by Beau Windon
A storm is coming, I feel it in my bones – breaking through my body like a broken yo-yo running down the hallway. But then … a storm is always coming and I am always a yo-yo that has lost the string that binds it to the living.
This time though, I am not alone. Yo-yos roll beside me, scared and unsure of what is going on. They’ve never broken off their string before. This is a brand new experience for them and they have no idea what to expect.
Not me. I was born in this world.
It is all I’ve ever known.
I hate explaining my conditions to people. I see the change in my value to them alter instantly. The change goes one of three ways:
- They look down on me and classify me as a liability. Any thought of giving me responsibility is struck from their list of possibilities. I am a baby they’ve been burdened with.
- They’re surprised and then delighted. Having me with them allows them to check off a box and say they’ve got diversity in their team. My insides crush into themselves as I worry about them discovering my heritage and treating me like further bonus points. My thoughts and ideas are instantly discarded as all they want me to contribute now is my marginalised experiences.
- The holy grail. They nod, say “That’s fine” and then ask me what they can do to make me feel as comfortable as possible around them. They don’t consider me as lesser than everyone else and they don’t see me as just my disability. I’m allowed to contribute just the same as everyone else.
I grew up in a time where the first and second ways were the most common reactions. Truth be told, I’m always taken off guard when someone reacts in the third way. It was so rare for so long that even though it’s becoming a more prevalent way to be treated, I’m still so shocked and appreciative when it happens. The creative fields are evolving the quickest. Probably because understanding the human condition is so deeply baked into art. In any case, I am grateful.
As Covid sweeps the world, societies planet-wide are forced to adapt to a new way of living. Yo-yos are scooped off the ground and given the resources needed to find their string. New ways of yo-yoing are experimented with, extra funding is given to ensure the now stringless yo-yos can still participate in the world of yo-yoing. The long-time broken yo-yos are on the same field as the newly broken yo-yos. All yo-yos are equal…
But not really.
The long-discarded yo-yos are now met with the harsh reality that support was there for them all this time, it’s just that they weren’t seen as being worth the effort of adapting for. But once the pandemic of string-loss began and all yo-yos were left broken, that’s when it was finally seen as time to take action. And soon the supports dry up and the hallway once again resembles the hallway of old. The same long-term stringless lie there, waiting for the supports that have been rescinded now that strings aren’t breaking as often.
Though is going back to those supports even really truly helpful?
Yo-yoing was made mildly better, but still, the long-term stringless needed more care, more attention to get to the level of other yo-yos. They didn’t get it though because this was never about equality, it was about keeping the most successful yo-yos at the top of the toybox until the broken string issues were sorted out.
I’m surprised that I’m not freaking out more in this Covid world. Perhaps my levels of anxiety were already maxxed out and just couldn’t increase any further? Or perhaps I’m just too exhausted to be more freaked out.
As a second lockdown is announced, I’m accepted into a program for disabled writers. It is nice to not to be othered for once. To have accessibility treated as the key feature. To not feel the need to apologise.
I still do.
Apologising for being myself is a core part of my identity.
It has been from youth.
I often call myself broken but that’s not true.
I was born this way and never went through any particular breaking incident so how can I be broken? No. I am fine, really. I like myself for the most part.
But I hate myself.
And that’s not a reflection on me.
It’s a reflection of this system that has been built around me, designed to exclude people like me. Designed to other us so that the majority of the population can feel a sense of elevation. People born with minds and bodies that fit the majority. People that feel entitled to a life among the wealthy elite. They say that they worked hard for what they have. Perhaps they did but it can’t be denied that they did so in a system that was designed to work for them, rather than against them.
Meanwhile impediments make themselves into my pets.
Rarely is there a thing I do where one isn’t waiting for me to wrap them in an embrace and let them slow me down.
But that’s just how it is.
A storm is coming, I can feel it building in my brain.
It is a Monday and like the thousands of Mondays that have come before – a storm is coming. Reliable as ever. As it is every Tuesday through Sunday.
Sometimes I stare across the road and see the people that live outside of the storm. They go about their lives without a care in the world. I stop and stand under cover for a few minutes, and then rush to the next undercover area trying not to get wet.
The stormless get to work in a crisp twenty minutes, it takes me four hours.
A storm is coming, I am totally okay with that.
I live in the storm and I adapt to weather it.
Beau Windon is a neurodivergent writer of Wiradjuri heritage based in Naarm. His greatest loves are YA and speculative fiction, meaning he spends most of his time writing quirky stories about quirky people in quirky situations. His current writing focus is on developing his hybrid memoir (quirky stories about his quirky self). He’s passionate about creating greater awareness about neurodiversity and mental health issues.
Next: After the Storm by Tara Calaby