Life In The Slow Lane...
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San Diego, CA, United States
This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Perfect Circle

When I was fifteen, tough to say what is now over eighteen years ago, I went to a small club in Cocoa Beach Florida for a secret, pre-Lollapalooza III show. The dudes from Tool, Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine, all staying at the nearby Hilton Hotel, met for a pre-show party. I'm not sure how we found out about the show and I'm not sure how we were allowed entrance considering we were fifteen, and guys like then Alice In Chains front man, Layne Staley, could be found in bathroom stalls shooting up Heroin.

Regardless of our methods we found our way in. We watched the show, some of the guys from Alice In Chains, Tool, and Rage Against The Machine went on stage, one roadie stripped down and danced naked to the music. It was the first time in my life I realized I wanted nothing to do with mainstream popular rock. It was the first time I knew that I was different than most of my close friends.

On the way out of the parking lot, my buddy Chris Newman stopped to let an older guy cross, the guy turned out to be Staley. He was so high he walked right into the truck.

"Hey sorry, man," Newman said. "Hey, I love your music. You guys are bad-ass."

"Bad as in good?" Staley mumbled as he stumbled off towards the hotel.

Not long after, at the same club, I spent the entire night dancing with an adorably thin thirteen year-old girl with big hair and braces. After the dance I spent hours trying to get a kiss in. She saw right through me and refused. Sixteen years later I asked that same girl to marry me. She saw right through me but said yes.

The reason I bring these memories up is two-fold. First, I'm proud to be able to pull them up. After a brain injury, memory loss is one of the consequences. Somehow I managed to avoid it.

The other reason is that after eighteen years, a month long coma, brain surgery Pneumonia and three close bouts with death, I remain friends with those from my childhood.

Chris Newman, the same buddy who ran into a high Layne Staley in his blue, Nissan pickup truck, contacted me and wished me a speedy recovery. He wasn't the only one. Friends I have known since childhood appeared out of the ether to wish me a fast and painless recovery.

Meanwhile my wife Aimee, the same brace-faced confident girl I spent so long trying to court was holding my hand, my head swollen, tubes stuffed down my throat.

The other day Cognitive Fatigue took control of my body. I was unable to reach my feet to remove my shoes after a painful walk. Aimee bent over and started to untie them.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you. My feet probably don't smell that great," I told her.

"Your foot odor doesn't scare me. Over this month I experienced a lot worse than foot odor," she responded.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Dorian, I thought you'd rather me take care of you than nurses you didn't know. So, I wiped you and cleaned you after you went to the bathroom."

"You wiped me?" I was baffled. She was so wrong. I would actually rather have a stranger clean my backside than my wife who is plagued with the memory of an Elephant.

"Of course. What did you think I'd do?"

"I don't know, leave my bedside for ten or fifteen minutes until all was taken care of."

"Dorian, you know I couldn't do that."

"Truthfully, I thought you couldn't wipe me, so I guess I don't know you as well as I thought."

This brain trauma has taken my life full circle and there's nothing like having to relearn the beauty of those that you've surrounded yourself with through the years.

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