Benjie is down the hall singing passionate gospel songs. The thing is the hall is long and narrow and tiled so the echo makes, even me, sound like a Met star! I sing in the hall, too, from time to time trying to sound like Roberta Flack!
I like apartment life. Alone, but not alone. Close the door, lock it, be safe, have other humans around but a nod or a ‘good day’ is all that is required. It is worth it to put up with their cooking smells and noise. This building is one storey, 8 apartments, only 4 are occupied. My apartment is very small. I counted 17 twelve inch tiles across and 17 twelve inch tiles long. You do the math. But it is laid out nicely, the bathroom and the bedroom are big enough and the kitchen/sitting room is small. There are no shelves or cupboards (except in the kitchen) and this presents a challenge, but if you don’t have anything the challenge is easy to meet. It is furnished (stove, fridge, table, 2 chairs, bench, TV, internet, water) I pay for the electricity and cooking gas. This all amounts to under $1000 Canadian dollars a month. Then there is food, which I find expensive, lunch, phone, bus, laundry and whatever (I love the local sweet, mild, refreshing, beer - Kubuli).
Oddly, it is waking up alone, to nothing and no one that disturbs me the most. I don’t like to face the day. Getting myself up and out of bed is hard and the questions, dilemmas, and impossible decisions hit full force. I hate everything and everyone and the quiet. It is very difficult to motivate myself. Coffee helps. I can’t stand the local radio and I miss the CBC. I was never good in the morning, but this is particularly hard. Anyway, I do because I must, and once out on the street it is OK and some equilibrium is found.
Much to my surprise I enjoy my evenings alone and I feel mildly relieved to come home to an empty apartment, crank the AC up high, take a shower, have a beer, make a little supper, check my email – in that order! Sometimes Guyva and Remi or Flo drop in for a beer and a chat. Sometimes Scotty or Benji (a different one) or Carla (one of Sono’s daughters) phones me to check up on me. I download movies and TV shows, go to bed with my computer and a movie in my air-conditioned bedroom.
I chat with many people on the way back and forth. I am a known quantity around town and am often stopped, or ‘hailed’ as they say here. I know all the bus drivers and I drop a dollar in the palm of “cucumber”, a street person, who will secure me a seat beside the bus driver and hold the bus while I run across the street to top up my phone or get an ice cream cone or a piece of watermelon. I spend a lot of time on the buses. Bus life is a whole other story. On my way home, when I get off the bus, I cut through the local shop at Mountain Breeze. There are always several neighbours there gossiping, and I give my little report on Sono’s condition and receive their best wishes. I cannot go to the hospital on Sundays because the buses don’t run.
I hope to establish the pattern that today presented. I rolled out of bed at 8am, fooled around and was out the door by 10:30, went to CALLS (I actually did something useful) until 12:30, had a big sustaining lunch (because I won’t be able to eat again until I get home), got on the bus, and was in the hospital with Sono by 2, stayed until 5:30, caught the bus back to Portsmouth at 6 and was home by 7:30. I made Sono as comfortable as I am able. My plan is to replicate this day as long as he is in Roseau.