My husband dropped us off after we decided on a time and a pickup spot. It was eighty-something degrees outside. We didn’t bother bringing water because it was February after all and our hands were tied up dragging a suitcase and backpack on wheels, which contained the Girl Scout cookies my daughter was out to sell. We hit the pavement selling those Girl Scout cookies, one door at a time. It’s harder for a thirteen-year-old to sell cookies than it might be for a seven-year-old, but my kid braved the hilly neighborhood anyway, determined to get some sales.
We made it through most of the neighborhood before realizing we were hot and exhausted. We called it quits for the day. When we checked the time, we realized we still had forty-five minutes before Steve would be around to pick us up. We had planned to meet him at a corner but there was no shade there and nowhere to sit. We found a shady area down the block, where he’d be able to see us. I had been walking another neighborhood that morning with my other daughter while my oldest did a booth with her dad. It had been a long day.
We must have looked homeless or lost because a little boy came up and asked if we needed any help. What a sweet kid. Cars began passing us slowly, turning around and passing us again. Our presence was alarming to some. I told my oldest I felt uncomfortable and that we should start walking. There was an apartment complex down the road in the other direction that my husband would have to pass on his way to pick us up so we decided to head that way. It wasn’t far but the heat was causing us both to feel dizzy and dehydrated. I started to cry. I needed water and I wanted my daughter to be comfortable. I was embarrassed and felt ashamed that I could not give her that. I had a weak moment.
She gave me a hug and asked me to please not cry. She was hot and thirsty too. I knew this. That’s really why I was crying. Why didn’t I call my husband or a cab you might ask? Well, I don’t leave the house enough to justify getting a cell phone of my own. I have a landline at home, which is where I work and spend most of my time. There’s no need for us to get another line, really.
We ultimately found a shady spot under a gazebo at the apartments. Whew. It was good to get out of the neighborhood and the heat. My daughter saw her dad coming down the road so we were picked up without a hitch and we all went for ice cream.
Before I had children or was married, I lived in a large city that had great public transportation. I would carry a cane when navigating my way around town to alert drivers, bus drivers, and other folks of my visual impairment. I worked downtown so I was out a lot. I was stubborn sometimes and would walk for several blocks with as many groceries as I could carry just to avoid dealing with a cab or the bus. On top of my low vision, I also struggle with social anxiety so sometimes doing this seemed easier for me.
One night I got off the bus in front of the closest grocery store to pick up some things before heading home. I was carrying about six bags that night. A car pulled up when I turned onto a residential street. It was dark and it startled me a bit. I began to walk fast. A person opened the passenger door and began running toward me. I started to run. A little girl began to call out to me so I stopped. She said "Merry Christmas" and handed me cash.
I felt so angry at that moment. I worked hard to build a career for myself. I was not in need of money. I told her I didn’t need the money and gave it back to her. Didn’t she know I worked and earned a good living? I was independent and had my own place? I was in my prime living my life by design. I was doing my thing. She assumed I was in need. Was it mean of me to direct my anger at this child? Maybe. She had to learn her own lesson that day. Maybe I should have been gentle with her. Whoops.
Of all the drawbacks of having low vision, not driving is the most difficult to deal with. I never knew how much so until I became a parent. I think my husband struggles with this as much as I do. Without him, we don’t get to go anywhere now that we live in the country. But, we’re right where we want to be and our family is tight. That’s what truly matters at the end of the day. Stay cool guys and don’t ever give up.