The nearly full moon was just at the horizon, so she looked huge behind the Dufferin Arch at the CNE, the gates that had so often marked the beginning of a new year in my young life. I have never heard Amazing Grace played on decorated German cowbells before, not even by two sweet girls. And when Mother Moon & Amazing Grace confronted me again, this time at 11:30 AM on the day we were leaving, a street musician and a luminous apparition in the morning sky over at the St. Lawrence Market, I saw her presence in my life.
But the rest of the trip, well, it was all work. My parents don’t know how to wait, I can’t take care of both of them at once, and cell phones can only be used by me.
People often want to tell us how easy it is to do this one thing, then how easy it is to do the other, but when you get a whole range of those things that alll have to be done at almost the same time, well, then it stops being easy. It’s not that we can’t do them individually, it’s that we can’t do them together, so the suggestion that any one thing is easy, tolerable, doable, possible becomes moot in the face of the daunting mass of contradictory expectations and requirements placed on us.
This was my experience of Toronto, where I only got to catch an hour or so for myself on some mornings. The rest of the time was being pushed & pulled, hurry up & waited, expected & silenced, demanded & required in all different directions at once. The story isn’t in the individual incidents; each one of those was manageable. The story is in the wearing accumulation of those incidents, piled on top of one another, astride one another, across one another, beyond one another until they make breaking. And the fact that my blood sugar was not in control, leading to the standard irritation, urgent calls to urinate and anxiety didn’t help matters. (I blame it on cane sugar Coke, not the HFCS junk down here, which tastes so good, the elixir of the Gods, the nectar of the universe. He was one magical cocaine addled concocter, that Joseph Pemberton.)
I can tell the stories, of having to manage both of them as they are apart, of my mother shouting “Whoa!” which putzed my father, of my father’s initial assertion that I didn’t have to go everywhere, of frustration and waiting for my mother to finally leave the urine scented chair so I could unfold the sofabed which wouldn’t hold sheets in place for anything, of the physicality of rolling her around town, and on and on and on, but it isn’t the individual stories that tell the tale, it is how they piled up and piled on.
Even just tolerating all this with the obligation to stay silent, understanding that disturbing the herd only makes things worse is another event, a facet of the stigma I have always carried to keep my own heart, desires & Eros unbidden and secret.
But there was my mother in the sky, and the song that makes me laugh with joy, and the pull of denial as well.