The automatic assumption of the impossibility that someone in a wheelchair would be at the front, have power and voice, be a person of authority and expertise is shown in her surprise and in the fact that hotels always set up podiums behind which I never be able to see the audience or they me.
The constant experience of ‘lessness’ in expectations, in possibility and in human status is wearing. I joked back when I didn’t get it about how I liked to jump over low expectations. Now, living with them for so many years, I know that it’s not about leaping over them, it’s about carrying them. The experience of looking out the window and seeing a lowered horizon cannot be easily described.
Even so, I rolled to the front of the room, turned the chair around and got ready to speak, all the while hearing her surprise echo in my mind, because no matter what she thought, we own all public space, and we own all opportunities and we demand the right to claim what’s ours, expectations be damned.