There are so many obstacles in life when you have mobility impairments. I find myself feeling bitter, at times, when there’s somewhere I want to go and the building is inaccessible. There are laws that are supposed to make more buildings accessible, but they aren’t always followed. One problem is with small businesses or art galleries I’d like to visit, but they’ve set up in old buildings that really can’t be safely modified for wheelchair access. I understand that. And I’d rather they be open to most people, than completely accessible.
I think everyone on the planet as gotten a taste of what inaccessibility really means from the restrictions we’ve had to live with during this pandemic. I hope it becomes part of the collective consciousness, that able-bodied people begin to identify more with people with disabilities as we move forward. Instead of getting bitter about it all, it’s a chance to learn, and to expand the way we think about limits and access.
There’s an old building down the street from me that I’ve always loved. Many, many business have opened and closed in it over the years. Most recently, it’s been occupied by Lucyja Hyyge, self described as
“Open since August 2021, Lucyja Hygge is a metaphysical gift store owned by Termaria “Maria” Tyszka; the name pays homage to Maria’s Polish mother in law (Lucyja), and the concept of Hygge – pronounced (hoo-gah)- a Danish word for creating a feeling of coziness, comfort, and well-being.”
I hadn’t called to ask them if they have a ramp in the back, pretty sure the answer would be no.
A few days ago, on a fine, spring-like day, I wheeled past, and several people were on the porch, so I asked. Maria answered no, and that she was very sorry, she wished she could get that done. I felt a little bit of bitterness tinge my heart. But they were friendly, and began to talk to me.
One of the artisans who makes jewelry for them showed me his colorful rings made with natural stones. He had ribbons around his wrist and a dreamcatcher bracelet he’d made. They were both warm and friendly. My resentment at the lack of a ramp evaporated, because friendliness is such a strong bridge builder. They looked me in the eye, didn’t try to hurry me along, and seem genuinely interested in me as a member of the neighborhood.
“I’m going to give you a gift,” Maria said and rushed back into the store.
A few minutes later, she came out with a gift bag – a box of Positive Vibes incense, a silky tapestry that matched my jacket, and a small enchanting agate mushroom. She’d taken the time to put some tissue paper in the bag, a lovely little gift that was entirely unexpected and magical. It’s a metaphysical gift store after all.
I thanked her and wandered my way home, singing.
So if you saw an older lady in wheelchair, navigating piles of broken limbs on the sidewalk from the recent storm, singing, “Wonderful World, Beautiful People,” off key and quite joyfully, that was me.
With a little accessible hoo-gah in my heart-ah.
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