Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rolling Through Short Hills

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And Whole Foods in West Orange

"What a nice smile," an older woman said to me in a surprised tone as she walked by me in the card shop this afternoon.

"Thanks," I said softly.

No stranger had ever before commented aloud on my smile. My wheelchair made her feel free, perhaps.

How novel to be at eye-level with the women's shoes on display at Nordstrom, and not to be able to reach a high shelf at the grocery store. Pat and I went shopping, but since my foot still hurt too much to walk long distances, Pat rolled me around in a wheelchair all afternoon.

It felt like an assignment for a Sociology class: See what it feels like to be perceived as wheelchair-bound for an afternoon. I felt out of control, short, weak, frightening -- the woman in line ahead of us at the grocery store moved away, saying unnecessarily, "Oh, sorry," when she noticed me sitting behind her on line.

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