Deaf-blind poster lady of independence….ha

With my husband in England and my new guide dog in tow, I’m ready to become the Deaf-blind poster lady of independence. Mostly things are going well. And when they don’t, the goof-up is generally humorous and merely humiliating. For instance, I walked about 500 feet in the rain with my umbrella, but still managed to get soaked. What was up? Well, it turns out, not really my umbrella. It was above my head all right, but not open and spread in protective mode, but up with spokes shooting to the sky. I had the feeling that Dave looked up at me, then turned away, shaking his head. “Poor fool, but you have to love her.”
This morning I braved a trip with him that I haven’t practiced a lot, and truly I had to psych myself up for it. It was a less trafficked part of the neighborhood, past a fire station with cars over the walkway, and a few low hanging branches as hazards. But yesterday I’d heard some extreme athlete speaking about climbing Everest, then skiing down, and speaking about courage, and I was inspired.
“Do the less traveled trip first,” I told myself. The road less taken and all that. What could happen? Just a little more humiliation which has to be the mother of humility, and good for me—right.
So we set off, and Dave was perfect. He trotted along and even stopped before some soggy branches to communicate them to me. Two-thirds of the way there, he veered on a street crossing, and after a half dozen steps I checked for shoreline on my right and hupped im right. Ah, sidewalk. Well, not too bad, and there hadn’t been any traffic. And presto, we got to the grocery store with the tables and grill out front and people, and he just zoomed like crazy to the “inside” command to find the door, the last of three stores in a row. Perfect.
So home we headed, and I relaxed. This would be easy. But you know what’s coming after pride. A weird approach to a street crossing. Hm. What had he done? Veered too far to the left, so I moved right around the pole, lined up with the one car going (I thought) in my direction and told him forward.
By the second street crossing, I knew we weren’t heading home. What followed was twenty minutes of walking, listening for pedestrians, environmental clues to location, tactile ones, and nothing, just speeding cars down the street. I walked on….”with hope in my heart….” And heard some kids playing. I waved my umbrella and called. I was the poster lady of pathetic. The mother filled me in on location.
Sigh. We’d veered diagonally on that weird street crossing and walked three blocks north then one long block west. I continued west to the next street, turned left and walked the five blocks home.
Dave is usually so quick to learn and good at guiding, but there are some veering issues with him sooo young and new to my routes. I chalk the trip up to lots of good exercise, but I will work on that street crossing some more before I solo it again. Is there some character-building in these screw[ups? Lord, I hope so.


About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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2 Responses to Deaf-blind poster lady of independence….ha

  1. Humor can alter any situation and help us cope at the very instant we are laughing.-Allen Klein

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