Still Climbing

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I hate stairs; that’s my third thought nearly every day. The first: thank you God for another day. The second is usually how do I feel today? Then, after I stretch, shower and dress for work, I think I hate stairs as I make my way down the two flights to my living, then next one to my front door and the last two down to the sidewalk outside my townhouse. Usually by the time I make it to the concrete something hurts, my hip, my left leg, my left knee or left foot. Still, I shake it off and walk the few blocks to the bus. When it comes, I climb three more stairs and plop down in a seat. I don’t get too comfortable because less than seven minutes later I’m at Newark Penn Station and another huge flight of stairs. I get 22 minutes to rest before I hit the stairs in New York Penn Station up to the main concourse then up to the number one train. Six minutes later, I reach my subway stop at 66th street and I go up on more flight of stairs.

Thankfully, all day at work I walk on level ground. Well somewhat even if you don’t count the puckered carpet, loose access panels and rises before the doorways. Nonetheless, my legs get time to regroup before my reverse commute. However, on the way home, I add the dreaded stairs to the Newark subway.

After a particularly long day at work today, the second with an excessive workload, I wasn’t looking forward to walking any stairs at all. I wanted a peaceful and relaxing trip home. So, I slowly made my way down the first then second flight of stairs to the light rail in Newark Penn Station. Just as my entire left side began to throb, the beep that indicates the train doors are about to close started. In a flash a wheelchair sped into the car. The driver of it, a woman, backed into the handicap space and locked herself in. I was so tied I didn’t even look at her until I noticed people staring.

I heard someone whisper, “why does she have on high heels and she can’t walk?”

I looked over and noticed the woman had bright red heels resting on the foot pedals of her wheelchair. She caught me looking and we shared and awkward smile. I wanted to tell her I understand why she was wearing those shoes. It was the same reason I chose to walk the stairs I hate everyday; because it’s a sense of normalcy. It’s something we can control unlike the disability robbing us of mobility. And, because it’s a way to obviously show that despite whatever our ailment maybe we are still vital human.

I climbed the stairs when I got off the train, still hating every step but grateful that I have the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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