(With slow belabored speech) Do… You… Think that because I talk like this, that I don’t think… Like you do? That I don’t feel like you do? Sometimes… I feel… Invisible.
(Return to normal speech, pushing chair forward twice) but other times, I know I can be more intelligent, more articulate, and more charming than you. Because I’ve done what I’ve had to do. When people give me stares, I think to myself, “damn people, I know I’m sexy and that my chair is shiny (wry smile) but dammit I’m up here. I know what you thinking, you want to see me with a naked mind, in all its glory. And we’ll get to that, like all really great first dates good things come to those who are patient enough, and who send the right signals. Speaking of signals, when I’m out in public, in a coffee shop with someone pushing me, remind yourself that you’re talking to me… There is an unwritten assumption that causes me at least a little compunction that the person in my company must be taking care of me. Why can’t it be a friend, a sister, a brother, maybe even a lover? I’m human too. I’ve taken care of myself for all these years, I’ve had to overcome seemingly insurmountable fears. So I could stand here before you, or sit as it were, to tell you these things. I don’t need unmitigated sympathy, I’m just looking for a little empathy, the ability to see the important things… The humanity in me. If I had to guess, you’re probably thinking something to yourself quietly, wondering if there is any validity… To what I’ve had to say. I have a question for you: how many people do you know like me? That depends on how you look at me. Do you see me? Or do you see this? (Gesturing to the wheelchair) in your mind I’ll forever be that girl in the wheelchair, such a pity… She’s too pretty to be. But I’m more than just a pretty face, and definitely more than a simple tragic case. I’m strong, beautiful, and confident. If this is how you see me, and then I pray your list grows exponentially. While we’re at it, let’s talk about another thing, the phenomenon of the child’s curiosity, we tell them “don’t stare! It’s not polite.” But there’s another thing in which children take a small delight… A pleasure if you will. Simply to satisfy… Their own curiosity. They don’t do it to be rude, or mean, they just want to understand. They have it right, and let me just tell you we have it so very wrong. The next time you see me walking down the street, try to avoid your knee-jerk reaction of pulling them back and springing to your feet. I know you’re getting tired of all the rhymes so let me break it down to you this way, one heart beating in rhythm with another. Let them ask all the questions their little hearts desire. Our culture has this all wrong, curiosity never killed the cat, but it can sure as hell kill one thing; and that thing is ignorance. You see, because if we let them one day they’ll understand this very simple truth. I’m just a person… We are all just people. I feel deeply, I fight fiercely, and I fuck just like you. It doesn’t take any courage to be me, so don’t tell me how courageous I must be to be continuing on this way. Because it doesn’t take courage to do the only thing you know how to do. I don’t congratulate you for waking up and being you, do I? Or perhaps I should. An unexpected compliment and a genuine smile may just do us all a world of good.