A friend recently emailed me a photo of my sisters and me at a birthday party in 1983. I recognized myself immediately in the photo—the chubby girl sitting in a chair wearing overalls sewn by her mom to accommodate her expanding girth. You can tell that girl enjoyed a good bowl of noodles. What struck me about the photo was the expression on my face, a look of quiet resignation with a touch of disgruntlement.
I can say I had a happy childhood with lots of friends and family support. However, when I look at old photos or reminisce with my sisters, I remember numerous moments of anger and frustration. In large part, having a disability from birth that progressively became more severe impacted my childhood experiences profoundly. Changes in my mobility radically affected my relationships with people and the built environment. At different stages those changes separated me from others. Looking back, I would never trade these experiences for an easier or barrier-free childhood. Sharing some of my memories in this essay is a way for me to reflect on and trace my evolution from an extremely angry girl to a less-angry-but-still-badass woman.