By the guiding hand of the kitchen windows contrasted light, I made my way across the linoleum floor. All of the familiar visual cues were in place. All of the shiny chrome edging of the kitchen counters was hinting at their shimmer, directing me towards the kitchen sink. The grayed, outside light, churning, burning and fighting its way towards me, through the window over the kitchen sink, quickly reminded me where the faucet was. The long, dark colored handles of the white refrigerator directed me directly towards the place I had been a thousand times before.
I was right where I wanted to be, and everything, once again, was right with the world.
I was, after all, home. I was in familiar land, with no hidden potholes, or divots, or abstract, obscure mazes, just me, and my home, sweet, friendly home.
I knew where all of the door frames were. I knew where the couch was. I knew where the bathroom door was. I knew where the silverware drawer and the bath tub faucet handle and the front porch door and the back garage door and the living room hassock and the microwave and the little tin cup that held the freezer key and the start button for my desktop pc and the lint tray on the dryer and the roll of paper towels on top of the hutch and the box of tissues on the shelf, under the cardinal picture were, and as I took a deep breath, I sighed with relief.
I was home.
With all of my years of vision, it’s a blessing that I have so much orientation to fall back on. I have all of the memories, all of the internal maps, all of the bumps and bruises, everything, rolled up into one, nice and neat little package of a house full of recollection. Even though I can’t see it any more, I can still see it, page after page of snapshots, ever reminding me and forever setting me straight.
Now don’t get me wrong, for as I stated, I have all of the bumps and bruises that have helped mold my internal maps tremendously, constantly reminding me where the floor ends, and the door frame starts. I have all of my internal gps maps updated, but sometimes, the maps are only as good as the person who is implementing and manipulating the software, and that, unfortunately, can mostly be blamed only on, you guessed it, yours truly. I do though, continuously fall back on, and rely totally on those mapping skills that I have grown to trust and depend on.
I do ok, for the most part, outside the house, around our property. Oh yes, there are times when I get turned around and end up standing there, trying to regain my orientation, and let me tell you, nothing is more humbling than that. Nothing snaps you back to reality more than trying to figure out where you are, and every time it happens, I am instantly reminded that I am, indeed, blind.
Thanks allot, and can we move on now? Good.
Fortunately, I can count on two or three hundred pairs of hands the times when I have been spun around, completely disoriented, clueless to where I should go next. I take from those experiences everything that I can fit into my bag of tools, and then, once again, I move on, hopefully in the right direction. I usually follow those mind twisting experiences with a couple of choice names that I have grown comfortable in calling myself. They usually fit pretty well too. Smile.
Although I probably have the most recognizable excuses these days, I am still pretty hard on myself, probably due to the fact that most times, these situations I end up smack dab in the middle of, well, they are usually completely avoidable. You see, I am, for the most part, only human, and you all know about being human, right? It’s a give and take relationship that more than not, completely and continuously keeps reminding me that I am, well, human.
I know it’s still early in the game, and I have a long way to go before I can even come close to knowing an adequate supply of mobility skills, and for the most part, I am still more than willing to do the work, but I also have to admit that it does get very tiring and yes, there are a lot of times when I would just as soon stand my cane in the corner and walk the other way, but, well, like I said, I have a long way to go still, so, what the heck am I waiting for? I’ll tell you what I’m waiting for. I’m waiting for the little chirping crosswalk assistant thing to tell me it’s ok to proceed. All I need is that little audible cue, and I am off and running, once again.
I went out to get the newspaper the other morning. It was still pretty dark outside, and as I finally made it out to the box, I turned to find my usual visual cues non existent. I was lost, and I was in my own driveway. There I was, scared, frightened, and all alone, in an unfamiliar land, with a strange, uneasy feeling of total inadequacy that had me spinning and searching for anything that would help me make it back to the garage. The tall spruce tree that usually helped me along was not there. The familiar edge of the driveway was not detectable under the snow. The dull, gray shimmer of the interior garage lights were undetectable from the street. I was, totally and completely lost, and as my world started swirling around, I stepped into a snow bank, which immediately proceeded to suck my slipper off my right foot. My favorite pair of slippers that my dad had bought me had suddenly been cut in half, and as I stood there with one slipper and two socks, I noticed that I had dropped the paper also. Well, I turned and tried rummaging through the deep snow bank, desperately trying to find my slipper, and I soon found out that snow is really, really cold. I found the paper, but didn’t find my slipper, so, still completely spun around, I stood there and waited. I waited for help of any imaginable kind. A minute or so later, a car went by the front of the house, and I again knew where I was. Finally, I turned and found my way back to the garage, with one newspaper, two socks, and one slipper, but I also had a fully charged battery pounding away in my chest. I made my way back in through the garage, and into the kitchen, noticing that my slipper that I still possessed was chock full of snow. I sat down in a kitchen chair and tried to regain my morning composure, only to have Coco the horse dog come over to me and sit right in front of me. She must have sensed my complete humility as she nestled her nose into my hand. I petted her, smiled, and sat my ice cold slipper on the heat register.
My wife went out a little while later and found my slipper, sticking out of the snow bank. From that point on, my day started over, and once again, the world was right.
I love my slippers, with all my heart, especially when both of them are on my feet.
Have an awesome day, and don’t ever take for granted that you think you know exactly where you are, because things can change really, really fast.
Can you tell that I’m wiggling my toes inside two of the most comfortable slippers in the world? Smile.