Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The View from Here

We've made a slight change in our apartment. Like everyone else, we have our own places and our own spaces. I always sleep on my side of the bed. Joe always sits in his chair. I always chop the vegetables on my part of the counter. Joe has laid claim to the space between the stove and the fridge. None of this was discussed. No treaties were drawn up. No lawyer brokered the deal. It just kind of happened. So, making a change to all of this was kind of monumental. A tempest in a teapot is still a tempest.

So, now I'm sitting in a slightly different place in the front room and Joe is sitting in a very different place. There are reasons behind this but they would be both complicated and boring to explain. We made the shift two days ago. And we both feel like we've moved half way cross the world. The living room just looks different, completely different. Even though everything is in the same place as it was before, the change in angle, the change in perspective, literally, throws different light on everything. The apartment hasn't changed but my view of it has.

There is a small knickknack on the mantle that has been there for years. I wasn't able to see it from where I sat before because it was blocked by something else. The first day I sat in my new spot, I saw it again. We bought it on a trip to San Francisco a few years back. It was wonderful to rediscover it, to see it afresh, to be pulled into the memory that comes with it. That's why we buy these things isn't it, no so much because of what it is but because of what it calls us to remember. And I sat there, in my new spot, thinking new thoughts about the life I've lived and the places I've been.

That little memory marker was purchased just after I became a wheelchair user. Joe and I were learning how to travel, how to relate and what our roles would be in our relationship. I had gone from standing to sitting. I had gone from being the taller to being the shorter. Joe who could always find me in a store because of my height, now had to go searching for me. We both saw the world in different ways. Our seats had shifted, in a pretty major way. In my head, in his head, the furniture had been moved. And, of course, where we once could walk, blindfolded through the rooms of our lives, we were now tripping and falling and bruising ourselves.

I had spotted something that I wanted to buy, I gathered it up in my hands, and then discovered that I couldn't push my chair. I struggled to get it into the bag at the back of my chair. Later I needed to get Joe's help to get it out, parts of it got tangled up with other things in the bag, and, as would happen when we were both tired from the travel, we got short with each other. I didn't understand why Joe was making such a big deal about it. He didn't understand why I couldn't understand that it was a big deal.

I rolled off to sulk. Joe stood with the, what I call the Jobes look, on his face as he stood in line. After we left the store we were heading back to the car. There was a small restaurant that had wonderfully big tables under huge umbrellas on the walkway. The day was warm and sunny, the shade looked inviting. We agreed without talking much about it that we'd stop for lunch. I rolled into the table and Joe took his seat. A few minutes later I pulled out the little decoration from the back of my bag, muttering (to Joe's pleasure) at how easily it got tangled up in stuff in the bag. We placed it on the table to admire while we ordered lunch.

Suddenly, I knew it was going to be OK. I think maybe that's the exact moment I knew that Joe walking and Dave rolling was the new norm and that we would be alright.

As I sat in my new spot, seeing things afresh, I knew again ... that everything is going to be OK. It's nice, every now and then to be reminded of that simple fact.


Glee said...

Big smile :)

Tamara said...

Enjoyed this one, Dave -

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

This is so simple and so profound at the same time. It amazes me, how you are able to recognize these moments as they happen, Dave.

Andrea S. said...

Just wanted to ensure that blog readers here were aware that a historic deaf/disability TV event is coming up, in which Switced At Birth will have an episode entirely in American Sign Language (with English subtitles) on Monday, March 4, 2013. In the US, this will be on ABC Family. In Canada, this apparently will be on ABC Spark. (No idea if the program is available outside of these two countries.) In the US on the east coast, this program airs weekly on Mondays at 8 pm. Set your DVRs/Tivos now. Older episodes for catching up available via Hulu.com.

I have been trying to find out if this special episode will have audio description for blind viewers (or if it uses audio description generally). As a deaf person I am excited about this first-ever all-ASL event, but as a disability rights advocate I'll be disappointed and frustrated if blind people are excluded from this historic moment in disability TV history. If it were a special, all-dark TV episode featuring blind characters, I would still want captions to enable me to understand as a deaf person. Blind people should have the same right to enjoy this program as well.

More about the special episode at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/switched-at-birth-asl-episode_n_2719102.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Anonymous said...

I had a teacher in elementary school who changed the way the class was laid out every 2 weeks. It gave us a different point of view and made it very interesting to see how the desks had been moved around.

amber york said...

Thanks for this post. You reminded me of a lot too! You really got me thinking, and I needed that.

Mike said...

Makes me think of my wife and I working together in the kitchen. In my adult life I've recognized that if two people can't cook something together, they can only go so far. At least for me, being able to manage space together like what Dave describes is a barometer for the health of the relationship. I really appreciate the description of how one's perspective changes from sharing space in new ways with a person who is dear to you.