I started a Free Writing course to enhance my skills recently and decided to merge my recent tutoring “factor” into my work and my publishing. Once a week I am tutoring a wonderful college student in English and Math and while I’m helping her, it is really helping me. She has a journal where her writings are kept and I made her a promise that I would journal right along with her. So I have confidently listened to Wallace Stegner, completed my first reading assignment and I’m ready to complete my first entry.
100. If you could trade places with any other person for a day, who would you like to be and why? (parameters are two pages, double spaced, so I moved it here from my docs)
If I could be anyone for just one day, I would be my daughter, Jordan. There has to be a catch. There is always a catch. SHE gets to be me for the same 24 hour period. The reasoning is fairly obvious to most but with a twist. Jordan is a double amputee, confined to her wheelchair and has limitations in her upper body extremities to make her life even more fun. She has slower brain functioning, so some tasks are difficult and she passes urine and bowel very differently than the rest of us. She has never walked, skated, danced by herself or with a partner. Because she cannot feel below her waist she has never felt her most private spaces or enjoyed seeing all of herself as we do, or if your me, maybe not so much.
I want to be her for a day so SHE can feel what a leg feels like when you put it over your head. She needs to feel what your toes feel like when you slide them into high-heeled shoes or a fuzzy pair of slippers on a cool night. To run up a flight of stairs or simply step over the dog who is always in her way. To walk to the chicken coop and grab a chicken egg and feed the rabbit. To get on a skateboard, sit on a regular chair, curl up in a blanket and take a real shower. I always think about the things she misses because she can’t do what most of us don’t even think about. Grabbing the mail. Sitting in the front seat. Wearing flip-flops and chasing after her sister into the basement. Playing hide and seek and tennis in the Fall, not just picking up the balls for everyone else with a grabber. Feeling the sand between her toes. Painting her toe nails over and over.
I think you get it. I’m sure you do. I want more too though. I want to feel like what she feels like every day. While I wish that she could do more and be more, I have always wondered what it truly must be like to be… Jordan. The closest I ever got was having my spinal block for a procedure and not feeling my legs for a few hours. That part was scary in itself but I wonder what it’s like to lift your body with only your arms, one of which is very weak. How frustrating is it that it takes two hours to use the restroom and shower and that doesn’t even count getting dressed and putting on makeup? Would I have the same brain function? I hope so. I really want to feel how her brain works.
I would give anything to understand how she thinks sometimes too. Why? Like some autistic children, Jordan misses social cues, doesn’t always understand simpler jokes and mis-reads or mis-interprets intentions of others. She can’t tell time, even though she tries really hard. She still loves to watch Nickelodeon and loves to see cute pictures of animals. All the time. Why? What makes her happy? She smiles all the time, really. Got to love how upbeat and optimistic Jordan always is, but why? How? I want to be her to answer these questions and really know the deepest parts of her makeup.
Realistically, I know this can never happen and only if I’m drugged to simulate slow response time or confined to see how she
would I see a bit of what she goes through, but I can dream. I bet she does too. I have a devious plan in mind. My student is coming over Sunday to study and write and Jordan has joined in, to hone her skills in English, so I’m going to have them do this journal #100 and see what she writes. Maybe that will help me understand her more. Maybe she will want to be something completely different that will throw me off track completely. That would be just like her.