I tried hard not to evoke this predictable reference but the Willie Nelson classic song, “On The Road Again” was playing in my head as I drove to the Calgary airport early on this Sunday morning in September of 2021. It’s an incredibly creepy feeling. Other than a quick flight to Montreal and home in November of 2020, to film my third Goalcast video, I haven’t been at an in-person speaking event since March of 2020. It feels like a million years while at the same time, it feels like yesterday! How is that possible? I wish I knew. But, it’s a strange new world that hasn’t changed and my blog today will explain my theory of “parallel living”.
That sounds a bit deep, huh? Not intended but I can see that. I’ve actually thought lots about this over my entire career, and maybe even before that. I always felt like I had two lives at the same time. The one the public were first, horrified by, then accepting of and then even going to the point of celebrating my life without arms. All the time, my other life was at home, where I was just Alvin. But back then, I didn’t think about it too much.
Then, I became a “celebrity” in Saskatchewan, which is pretty easy. I started appearing on telethons both as a vocal advocate for people with disabilities and as a talented musician.
When I met my wife and business partner, Darlene, she’d never heard of me. But she lived in Alberta. My first time bringing her to Saskatchewan, I warned her. She thought I was kidding. Now, she would say; “If Brad Pitt and Alvin were in the same restaurant in Regina, Alvin would be the one getting all the attention”! Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but not much. Sounds pretty cool, huh?
I also remember when my son, Vance, now 36 years old, was living through a messy divorce and his mother kept telling him I’m a “big fake”! Sorry for the somewhat bitter reference, but vital to this blog. At around 10 years old, he actually contemplated that. He’d see me in public, smiling, chatting people up, even signing autographs “pre-selfie”! And then we’d go home and I would yell at him or lose my temper, or Darlene and I would have an aggressive disagreement as couple’s have. And he thought about the idea of his Dad being almost “two-faced”. But of course, I think we all are!
Does that resonate with anybody out there? In fact, I keep thinking that the pandemic has highlighted this very idea. It’s also why there is so much aggressive anger at the sheer invasion of privacy brought to our lives by this pandemic. Because it has. You could be the Queen of England, the President of the United States, Brad Pitt, Alvin Law or “You”, J Q Public, and all our public lives have blended. Have you ever thought about that?
Covid has placed over 7,000,000,000 human beings in the same space, in a sense. Sure I’ve gone out in public a lot, but its not the same. We all used to cruise around the mall or restaurants, or gyms, or wherever, and other folks were like a blur…there, but not important. I really noticed this today.
I haven’t even been to the Calgary airport in eighteen months. It was surreal, because while “nothing” has changed, “everything” has. Instead of “individuals in a group”, we are now a “group of individuals”, all identical under Covid. Isn’t that weird? Or am I being weird. Maybe a bit of both.
It reminds me of Darlene yet again. Like all “life partners”, they see the real you, farts and all. To the world, I am that “amazing guy without arms”. At home, it’s just me! Frankly, I believe the happiest person alive today was my wife as she waved goodbye at 6:30 this morning, our first time apart in eighteen months as well. I even imagined her opening a bottle of wine for breakfast and celebrating solitude. Is this ringing any bells?
Our lives have changed but they’re still the same. And if you are confused about what that means, welcome to the club. I’ve been travelling for over 40 years and the last time I was this anxious getting on a plane was 1967, my first trip to Toronto for artificial arms. How is that possible? I’m 61 years old! How can I be insecure? Well, I believe that has been the real elephant in the room. Trying to live our lives…both of them and in a sense, have zero control over either!
Of course, part of my concerns are well founded. I’m travelling to the United States which, I’ve done countless times and I had those procedures nailed. But the new protocols are very confusing. We got our first vaccine, AstraZeneca in March in Calgary. But we were also going to the cottage for the summer. So, we got our second shots, Pfizer, in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I heard I needed two Pfizer’s to cross the border, so I even got myself a third shot, Pfizer, this past week to be safe. Turns out, nobody even asked! The only question I was asked at the airport; “Have I had a negative test for Covid in the last 72 hours”? My question was…which one? There’s multiple tests. But I got the correct one so all good, right? No!
I found out, the rapid test I took in Calgary isn’t the same one I need to come home. Maybe I’ll be trapped south of the border? See why the “Insecurity” is so quick to invade a typically confident and “secure” life?
So my new “life” out here “On The Road” is really my old life with a new parallel one. If you think about it, this should actually be easy. After all, I’ve been living two lives since I was born…and so have you. Food for thought!