On Friday I decided to see a movie on University of Florida's main campus. I could have waited on the Later Gator, a route that takes me directly to the building I wanted to get to, but I decided I didn't want to waste an hour on the bus stop. I figured, I could use a walk. My heart beats a little faster when I roll around the town. I opted for a city bus, a few blocks away. The weather was nice, I should be out more, I told myself. The driver on the bus 5 was an old familiar face. As we begun to catch up I realized I'm about to miss my stop. I didn't want to put her in an awkward position and just told her to drop me off at the next one. I could use a walk, I thought to myself again, and if it takes a bit longer, I'll just wait for the last showing of the film. What I didn't realize was that the next stop was quite a stroll away. Not only was the distance long, but what I didn't realize as I rarely get off in the area was that it was uphill all the way. The further I went the harder it was to roll ahead, and when you looked back you saw that you were pretty high up and not quite there. I knew I couldn't let go of the wheels as it would be quite a ride down and the stress combined with adrenaline were coming over me in phases. Once or twice a jogger or biker stopped by to offer help and yes, even help me up an even steeper curb cut. Up and up and up. And pretty scary looking down. It took me about 40 minutes to get back to the place I wanted to get off originally. I was developing blisters from the gloves I had on me, these were not designed to give me the right grip to climb hills in the wheelchair. I needed to cross University Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Gainesville that still terrifies me when I'm in the crosswalk. It would probably take 30 minutes, had I stayed on the bus until the bus came back on the other side of the road dropping me safely and stress free. But I also wanted to do this to see if I still can. I used to be able to do things like that. In 2006 I was renting an apartment in the very back of an apartment complex. To get out of there I had to wheel every morning for over 25 minutes up a very steep hill. It wasn't for exercise. It wasn't because I wanted to, it didn't even feel like something I had to do, it was just something I did every morning. I really had no feelings about it. I got used to it, it was part of my routine. I think I'd sing to myself in my head to make the time pass faster or went through to do in my head. I just used to do it. Coincidentally, my body fat was most likely at its lowest. I used to have what I called Popeye's arms- they were just very wide. And I developed them pretty quickly. Now if I want to sweat a bit I need to plan for it. Back then I did it to get to the bus, it was a natural, organic part of my day. And I felt more energized than ever again. When you're in a wheelchair as much as I am, you need to move quite a bit to keep in shape, after all it's a lot of sitting . And it reminds me that I need to do it more. As I got to the building it turned out there was no late night show that night. I grabbed a sandwich and went home on a Lator Gator bus.
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