l e t t e r t o m y b r o t h e r
Here I am in New York, thinking a lot about you.
I miss being with family and therefore I go out looking for you everywhere that I go here.
I try looking at the invisible and I see distances. Trying to find you, Davi, I found a community that speaks a lot about you. I found Jessica, Yannick, Carol, Mike, Amanda and many others. People that speak of them and they all told me about you.
I also found barriers ... many barriers. With me and in the city.
And it is about these barriers that I want to talk with you.
The first barrier that I faced was time.
Who told me about this barrier was Mike, I met him at the basketball court when I went check the adaptive activities at the Queens recreation center.
It was the night of Tuesday, it was raining, but it was not cold - at least - I followed the directions Google showed me and I ended up in a dark park - we could only hear the sound of metal masts swaying in the wind. I continued following Google, going into a very dark and weird way, and some good minutes later I finally got at the basketball court.
Disguising my fatigue with proactivity, I had a great night photographing with the basketball team. At the end of the night, still traumatized with Google, I accepted Mike's ride to the nearest subway station there.
By the way, this was the first time that no one could be sure about what was the best train to get back to Brooklyn, and the reason is that they barely use the train, because the subway system is not that accessible.
Did you know that the NY metro system only has 114 accessible stations? Only 24% of their system is accessible.
Unbelievable, right? They keep saying they are doing improvements, but they still have a long way to go.
After their training, most followed in their own car or ride, and one of the players was going with Access-a-ride, the ride system that MTA uses to compensate for the lack of accessibility in New York City. I could not contain my excitement when I saw the van and promptly Mike volunteered for an access-a-ride with me if it were the case.
Mike asks me a lot about you. He wants to know what sports you like and when you will come visit me. Actually, I also want to know when you come to visit me.
He also asked me if you have other friends with disabilities and said it was important that you were with people who go through similar experiences as you. Of belonging to a community, Mike told me. "I thought my life was over basically until I met people like these guys, like a lot of these guys have been doing this a lot longer than I have. So as soon as I started gettin ' into the wheelchair community and saw I was like other people like me, like doing things que I've been doing my whole life, like playing sports and stuff and seeing that I can still be active. "
I talked to Mike about your canoeing and how you are a person interested in politics and that you are always attuned to what happens in the world. We said goodbye with the promise we would meet again and soon for the access-a-ride.
Mike and I exchanged a few messages about this ride and he always made clear his concern about time.
While we waited for the van, Mike talked badly about the service. He told me it was very difficult to rely on and for that reason he barely would request for a ride.
Six months ago I couldn't say what an attitudinal barrier is, today I photograph the invisible it represents. And the one who told me the most about these barriers was Jessica.
I met Jessica at a bar, she was with her boyfriend Jose and her little dog Mayim. Jessica talks loudly, laughs loudly. She is an extremely charming and intelligent woman, with a sour sense of humor and a peculiar taste for animals - she has two snakes, birds, guinea pig, and also a cat and a dog. As you can imagine, I identified with her from the first day we met.
Jessica has a unique conscience about her condition and her life is advocating for her rights.
From what I can see, Jessica's life is completely normal.
Same fears, same courage as any other woman.
Sometimes I think what made me truly interested in Jessica was her attitude in live. She knows what she wants and she will get it.
Maybe I wish I was that confident myself.
Well, I think you're probably tired of reading all of this. I appreciate your patience and the time you spent with me though :)
Can't wait to have you here so I can present you to my new friends. This was just a small sample of this community here in New York and I feel that there is a long way to go, but I believe that we are on the right path, at least.
I hope to see you soon.
And saudades <3