I, of course, said yes. I have my new powerchair if I need it, and as any plans I may have had were derailed smoothly by a bout of the chicken pox, I wasn't planning on needing either my chair or my scooter for at least another week. Besides, my friend had an important meeting on Tuesday which she couldn't afford to miss. I was happy to help her out.
But I can't deny that it feels queer - queer in the "odd or strange" sense of the word - to know that someone else is out there, using my scooter. That scooter was the first piece of true independence I ever had, the revelation that I could sit and move at the same time. It was with me though times of great happiness and times of great sorrow. It literally propelled me through some of the most difficult moments of my life. It carried me through so many adventures during my three years of college. It got stuck in the snow, tipped over on a rocky path, and explored the far reaches of campus and town. My scooter was my chariot, my scooter has a history, and right now it feels like someone else is wearing my skin.
The title of this piece makes me uneasy, because I don't want people to make the assumption that I am defined by my wheelchair alone - of course not. I am not the human embodiment of a wheeled mobility device. But I can't deny that my scooter - and my other mobility aids, for that matter - take on sort of lives of their own by being mine. I know them all, all their little quirks and creaks. And while I"m still getting to know my new chair, I have no doubt that I'll come to know it just as deeply as I know my scooter.
So when I or someone else tells you not to touch their mobility aids without asking, when we become uncomfortable when you commandeer our wheelchairs to play racing games, when it takes us time to break in a new aid or when we cry to see our old ones go - please respect that. Because our mobility aids are not merely machines, they are part of us, intertwined with our history and our lives. Please, treat them with as much respect as you would treat us. All our lives will be better for it.