Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Londoner is Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down.

A few weeks ago, I got the subway to the acupuncturist, as I usually do once or twice a week. (The fall I mentioned yesterday was two days ago; I still have the sore butt to prove it.)

I used to read on the subway; in fact I liked to read pretty much everywhere. Nowadays, though, reading is hard work and slow, and I find it too frustrating on a short trip. Longer trips, I often have a graphic novel or manga with me, because I find the small chunks of text are easier to read, and of course the pictures convey a lot of information.

Instead, though, I was solving a (British-style) cryptic crossword on my phone, switching between Crux and Chambers as I needed, and becoming thoroughly engrossed in the puzzle. I wasn't paying enough attention, because suddenly it was my stop, so of course I got up in a hurry and fell over immediately, limbs akimbo, stunned for a moment, then chuckling a little.

Someone helped me to my feet, someone else made sure the door didn't close—at my prompting; I'm a New Yorker after all—and while I hustled to hobble out onto the platform, I reassured everyone that I was just fine. I was fine, too; I had almost no bruises and was pretty amused by making such an ass of myself. 

There's a qualitative difference between my two recent falls: on the subway, I had been so engaged with my crossword that it did not occur to me that I couldn't just stand up without falling over; I forgot that I can't do that any more. In the gym, though, I failed at standing up and staying standing. I was trying to be able-bodied, and not succeeding.

I don't mind forgetting that I'm a bit crock now and then, but it's more shameful (for small amounts of actual shame, it should be noted) to fail in doing something that I can now do, but is difficult. My self-image is so tightly associated with being able that I feel some (absurd) shame about my disability.