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.
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?
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.