Yesterday I saw something cool.
We stopped for a cup of tea, not knowing then that the search for an accessible bathroom was going to test the exact capacity of my bladder. So we sipped tea at our table and talked about trip nearing an end. As we talked a fellow using a scooter pulled up to a table near us. H managed to steer his scooter with one hand and carry his drink in his other. He set it down, pushed a chair out of the way and then got the scooter right where he wanted it.
He took a sip of his coffee.
Then he pulled a bag out of a bag. A small string bag was then strung between the arm of the wheelchair and the knob on the chair he'd placed out of the way. It hung suspended between the two. Then he pulled a series of pens and pencils out and began to sketch something on the table, taking his time on his drawing. The bag was used constantly and it was perfectly in his reach.
Now, so I don't upset readers by commenting on this, what I liked wasn't his ability to drive the scooter, or place his tea, or draw his drawing. I liked, really liked, his complete control of his space. I find as a disabled person I don't often feel like I own space in the way that non-disabled people seem to own theirs. I feel, in the way. I feel like I'm taking up space that belongs to someone, anyone, other than me. Not this fellow. He simply used the space in the same same way that anyone else would. It was like he had no problem 'belonging' or 'claiming' or 'being' where he was, without apology.
Sitting there, with Joe, someone stepped behind me brushing against the bag on the back of my chair. I immediately felt like I had to apologise. There was lots of space. They weren't paying attention. They ran into me, but I felt like I was the problem, the space I took theirs not mine.
I watched this man, comfortably, casually using space. In reality he took up no more space than anyone else at the table would have taken. He had moved the chair just so - just so it wouldn't be in the way but would be perfect for hanging one end of the string bag. He had the kind of confidence that I want. He had the kind of sense of citizenship that I crave. He had what self esteem brings - the ability to occupy, fully, his own skin, and to occupy, fully, his own space.
I want, even for fifteen minutes, even just once, to be like him.