Monday, April 11, 2011

Chelsey Person

My dream last night was a strange flashback to high school. I don't mention this much, but all through school I had an aide.

aide  (n). Woman (usually above middle-aged) who follows the short, easily injured one around lest one get trampled by other students. Often found butting into one's business without permission.

In my dream, I was visiting my friend Sarah in New York, and for a part of it we were trying to evade my aide (this was a game often played by my friends and I in high school--two points if you can get away with an unassuming teacher's permission).

Now, other parts of my dream were senseless and involved dating Logan Echolls. But I think a big theme of it was illuminating the difference between my life now and my life as a teenager. Then I would never have spent my free time wandering a city on my own--I couldn't even walk down the hall of my high school screaming at the top of my lungs by myself. Nothing now, no matter how obnoxious certain aspects of my disability get, is quite so suffocating.

People thought things when I had an aide. That she was my mother. My nurse. I don't know what it meant, really, to everyone else that I had this woman trailing me. But I do vividly remember one afternoon when she went to speak to my theatre teacher. I stood to the side, waiting, and heard my teacher exclaim: "Oh! Chelsey Person!"

I beamed.

I don't mean that it was good for this woman to be striped of her identity by my teacher. However, there was something incredibly validating for me to be the one she saw. The one behind the accommodations, even when they were another person. There's a part of me that knows I probably owe an apology to the women over the years who were Chelsey People, because I wasn't the nicest to them. To me they represented the things I hated--the being singled out, the lack of freedom.

I think it's important to remember that behind every piece of equipment, every cane, wheelchair, pair of glasses, extra tutoring session, there's a person who wants to be free of it all galavanting the streets of New York. (Or whatever).

Also,  i invented the best phrase today. "Lord have monkeys." Don't you dare tell me it makes no sense, I loves it.