May 6, 2021
Last Saturday, R and I went to my Grandma’s to celebrate her birthday and eat the largest chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. During the visit, I had the idea of looking at childhood photos my Grandma had of me. We looked at photos of me up to when I was about 16.
Seeing my younger self in those photos reminded me of how much I’ve changed over the years. I used to be a freckled, hazel eyed, and non-disabled baby boy. I had a body that could walk and run, a body that could play cops and robbers, and a body that could go on hikes in the woods. I remember the sense of magic I had during childhood; everything was new and everything seemed possible. I was safe and unencumbered, my imagination running wild. I remember believing that I would get into Hogwarts and be a student with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I didn’t realize how non-magical being in my body would become.
The pictures I saw of myself at 12, when I stopped walking, show how much my body had changed. I no longer looked like an agile, healthy kid. I had become a full-time wheelchair user and a bit of a chonky boy. I didn’t dislike my body, but I had started not recognizing myself. My memories of that age are full of distraction and denial. I didn’t want to be in my body, I wanted to keep that feeling of magic... I wanted to be a professional Magic the Gathering player.
After spinal-fusion surgery at 16, I no longer could be in denial of my body. I recognize pictures of myself after this point as me. I had finally finished my metamorphosis into the body of a disabled person. I realized that I couldn’t escape my body and would have to be proactive about keeping it healthy. I had to accept that it would need more care and maintenance than a non-disabled body. I also had to accept that I would look the way I looked.
Luckily, I look pretty cute nowadays (R can attest). I love the way my body looks. Sometimes, if I’m bored, I just admire my naked body in the mirror for a while. However, I do worry about how strangers see me. I’m always embarrassed if I have to go out in public with a blanket over my legs to keep them warm. I know my style doesn’t match what is “fashionable,” which I would be if I had the choice. I don’t always like how my chair looks, it sticks out in public like a sore thumb. For this reason, I don’t go out too much and have a lot of social anxiety when I do. But, having R around helps counteract my social anxiety because our relationship proves that I’m not that out of the ordinary. R can always vouch for the fact that I’m not close to death, despite my blanket or lack of normal pants (see R’s pants post).