Monday, July 28, 2014

A Person Just Like You


I cry at sad movies. I need two cups of coffee in the morning. I sleep naked. I believe curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, stupidity does. I like kids who are curious. I scratch if I itch. I know that if you hold down that little lever in the fridge the light goes off. I vote my conscience. I get mildly upset—no, pissed—when someone takes my parking space. I inhaled. I believe no one should salt their food before tasting it. I sew. I think super-heroes don’t exist, but heroes are all around us. I eat leftover pizza for breakfast and enjoy it. I wait until April 14th to do my taxes just for a challenge. I count fat grams. I like a hot kiss on a warm night in a cool part of town. I ate glue in 2nd grade. I like verbs. I always reach around the first milk in the dairy section and grab the one behind it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve…sometimes. I dream big dreams in color.
Being disabled doesn’t mean being different.
I’m a person just like you. With feelings, opinions and convictions. Do your part. Help eliminate the barriers facing persons with disabilities. Encourage and invite disabled individuals to your parties and playgrounds. Choose places that are accessible. Let kids ask questions—it’s okay. And please, watch where you park your car.
You can make a difference.
I originally wrote this in 1997, 10 years before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A woman, a talented abstract artist, needed help expressing herself—and conveying her experience of using a wheelchair—in print. As an able-bodied 27-year-old writer, I found it empowering and enlightening to approach the challenges of being disabled from such a perspective. For this 2014 edition, only one change was made (for somewhat obvious reasons): I removed the line “I check the pay phone coin return slot even though I know I won’t find a quarter.” Was I destined to be a voice in this community I’ve come to embrace and champion? Signs point to yes.