Joe and I were up early and were chatting with the porter about using the "L" to get downtown to the parade. I had been told by one of the organizer's, in an email, that the system was fairly accessible and we were thinking of riding down with everyone else rather than taking the van. The porter pointed to a huge bridge over the freeway that connected to the rapid transit system. It looked old and my heart sank. As the age of a structure increases the likelihood of accessibility decreases - at least in my experience. The porter, correctly reading my face said, "Oh, no, don't worry, it's accessible."
We were then told that to get day passes we needed to cross over the freeway and go to a grocery store called Domenicks where they sold them at the customer service desk. Again we were reassured that the whole thing was accessible. So, checking the time and realizing we could get there and back before it was time to meet everyone, we headed out. To get to the elevator we had to go along a very narrow bit of sidewalk that was cheek by jowl with the freeway. I drove very carefully, my chair just fitting on the concrete. We rode up in an elevator, rolled across the bridge looking down and lane after lane of highway. Then we were down the other elevator and over to the store and seconds later found ourselves on our way back to the hotel.
Everyone was gathered getting breakfast stuff at the coffee stand and I was able to hand out the day passes and instruct everyone on how to get to the 'blue line' in order to make it downtown. The excitement was gathering as we all made sure we had what we needed, the banner, the cards to hand out were in one bag and our enthusiasm in the other, so we were good to go.
This seems like such a small thing.
But it wasn't.
Finding accessibility, where it wasn't expected, made such a difference to me and to my day. I am growing used to, with much protest, at having things done for me rather than doing things for others. So often there is some barrier to my full participation, to my making a full contribution. A barrier outside of me and outside of my control. To have the desire to do something and to be able to do it - shouldn't be remarkable, but it was.
The first of two pride parades consisted just of two people, Joe and I, on a bridge over I90, near O'Hare. I wonder if anyone noticed.