One evening, I was on my way home from the outpatient gym. I’ve fallen into a bad habit since the hemorrhage. Or maybe it’s not so much bad habit as it is human nature. I’ve been comparing. I see a lot of disabilities now and I decide in my head if someone is better or worse off than me. It’s terrible I know, but it’s what I do. Amputee? Better off. Prostheses are amazing now. Mentally challenged but can walk? Worse off. I don’t think I’d trade my mind for any physical ability.
A blind woman was already on the bus when I was picked up. I realized she was blind when I said hello and she responded in my general direction but seemed to make eye contact with my left shoulder. Her eyes looked layered over with coke bottle glass.
Next we picked up a woman obviously coming from work. She suffered from dwarfism. I believe the politically correct statement is that she was a little person. She couldn’t have been much over three feet high and she dragged a suitcase on wheels. Her pudgy fingers were wrapped around a handle, that if extended, would have been well over her head. I watched her begin the laborious climb up the three steps of the bus. First she heaved the bag up one step and rested her hands on top of it while she positioned her feet on the step below. The driver offered to help but she declined. I stole a glance as she buckled her seat belt. Her legs extended flat across the seat, her feet barely dangled over it. Occasionally, I run across things I can’t reach or a car blocking my access to a curb. I hate it when friends or well-meaning people put stuff in the very back of my freezer. Or on the bar in the kitchen or on top of the fridge. Or any other of the multitude of places that I can’t get to. But this is only on occasion. Her entire world is oversized.
Our motley crew continued on down Beach Boulevard when the driver stopped for a light. I heard music coming from a Ford Explorer in the next lane. A blonde had the window rolled down and her elbow out, resting on her knee. I used to drive like that. One foot tucked up under me.
The blonde turned to look at the bus and I felt grateful for the tinted windows. I used to look at the short busses too, the blue handicapped symbol on the back, and wonder about the poor souls on board. Now I’m on the inside.
The sun was setting so spectacularly that evening that I’m sure it would have warranted comment by the driver or passengers if one of those passengers hadn’t been a blind woman. So instead, we all sat respectively silent in the warm glow of pinks and reds. I watched as the woman adeptly handled her cell phone to call a friend, then a Chinese take-out place, something I can never do without misdialing or dropping the phone altogether. Then I listened as she inquired about the specials and placed her order. This is also something I cannot do as I’m hard to understand and often misunderstood or hung up on like a prank caller. I thought about her eating her fried rice, something I avoid because it falls off the fork. Then I turned in time to see the last of the pink sun sink beneath the horizon.