This weekend, The Scientist and I wandered off through the western part of the state. He needed to hit a few specific geocaches (Click here.) and Alejandro needed a good workout.
To give an overview of what caching weekends can be like when you’re going for specific ones, this is the deal — we drove around 675 miles in under 40 hours to hit a mere 20 caches. Yeah, it’s crazy for sure. But it’s also a lot of driving. It gives us good one-on-one conversation time, but it is not exactly strenuous. To balance this, a few hikes are thrown in for waterfalls photos, virtual caches on the top of Mount Mitchell, and other such reasons. For normal people, these are quick little jaunts (the two we did were each about 1.5 miles total), with terrain over which you need to pay attention, but not excessively so. But as we all know, I’m not exactly normal.
For me, these hikes were extremely challenging. I had to go slowly, looking down the whole time to carefully consider each step. The Scientist was poised to catch me should I slip/trip/fall, and I did all of those. I beat the snot out of my knee, for which I will pay dearly for the rest of this week, but it was well worth it for the photos I got, and for the sense of pride and accomplishment that I felt doing something “normal” for a change.
That being said, one very abnormal aspect of my attempt at normalcy, is that I hate meeting people along the trails. Normal people move faster than I do, so I just stop and let them by. I make a joke about it, smile, and hope it just ends there. But sometimes people stop to tell me how “brave” I am, or how “inspiring” I am, and how they admire me for doing what I’m doing. This is so incredibly disconcerting to me, not because they’re being nice, which I appreciate, but because they could not be more wrong about me.
People, I am not brave, I am not noble, and I sure as hell am not worthy of being called an “inspiration” to anyone. My reasons for doing stuff like hiking up the side of a damn mountain stem from nowhere else but this: I know what is coming down the pike for me, and I am not ready to face it. I don’t feel like it’s denial, because I do know that it’s inevitable, and I have already started to peruse the “everyday” wheelchairs. However, I am rebelling against that which will be, to me, a catastrophic loss of my sense of self. My independence is imperative to my self-concept, and that wheelchair, no matter how cool, threatens it. And yes, I am well aware of all of the platitudes that remind me that it isn’t who I am, that millions of people use wheelchairs and are independent. Please don’t waste my time or yours by retyping them. Because yes, while I can be independent, I will lose even more of what I used to love so much. I used to go for 10 mile bike rides just because it was a nice day. I used to hike in the woods for hours to find the right tree in which I would then perch with the book I’d brought. Playing softball until I was sweaty and grimy and sore was a favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon. All of those are slipping away, and I’m just not in a place of acceptance yet.
But in the meantime, I’d rather be honest with myself and others. I’m not anything you might think on first glance. I’m just a flawed, occasionally bitter and resentful, stubborn pain in the ass who isn’t ready to give up her life just yet.