Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.15.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Writing the write, reading the read

I was sitting in my office, working the work, when the sole of my foot started vibrating. It was very subtle, like maybe there was machinery operating under the floor. It wasn't a steady vibration but starting and stopping, with the rhythm of an oscillating fan.

It wasn't strong enough to stop me from working the work but it wasn't something I could ignore either. Maybe there was something under the floor, the furnace, perhaps, or fracking. I've heard fracking is a thing these days.

I got up from working the work and walked the walk over to another part of my office. There it was still, in my left foot only, at nerve level. Flllllllrrmmmmm, fllllllrrmmmmm, fllllllrrmmmmm. It was like when the phone vibrates in my pants pocket, only less enjoyable.

I lifted my foot off the floor, storking the stork. It was harder to feel, but it was still there, slower than my heartbeat, but pulsating. No numbness, no tingling, just -- vibrating.

I went back to working the work and at some point it stopped, though I didn't notice when. I have not vibrated since, not any part of me, FYI. And so I thought no more about it.

That night, I was sleeping the sleep when my brain decided to awaken the wake. It happens increasingly, and not just because of the snoring cat. The snoring cat, snoring the snore, doesn't wake me up; she only prevents me from going back to sleep. She has a full range of snores, in all registers and tempos. It's like listening to a virtuoso dripping faucet. She likewise vibrates.

Lying there at the edge of sleep, I found myself unable to think properly, incapable, for example, of remembering the dream that I’d just had, which I should have been able to do, because it had just happened! Something about our friends getting a new house, which was really only a set-up for a spin-off sit-com starring their relatives, who turned out to be black, which was a bit of a surprise.

But I couldn't remember any of that then, which upset me, and I convinced myself I was getting Alzheimer's, if not right away, then soon. Probably something to do with that buzzing foot. It made sense.

In the day of the day, I realize now I was suffering from the night frets, those dark thoughts of the dark. It is true, though, I do forget a lot. Sometimes names won't come to me. I blank on words, even images of faces. They just sit there behind a closet door in my mind, and I start to lose it and have to hack through the door with an ax. "Heeeeere's memory!"

I know my body is going to fail me, sooner than I think, if it isn't starting to do so already. Parts of me are starting to vibrate, after all. I'm the youngest of my siblings, one thing I’ve always been able to feel smug about, but lately I've been catching up. We're spread out all over the map, my siblings and I, and it seems those times we communicate by mass email, the topic is often health -- our parents and, more and more, each other's.

I try not to worry about the buzz that rings the ring in my ears or the specks that float the float in my eyes. It's part of aging and inevitable. I try not to dwell on how demoralizing it is to find a grey hair, and I don't mean on my head. This is life at 50, and if there's any good that comes with age, it's the perspective of knowing that you are living the life of the moment, that the jerks doing the jerk don’t matter, and that things will fall apart when they're ready, soon enough, just hopefully not right now.

Wisdom and smarts aren't the same thing, though. The morning after the dreams and the Alzheimer's panic, I was driving the drive to Montreal. My vision started to get cloudy, things were going grey and fuzzy. Was I having a stroke? Going blind? Quick check: was anything vibrating?

Then I realized it was lightly snowing.

My brain was not thinking the think.