Thursday, February 25, 2010

PART 1: 4 days, 4 feminists, 3 New York City boroughs, 2 crutches and 1 wheelchair

On the first Monday evening of reading week, I fell on a patch of ice outside of my Ottawa home. I felt some of the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Every part of my right foot and ankle were sprained and touching any part of it would result in blood curdling pain. My foot swelled to the size of a pomelo and walking was not even a remote option.

On Thursday, I went to New York City.

3 of my friends and I continued with our weekend “family vacation” plan, equipped with a rented manual wheelchair, a pair of crutches, pain killers, anti-inflammatories, stylish outfits and positive attitudes. Throughout this experience, I gained new insight and reflections on our course readings, on our topics and themes, and gained a new understanding of disability.

The first and most predominate reflection I have had was on the topic of identity. I identify as a strong, single, independent woman. I make things happen. I am a “yes” person. I approach life with optimism and a strong sense of the possible. I am self-suffient while also caring for others and working hard to be a community builder.

As someone who believes at my core that disability is a culture to celebrate - and not in anyway a “burden”, or a shameful state, and is not something to hide - I was rattled with guilt for feeling those very things about myself when my body became temporarily disabled.

I had to depend on my family to move my body where I wanted it to go.
I had depended on them to use to the bathroom.
I had to ask them to take cabs all over the city because the subways and the sidewalks and routes surrounding them were inaccessible.

And while those were some of the “logistic factors”, what was so much more difficult was the way it made me feel inside. So often I would need to just escape and hide from the fatigue of being the spectacle.
Fatigue of being in the way.
Fatigue of being bumped into, ignored, segregated.
Fatigue of the hassle my mere existence created.
I started smoking again – because it was something I could choose to do, something I could control and it was something that gave me purpose while I parked myself outside, escaping my reality for a few minutes, while I regained my composure.

PARTS 2, 3, &4

1 comment:

feral geographer said...

I think it's fucking rad that you still *went* to NYC, when a lot of us folks who live our lives as "Temporarily Able-Bodied" (before age/accidents/illness catch up with us) would have simply said No Way. Instead of canceling your trip, you said Yes to the challenge, and even if your lungs aren't thanking you at the moment, I'm glad you did it.

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