The piece I am going to read comes from chapter three of My Body Politic. It is the summer of 1975, about four years after my accident.  The chapter is titled “Coming Out in the West” and describes how, in that summer, I became increasingly intrigued by and attracted to other disabled people. Although I was by then an experienced wheelchair user, I was still reluctant to claim the title “disabled woman.” Though I was living on my own, my mother was looming much too large in my life. In her worry that I would get hurt again, she saw danger in everything I wanted to do, from learning to drive a car to going back to college.  I overheard her say to a friend “We have to give Simi the feeling that she is independent.” 
            I decided to move from New York City to Berkeley, California to test out the waters there. “There will still be hippies there,” I thought “and I will be at home among them, recapturing the 60's.”  I don’t think I said out loud that I hoped they would recognize me as one of them, not just see some woman in a wheelchair.
            The following story comes from my first day in Berkeley, on an excursion to the grocery store.  

            I had gone about ten blocks, zigging and zagging, when I found a store. It occupied the ground floor of a small apartment building. The front windows were filled with displays of paper towels and pyramids of canned fruit, a round tin Coca Cola sign hung over the entrance, and little bells jingled against the glass when I opened the front door.  As I pushed my cart down the aisle in front of me, picking out the ingredients for this new life, I realized that no one stared at me. Even the grocer ignored me. As the people had on the street. Might I be inconspicuous here? Could I escape people fussing and fretting over me? 
            The grocer packed my bag, and, when I asked, reached over the counter and placed it on the back of my chair. I put my sunglasses on, and donned the leather gloves I’d need for the push back home with the groceries adding extra weight to my chair. I swung the door open and went outside. But I stopped short. There on the corner, facing me, was a man sitting tall in a sporty black wheelchair. Wavy blonde hair fell down his bare back. He wore only tattered jeans and leather sandals. He was not alone. Three women swirled around him, dancing and skipping. Each woman held a container of yogurt, and each, with gusto, was throwing handfuls of the stuff at him. He answered them. He scooped up the cream from his naked chest and off his sun burnished shoulders, and lobbed it back. There was yogurt in their hair, running down each and every chest, dribbling down one woman's thigh, another's forearm. It lingered in bellybuttons, between toes, and in the spokes of his wheels. White, wet yogurt pooled on his lap.
            The women frolicked and romped on their long, nude legs. They leapt about on their bare feet. He swiveled his chair back and forth, doing a kind of wheelchair twist. He snaked in and around them, and they jumped to get out of his way. The California sun was streaming down on them and they were laughing to beat the band. 
            Maybe this was routine California street corner fare. I seemed to be the only one to take notice. The grocer had stayed inside and whoever else was out and about just walked by, as though nothing marvelous was happening. I stayed till the last minute, drinking it all in, and watched the merry band go off down the street, turn, and proceed up a rickety ramp onto the front porch of a brown house with missing shutters and twirling lawn ornaments.
            Yes, I thought, if that's disability, I can do that. He made it look fun and sexy. Not woeful and sick-like.