I am commuting today to the NIH for my monthly dose of MS medication. Look around the airport. You won’t pick me out. I am streamlined, like every serious commuter. I know which security line is actually the shorter one. I know the latest TSA regulations. I don’t flinch at the full body scanner. My boots are easily unzipped.
My red Chrome messenger bag is a red herring. I haven’t straddled a bicycle in over a year. Not since I kept falling off. But I can look like I still ride a bike. I can pass, at least for the outgoing flight.
I am not the one fumbling with her shoelaces, or the one in the wheelchair. I am not the one in that golfcart-like vehicle. I am not the one boarding the tram.
I am the one strutting to the gate.
I am not the one on the people mover. I am not the one on the elevator.
Whenever possible, I am not the one on the escalator. Whenever possible, I am the one on the stairs.
I am not the one sitting in the handicapped row.
I am not the one being offered the opportunity to pre-board.
I am the one who doesn’t look up as boarding is announced, who continues writing her notes by hand. No one needs to know I am a creature with brain shrinkage. That I’ve left my computer behind in too many taxis, too many times.
No one needs to know that on the way back, I may just be the one in the wheelchair, or the one in the golf-cart like vehicle. I may just give in and take the tram. I might take the elevator. I might accept an offer to preboard.
I am one of you. Until I’m not. Then I am of one them.
I am one of all of us. We each carry baggage. We each carry pain. Sometimes it’s visible. Sometimes it’s not.