I'd never seen her before. She was sitting on one of the chesterfields in the lobby. Placed in front of her was a shiny new walker. By the tires, I'd say it hasn't yet been used out of doors. Right now I'm reading a book set in medieval Norway, in the book the author often describes one of the characters as being frail, thus I thought of this woman as frail in the medieval sense of the word. I was waiting for Joe to come downstairs to go out. This was before he took sick and locked himself in the apartment for the duration of the holidays - right now he kind of looks 20th century frail. Anyways, she looked busting to say something so I gave her an opening. I pointed to the window and said, 'It looks could outside.'
'I'm not usually here this time of year,' she said proudly.
'Oh,' I said, once again remarking what a wonderful word that is, what secret meanings can be hidden in a single sound.
'Yes, I'm usually somewhere warmer.'
'But I had a hip replaced a few months ago and now the other one needs doing.'
'Oh.' This may not seem like I'm a sparkling conversationalist but trust me, she was fully engaged.
'Yes, and now that I'm crippled, I've been housebound.'
'Oh.' I flinched because she didn't use the word in the way disabled activists use it, she used is as a means of describing herself in a derogatory fashion. They should give the recently disabled an instruction book or something.
'This is my first time out in months, and it's just to the lobby.'
'Oh.' This fell silently between us so I picked up the conversation, 'I'll bet you are learning to see the world in a whole new way.'
'What do you mean by that? I don't see the world at all.' She looked angry. Like I was some kind of dunce that didn't get what her experience was. But really, I remember being laid up in a hospital room, unable to walk, unable to stand or balance. I remember learning so much about myself and the world and the interrelationship between the two.
'Oh,' I said unable or unwilling or both to become instructive or maybe I just didn't want to risk sharing my experience with someone who I didn't think wanted the sharing.
Whatever, Joe arrived and we left.
I said, 'You know, disability is really wasted on the intellectually lazy.'
'What do you mean by that?' he said.
I'm curious, does that statement make any sense to you, as readers, cause it sure does to me.