It’s been about two weeks since the launch of Awarewolf Gear. Having ordered representative shirts and sweatshirts for samples and quality control, I’ve been wearing them out and about, every day. I’ve had many interesting experiences and reactions, all positive. They vary from counting change back in a clear, professional way, to offers to help get my purchases to the car. Traffic stops when I am at a crosswalk, and hikers announce their intentions clearly on the trails. All of these experiences can and do happen without a bright BLIND on me. Over the past two weeks, these are a common occurrence. I appreciate the added help the shirt provides me. My first reaction to a cashier still rings true enough for me to quote myself: “It was almost as if she knew I was blind.” And that helps me. It helps with that awkward explanation of why I didn’t shake your hand, why I tripped over your Rottweiler, why I am leaving a large gap between myself and the person in front of me in line. So yes, the secret is out about me (funny… he doesn’t LOOK blind!) and yes, it does make daily living easier. I certainly am not ashamed of my blindness, and these past two weeks demonstrated to me that my own vanity stepped aside for some more safety and a better understanding of me, by the community around me.
I remember my first introduction to the cane. What an enormous reveal to the world! Suddenly all eyes were upon me (they weren’t,) and I was most uncomfortable. Once I achieved a certain level of “grace” with “Thing 2,” I used her more for what she provided. And thus I achieved a level of acceptance with the cane. I feel likewise about Awarewolf Gear. The successes I’ve experienced on the road led me to another level of acceptance: it’s OK that my immediate community know that I cannot see.