She likes thrift stores, glitter, bold colours (mostly pink), and her hair looks like a giant follicular umbrella. She’s annoyingly cheerful, probably the worst roller blader in galactic history, but her tenacity is unbreakable. She’s an expressive extrovert. She’s fighting a mobility disability. She’s Virj’s sidekick. She’s Noola Quirk.
I had no idea I’d invent Noola. Mind you, I had no idea what was going to happen in Life in the ‘Cosm as I was writing it. That was half the fun.
At the time I began ‘Cosm, my mobility had become severely impaired by the chronic pain and complications of fibromyalgia and arthritis. A few years before all of this, I was running. But in 2014, I couldn’t walk without a cane, and getting upstairs had been so challenging, I thought we might have to move. My spirits were low.
Then chapter three happened. That’s where Virj is trying to buy a birthday present for his crush, the unattainable and elegant Frayda, who is permanently attached to Jobie, because they share the same body. In the mall at the Delta Mews Business Park, Virj takes one moment to stop feeling sorry for himself and as he gets up off a bench, WHAM! A streak of colour and glitter literally runs him over. Noola Quirk rammed her way into his life on her rollerboots, on an overly waxed mall floor. And pretty much from that moment on, Virj cannot get rid of her.
She’s sanguine. He’s melancholic. She loves people. Him, not so much. She is so friendly, she says hi to hundreds of sentient daisies growing in a field. He’d prefer to be left alone in a fuzzy white robe, in his hotel room, writing. They have nothing in common. Except maybe a whacky adventure to find the mystical Slawncha leaves that will save Frayda’s life, when Frayda and Jobie become gravely ill.
I love her spirit and her optimism. I even love her lapses in judgment. A lot of myself as a once twentysomething went into her. (My husband unit says I am still Noola. I’m not sure. I do say, “Whatcha doin?” a lot, though.) Her lust for life amid the uncertainty of living with a disability helped keep me going. I need Noola. I think a lot of us with disabilities need to strive to tap into our inner Noola. She’s not a giver upper.
It was a riot to show their differences at times. Poor introverted Virj. He just wanted to go solo on this mission. Noola wouldn’t have it. I know from my friends that the worse thing for an introvert who needs to re-energize is an extrovert who never leaves their side.
“I’m sorry, Virj.”
“I’m not talking to you.”
“You sorta did right there.”
“Only because I need you to know I’m not talking to you.”
“How’s your bum?”
“I’m not talking to you, Noola.”
“Can I see?”
“Leave me alone.”
~ Life in the ‘Cosm, Chapter 26