I have a friend who has an older brother, Henry, who is mentally disabled. He is a kind boy living inside a man’s body. Although he needs assistance, he lives in his apartment and has a job. I know sometimes he can be an easy target for ridicule.
Recently, he was allowed to move from his upstairs apartment to the apartment directly below him. The stairs were hard on his knees and carrying groceries up was exhausting. Having an apartment on the lower floor was the perfect solution.
Henry’s sister flashed the Bat-signal up in the sky that she needed help. The contents of his entire apartment had to be moved within 24 hours. Daunting, but doable.
Early Saturday morning, we all showed up with empty boxes and bags to fill with stuff from upstairs, empty them downstairs, and repeat the cycle.
I was surprised to find Henry sad and alone in his bedroom, “Henry, what’s wrong?” I asked him.
“I don’t want to go. I like my apartment,” He answered mournfully.
I reassured him that this new apartment was a better location and will look similar. I didn’t realize how accurate I was until I looked inside the new downstairs apartment. I dropped my bags, boxes, and jaw, “Holy doppelgangers, Batman! They’re identical!”
Everything about the two apartments was the same: exact same floor plan, colors, bathroom tiles, down to the faux kitchen granite. They were mirror images of each other.
But Henry’s sad reaction was more than just location. Henry gets upset with any change, any disruption, even if it is for the better. We respected that and were mindful that we had to recreate the upstairs to the downstairs to a tee. I could tell he was relieved.
So, it began. Every chair was placed in the exact location against the same wall.
The kitchen cabinets were emptied: mugs and glasses brought downstairs and placed in the exact same position with mugs in the back, starting with the Disneyland mug, then glasses in front. Back up the staircase for the plates: blue ones on the left, red on the right. Pictures were hung with care over the couch: trains on the left, boats on the right.
Up – down. Down – up. I reached for the cup of coffee that I had left in the kitchen, but it wasn’t there because it was in the other kitchen. Up – down. Where did I put the paper towels that were just here? In the other bathroom. Up – down. Down – up.
After a few hours, I began to think this was taking a very long time. Didn’t we just empty the den? Wait a minute. I just saw that end table. Was it here or there? My mind was a blur. WHICH APARTMENT WAS I IN?
Perspiring, I ran out to the top of the stairs and saw my friend bringing Henry’s small table UP the staircase. “Stop! You’re all turned around. You’re bringing stuff back up.”
She dropped the table on the spot in horror. “We’re all going mad,” she cried.
“We’re in the Twilight Zone!” I proclaimed.
Henry, delicately holding his Batman Lego collection in a shoebox, stopped. “Leslie, Leslie, Leslie, I’m worried about you. You look like you don’t know if you’re coming or going. Do you need me to help you find your way? Take my hand,” he said while setting down the shoebox, “It’s always easier with a friend.”
I let Henry show me the way.
Live with waffletude