Thursday, July 11, 2013


In the movie "Sabrina" the butler's daughter returns home from an extended stay in Paris transformed. She looks different, she talks different, everyone finds her captivating and exotic. She's confident, well read, as if her time away changed her into a completely new person. You may laugh, but this is how I originally envisioned my year in America.That one day I'd come home and everyone will say that they hardly recognize the person they have known for years. That when they see me me my posture is different, I'm skinny and tanned and just as skilled and fast in my wheelchair as people I see in movies and TV shows. Have you seen how confidently Maculay Culkin goes off the sidewalk in the movie "Saved!"? I have always been wanting to know how to that. Yet, back home when I consulted some wheelchair activist nonprofits that give lessons I was told straight out that they don't deal with Cerebral Palsy cases. Without ever seeing me, over the phone. Same with disability driving classes. And if I were to live in Warsaw I needed to drive a car. When I was younger I have always had this feeling that somewhere there's adventures, people, music, laughter, friendships and love waiting for me.  The life I was meant to have and the person I was destined to become, who I had yet to find. But the goal has always been for me to return home. I would have this life altering experience, the one that changes me forever, but then, with lessons learnt, I come home. Those were the dreams that I've had since I was a teen. That time away from my family would transform me, if I was just given a chance to try. A year... A year was all I needed . The change would happen externally at first, but then after I met the new me, I'd give me the confidence I was lacking and become different on the inside as well. You can tell I didn't like myself very much back then.

People don't believe me when I say that I was never planning to stay in America. I've always dreamt to visit, to go to Disneyland and see New York City. Holiday of a lifetime. But I never expected to be here as long as I was here without my family. And they are often surprised that I don't really think of the US as a land of milk and honey. If it wasn't for my disability I'd be perfectly happy in Poland. It has a lot of opportunities for people who are driven, motivated and well educated. Just look at my brother- he was able to build a very comfortable life for himself, he's accomplished and respected. If it wasn't for my disability I bet I could do well too. I graduated summa cum laude from Warsaw University, my diploma is in latin, top of my class. I have backgrounds in British and American Law. I'm pretty sure I'd get a lot of offers from law firms right out of school, if getting around wasn't such a big problem. If there weren't steps and stairs everywhere. A lot Warsaw Uni graduates jumped on the opportunity to come to America to study for a year mostly to improve their resumes. I didn't. And no matter what qualifications and skills I've added it still wouldn't change the fact that in a place like Warsaw I'm mostly a liability. But don't I deserve something? When is it my turn? Yes, if I was walking I'd be pretty happy in Poland. And if I got bored with it I could just pick any other place in Europe. For a year or maybe for a month or a lifetime. Weekends in London perhaps? I stayed here not because it's the best place in the world to be necessarily,  but because it's the best place... for me. And had Poland been more welcoming and inclusive, I'd book a ticket in a minute and never look back.

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