big city life
(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
The autumn months turned into a strange and lonely time for me. Every morning, I woke up early in a cramped apartment and made oatmeal. I hiked the half hour to my personal care assistant job, rain or shine. I memorized the routine and my role in it. I tried to avoid impatient reminders from the upperclass student if I paused too long.
After my morning job, I had about four hours free.
Anything Beth needed as she started her freshman year of college was my priority. I helped her pick up medical supplies in the mailroom. I took her wheelchair to get the bearings replaced, while she used an old back-up chair. I bought snacks for her or groceries for me, or carried my dirty clothes to a laundromat. (She still wouldn't let me do her laundry.) I usually stayed in Harvard Square in-between my jobs. I drank tea, read, and wrote, alone with a constant tension headache. Nothing made it completely go away, but many things aggravated it. My goal was to keep it at a lower level and avoid pain spikes.
At 2 pm, I started second shift at the Harvard Coop. The crowds in the textbook department thinned out as the semester progressed, so my hours dropped to seven a day, five days a week. I stocked shelves and sent emails about ordered books. One evening, I recognized Wallace Shawn who played Vizzini in the classic, The Princess Bride. The movie had played more than a few times during popcorn parties at our home in Ohio. I also chatted with actress Sharon Stone.
Coop employees often talked about frequent celebrity sightings.
During my break, I sat outside in nice weather to eat my peanut butter sandwich, people watching and listening to talented street musicians. I eavesdropped on tourist conversations and made a game out of guessing the languages they spoke. This carried over to my work hours at the Coop, where I sometimes asked customers where they were from.
At 9 p.m., I joined the line waiting to punch out before I trekked past Beth’s dorm to my apartment, a half an hour walk. I called John, Ben, Maria, Beth, or my parents on my walk home. I carried pepper spray and a whistle.
Alone on dark Cambridge streets, I felt surprisingly safe with plenty of people all around.
Each night, I poured a bowl of cereal or heated up a can of soup before showering and sleeping, with the notable exception of Friday evenings. To usher in the weekend, I stopped at CVS after work to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt, either half-baked or cherry garcia. A difficult decision. I always had good intentions of not eating it all at once. ;-)
Next: A Big City Scam!
3/22/2018 08:41:18 am
I am always amazed by the chutzpah of the Kolbe women! I admire you both very much.
3/23/2018 03:51:47 pm
Thanks, Peg! While Beth and I were in Massachusetts, my oldest daughter Maria was at Heidelberg College earning a special ed degree. When she graduated, she moved to the Boston area to teach, when the only other person she knew there was her sister. Both of us are fortunate to have two strong daughters!
3/22/2018 09:36:13 am
You are really a devoted mother. I am amazed at your strength.
3/23/2018 05:03:51 pm
Hi Micki! I didn’t feel strong at the time, but I appreciate the compliment!
3/23/2018 04:13:57 pm
Yes, Amy, it was tempting. However, I tried to minimize my expenses, so instead, I stopped at the public library often. ;-)
3/22/2018 05:54:10 pm
Nice blog Cindy!
3/23/2018 04:19:23 pm
Thank you, Tracy! Each of us has a story, don’t we? And it was so nice to meet you and Shelley last week!
3/22/2018 06:30:08 pm
What you endured as a parent is truly commendable! You were doing what you could to help Beth by being near and, even though it was hard sometimes, I'm sure you don't regret ever doing it.
3/23/2018 04:28:19 pm
You’re right, Jill, I have no regrets (other than the accident). There was no way I could have dropped her off at a college out of state and drove home. I was where I needed to be. <3
3/23/2018 09:56:52 am
Fantastic blog! Glad I found it.
3/23/2018 04:32:01 pm
Thanks, Damien! Welcome to our unexpected journey after Beth’s injury. More adventures ahead!
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