On my way home yesterday we stopped at a traffic light. We noticed a young woman walking with her father, her face was light up in a huge smile. Her dad, laughing. A nice scene. As she rounded the corner and came into view, we both noticed that her left arm ended an inch or two below the elbow. That's not what drew our attention to her, it was her and her father's very animated conversation. After her father said something, she started laughing out words and using both arms to help with her description. Natural, beautiful and free.
She then looked ahead.
Her face changed.
She was wearing a bright turquoise blue tee shirt, loose and baggy. Instantaneous and simultaneous with her eyes locking on something further north, her arm quickly dropped to the hem of the tee shirt and pulled it up, wrapping her arm, making her difference less noticeable.
She didn't look fearful.
She didn't look ashamed.
She looked angry.
The light changed, we drove away. But that small movement, that covering up, that defensive gesture has stayed with me. I don't know what she saw, I don't know what was head of her - but at the same time I did. So do you.
Just a teen.
And she knows the world isn't always safe for those with differences and disabilities.
I understand her anger. I just hope that her anger will be appropriately directed. I hope that she is on her way to a wonderful life, full of joy and full of moments like she was having with her father. I hope all that. But I also hope that her anger will turn to advocacy. I hope that she will find the way and the words that she needs to do more than survive, more than prevail.
I understand her anger.
And I know what she saw.