Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Walking in my wheelchair.

Soon after my graduation from Warsaw University, my school's disability resource center asked me to consult on a brochure, a guide of sorts on how to deal with people with mobility issues. They already had one about individuals with vision impairments. What behavior was appropriate, what expressions were fitting, what humor was proper. I remember that many people found it surprising for example that people with no vision would colloquially say that they watch television. How can you watch something if you can't see the would ask. The goal of  course wasn't to perceive images the way I do with my eyes, but you listen to the dialogue and you follow the plot the way you'd have a story told, a book read or play unfold on the radio. You'd say "I watch Tv" because that's how we describe how we interact with the set, how we enjoy it, this is what it's for. And using those words for a quicker, more efficient way to express yourself in terms that everybody can relate to. I've written about language before, how we talk about disabilities and frankly how humans communicate about these issues continues to fascinate me. But I haven't thought about it in a while. Then on Monday night I was on my way home when I bumped into a very drunk very drunk friend. It's quite a stroll from midtown to downtown, but the night was warm, there was no risk of rain, the buses were out of service and I could use the extra exercise. Why are you in the middle of the sidewalk?- he asked. I, walking home- I replied and he started to laugh. To him it sounded like a joke? How can I be walking anywhere if I don't walk? But I didn't mean it as a joke. I use the word 'walk' to announce that I'm going somewhere, without assistance, using the power of my muscles. I realized that just yesterday I texted a friend I was about to have lunch with that I'm walking up to the building meaning that I'm close. I'd say walking distance and not wheeling distance. In fact I find words like wheeling and rolling used in a context of getting from one place to another as a bit awkward sounding. A little unnatural. People don't speak like that. I only do it to be funny or to bring extra attention to the fact that I am in a wheelchair. I can say ' you want me to wheel for fifteen blocks to meet you somewhere? That's too far'. That friend that I met continued to tell that story at a bar as an anecdote about me. I was sitting in the street but I said I was walking. But that's not all I say. If I go dancing to a club, I ask someone to dance, not roll around the damcefloor with me.


    Great combination

  2. I love this . . . and your 'tood! <3 Thank you for being beautiful YOU! =D