One of the hardest decisions that disabled people make on a day-to-day, non-catastrophic, first-world-problems basis involves baggage.
What handbag can we carry without over-tiring ourselves or getting to work without our inhalers?
What suitcase could we manage if we couldn’t find any help to beg or buy?
Jacket or no jacket? and if jacket, will we be hot and if we are hot, will we be able to tie the darn thing around our waists without impeding our ability to ambulate?
In preparing for this trip-on-a-shoe-string, I used a gift card to buy a small backpack which I thought I could use as a purse. Fortunately, I did a test run for a few weeks and discovered that (a) I couldn’t reach it when it was on my back because I don’t have that reach-around movement; and (b) I couldn’t convert it to a cross-body without a field modification. I made the field modification but couldn’t get it to hang straight and had difficulty opening it.
Back to square one.
My normal computer bag flops too much to carry very far without tiring and falling over sideways, though it has the advantage of converting to a backpack. In the end, I used the famed Barcelona bag for a computer bag and over-packed the larger of my two suitcases. As a pocketbook, I found a lovely saddle-bag at a secondhand shop which has a crossbody strap.
I thought I had it made in the lovely California sunshine.
The handbag grew heavy over the first few days. I relieved it of my tablet and charger, which I tucked in the Barcelona bag. But that, too, plagued me. Its shape required the laptop to be vertical, which centered all of the weight on a single spot in my shoulder and caused the weirdest episodic spasticity imaginable — and I have some really weird spasticity by all opinions, professional and otherwise.
What to do, what to do.
On my first visit to Menlo Park, I spied a trendy “Goodwill Boutique” and sauntered into the store, just browsing. Aha! Jimminey Christmas. A second-hand computer bag. Nineteen dollars. Done and done, along with a pair of Ann Taylor kahkis, new-with-tags, $15, perfect for the next day’s medical appointment in warmer-than-I-anticipated weather.
This allowed me to relegate the Barcelona bag to carrying toiletries, medicine, and extra clothes for the hostel in-and-outs and the second bags-fly-free going home. This new Boden bag becomes the computer/tablet/chargers tote which can be carried onto the plane.
Independent mobility, take two, and away we go. Now ask me how delightedly I crowed when I found its original price online — ten times what I paid at the fancy Goodwill in Menlo Park! (Or was it Palo Alto….??)
It’s the nineteenth day of the thirty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. I’m stubborn, I’m old, and I’m disabled; but I’m not complaining. Life continues.