Thursday, September 16, 2010

The T on Crutches

I got hold of a pair of crutches and they are a godsend. With them, I still just creep along, just one slow shuffling step at a time. But they take the pressure off my back so now I can actually stand upright with very little pain.

And so, today I negotiated the T today for the first time by myself since my back went out. It was now or never. Sue's been driving me around, taking me to and picking me up at class, but she couldn't keep doing that. Her job is stressful enough without adding more to her day. And I hate depending on anyone, even Sue. She says I'm stubborn but I'm just independent and like doing things on my own.

You're a different person on crutches. First, people are quick to give up their seat. At Wollaston I crept into the car and a young woman right by the door just sprung up and gave me her seat. What's funny is when I hobbled into the car at Park Street at rush hour, one guy just stood right up, while you could see a flurry of people down the car considering. Funny that it's not natural of us to come to the aid of our fellow humans.

While people give up their seats, conversely I become an invisible person. I just shuffle along in my own world, and you can see people consciously ignoring me. But that's kind of a gift, because today in Park Street, as I slowly made my way through the crowd, I was able to really look around and since everyone was ignoring me, I was able to almost stare. It was like when I was living in Sherborn, and everyone ignored me there, too. I think they figured there if they didn't already know me I wasn't worth knowing. Now it's like my own personal play and I'm able to walk slowly among all my actors.

This is Massachusetts though, and the T is as hard to negotiate as the streets. And this time pain is the payment for any miscalculation. I got off at Park, and though I can get up and down stairs, I thought I'd go for the elevator since I've never ridden an elevator in the subway in thirty years. Bad idea. I followed the signs to the elevator, which was way at the end of the platform, only to find that it would take me to the wrong side of the Green Line. I took it anyway. I wasn't going to walk all the way back. The thing about this injury is that the tiniest movement hurts so much, so walking the length of the platform only to find I was in the wrong place was almost overwhelmingly demoralizing. The pain just wears you down.

The one thing that I wasn't prepared for was how vulnerable I felt. I realized that if someone lifted my wallet from my back pocket, I'd just have to watch them run away. If a couple of hoods decided to jump me or pick on me, well, I joked that I'd poke them with my crutch but that honestly wouldn't get me far.  I was imminently aware that I was a weak member of the herd, and that if the lions decided to dine that day, I would be one of the first to be hunted down. I moved my wallet to the inside pocket of my jacket, and hoped that I looked rough enough that I'd be left alone. 

So far none of this has affected my studies, at least too much. Right now it's about 10:30 at night, and normally that would mean I still would be up writing for another two hours or so. But after I put this post to bed, I'm going to bed, too. Like I said, the pain just wears you down.

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