*Note to new readers: When I refer to Zelda, I am not referring to my pet, child or doll, but to my white cane.
A few weeks ago, maybe a month, I rescued Zelda from her hiding place on the hat rack and I have been carrying her with me whenever I go out, but she has remained folded up and tucked safely into her case. I figured that eventually, I would encounter a situation where my anxiety about not being able to see would outweigh the anxiety looming over me about using Zelda. I have, over the past month, found myself thinking about freeing Z from her case, and even wishing I had due to a few collisions and subsequent bruising, but she stayed put…until yesterday.
Most Tuesdays, I visit my Dad and Stepmom at their house across town, and on the days when my husband can’t drive me, I often feel anxious and start procrastinating when it gets close to the time I have to leave; even more so since Zelda became a part of my life. I always thought that the anxiety was due to the thought of taking an Uber or Lyft; I see the convenience of both services, but I just don’t feel comfortable being alone in a car with a stranger. I also thought I was being lazy because the bus is a hassle, but it became clear to me that part of the reason I get anxious is because taking the bus means a greater chance that I will need Zelda. Yesterday was a gorgeous, cloudy day with chances of rain, and although I love these kind of days, they can play havoc with my vision; even though the clouds darken the sky, if there is any light at all, I need to wear my hat and sunglasses, which makes things even darker.
RP is such a tricky disease. I have night blindness and trouble seeing in dim light, but sunlight or any kind of bright light also blinds me, and hurts like hell. So, on cloudy days, I am faced with the choice of my vision being lessened by dark glasses or going without them and suffering from any amount of glare. I almost always choose the sunglasses, but my nerves get a bit jostled either way.
Yesterday, after far too much time given to agonizing, I decided to take the bus, even though I felt certain that Zelda would have to make an appearance. I walked out into the deliciously chilly day and travelled the 2 blocks to the bus stop, keeping Z in her case. I have lived in my neighborhood for a long time and have a, most likely false, sense of security when it comes to knowing the layout of the streets; in any case, I felt like I didn’t need Z to help me to the bus stop and I got their unscathed.
Although there is a bus that gets me within a mile of my Dad’s house, I usually take 2 busses because of a frightening incident that happened not to long ago; you can read about it here. But, yesterday, I was running late and I knew the traffic would be horrendous, so when the first bus to arrive was the one I don’t need to transfer from, I got on. My anxiety was now doubled; I was anxious about Zelda and watching everyone who got on the bus to make sure no one was particularly frightening.
Even though it was Halloween, the ride across town was pretty tame, and by the time I got to my stop, I felt confident that no psycho killers were going to follow me off the bus; I got off and started the mile walk to my Dad’s house. It had started sprinkling while I was on the bus, so the ground was wet and the sky had gotten darker, but still I kept Z safely tucked away. About 300 feet from the bus stop, I came to an underpass that I had to enter in order to cross the extremely busy street to get to my Dad’s neighborhood. I hesitated, but only for a few seconds, then reached behind me to get Zelda.
This was exactly the kind of situation I had been waiting for; I looked into the darkness of that underpass and I knew I needed help. I knew that having Zelda in that moment would alleviate my anxiety, and it did. I zipped through the underpass, across the busy street, and into my Dad’s neighborhood, with Zelda leading the way. I felt liberated, but more importantly, I felt confident and safe.