A few weeks ago I was sitting in the back row of a movie theatre. The theatre was almost empty and those that were there sat down towards the screen. The climb up to my seat was steep and, in the dark, treacherous.
I hadn't done that in years.
The experience brought back memories, lots and lots of memories.
Being in high school and going to the movie theatre in Trail. Climbing up to the back, way up back, to sit where it was cool to sit.
Seeing Star Wars for the first time, in a packed theatre, in one of the few remaining seats up in the Gods.
Feeling resentment the first time I used disabled seating, typically so close to the screen, and looking, longingly at the seats up top.
So I sat there and waited for my German boyfriend, feeling terrified that we may be caught, hoping he was able to bring me the money he'd made from selling black market diamonds.
A few days ago I was riding my bicycle through Washington and Idaho. I could feel the air rush around me, touching me, caressing me, as I biked pell mell down hill.
I hadn't ridden a bike in years.
The experience made me remember.
I always walked in the Dominion Day parade alongside my decorated bicycle. We would spend hours and hours and hours making the decorations and carefully applying them to the bike. I was one of the few boys who did this and though some thought it was wrong for boys to parade that way ... I thought my bike was beautiful.
I had an odd bike when I was a kid. My parents bought it second hand and when I first saw it I thought it was an abomination. It was unlike any other bike in town. It had a completely covered chain. I was at the point in life where I valued sameness - something I grew out of, not everyone does.
Taking a playing card and attaching it so that it made a 'whap whap whapping' sound when I rode it was the ultimate in cool one summer, Every kid did it. For about six weeks the town was full of the sound. Then, one day, parents rose in protest - that ended that.
So I rode my bike, carrying my boyfriends ashes in two purple bags tied together with long string and looped around my neck He wanted me to take him home to Buffalo.
I think the reason I read, every day, is that every time I do I have new experiences that remind me of old one. Watching a movie or a television show is cool and all, but I find it a more passive experience than reading. When reading I enter into the story in a different way, I get to participate as the words form pictures in my head and my imagination is engaged in set design and lighting.
So it is vivid to me, that experience of walking up the stairs to the back, the experience of getting on a bike and the magical ability that come with it - the ability to create wind. I feel and I experience things both different and new and old and familiar. I think of things and remember things long lost to me.
When I first became a wheelchair user I remember someone saying to me how sad it was that I'd never be able to run again. Forgetting that by that time I hadn't run in years - I challenged that thought. I could still, I said, create breeze simply by pushing my wheels quickly.
But now, I think I would say that as long as I can read, I will always be able to climb stairs, ride bikes, run fast ... I will be able to travel through time, travel through gender, travel through space just by picking up a book.
I end every day by clicking on my bedside light and opening a book to read, to become someone else for a few minutes. When I put my bookmark in place, close the book and set it on the nightstand, I'm always glad to be back home - in me. The best way to go to sleep is knowing that, ultimately with all the lives I could lead, I'm happy to be in my own skin, in my own life, and, of course, in my own bed.