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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD. 

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]

Santa Catalina

       Catalina’s not the “jewel of the Nile” but is the diamond of the Pacific

Clueless fellow I may be – OK, I am – I know Old Man Winter is bringing you down. Bringing you down, close to the ground, where all of you more easily shovel the snow and try to fling it into places not filled by the four previous blizzards.

And that’s just in Georgia, comments Screen Two.

So I’m changing the theme for this week’s “ADHD Powered” column, writing about a more summer-y topic. Something designed to warm the bones and heart.

Please make checks payable to Blackwell’s Bed and Breakfast, reminds Three, thinking ahead. And for the record – as always – everything you’re about to read is absolutely true.

“Why don’t you come with us to Catalina Island, Black?”

This form of question, put to me by friends, is out of place in my ADHD world. It sounds peaceful. It appears to harbor no hidden agenda. It does not seem to challenge anything I happen to be doing at the moment.

Normally I hear questions that ask what I was thinking when I did some foolish thing, or who I think I am when I speak up inappropriately, or how in the world I expect such-and-such to work when I haven’t filled it with gas or hydrogen or hot air.

This is new and uncharted territory for you, boss, says One. I’m unsure whether he means the style of question or the island.

“What is Catalytic?” I ask, prompting friends’ belly laughs that last way past what etiquette deems proper.

“Cat – ha, ha! – Catalina,” corrects one guffawing guy, the first to catch his breath. “Really, it’s Santa Catalina Island. Beautiful place not far off the coast of California.”

To be precise, lectures Five, the rocky little island is 26 miles from Long Beach and 37 miles from Dana Point.

Assured there are watertight boats willing to transport me safely to the island at a reasonable fee, I decide against swimming that distance.

Don’t worry, folks, says Six with a laugh. He’ll make up those miles when he’s left behind by a tourist boat in Mexico.

Dad and Leah2I also decide to bring my daughter, Leah, since Catalina is known for its wonderful family camps, warm waters and scenic snorkeling. But the moment we arrive, my athletic daughter sees athletic sons of other campers. This prompts her to take forever to unpack her suitcase (while she decides what clothes might be most beguiling), which prompts me to take a hike.

Wasn’t that Leah’s suggestion? quips Three.

The island seems to go straight up. Nothing’s flat here but the soda pop. My pre-titanium knees work fairly well as I climb and climb, wondering what I will find atop the small mountains –

Huge hills, corrects Four.

– that make up Catalina. The blue-green ocean waters will be an excellent view from such heights, I expect. What I do not expect are the views that arrive at eye level, such as the half-dozen squealing piglets that pop up just 20 yards away from me.

Stop, drop and pork roll! shouts Six, sounding much like a hungry fireman. I fall flat on my belly and, unseen by the prancing porkers, ask Six what’s next. Sneak up behind the last happy hamlet and grab him. Won’t that be a surprise!

Yes, it will – to an angry feral mama! (That “warning thought across the brow” is from a brochure I’d read while riding the boat over. No screen ever thinks to caution me.) I stay prone until the last little piggy goes to market, out of my sight. Because I am a tad uneasy that some big and very live slab of bacon might yet grab me –

Tusk, tusk, reprimands naturalist Five.

– I quietly lean into bushes at cliff’s edge to, umm, relieve stress. Deed done, I carefully back out of the thorny greenery I painfully stepped into, then turn my head left. This introduces me to the doe, three feet away, backing out of where she also had, err, just unstressed.

Cliffs on two of our four sides, we stare at each other. “Don’t do it,” I say, gently, because six hyperfocused screens eagerly show the deer charging me, taking us both over the edge.

Like a tumblin’ tumbleweed, twangs Three terribly.

Like Sherlock dragging Moriarty over Reichenbach Falls, adds literate Four.

Like a rolling stone, nasally injects Six, who rarely sings but does decent Dylan this time.

Bambi blinks twice, backs up, disappears silently despite skittering along rocky surfaces. Relieved I was already relieved –

Unstressed, reminds Two.

–  I walk a bit shakily toward the high center of the island, the warming sun so close and welcoming I could touch it.

Warmth, sighs Two. Not like the snow you shoveled a third time today after the county plow buried your car.

“Stay with the story, Two,” I admonish.

Seeing hefty wooden fence defending pastures, I’m surprised Catalina’s sparse green cover supports cow herds of any size.

Just a big rock in the middle of water, affirms Five.

Farther on I encounter yet another surprise: tree-populated turf. Leaving the rough, primitive road I’d been following, I step closer to look for pine cones. A deep, raspy cough bellows through the foliage. I jump back.

Wrong way! shouts Six. The adventure’s in front of you!

I sneak to within four feet of the hidden creature, my approach muffled by his grass-gripping gastronomy. Leaping through the brush, I shout madly and spook a … deer?

Bison, corrects One.

Buffalo, says Three. Or Tatanka, at least in some American Indian tongues.

Tears won’t help, counsels Five. But he is close enough to hand you a hanky.

No worries, soothes Six. Think deer on steroids. Repeat the earlier words.

Dont-Pet-the-Buffalo“Don’t do it,” I say in a voice reliving puberty. The Hulk on four legs stamps in place, shaking the ground beneath me, too. He nervously drops his head and squares his shoulders.

“P-p-lease … don’t … d-d-do … it,” I stammer, vocal cords choked by fear.

Make Buffalo Bob stop snorting! begs Two. He’s getting worked up.

Maybe Blackie should lie down, suggests Three.

It’s not a bear! scoffs Six. Look, just step back. Stay small. Tight. Unthreatening. Don’t stare him down, Black.

My feet, now so heavy, become one with Earth. I softly slide, slide, slide their great weight backward, away from hooves, horns, huge head. Twice Bison Bill steps toward me, stops. Loud, powerful breaths – his, I think – makes me close my eyes.

Cool, marvels Five. He’s like … like a giant steam engine. Such impressive mass!

Having backed myself uncounted paces beyond my unintended playmate, I dare to open eyes. Big Bad Bob, larger than life even a small distance away, fills my senses. I scan the rough terrain and spot a lone tree, angling out from the side of the ravine behind me.

Dive for it, plots Six. Branches should catch you.

If they don’t, adds One, you won’t feel the buffalo, anyway.

My feet become a blur. Not sure this strategy is wise, comments Four, but run like a madman I do … away from Bob, past deer, wide of wild piglets and back to an athletic blonde daughter still rooting through a full suitcase despite changed clothes. “Can’t decide what to wear, Daddy,” Leah laments, oblivious to my escalated perspiration and elevated respiration.

She sighs and says, “It’s gonna be a tough week, huh?”

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Postscript: Dad and Daughter dive the dazzling waters in just bathing suits. We find fabulous undersea creatures but are most excited by grabbing the tail of a small, leathery horn shark, which wriggles like mad until we release him.

Back home, we tell a friend about the toothless shark. Long-time diver Lorin silently walks to another room and returns with a wetsuit missing a portion of its left cuff. “Toothless?” he queries. “This happened when I grabbed a ‘toothless’ little horn shark. He turned and chomped – hard! – and gave me quite a memory.”

Leah and I look at one another. Two awestruck ADHD generations have learned our lesson:

“Never wear a wetsuit while grabbing horn sharks.”

Post-Postscript: While standing in the kitchen of our home, I use my cellphone to call our answering machine, hoping to leave a rather “daring” Valentine’s Day message for my beautiful brown-eyed bride.

But when the home phone rings as I’m trying to do this, I answer. It’s … well, it’s me.

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