Girl In the City : Alma Chopra
I returned to Chicago from India on 2 May 2017, without any accompaniment! My family dropped me off at the airport in India, and I was escorted to the plane by government and airline officials. A friend of mine picked me up at the airport in Chicago.
I asked my brother upon leaving India if handicapped people traveled by themselves. He said he has usually seen people with any form of disability always travel with a caretaker. He added that my travel alone to the other end of the world was a big feat. Instead of patting myself on the back, I found myself confused. I had lived in a dorm alone, had pranced on my little blue scooter across the city when I was younger; how was this different! I feel the difference is that we allow ourselves to believe in our limitations, and thus, these achievements look more significant than usual. Yes, it was different, but I knew I could manage alone. I wanted to be self-dependent and self-reliant.
My disease has made my family overprotective. I always lived a sheltered life. While I normalized my solo travel, my family still believes it is a big deal.
Self-reliance is my adrenaline. I relish living alone! The falling is a bit painful, the bruises are annoying, but having to worry about falls is a nuisance. It gets lonely at times too, but overall I still love it! The sense of accomplishment is thrilling. I guess not many individuals, such as myself, get to have this kind of experience. I am so grateful for it, but I am afraid I will get too addicted.
This freedom comes with its fair share of sacrifices. I have gotten bruises on my knees, elbows, hips, and head, none of which I have shared with my family. Unfortunately, these were incidental falls and were bound to happen, but these are mostly superficial and will partly heal themselves with ice over time.
I remember this one particular incident. I had a bad accident on 18 May, just ten days before my birthday. I was having a great day, went to therapy, got a free ticket to a movie, and enjoyed the weather. I sat on the floor in my closet, and upon trying to get up, I slipped and cut myself in an area that bled profusely. The bleeding stopped ten minutes later, and I ended up with a cut in a very uncomfortable spot.
I will include these misadventures in the book I write about myself. I think it would make a good storyline.