Illustration by Suzanne F. Quincy

I used to get embarrassed driving in traffic when my car was filthy or there was bird poop all over the windshield. Now, I’m traveling across A1A in my power wheelchair with giant bags hanging off of it like I collect aluminum cans. Punishment for my vanity.

Frankie and I are heading home after spending the night at my mother’s. I have an overnight bag filled with all the things that staying overnight entails. I also have a black garbage bag that has a big empty box in it. My writing group is having a book drive for the Sulzbacher Library and I want to drop off the box at my chiropractor’s office on the way. There’s also a bag for all the reading material I didn’t get to, a small bag for Frankie’s things (plastic poop bags and emergency-come-here-NOW treats) and some leftover lasagna from my mom’s refrigerator. I feel like a handicapped hobo.

All in the name of independence. I’m grateful that I live in a town where things are just a scooter ride away. (I call it a scooter, but it’s not that cool. It’s a wheelchair.) I prefer doing things myself when I can and I’ve been to any number of shops and restaurants with my wheels. I’ve done shopping, banking, met friends for lunch or coffee. Heck, I’ve even been for a beer in the thing. I’m not sure that’s legal. Is a power wheelchair a motorized vehicle? If you can drive a bicycle under the influence, then it would stand to reason…

Last week, I even took in my dry cleaning. The place has a drop off drive-thru. Imagine me pulling over the hose that announces my arrival, “ding ding!” I’ve been there before so they know me, but if the owner felt any surprise or amusement the first time, he hid it well.

The only time I’m truly stuck is when it’s raining out. The power chair can’t get wet. The heat of summer is best avoided too. Someone suggested I carry an umbrella to shade myself from the sun. But, come on. I don’t want to look ridiculous.