Friday, May 18, 2007

Heading down the highway...

So, tomorrow M. and I head down the highway to go see Kenny Chesney. She's so amazingly excited she can't sleep.

I might have a bead on some meet and greets from the daughter of a family friend. I HATE doing those sort of things and pulling those sort of strings; it feels sleazy, to come out of the woodwork like this. But, well, this friend grew up in the same town, we shared a loved aunt (actually my mom's cousin's wife, but we called her an aunt. She was this friend's actual aunt). So our histories (but not our present lives) are pretty entangled. When she moved out of her house, my mom loaned her my bed. She rode my horse in horse shows. I shouldn't feel so guilty, but I do. I will do this for M, though.

I know that just going to the concert will make M's year. If she gets to MEET him, wow! But I haven't mentioned it to her and I didn't really plan much in advance. If it happens, it happens. But I know how I get sick to my stomach and anxious when I get meet and greets to meet my favorite band. (Queensryche, if you don't know already.) And I know how I'm crushed if they don't come through. So I'm just letting the fates decide.

I'm a bit excited and a bit terrified.

First of all, strange city. Strange vehicle because I have her mini-van, not my car. I have driving issues anyway and I didn't really start driving until my mid 20s.

The reason I have the mini-van is so she can have her electric wheelchair.

She can walk without it. But it's to sort of mark her as someone with a disability, someone who should not be pushed around in the scramble for seats, someone who can't handle many steps to her seat (I get vertigo in the balcony seats in some places. She has vertigo and off as a medical condition. Yeah, she doesn't need to be in bleachers.) It also, as I've mentioned before, determines that she gets crappy seats. The front row seats are out if you can't take the pushing and shoving that comes with a concert. But without the wheelchair, no protection.

Tonight, hotel trauma is getting to me. She wanted an indoor pool so she could swim. I spent hours trying to find a place on the internet that didn't land us in a part of town where I felt unsafe. It had to be easy to get to, both from the interstate we're coming in on and the concert venue. It had to have an accessible bathroom because after a few falls, bathtubs give her panic attacks. (I mean, really, who wouldn't panic after being trapped in your own bathtub?) I looked at pictures of the pools and tried to decide which ones had big wide steps and which ones had those flimsy backwards ladders. I tried to make this awesome.

What I ended up with was nada. Couldn't find a thing. Everything started selling out.

So I called expedia. They couldn't get me an accessible room, but we did get one in a hotel where everything is accessible by elevator, no steps. The bathtub might be traumatic and the swimming thing isn't going to happen. It is 5 miles past the venue and involves interstate changes. But we will live.

Accessible isn't having one room in the hotel. It's having choices of which hotel, of deciding that you might want to swim there as well. I haven't realized how much M's choices are limited. And when she takes the chair, they are limited even more.

So, yeah, I'll play the "please come be nice and meet the poor disabled girl" card at this concert. It's only now that I'm realizing what a heroic effort it takes for her to even GET to the concert -- and she is only mildly cognitively and physically impaired. If her life can give her the legally-blind card, the life-threatening seizures card, the removal of half her brain card, the the hand she can't move, tremors in the other, the vertigo, the schools that didn't teach her, the services that don't work for her, the drive to be independent but the lack of support to make it happen, then goddammit, I'm playing the disability card for her on this one. I don't care what damage I'm doing "the cause."

She deserves this concert.
She deserves a meet and greet.

She deserves front row and blowing kisses to Kenny and to be able to walk without fear of falling and to be able to drive her own van and to live independently. But since I can't give her any of those, I hope that friend of the family can give her the meet and greet. At the least, I can let her be 21 and hysterically happy in an audience of 20,000 worshiping at the feet of her chosen rock (well, country) star.

I hope, some day, that she learns happiness (and concerts and independence) aren't anyone's to give her, but hers to take. But for now, I just want us to have fun.

And me not to wreck her mini-van.

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