June 14, 2004

Not quite fitting in

Went into town today to show off the sprog to the work colleagues, and have coffee with Tim (Hi Tim). Great discovery of the weekend was that I could fit into normal clothes (not the whole wardrobe, but enough). So today I wore: (bear with me, this is going somewhere without brackets!) black boots, black opaque stockings, a long straight black skirt, black close fitting top, black cardigan, black coat. And silver jewellery. I looked like a great number of the other people out walking around Wellington - black! But there was an important accessory I had with me that just didn't fit in. A pushchair. And though I felt great about wearing 'normal' clothes again, and my self esteem got a boost from that, I felt like some kind of imposter, dressed the part but not part of the scene. Next time I go in, perhaps I will have got to the point where I can fit in my jeans - they will fit with the pushchair. And I'll look like what I am, a visitor to the business/government world of the city.

There are a lot of people out there who are bloody nice - they say very encouraging things to mothers of new babies. It actually helps me, makes me feel more positive about what I am doing, like taking the kid out, and breastfeeding, and putting wooly garments on H.

Now, I am pretty lucky in lots of things, and one of them is that I have a 'normal' body, whatever that might mean. One of the implications is that I am able to walk up stairs, over kerbs, and to run if I need to. But with a pushchair, I am in effect temporarily disabled/differently abled. And the thing I notice is that amazing number of stairs there are in town. Even getting into and out of the train station is not straight forward. To get in I either bump the kid round like badly packed luggage on a flight to the Antartic up the front stairs, or navigate carefully to find the ramp into the subway. It must take up a fair bit of brain power just working out how to get into some of the buildings in Wellington if you are in a wheelchair. And the worst aspect of the whole thing is that new buildings are no better than old ones. There is a hotel on the West Coast called the Last Resort that has been built to be fully accessible. It is enormously relaxing to be able to walk everywhere without having to keep an eye out for stairs, and to walk up to door knowing they would open before you rather than into you. If I ever build my own house, I'd like to make it wheelchair accessible, because it felt so safe for me on my feet...

Posted by Toni at June 14, 2004 07:46 PM

Thanks for coffee. From my perspective your description underplays the debonair chic of the outfit, counter-pointed by the robustness of the all-terrain buggy.

As a converse to the accessible house dream, I have always felt an affinity for stairs and the ability to access a different environment. I think that upstairs and downstairs are evocative of different feelings and levels of comfort. I suspect that I would feel claustrophobic in a single level or ramped dwelling.

Posted by: Tim at June 16, 2004 02:28 PM