Chapter 37

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I had dinner ready by the time Jody arrived home. Penne noodles loaded with lots of spinach wilted right into the sauce, and a vegan-friendly Caesar salad. Before we sat down, I handed her an envelop from ARC magazine “open it” I said with glee. Jody, however, as I could tell, was filling with trepidation. She excused her self into the living room. I heard the paper tear, ever so gently. A moment passed. With no further fanfare she marched back into the kitchen announcing “Yes. They want to publish my poem.” But she was not beaming as widely as I had expected.

“Are you good with it?” I was perplexed. I had expected glee.

“They want two edits…I like it the way it is. I wonder if I should play hardball…” I didn’t know where to head with this. I guess I don’t understand how personal her work is. So, in an exceptional act of wisdom, I stayed quiet. “I’m gonna sleep on it.” Jody finally proclaimed.

“Would it help to talk about it?” I wondered.

“Nope. I’m mulling. We can talk tomorrow.” How unlike me she is.

We were caught up on House Hunters International, so we enjoyed a meal with conversation. I wasn’t shy about what was rolling around in my head, so I ran my idea about supporting the nurses to have some kind of short relief after serious incidents and Jody agreed. “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.”

“Hmmmm. Goose. You know that’s the only flesh that I think might tempt me. It reminds me of being a kid at my Nan’s. She alway cooked a dandy goose at Christmas.” Jody’s non-response forced me to stay on topic. I gave her a few seconds to reconsider, then I continued. “I’ve been thinking, since Frau Blucher, that our work-team is more than the few of us crisis workers. I like the new Team Leader, Kim. She’s interested in how we can all work together. She recognizes we have skills in areas she doesn’t and she realizes she has skills we don’t. If we can fit them together we can be more effective. She doesn’t seem territorial, or scared off by potentially hairy events. I described the incident from earlier this week when the police hauled poor ‘black-eye’ off to The North and how Kim and I had joined forces to make it happen. “Then, when it was all over, I had a chance to sit with Viv and chat it over with a tea and the nurses didn’t.” It isn’t fair that they have to shut down their emotions and keep going…and it isn’t fair to the next person along the line who has to rely on the sound mind of the nurse ranking their pain.”

“My precious little Karl Marx…” Jody touched my cheek lovingly. “She wants the world to be fair.”

“The many forms of worker oppression must be crushed!” I played along banging one fist into the other palm. “And why shouldn’t it be fair?” I re-salted my remaining penne.

“Your blood pressure is already pumped up, you better lay off the salt.”

“Its good to tweak the old pressure now and again. Cleans out the little vessels in my head…I can feel them pulsing free and clear now.” I exaggerated a look of bliss.

“Pass the salt!” Jody reached out her hand, laughing.

“I can’t believe I can sit here and laugh after the stories of trauma and loss I hear all day.” I stopped short, feeling a flash of grief about my personal contentedness.

“Is this still about the tea breaks?”

“No. Something else…”

“Then its something that can go on the back burner. I can only manage the tea break problem today…” Jody knew I was being haunted by a misery that was shared with me today and she was gentle in her distraction from further talk. She stood, gathered my hand in hers and announced: “and now we walk off the carbs.” Who could argue?

On our walk we talked more about a potential adventure, which we still hadn’t ruled out despite the lacking cash. We reminisced about, or I should say Jody reminisced about her last trip to Paris. I’d never been but I knew her stories so intimately I felt I had. She reminded me about her meander through Pere Lachaise cemetery and sitting by Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas’s monument. Feeling such a deep connection to their not so secret but never openly disclosed lives as lovers. The same was true when she stood by the site of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company, although the intensity was amended when she walked into the wrong ‘bookstore’. I’d heard the story often and I longed now to recover her experience with her, for real. Jody armed herself with a wistful far away face as she talked about Natalie Barney and her regret at not exploring her Rue Jacob haunt. Looking me square in the eye, she vowed not to miss it this time. Eventually, our conversation drifted to the more practical details around the extra long weekend that teachers, the banks and civil servants had coming up next week for Easter.

In our hospital’s collective agreement process two years ago, the employees were polled as to whether they wanted Good Friday or Easter Monday off. Most businesses were closed on the Friday and not the Monday. The banks, the liquor and beer stores, and the schools were closed both. Overwhelmingly, the employees voted that the Monday was the holiday. It sort of makes sense in a post-Christian democracy. If you have a day off you might as well be able to shop, even if you can’t go to the bank, or buy a bottle of wine. Anyway, since I would be working on Friday, Jody and Roland had made plans to finish off the proposal for their new course so they could deliver it to their principal on Tuesday morning. “Won’t Maureen be lonely?” I wondered aloud.

“Maureen is off to visit the grandchildren in Hamilton for the whole weekend. Their daughter and her husband are taking a little get-away and Maureen is staying with the kids. She’s over the moon. Roland will drive down and join them Saturday morning.” Jody reminded me about Maureen and Roland’s various family connections. She told me what their daughter and her husband did for a living, where their son and his wife lived and what their kids were up to. I half listened, amazed that in a culture that so apparently loves and protects its children, so many fall between the cracks. No, that wasn’t accurate. So many are pushed into the cracks. I tried to shake it off. Some people are skilled at separating their work life from their personal life. My theory has always been that I only have one life and it’s mine to bear. I enjoy my personal feelings at work; in fact I use them to inform my work. And I mull my work thoughts at home; sometimes that’s the only way I can untangle them. Tonight I lamented my strategy. My thoughts were snagged on Dawn and her tragic life.

Jody recognized I was miles away. She walked along in silence, knowing I’d be back eventually. Finally she asked “Has the young woman, the one you are seeing…has she died?”

I was shocked into the now. “No!” Then with more grace, “No. She is still alive. And going to the Blue Jay game in a few days.” I added with a smile. “I’m caught up in something else. Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s just you. I’m used to it now. It used to give me doubts but now I know you are shaving down some raw edges in your mind…so they don’t migrate to your already razor sharp tongue.”

“I love you. You know that.” I kissed her, right there in the street.

Author: hopeisinfectious.ca

My writing experience comprises, almost exclusively, academic papers and technical/ professional reports. However, I have lost faith in these methods as paths to real change. My doctorate is in Education, specifically transformative education and through my research and my work, I have come to the conclusion that people learn more through stories than journal articles. Therefore, instead of investing in the usual strategies for pedagogy, I am leaning toward fiction as a way to change minds about social issues and dilemmas. I believe stories can un-other social interpretations in a way I feel I have failed to in all my academic and professional writing. I hope to convey some alternate ideas about the work I have done for 35 years, as a mental health nurse, psychometrist, educator and administrator.

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