Superpowers: In Honor of International Day of People with Disabilities
My body says, “here is something that they never told you about us: We are a reinvention.”
My body explains that we are like the upcycled dress bought at a thrift shop in Asheville, North Carolina, when I was fourteen. Black and white plaid, A-line, stopped just above the knee. I have never felt so pretty.
It used to be a party dress from the 1950s. They cut it up and they added fun details and they made it much, much shorter. They let the seams show. “Somebody made this,” it announced. It was beautifully flawed.
My body says, “We are not broken. We are rule breakers. We are upcyclers.”
I wore that dress to my eighth grade dance. No one else had the same dress as me. Nobody had anything close. It didn’t fit in with the halter dresses and the bodycons. I looked wildly out of place. I have never felt more at home.
My body is like that dress. My body is upcycled, a recombination of genes in new ways that nobody has ever seen before. “Medically impossible” were the allergist’s words last week. I am not impossible, though. I am just previously undiscovered. My seams show.
My body says: “I like redefining possible.”
Disability is beautiful because it reinvents normal. It turns bodies upside down and shakes them out and we see a different way for them to fit together.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It does. Sometimes I look out at the next eighty years I have to live and I think “In THIS skin? You have got to be kidding.”
What if we were normal, my body and I? This is my fervent and most secret dream: What if I never had to say “chronically ill” again? Imagine. Just imagine.
But my body says “Fuck normal”.
My body says, “We belong together. I promise you, this is your home.”
Listening to a podcast last week, the host said that maybe chronic illness is an adaptation, because it slows us down. It reminds us to be present. It is, she explained, a strange kind of super power.
I ask my body what she thinks of this. Are we super?
“Listen,” my body whispers.
“They have no idea what we can do. You and I are limitless. They just don’t know it yet.”
I decide, for the first time I can remember, to trust her.