I don't ever blog about an ADA violation to whine. Honest. But there comes a time in a "new normal" when one's world can get turned upside down, and you realize that others just like you face nights like this every day of their lives. When seeing a Blake Shelton concert at The Hollywood Bowl for your husband's 50th birthday brings tears to your eyes - and not the good and sappy kind. Just because others simply don't understand how difficult disability can be.
I never knew a police officer could stand in front of orange cones with an empty lot and tell a woman her husband would have to get her wheelchair out of their car in the middle of Highland Avenue traffic on a Saturday night. That no, a disabled person could not be left off at the top of the hill near the entrance, because those darned orange cones are just too heavy to lift. He must have a busted back. Oh, wait. That's me.
I had no clue what the Hollywood sky looked like at night from a 45 degree slope, listening to a sweet man say it's all okay as sweat dripped from his brow to his coat. On his 50th birthday. A night he'd never forget. Because his wife planned it that way. When she never, ever, goes out because of the pain.
We arrived at the top of the never ending hill to where a flashlight would lead to our Our specially - selected, gotta get this right - so our night will be perfect - seats. The flashlight shed light that we had to take an elevator to the next level up. No problem. And off we went.
Trek and push. Push and trek. Ding. Level Two. Another flashlight. A hem and a haw. Another flashlight came over. They danced on our tickets light fireflies in a mating ritual. "I'm sorry, Sir. You're on the wrong level. These are the next level up."
We are used to this game. My husband now resembles a seal that's been pulled from the gut of a whale. (I know, whales don't eat seals. Just go with it.) Still telling me 'it'll all be okay'.
Push and treck. Ding. New flashlights, mumbles and firefly sex. Then one of them asks for the boss firefly to come over, while the other one pulls out her cigaret.
This can't be good.
The woman in the chair (that would be me) finally speaks, "Excuse me, is there a problem? We have disabled seats. It can't be this hard to get to disabled seats. Right?"
"Ma'am, yes, these tickets are for disabled seats. But they are another level up, and then, well, you kind of have to go down steps to get to them."
I felt the earth crumble within my core. I've been through things like this before. But never. Ever. Like This. My eyes swelled with painful tears. The kind of tears that come from a place so deep they are heated before they rise. My husband's hands wrapped around my shoulders as they began to heave.
I looked up at a girl who knew little of this world and asked her how this could possibly be? She said, "Your seats are for disabled, but for the kind of people who have a broken leg or something like that."
Something like that. I'd like something like that. That would be nice.
A man named Steve came out from a door - a pop of light in the night. His eyes understood. He handed us a special note that would us to a special row. To the front in Garden Box seats.
In a box to the right of the stage we sat with room for all that come with me. We sat in awe of how fortunate were we. Blake Shelton was in primo form as he sang our song, Honey Bee. It truly had become a night we would always remember. And before we knew it, it was time to leave.
"One sec to the Ladies Room", I rolled to the stalls. The handicapped opened. A young woman in boots and a cowboy hat shot out. She looked down. I looked up. That was all. I was too tired to care. That was nothing compared to the night that had been so far. I finished and flushed and washed and dried. Then something incredulous caught my eye. The second handicapped stall. I had to look twice. My chin hit the floor. It was being used as a storage locker. A woman rustled with garbage bags stacked around the john. A poetic bookend to our evening, I suppose, when fireflies shed a light on The Hollywood Bowl.