a friend said to me during a post-wedding, pre-reception, cocktail thing. I was putting off eating or drinking anything until I got to my table at the reception. It was my first major venture out on crutches and without a family member in almost a year. I wanted to appear under control, even if it meant being hungry and thirsty for a while.
A few years before I was reading at what functioned as a kitchen table and I had just finished reading what I thought was one of the most profound ideas written by anyone. When my housemate walked though the door I immediately shared my newly acquired wisdom.
“We’ll take you shopping whenever you want to go.”
I was trying to share a very profound moment in my life and he thought it truly about shopping. If I didn’t slam my head on the table, I should have. I tried to explain myself as much as possible (I think) and we reached an impasse.
The more pressing problem years later would be that the profound insight I shared was with the groom. He would’ve allowed me to hitch a ride if need be, but this wasn’t the best day for it. He was a little too busy living in the moment to be concerned with me, obviously.
In all reality I had no idea how I thought I was going to accomplish such an ambitious weekend. I had less of an idea why on earth I thought this was a good idea. It must’ve been those post-op drugs, I thought.
I was embarking on two different road trips in two days, with two different groups of friends, to spend a lot of time in church(s) no less. It was like a TV marathon length of time, and I’m Catholic. Did I mention that it was August? I love my friends enough to make these kinds of sacrifices, often without complaint. I’m just awesome like that.
My goal was to not need crutches by this point in the recovery process. In fact it was my goal when the first save-the-date came in the mail. I figured 11 months was enough time for my brain-spinal cord-feet pathway to reconnect, but I was so wrong.
The first leg of my epic weekend didn’t worry me so much. I would be traveling with two friends from college, both of whom had offered to carry me somewhere if need be (and then did). I’d also end the day at home allowing me to spend the night in my own bed. The first trip would be the easy part, a dry run of sorts.
The last leg would take me so far out of my comfort zone. I tried to plan as well as I could, and not knowing all the best tricks yet. I convinced myself that I would be OK as long as nothing happened in transit since it was a wedding/reunion and there was some form of support system. And the bride’s parents are doctors; the groom’s parents, Montanans.
Learning from the previous day I thought about changing my mind (again) and using my wheelchair for mobility but there were too many unknowns. Things were going fine until the cocktails. I can barely carry a drink in a wheelchair without spilling it, never mind trying to do it with crutches. Your hands are occupied by default.
I just wanted to get to the reception in one piece, find my table, and take a seat close to the dance floor. Until then I found a smaller table with a few friends while they had cocktails and I wished they would just let us into the reception already.
People offered to get me food and drinks so many times I got annoyed. They meant well, and in a good size wedding where a good portion of the guests are your friends it’s bound to happen. I admitted that I already felt like a traveling circus and that having someone watch over my drink(s) for me was just too much.
“We don’t mind, you know. If you want something we’ll help you.”
*Cue the slow nods from around the table and me feeling like a complete ass, yet still not a pack ass*
Now I needed a drink as much as I wanted one, but I managed to hold off until I was at my official table, because when you’ve deprived yourself for so long a few more minutes won’t make a difference.
Funny story, when I finally got my hands on a glass of wine I didn’t get to finish it. I got up to mingle (or pee) and when I came back a friend was drinking my wine. In the spirit of all’s fair in love and drink stealing I went after his drink, but the bottle was empty. Real friends offer to take your drink for you, not actually drink it for you, just saying.
In his defense, albeit a loose one, there was lots of sharing going on that night actually. I’m pretty sure I ate someone else’s bread, a few forks got redistributed, and maybe we went 2 for 1 on the napkins a few times. That’s what happens when former volunteers reunite, we regress; to the days of mismatched tableware and utensils and sharing was a necessity.
We’re older but at the same time we’re the same group of 20-somethings that came together, most of us in that airport, just outside Portland.
Most parents with children who have CP wonder if their children will ever be able to make friends; likewise teenagers and young adults with CP often wonder if they’ll have lifelong relationships with anybody.
True friends don’t mind if you ask them to go shopping with you, because you may need help or the companionship. True friends offer to carry you through the woods at 5am less than an hour after you first met. True friends don’t mind holding onto your drink for you either, just make sure they don’t drink it for you.
True friends come along when you least expect them to.