It was already pretty hot when we hit the street yesterday morning. I lamented that I’d used up a lot of energy just getting to the start point of our trip to the museum where I would lecture. There was a long ramp from the hotel up to the street that requires a sustained and difficult push, I’d done it twice before, and knew I could, but with my shoulders already burning, I was worried about what was yet to come.

Crossed the street once and then again to get on the side of the street without construction and did okay, but just okay because the slant really put pressure on my right arm. Then we hit the bricks. The front wheels rebelled and hung up on nearly every one. It was impossible to push through. Joe offered to push but I didn’t want that. I turned around so that my large back wheels would go over the bricks and used a combination of my arms and one leg to propel me backwards. It worked, I had to change which leg I used a couple of times, but I made progress.

Once back on regular pavement I turned around and did better. I felt a real victory when we made it to the venue and I had gotten there on my own steam.

I write this so far as if I was alone on that sidewalk. I wasn’t. There were lots of people walking, in both directions, all in a hurry to get to where they were going. The sidewalks aren’t wide and there were the occasional bottlenecks as people going one way and people going another had to figure out how to both get around me.

There were comments, of course.

There were angry stares, of course.

But I had no breath to say anything, all my energy was focused on making it down that sidewalk in any way I could to get to where I was going.

They were not the only ones with a destination.

They were not the only ones with both a purpose and the pressure of time.

Therefore they were not the only ones who had a right to be there.

I did too.

At the end of the work day it was blisteringly hot, and we’d planned for Joe to get the car because it was an uphill journey.

But, we took it slow, I’d figured out one the way down how to do it, I knew how to get back.

And I knew, and fully understood, that the sidewalk, the journey and the destination, were all mine too.

Why do I need to keep learning this or realizing this over and over again?

I’m still adjusting, 11 years later, to my right to be disabled and my right to be part of the crowd and my right to have a life to live.

I want to feel free, but until I do, I’ll live as if I am.

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