I took a break from O&M this week; my determination has fallen somewhere beneath my feet and I needed to find it. I am still struggling with feelings of being a fraud, but whenever those thoughts creep up, I can pretty readily find examples of why I need Zelda.
Last week, I was turning a corner, leaving the shopping complex where we buy our dog and cat food; I was using Zelda, and as I turned that corner, I found myself wrapped up in one of those extendable dog leashes. I hadn’t seen the dog or the people and I registered the scene in my head as a typical RP moment that I can pull up when I get those feelings of fraudulence.
I have only used Z once during this week of hiatus, but in truth, I have barely gone out, with the exception of walking the dogs. I do take her with me on dog walks, but she just sits comfortably in her holster. My dogs meander all over the place on our walks, getting tangled and pulling in opposite directions, so I am pretty sure that Zelda would just get caught in the chaos. In some ways, the dogs do provide a barrier for me; they alert me most of the time if other people or dogs are approaching. Perhaps I am being just slightly reckless, but someone has to walk them and I am perfectly capable of doing it.
Anyway, I digress.
I did go to my Dad’s house one day this week, and of course had Z with me. I have her with me now, whenever I go out. Joe took me there, but I had to catch the bus home. My Dad dropped me off in Westwood so I could avoid waiting for two busses in the heat, and when I got out of the car, I put Z to work. I walked with her through part of the UCLA medical plaza and used her on the stairs. I still feel very pleased to see people make room for me when I am walking with the cane; it relieves my anxiety and plants seeds of a new kind of confidence.
When I got to the cross walk, I decided to rely on Zelda entirely and consciously forced myself away from my old habit of staring at the ground to make sure I wasn’t going to trip on the curb. I pulled out all of the techniques that Tamar taught me, except for flagging the cane; I am just not ready to do that. I was feeling pretty good about myself, crossing the street safely and anchoring my cane at the opposite curb to make sure that I didn’t fall, and then it happened; Zelda’s first contact with a stranger.
He came out of nowhere, of course; everything comes out of nowhere when you have RP. He must have been rushing down the sidewalk and then all of a sudden, I move Z to the right and she connects with his foot. I didn’t hit him hard; I am not an aggressive swinger, but I felt relieved that she found him before I got in another collision with an impatient stranger. He barely paused and didn’t acknowledge what had happened, but I was actually pretty excited about having an encounter which defines a big part of the reason I am learning to use the cane; I got to feel Zelda working for me exactly as I needed her to.
Feeling pleased and a bit nervous, I crossed another street to the bus stop and waited with Z still unfolded. This was a first; I usually fold her up when I get to the bus stop.
I have had a few firsts in the past couple of weeks; fairly small and subtle, but firsts just the same. I finally took Z with me when I was out with a friend. My stepmother saw Z for the first time. The girl we see most often in our local pet shop was there the last time I went in with Z and I had my first chance to explain why I was using the cane, and I ran into(not literally, thanks to Z)another one of our neighbors while I was out walking with Zelda.
I am ready to resume my lessons with Tamar and I am glad to have had this week off; I think we both knew I needed a break. I also had to get in an application for a writing fellowship that will hopefully help me transform “Stories from the Edge of Blindness” into a proper book.
This week, Tamar comes to my house so she and Z and I can stroll around my neighborhood. I also joined the gym – again – after having to admit to myself that it isn’t safe for me to go hiking alone, even though it is my preferred form of exercise. Zelda in the gym is going to be a huge first; I wonder how all the beautiful, young, fit hollywood types are going to handle a chubby, middle-aged, tattooed blind lady. Should be interesting.