Since the start of my daily ‘ticcing fits’ in October 2011 I’ve spent very little time by myself. I spend some carefully-planned and precious periods alone at the castle, but I haven’t been outdoors on my own for well over two and a half years. So it’s really exciting that in the last few days I’ve had two moments alone out and about in my city.
The first was on Tuesday. Leftwing Idiot, Will and I were on our way home after a meeting in Covent Garden. I was using my Trekinetic wheelchair which I can push by myself very easily. The boys were happily chatting to each other so I decided to move slightly ahead of them and pretend for a little while that I was on my own.
All the way from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square I wove in and out between people, negotiated crossings, and looked at anything and everything as I went. I felt incredibly happy and comfortable moving by myself through the streets. It was a sunny evening and London was buzzing with activity. Leftwing Idiot and Will’s chatter was a gentle reminder that they were still just behind me if I needed them, but otherwise I felt independent and free.
Leftwing Idiot shouted out to me at one point, and I called back telling him not to spoil the illusion. I was careful to make sure I was never so far in front of them that they couldn’t catch up with me if I got into trouble. But for ten minutes or so I journeyed alone, savouring the feeling of complete autonomy.
At Trafalgar Square I decided to join them again and we did the remainder of the journey side by side. Just then I felt a flood of emotion and my eyes filled with tears. They were tears of happiness, and made the pavement swim. Leftwing Idiot and Will, still deep in conversation, didn’t notice, and I was glad. It felt good to have had such a personal and private moment alone in my city.
The second occasion was less moving – both in the emotional sense and because I was entirely stationary. But this time I was completely alone on the street for the first time since 2011.
Leftwing Idiot and I had been on a bus together. I was heading home but Leftwing Idiot was going on to meet Poppy. It was pouring with rain and staying on the bus made sense for him, so I arranged for my carer to come and collect me from the bus stop. But she wasn’t there when we arrived so Leftwing Idiot helped me off. I watched as he got back on and the bus pulled away.
My carer arrived a couple of minutes later, but not before I was able to enjoy being totally by myself. For many people, being alone in the city might not be such a positive experience, but for me it was a real treat.
These moments, however fleeting, have given my confidence a real boost. They feel like significant landmarks and I’m really pleased to realise I can still experience the freedom of my city on my own when I want to.