You can tell winter is here.
The snow is the first hint.
The reduction of wheelchair prints in the snow is the second.
This is a tough time of year for me, The wheelchair being metal turns freezing cold in an instant. I managed a few years ago to sit in the chair, with my skin a wee bit damp from a shower, and freeze my ass to the frame. It was a comical few minutes as I detached from dignity in order to detach myself from the chair. It's not a mistake I made twice.
I was planning on going out yesterday but gave way to a need to nest in the warm. I stayed in. Today, I'm venturing out. We'll leave in a few minutes, I want my skin to dry. And I marvel in my choice to do what I will, even at the spur of the moment, I marvel that I get to make a plan and then reverse it, simply because I want to.
We talk about the rigidity of people with disabilities and their love of routines but we don't talk about how we react when a plan has changed, when a person says 'no, I don't think I'll do that today', or when someone abruptly changes their mind about something.
Then you see rigidity.
Then you see encouragement that looks like force, that looks like coercion, that looks a little bit like violence. Voices get louder, prompts get more insistent, verbal becomes physical.
I have the luxury and privilege to be an old man in a wheelchair married to an old man in slippers. It's pretty easy to make and change plans.
Community living is often seen as where someone lives and where they have access to - rather than who they are and what choices are available. A home in the community is one thing, but being home in the community matters too. Being in control of what happens within four walls as well as what happens outside of four walls.
I was freer yesterday than anyone 'encouraged' to be outside.
And I'm grateful for that.