Friday, December 14, 2012


There is a house that I see quite regularly on my trips up to work on WheelTrans. Every driver has their own unique way of getting me from where I am to where I'm going so my route is always different. More than that, every ride has different people with different destinations, so often my route from one day to the next is completely different. But, still, there is a house I see fairly often. It always takes me by surprise because I've developed a habit of killing time playing Word Mole on my phone enjoying the extra challenge of hitting the letters to make up a word while rolling around in my chair as the bus chugs along - I look up less than I did before. So, when I see the house, I'm always surprised.

I noticed it first off because it was under renovation and I could see by the trucks servicing the crew working there that they were installing an elevator. It's a large old mansion and as they'd been tearing up some of the interior I'd glimpsed in at a huge beautiful space. The elevator had me drooling with envy, how cool would that be. I always loved Katherine Hepburn's entrance in Suddenly Last Summer as she descended, talking, into the foyer of a beautiful home whilst sitting in an ornate elevator. I did feel the prick of envy when thinking of the rick folks moving into a mansion - with an elevator. The huge imposing steps informed me that any fantasy about somehow getting to know these folks and somehow getting a dinner invitation and somehow having to use the upstairs bathroom so that I could ride in the elevator up and ... descend talking, was a little unrealistic.

With the trip overseas, I'd not been by there for a fairly long time when I passed there a couple weeks ago. I looked up and saw that the house was nearing completion. To my surprise a long and beautiful ramp had been installed, so wonderfully designed that it fit right in as if it had always been there, always been planned for, and generations of wheels had made their way up and onto the veranda. Hum, the fantasies back. I may just have to write an elevator monologue after all.

I don't know why but my immediate thought was that some rich family had a child, or a parent, or a friend who was a wheelchair user. I know that I thought it was wonderfully kind, I've got to stop that, that they'd built a means of access to ALL of their friends and family. How very nice.


Then when I went by the house this week I was startled to see that the house is now occupied and decorated lavishly for Christmas. The fellow leaving the house, in his wheelchair via HIS ramp, is a suit and tie guy maybe in his late thirties. His wife, also lovely in her suit, followed him and they kissed, got in their separate cars and went off. An ordinary enough scene all across the city.

I don't know why, in my mind, the house was being adapted for someone with a disability, not by someone with a disability.

I don't know who has put fetters on my imagination, but they are there.

There is a house, with a ramp and an elevator and a family. It is as it should be - yet I still have trouble imagining it a possibility.


Anonymous said...

Feeling shut out from power, it’s hard to envisage that power. I’ve heard people argue that the power is within me, I just have to access it, but the shut out is outside me and I think that’s worth remembering.

GirlWithTheCane said...

It would be wonderful if a high degree of accessibility for buildings was the norm instead of the exception. I think that I need to be more insistent to people that it be the norm instead of the exception.

Great post.

wendy said...

That's so cool. I'd love to ride by that house myself and see that ramp. I think the fetters you have on your imagination are those forged by an often disappointing reality of accessibility. It's hard to imagine it because it's almost as rare as a unicorn.

Rickismom said...

why I'm surprised at you Dave, that's not like you! But I also often pass a real nice house on my walks, which is wheelchair accessable, and have also wondered if it is the owner, or simply wanting to be accessible for all.Wouldn't it be nice if all new buildings (at least) be made accessible?