I’m too young to be here. I’m too young to be here. I’m too young to be here.
That’s what’s been resonating in my head for the last week and a half, just about since I arrived at Tango. I am the youngest of the bunch (though my hairline begs to differ); most of the residents are old enough to be a mother, a father, some even a grandparent to me. But as time passes, I’m struck with the realization that it’s not about my age. It’s about my level of the very real disability that I have to rollover, and wake up to every day. I have said before that I need help, I have griped and groaned about the accessible housing situation in Montreal. On top of it all, I have been trying my very best to retain some amount of autonomy, to NOT be a burden (at least a heavy one) on my family – even if they want me to. Countless times, my sisters and my mother have offered to open their doors, and let me stay with them. That is, simply put, not what I want, and no long-term solution. They have their own lives, and they need to live them, just as I need to live mine. And so, after a six-month search, going from building to building, looking at condos that I couldn’t even come close to affording, etc., I have settled. Sort of. It’s a process, most assuredly. I still remember being in Calgary, meeting a girl, hanging out at Prince’s Island Park, and baring my soul to her, telling her that my biggest fear was that I would one day be diagnosed with this insufferable disease. That was 7 or 8 years ago, and it all became reality. So here I sit, in the most accessible apartment I have yet to live in (though not without its own shortcomings, however inconsequential they may be) – and here, my life will carry on. And on. And on…
NDG/Cote-des-Neges, bordering on Cote St-Luc – I’m kind of in the middle of all three boroughs of the city. It’s a great area of Montreal, especially for any with mobility issues at the level that I live day to day. At Tango, the staff are courteous, friendly, and ever-so helpful. Whether it’s three in the afternoon, or three in the morning, there is someone here to assist me. Gone are the days of hitting that “panic button” and having to wait for my poor brother-in-law to come pick me up off the floor, praying to the powers that be that I don’t mess myself while I wait. Even my nephew came to visit; I think he liked the place. All the doors are automated, and the sneaky little bugger loves pushing buttons! He was so excited, almost as much as I was to have him here. He’s for sure the cutest thing on two legs then I’m related to! My only complaint is that I have no kitchen, only a microwave to heat food. I eat three meals a day with the other residents, in the common room downstairs. Anyone who wants can feel free to join -$5 for a plate. I am even allowed to have guests stay with me, provided that I inform the administration beforehand.
I don’t need all the services that they provide. I can still shave myself, I can still mostly get on to the toilet under my own power (I am a fall risk, however), I can still shower on my own, still dress on my own, still handle my own finances, and still work on beating down the MonSter. It will allow me time to focus on my studies (I want my English Masters… So maybe in 10 years!), time to focus on the support group that I run with Tristan and Jennifer (it really was their brainchild, I just signed a piece of paper and magically became the VP). He really is the most inspirational human being I have ever met. Lance Armstrong’s got nothing on him!
For everything I’ve lost moving here, I have regained elsewhere. I just have to keep that in mind. But it never hurts to be reminded. And reminded I am, every time one of the staff does something for me, whether it’s picking me up, helping me down, serving me breakfast/lunch/dinner – I just need to remain cognizant of the immeasurable service they provide.
If you enjoy the warm weather, you’re in luck. If you’re like me and detest it with rigorous vehemence – the apex of summer has come and gone, let’s all hope for cooler weather from here on out.