salt mines part 2
I met for a couple of hours this morning with my new boss at the Pannikan coffee shop, rapidly becoming a favored space for me – here in Encinitas. This was a get-the-paperwork-done get together, along with some final pieces of orientation – how to’s for record-keeping and record-sharing, apps to be downloaded on the phone, time sheets, and where to park. Oh – be a very patient listener.
I was given my initial schedule. Shadow shifts Sunday and Monday, two and three hours respectively. Then my soon-to-be regular Tuesday 11a to 6p shift. Alone. With the kids. Expecting (the kids), no doubt, some level of knowledge from me about how best to provide support, like, hope he’s not a dumbass. The kids being a young married couple, both with Down syndrome, been together now longer than my wife and I were. So, hearing they wanted me, they the agency, they the team of parents and workers and, mostly, they the kids, and hearing it becomes really real next Tuesday – um, four days from now – I experienced a slightly electric mix of thrill and fear. A wow and a yikes intertwined. It didn’t have anything to do with the coffee.
I’m 72, I retired almost the day I could 10 years ago, and I’m going back to work because the money going out here on this brand new, crazy and unexpected path is way more than the money coming in. Being a paid employee obviously addresses that. But it’s not the only reason. The chance to help someone – in this fortunate case, someones – live their most wanted and hoped-for life, the one they dream about like I dream about mine and I bet you dream about yours, man, I feel lucky. Maybe after a couple of consecutive seven-hour shifts (Mondays and Tuesdays) and I fall into an 18-hour coma of exhaustion, well, come see me then. But even that, becoming all used up for all kinds of right reasons, like I said, it’s a really good deal.
If you are a regular here you know my youngest son has Down syndrome and that he made the decision to remain up in the Portland area with cool, hip, young people he loves – and who could blame him – and now here I find myself 1001 miles away and my path brings me to these kids. Something slightly amazing about it all.
Some early-morning presence announced itself to me about a week after my wife said she wanted a divorce, and there was clarity in my mind – right then and there – I should go to San Diego. I think you know that story. I turned my full older-guy energies and intentions and even cosmic spells on making it happen and I landed, with unending gracious help, 25 miles up the coast. I believed then and kept believing after I got here this was some planet equilibrium for indescribable sadness. A taking care of me. The last week or so, however, I’ve started having the funny feeling that maybe there’s more to it than that. Maybe I was led all the way down here for a purpose which had and has less to do with my comfort. My joy. More making use of me as a channel. The me of me.
We’ll see. I’ll head back to the salt mines in a couple of days and I reckon I’ll begin to find out. No doubt, it’s gonna be a trip.