The other day, I wrote a blog post about the fact that one of my sighted friends wrote me an e-mail about the amazing things about having a friend who is blind. I loved that e-mail and am still collecting comments on it and will post them in this blog in the coming days. I started thinking a lot about my friends though and want to make the following observations. I am glad there are amazing things about having friends who are blind. I've been totally blind since birth and blindness is definitely a part of who I am. Sometimes I wonder, if I hadn't been born blind, what career might I have chosen? Would I have been scared to interact with blind people? It is pretty interesting to think about and wonder about from time to time. Blindness, I am certain, has helped to make me the person I am. But, it is not the only thing that has. I am a woman. I am short. I am a storyteller and music therapist. I am a generally happy person. My sighted friends and relatives become embarrassed when they forget I am blind. If I ask how to lock their car door and they say, "Push down on the red button." If they hand me a photograph to check out. If they say, "Wow look at that!" They often apologize profusely afterwards. But, I am glad when people forget. It means that my blindness is not the thing that is always in their heads when they are with me. They are thinking of me not just as, "That blind girl." But as their friend. There is such a fine balance here. I don't mind answering questions. I don't mind the curiosity of the sighted. But I don't like to be the object of pity or as if I am a project to be taken on. One time in school, a girl asked if she could walk with me to class. We talked as we walked along. I could have found class by myself. I usually did. "You're at class now Kim," she said. I felt glad that she wanted to chat with me. As she turned away, I heard her say to her friend. "There. I just did my good deed for the day." I was shocked. Had I asked her to help me find class? No. I thought maybe we were becoming friends.
Sometimes, I like to be known as the blind girl by those who can't remember names.
There was a gentleman with Alzheimer's disease who lived in a nursing home where I worked. He loved music and had played instruments all of his life. He had no memory for names. I was the Music Therapist there and he would come looking for me. I didn't have a guide dog then or I probably would have been known as, "The girl with the dog." But I have one eye that is open and I can see a little bit out of that eye. The other eye is smaller and partly closed. I tried having an artificial shell in there but it bugged me a lot. Anyway, he used to say, "Where's old one eye? I want to see old one eye." I loved that. I knew that meant that he really was looking for me. Some staff used to get mad at him for calling me that but I loved it and it made me smile every time he said it. I love all of my friends because they are my friends and I hope that I am an equally good friend to them who happens to be blind.
Storyteller, Presenter, Performer
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New blog about amazing things about being blind