Having been fed, migraine-medicated and Nephew-tight seat belted in, I rolled out my front door and eyed the sky with suspicion. I wondered what passing rain cloud would baptize my new controller or douse my new shoes. I gripped my standard take-along washcloth in one hand and pushed my joystick forward with the other. No time to think what could go wrong. Time to go.

I decided to brave the unstable elements and retrieve a pre-made gluten free cake from Whole Foods for my coming birthday Monday. I never really leave this task up to any one because 1) my GF belly is super particular, thus requiring much label reading and fact checking before I purchase/eat anything and 2) these GF sweets require signing away your prized collections as well as acquiring a 2nd mortgage. So it is generally de facto decided that I get my own cake.

The long bus ride to Aventura and a subsequent bus change to a Broward bus to get to Whole Foods was uneventful. Thankfully. I was feeling good, if a bit somber from the incident in Orlando, my thoughts and prayers with all those involved.

I did my shopping, paid for my groceries and began the long journey home.

The Broward bus having arrived at the Aventura bus hub, I eye the 183 way at the beginning of the line of buses ready to pull off. I pray the chatty Broward bus driver would hurry and let loose the wheelchair restrains so that I can try and make my connecting bus.

As I hear the last hook fall to the bus floor with a dull thud, I thank her and bolt for the bus door, I shimmy down the ramp and break out full tilt through the throng of lazy Sunday passengers. I glide near a slow walking family, brushing against the soft hand of the mother. I exert wind pressure against a woman and her voluminous bag, sending her a bit off kilter. Closing the distance between where I was and where I wanted to be, I imagine that my pint-sized legs, if they could, would be punching like pistons against the pavement, forcing air up my nose, lungs burning to keep my body going, heart pounding with anticipation.

And these imaginings make me feel alive, as I near, surpass, turn back and lock eyes with the driver blurting out, “I’M RIDING!” while driving the front of my chair into the bus doorway, preventing the doors from closing on me. She smiles and acknowledges me with a nod, simultaneously activating the ramp.

It is at this time that he comes into view. This short statured, fidgety mess of a Man. His beard unkempt, his clothes needing three good washings, his high still in effect. The ramp is deployed, the driver setting up my spot and this Man, bypasses me and walks up the ramp onto the bus. I watch from the outside as the driver motions him off. He fidgets some more and finally complies.

I make my wide turn and begin to back up, when quick as lightening, he jumps behind me and I feel his heavy hands hit the handles, sending a jolt through the frame of my chair. I immediately tense, not knowing what his intent was. I fill my lungs and firmly, steadily, clearly, loudly say,

Near by passengers perk up, standing at alert. I stop. Waiting for him to move or for me to decide to bolt or for something to happen. And in an instant, I feel his hands release my chair handles. I turn and glare at him, his dirty palms open and facing me. He backs away from my chair and I turn back around, quickly backing onto the bus, into my designated spot.

Everyone on the bus is tense and quiet. The bus driver greets me, her voice soothing my nerves. Something about her perfume letting me know that I am safe, while the short Man fidgets outside. He tries to come on without paying and the driver asks him to leave. He begins loud talking her, walking up on her like he wants to hit her.

And they are next to me, and I am already partially tied down. And I am wondering how far over I can lean if things come to blows. I am closing my eyes. I am looking down in my lap. I am dialing 9-1-

And the bus driver comforts me, while the Man goes to sit down. She says that she will be right back. And she leaves, frantic to find a security guard or the transit supervisor, as the Man, fidgets some seats behind me. I am on alert. Not sure where his high has taken him, my finger hovering over the final 1. And he bolts off the bus, looking over his shoulder once at the driver before disappearing into the thinning throng of waiting passengers.

I find myself breathing for the first time in some minutes. My finger moving away from the phone pad. My guard at ease. The bus driver comes back and looks at me, silently securing the rest of the tie-downs to my chair, her perfume reminding me once again that I am safe.

He probably wouldn’t have hurt me. But I can’t know that. It is a helpless feeling to sense danger and not be able to properly defend yourself.

But I’m alive and I am thankful to be able to celebrate another birthday <3

#Miamistruggles #Hightimes (Thanks Monica)
#TrueStoriesOf2016 #DisabledChronicles