Saturday, February 13, 2016


Image description: In typewriter font, and in capital letters the statement, "THE WORLD IS MINE"
I didn't notice, at first, how distressed she was. I had tried to get into the pharmacy to do some shopping but it was impossible. There were a lot of people there, standing in line for the cashier, who just plain refused to let me pass. They glared at me and even though I made it clear I wanted through the line not into the line, no one moved. Territory had been staked. The faint smell of urine was in the air, or perhaps I just imagined it. We were planning on coming back to the mall when we went to the movie on Saturday, so I just left knowing it wouldn't be as crowded then.

I then decided to head over to the post office, which was our next stop, to meet Joe there. I saw a woman sitting on the seat of her rollator up against the wall a few feet down from the drug store. As I approached her I made a gentle turn round her. My thoughts were back on the people in the store and I was working to erase their rudeness from my mind, I didn't want it to take up any part of my day, even in memory, so I didn't really notice her.

As I passed by, she spoke to me, "Was that hard?" I stopped, turned to her, and said, "Pardon?" She asked again, "Was that hard?" I was a bit lost so I said, "Was what hard?" It was then I really noticed that she was upset, near tears. She said, "Going around me like that, was that hard?" I said trying to put a real gentleness into my voice because I know what it's like to feel in the way, "No, of course not."

She shook her head and tried to surreptitiously brush the tears, not yet fallen, from her eyes. "Well, then, why the fuck, can't they get by me, or let me through? I've never felt hemmed in when I'm surrounded by people in wheelchairs or walkers, I've never felt that I couldn't easily get by. But with them," she said the word with real venom, "I feel constantly like I'm taking up their space and that I'm allowed no space of my own."

We talked a bit. Shared stories. And as nearly always happens when two disabled people talk about experiences, laughter came. We were like a tiny island of disability, where our voices mattered and our experiences counted and our space was unquestionably our own. She thanked me for stopping. I thanked her for asking me too. I was a little angry about how I'd been treated and I was simply brushing it away. I didn't need or want anger in my day. But it was gone too.

I said that I was going to try shopping there tomorrow when it was less busy. She said that she was going back in now, because she said, "it's mine too."


clairesmum said...

The right to exist is so very very fundamental - how easily we deny it to others without saying a word. How sad.
I'm so glad she had the strength of spirit to reach out to you and that you had the heart to hear her. The connection that followed - an example of your reminder that 'doing damns the darkness."

B. said...

Yes. I recognize this. I like the laughter when we share. Thanks, Dave.