Ten miles of hard road – by Andre Lalonde

October 6, 2015

When I was a teenager I wished I could have gotten my hands on some decent gear, and had a couple adventurous friends who were up for a day or two of exploration join me. Join me for what? Join me in doing a walk-through of abandoned structures sporting flashlights, hard hats, and of course a good camera or two. I would have loved to document any place that was easy to get to. That would never happen. Instead, I would get into these places solo and do my own exploration. The biggest and the best has always been the old NORAD radar station in my hometown of Hanmer, Ontario—now demolished. I moved so well through the debris and the busted glass scattered on the floor, my balance, perfect then, too. Now, though, I watch these things on YouTube, recorded in stunning high definition. That is just something else that could have been. This blog, however, is not about these little adventures.

PHOTO Ten Miles of Hard Road by Andre Lalonde

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My mom got into Toronto on February 25 accompanied by my two nephews and my young third cousin. For the past couple of years she’s been making the trip to the city to have dinner with me on my birthday—which is on the 26th. Usually, it was only her and I, but I was ok with her wanting to take the kids on a little trip.

On my birthday, the first stop was a lunch buffet at Mandarin near the Eglinton subway station. It was a bit of a different experience now having three kids in tow, one of which had never been on a subway train, but it did show me the level of laziness of this current generation of kids: everything seemed to be too far, too much of a walk, too much work. Stepping off the train to the platform is a chore; cane comes down, mind the gap, and then I step out, left foot first and then the right. For a slow walker these structures are enormous, and I am quite a bit slower now even though I’ve only used the cane since 2010. I hurt my back in 2013, and it still hurts, every step now is agony. I suppose I am one of the most brilliant performers ever. Making our way through the station and finally getting topside, the question was asked as soon as daylight could be seen, “How far?”

The next couple of days were full of walking: down Danforth, through Union station and the skywalk to the CN Tower, and into Ripley’s Aquarium. There were complaints for sure, none from my mother, but I was the leader, out-walking any of these kids, no problem. In fact, I could have done so much more. Walking is independence I always thought, it makes me feel like the explorer I always wanted to be. I have no more delusions however of strapping on a hard hat and walking through some dilapidated place, but I still see it sometimes.

To all of this, I add, that I do pretty much everything on my own. Things are getting harder every year just as my ideas are getting better. I plan on doing it all; I have to do it all. This is not a ‘woe is me’ post, this is only my perspective and I would never speak of all the difficulties, struggles and triumphs being experienced by all the others who have lost all mobility. They are in fact my heroes. These are the challenges that are now the obstacles I either bypass or tear down just to do what I love to do. It is all difficult, believe me. I get the sense sometimes that my journey has weaved here and there, through alternate routes, a new path, another direction, and now, across ten miles of hard road.

~Each small candle~


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