stood us up. I think she’s gone to the truck drivers level. What year was this thing built? More Singing. 1987 I think. Can you look up the song eighties by killing joke? The internet’s probably not good enough. You’re not going to get that? Nope. Ok. You’re not going to nap are you? Nope. Gonna pull an all nighter. So you and mom will have to take shifts looking after me. Let’s go meet the ladies. I think it’s all families Douglas. Oh, well all the ladies who have anointing husbands. Speculated on where mom can be, a plethora of scenarios played out out loud. Asleep or kidnaped?

This is a game we play when mom is gone and takes a long time. Wait did she fall off the boat? Wait what if she jumped off? I’m scared!!! Where’s my mom??! But then I realized the boat was on Irish time and not my phone yet. So she wasn’t late and likely fine. I out my lavender sachet I bought in that Berlin market next the the intake of his breathing machine to try to mask some of the smell getting into his mask and driving him nuts.

I love the rocking of the boat. Like in a swinging hammock it’s calming. We went to the pub for some live music and drinks because we couldn’t sleep and loved it, great nostalgic classics like the boss, Kenny Rogers, smoky Robinson, Elvis, bob Dylan and more. Shout outs to the bys at the waps (slot machines). Mom was in her glee. It was the most hopping pub we’ve been to on our trip. Even kids everywhere. People cuddled up on couches in bare feet. It was intimate, and relaxing. I chatted with a man on the deck watching the dark seas about the dolphins he’d seen. I’m getting up early to see what I see. Was I drunk? Tired? The boat rocking, sea legs or the dizziness because I ran out of my iron pills? I knew it was time to go to bed when I noticed a tall scrawny man with bleach tips in a soccer jersey and a gold chain making eyes at me from the bar.

Posted in travel | Leave a comment

A day in Caen

Sometimes the best way to help is to get out of the way. This I am learning. I almost made helping Mom lift Douglas into his chair a tragedy.

There was a couple making out on the bench where I’ve been sitting near the water for a break outside the hotel every now and then since arriving. I’ve never been one for public displays of affection or maybe I wasn’t with the right one. Someone was bound to get pregnant on that bench so I passed to a further one. I feel like a theme to my posts has been poop. I’m sorry for that but the dog poop in France has been everywhere. At least they aren’t bagging it then leaving the bag that won’t biodegrade on the trails like at home, that drives me crazy. I skipped and jumped my way over and had a gander at the lovely water.

Any body of water with Lilly pads is mystical and magical to me. The weather is like a newfoundland summer here so far and I’m okay with it. I’m getting excited to get home. I drew a map of the bus schedule before I left and waited for Douglas and Mom to come down. I was pretty sure we could hit everything important to Douglas in Caen in our one day. Bloggers mentioned Rue Vaugueux for its quaint atmosphere and there are a lot of battle exhibits here. I couldn’t get accessible travel to the landing beaches for Douglas though.

I read about healers who use their hands and energy to cure burn victims in the local paper at breakfast. I wonder if that sort of thing could work on my brother. I’m open to anything at this point obviously not the ones who want large sums of money, I’m not that gullible. We had a woman in the states say she’d be able to heal Bella with Qi Gong for a large sum upfront. We can do that at home on our own for free. I’ve been known to do a few qi gong exercises and we all use energy. There are people who take advantage of your misery. But I’d be open to testing some alternative theories. Maybe my brother will let me test any potential energy healing secret powers I might possess.

We took the bus to the Caen memorial. We went through the original bunker built as a station where many of the decisions were made by the Germans as the allied troops were coming towards the area before the landing on the beaches of Normandie.

We saw the memorial the US made there. “The heart of the land flows the blood of our youth given to you in the name of freedom.” So many were lost for freedom. The Canadian monument said “liberation comes from the sea”. And it touched me that so many countries came to the rescue from across the sea. I cried at that. And for me too a sense of liberty comes from the sea, In many ways personally. My love of the water, my need to be near it, my home surrounded by it. I cried during the movie about the battles and the nazi regime in Europe. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and attack in pearl harbour. I couldn’t take anymore of it, all the information making more knives in my throat and pain in my heart but I took it because I wanted to respect everyone who suffered by being a compassionate witness of their misery. I believe you won’t repeat history if you really learn from it. Like personally and as a human trait and seen throughout our history as a planet, you see sometimes it takes many many tries until you really learn from it to stop it. But I have hope. We saw 30 of The world press photos of the year. I cried. The brutal savagery around the world, human made still happening today. There was a wall the wrote your comments, Penis’ drawn and inconsiderate comments made. This made me more saddened for all humanity.

Global suffering and like global consciousness and like family trauma travels through families this suffering travels through societies as well. People grow insensitive to it as a survival technic likely or fane intolerance as a coping mechanism, I’m not sure but I hope it’s the brain’s way of preserving itself rather than direct ignorance and lack of compassion. The liberation photos were so filled with happiness I cried too, hundreds of women freed from prison, the joy in the streets.

I want to have Empathy for those who are cruel, maybe something horrible happened to them to make them that way but at what point is it giving them a free pass to be that way to others? I hope one day it becomes outright socially unacceptable to be cruel. Those things people know to just never ever do. And maybe because of those socially unacceptable things you never do people don’t stand up to cruelty I’m not sure. It’s a catch 22 or something. I’ve seen people cower in the face of it to defend others, I’ve seen people I love cower and not protect me, I’ve let people go for cowering but I’ve cowered too. I have built more of a back bone and started diplomatically picking up from people. I’ve become pretty good at it this trip.

We went out to discover the town and try to enjoy it, the rudeness of our train assistance personnel still tainting the town and our enjoyment of it. He isn’t a good ambassador for his town or a safe attendee to those in need. Sensitivity training may not be apart of their policies.

Kindness would have set a better tone. Luckily our bus driver had a pleasant and caring energy. She made us feel welcome and changed the tone for our day completely, just with her kindness. Cane we found is very accessible. Douglas was very impressed. Aside from being stuck on the bus at the end of the day when the driver couldn’t get the ramp to work. He decided to keep driving and skip out stop. He tried again at the next. He didn’t know to pull up close to the curb. He got angry with us for not exiting regardless, a gap we would have lost Douglas’ wheel down. He finally got close enough for his to brave the bump four stops away. With the help of other passengers we got him off. I thanked everyone on the bus. Except him. I told Douglas after maybe his pride was hurt which explained his anger. Douglas asked what about his pride? It’s true. We do often justify for people’s bad behaviour, at least in our family. We have endured so much abuse and still justify for those who harmed us. We walked back to our hotel hoping the last of Douglas’ heather battery would make it.

We finally got to a castle! The Caen castle, it was fabulous. With a moat and protective wall and gates. I pretended to be a tour guide, “and this is where they film game of thrones”. I loved it! And there was a lift going up to the top of the look out for Douglas to get up!

The man at the art gallery inside the castle compound let us in for free, being close to closing and attendants of those in wheelchairs get in free. There was the Venetian classical art but also a modern Art piece that got me perplexed. A real human woman sitting in a chair not moving with a shaved head army boots. Her eyes were cold and dead though. But she was so real. I didn’t dare take a photo in case she was watching but I couldn’t detect any sign of breathing but it was so real. I stood next to her not looking and tried to feel any energetic sign of living. I let amour and audible “hmmmmm”. It really perplexed me.

It’s funny how just one little white dot of paint in an eye can bring it to life. How can there be so much life in one little dot of simple white paint?

To make Mom feel better about not sharing her glass and risking catching a cold or something he said, “Mom I don’t want you to catch my muscular dystrophy, can you get me a new glass?” He’s very considerate of others feelings and funny.

I couldn’t sleep thinking of the phrase on the front of the memorial building, “De ma blessure a jailli un fleuve de liberte” meaning from my wounds came a flood of freedom. And in so many ways from my own wounds came freedom. From feeling my wounds and reaching in and attending to these wounds has come freedom. Ignoring it, not facing it, staying stagnant, without action towards healing and not fighting the internal battle, I would never find freedom. I was confused about why you need to fight for freedom. Douglas said, “There will be peace when the earth is consumed by the sun…. “ he sensed my anxiety. “Don’t worry that’s not going to happen in our day, but it will happen one day.” And maybe part of being human is this perpetual struggle, war and peace. The war for peace. He tried to comfort me about the violence I’d seen “You can only accomplish so much with non violence when you’re against a violent force”. And it’s true even in my own life, I’ve only resorted to violence when I was pushed and had to defend myself. But still violence begets violence and I don’t believe in it. I couldn’t solve all the world problems in my head and I must have passed out because I slept.

Posted in travel | Leave a comment

Caen

We were up at 4:30am and moving. Mom and Douglas more slowly than me. I was in high gear slinging bags on the commode, wrapping and clipping straps to hold it all on. I’m used to my system now. I was the first downstairs. Most of the lights were off in the lobby. It was creepy. The guy at the front desk was for sure on weed. There were blue lighting flashes in the sky. It was hot, still dark with innocent flashes like a strobe light. We exited the security gate and walked across the street. It was like the movie the babysitter, the scene in the movie where her friend is in trouble at the train station. There were people sleeping everywhere outside wrapped in garbage bags or old blankets. I felt bad for them. But at least it was a warm night. Inside there was more of that. We checked in a assistance, they kept us inside their waiting room. Technically not opened until 6. While we were there other travellers would knock on the Locked doors, nothing we could do about it, but they were knocking desperately as if to get in to escape the riff raff outside the waiting area. The man at the desk turned many away. Someone asked why we were in there. Because they are awaiting accessible travel. He felt ripped off for being turned away. A woman at the counter was making fun of mom’s pronunciation of the letter G. Our departure gate. In English it’s pronounced exactly as the letter J is in French. This caused a lot of confusion. I had to intervene. We got on the train no problem.

We were comfortable inside and Douglas had his bi pap machine hooked up. But our train was delayed by more than 20 minutes leaving as a raging storm came in hitting the train station like loud gun shots and trains. We powered off and powered on few times, while lightning lit up the skies and thunder crashed and cracked and scared us each time. I love thunder and lightening storms, I feel it’s electricity pulsate through me and surge like I’m a dead battery getting a jolt of life. Maybe I am a dead battery at this point.

I love the sounds. A train attendant fell and roared on the wet ground in the storm. It looked painful. Some people came to his aid. We were waiting for the conductor to give the ok to go. It still likely wasn’t safe. Lightning actually hit the train. Thankfully we were already booked on the 12 o’clock train. There was no way we were making the 10:10 now. And thankfully I hadn’t cancelled the taxis, we would still need to make good time from station to station still. We all closed our eyes and listened to the storm. I realized how strong Mother’s Newfoundland accent was… in the quiet train at 6:32 am I hear a sudden, waaaaaaaah!? in a total Newfoundland harsh, nasal accent. I think the other few passengers in the cabin may have been startled. She was simply saying “what?”, to Douglas. It was funny.

We saw lightning light up the sky behind the big marseille Hollywood like sign on the hill leaving. If that wasn’t an ominous sign I don’t know what it was. Then the karate kid’s sensei got on. Things are still feeling twilight zone like. I swear I’m taking my medication. The trains have pull up seats so Douglas can wheel right in. I’m not sure if I trust flying if they can’t come up with the technology to get a wheelchair in. And aren’t advanced enough to understand the importance of the wheelchair to someone with special needs. It provides all their needs. They are outfitted to hold them where they need to be supported, not just roll around. I’m not sure, I no longer trust flying or airlines. Mom thinks if Richard Branson can get people orbiting space he can get a wheelchair on an airplane. I told her to give him a call. He seems adventurous maybe like even being in a wheelchair wouldn’t stop him, he’d understand my brother and other’s desire to travel and see the world. Who knows?

As usual the countryside was beautiful as the sun came up we passed fields of sunflowers with their heads still down while long bolts of blue lightning hit in front of a dark foggy mountain in the background. Newly hydrated, now lush forests and jagged white and sand Mediterranean cliffs. Farm houses with Terracotta tile shingles and worn weathered stucco cement walls. Cement Nuclear towers like where homer works on the Simpsons. Tall slim pointed trees in perfectly straight rows and exaggerated rounded trees spread out sporadically. Rows of crops and lavender fields. In the distance a veil of midst rising, preparing to be burnt off by the rising sun. Old ruins of old castles or churches in the hills. Ugly industrial areas, pointless spray paint not even trying to be art. Fields of soil with debris from crops that have already been cut down. Shorn sheep. Cattle. Horses. Rivers and Ravines. Tiny towns in hill tops, tiny town in valleys. Other trains at top speed. We went from southern France to the top of France and to the east side of France.

I hope I’ll forever remember these sights even when I’m 90 and can’t remember what I’ve eaten for breakfast. I can’t begin to prepare myself for a time when my brother is just apart of those long distance memories. Like a ghost. I was on watch while Mom and Douglas slept and had a hard time staying awake but I did. It was like language class all over again; Rules I have obviously thrown out. I remembered the train was delayed so we’d be delayed arriving to our taxi. I had no way to get ahold of them. I hoped checking the train schedule was part of their procedure for pick ups at the station.

The cabs made no sense. They did not buy us any time. They didn’t have two waiting, only one and I sent Douglas and Mom ahead of me. I was a full forty minutes behind them. Mom got ripped off, her taxi was thirty euros more than mine.

This pissed me off. We shared the end of a bag of plain chips to save money on breakfast!!

I had one more look at Paris driving through. I remember in fashion school hoping to one day make it to this Fashion city and see the beauty. But I’m not able to see only the beauty in things anymore or hold onto romantic fantasy like dreams, I see the suffering too which changes the way I think about the world and everything from my school girl days; The shanty houses outside the city, the desperate words spray painted, people sleeping outside.

I realized I was wearing a Marilyn Manson t shirt and leggings. Not an old me choice for an outfit to wear in Paris. It would have been something skillfully curated but I have different priorities here now.

On our second train we were placed near the toilet with the stink. The door was broken so we had no escape for two hours. We had our own space again though however ragged it was. Douglas had to put on a second sweater, he can’t keep warm. Not enough meat on his bones. That’s why he loves the hotter places. Mom is so patient with him. He prefers her to do most things for him. She’s better at it he says. Well they have their moments but it’s like a friendly bickering. It’s hilarious sometimes the things they are saying. They have a very close relationship. “Mom legs don’t move that way!!! What are you doing?!” “Well it moved like that when you were a baby”, “I’m not a baby anymore Mom, I’m an adult man!”

A lady in our wheelchair section had to go to the washroom but the washroom was out of order. The only way closest was around a narrow corner and across the wiggly part where the two trains connect. Her wheelchair wouldn’t fit but she had to go. She had MS I’m thinking. So I offered to help her. She had a lot of trouble. I got her into the bathroom and had to hold the door because it wouldn’t close. I waited for her then helped her out. She used a lot of her strength and fell to her hands and knees and I tried to lift her. She was between the two trains. I couldn’t get her up and I felt so sad for her. A stranger was helping her and she couldn’t get up. I was mad at the train for putting her in the wheelchair cabin with no working bathroom. A woman came by and helped me get her up and around the corner. Mom pushed her wheelchair to her as soon as she could. This whole ordeal could have been avoided if they had a working wheelchair bathroom. I hope she wasn’t humiliated but I’d made me feel how vulnerable we can be and how sometimes you need the help of strangers. I hoped she had a wonderful family to greet her in the other side to make this train memory go away.

Aside from the wheelchair bathroom being broken, doors banging on both ends of the accessible cabin, the staff who assisted us out weren’t very kind. The woman was but the man with her asked if the commode, a non foldable wheelchair with his breather and first aid kit and yes two of our bags was baggage with anger. Yes, it’s baggage. He didn’t want to use the lift to get it out. His reason was they aren’t allowed to lift anything over 15 pounds. But you have a lift? You just gave to press a button? It’s a non foldable wheelchair. It’s his medical equipment. He said he had helped nine wheelchair passengers on today and it wasn’t part of the assistance. So he wanted Mom and I to take all our bags off one at a time and carry to wheelchair out? While Douglas waits on the platform? Mom’s back is gone from lifting him. I can’t lift that thing on my own and it’s a wheelchair…

He complained to a man in a wheelchair and his family about helping people get out of trains with a lift all day? Mom carries him more than once a day in her arms. I was upset too because he just got saucy with the lady I had helped when she asked if she’d be able to use the lift at her next stop. I am really upset with a lot of the experiences we have had with the transit system in France not just the infrastructure, it’s the attitudes. We cancelled many stops in France to avoid it. One more train and we are out of here! Douglas was ruminating over this treatment hours after we left too. Thinking of things he could have said to defend himself. “Do you think I want help or all this medical equipment” or “I’d push the button myself if I could.” That’s the last thing he needs on his mind.

We will try to see some nice sights while we are here but it’s left such a bad taste my mouth. I’m worried because we still have to get out of here and he very pleasantly said he will be working the day we leave. We will be subject to his attitude again. Douglas said the most evil people in the world are those who smile while being mean. It means a lack of empathy. And a lack of empathy is a serial killer basically. He’s right. This man enjoyed giving us a hard time. He didn’t even lift a finger to help his colleague. Caen train station staff member shout out!!!

The Normandy region is very nice though. And the weather is milder. Though Douglas spent it in two sweaters under his duvet after our transit, we will get him out tomorrow to enjoy something and try to erase this experience for him.

Posted in travel | Leave a comment