We arrived in Victoria a little later than we expected. All the drive down we chatted about landmarks and reveled in memory. Joe grew up on the island, we met on the island and our years at UVic were important years. It was nice to spend time together in such easy conversation. We were back in the routine of travel, each having our parts down, so all that was left was to enjoy the journey.
We travelled over the Malahat and commented, as we always do, that the mountain isn't the same in a real car. All the cars I owned during University years trembled at the idea of going over the pass. Even without the 'will we make it' thrill, it's a great ride with beautiful views.
Arriving in Victoria, where we are only for the day of the lecture before heading over to Vancouver, we'd arranged to have dinner after work with Joe's sister and her family of hulking boys. Normally we do Chinese but the last time there we experienced a great Mexican restaurant and wanted to suggest it as an alternative. We couldn't remember the name or even the street it was on. We scoped out where our hotel was and then went to find the restaurant before calling Sharon to set up dinner.
Downtown was full of traffic, at one point we were on Douglas street and I saw him. He was rushing along, clearly he had a place to go. He may have been 40, maybe a bit older, he had Down Syndrome and he had purpose in his eyes. I only saw him for a minute, but that's all that was needed.
When I was a student at UVic back in the 70's, I took two psych classes (language of the day) Mental Retardation One and Mental Retardation Two. Our text book was full of pictures of abnormalities and exceptionalities. Our professor was clinical, in the extreme and the belief in 'hopelessness as future' was firmly ingrained in us. IQ ruled. The course was chilling. We made a visit to Glendale, the institution that housed people with disabilities in large numbers.
Captured in photographs, jailed in wards, that's where people with Down Syndrome were back in those days. Where they weren't was on the street, walking alone, with purpose, with competence with an assured right to be there.
This is what we've done.
Parents who demanded more, this is what you've done.
Advocates who fought for rights, this is what you've done.
Agencies who struggled to provide community, this is what you've done.
People with disabilities who live purposely, this is what you've done.
Our's is a victory not yet acknowledged nor celebrated. Except, in moments, where someone appears in the present where he'd never have been in the past. Except, in moments, when someone steps out of the ward and into the street. Except in moments like these.
Today, in my heart, I'm dancing.