I moved to Chicago a little over four and a half years ago which oddly feels both like it was just yesterday and also a lifetime ago. To say I (and my parents) were a bit nervous about such a move would be a rather large understatement. It was my first time living alone… ever (I always had roommates or lived in a dorm situation). First time being on my own as a disabled woman and manual wheelchair user. First time living in a busy “downtown” urban environment. Needless to say, when I officially moved into my new humble abode, my Mom was generous enough to spend that first full week helping me get settled complete with numerous freezing treks to and from the nearby Bed Bath & Beyond and local grocery stores (I brilliantly moved in the middle of winter). During one of those treks to Trader Joe’s, Mom added a little orchid plant to our shopping cart saying it would “help bring a bit of life to the place.”
Naturally, she wasn’t wrong and that little orchid found it’s home on my desk where I saw it day in and day out, it’s delicate white flowers a little reminder of that first week in Chicago and the start of my next life adventure. Sadly those flowers, so paper thin and pristine, didn’t last forever. A few months later, their once vivid cream color began to fade as the petals began to wilt and slowly fell, leaving behind a solitary stalk and some lonely green leaves. Yet that orchid plant continued to sit on my desk. It sat there while I studied for my first medical school exam. It sat there when I got a kitten and those lonely leaves naturally received a few punctures. It stayed on that desk for those first two years of being in my first Chicago apartment, not blooming since its first appearance but just “being.”
I moved to a different building and that unflowering orchid plant made the move with me. I continued to water it (with a respectable amount of organized frequency) and it continued to grow, sending out new leaves while allowing the old to wither and die off. Year three and nothing. Still alive, still being watered, still receiving occasional teeth punctures in the leaves, but still no blooms. Year four and nothing. We’re talking 1400+ days with this plant and seeing zip, zilch, nada flowering excitement.
I know, I know, I haven’t written for a literal year (whoops, I promise that wasn’t my intention) and I’ve spent the last three paragraphs talking about a plant. Yet, as I sit on my couch this evening on the eve of my “eighth year with a spinal cord injury” anniversary looking at that very plant, I can’t help but chuckle and shake my head. It looks a little different today than it has for the past four plus years, and in some ways, I swear it’s showing off. A proud stem with those gorgeous little blooms standing tall, the soft but vivid creamy yellow hues a reminder of what its always been capable of and made to do.Continue reading