I am not an insubstantial person.
That's a nice way of saying, um, I'm pretty big. I'm the kind of person that usually sticks out where ever he goes. Sometimes because of size, sometimes because of personality, sometimes because of humour ... add those all up and it's always. So it's hard to understand how I can simply disappear. Not exist. Become a magician's disappearing rabbit.
This morning Joe and I went to meet Sue Gabriel, who was in Toronto to do a presentation, at the hotel near the venue. We'd agreed to have breakfast together and really catch up. She'd arrived late last night and there wasn't really the opportunity to talk. We left the apartment early and, oddly, there wasn't a soul on the roads. We pulled into the hotel barely 15 minutes later. Way early for our breakfast date.
We decided to get a table and then call Sue. We figured her for a morning person so she'd probably be up. We waited by the 'Please Let Us Seat You' sign. The waitress showed up, looked at Joe and said, "Table for one?"
I waved my hand in the air and said, "That would be for two." All the way to the table I giggled. How was it possible for her to not see me? How was it possible for a man of my size to be invisible?
I was not, of course, invisible.
Instead I was 'invisiblized' ... I was exorcised from sight, from consideration, from membership. An unknown hand took a pair of sissors and cut me out of the picture. I was editted out.
While I thought the comment funny at first. Later on, it began to truly trouble me. It's like, in a moment, I experienced years of disabled history. Removed from neighbourhoods. Invisibilized. Removed from communities. Invisibilized. Removed from schools, from churches, from employment, from citizenship. Invisiblized.
Joe on two feet could be seen, was worthy of being seen. Me on four wheels, I was a troubling complication. As the day progressed I thought about what Sue was presenting about, the mental health needs of people with disabilities. I began to wonder if much of the 'problem behaviour' was caused by a need to be visible, to be seen, to be acknowledged, to exist, to have purpose. I wonder what a lifetime of invisibilization does to the soul, to the spirit, to the desire to go on.
What I found funny in the morning, I found worrying at the end of the day.
I don't want to be invisible.
I don't want to be invisiblized.
And if I have to act up to be seen. So be it.
If I have to make noise to be noticed. I'll do it.
If I need 'behaviour' to matter. By Good Heaven's get the incident report out and start writing ...