In truth, we stopped because it was getting too hot to be outside in the sunshine. We took refuge in The Crying Onion, a place so homey that it has no website to which I can link. It's like eating at your aunt's kitchen table; there are flannel backed wipeable table cloths, unmatched mugs, and the expectation that you will sit quietly and wait your turn. The waitresses have a routine, and it is dangerous to try to interrupt it. It's a place where going with the flow brings seamless care and everything in its own due time.
We were people watching as we dissected the major issues of the day. Governor Ice Cream was dissected as were the couple at the next table, who did not speak to one another - not one word - throughout their entire breakfast.
It's not as if they were staring past one another. They were reading her newspaper. So were the people at the table behind them.
It must be a heady thing, I thought, to watch someone reading your word, and, smiling, Brenda Starr agreed. She works, and Tucson reads.
We smiled about the 4th grader whose Letter to the Editor, complimenting - and naming - a new public sculpture, was the recipient of a published response, by the county administrator responsible for the project, a few days later. I'd discussed those letters with friends the night before. The local paper created community, last night and this morning.
We took separate checks, lingered over hot mugs until they were cool, and I followed her through the tables to the cashier in the back. We weren't staggering, but we were less fluid than we had been on the path. Sitting still for an hour will do that.
As we left, I wondered what the patrons thought about us. I wondered what story they concocted to explain us. Every other table was filled with easily identifiable groupings - parents + kids, couples, lovers, son or daughter and elderly parent. We were the outliers.
We are generations apart in years and appearance. We wore gym clothes; I was carrying my hiking fanny pack as a purse. We each have a very distinctive gait.
Are we related? Were we the only ones who wanted to go for breakfast after a group hike? Is it something to do with our walking? Had they been listening, they would have known that we are intelligent, thoughtful, funny and kind.... but no one seemed to be paying that much attention to us.
Still, it seemed to me that people were wondering about us... an existential question, according to Brenda Starr... and something that I was going to leave right here.... wondering.
And then, writing this post, it hit me
We were two disabled women galumphing through an able bodied world. People were trying not to look, but they couldn't help themselves. I'm not judging; I do it myself. We are relatively young to be as wobbly as we are. We must have a story.
For the first time, I understood Brenda Starr's aversion to the triumphalism of advertisements touting the achievements and courage of disabled athletes. She sees them as emphasizing difference, creating the other instead of another.
This morning, I felt like the other.