A six part-serial node cowritten (working without a net) by junkpile

Part 1:
Well, sure I'm curious. I mean, I wonder, of course I wonder what it would be like to run around, chase frisbees or whatever. But I can't. I mean, I've been in this chair my whole life so it's like questioning what if you had been born with gloves or whatever.

But, I'm asked that question all the time- "Do you wonder what it would be like to walk?" I'm sure people don't mean it in a bad way. It just comes out mean. So, I try not to get upset.

I have great biceps and can bench about 260, which is not bad. I can do the 400 meters in about 2 minutes, although there are some guys from the local VA who can beat me just coasting. I like the exercise, but I really don't have a lot in common with them.

part 3- Well, knowing what she thinks about it, I would tell her, --yes, people do judge the chair-first . To them I am the chair- or the "person in the chair"-inseperable. I cannot hide that and it begins and ends every conversation. People assume I am benevolent, I guess and always congratulate me on every effort.

"It's so great he can make it to a waterfountain!" " I can't believe he knows how to turn on a computer-that is so cool"

But it's ok- it's not like I want to be in her shoes (so to speak)- I have my own life to lead. There is plenty to me people don't know so I don't sweat people's perceptions.

Part 5 Since I wake up everyday this way, I will move on. Imagine if I can move past this chair- this disability- to be seen as only that guy who wears the green backpack with the Tony the tiger sticker on it.

If I could trade places with her for a day I would like to show people what it is like to talk to deaf people, or blind people without talking at them.

I am denied the privilege of "modeling" the appropriate behavior since I am special. I want the boring normalcy many people hate. Imagine the calm and security you get after you return from a long trip-fighting for luggage carts- trying to find the exit ramp from terminal 6- changing lanes in traffic you have never seen before- but now you are home- boring apartment- same old grocery store- same strange old people wandering around the strip mall- admit it- it's reassuring to find yourself in that place after a long trip..

It's that kind of "I sort of took it for granted" experience I am shooting for, and that's what I want. I just want to be part of the scenery. To be seen as the guy you almost fell over in aisle 4 and not the handicapped guy that you, ohmygod almost killed at the grocery store.

part two.

I have always been a little afraid of people in wheelchairs. Not the clumsy ones in casts, haughty or amused about this new, temporary way of moving the body around, but the ones who live there, who spin the chair effortlessly, as if it were a natural appendage, a special sort of limb or rudder. On the shallowest level, I feel guilty for hating frisbee.

If something on my surface made me instantly different from most of the people in the room, would it put me at ease? I don't know. I'm doubtful of anything that threatens to put me at ease, ease is something I'm used to struggling for.

You've made me think about something I need. What am I wishing for? I am sitting here wishing I could tell you what I want; I know it's something, but I'm not sure.

A few weeks ago, my dad and I were people-watching. We had a good seat, they all had to pass us as they came into the building, all laughing, talking to others. We knew a lot of them - small town - but we stayed to the side. "I was wrong," he said. "I always thought it would be best to have a few good friends, and keep it to that, not spread yourself too thin. But look at them. They're the happy ones."

I think for all my talk, I would like to fade into the masses.

I think if I could show everyone something big and somewhat scary about me, up front, from across a room even, things might be different. I don't just mean I would stick in people's minds, an automatic stereotype. I would, to some. More importantly, though, it would be something I couldn't lie about, something I couldn't undo. Sure, later on, I'd have the chance to alter myself to fit people's perceptions. But at first glance, I'd have no choice but to be who I was.

Take it or leave it, this is my life. Want details? Want to know what I can do? Come talk to me.



...part four.

People's perceptions. I know how angry it would make me if people congratulated me on every little ordinary thing, working a water fountain, etc. I know I would be bitter, sardonic, start complimenting them on being able to walk, come up with some clever mean name for them. I'd enjoy the surprised looks, the unwillingness to tell a person in a wheelchair to piss off even if she is being rude.

How long would that last? How long till I stopped being angry at people's easy thoughtlessness, and stopped letting it affect my day? I haven't done it in this life - what makes me think I would have done it by now, if my life had happened in a wheelchair, or a bed, or in silence? Other people's actions do not define me. Other people's actions do not define me. I tell myself and tell myself. I'm thick in the head.

You look at someone and you make up your mind, even if you don't mean to. You get to know him, and your mind shifts over, little by little, while you sleep, until it's When I first met you, I thought _____. Can you believe that?     At any point in thet process of learning a person, are we ever right in what we see?




Part Six.

When I try to better myself, often I am trying to better myself in the eyes of others. I want you all to see me as the girl who graduated on time, the girl who gets published, the girl who can keep a boyfriend. That's nuts. It's none of your business, anyone.

Once, a stranger on crutches opened a door for me. Slanting, hopping on one foot. I tried to help him but he wouldn't let me. "No - I've got it." His voice was firm. I didn't want to make a big deal of it, but we both knew he'd gone out of his way. I gave him a really good smile. "Since I wake up everyday this way, I will move on."

It's all any of us can do. Wake up and be who you are. See what you can build or read or think or change today. If you lose sight of your innate limitlessness, when you limit yourself by other people's pre-made decisions about you, you freeze up and become useless. I guess we all have the same disabilities. Forget your body, and rise up.


She gave him
Her body: every inch, every possible position

She gave him
Two children, two months of labor and weeks of sleepless nights

She gave him
undivided attention, unfulfilled dreams and unrequited love.

In return
He took
All she had: her innocence, her hope and her laughter.

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