It’s interesting, these paths The Universe chooses for you.
It was two years ago tonight that my first trip to the East Coast for United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill went from disastrous to borderline absurd. What was supposed to be an epic vacation down the eastern seaboard to see the sights and advocate on behalf the disabled community turned into every wheelchair user’s nightmare when my chair got mangled by the airlines on my first real attempt to fly. The entire ordeal was a harrowing experience, but it showed me how resilient I am and left me hungry for more time in DC.
Having survived that debacle helped me see The Universe revealing a path when it happened all over again almost exactly a year later, this time on my way back from the 2017 ROCH. That hard-earned wisdom helped me get behind the curtain of the airline industry and gave me the opportunity to tell my story on the national stage. And here we are another year later, back in Washington DC for yet another ROCH. It’s no coincidence one of this year’s major legislative focuses is accessible air travel. I know my experience is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to my community’s airline woes, but it feels really good to see my part in the bigger picture.
What has me most excited about this trip, however, is the opportunity to share the experience with one of my best friends and fellow advocates, Ian Mackay, whose personal platform of increased accessible trails throughout Washington and beyond (check out iansride.com!) is gaining traction as well. Along with his incredible mother, Teena, this trip was sure to be an adventure we’d thoroughly enjoy.
Full disclosure, my first inclination for bringing him along on the same flight may have been a little more self-serving, thinking he could be the figurative first penguin I pushed off the iceberg to check for any signs of danger. As it turns out, my heavily dreadlocked friend might just be my lucky charm. We managed to make it all the way here without breaking either of our chairs OR losing my luggage. It’s got me strongly considering snipping off a chunk of his locks for future travels. He called it my lucky hippie’s foot.
Because no trip can begin without a little chaos, our efforts to rendezvous with friends were slightly derailed by confusion of hotels. Who puts Hotels on streets named Massachusetts and M streets? Thanks a lot Homewood suites! With that little detour behind us, we arrived at our destination with barely enough time to get checked in at the event and see a few familiar faces before grabbing a bite to eat and heading to the hotel for some much-needed rest before a full day of seminars and education before we tackle Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Words can’t describe how excited I am to spend the next few days with one of my best buddies & my bride in the nation’s capital. Looking back on the wild, winding path it took to get to this point, I’m going to make sure to soak it all in as best I can. If I’ve learned nothing else from these last few years, I know I need to ride the good times as hard as the bad ones because this too, shall pass.
Wish us luck.