We went out to the movies this afternoon and four times I had to either shout to be heard or touch someone to be noticed. In each instance the folks were standing blocking my way, in fact blocking the way of anyone who needed to pass by. In each instance, either of raised voice or touched shoulder, the individual was startled to annoyance at my interruption. In each instance the individual was in deep communion with self - with a closed off world.
Two of the individuals were listening to something plugged into their ears while texting on the phone. Two of the individuals were in deep conversations with friends, near clones of themselves. They were, in other words, either clicked on or cliqued in. They had made their worlds as small as it's possible to be.
Disability woke me to the world.
When you move differently, you need to pay attention to where you are going and how you are getting there. You need to be hyper vigilant so that you don't drive off curbs, over feet or into trees. You need to pay attention. There is a lot of time spent taking care of self, taking care for others, taking focus off the teeny tiny world of 'me' and seeing instead the larger social world.
When you need to wait for others, you begin to pay attention to what's going on - simply to amuse yourself and while away the time. Waiting for the car to be brought round, waiting while Joe runs into a store, waiting for the bus to come - there's lots of waiting in my life now. Which means a lot of watching. A lot of being pulled out of my little world of self into the larger world of others.
Even before disability, though, I liked going out to be ... out. Being outside, being out amongst others, being part of a much larger social pack - I've always enjoyed that. I've never been able, even when sick, to say in the house for more than a day or the most two. After a wee while indoors my skin seems to need fresh air, I need to be 'outside' of my place, 'outside' of my thoughts, 'outside' of my teeny tiny world of self. Disability just ratcheted that up a notch or two.
But these days it seems that people take their teeny tiny world with them. They really don't want to be interacting with the hoi polloi. They don't want to be pulled out of the world of 'me' into the world of 'thee'. So when I call to them in a normal speaking voice, they don't hear me. The pods in their ears block my sound, the clods in their sphere block any communication at all. I'm left with either shouting or touching. Neither are my preferred way of getting a message across but what do you do?
Years ago I marched and shouted 'out of the closet and into the street' ... perhaps that's when all of the rest went into retreat. Or it seems so, because now when I'm in the street it seems I'm completely and entirely, alone.