Yesterday I met someone new. I had given them a heads up that i spoke via type to text. As soon as he greeted me he spoke a little louder, a little slower. I had to explain some simple things to him. It was fine, i could do it...but i was cognizant of how slow i was doing it. How i had to pause to gesture because i cant gesture and 'talk' simultaneously. He nodded patiently and was completely polite. At one point i fumbled trying to juggle my phone (to talk) and keys and my speaker popping out of my waistband where i had tucked it. Anyone can fumble at anytime...but i felt silly and frustrated with myself in the moment. Then we entered a room with Miguel and immediately the person picked up speaking at a normal pace, a simple banter ensued. In that moment i was faced with the reality that i had been treated as a 'disabled' person. In fact, i can't banter at that pace. This guy was a totally nice guy and no harm was meant in anyway and it was all so subtle. Yet, it was exactly the kind of thing i feared, the kind of thing so many people (with disabilities, lgbtq, racially diverse, etc) face daily. It was just enough to shake my fragile rebuilding self confidence. Just enough to make me cognizant of how i, as a white female, drifted through life previously trying to be sensitive and 'woke' but probably (definitely) have blundered as well.
A couple weeks ago i was walking with the girls and the dogs in the neighborhood and a man came silently up behind me (at the time i was dealing with my on again off again hearing loss due to fluid in my ears). He suddenly jumped out and made surprising noises! I couldn't scream, i couldn't alert the girls right in front of me, i couldn't protect them in anyway. YES, it was Miguel. But in that second i didn't know it and was utterly shocked and hit with just how vulnerable i am. As a women we all deal with that feeling of being vulnerable but it was exacerbated by the reality that i couldn't make ONE sound. A second later i descended into a torrent of tears and had a desperate need to be back home in safety. Irrational, but overwhelming sensation. (postscript: i then got on Amazon and bought a personal alarm for my fanny pack - makes me feel better anyway. Most problems can be solved my Amazon, right? Or wait, isn't Bezos part of our greater problems? oh but i digress....)
I face the sensation of simultaneously wanting to retreat AND to run free - charge into the world again.
I Am The Walrus.