It’s New Years Eve and both Jonas and I are looking forward to Natalie’s party tonight. She has assured me the house where the party is held is accessible. I hope she’s right, ‘cause Jonas is going in his chair. He has been tall quite a lot over the past week and a whole evening on crutches and braces is just out of the question.
Several people I still haven’t met up with will be at the party and I can’t wait to see them. We’re leaving Cape Town at the crack of dawn the day after tomorrow, so tonight will most likely be the last time we see most of my friends here before we head back north. I’m a bit sad our time here is coming to an end, but at the same time I’m eager to get back home and spend some more time with Mom and Dad before we head back to Norway.
“You look stunning,” Jonas says as I walk into the living area where he’s waiting for me. I’m wearing a knee length royal blue cocktail dress with sequins scattered all over it. I found it in a boutique at the V&A Mall the other day and Jonas insisted on buying it for me. I tried to stop him, but to no avail. I bought a matching cardigan and a pair of stilettos to go with it. r
He doesn’t look too shabby himself. He’s dressed in a pair of black dress slacks and a navy blue tailored dress shirt with the top two buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The blue shirt enhances the deep tan he’s developed while we’ve been here.
“Thanks, babe,” I say as I walk over to him. “You look great.”
Jonas checks the time; I notice he’s wearing his Omega Speedmaster today. He saves that for when he’s dressing up, his everyday watch is a sports watch with a black silicone strap.
“The car should be here in about 10 minutes, lets head downstairs,” he suggests. Then he glances at my stiletto-clad feet with a skeptical look on his face. “Those shoes looks amazing, but they also look like they hurt like hell. Maybe you should bring a pair of flats, just in case?”
“I don’t have flats any that matches my outfit and I’m sure there’s somewhere to sit down at the party,” I say. “Nat said there’d be food, and we’ve gotta sit down to eat, right?”
“I guess you have a point,” Jonas agrees. "And if all else fails you can sit in my lap."
When we arrive at the party it’s evident that Natalie hasn’t really got a clue about what accessibility means; there are four steps up to the entrance and no ramp in sight. “Damn it, Nat,” I mutter as Jonas sets up his wheelchair and transfers to it. I get out of the car and walk around to join him.
“I can manage those steps if you give me a hand,” Jonas says, seeing the worry and annoyance on my face. I’m instantly relieved and I’m game to do anything to help him. We make our way across the small parking lot and soon we’re at the steps. Jonas turns his chair around, like he’s going to back up the stairs.
“If you grab the bar across the backrest, just make sure I don’t topple over, I’ll do the rest. They taught us in rehab, it’s a pretty useful trick,” he says.
I do as I’m told and I feel a tingle as I grab the metal bar across the backrest of his chair and walk up the stairs one step ahead of him. I breathe a sigh of relief as we make it to the op safely.
“That wasn’t too bad, was it?” Jonas says to me as he turns his chair around so he’s facing me. He quickly straightens his glasses and then we head inside. There’s a small threshold in the doorway, which Jonas navigates effortlessly, popping a wheelie across it.
The party is a bit of a disaster. Natalie said there’d be food. Turns out what she meant was a small selection of finger foods that vanishes quickly. I’m glad we’ve brought our own wine. Until I realize there’s nowhere to keep the wine cool. It’s a warm summers evening, so by 9 pm our white wine is lukewarm. Yum. Not. I don’t even want to think about what the sparkling wine we've bought for the toast at midnight will taste like lukewarm. I think that's staying in the bag on the back of Jonas' chair.
I guess the steps by the entrance were an indication to the fact that there isn’t an accessible toilet here. We end up sneaking into the laundry room where I keep watch at the door while Jonas caths himself. Thank goodness he brought all-in-one catheters that has a urine collection bag attached to them so he doesn’t have to be by a toilet when he does it. If that had been the case we would’ve been fucked.
People start leaving the party before midnight. By midnight we’re about 15 people left. Jonas and I end up leaving around 1 am, and we’re some of the last people to leave. I don’t blame people for leaving early, the party really sucked, but I feel bad for Natalie. She looked utterly defeated when we left.
“I like Nat, but she sucks as a party planner,” Jonas says when we’re settled into bed after eating an impromptu dinner at 2 am. Our stomachs were growling when we got back here, so we had to eat something before we went to bed. We had some leftover pies from the other day in the fridge. We ate them cold, since the crust gets soggy and rubbery if they’re heated in the microwave. Some New Years dinner…
“You do have a point there,” I agree, snuggling close to his warm body.
“I guess the good thing is that we didn’t drink much tonight, so I really doubt we’ll feel hungover in the morning.”
“Yeah, I doubt it too. I’m sorry the party sucked,” I say, and then I kiss Jonas’ cheek.
“It’s not your fault your best friend could probably win the ‘worst party planner in history’ award,” he says. “And apart from a pretty badly planned party tonight these days have been great. Thanks.”
“My pleasure. And we still have plenty more vacation time left. Have to admit I’m ready to get back home and spend some time with my parents. I’ve missed them.”
“Home, sweet home,” I say as I pull through the front gate at our house in Pretoria. Mom and Dad come out of the front door as I park the Land Rover in front of the garage and hurry over to greet us. I quickly slip out of the drivers seat and both my parents hug me tightly before they allow me to get around to the passenger side to get Jonas’ wheelchair for him.
He manages a pretty graceful transfer and after adjusting his legs and shifting his weight he greets my parents. They both hug him briefly and then they help us grab our luggage from the trunk and carries into our room.
“Are you hungry?” Mom asks after she has set my suitcase down by the bed. “I can whip up an omelet if you are.”
It’s past nine in the evening and it’s been a few hours since we ate dinner.
“That actually sounds really good,” Jonas says. “It’s been a while since we last ate, apart form some snacks in the car.”
“I’m hungry too,” I say. “Sounds great, Mom.”
Mom and Dad leave the room and Jonas excuses himself to use the bathroom. I’m too tired from driving all day to bother with unpacking my bag, so I go into my room and dig out a pair of sweatpants and a tee from the clothes I left here when I went to Norway last year. When I step back into the passage the scent of omelet is coming from the kitchen. Back in our room I quickly change into the clothes I’ve grabbed. Jonas exits the bathroom a few minutes later and I head in there to relieve myself and splash some water on my face before we head to the kitchen to eat.
“Here you go,” Mom says as she places a plate filled with ham and cheese omelet and a couple of pieces of toast in front of each of us.
“Thanks,” Jonas and I say in unison. We’re both hungry, so we eagerly dig into our food. After we’ve eaten in silence for a few minutes Dad speaks.
“So, how was Cape Town? Did you like it, Jonas?”
“It was great,” Jonas says. “It’s nice, vibrant city and I like what I’ve seen of the surrounding areas too. I think the major let-down was the New Years party we were invited to. That was a bit of a disaster, to say the least.”
“Oh?” Mom exclaims, she sounds surprised.
“Natalie isn’t going to win prizes for her party planning skills anytime soon,” I say. “She said the venue was accessible. It wasn't. There wasn't a disabled toilet there and there were several steps to get in to the building. She also said there would be food. That turned out to be a few trays of finger foods that vanished pretty fast. And she hadn’t arranged for somewhere we could cool our drinks cool. Most people left pretty early, some even before midnight. We stayed until one and then we left.”
“Poor Nat,” Mom says. “She must have been devastated.”
“She looked pretty defeated when we headed out, but we were starving. When she promised food I figured there would be a dinner of some sort, so when we got there we hadn’t eaten since lunch.”
“Have you talked to her since then?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, I called her yesterday. She was a bit peeved that we left so early, but I think she understood why.”
“That’s good. I’d hate to see your friendship ruined over a party that wasn’t as expected. You’re too close for that,”
“I know, Dad. And we don’t want that. We’ll be fine. Apart from the party we had a great time together this past week.”
“So what’s your plan for the rest of your stay?”
“We’re spending a day in Joburg. I was thinking about taking the sightseeing bus, but I’m not sure. It’s great when you can sit upstairs, but only the bottom level is accessible for Jonas. I’ve never sat down there, so I don’t know what kind of views we’d get if we go for that.”
“There’s no doubt the best views are on the top level, but I still think you should consider it. You’ll get decent views downstairs and it’s a convenient way to get around and see a lot of the city. “
“We’ll think about it. We’ll definitely have to go to the Apartheid Museum and Jonas mentioned he wants to go to World of Beer.”
“World of Beer isn’t all that great,” Dad says. “But it’s an okay way to kill a couple of hours and they do mention some interesting tidbits about Joburg history.”
We chat a little longer and agree to discuss the itinerary for the rest of our stay tomorrow. Jonas and I both agree to take it easy tomorrow, since we’re both tired from spending most of the past couple of days in the car. A bit of pool time and just relaxing sound good to both of us.
When I wake up the following morning Jonas is fast asleep next to me, which is unusual. I enjoy watching him sleep; I love how relaxed he looks and he’s snoring a little. I notice his left foot is twitching slightly beneath the covers. After a couple of minutes I slip out of bed and head into the bathroom. I quickly relieve myself, wash my hands and brush my teeth. When I step back into the bedroom Jonas is awake. He’s leaning against the headboard, reading something on his phone.
“Good morning, babe,” he greets me with that adorable smile of his that makes my heart skip a beat. His hair is mussed from sleep and his glasses are slightly askew on his nose. I just love the just-woke-up version of my boyfriend.
“Morning sleepy head. I’m not used to waking up before you.”
“I know,” Jonas chuckles, his voice is still thick from sleep. “I guess I needed the sleep. I’d better get moving.”
I watch as he pulls the covers off and lifts his legs over the side of the bed. He looks at his jumpy left foot with annoyance and mutters something about needing to take a dose of Baclofen before it gets worse. Then he lines his wheelchair up and transfers to it.
“You make it look so easy,” I say.
“I’ve had a few years to practice and it pays to keep in shape,” he says with a shrug after he finishes adjusting his legs on the footrest.
“Sure does,” I say as he disappears into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
I put on a bikini and then I get dressed in a pair of denim shorts and a t-shirt before I head to the kitchen.
Jonas joins my parents and me in the kitchen about half an hour later. He’s wearing his blue swim trunks and a grey t-shirt and his feet are bare. I’m glad he seems to become less self conscious about wearing shorts. The weather is too hot for jeans.
“Morning, Jonas,” Dad greets him. “Sleep well?”
“Good morning, Bjørn. I slept very well, thanks. First time on this trip Sigrid has woken up before me I think. I usually beat her to the bathroom in the morning. Which is probably unfair since my morning routine takes longer than hers.”
Dad chuckles. “Well, it’s a good thing she likes to sleep in, isn’t it?”
“Guys! I’m right here,” I say, slightly annoyed they act like I’m not even in the room.
“Sorry,” Jonas says, wrapping his arm around me and kissing me on the cheek.
Mom places a pot of freshly brewed coffee and a basket of chocolate croissants on the table and sits down next to dad
“Would you mind if Bjørn and I join you in Pilanesberg?” she asks as she pours fills our mugs with steaming hot coffee.
“Of course not,” I say. Jonas and I discussed it while we were in Cape Town and we were actually going to ask my parents to join us. “We were actually planning on asking you to come with us. “
“You’re going to Joburg tomorrow, right?”
“That’s the plan, but it’s not like it’s carved in stone.”
“Go to Joburg tomorrow. Pilanesberg the day after works well for us, if that’s okay with you.”
“We’re on vacation, so whatever works for you is good,” Jonas says.
“Then we go to Pilanesberg on Wednesday. We’ll leave here by 5 am, so it’s an early start. I want to be there when the gates open,” Dad says, leaving no room for argument.
Jonas and I nod in agreement. We both know our vacation is coming to an end soon and neither of us are looking forward to going back to snowy and cold Norway at this point.
To be continued...