La Lucha the scooter
In May 2000, I bought a scooter. For years I'd heard, "Why don't you get a scooter?" My answer was, "I want to stay on my feet as long as possible." At that time a scooter symbolized the inevitable downward spiral of my disability. I wanted to hold off as long as I could. But "holding off" was starting to "hold me down." More and more activities and places were being transferred to my list of impossible feats of endurance. Besides I wanted to be part of the 4-day OAS (Organization of American States) protest demonstrations in Windsor, Ontario in early June. No way could I manage that just using windchime walker! It was time to get off my feet and onto some wheels.

After extensive online research coupled with the good fortune of finding a scooter store nearby where I could actually try different models, I purchased an Amigo RT scooter. It didn't hurt that this particular scooter came in "Majestic Purple"--the color of 80% of my dresses, skirts and tops. In fact, in my San Francisco neighborhood I'm sometimes known as "The Purple Lady". Well, that seemed a good sign.

I'd expected to wade through the usual feelings of loss and grieving I'd felt every time I "progressed" to a new assistive device, but they were nowhere to be found (or felt). All I experienced was the joyous feeling of freedom! To be able to go where I want when I want. And though my scooter is too heavy for me to assemble/disassemble when transporting it by car, that has not yet been a problem. My dear husband--who helped me pick it out--says, "I will never complain about putting your scooter in and out of the car. I just wonder why we waited so long to get it!" Almost every day I scoot around our community that, happily, is very  scooter-friendly terrain...except that this summer's sewer replacement construction has certainly tested my scooter's ability to handle gravel, grass and poorly-graded sidewalks.

I was so excited I couldn't sleep the night the scooter arrived. My mind buzzed with ideas for decorating this new addition to my "creatively disabled" life. After all, windchime walker was collaged and adorned with altar objects before I'd owned her 24 hours. The next morning I set to my artistic task. From the front basket I hung: 1) a blue-to-green fabric dreamcatcher created by a Detroit artist friend in the late 80s, 2) a ritual braided headband with purple and black feathers (made by Ruth Barrett, a Diannic priestess I often see at women's music festivals), 3) a marble hanging with the earth painted on it (my dear friend J.P.'s last gift to me before he passed with AIDS in 1994), and, naturally, 4) a set of San Francisco windchimes! Our neighbor J.F. adapted his daughter N.'s pink horn from her first Fisher Price tricycle (she turned 13 this summer!) to put on the front. As a final touch, my sweet E.D.added a red strobe bike light for safety. All in all, she's pretty darn spiffy!

Naming was my next task. "The scooter" was too generic a term for a companion that was already changing my life. Firefly seemed to suit. It combined the energies of air and fire that seemed to emanate from her way of being in the world. But I soon discovered the scooter already had a she would tell me in her own time and place.

It happened on Monday of the OAS demonstrations. I'd been on the scooter exclusively since Friday's teach-in at the University of Windsor, through Saturday's Capitol Theater teach-in downtown, then Sunday's huge rally/parade (see photo), and now at the candlelight vigil in front of the riot police-guarded barricades down by the river. My friend, Julia, and I started walking/scooting to the coffeehouse where a gang of us older activists were meeting to warm up (cold rain was falling) and share stories. Julia has lived and worked in Spanish-speaking communities for over 25 years, both in Mexico and Detroit. Spanish is now her primary language. She said, "Ah, Patricia (pronounced, Patreezia), so now you and your scooter are en la lucha! "  In the struggle for justice and freedom. And so La Lucha got her name.

Drawing of me on scooter: ©2001 Maggie Szczepanska.
OAS demonstration photo by: Conrad Reitz

Next: "How do you do it?"
Back to Creative Disability
Return to Windchime Walker's home page