Take your time my dear, he said, as I struggled to pull the one side of my coat with holes to meet the side with the buttons. I didn’t realize it but the waitors’ hasty movements and hurried closing activities like slamming bar stools on benches upside down, and whipping their ponytails back and forth were making me rush to get out of the hippy cafe bar we found after a long day of travelling from the island to the mainland. There’s this phrase I’ve been saying a lot lately: on se décalice. That’s what I was doing. J was already on his scooter, ready to roll to catch the second-last sky train; we didn’t want to risk going for the last one, and I felt like once again I was making him wait, I was taking too long to do everything. I was feeling rushed and impatient with myself. These are not new feelings nor are they sparse. I have always found myself around faster moving people with quicker paced schedules than I have, and have quite often felt like I’m not measuring up. Like I’m not walking fast enough or working fast enough or eating fast enough or getting out of the bathroom fast enough or changing fast enough after going swimming with childhood friends. I had this thought today as we were having our breakfast in the hotel lobby, after J said I’m almost ready to go because he thought I was anxious to leave, but I was just enjoying my coffee, waiting for the rain to pass, that sometimes I prefer to be alone not because I don’t want company but because I don’t want to have to explain myself or say I’m coming, almost ready. Its simpler to go alone. Easier to follow my own rhythm when I’m the only one playing the song.
The thing about the Underwater City is that its as much about people as it is ramps or wheels or pave-jobs. Its about patience and laughing as you race down the sidewalks, mocking the bi-pedals for being so slow. Its about figuring out how to fit two scooters in an elevator, on a bus, how to hold the door open for each other. Its about J giving me lifts on the ferry to look at the sunset, and me grabbing something from a tight space that would be a pain in the ass for him to drive his scooter into. Not that he wouldn’t be able to do it, or that he would complain at all. Its about asking ça va, when I am clearly upset about something, its about being there for each other and finding a pub to eat and dance in.
Its about the scientist giving the writer space to sit on the pier with my cell phone writing, texting myself new bits, and the writer trying to give the scientist an estimated time of how long it will take to get her idea down on a semi-used napkin in a bar. Its about not wanting anything in return after petting my hair when I am overwhelmed with emotion from the broad uncertainty I’m swimming in, being treated so well in public and seeing the vast blue-greys of sky meeting ocean and mountains.
As we both sat on the seats of the skytrain, our scooters rocking with the turns, patiently waiting to carry us when we arrived at our stop, I said I wished I had more crip friends when I was growing up. Its comfortable and well-paced and not frustrated with me. We’re good to travel together. He gets me coffee when I’m sleepy, I make us pose for pictures. He said its true, quand tu voyage avec les gens bi-peds il comprennent pas quand tu cherche un ascenseur ou que tu prends plus de temps pour s’habiller. They are shocked when elevators aren’t as obviously located as escalators or stairs and don’t seem to understand that sometimes you need to sit there kind of groaning on a ferry seat with your legs spread in the air flashing the seagulls flying on the wind currents outside the boat window to recuperate before you go on. I’m so happy J joined me, took me to Stanley Park, and taught me how to get on the bus in a scooter without loosing my shit. We’re closer with each other now after having travelled to three different cities, across mountain ranges and prairie, across countless rivers and between tiny islands in the pacific ocean. We’re closer and I feel closer to finding the Underwater City. As I’ve jokingly been asking him repeatedly over the course of our travels… are we there yet?