I went back to work the last few years, after 10 years or so of mostly not working, and every position has been in the service of folks who have what’s called a ‘developmental disability’. Working in their homes – including with my son Spenser – working out in the community, and most recently, working at job sites. Nowadays I’m spending my paid-to-be-helping-somebody-somewhere hours at, respectively, a branch of the San Diego Public Library, and at a thrift shop, primarily thrifting in the line of used women’s clothing. Think Talking Heads as a soundtrack – “Well, how did I get here?”
Yesterday, while doing next to nothing at the thrift shop, I fumbled through an old steno pad and came to these following notes: notes I had taken the first day of work for a previous agency. Notes addressing the reason why people – people like me – do the work they do for the people of those ‘particular abilities’. The “What’s the goal?” of it.
Here – “The Five-Hearted Life”: Belonging; Being respected; Sharing ordinary places; Contributing; Choosing. Stuff people without labels – people like me – sorta kinda take for granted. Belonging. Being respected. Sharing ordinary places. Contributing. Choosing.
I’m glad I came upon those notes, especially since many days of my “work” find me not doing much of anything. Except, I get to witness, to be a witness, of two young women getting to do ordinary things. In ordinary places. Getting to feel part of. Getting to contribute. Earning respect for suiting up and showing up, sorta kinda like the rest of us.
Even if all I am is there, I’m there. Part of it. Somewhere between women’s summer dresses and Young Adult graphic novels. I can’t speak for you, but, for me, that’s kinda sorta far out.