It's really only a few days until we fly to London and, as we'll be in the UK for exactly a month, we spent Thanksgiving Monday hunkered down in our housecoats, our books and a couple of DVD sets. We ate left overs and generally set about the task of winding down from one trip and gearing up for another.Sometimes it seems that we need to soak in "home."
For the first time I'm finding that that idea of travelling, though the work appeals to me, I like the opportunities that I have to teach and to learn, I am weary of the unpredictability of access. Our home is arranged to accommodate both our tastes and our needs. While we can both easily cope with the idea of 'non-offensive design' when it comes to travel. Art that is aimed at being there without being there, music that is played to be played not listened to, furniture that is way more function than form. We get that. So taste isn't even a consideration for travel. But, needs, are and continue to be needs.
Accessibility, though, is still, no matter the cautions taken, a crap shoot. On our last trip every single room we had was fully accessible and met our needs. Awesome. But that didn't mean that we both didn't have anxiety every single time we checked into a new hotel. Once trust is broken, it's broken. We know that the rooms booked for this trip will be booked properly, that the hotels have guaranteed that we will be able to get in the room, use the room and leave the room - all we really ask for, but that doesn't mean, always that our definition of an accessible entrance - flat, is the same as theirs - only two stairs.
I realise that this will come across as whining. I realise that it is a privilege to travel and to get to do what I do. I do realise all that. But I want to chronicle here how it is to live with a disability in a world where accessibility is not a right, where accessibility is still considered a frill and where purposeful exclusion still exists. Maybe its because I'm getting older, maybe its because I'm tired of having the experience, both, of being greeted with inaccessibility and of having to make complaint and speak to supervisors and write letters to general managers.
I think of the people I will see. The friendly faces that will greet me. I think of the conversations I will have and the laughter I will share. I think of the growing and learning and experiencing that comes with travel. I think of Tescos and Marks and Spencer, whose websites I've already poured over looking for Christmas gifts to pick up. I think of the pubs and all the veggie fare, I think of the Wetherspoons where we are going to lunch on our first day in London.
I force myself to remember that my view of life, and of the future, depends entirely on focus. I can choose to look forward to the problems or look forward to the memories to be made and the experiences to be had. As a person who has a tendency towards depression, I have to sometimes put my expectations on elephant's feet so that I can see over the obstacles to what's truly important.
I find that I'm growing excited about the trip.