For someone who spends much of his life paid to be in front of others, I don't much like being looked at. I think, maybe, because there is a huge difference between how I am perceived professionally, at the front of a room in a position of respect, and personally when living an ordinary life. In one part of my life, I am 'speaker' or even 'expert'. In another area of my life I am 'mutant' or even 'disgusting'. It sometimes gives me mental whiplash as I gear up or down between perceptions.
One thing I'm really peculiar about. I don't like to be seen getting out of a car. Because my legs and feet work differently than those of others, I have a convoluted way of exiting vehicles. I know it's graceless and I know it's awkward but I also know that it works surprisingly well. I have found that people outright stare at me while I perform my own little bit of personal gymnastics. They don't even attempt to conceal their odd interest. I get the sense of what it must have been like to be gawked at by those paying a nickle to see 'difference' in canvas tents at carnivals. It's, to me, personally painful.
It's one of those things I mentioned to Joe early on into my disability. After mentioning it, he also noticed the 'sideshow' mentality of those nearby. Without really talking much about it we've developed a kind of tag team effort to keep me safe and to frustrate the onlookers. If there is anyone around, Joe opens the door and then places himself as a block to the view of onlookers. Most of them don't have the moxie to then move around to get a better view of the 'event'.
I appreciate this more than I can say. Though I am not ashamed of my disability, I also do not want to live my life on display. Though I am not ashamed of moving differently, I do not want to perform for the interest of otherwise bored eyes. I like my privacy. I like being able to be different and unseen at the same time. I like to be seen on my terms, not to be defined on 'others'.
Getting out of a car.
Before I became a disabled guy, it was something I never thought about.
After becoming disabled, it's become something different. Something political. Something defiant.
It's like there is new meaning to movement. New meaning to what was once ordinary.
Disability - discover the nature of the new you, discover the nature of the cold stare.