It was also 28 degrees on Sunday morning and Jim, knowing the Jersey horse county bike path would be even colder, had suggested a ride in Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Hearing the latter two words set off a need to get Vietnamese food in Charlie as the main reason we go to Jersey City with Charlie these days is for such. But the Vietnamese restaurant is not open till 5pm on Sunday and so, after a short, bracing (12 degree wind chill) ride past the Statue of Liberty at the park, Charlie had to shift his auto-pilot thinking about getting spring rolls. We proposed the ever-reliable McDonalds and Charlie said no. Then he said yes.
The first McDonalds was closed, with a chain-link fence around it. The second told us they don't serve lunch till noon (unlike every other McDonalds we know of that starts serving it at 11am) and then, as we were in the drive-through lane, we still had to wait and leave without the familiar bag of burgers 'n' fries.
The third McDonalds provided us with everything but, as it's on a very busy part of John F.Kennedy Boulevard across the street from the Journal Square PATH station, it has no drive-through and Jim dropped me off. Same food, different acquisition method.
After all that, Charlie fell asleep for almost two hours at home. He agreed to a bike ride but rode haltingly -- he has not wanted to wear his heavier bike-riding gloves that he had insisted on wearing into the hot days of June -- and, as he still had the spring rolls on his mind and he'd handled not getting them earlier so well, we went back to Jersey City and got a glorious view of the skyscrapers of the city all lit up.
Charlie raced around the house with glee while I chopped and cooked in the kitchen and Jim wrote a final exam. He went to his room, he wanted a walk. He put on his blue vest, took it off when we recommended he wear his green coat, put on the coat. I grabbed the first pair of gloves -- a leather pair of Jim's -- I found for Charlie to wear. It was certainly cold on the walk and the street was brighter than ever, as more people have put up holiday lights.
Ten minutes after we returned quietly home, Charlie was in the kitchen and we heard his voice and the sound of stuff flying -- he had grabbed the garbage and overturned it -- he ran upstairs, Jim with him, raging, banging.
We three have been through this many times indeed. Charlie was in severe distress and his left leg shook unstoppably while his head went all over. He calmed in stages, breathing heavily, and I offered him small sips of water. As soon as we could, we softly assured him, he was all right, he was doing good.
That might sound odd to the an outside observer. But for Charlie to calm from high, body turned-to-fight-or-flight anxiety, to sitting woefully on his bed with Jim and me standing by, requires a ton of effort on his part.
Charlie stayed in his room and rested. He started to smile. After an hour, he asked to walk again and it felt like take two, done the right way: He got the green coat without any confusion. He wore his heavy bike gloves, instead of unfamiliar leather ones.
After we were back, Charlie stood staring down at his feet for about 15 minutes near the bottom of the stairs, then went up to bed.
The world is too much with us; late and soon: This opening line of Wordsworth's sonnet so often seems to capture Charlie's travails. So often, everything is just too much. Too, too much and "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers" and all feels "out of tune."