I’m talking about the three inches of dirty beige cement ready to bring me to my knees at every turn, every time I leave the house; the sidewalk curb.
That’s the thing in this wide, wheel-bound, world of mine that I just can’t get over… and not just literally, God I hate a pun. It’s the thing I can’t accept, can’t forgive. The thing that makes me so angry I’ll smash the side of my fist against the wheel frame. Why I swear in public, even if little kids are around. Why I’ll drink too much when I’m out with a client. It’s the reason why so many people think I’m an asshole. Those that don’t see the chair and just assume it’s because I’m mentally delayed.
I can’t walk. I get it. I can’t go up stairs. I can’t hop fences. I can’t climb mountains and I am a pain in everyone’s ass on the subway. I get all of that. I’m actually cool about all of that. Now. It’s fine. Short dudes can’t reach the top shelf at the grocery store either. Fatties have to wedge themselves between the hand rests at the movies. Everyone’s got problems.
But crossing the street? I should be able to do that. Losing that small privilege is something I haven’t been able to wrap my head around. Something I can’t let it go and don’t think I ever will. Because in a world where we can land scientists, and rich people, on the moon, why hell can’t I get across the street? Why, for the sake of a few damn inches do I always have to stop at the light, go the extra block over, wait. Why must I always suffer the indignity of telling other people to go on without me, that I’ll catch up. Resenting them if they leave me behind, resenting them more if they stay. Hating myself for once more being the special case, the problem, the accommodated.
I am a busy guy too. I have places to go too. I’ve go things to do, family obligations, no patience. I am just as willing to break the law and jaywalk as the rest of them. The flesh is just as weak and prone to temptation. But weak as it is, my flesh isn’t the problem. It never wa
It was my bones that were broken. While you may have the innate sense that diving headfirst into a pool of water without checking the depth is a bad idea, I can confirm from experience that you are correct. They healed up nicely though. Unfortunately when they fractured they managed to pound the life out of a good chunk of my spinal cord. That’s the reason why I sit in this chair day in and day out. That’s the reason why I haven’t had an itchy ankle or foot cramp in six years.
But it’s not what I blame for having to wait here already late for my next meeting at this desolate street corner in the rain waiting for the light to change. For this, I blame the city, and those people within it who have never even thought about how easy it is for them to access the freedoms allowed them in this place. How near impossible it is for others.
And I blame these three damn inches. Just low enough to make me want to say screw it and give a run at it, and just high enough to ensure I’ll fail. I know this for fact, because I’ve tried it; more than once.
But not since the day I hit hard enough to fall out of the chair onto the pavement. The day I lay there for seven excruciatingly long minutes before someone came to help me up, apologizing as they did it, never meeting my eye. The day my chair skittered back into the street and was nearly run over by a cab driver with a lead foot and little sympathy for the “cripple” that dented his fender. No, not since then. But I’ve thought about it. Every day since then, everyday since I landed in this chair to begin with. A prisoner not of my body, or this chair, but of this town, all towns, held paralyzed by three damn inches.