The television drones in the back ground. I’m bored, sitting on the couch of my parent’s living room, watching TV, but nothing good is on. I sigh, flipping through channels.
Sun sifts in through the large living room window warming my skin textured by the blaring AC. The neighborhood is quiet in the middle of the day. I adjust the pink strap to the swimsuit top that I live in during the summer. Contemplating soaking up more rays, something finally captures my attention on TV.
It’s an episode of Law & Order. The word “blind” rivets me to the couch as I wait to see how blindness will be incorporated into the episode. I tense, expecting the worse.
Since training at the Iowa Department for the Blind, my hypothesis that being blind doesn’t have to stunt my life has solidified into truth. I am living proof that training with nonvisual tools and methods allows me to pursue life once again. Unfortunately, the entertainment media rarely depicts blind people in a positive light, unless we’re portrayed as amazing super-humans for accomplishing things like walking, cooking and enjoying leisurely pursuits like sports or art. So I expect a negative stance on blindness from Law & Order. I’m not disappointed.
A man loses his sight after years of mismanaging his diabetes and blames his doctor’s clinic for not “saving” his vision. Wanting to avenge his father, the son hacks into the clinic’s computer system, creating a virus misreading glucometer levels, causing patients to lapse into insulin comas. The crafty detectives eventually figure out what is happening, and once on the stand, the blind father breaks out in an intense courtroom monologue worthy of Shakespeare. What a predicament.
The man grows angry as he outlines his pitiful existence:
TV: I’m blind. I can’t dial a phone on my own anymore.
I pick up my mobile and dial Ross, my fiancé. The scene in the episode is quiet except for the blind man ranting about how horrible his life is.
“Hey, Baby, what’s up?” He asks when picking up.
“Just bored. Watching this ridiculous episode of Law & Order. What did you guys do today?”
TV: I’m stuck, unable to provide for my family.
Ross was hired as a consultant for the Kansas Rehabilitation Services for the Blind and will be inTopekafor the summer. Ross and Mitch, both blind, have been brought on to help move the center in a more progressive and positive direction. Weeks into consulting, they are already impacting students in training, and some are revolting, demanding training affording them true independence.
TV: I can’t go to a restaurant alone anymore.
“Not much. Mitch and I went to lunch at a local pub. Discussed strategy for work,” he says.
TV: It’s dangerous for me to simply move around my house.
“Cool. I’ve been looking at more places we can move into once you’re back fromTopeka. There are a few options. It will be nice to finally have our own home.”
“Great. Near bus lines?”
TV: I can’t even walk on my own anymore outside. Everything is a danger.
“Yeah. I’ve made it clear we can’t be further than a few blocks from a bus stop. Mom’s been helping me look at places.”
“Sounds good. I miss you.”
I smile, that warmth radiating from my center. Suddenly I miss him. For once, I eagerly await the close of summer. “Love you.”
“Love you, Babe.”
On TV, The blind man’s tirade forces the jury to pause. The creators of L & O are trying to stress that this case is no longer black-and-white—they want us to think. This man has been debilitated, limited. His son was simply defending his poor, defenseless blind father; who wouldn’t do the same? Being blind is way worse than slipping into a coma or dying, right?. Oh the tragedy of being blind.
TV: You don’t know what this prison is like. My life is over.
I snort. The entertainment media should really do its research.
I flip the TV off, tossing the remote onto the couch. I grab my towel, reapply sunscreen and grab my white cane. Taking the back door, I search around my parents’ large yard for the baby pool I’ve filled with water so I can stay cool and hydrated while sun bathing. I know it’s in the center of the lawn near the garage. I step off the patio tapping my cane from side-to-side, walking in its general direction. Finding the plastic pool with my cane, I step in, reveling in the sun’s healing warmth.
Outside, feeling free and fantasizing about my life to come with Ross, a smile expands across my face.