Every year the day comes when I need to don my shorts. Today was that day.
I have mixed feelings about the first day I wear shorts. On the one hand it means the weather has finally warmed up enough to warrant shorts and I love warm weather. I simply hate being hot. A sweaty leg is icky to me. Really icky. The weather warmed up for my walk today and I knew my leg (yes, my long one) would overheat in jeans. So it was time to put on the shorts.
On the other hand, wearing shorts takes away all of my anonymity. I need to brace myself for the stares. It’s human nature to be curious, especially now that I wear the techno C-Leg. All of my previous legs before this were shaped like my other calf and painted to resemble my skin color. Not the C-Leg. This thing is gray and looks like something from Star Wars. Yea, it’s the kind of leg that draws attention. With my previous legs, they looked fake enough to make people stare, really stare until they figured out that, OH, it’s fake. Now people take notice and look away more quickly. It’s obvious I’m wearing a prosthetic leg.
I’m used to the looks and stares. I appreciate that, regardless of people’s personal feelings about my body, they usually always smile at me. I just wish I could blend in. Since I was 17, I’ve never blended in. As a child I always considered myself a wall flower. After my accident the attention took a lot of getting used to. Every year on my first “shorts day” the little girl in me is still just as uncomfortable being noticed.
What’s hardest about the looks and stares is that I assume with each one a judgment is attached. Anything from “Oh, isn’t she amazing” to “Ew, icky.” I’m not like just anyone walking down the street. I don’t remember most people I walk by and, unless they are trying hard to get my attention by how they dress or pierce or tattoo, I don’t notice most people who cross my path. But when I walk down the street in shorts, I see a lot of people look at me. I know I’ll be forgotten soon, but I’ve been noticed.
They say the grass is always greener. I realize, now that I stick out like a sore thumb, how my anonymity has been taken from me. I’m grateful for the days when no one noticed me at all – or so I thought. I blended in with the crowd and didn’t stick out.
Today wasn’t so bad, really. Lots of people looked; I didn’t notice anyone who stared.