I broached the subject of my health (or lack of it) in my recent post, All the diodes down my left side…; but left the social aspects untouched.
When people meet me – I was going to say: “and when they don’t know how ill I am”; but this also applies, in reality, to many of those who see, or know about, my walking stick and my hearing aids, etc. – they (still) judge my look, my cover: as most of my physiological impairments or differences are well-hidden – after years of hard-earned practice. Parts of me are, like the curate’s egg, though, “excellent”. However, it is those bits of me that are “bad” – and that would define me under the still dominant medical model of disability – which most people Fosbury-flop to their conclusions about: especially as those “bits” are, on the whole, so invisible.
When you set up home in a new place (especially if that location is an unknown, surprising delight), it too is a thing of an undiscovered quality and quantity.
How do you therefore find out about its hidden defects; how it differs from presentation or perception; what lies beneath? Do you visualize what is long-lost; and stare lovingly at twee old pictures of (what is now) your bygone village?
Imagine you are the new resident of (let’s call it something trite, like) Manor Close (leading to Ridge Way, and Furrow Cul-de-Sac, perhaps?). Do you even know that the village (its spirit and/or community) hates where you live; and fought long and hard to stop you moving here? Or do you accept (or ignore the fact) that all new housing developments – especially in what was countryside (which, basically, means every house ever built, of course…) – are (initially) despised; and its residents tarred with the same spite? Perhaps you put it down to NIMBYism (thankfully, mostly absent from Tysoe…); and are grateful for the lovely view, past the ridge, towards Oxhill, from your conservatory?
What if you did know all this, though? Would you feel guilty? Would you still have moved there (the house, is, after all, a fait accompli; and someone has/needs/wants to live there…)? How do you pay penance (if at all…)? Do you help fight the next development that comes along? Does this make you two-faced…?
I honestly don’t know the answer to any of these questions – although, usually (again, with “years of hard-earned practice”), I am pretty good at putting myself in other people’s sneakers… – and truly hope they remain rhetorical. But, to be honest, I don’t want to assume that I could know….
It would be easy to make assumptions, though; and imagine that we have that uncanny ability to know what other people (would) think and feel. It’s an easy – but, perhaps, well-concealed – heffalump trap.
When you look at me, do you stumble, headlong, into the same deep, dark place, I wonder…?