Yesterday I opened an email from my friend “Cicely” (names changed to avoid embarrassing innocent victims), and noticed with some surprise that, while it was dated May 1, the previous email was from February 2. Had I really not communicated with Cicely in those three months? Of course I had – but here was proof positive that I had not. How could this be? What did it signify?
Feeling just a wee bit queasy, I opened the email: it told me that she and her husband “Cuthbert” were going to San Juan on Thursday, returning on Friday, to check on the new renters. Now, bear in mind that this was first thing in the morning and my brain was still more than a little groggy from sleep and caffeine-insufficiency, also that for quite some time now my mind has (quite of its own volition) been taking mini-vacations in the Pacific Northwest where we lived for twenty-four years and all six of our children were born, and you will understand what happened next: I thought she meant the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and British Columbia!
Beyond gobsmacked, that I was! How could it be that in all the years I had known her, Cicely had never once let slip that she and Cuthbert own a rental property on the San Juans? Moreover, they were flying up to Washington on Thursday and back on Friday. Highly uncharacteristic – there was definitely something fishy going on. Add to this the missing three months of emails, and you will get some idea of my complete bewilderment and confusion.
So this is what it's like, I thought. This is the beginning of the end, of the utter mental chaos and inability to manage one's environment that gives dementia such a bad name.
Maybe, I thought, I am misremembering the islands’ name: maybe the San Juans are actually the California islands – could that be it? Hastily, I Googled San Juan Islands. Sure enough, there they were just as I remembered them, firmly plunked in the Puget Sound. Not only that, but Oh Glory! As my eyes traveled down the list of San Juans, they came to a screeching halt at San Juan Capistrano. Aha! Capistrano I know about: our family spent three months there living in a house right on the beach, while my husband was running an anti-euthanasia campaign back in ’92. San Juan Capistrano was where I bathed our then youngest in the kitchen sink and practically wiped out my right knee on a rock, body-surfing.
San Juan Capistrano is also where Cicely’s mother’s house is: a house that has been rented out for some years, ever since Cicely’s mom moved on to a place where she has no need of an earthly dwelling.
Even the three months of missing emails had a benign explanation: Cicely had been clearing out February’s emails, found “If you loved ‘LaLaLand’ you’ll love . . . “, and forwarded it to me to see if any of their movie suggestions appealed.
Ta-da – vindicated! Guess who isn't crazy after all – but when I looked up LaLa Land in the dictionary and learned that it is “a euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life”, I think I may just pay it a visit.
I’ve had about all I can take of the “harsher realities of life” for the time being.