Every time I move my wrist, my joint cracks. Cracks to the clicks of a keyboard that has been rotting at the bottom of my backpack all week.
A few days ago, when my bones were quiet and my mouth was loud, I made a promise. In the passenger seat of my best friend’s car, as the sun shone bright, I promised to write an article on disability for Audrey’s Corner.
Now, I find myself three states away, listening to the soft sound of the rain against my childhood bedroom’s window pane. My umbrella’s nearby, leaning right against the door, waiting for when I make the trek back into the real world.
The rain will never hit my scalp. Not like the sun. Not like it does my friends three states away. They don’t own umbrellas. They let the rain run soak their hair and run down their cheeks in a way those of us with umbrellas would never dare.
Disability is an umbrella, one that covers our heads from the rain of normalcy. One billion people live under umbrellas. I’ve created a list of what I’ve learned beneath mine.
1. Just because we all own an umbrella does not mean our experiences in the rain are the same. Every disability is different, just as every person is different. The word “disability” encompasses invisible, visible, learning, motor, vision, hearing, speech and psychological abnormalities under one broad term. How could we expect that our experiences would all be the same? However, no matter our differences, we must stand with one another in solidarity and support. We are all human beings who deserve the same things as those living without umbrellas.
2. Even those who live under the same umbrella stand in different places. Those who have the same disability do not share the same experiences. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s lifestyles are valid and should be respected, no matter how different they are from your own.
3. Even though you have an umbrella, you still belong in the rain. The world would be bleak and dreary without umbrellas. We add color to gray days. Disabled people deserve their place in an able-bodied world.
4. The sun always returns. Living in an able-bodied world with a disability is difficult. There will be days where you feel like the rain will never go away, but the sun always does come back.