The Blanket Dance (pt 1)
by Rosemary Carchide LeBlanc
We pulled into the parking lot on City Island, found a space that suited our needs, and turned off the engine. The car once light blue was previously owned, 13 years old and had been a wedding gift to us from my sister Kathleen. It was past it's prime but got us where we had to go and that was all that counted. Awash in the glow of a huge full moon the oxidized paint resembled baby powder. I went around to the back passenger door, opened it and began to pull the chair from it's perch on the platform where the bench seat used to be. David moved the chair around to his door, locked the frame and carefully transferred from the car. We were enveloped in a velvet blanket of steamy star filled night. The air crackled with excitement, exploding into a sensual over load of colors and sounds. The aroma of exotic unknowns mingled with the well known scent of deep frying grease, layering vendors who hawked sandwich of buffalo meat in garish juxtaposition with those who offered fries, creating a circus for all the senses. I leaned over, gave David a kiss and we moved onto the sidewalk into the hub of activity. Brightly lit booths offered wares of various price and product. Colorful textiles lay in piles next to jewelry which glimmered in kaleidoscopic brilliance; an array of handmade tools, toys and earthen wares were all offered proudly for sale by artisans in native dress. Feathered dream catchers wafted gently in a breeze created by human movement alone; the night air was still and heavy, but the crowd was teeming with life. It was a contradiction of choices; the need to hurry on, collided with the humidity, dictating the reality of slow movement, which in turn invited us to savor the anticipation of what was to come. We circled the outskirts of the arena, picking a spot I hoped would offer us maximum visibility, while keeping us out of the way; our biggest fear was becoming an obstacle to the free movement of pedestrian traffic. We moved onto the closely cropped grass, pulled up to the front of a roped off area just as the whine of electronic feed back heralded the start of the show.
I had not wanted to come out tonight. physical exhaustion and pain left me with a whiny sense of separation which I knew all too well and hated. There was nothing I could do about the pain in my back and arms as the physical demands of our life style made matters worse. I had sustained injury years ago in an industrial situation, gone the route of conventional treatments and now had to come to terms with the reality of pain that was not going away. I had tendonitis in both arms and a husband in a wheel chair; I was arms for two. Despite David's insistence on maintaining his independence his condition was getting worse and so was mine. I had not had a full night's sleep in over 10 years, was a recovering alcoholic and addict, thus not in the market for prescription relief of any kind and just did the best I could, always falling short of the inflated expectations I set up for myself as stumbling blocks. My energy flagged, patience ran out, and whining became my only source of self expression. I was not proud of myself at all. I did not want to stop us from interacting socially, but the energy it took us to get from our apartment to the car left me drained before we even got started. We lived in an ordinary complex which we had moved into, the actual site unseen. The rental agent had shown us a model with convenient parking right out side the door, and I was relieved to see that several units had handicapped ramps leading up to them. We explained that even though David was up right and walking with crutches, his condition had progressed, it was no longer safe, and he would be going into a wheel chair. We would need a ramp, a bathroom outfitted with safety bars, and handicapped fixtures. We were assured that this would be no problem as the complex advertised itself as handicapped adaptable so we signed the papers, more than ready to move into the next stage of our lives. I was flabbergasted to discover the unit we had been assigned to was at he bottom of the only hill in Daytona Beach a half a foot ball field's length from the parking lot with a twisting cement sidewalk which had only an inch clearance on either side of the chair. I stormed the manager's office in a justifiable rage demanding to know WHAT idiot thought this was the proper set up for two people with our physical challenges and was informed that this was where we were placed so our ramp would not be in any one else's way. I responded as calmly as I could that had we seen the location of this unit, we would not be moving in, but as we had signed a binding lease there was little that could be done. The thermal indicator that day had the temperatures soaring over the hundred degree range. The people helping us move had unloaded most of the stuff. David was tired. I recognized arguing would net me nothing, I knew my blood pressure was elevated and I had a pounding headache. We closed the apartment's front door, flipped on the air conditioner and I burst into tears. gold prom dresses
For the next 3 months I fought for and kept on the rental manager to obtain every item promised; we waited for the railing along side the wash out, our ramp, the assigned handicapped parking, complete with a reserved sign, and the grab bars in the bathroom; they refused to go to the expense of a high toilet, so we compensated by buying an elevated toilet seat. I became a fixture in the office. My ever present question was why is everything taking so long? Paperwork delays was the standard response; which was their problem not mine. David's safe passage to and from that unit was my concern. I bristled under the lash of an indignation which would not be assuaged with platitudes or continued promises, I was fighting the good fight , a battle for freedom of movement which could have been avoided entirely if the true nature of geographic barriers were truly understood. I was not in a position to educate the masses, my full time occupation had become to appear red faced and very angry every day in the front office to question the progress of promises which were appearing slowly at best. The walk way was of hellish design, both of us struggled to stay on the path as we fought the uphill battle on that unforgiving band of meandering concrete. David was a heavy man, this was a manual chair. Even though he used his arms to turn the wheels, and I put my back into it to push, by the time we reached the top, we were both exhausted, in screaming pain and there was little energy left to enjoy whatever it was that prompted our journey to begin with. If we wanted to go any where or do any thing then there was no chance to avoid the walk way from hell.
to be Continued (TRUE STORY)