This morning I caught the bus.
Big deal, I hear you say. Woopdeedoo, a 45 year old woman caught the bus. Stop the presses and other various expressions of sarcasm. It’s OK. I can’t blame you for that. You don’t know me. Yet.
You don’t know that I was a teacher for almost 20 years in Queensland, Australia. You don’t know that I have a husband and two sons. You don’t know that I write plays and stories that sometimes other people actually want to perform or read. And you don’t know that I used to be able to walk.
Not just walk. I also used to be able to run and jump and dance and indulge in many other varied forms of independent physical cavortations as my life required or my heart desired. Now I can’t.
Don’t worry. It wasn’t an accident I was in that was somebody else’s fault. It wasn’t even an accident that was my own fault. It was just there. Some sort of motor disorder that I must have been born with and walked around with and never knew was there until it started to show itself in my late teens and gradually get worse and better and worse again over the next 30-odd years. And then, after that, it decided to stop getting better any more.
I won’t lie to you. It’s been tough. Between the uncertain diagnoses and the expert-head shaking and resignations, trial medications and vitamins and the endless waves of questioning and self doubt, I have had some pretty tough times over my adult life.
At various stages of my life, bit by bit, kicking and screaming, I have had to watch my ability to do things slowly, painfully, unstoppably, diminish and die. I can no longer walk. That means I can no longer teach drama, or dance, or run or drive, or walk unassisted or supported for much more than twenty metres at a time. It has been hard.
But today I caught the bus. I took my wheelchair out of my house, down the street, around a few corners and across the road to the bus stop, found that the half-way hill was too steep to push up with my arms (my kingdom for decent set of biceps) so I used my chair as a walker and supported my own unsteady steps to push my chair up the shallow slope until the road levelled and I could sit again. As I was approaching the street I watched a bus rocket past the place I was heading for and was very much afraid that the bus had come early and I had missed it. But the watch on my wrist, which I always keep set to two minutes fast, told me that it was not yet time for my bus to arrive. So I reached the bus stop and waited. And the bus arrived.
So now I am sitting at the university that is ten minutes drive from my home. I am waiting for a friend and typing my thoughts and wondering how it is that so few people realise how wonderful it is to catch the bus. Plus, I didn’t have to pay full price for a taxi so I actually have money left over for once. I could even buy myself a cup of tea if I chose. I’m considering it.