I possess the ability to stumble, but (almost always) not fall. Perhaps it’s due to the years I spent running over patchy grass as a cross-country runner. I never twist an ankle or bust up my face; I just let out a surprised noise, scramble through the air, and regain my balance at the last moment before gravity wins.
It freaks out my husband, but I’m ok with it.
Now, with low vision, no depth perception, and no cane, walking can quickly lead to a fall. I get this. I’m all about using my white cane.
I find myself taking some cat litter out to the trash at my parent’s house. The cane stands in the kitchen, waiting to be used. I leave it standing. I grew up at this house. I know this path with my eyes closed. I know the front steps. I know the walkway. I know that the gentle slope of the driveway leads to the place where the tr–
“WHOA!” I say as my feet fly out from underneath me. The bag of cat litter swings upward with my legs as my bum and my hands fall down to kiss the pavement.
I feel the smoothness of ice. Not ice ice. Black ice. Muscle memory kicks in. I realize this happened before about fifteen years ago in the same area. Ironic.
Then, I remember my Orientation and Mobility teacher telling me, “When it’s snowy out, you gotta be careful. You don’t want to be in a rush when there could be ice.”
Don’t I know it.
I picture what I must have looked like to any neighbor who witnessed my fall, envying him or her. I lose my breath because I’m laughing so hard. I toss the litter into the trash and step back carefully to the house.
From now on, I’ll be moving slowly on the driveway. Black ice trumps my skills every time.