Today we leave for a lecture tour of British Columbia. It's an interesting trip because they booked the time, had people sign up and then we plotted them into the days - so we'll be going all over the province, north, south, east and west. There will be little time in between to do much else but drive. We've stocked up on books on tape so we should be OK there - and we get to see one of the most beautiful places on earth during late spring, how great is that.
Travelling with a disability brings a different approach to the whole process. The anxiety of travel, experienced by all, is combined with the anxiety of accessibility. We check and double check before we leave and check again as we travel. Every hotel will be called the day before, exact questions will be asked, exact promises will be made. And yet. And YET. There will be misunderstanding and miscommunication. There will be rooms impossible to get into, bathrooms impossible to use. This is now a given for us. And it causes such worry that I begin, now, to feel panic before even getting on the plane.
With the airlines now restricting us to one bag each, we've got to manage to take medical equipment, a c-pap machine for example, and clothing. We figure that we'll now need to do laundry twice as often as before. But we can manage that. Then there is the concern about the wheelchair arriving at the gate as promised - we've had it stolen by another passenger before; and that it's undamaged - we've had the arms almost totally broken off. Every time something goes wrong it adds to the inventory of things to worry about next time. Even when a trip goes smoothly, as some, even many, do; the memories of the bad trips, the broken chairs and the inaccessible rooms linger.
So we leave, we've packed our bags and our anxieties and by the time many of you read this we will be in the air and on our way. British Columbia is home to both of us, we will be near where Joe grew up, where he and I met, where I grew up. We will be visiting cities and people we have known for years and cities and people where we've never been before. We will be making connections and re-connections. And we will be dealing with the need to spontaneously problem solve situations beyond our control.
Over the next few weeks, blog posting may become erratic given my access to Internet and the lateness of our arrival, some evenings we have a seven hour drive after one lecture to get to the next town for the next one. On those days, sleep, not writing, will be a priority. I am, after all, getting older.
But then, the last time I begged off playing a 'throw the kids around game' with a 'I'm getting older and I tired out' plea, Ruby looked at me and said, 'You aren't old, you're ...' and here she started counting off on her fingers ... 'you are human, you are in a wheelchair and you aren't tired yet.' She's right. On all counts. I get tired from the idea of being tired - now it's time to pull up my expectations, and head out the door.
Anyone who starts to hum 'on the road again' will get whacked!!