Sharper Focus

Many people dream of seeing the world. Ask vision-challenged globetrotter Amy Bovaird, and she will settle for seeing it in a little sharper focus. Follow Amy--but not too closely--on adventures foreign and domestic as she recounts tales of trips and travel.

When One Door Closes…

A Sight For Sore Eyes

The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss

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WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES…

Pouring down rain. Great! What a day for a craft and furniture sale.

“Hop in!” My brother loaded the cardboard boxes in the cab and put the two wooden drawers that held my cross-stitched Palestinian pillows and my Filipino crafts in the  back of his pick-up along with my whiteboard where I planned to write the prices.

His windshield wipers ran full speed as he backed out of the driveway and headed to the shop to pick up his rustic furniture.

We would sell our wares at a local church.

My brother’s a good guy.  He carried my boxes in and set up a table for me. I only had to wipe down my containers, unload my crafts and list my prices. Being vision-impaired has its up side!

The church had more vendors than buyers. After checking out what some of the other vendors were selling, I returned to wait.  And wait.  Finally, I had a buyer. She bought a fish bracelet.  Score! By lunchtime, I’d given exactly one business card out and sold a couple of the Filipino wares. The afternoon was only slightly better.  As the afternoon wore on, I decided to make my way over to the restroom. I grabbed my cane and set out. The dreary rain made the inside of the church  look darker and blurrier than it might have been otherwise.

The restroom is on this side of the building, I’m certain.

I slowed down, tentatively slid my cane back and forth a couple of times over the polished floor and paused.

“You lookin’ for somethin’? Can I help ya?”

I smiled in the general direction of the voice. “Yes, thanks! Just trying to find the bathroom.”  The tip of my cane was forward and doing its job, seeking some kind of crack an inch over the floor or along the wall.

“The bathroom door’s right THERE. Can’t miss it,” came the pleasant voice.

“Thanks!” I said, taking the voice literally. I leaned over and pushed there.

"There's a door here... somewhere!"

Nothing happened.

I pushed again. Harder. The door didn’t  give way at all.

Finally, I realized that I was pushing against THE WALL.

I giggled. “Oops. I won’t get very far trying to open a brick wall.”

Actually, I felt ridiculous! But I forced myself to move on as I imagined everyone staring at me.

My hands moved to the left. I groped. Finally, I felt a thin lever. The door handle. Still giggling, I turned it and disappeared into the restroom. Inside, I took a deep breath. I must have looked like a pantomimist with my hands moving over the wall like that. Only instead of wearing white make-up, I had a bright red face!

Coming back out, I had to stop. Re-orient myself. A quick question and I was off toward the vendor’s circle of tables.

I moved steadily across the room. When I heard my brother’s voice,  ”Stop. You’re back,” I knew I’d reached my table.

I folded my cane neatly and placed it under the table.

That afternoon, with few customers to distract me,  I had plenty of time to think. I learned something from taking my trek to the  bathroom. First of all, it’s really frustrating when someone who obviously sees you are navigating with a cane directs you to a location with a “RIGHT THERE.”  Where actually is ‘there?’ To the right? To the left? No wonder I was having difficulty finding it for myself! I was so ready to take all the responsibility… or the blame … for my mistake! But negotiating directions in a strange place is a dual effort. I think I have to actually overtly tell people, “I’m visually-impaired. Can you tell me where the bathroom door is?” If they hear those words, it will remind them that I can’t see THERE and need specific directions.  Then I will avoid this kind of predicament.

But sitting there with my crafts, I found the humor.  Remember that old adage, “When one door closes, another one opens…”? Today I can safely  add,  ”Or maybe, one isn’t even a door at all!”

You have just read “When One Door Closes,” © Amy Bovaird 2013.

Giving and receiving directions effectively is often an acquired skill. I know that from teaching my second language students. Have you ever been frustrated asking for directions and gotten really vague answers? Share it in the comments below!

2 Responses to “When One Door Closes…”

  • Bettie Lou:

    just made me remnember the gas station in Morocco where you got locked in…. not your fault at all, but another bathroom adventure to recall!

    • Amy:

      Ha ha! I don’t remember that one. I really do seem to collect bathroom adventures like trophies! I gotta start keeping track!

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