I was not looking for a friend. I have no friends in Newcastle – merely acquaintance’s being my partners’ friends. I only really leave the house to attend appointments or workshops. Home is my comfort zone. Home is where nobody stares, pities, or asks questions. I had noticed this unusually attractive looking woman in our workshop for a few reasons, the first being her late arrival for which I felt for her. I too was late for my first workshop for a number of reasons, however none of them really valid. Truth being that I was scared. As she negotiated her walker around the edge of the room looking for an empty chair she lowered her head apologising as people shuffled along to make room. I found myself staring with others but my stare was more so curiosity. Curiosity because of the walker. It’s not often I see someone around my age using a walker. That may sound prejudiced, but it’s not. I too use a walker at times depending on where I am and how I am feeling on the day.
Workshop concluded, I flew out the door juggling my bag as it continually knocked against my crutches. An annoyance, but nothing was going to hinder my progress as I detoured past the lift opting to hobble down the stairs instead, my bladder signalling the imminent danger of encountering what is for me the ultimate humiliation – wetting myself. I have lived this segment of horror before so I was not taking chances here where there is literally nowhere to hide. Crises over, I headed outside to re-coup and reorganise my belongings when the mystery woman approached and introduced herself – something I could not muster up the courage to do myself, and we talked. We talked about me and herself equally, seeming to find common ground quickly, and before I knew it the minutes became an hour; still standing outside long after the building had been closed and locked, reaching out for breath but never for conversation. When she suggested we could possibly meet up for coffee it was an absolute no brainer; I wish I had said it but she beat me to it; this time.
This beautiful woman, inside and out, is my closest friend now. We take long walks along the water edge, both with our walkers which inevitably delivers strange looks and comments, throwing us both into loud laughs. We sit together in a local café for hours sharing the time spent apart; reading and critiquing eachother’s writing; observing everything around us that suddenly appears to be more dramatic when we play around with trying to describe it as we would write it. Most of all, I have found someone that listens and shares; someone I can tell anything to; someone who thinks like me; a caring woman offering me strength and inspiration unreservedly, making time a hindrance. We both have a disability; we both have lives that we chose to love and live.