This past weekend, we got a lot of snow here in New York City. I always like looking at the snow from my bedroom. Especially when it’s nice and clean, undisturbed from city life. It’s pretty. Wished it snowed last month in time for Christmas. Another topic. What I really want to talk about is snow removal. Let’s face it, the snow is super pretty for like a second then you realize you have to eventually leave the comfort of your home to walk around or drive or travel in it. That’s when snow falls from my list of things I like. Why? Think about it. Snow is a pain in the neck to travel in for non-disabled people. Right? Now picture me or any other physically disabled person trying to get around in it. Yikes! The cold weather and spasticity is one thing but walking with the crutches in the snow? Um, that’s a hard pass.
I know what you’re thinking. They sell parts/accessories for my crutches that make it easier to get around in the snow. True. If you didn’t know that, now you do. Thing is, these parts are expensive. And to be honest I always forget to buy them. That’s if/when I have the money to spare. Oops. My bad. Don’t judge me. All I’m saying is some disabled people might not be able to afford fancy accessories for their mobility devices. Being disabled shouldn’t mean my life costs more. Why should life be more expensive for me because I’m disabled than it is for someone who doesn’t need to think about it? Forget transportation, though that’s a good start. I have to buy my mobility aids. They shouldn’t cost money. Period.
Speaking of mobility aids…what if I used my wheelchair more often? Getting around in my wheelchair would be a disaster in these conditions. Ice. Salt. Snow. I haven’t used my wheelchair in a while but I know enough to predict going out in this weather with my chair would be tough. It shouldn’t be. Not sorry. The city needs to take snow removal more seriously. But what do I know? I’m just a disabled person living in NYC who is often stuck inside because of the snow and ice.
Snow removal is a disability rights issue. And it’s not a new one. Plenty of people have said this –– I’m not the first. I just want to reiterate how important it is. Even if all I do is raise awareness, at least I can take comfort knowing I did that. Said something instead of twiddling my thumbs and doing nothing. Snow removal is also directly tied to accessibility. Might seem obvious but still important to spell out. Especially to others who might not realize or even give it a second thought. There are more people like that out there than you might think. Thanks for letting me burst your nice little bubble.
I don’t mean to be a Debbie-downer. I’ve had lots of fun playing in the snow as a kid and an adult. It’s fun to throw snowballs at your unsuspecting sibling and fall over gleefully into soft snow instead of hard concrete. Or make snow angels. Igloos. You name it. I’m just saying…play in the snow, go sledding in Prospect Park, admire the blizzard from your kitchen window with a cup of hot cocoa… I don’t really care. What I do care about is you or whoever quickly taking your pictures for Instagram then shoveling that snow the hell out of the way so disabled people and the elderly can leave their homes. Go places. Live their lives in their communities. Safely, while social distancing and wearing their masks, obviously. We’re still living in the time of COVID. But I don’t need to preach about that. Unless you want me to. My point: shovel the snow. Ok?
It’s a lousy feeling to realize I’m stuck at home until the snow is taken care of and I can leave. I mean, my family already shoveled, but how do I know that my route to my destination will be clear? The older I’ve gotten, the move I’ve realized that a big part of my anxiety about going anywhere is whether or not my destination will be easy to get to. If there’s absolutely any risk or possibility of me falling or my crutches slipping on a hidden patch of ice or snow, I won’t go anywhere. I’m very firm about that. It’s just not worth it. One bad fall and that’s it. Don’t mean to be morbid but it’s a reality for me. That’s why I don’t like traveling in the snow or even in the rain anymore. It gives me anxiety. You might be thinking but you’ve gone out before and fallen and you got back up. So, why not just stick with that attitude? My answer is because The Fear has grown since I was younger. Kids are fearless. So was I. Now, though, I’m not about to go out and slip on some ice to prove a point about how brave I am. No thanks. I know I’m brave. No need to star in a spectacle. I’d risk breaking a bone, even with knowing the proper way to fall. Falls can cause a lot of damage, you know.
Sure, going out with a companion would put me at ease somewhat. Being accompanied is a luxury, though. There isn’t always someone available to go with me places. Plus, what about my freedom? I’m not a kid anymore. I want to be able to go out and about alone. Carefully, yes. But alone. The part of my life where I had to be accompanied everywhere is pretty much over. It’s not a bad thing. It’s the opposite. I’ve grown up. Evolved. Matured. Hooray!
Side note, though….don’t get me wrong, being an adult honestly doesn’t hold a candle to being a kid. Looking back, I had no worries. Zero. Hakuna Matata. My biggest concerns were whether or not Santa Claus was real and if I’d get to stay up late for once. That’s literally it. Moral of the story: being a kid is awesome. Being an adult? Not so much. I think it’s very overrated most of the time. Again…. another topic for perhaps another day.