Healing Chat Up

Yesterday I wrote about the tears I shed on my journey to work.

Tonight on my way home, things couldn’t have felt more different. I felt energized, happy and steady in a way that I can’t put into words.

And the reason for this? An evening in the warm inclusive embrace of Heart n Soul, where I spent a few hours in the company of Liz Carr and had the opportunity to share my experiences as a disabled artist openly, honestly and joyfully with other disabled and non-disabled people.

jessliz

Liz and I were in conversation as part of Heart n Soul’s Chat Up series. We talked about a wide range of topics including disability history, favourite biscuits, our best chat up lines, awkward wheelchair moments, feeling safe, cats, cuts, crying, and lamp-posts.

Our conversation, brilliantly hosted by Heart n Soul artists Tilley and Dell, was largely unplanned. It flowed naturally, and was enriched by lots of questions from the audience.

I get interviewed a lot but rarely by another disabled person, let alone one who’s had such a big impact on my understanding of disability and on my confidence to pursue a career as a performer.

The big difference about being interviewed by someone with a shared lived experience was that I felt no pressure to educate or explain. With Liz I didn’t feel on my guard – I knew she’d ask some cheeky questions but I also knew my identity wouldn’t be called into question.

As a disabled person it’s rare for me to feel completely relaxed in any public space – I’m always wary about the next barrier.

Disability-led events often provide a break from this tension. Liz described it as being like ‘coming home’, and I totally related to that. So much can be left unsaid because of our shared understanding.

There was plenty of humour, but some more serious and reflective moments too. I talked about crying in the cab yesterday, and Liz spoke about the feeling of ‘urgency’ she had in her need to create positive change.

The Chat Ups are never recorded. That’s to make sure everyone feels that they can be honest and open. But afterwards I found myself wishing our conversation had been recorded.

Afterwards Leftwing Idiot said, ‘It’s rare that I find myself regretting other people not being somewhere, but there are so many people I wish could’ve experienced tonight.’

Tonight’s conversation has healed the bit of my soul that’d been rubbed raw by recent experiences where my body or support needs have been problematised.

As I settle down in bed, I feel lighter.

My tics clearly do too because they’ve been goading the lamp-post again:

“Lamp-post, I’m lighter than you are.”
“Lamp-post, I’m glowing with possibilities, are you jealous?”
“Lamp-post, shall we form a lightheaded support group?”

Related tics

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