You Aren't The Boss of Me
For O
Almost every day I struggle up the Astor Place stairs, sometimes with an enormous hey are you spending forty years in the desert type backpack, sometimes with just my pocketbook. The other subway riders either rush up past me or grumble behind me in frustration as I use the railing to pull myself up. Because of the neurological damage in the lower part of my body, I can't walk upstairs very well. That's kind of understatement. It's kind of like telling a person in the path of a tidal wave he might experience moisture. Nor do I have any memory of it being any other way. I have never been able to walk upstairs easily. Even when I lived in a two story house, I had to struggle to go up to my bedroom several times a day, often resorting to scrambling up on all fours like some sort of dement hyena. I see other people fluidly leap up the stairs, sometimes two at a time is nothing short of a miracle. How can you all do it? The mindlessness, the unconsciousness. As a child I watched it; I envisioned myself running up the stairs, gracefully getting to the landing without panting and struggling. I can close my eyes and see it now. But however clear the picture, when I actually take that first step, suddenly I am back in that wet cement mode, my body keeping me back from that beauty that rest of you achieve without awareness without effort. For years, I've been trying to get up the stairs easily. Almost 30 years now. I haven't stopped trying. Even without knowing what I am missing, even without having the hope of ever achieving the goal, I find myself at the bottom of each flight of stairs secretly hoping this time I will teach my body that it isn't the boss of me.
But my body always wins.
For those of us who live with disability, there is this sense that the body is other than you, that it is this seperate entity that must, on occassion be beaten into submission. As I struggle upstairs on a day when my body is particularly weak, I channel the anger I feel about the difficulty to get me up the stairs. "You WILL get up these stairs or else..." I'm not sure exactly what the hell I can threaten my body with, but the sense of seperation is clear. Somehow any suffering it would receive, is disconnected with me, me being the individual who can envision an almost ballet like ascent of the stairs. My body being the enemy who stops me from achieving my rather pedestrian dreams. Of course, these threats work in the short term. I've bullied my body into quite a few things. Dance classes, high heels, long walks, but in the end my body always wins. I end up in the hospital or the doctor's office or the OR secretly cursing, secretly hating myself and others, secretly hating every edition of vogue with those fucking stiletto heels. Deeply enraged by these college girls who run upstairs in freakin' Manolo Blahniks every day instead of wearing my comfortable Allstar Converse in purple. And hating my body, always hating my body for stopping me. Hating it for not being me.

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