Accessibility and Judgment at Broadway

Today, I want to talk about one of the reoccurring experiences I still struggle with accepting and going through, and that is first of all, how the lack of accessibility and modification of transportation in NYC is a huge detriment to many people who need it to get around and get opportunities.  Second of all, being strong enough to withstand judgment from others, whether friends or strangers, on your invisible needs, and probably getting judged for it.

One thing I constantly have to be conscious of is how quickly I use up my spoons for the day.   I modified some of my plans to tailor it to my needs, such as taking the train station in that is direct into the city.  Second of all, I decided in the cause of preserving my energy, I used the elevator once I got into Penn Station.  Third of all, even though I ran into a minor bump by trying to order a Lyft, and then ending up taking a taxi, I met up with my friends and got my taco as well.  The broadway show Cats was a little weird since I felt there was no plot, but nevertheless I enjoyed the experience.

I was a bit tired, but during intermission went to seek out the handicap bathroom in which I found myself in a line of mostly elderly people with bad hips and canes.  I knew I looked like I didn’t belong there, but I also knew in my mind and heart that I deserved to be there and it was my right to use that bathroom.  What wore me down a little was a few ushers swinging by, looking right at me and speaking mostly directly to me that they “highly encourage those who are capable of taking the stairs to do so with the one downstairs”… after the second time, I got a bit defensive and exhausted, and told them there was a reason why I was using that bathroom in particular.

It was also annoying that the old lady in front of me invited another older man to cut in front to use the bathroom…  I let him do so, but I wasn’t sure if it was out of kindness or guilt that I didn’t belong there.

Later on, we quickly racked up prices in using Uber to get around to the udon restaurant… It sucks that this is an extra price to pay as someone who has disability conditions, much like a woman having to pay for tampons and other needs just because she’s born with a vagina and menstruation cramps.

The world isn’t fair, and we have to try to find the courage to speak up for ourselves and for others.  Acceptance is key, and I’m on my way there before I can embrace it and fight for the rights that we are entitled to.

Fears

My deepest fears?

I die forgotten and alone, never having made a positive impact on anyone in the world before I leave.

The realization that I will either lose someone I love deeply or they will lose me first- one of them has to happen.

That I will never feel like I deserve to be loved or accepted.

That I don’t have the energy or strength to go through the next phase of suffering.

That I bring more hurt and pain to someone I fall in love with than I should.

What I Learned in Taiwan

That year had been particularly rough on me, and I remember being on a bus in a desperate attempt to swig away my sorrows at TCNJ Senior Night, texting on a whim confirmation to my parents to sign me up for school in Taipei.  I was and am always hesitant and doubtful of new and scary experiences, but my grief momentarily blinded me from worrying, and it ended up being one of the best. decisions. ever.  Not knowing what to expect, my mom and I hopped on a plane in late May, and our first days of exploring the campus of National Taiwan Normal University excited me endlessly.  My mom finally coped enough to leave me to my independence after two or three weeks, and that week and a half was the funnest ever.  Sure, there were moments where I was so exhausted I was just barely able to move to buy myself dinner, and sure, the dorm’s strict curfew of 11:30pm was annoying, but for the most part, I was content to be able to manage my life without feeling so restricted.  Among the highlights of my trip were:

    1. Visiting my moms’ old friend’s village, which felt like a town in a Miyazaki film.  Her sweet and kindhearted family can COOK.
    2. Meeting up with my TCNJ friend Lauren at Danshui and having the MOST MAGICAL BUBBLE TEA at a cute cafe
    3. Going to Beitou Hot Springs and trying to compete against stolid old people by sitting in boiling water on a 90+ degree summer day- guess whose fingers were prunier?? Yeah, we didn’t win.
    4. Typhoon night where I huddled in my dorm with two yams from 7-Eleven
    5. Attending a 12 Cellos concert, courtesy of my aunt (phenomenal performance) in Kaohsiung
    6. Meeting new people, eating and bonding on mini-trips

During these mini travels, after months of therapy was I able to muster the courage to communicate my needs to new friends.  I tried to mask my shaky confidence as I explained what I needed: their understanding in walking slowly with me because it was hard for me.  I still remember the fear I felt bringing it up to my friend Nio as I walked with him and another guy through the streets, realizing if I didn’t say something soon I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, without blinking or giving me any side look of pity, Nio said “Sure,” slowed down and casually asked me what my condition was.  A heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt acceptance.  What I learned was that as inconvenient as conditions like mine were and as rare as awesome people are to find, they exist. And sometimes you have to forgive yourself and distinguish yourself from your chronic conditions, and take a leap of faith in opening up.  Recognize that sometimes, you are not the problem.