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White Cane Woes

I should have written this yesterday, when I was in the thick of it. Alternatively, at 2:00AM this morning when I was wide-awake waiting for Emily to rise from her slumber for a feed.

However, truth be told, it was just all too hard.

First, I got grumpy, then I got busy, and then I got exhausted.

Yesterday was international white cane day.

I never really like these sort of things, even though they are designed to create awareness and acknowledgement regarding blindness around the world.

As much as I have come to terms with being a blindy, I still try and avoid being associated with it, if that makes any sense what so ever.

I mean there is so much more to me than that.

Just as I am a mama, a sissy, a business owner, a wife, or whatever, being blind is only one brilliantly fascinating aspect of my being.

However yesterday I was planning on writing an uplifting post, the way others in my situation usually do, but I could not bring myself to do it.

So at risk of betraying the blindyhood, here are my thoughts:

For some reason I find the idea of an international white cane day a patronising affair, as though I am  supposed to be thankful by my mere existence, and the able bodied world’s politically motivated  effort of recognising it.

However, what about the rest of the year?

When people make it my problem when they trip over me, cut me off, or take up space?

Nobody likes to think they treat people with disabilities badly, but it is often those people who are the worst offenders.

Words such as selfish, ignorant, condescending, rude, sneaky, disrespectful…   come to mind.

What is worse, they think we will not or do not know, because we cannot see them. Therefore, they can get away with it but we know. We always know.

Moreover, if we do not know, we suspect something.

I mean seriously? Standing next to me and taking a picture when I am simply minding my own business in the Queen Victoria Building is not cool.

And yes, for those of you who are actually mortified by this behaviour, it does happen, and more often than you might think.

But that is just the tip of the ice-castle.

There are a whole host of scenarios, which play out in my life, or the lives of other blindies, which leave us feeling humiliated, undignified, violated, and so on.

Therefore, in perhaps a not so ironic twist, I was not celebrating my fabulous I cannot live without you black cane with the coloured love hearts all over it.

For a start, it was not the one I wanted to use yesterday.

I really wanted the lightweight camo cane with the cross-country wheel on the end.

I did not want to get my mobility aid caught in every second crack in the road, and poke me in the stomach.

I wanted the journey to be as quiet and painless as possible.

However, it did not match my outfit.

In addition, we were in such a rush to get out the door yesterday morning, there was not time to argue.

Michael usually chooses which weapon I mean navigation device   I will take for the day.

It makes him feel a part of project empowerment.

Not to mention it is the only way I can get him interested in anything remotely fashion related.

I have sixteen canes at last count, all differently coloured and differently patterned.

They are apart of my accessory collection, the way other women collect handbags, hats, high heels, and sunglasses.

This way there is always a cane for every mood, occasion, or pair of shoes.

At least that is the theory.

But yesterday?

Yesterday I did not want a cane at all.

No matter how fabulously funky.

Perhaps it is because I am tired, as baby girl has not been sleeping well.

However, my cognition was already at it’s’ limit before we left the house yesterday, let alone having to cope with a full day ahead.

A full day of concentration,

A full day of listening,

a full day of looking – in spite of myself, a full day of being at the mercy of the masses, the lighting, the white noise, and any number of things that are out of my control.

Yes Sydney Rail, I am looking at you!

Sorry for the inconvenience my ass. I mean what else are you going to say.

So yesterday was hard.

The sun was too bright, and the shade was too dark.

Not even a brisk walk across Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge, with the water glistening in  the sunlight below, and the city skyline in all its’ glory ahead could lift my spirits.

It took all my strength not to slam my cane in anger, frustration, and deep deep shame, against the step ahead as I trudged up on to the walkway.

The problem was a walk was not enough yesterday.

Yesterday I wanted to run across that bridge.

The wind in my hair, my hips loose, and my stride relaxed.

Maybe a laptop on my back, and even Little in her pram.

Oh yes, I have not forgotten about that dream either I did not want to tap tap tap along it with caution or care.

I did not want to hear the slide slide scrape of my stick as I navigated the environment, and tried not to jump over shadows I was sick of the sound.

I was sick of the weight in my hand.

I simply wanted to be a normal person with my arms free to swing by my sides.

I did not want to be a spectacle, curiosity, or inconvenience for people to ogle, dodge, or destroy.

I wanted to be invisible.

Normally I am one of the most positive optimistic people you will meet, but I too have my moments.

Clearly yesterday was one of them.

However, today I feel more myself again.

I mean I do not really feel like leaving the house, because that will involve a cane of some description, but I do not feel as heavy and clunky about the situation.

Yesterday everything about my disability felt wrong.

When I rang Michael to tell him how I was feeling, him being my biggest cheerleader, simply reminded me I had a loving family to come home to, and everything would look better in a little while.

As usual, he was right.

He is not one to let me wallow in my self-loathing for too long.

Thanks honey.

However, having said that, I cannot help but wonder how much easier life would be if I could see.

And I am not talking about holding a driver’s license, a diver’s card, or any number of transportation qualifications.

I am talking about the small things.

The details of every day mundanity.

Being able to confidently walk around someone.

Not asking a statue for directions.

Making eye contact with the shop assistant.

Reading clothing sizes and labels in the shops.

Knowing when someone reaches out to shake my hand.

Or a thousand other things…

Published inBlind Is The New BlakTransportation

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