As my avid Twitter followers (LOL like they exist L, dream on) may know, I spent this weekend with Elm, who lives relatively near me in the grand scheme of things. (I mean, she lives in England, which is automatically significantly closer to me than, like, Vietnam.) She stayed for the whole weekend, and it was a great couple of days, so thank you Elm for that.
However, I want to focus on a couple of other things, not necessarily related to Elm’s fabulousness, which were … uh … fabulous this weekend. Fabulous can never be over-used, so that’s good.
1. My guiding skills.
I am familiar with my local area, my town, and have been for quite a while now. I say this, and I suspect you’re rolling your eyes: ‘Duh, L — who isn’t?’
Well, a lot of blind young people — specifically those who are completely blind (although I’m not stereotyping) — don’t know their local area so well; it’s more difficult when you can’t see anything, and without the right support and professionals delivering that support, it can end up being an area which is just forgotten. Luckily, I know my area quite well, through a mix of specialist support and do-it-yourself rout learning on my part: I’m proud of that though.
On Saturday, I had to walk to the station using a route that I don’t use often; I probably last used it 6 months ago, and so wasn’t all that confident. When I did it in record-time (weren’t you aware station-bound running was an Olympic sport now?), I was proud. However, when I successfully guided Elm back from that same station to my house, baring in mind it was the second time I’d done it in 6 months, I literally felt so proud of myself. Not only had I, a completely blind person, guided another completely blind person oor about a mile, but I’d done it on a route that I wasn’t all-too-confident with myself, and hadn’t freaked out in the meantime.
2. My spontaneity
The town centre was an area which I received support in learning how to get around; it’s a messy town centre, and often gets extremely busy. The one thing I’ve always lacked is not necessarily the skills needed to navigate this area, but the confidence in myself, and the knowledge that I can do it.
I decided that, after picking up Elm from the main station in town, we would go to Costa Coffee (a favourite of mine) in the shopping centre. Now, not gonna lie — I was shit scared. It’s one thing getting yourself into a pickle in town, but taking responsibility for someone else, who has absolutely no knowledge of the area? That’s 100 times scarier.
Since I’d last been, the high street has changed slightly; a minor change in your eyes, but a major one in my (non-existent) ones. There were flower stands outside a pub window — beautiful, i’m sure –, but I usually use a feature of that pub window to enable me to find the point where I cross the road. Consequently, I couldn’t find it, but a member of the public asked if we were OK, and I asked them to help me find it. I had the confidence to do that, and to subsequently get us to Costa.
And I’m proud of that — really, really proud.
These probably both sound like little things, and in honesty, they are. But the fact that I did them, and did them well, makes me so proud of myself, and boosts my self-confidence just that little tiny bit more. And, eventually, those little tiny bits begin to add up…