I call you that because I don’t know your name. Likewise, when I met you, you did not know mine. I am going to try my best to not offend you with my rhetoric, despite you being so careless with yours during our short-lived conversation.
I wanted to tell you some things about me. My name is Grace, first of all. I have also just turned 18, my favourite colour is teal and I really hate being yelled at. I think that’s probably true for most people.
Perhaps not you? Since you did so affectionately yelled at me from across the bar “WHY ARE YOU IN A WHEELCHAIR, HOW DID YOU GET IN ONE, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?”
If you’re so willing and able to yell at me, at 7pm, while I am simply entering a party, minding my own buisness. I assume that means you welcome others to throw loud words your way, but of course, we know what assuming does.
It makes you look like an ass, which is exactly why I assumed nothing about you when I briefly met you. You assumed a whole lot about me it seems. That does nothing to affect my character. It affects yours.
You’re probably thinking, what did I assume? Your wheelchairs in front of me, so clearly you are disabled. And you’d be right. I am, and proudly.
What did you assume?
What you assumed, honey is that you had a right to ask me those questions.
My being physically different makes me stand out from the crowd, I am aware – but it does not mean that I am open for interrogation.
I have been asked if my womb functions by shop assistants, I have been talked to like I am stupid and in the last two days I have been asked by taxi drivers if I have always been disabled, and now you I get to add to the list. The list of people who’ve asked me stupid questions, the list of people who make me feel scared to be out in the world, the list of people who make me doubt myself.
I suppose I should thank you, more content for my memoir.
So You’re now on the list of the people who’ve said stupid shit to me. I’m sorry, you put yourself there.
I don’t need to justify myself to you, but you should know that I am disabled because my cerebellum is damaged. Luckily my capacity for human empathy, compassion, and respectfulness is in tact.
You should get yours checked out.
I know a really good doctor if you need one.
If only you could fix attitudes like you do bones.
I just want to tell you some other things you don’t know. First of all, you don’t know that I am only just starting to take myself places, I am only just gaining my sense of independence and so that means that a part of me has this great sense of panic every time I am alone because I am learning.
You probably don’t know what that feels like because if you did you would not have yelled at me like you did.
I also want to tell you that I usually let these things go, but I am tired. I am tired of you making a comment to me, thinking that it doesn’t matter; it does matter.
I want you to know that you have not achieved anything with your comments because I do not consent to you making me feel anything.
For your knowledge, when I arrived at the party I was attending I was met with the attitude of acceptance and respectfulness that we all deserve.
I’d also like you to know, that I am hiking up Rangitoto in a few weeks, I am only limited by what I consent to.
I hope while I am out, living my life – you live yours to the best of your ability. Man, I know that you think being able bodied is the shit – and yes, walking is a great thing. I know, I do it from time to time.
But you know what’s even better?
Do you have any stories of things that have happened to you like this? How did you respond and navigate them?
Let me know and we can all help one another out.