But it mattered.
As I've been fat all my life, I've always been aware of my size and the space I take up. As far back as I can remember in school other kids, skinny kids, would press themselves up against the walls in passing me, indicating that there was barely any room to get by me. This was considered very, very, funny. I got the message. I take up too much space. As a result, I am always very aware of space, always alert to where I am and what space is around me - not for me, but for others. I have always felt like an intruder in public space.
This was magnified when I became a wheelchair user. People throw themselves out of my way on sidewalks and pathways even when there's lots of room. I have never been able to figure out if they were simply unable to see the space that was available to them or if they were continuing the commentary that was begun in grade school - continuing to let me know that I take up too much space.
A habit began very young.
I apologize. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry ...
I explain. There's lot of room, there's lots of room, there's lots of room, there's lots of room ...
A moment - I was just off the little bridge on the boardwalk. I was turned around and looking down into the pond. Marissa and the girls, along with Joe, were lined up along the side of the bridge, also looking into the pond. There were several ducklings swimming about. The girls were captivated. So were the rest of us.
I heard the sound of a bike coming and I looked up and saw a woman several feet from me. Even though there was lots of room, I began to move my chair to create even more. She called out, a smile in her voice, "It's OK, there's lots of room."
Tears sprang to my eyes.
That doesn't happen to me.