(Photo descriptions: Top photo Sadie is sitting in front of the window at the CN Tower, the second picture is of Ruby and Sadie looking out the window. The view from both windows is Toronto from over a 1000 feet up in the air.)
We all piled in WheelTrans, which was booked to take us down to the CN tower for lunch. We were celebrating both girls birthdays. Ruby had hers a few days ago and Sadie has hers next week. Our day was planned. Joe and I got up in the morning to make 'Mud and Worm Cake' which was actually kind of fun to make and, we learned later, kind of fun to eat.
(Photo description: Two little girls sampling Mud and Worm Cake. It's made in a plant pot and is layers of a home made chocolate creamy filling in layers with crushed Oreo cookies and it has gummy worms throughout.)
When I got on the bus there was another fellow already strapped in, I greeted him and warned him that the bus was about to get noisier. There were 6 of us getting on, including two chatty girls. He just smiled, he said that the noise of kids never really bothers him. Nice fellow. He asked where we were going and I said that we were going to the CN Tower. He looked at me shocked.
"You can't go up the CN Tower!"
"Of course I can, I've been up before."
"In that wheelchair?"
He looked down at his own chair. It's quite different than the one I was in. Firstly, it was a manual chair. Secondly, he rides with his feet extended out in front of him. It makes his chair a little long. I saw his eyes look between my chair and his, trying to figure out if his was longer. I assured him, "They put like a dozen people in one of those elevators, a wheelchair like yours, like mine, fits easily."
"You've been up before?"
"Yes, in this chair, I had no problem at all."
"I just took it off the list of things I could do," he said, "I keep making that mistake. I've always wanted to go up."
"I think you should go."
"Trust me, I will," he said, grinning at the idea that there was a new adventure in front of him.
I think this is a fairly common mistake that can happen when you live with a disability. I've done the same thing, simply figured that I couldn't do something because the place couldn't accommodate me, and then, discovered myself to be very, very, wrong. Living with barriers can give you 'barrier brain' and it's easy then to just cede territory. It's easy to have happen, the disappointments and the frustrations build up their own set of barriers in your mind, in your expectations. I don't know if this is what happened to the fellow on the bus, but it's happened to me. A couple of times I've told Joe that I didn't want to go somewhere because I thought I'd not be able to get around. I've insisted he go. He usually comes back grumbling that it would have been perfectly fine for me to go and that I should have gone.
"But," I tell him, "I have barrier brain."
He just shakes his head. And maybe that's what I need to do too. Shake my head until the barriers in my head come down. I'm not sure its that easy. But I'm going to try. I saw the look on that fellow face when he learned he could do what he simply thought he could never do.
The girls, who loved the Dirt and Worm cake carried it along with their presents out of the apartment. They'd done the hugs, they'd had Happy Birthday sung to them, they'd ridden a WheelTrans bus, an elevator to the sky, a wheelchair, and a subway back home. It has been a birthday to remember.
The fellow on the bus was going to meet friends for dinner. I was celebrating two birthdays. Whatever barriers there are in the world, whenever you get barrier brain, it is important to always keep the road to your heart clear - no barriers there - I refuse to get barrier heart. Because then, I'd never, ever, ever, have tasted Worm and Dirt Cake, and trust me, that would have been a tragedy.