A few years after I first lost my eye sight I hung out with a group of Young Single Adults from my church. I didn't have any help or training as far as getting around at this point. I'd had multiple surgeries on my eyes and I was trying to figure out what to do with the shift in plans being blind presented. Often during activities and meetings with YSA friends awkward or tense situations would come up. I hiked with about 14 of my friends over Pine Valley Mountain only to be lost overnight with them and then trying to descend a 70 degree slope to get rescued. There was a lot of hand holding, supportive arms and patience from my friends when I'd reach out to catch myself from falling and I'd come up with someone's breast instead of their arm, or butt instead of a shoulder. Luckily I had the excuse of being blind to hide behind and cover both of our embarrassment.
On one such occasion, my friends and I spent all day skiing and swimming at the lake. Tired and hungry we piled into my friend Nate's car and headed for Denny's. There were about two dozen of us, all crowding into the restaurant in a mad, desperate dash for needed sustenance. When we piled out of Nate's car, I from the back seat and he, from the driver's side,he spoke over my shoulder.
"Give me your hand, Traci. I'll get you inside."
It never crossed my mind to check behind me before I reached for his hand. Thrusting my palm behind me I grabbed the first thing I found. Nate's slight moan as he backed away gasping for breath startled me. I realized immediately what I'd inadvertently done. I hadn't grabbed his hand I reached out and thrust my grasp between his legs. Clad in only his swimsuit what I'd held onto was more intimacy than Nate was prepared for.
Blind or not, I was horrified. "I'm fine," he gasped. "I'll meet you inside in just a sec."
My room mate turned back to see what was going on. I stood, hands shaking and covering my scarlet cheeks. Nate was hunched over and I'm sure his complexion wasn't crimson from sunburn. Melissa cracked up, took my hand and led me inside. She proceeded to tell everyone the story and Nate got a standing ovation when he finally made it to our table.
Unfortunately, this did not end my escapades. You'd think I would have learned to check or hesitate before I reach out to people...but I don't. I leave crazy messages on random people's news feed because my screen reader doesn't work well on facebook. I keep trying anyway. I've poked someone's boob, butt, or eye in my attempts to hug, hold hands or brush back a tear. I don't quit trying.
Some of the best friends and most hilarious experiences happen in my life because I reach out, caution to the wind, and come up a winner.
The first time I reached for Erik, it was to keep from falling off a side walk on our way into a dance recital. Holding my hand became so natural to us from then on, he almost always held my hand. He dated my room mate and still held my hand. I dated a guy in Provo, he still held my hand. WE danced, talked, laughed, played pool and shared fruit smoothies together. He always took my hand. I've poked him a few times, embarrassed him when someone asked if I was his girlfriend and nearly tore his arm off when he helped me climb the Dixie Rock with the YSA group while he ignored a dozen other girls to hold my hand.
He says he never worried too much about it, even the times it went wrong. I, however, worried constantly about cramping his style. I still reached for him when I needed help. Not with just hiking, or maneuvering in the night, but in life in general. When I needed to talk, I reached for him. When I had something exciting to report, I reached for him. When things went wrong, I reached for him. Luckily for me, he always held on. Now 18 years later, I still reach for him and he's always here. The best result I've ever gotten by reaching out.
Fear keeps us from taking chances. It makes us fall alone because we were too scared to reach out. Embarrassment at being weak or needy provides safety and distance, but it steals life, laughter and the best prized you could ever reach for. If I've ever reached out and clobbered you or embarrassed you, you know what I speak of. I often warn people now not to let me grope them inappropriately. I'm going to keep reaching though. The blindness only seperates me from other people when I choose to fear crazy consequences. Instead, I choose to reach for the stars.