Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turn off the light and go to bed.

How many times have we heard that shouted at us? It's a part of the night time routine. So I turn off my computer and all the lights in the condo and go to bed. The wierd blip in my routine is that John is still up. He sits in his rocker chuckling softly to something on the internet. I can see his head surrounded by the bluish electronic glow. Other than that, it's completely dark. Since he doesn't see the screen he rarely turns it on. So it's the tiny lights showing power supply or such that illuminate him meaning its very dark in here. Even though I know John is blind, that he always has a black field of vision, it just doesn't connect with me sometimes.
Another disconnect is when I am standing someplace and he is walking towards me. Sometimes I remember to speak so he knows I'm there. Other times I stand there dumbstruck as he walks right into me. Not something I mind doing, but I'm sure he'd rather not get the unexpected thump.
I find strangers do this a lot. John and I get on the elevator freezing the person already in there. Then suddenly they'll scramble wildly trying to stay out of his way. A simple "hello there" would fix the problem, but they seem incapable of speaking out. We call it the deer in the headlights stance. Not just elevators, but everywhere. By the way, how many times have you gotten on an elevator alone and used the opportunity to tug a snuggie out of your posterior? Or picked at that ticklish place in your nose? Or farted happily knowing you were finally in a place where you could do that and no one will know? Not so for blind people. Anything and everything they do is on display. People stare with no sense of wrong doing. Most blind people I know hate being stared at. They'd rather you go ahead and ask what's on your mind, or better yet just engage them in conversation.
Some people switch into hyper gear protective mode around us. They block traffic with their arms, they hold doors as if John were royalty. Running ahead to open the next door also. They stop cars and block people from walking. They wave their arms at cars, push obstacles like shopping carts aside and so on. All of this is done without making a sound. I find it rather confusing, John just accepts it and tries not to crash into the door that is carefully held open for him.
He has come to accept minor miracles in his life. There is a swimming pool at the condo where he lives. No matter how many people are out there he always gets a chaise lounge. It's always in the same place. I asked him once if he knew how that happens. He says no, it just magically appears. I've watched the magic now and it is a life guard or a neighbor who will snatch up a lounger and place it in the same spot where he is sure to find it. Sometimes asking another sunbather to give up their lounger. All this is done, again, without a word. It's like his underwear, he doesn't know how to buy it, it magically appears in the mail. Yes America I am admitting that his Mother buys his undies. Although I got him some boxers before surgery. One has skulls on it, one has tiny spidermen all over it, my personal fave has a large spiderman flying across the crotch with a baloon that says "My spidey sense is tingling". I had him wear that one right after surgery. Made me smile. He's a hoot and wears anything I give him.
We were in Rehoboth Beach once for the 4th of July. John dresses like Captain America. He's decked out in red / white / blue shorts, shirt and a tall hat with blinking stars on it. He parades up and down the boardwalk collecting comments from strangers. One man approached us and said "I told my wife if I go blind she better never dress me up like that". He wasn't serious, he was one of the off beats as I call them. I am collecting off beat comments into a journal. In Florida and elder gentlemen advised me not to walk him out too far into the waves and then desert him there. Off Beat. Well meant, but off beat.
So good night Mary Ellen, good night myJohn, turn off the lights and go to bed.