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Friday, July 26, 2013

The end is near...

(heh, of my rehab. program)

Real, personal details have always been difficult for me to express, even before my injury.  Throughout my life, I've been blessed with many great family members, and friends.  In a lot of ways I feel robbed of many of the former relationships I've had, with everyone, from family, to old friends.  Fortunately, many have patiently stood by, but, I always find that hard to remember, when I finally muster the courage to contact old friends, usually from college, and then, either don't get a response, or do, but then they cancel, before we meet, and disappear again.  Making friends was much easier before my injury.  I've changed in a lot ways, though, we all do, just in different ways.

Up until now, I've been so focused on getting myself to a place where I'm comfortable, out in the world.  There have been many amazing souls along the way, the 'grace' I'm told I show, in my situation, has been, in large part, due to the strength, and compassion shown to me, by others.  It's not like any of this has been easy, but, the people in my life have all given me different aspects to appreciate, and look forward to.  Those, all being positive things, are the things I most appreciate, and prefer to center my stories around.

Yesterday, was a purely beautiful day here in Burlington.  My day began with physical therapy.  I've always enjoyed, and looked forward to PT. I've worked with many, over the years, often switching between, to find ones with skills, that match my interests, in terms of rehabilitation.   It really comes down  to appreciating how I can measure the progress, definitively, and the more I do, the more I'm able to do.

I've been going for  a few months, and recently realized, I usually get cut off around this time frame, and this realization, was rather disturbing.  They couldn't give me any answers, but that's probably for the best anyways.

My roommate came to bring to my last team meeting, of which there's been 2 or 3.  Last year, around this time, I demanded both my parents come out, for the last team meeting, and there have been around 8 more, since.  But, unlike that one, and others since, this one, really did feel like the culmination.  I have spent every day of the last 6 years working towards this goal.  It has probably taken, up until this time, to realize that I will always have a brain injury, there's nothing I can do, to get the last 6 years back.  Truthfully, a lot of the experiences have been sullen, unfair, frightening, infuriating, and/ or purely disappointing.  Though, working through those hardships, has made me stronger, and enabled me to believe in myself, again realize anything is possible, depending, on your approach to the problems.   The world isn't black and white, and if you are creative enough to forge your own path, then your boundaries are limitless.    Yes, it might be frustrating, difficult, and even terrifying, but facing the harsh realities in life, but it does does pay off.  The key is to trust the right people, and to believe in yourself.  I'd be a crazy liar if I said I always remember to keep these things in mind.  However, the perspective I've gained from all of my experiences, as a whole, is pretty invaluable, in my opinion. My life hasn't turned out to be anything I thought I ever wanted, but that all depends on how I choose to view my circumstances.  Though, life isn't about getting everything you ever wanted, it's more about making the most of it.  So, the inevitable question, I face now, where to go, from here?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hitting the big apple

This may have been my first venture alone, and by bus to head out into the world, to visit one of my my closest old time college friends.  She moved from Burlington to grad school in Syracuse NY 3 -4 years ago, and after school, moved to Buffalo.  I've been lucky to see her on annual trips back to Vermont, if I'm there, when she is.  Back in college, I took a year off to work abroad  for an an coming British Eventer,(professional horse back rider).  My friendship with Amber, was one of  the biggest reasons why I decided not to try to transfer. I loved UVM, and felt I got a great education there,  but it rarely felt like the right match for me.  I seemed to do, or run more activities, while trying to do recreational sports abound, and hold a job.  Oh, and attend classes, I went to those too.  Beyond those things,  Amber was also my partner in crime, in the nightlife scene of little Burlington.  I think independent of each other, each us may have lead led more wholesome college careers, but together, as we often were, things had a tendency to get somewhat rridiculous.  We bonded over sharing being only children, with unique family situations.  We were good in the best of times, and the worst of times.  When I suffered this injury, she helped begin the fundraising initiative, 'Support for Courtney' and brought people together, to start getting people into action, for a unique assortment of fundraisers, and social gatherings.  The idea took off, and other friends joined.  That money was extraordinarily helpful, and went towards hyperbaric therapies, and supplemental Physical therapy, majorly.  I will forever be indebted to her, and all the incredible friends that came together, to come to my assistance, when I needed them the most.  The idea took off incredibly well, given the time frame.  More, and more friends joined in, taking on more projects, of various sorts. I will be forever indebted to this group of amazingfriends.

Now that she's moved to NYC, I knew I could   get there pretty easily, as direct buses run everyday.  We planned a weekend, and her boyfriend, Kieth, met me at the bus stop, and took me on an underground tour, as he navigated us back to Sunnyside, the area they live in.  I love visiting the city, but I don't know if I could survive there, everything moves so fast, whereas, I do not.

We made it to their apartment, which was a great size, considering it was a one bedroom.  They had a lot more space than I'd expected.  Also, they have 3 kitties, 2 of which are constantly underfoot.  The main reason I'd gone down, was a) to reconnect with them, but also b) for a kind of housewarming party, on Saturday.

That evening when Amber returned, we jumped into devising plans for the evening, and ended up meeting another UVM friend, Chris, who just finished his law degree, and was leaving the city soon.  We all used to be very close, so it was really fun to all have an evening out, like old times!  Even if going out for drinks now means I can only tolerate a half pint glass of beer, and then water.  After 3 hours of yelling conversation, and catching up, we all went for diinner,  and the recollections from 'back in the day' continued.  Eventually we all had to part ways, but that night was amazing, as it felt like nothing had changed, and I was 22 again.  I know that many people are glad those days are behind then, as everything was so uncertain, but I got stuck on the edge of uncertainty, for all of eternity, at least that's how it feels.

The next morning we piled into the car, with a plan to go to Ambers bank, and then MOMA. (Museum ofetroplitan Art). We hit the bank, and then a convienience store, because I forgot my toothbrush, yuck!  It was a very unique experience, riding in a car, in the city.  In the 4-5 times I've been there, I've always used the subway, to go everywhere.  It was really amazing to see so much of the city.  Kieth dropped us off at the museum, and we waited for him to park.  Unfortunately there was no on street parking, due to a parade, so it took a long time.  In the time waited, Amber was sold on a membership, which seems like a great deal if you plan to visit often.  Art, and culture is  so foreign to my life these days, I could've spent 3 days in there.  It's so amazing to view hand made creations from so many  different eras.  

After MOMA, we relaxed by an urban waterfall, in the shade.  It was a unique concept, and a nice spot to duck into, away from the noisy street.  From there, we piled back in the car, for our next stop, the 9/11 memorial.  Amber is a landscape architect, by trade, so this exhit has been on her must see list, as well.  Again, parking, and finding the site, was more difficult than anticipated.  It was strange how the actual site was so unclear.  Kieth dropped us off where the GPS said it was, and then we relied on the kindness of the people we asked for the nex 3 blocks, to get there. And then, it was a 45 minute wait.  You have to wait or everything there, I felt I'vebecome very impatient, because, with the amount of waiting you  do,  sorting your pans around  the amount of  time you have to wait,  foreign.  Thankfully, it wasn't too long, and we had to wait anyways, for Keith to join us.  Once we we were all together, it took maybe 10 minutes.  And then we had to wind our way through  long and narrow walkways, through security, like at the airport.  I take a long time to get through those machines, but it went more quickly with their help.  Finally we were able to walk into the memorial area.  The property is sparse, and  open, but enclosed by building on every side side. The foundations of each building were transformed into  4 walls of water, collecting, and recirculating at the bottom in a pool.  The outside edges of each memorial, has names of the lives taken in the attacks. It was a very sombre and morose experience.  It brought me back to my 17th birthday. Being ushered back to home room, from a science class, and neing informed our country was under attack.  We were released early from school, but none of us felt like celebrating, so we just hung out, and talked  about loved ones, or people we knew in the city.  I realized I had blocked a lot of the day out, because there was so much distress.  It took me along time to dig up memories from that day.  There was surpringly little landscaping, other than rock gardens, and shrubbery.  Though, the memorial was a beautiful symbol, and testament to the impact of those events.  

Afterwards, we bee lined back to their apartment, as the housewarming party was that evening.  2 of Ambers close high school friends, Marcy, and Rachel came over also.  It was great to reconnect with them as well.  I got to hear all about what they're doing these days, and a out the men in their lives.  I love to reconnect with old friends, but it can be hard sometimes, as they've all gone back to school, or found  real jobs, or just had tons of life experience by this point in their lives.  I mean, we're all different, but I literally don't know a soul with experiences like mine.  That's a great thing, but often it makes it harder to relate to one another.  And, clearly, it makes me envious, becaus with, or without a brain injury, I am so not where I thought I'd be by now.  I never had exact predictions, but living off state funds, fighting my way through a seemingly endless rehab program, is something you never see,  in your minds eye.  But, at least I can still be happy  for my friends accomplishments, as I know they are for mine.

The next morning was my last, but Amber and Kieths work plans had changed, so they left at 4 am, and we tiredly mumbled our goodbyes, and I fell back asleep.  I awoke again around 8, and foraged for breakfast foods, and coffee.  I ate my leftovers from a diiner, found a banana, and waited for the caffeine to take effect.  Then I got ready for the day, packed my things, and excitedly wailed  for my friend Megan to arrive.  She just finished grad school, at NYU, and I hadn't seen her in 2 years, but was so thankful her Monday was free, so that we could catch up.  In college, she dated a friend of mine from the outing club.  I also lived in her house, the semester she studied abroad.  She was kind enough to offer me shelter for graduation too, as I'd just returned from studying abroad.  I have the most amazing friends, and this trip made see that again, which I desperately needed!  It's been pretty difficult to keep up with so many people, unless they contact me.  6 years is a long time to pass before I realize how many friendships I haven't been able to eep up with.

Megan and  I decided to check out high line park, which is elevated, and built on an old, no longer used, elevated rail line, that features views of the Harbor, and far off islands.  The landscaping is gorgeous, and it was mild 75 degree day, at least that morning.  We then headed off to lunch, and our last stop, The Museum of Natural History.  

This was my 3rd trip to NYC.  The first trip, was a high school trip, and  we saw three broadway shows, AMF a holiday themed show with the Rockettes.  Amazing trip, but we pretty much only saw broadway.  The second trip, I came down with Sean to visit my stepsister Marcia, and her husband Derek, before they moved back to Maine.  I remember how badly I wanted to vist them, but I only rember going to Cony Island for hot dogs, and seeing Rock of Ages, off Broadway.  We had a lot of fun, but it was so early in my injury, that my memory of that trip is a bit fuzzy.  I've never had the opportunity to do a lot of sight seeing, like on this trip, but what an amazing city, even if I wouldn't last a day there, on my own.   This trip helped appreciate, and realize again how fortunate I am to have my life be touched by so many amazing friends.