An outstanding adventure is brewing in my imagination. I want to ride my Vespa from Paris through Western France and down to Southern France to Nice to explore the Chagall Museum. When I was a teenager I read a whole slew of biographies of artists and scientists and noticed that many of them came into their own around 45. They made their greatest discoveries, created works that were truly unique or found it within themselves to challenge themselves in new and amazing ways.
In my case, the challenge isn't the challenge itself but navigating the myriad residual physical consequences from my two month stay in the ICU in 2000 and the major surgeries that followed. I have friends and family that are horrified that I would attempt such a feat and wonder how they could get me tailed by an ambulance with my surgeon inside. I've been said to be, "unstoppable," "resourceful," "passionate," and again let it be said, "unstoppable!"
The truth is no one is more concerned about my safety than me. It has been ten years and I've learned to adapt to a number of my disabilities in such a way that they have become hidden - sometimes hidden because my husband or a friend jumps in and helps me. This adventure is going to require extensive planning. The biggest factor may be physical training, to see if I can increase my endurance enough to make the ride possible. I will need to figure out a way to pack gear that breaks down so that I can move it and not exceed my 10-14 pound carrying limit. I will need to practice rides of various durations here to see if I would even be able to count on making it to a specific location by a reservation time. In my current life managing fatigue is an ongoing balancing act.... I will need to know in advance exactly what those limits are.
If I could learn French before going it would make the whole experience not only easier, but so much more enjoyable. This may present the biggest challenge of all. Although I seem normal to most people, my closest friends are acutely aware of the cognitive losses I've been struck with. The most maddening is one that happens to the elderly which is called lack of "word recall." It is when you sort of know the word, but you just can't think of it. This happens to everyone sometimes and me quite a bit. This makes learning or relearning a language very frustrating - but I haven't given up yet.
I have a lot to figure out. This is why I'm considering this Vespa Voyage for April or May of 2011. My plan is to record the steps it takes to make it to the voyage which may end up being harder than the actual challenge itself -- we don't yet know.
I would love to have you with me on this journey, but if you would prefer to "unsubscribe" from the email list just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will remove you, for the rest of you let's go!
Ara Lucia Ashburne is a writer, artist and director with physical and hidden disabilities. She is booking a reading tour, featuring selections from her narrative (August 10 – November 1 2011). She is also an advocate for International LGBT human rights, a social media votary, nerd lover, and food sensualist.
She divides her times between Berrien Springs, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.
You can also find her on her Facebook page at Ara Lucia Ashburne and on Twitter at @Ara_Lucia.