I Wasn't Fully There
I’ve been asked how I chose which stories to include in my book. Some are certainly unique and irreplaceable, but most are merely one example I used to illustrate a point. Here’s a short one that could have made it.
I drove a forgettable rental car from Syracuse to Rochester in the late afternoon on a Wednesday in the spring of 2012. Eight months after my ALS diagnosis, I was still going through the motions at work, hiding and pretending my way through each day. I wore my lightly pinstriped, charcoal road-warrior suit and stocking feet as I drove. The black leather shoes I’d worn to the Syracuse office rested in the driver’s side footwell at the base of my seat. I’d pried them from sweaty, swollen feet as soon as I got in the car. They felt like leather-bound prisons, suffocating their overactive nerved, tingling, miserable inmates.
I pulled into the garage beneath the Hyatt Regency and a valet came running. He stood waiting by the open car door as I jammed my feet back into the discarded shoes. “Give me a minute,” I mumbled as I finally squeezed my feet in far enough and stood on crushed heels. Like an eighty-year-old with a bad hip, I stretched and shuffled to the back door, pulled my rolling suitcase from the seat, and stepped deliberately to the automatic doors. Each step and each movement controlled nearly all of my mind, robbing me of the much-needed and minimal social skills I possessed. I didn’t think to tip the kid on any of our interactions. It was too late by the time I replayed the memory of him running down the grade into the darkness to retrieve my car. I was an uncommonly naïve business traveler, but I’d like to think his full sprint on my behalf would’ve gained my attention. But I wasn’t fully there.